Rachel Berry sat at the dinner table with her jaw slightly agape, and her brain frozen in shock. She shouldn't be surprised by this, but she was. Her dad was notoriously protective of her, and when she was still with her former love interest this same situation took place, but that didn't mean she had to be happy about it. Thanks to her dad and his questions, the fun, light-hearted atmosphere was now tense, and the blonde looked about ready to bolt.
"I do want to move out of Lima, sir," Quinn said politely, and tried to calm her pounding heart. His questions were becoming increasingly difficult for her to answer simply because she didn't have the answers he was looking for, and he showed no sympathy. "I just haven't figured out what I want to do with my life yet. Isn't that what college is mainly about?" She nervously picked at her cuticles, her food long forgotten as her stomach twisted into knots.
"For a lot of people, yes it is. For some it's about fulfilling the drive they've always had. Sort of a stepping stone between high school and completing their goals," he said, and Rachel could not believe he just said something so rude. To an outsider it might not have been so bad, but she knew what he meant by that. He thought Quinn was passionless, maybe even lazy. The worst case scenario in her mind was he thought Quinn was simply going to ride her coattails once she became a famous Broadway star.
"Dad, don't say things like that to my girlfriend," she said, her voice full of bite. She could tell by the look on both of her parents' faces that she had crossed a line. If they had asked if she cared, she would have told them hell no. "Not everyone has the next ten years of their life planned out, and there's nothing wrong with that. So why are you giving Quinn the third degree like this?" The blonde sat there silently watching the diva's outburst, a mixture of shock and fear running through her veins. She didn't want Rachel getting in trouble because of this.
"Rachel, calm down. I'm just trying to get to know my daughter's girlfriend," he said, and started cutting up another piece of roasted potato. "I did the same thing when you brought that Hudson boy over to the house."
Quinn tensed at the mention of the football player. She knew it wasn't true, but it felt like Hiram was saying things just to hurt her feelings. She did the best she could to keep her emotions off her face, but she was afraid she looked like a pouting child.
"You're doing so much better than Finn, by the way," Leroy said and gave the blonde a warm smile.
A small smirk tugged at the corners of Quinn's mouth. She wouldn't admit it out loud, but the thought of Finn blowing it with Rachel's parents made her feel a lot better. Rachel caught the look on the blonde's face that only lasted for a second or two, and the diva rolled her eyes. Did everything have to be a competition between the former cheerleader and their ex?
"No, you're not, Dad," she said, still sounding irritated despite the looks her father was giving her. Her girlfriend was clearly in emotional distress even though she was trying to hide it, and if it's one thing Rachel couldn't stand, it was bullying. "If you wanted to get to know her you would be having a normal conversation with her. All you're doing is drilling her with questions and making her feel uncomfortable." Although Quinn did appreciate what Rachel was trying to do, another part of her really wished she wouldn't.
The last thing she needed was Rachel's parents thinking she was weak. How could she expect them to trust her to take care of Rachel if they thought she couldn't take care of herself? How were they supposed to feel comfortable around her if they thought she needed to be treated with kid gloves? She didn't want them to feel that way about her, and she knew that Rachel's good intentions were going to make things worse.
"Do I need to send Quinn home and ground you?" Hiram asked, and the tension in the room doubled. Rachel stared back at her father defiantly, but she didn't say another word, much to Quinn's relief. Leroy started to say something, but he was interrupted. "I've lost my appetite." Hiram stood up from the table and took his plate and empty glass into the kitchen. It wasn't quite a storm out, but the drama of it resembled Rachel, and a small part of Quinn wanted to smile.
"Quinn, I'm so sorry," the diva said, her dark eyes full of worry and sadness. "I had no idea he was going to act like this." Then she turned her attention to the silent man at the table who was slowly nursing what was left in his glass. "Daddy, what's wrong with him tonight? He didn't act this bad when Finn came over." That statement made the blonde's eyebrows furrow in confusion.
