Come closer, don't disappear.
It was a bright day. The Sun shone warm in the sky, the birds sung and there were no clouds. It was a pretty day, ideal for a picnic, for a stroll in the park, perfect for shorts and bikini tops by the side of the pool.
There were flowers everywhere, well kept grass. The only sounds were sniffles and cries. Judy Fabray could hardly stay standing. Rachel barely heard the old preacher's words, but she felt the warmth of the Sun on her face, her hand was sweaty from holding the flowers. The speech was going on forever; she didn't want to waste her day here. Those words meant nothing, and everyone was crying. No one noticed when she stepped forward until she dropped the flowers on the whole in the ground, on the casket. Puck tried to reach for her with his free hand, the one that wasn't holding Beth. She jerked her arm back, slid between unknown people and walked.
The grass was so green, the day so bright.
Her legs gave out after a minute, she didn't cry but she felt weak. She sat on a bench, hidden from everyone behind a mausoleum, looking towards some old trees.
"Hi." Quinn whispered.
Rachel turned her head sharply to look at her. Quinn was looking at her too, her hair was bright, she was smiling a little.
"I loved the gardenias." Quinn raised one eyebrow.
"You were cold." Rachel said instead, swallowing hard. "At the hospital. I hugged you."
"Do you know what they mean? Gardenias?"
"Remember three weeks ago, when I went to your house?"
Rachel nodded, breathing shakily through her nose.
"You watched Funny Girl with me."
Quinn smiled a little wider, looking down shyly at the grass.
"I wanted to kiss you. At the interval, when the screen turned black."
Rachel knew that, she saw the look on her face. She felt Quinn trembling beside her.
Closing her eyes, she slid her hand on the bench, just a few millimeters and they would touch. Just a few millimeters to hold Quinn's hand for the third time in her life.
There was nothing there. Rachel opened her eyes.
Quinn was gone.
Her body was exhausted. Hours upon hours of rehearsal were messing with her internal balance, but Rachel never complained. She wouldn't dare to, she didn't want to. Just a week more and it was opening night. Her first lead on a musical. Of course she didn't want to complain.
The director said "One more time.", and Rachel complied. She could see Tom, one of the dancers who kept hitting on her snicker at her fake beaming smile. Nonetheless, Rachel took a deep breath and followed the dance moves while she sang. Her eyes stung from the sweat when she finished the song, the director stood up with a smile to her and turned his back to speak with the crew. The dancers, panting and sweaty, got off the stage to grab water bottles. With her hands on her knees, Rachel sighed and tried to control her breathing.
"That was amazing."
Rachel turned around, gaze landing on Quinn smiling at her with a glint in her eyes.
"You were amazing."
"Opening night is going to be a success." Quinn beamed.
"What are you doing here?" Rachel whispered.
"You should give Tom a chance."
Rachel took a shaky breath.
"Come here." Quinn whispered.
When Rachel stepped closer, Quinn stepped back.
"Please don't disappear." Rachel begged.
"Come closer." Quinn smiled.
Rachel stepped forward and Quinn stepped back.
"Just a little closer." Quinn's smile turned a little crooked, her eyebrow arched.
Rachel moved forward, but she didn't notice Quinn staying put. A loud crash sounded behind her, and Rachel jumped and turned around. A reflector had fallen, making a hole on the spot she was standing before when she finished her number.
"Are you okay?" And "What happened?" Was screamed by everyone nearby, and someone from the crew jumped onto the stage to move Rachel away, just in case.
Bewildered, Rachel turned around.
Quinn was gone.
The nurses were everywhere, checking machines and writing stuff down. Things weren't going as expected, Rachel knew that. There were not so many people when she gave birth to Josh, and Tom had been allowed inside. It was so much scarier when he wasn't around. Her body ached and her lungs felt like they were giving in, but she pushed whenever the doctor told her to. She didn't want her child to be hurt, and she wanted to be over with it. Every time he said "Just one more push." Rachel believed him. He said it at least ten times before it was true. The worst pain passed and her heart was beating everywhere inside her body when she heard her daughter cry.
"She has strong lungs."
