a/n: I'm back lovelies! Okay, so I realize I've dropped the ball on those one-shots I promised but I'm hoping a new multi-chapter story will make up for it. This story is a/u and I'm mixing backgrounds (that'll make sense later) so I hope everyone likes it. I don't own Glee…
Is it still considered a skyline when you're thirty thousand feet in the air with seemingly nothing but a blanket of clouds beneath you? Rachel didn't really know the answer nor did she care. All she knew was that somewhere beneath those clouds was a city waiting for her. It was almost odd to think that she'd spent her whole life with the goals of New York and Broadway on the forefront of her mind. And where was she headed? In the complete opposite direction!
Los Angeles, California.
It was time for new goals to reach and a new city to conquer. New York had been her everything for as long as Rachel could remember. Broadway hadn't just been her dream, it'd been her way of life. Living day to day for the next audition, for the next call-back, for the next show was possibly one of the most exhilarating and terrifying experiences she'd ever had. And she wouldn't trade it for the world.
Three Tony awards later, two for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical and one for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, she found herself with a recording contract and a new dream. It felt like she was starting over from scratch. In a sense, she was. Shortly after signing with the label, Rachel decided to move to L.A. The label's main offices were there, the city teemed with talent, and she just needed to be there. She couldn't explain it but it felt right. End of story.
People had questioned her decision to leave the stage from the start but she felt it in her heart. She wanted to sing more than show tunes. She wanted to sing her own songs, notes and words born of past experiences that left marks on her soul. But as Rachel looked down at the notebook in front of her, the page was full of more scribbles than words. The few sentences that were written down could've been stolen from some middle school student's love poem. It was painfully juvenile.
Suddenly, the plane hit a bit of turbulence and knocked her pen out of her hand. Just as well, she thought to herself. Writing anything worthwhile just wasn't in the cards today. She ignored the little voice in the back of her mind that whispered "or ever".
"Ma'am, we're preparing to land so I need you to close your tray-table." Rachel stared blankly up at the pretty flight attendant for a few seconds before realizing that she was talking to her.
"Oh, right, sorry about that." Rachel rushed to put her notebook away in her carry-on bag as the woman continued down the aisle with a harried expression. She couldn't blame her. It'd been a long flight and a man sitting a few rows up had been a total ass every time he'd opened his mouth. The poor woman, along with the rest of the passengers, wanted to get away from him.
Rachel sat back in her seat and turned towards her window. She took a deep breath as the plane lowered in altitude and dropped below the clouds. The city of angels felt like it was within her grasp. She could taste it. She just had to make it her own.
Oh good god why had she bothered to hire a decorator if she was just going to be forced to go behind them fixing everything? Honestly, what's the point in giving someone obsessively detailed notes, photo references, and an innumerable amount of color swatches if the job they were going to do was second-rate at best?
Rachel growled to herself as she walked through her newly decorated apartment. Basically everything but the paint, which was the only thing the hack had gotten correct, would have to be rearranged. The furniture was all wrong, every piece of artwork on the walls needed to be moved, and she knew for a fact that the books in the bookshelf weren't even close to being in the correct order.
After a few minutes of consideration, Rachel decided that the bookshelf would be the easiest problem to fix. She'd just finished reorganizing the Broadway legends biography section when her phone began ringing. After seeing the caller i.d., she switched the speakerphone on and answered while she continued to reshelf the books.
"Hey T," she smiled in the phone's direction, "I miss you already."
"Aww I miss you too," she heard her best friend say. "How's life in L.A. so far?" Rachel contemplated Tina's question as she placed another book on the shelf.
"I've only been here two days. It's dry but I can live with that. I can't wait to start in the studio though." Tina laughed on the line and Rachel heard the deeper rumble of a man's voice. "Tina, is Mike there with you?" Another giggle sounded and Rachel had her confirmation.
"Yes he's here and we actually have some news to tell you." Rachel froze, book poised in midair, and waited for Tina to divulge the news. A few seconds passed and the suspense was killing her.
"Okay one of you better tell me something soon before I go crazy." Rachel turned her full attention to the phone, leaving the rest of her books on the floor and moved to her couch. Tina took a deep breath and when she spoke, Rachel could once again hear the smile in her voice.
"One of the dancers was involved in a car accident that messed his leg up pretty bad. So they had an opening in the ensemble and I told Mike to audition. We found out today that he got it!" Rachel released a gasp. Tina had already earned an understudy role in the national tour cast of South Pacific and now her fiancé Mike would be a part of that cast with her. They would be touring the country together, performing together in a sense. If she was honest with herself, Rachel would admit she envied them just a bit.