"He's scared, Pumpkin. Just leave him alone for a little while," he said, and continued with his meal. Rachel kept pestering her daddy for details, but Quinn completely tuned her out. He wasn't hard on Finn, but he was being hard on her. The majority of his questions revolved around things that hadn't happened yet, and he had become slightly agitated when Quinn couldn't answer his questions about the future because she simply had no clue what to say. He was scared, which meant he viewed Quinn as a threat; she just wasn't sure exactly why.
"I'm going to go talk to him," the blonde said, mostly to herself. She wasn't even aware anyone had heard her until a silence fell over the room. Rachel looked over at her like the blonde was going crazy. It was probably the same look people give the person at the zoo who tries to pet the tiger only to have half their arm scratched off.
"Quinn, you don't have to do that. He's insulted you enough for one night," the little diva said, and Quinn looked into her worried eyes and didn't break the gaze. She didn't need Rachel to understand right now, but she did need her support. She took a deep, calming breath, and she wasn't sure if she was seeing things or not but it looked like Rachel was starting to calm down too. At least as calm as a high-strung person can ever really be.
"It's ok, Rachel. It's not like he's going to say anything worse than what my parents have already said to me," she said as she stood up. Before she walked into the kitchen, she lay a hand on the diva's shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. She knew how important Rachel's fathers were to her, and any kind of conflict really upset her. She hoped that the silent gesture brought the other girl some comfort. Then, much like at the beginning of the evening, she took a deep breath and entered the room with one of the most terrifying people she'd ever met.
He was standing at the sink, hot water running over the dishes and steam fogged up the air. He had his hands on the edge of the sink, his body slightly hunched over, and Quinn had no idea how to interpret his body language. She slowly walked into the room and cleared her throat. He turned and looked over his shoulder at her, but didn't make eye contact. After a quick glance he turned back around, and she felt very unwelcome, but that didn't stop her from standing next to him.
"Mr. Berry, sir, I need to explain something to you, and it's important," she said, and took another calming breath. Her heart was beating out of control, and she was on the verge of tears, but she needed to get through this. "My entire life I have been groomed to be the perfect daughter, and when I grew up I was expected to be the perfect housewife to a good Christian businessman just like my mother and older sister." She took another deep breath; his eyes closely studying her made her feel insecure, but she pushed that feeling down.
"We were never encouraged to even think about applying for college because our husbands are expected to take care of us. And for the first sixteen years of my life I accepted it, and I played my part. Finn and I were going to be prom king and queen. Then we were going to be married and raise a family." Quinn's expression shifted from gloom to something more lighthearted. She got a little smile on her face, and the look in her eyes changed. Hiram thought it was an amazing sight to witness, and hoped she was about to share the reason behind it.
"And then I fell for your daughter," she said, her tone of voice was different also, lighter and hopeful than just seconds before. "Rachel's drive, her passion that she puts into absolutely everything she does, it's inspiring. I know I wouldn't be happy playing the doting housewife to a famous Broadway star. I need my own path too, but for the first sixteen years of my life I never thought I would even travel out of state, so it's going to take time to find my own path." Hiram's expression was unreadable, but that wasn't going to stop her from finished what she intended to do.
"If you don't mind, sir, will you answer one question for me?" she asked, and the seconds felt like hours as she waited for any type of response. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, he nodded his head. "Why are you being so critical of me? The thought of you being this…harsh with a sixteen year old who doesn't have her future figured out seems a little farfetched. What's your real problem with me?"
He let out a long sigh, and turned the hot water off. He leaned his hip against the counter so he was facing the blonde, and crossed his arms over his chest. His face was still unreadable, and it was making Quinn uneasy.
"You're important to her," he said and scratched at the back of his neck. Quinn involuntarily sucked in a big breath at his words, and was having a hard time exhaling it. "Rachel's a daddy's girl. They've always had more things in common; it's always been easier for them to relate to one another. She always goes to him for comfort when she's hurt or sick, always goes to him first when she has something important she wants to share." He paused, and let out another little sigh.