Rachel gasped, jerking her head to the side with tears in her eyes.
"She's beautiful." Quinn whispered reverently.
"Her name is Lucy." Rachel croaked.
"Don't close your eyes." Quinn warned. "Here she comes."
Tears feel quicker when Rachel looked down at her daughter. Her face was a little purple and a little swollen, but she was the most beautiful baby girl she had ever seen.
"Hi Lucy." Rachel whispered. Her throat was dry and her lips chapped, but she was smiling widely.
"Don't give her too much trouble when she gets suspended for fighting." Quinn said right next to her ear, smiling while she looked down at Lucy. "She had a good reason for punching that boy. He called her a name."
Rachel frowned, stroking her baby's cheek weakly and looking up at Quinn.
"Don't close your eyes." Quinn whispered. "Not until I say so."
"Are you happy?" Rachel whispered. "Where are you?"
"Wherever you are." Quinn smiled. "When I'm not spying on Beth, but she's a good kid."
"She's losing blood!" One of the doctors screamed.
"I don't feel so good." Rachel breathed out.
"Don't close your eyes yet." Quinn warned. "Listen to me, Baby. Don't close your eyes until I say so, and then hold on to my hand."
Rachel's head was spinning. Someone took her baby from her arms, but she was too weak, she couldn't fight.
"Take my hand." Quinn said urgently, and her hand was warm on Rachel's.
Rachel squeezed, she felt Quinn's softness. She got a glimpse of paradise. It was bright and it was green, and it smelled like gardenias. Quinn gasped next to her.
Then she heard a beep. When she blinked, a different brightness met her eyes. A blinding brightness, not like before. She looked around to closed curtains and a machine with jumping green lines.
And Quinn… she was gone.
At fifty one years old, Rachel felt like she should get a break from attending useless awards ceremonies she had already won twice. Her flight to California was one of the few on this day because of the weather and she really wanted to stay home with her grandson.
There were very few people on the plane because sane people didn't fly during storms. Even if this wasn't her choice, Rachel knew she was a little bit insane. The seat next to her, thankfully, was empty, and there was only one more person on first class that was already asleep. For the first few minutes, she tried looking at the window, but the rain and the rays were a little scary for someone who looked at them floating on a can in the sky. Rachel hated airplanes.
Sighing, she closed the blind and rested back in her seat.
This time, Rachel didn't jump. With a small smile, she turned her head to look at Quinn, still beautiful and eighteen years old.
"I missed you." Rachel said as a way of greeting.
"I've been with you all along." Quinn said softly, calmly. "You've been happy."
"You were always on my mind." Rachel confessed. "All I thought about between seconds."
"I know." Quinn smiled, biting her lip. The shine in her eyes seemed to dance from side to side while she looked at Rachel. "You know, Lucy's going to marry Emma. They love each other."
Rachel didn't say anything; she took a breath and stared at Quinn.
Quinn took a deep breath.
"And… and your grandson Sebastian, he's got your talent."
The plane suddenly rattled and Rachel moved her hand instinctively to grasp at Quinn's. It was warm and soft.
Quinn looked at her, but didn't say anything.
"Lucy doesn't want kids." Quinn continued. The plane shook. "Josh will have a daughter, Kate."
"Won't we be there to see it?" Rachel whispered. Quinn's thumb was rubbing circles on the back of her hand.
"Not where we're going, Baby." Quinn smiled. The plane rattled and someone screamed.
"But where have you been?" Rachel frowned.
"I told you." Quinn smiled again. "I've been with you. Always with you. I waited."
"You… waited?" Rachel whispered. She jumped a little from her seat when the plane shook strongly again.
"I've waited for you." Quinn confessed softly. "We'll close our eyes together."
Rachel moved forward, pressed her lips delicately against Quinn's with their eyes closed. When they parted, hazel eyes were smiling at her. Suddenly everything was so much warmer.
"Close your eyes." They whispered together.
Rachel wrapped her arms around Quinn's waist and felt Quinn's arms wrap around her shoulders. There was no shaking, no trembling. Nothing.
Rachel saw the brightness without opening her eyes. She smelled gardenias.
Quinn was warm against her.