"That's incredible you guys. I'm so happy, for both of you." And she meant it too. She'd learned the hard way not to let her jealous streak ruin her relationships with those closest to her.
"Thanks Rach," Tina and Mike said in unison. Sometimes, they were too adorable for their own good.
After Rachel had regaled her best friend with the tale of the inept decorator and Tina told her of how the barista at their favorite coffee shop had teared up when he'd been told that the whole Rachel-moving-to-Los-Angeles-to-become-a-singer thing wasn't some ridiculous ploy to get free coffee and that yes, she was no longer in the Big Apple, the conversation lulled just a bit. Rachel kept getting distracted with the ever-growing list in her head of things that still needed to be done around the apartment and Tina was clearly distracted by the packing she and Mike were doing.
Three thousand miles changes things apparently.
There was a beep from her phone that made Rachel roll her eyes when she saw who it was on call-waiting.
"Tina, my manager's calling me, probably to remind me of our meeting tomorrow. He reminded me yesterday but whatever. Whenever there's a lull in your touring schedule, I want to know everything about being on the road, okay?" She heard Tina laugh softly and she could practically see her nodding her head.
"Deal. I'll talk to you later Rach."
Reluctantly, Rachel ended one call and began the next. By the time she convinced her manager that she would be able to get to the meeting on her own and not to send a car, she felt exhausted. Silently, she prayed for the days to hurry up so she could get in the studio. Singing was where everything felt right.
Despite everything, right was her main goal.
"What do you mean? I worked hard on that song." Rachel did her best to keep from seething. It was one thing to not think your songwriting was the best in the world. It was another entirely to be told that it was, in so many words, abysmal.
She'd waited until the end of her meeting with the label higher-ups before saying anything about wanting to write some of her own songs for the album. Surprisingly, they'd been reasonably open to it.
That is, until she showed them what she'd been working on.
"I'm sorry Ms. Berry," the older gentleman started, "but looking at this song, it's quite obvious that we signed you due to your incredible vocal talent, not your songwriting abilities. I can't put it any other way. Despite how hard you've worked on this song, or the other two you've shown us, they're just not very good."
Rachel let her face fall. The meeting had gone so well. Her studio time was already booked, most of the songs for the album were already lined up. Everything seemed to be going well so she'd utilized the perfect opportunity to inform them of her own songwriting. Clearly, that idea didn't work out so well.
"But you don't understand. I don't just want to sing and perform other peoples' songs. I've done that my whole life both on and off stage. My dream is to hear my own songs on the radio." She paused for a moment, forcing her emotions from the surface. Her professionalism had to shine through. "Please, let me work on my songwriting some more. I can get better. I know I can."
The man looked down at the song again and sighed. "Ms. Berry, we believe you are an amazing talent. Obviously, we wouldn't have signed you if we thought otherwise. But I would be remiss if I stroked your ego by saying that these songs you've written are up to par with the rest of the songs you'll be recording for the album. However, since you seem so adamant about it, I propose a compromise." Rachel leaned forward and waited for him to continue. "What if we had you work with a professional songwriter, one of the best? You could collaborate, hone your skill, truly benefit from the experience."
The first thing Rachel wanted to do was shake her head and refuse. She didn't want to work with a songwriter, professional or otherwise. She wanted to do it on her own. But something about all out refusing the idea didn't sit well with her.
"Can…can I think about it?" The man, whose name she'd deemed too difficult to pronounce to risk pronouncing it wrong (plus, referring to him as 'the man' happened to be fun), gave her a frustrated sigh.
"Very well Ms. Berry. I hope you reach a decision soon."
Later that night, Rachel sat at her kitchen table with the radio playing softly in the background. She'd been looking through a few of the songs already slated for recording when it hit her.
No amount of 'working on it', at least not by herself, was going to make her songs any better.
If she recorded one of her own songs, the way it stood, and had it next to something of a higher caliber such as the songs she held in her hands, the album would be stilted. She wanted every song to be great, not just the ones she'd taken practically no part in.
As much as she hated to admit it, she would need help.
Halfhearted, Rachel grabbed her phone and dialed the familiar number. When her manager picked up, she muttered, "fine, tell them I'll work with the professional songwriter."
By the time she drifted off to sleep in her bed, the recurring dream she'd been having over the past month of hearing her voice over the speakers of a radio suddenly seemed closer than ever.