"But she's also afraid of letting him down. His opinion matters a lot more than mine does," he said, and rubbed his temples with his index finger and thumb. Quinn was a little confused, but she kept quiet, and waited for him to make his point. "We practically had to pull teeth to get her to bring Finn over to the house. She was so afraid Leroy wasn't going to like him. But you, she was so excited for her daddy to meet you. She loves that you two get along so well." He paused again, internally debating whether or not to continue, and decided it was important enough to risk it.
"This part stays between us, ok?" he asked, and Quinn quickly nodded her head. Her heart sped up with anticipation, and she tried to guess what it could be that was so important he trusted her to keep it a secret. "When I was doing laundry last week I saw her journal sitting out, and I flipped through it." She could just imagine the temper tantrum Rachel would throw if she ever found out her dad read her journal. She knew this secret would have to go to her grave.
"She's already working you into her life plan," he said, and Quinn's eyes went a little wide. That she was not expecting at all. "She's already thinking about spending holiday breaks with you in New York instead of at home with us. She's already fantasizing about your wedding day…and night." Quinn blushed so hard it felt like the tips of her ears were about to explode. Hiram cleared his throat, obviously uncomfortable with that last statement. "You have the potential to make her so happy. You two seem perfect for one another. But if your life goals aren't compatible, it's going to hurt her so bad, and I don't want my baby's heart broken."
"Mr. Berry," she said, her emotions almost getting the best of her, but she held them in check. "I can't promise you that the future is going to be easy for us, but if we do end up separating it's not going to be because of the school I choose. I haven't decided completely which ones I'm going to apply to, but they're all in or near enough to New York that we could make it work." She paused and really thought hard about whether or not she should share this next piece of information. It could make her seem like more of a threat, but she had to take that risk.
"And Rachel's not the only one that's been fantasizing about a future together," she said, with a little blush on her face. Using the word fantasy and Rachel in the same sentence was bringing up all of the private fantasies she had about Rachel when she was alone in her bed. She shook those images from her mind's eye and focused on the conversation at hand. She wasn't a horny boy, she could control this. "If you want the details just call and ask my mother because I already spelled everything out for her." She tried so hard not to smirk, that sentence sounding so inappropriate after her last thought.
"I love your daughter, sir, and I can promise you that as long as we're together, I'm going to do everything in my power to make her happy and make her feel safe and loved –just like I know she's going to do for me," she said her voice thick with emotion.
Hiram nodded his head a little and he had a very unfocused look in his eyes. She wanted to ask him what he was thinking about, but she was too afraid of the answer. Finally, after what felt like hours of waiting, his eyes came back into focus, and he licked his tongue on the roof of his mouth.
"Ok," he said and stood up straight. Quinn was totally confused. What the hell did he mean by 'ok'? "I'm giving you a chance." Her whole body lit up at the sound of that. "You're by baby girl's first real love. I can only like you so much because of that, you understand?" She nodded her head yes even though she wasn't quite sure what that meant. "I'd like to apologize for being so hard on you tonight. You're sixteen, it's perfectly understandable not to have things figured out just yet." She tried to tell him he didn't need to apologize, but before she could get a word out he continued. "Why don't you and Rachel go downstairs and watch a movie? Just keep the door open, ok?"
"Yes, sir, of course," she said with a big smile on her face.
Hiram was giving her a chance. He was giving her the benefit of the doubt not to screw things up. She was so happy and relieved at that moment she felt like she could skip around and jump for joy. Not that she would in front of other people. She did, however, walk quickly out of the room before he had a chance to change his mind. Maybe this night wasn't going to turn out that bad after all. Just as long as Rachel let her pick the movie, but Quinn had a few tricks up her sleeves when it came to getting her way with the diva, and a couple more she was dying to try out.