A/N: I started writing this during the hiatus between seasons one and two so it follows cannon up until there (with the exception of BabyGate) but veers off completely after that.
"There's a good chance you may never get any of your memories back Ms. Fabray"
You've been alive about an hour and you already regret waking up. People keep telling you that you've actually been alive a little over 17 years but you don't think it really counts if you can't remember any of it. The doctor keeps talking, something about a brain bleed and damaged tissue, but you barely understand half of what he's saying. Still, you listen attentively and memorize every word because information you don't even comprehend is better than no information at all. The older couple – Russell and Judith Fabray -, which introduced themselves earlier with an awkward handshake and a very formal "We're your parents" before pulling their chairs as far away from you as possible, either understands him perfectly or they are quite good at pretending like they know exactly what's going on. You have a feeling it's probably the latter.
After a few more minutes and some therapy recommendations Dr. Richard Steinman apologizes for your situation, which you find odd since as far as you know he's been on the 'fixing you' side of things, and leaves the room. Now it's just you and the Fabrays who seem desperate to follow the doctor out the door. You don't really want to think about what it means that the only people you know in the entire world have been itching to get the hell away from you since the moment they showed up.
The Fabrays tell you that your name is Quinn Elizabeth Fabray; you're a junior at McKinley High School, the head cheerleader, and a devout Catholic. You don't bother telling them that you have no idea what the word cheerleader means or that you can only remember Catholic is a religion but not which one exactly. Words seem to keep getting mixed up and misplaced in your head. According to Dr. Steinman that's normal for a head injury like yours and usually clears up in a couple of days. That doesn't stop it from annoying the hell out of you now though. They also tell you that you have an older sister - Sarah Ellen Fabray, 22 – and you get the distinct impression that she's valued much more highly than you are. You ask how you wound up in the hospital in the first place and they tell you that you irresponsibly totaled their perfectly good brand new SUV. After a few awkward silent minutes you tell them that you're still tired and going to try and get some more sleep. The relief that washes over their faces isn't missed.
The second time you wake up you're almost immediately thrown into a situation that's terrifying but in the midst of it is the best moment of your entire 6 or so hours of existence. The nurse – Debbie Mathews – is looking at charts and machines when you wake up and tells you that the Fabrays left a while ago, which you were hoping for and completely dreading at the same time, but that a group of your school friends is waiting in the lobby to see you. The last thing you want is to be surrounded by people who you've never seen before that knows more about you than you know about yourself. It was awkward enough with the Fabrays and there were only two of them. You're almost positive this is going to turn out badly but the polite thing to do is let them in and shake hands and try to be friendly. Maybe you are related to the Fabrays after all, putting formality and etiquette over personal comfort. Nurse Debbie goes into the hallway and retrieves a dozen or so people – 11 teens and an adult after further examination – and you're suddenly surrounded by chaos. Everyone is talking to each other, making jokes or arguing and the older man seems to be eavesdropping on everyone and randomly inserting himself into conversations. Something about him doesn't quite sit right and you can't fathom why he's even here with all these kids. He catches your eye and gives you an odd grin that sets your teeth on edge. You're starting to panic. You don't know these people and they are all very loud and very close to you and there's so much going on that you can't seem to process any of it. They keep saying things you don't understand and then looking annoyed when you don't respond as expected. You're feeling completely overwhelmed and about to scream for everybody to please shut the hell up and kindly get the fuck away from you when you see her. Standing almost outside the little half circle that's formed around you and not saying a word to anyone, just looking at you. When your eyes lock with hers she holds your gaze as if it's the most natural thing in the world for the two of you to stare intensely at each other while there's near anarchy happening around you. Suddenly you feel yourself calming down, you take a few deep breaths and the air in the room starts to feel less crushing.
"Who are you?" you ask, because something tells you that she's the one who can give you the information you so desperately seek. She has the answers to the questions you don't know how to ask.
"I'm Rachel Berry," she says softly with a small smile, walking through the circle toward you. Some faint part of you is insisting that you demand this girl tells you everything she knows but you can't seem to do more than nod. "You're in a glee club at school. It's a group of students that gets together to sing and sometimes dance and we have competitions. That's who all these people are. We're your teammates. The older guy is our coach." You feel relief wash over you and you're eternally grateful to Rachel Berry for giving you the first glimpse of control you've gotten since you woke up. She suddenly turns away from you to address the group. "Would everyone please stop talking." It's more of a command than a question. Her voice though not loud carries quite well and the people gathered around you slowly stop their conversations. "I would imagine that Quinn's current situation is quite stressful and I highly doubt that all of you bursting in here and chattering away is helping the matter. I suggest that you all introduce yourselves one at a time and then leave her to get some rest."
"Who the hell died and made you the boss, Berry?" a skinny Spanish girl asks from across the room.
"I did," you say quietly before you can stop yourself. These people are acting like you've merely fallen ill and expect you to be completely comfortable with them crowding into your room talking around and at you. But the truth is that the Quinn Fabray they know is dead and according to Dr. Steinman isn't likely to be resurrected any time soon. Every single person in the world is a stranger. Strangers who expect you to know things you just don't and act like someone who doesn't exist anymore. And Rachel Berry seems to be the only one who is even trying to understand your situation. You're more than happy to declare her the boss, queen, or president of whatever you have to in order to hold on to the tiny scrap of control she's given you. Your small outburst seems to remind everyone of the reality of what's happening and they all slowly nod their heads and murmur their agreement.
"Everything's going to be fine Quinn, I promise," Rachel whispers, leaning down slightly and just barely grabbing your hand. It's the first time you've actually felt at ease since you woke up. "Just remember to breathe. And if it starts to be too much then tell them." She smiles again, squeezes your hand, then turns and leaves. The second the door closes behind her you feel decidedly less confident but you think you can handle a few quick introductions.
At your request everyone tells you their full names, ages, and the exact nature of their relationship to you. Finn Michael Hudson, 17, a tall and awkward boy says that you used to be his girlfriend and immediately it doesn't sound right. Something about him doesn't fit. Another boy, Noah Abraham Puckerman, also 17, says that he also used to date you. You consider him for a minute - tall, athletic, tan, hair only in the middle of his head and sticking up – and decide that he doesn't quite fit right either. The angry Spanish girl who yelled at Rachel steps up, arm linked with a girl with yellow hair. You know there's a word for it and it frustrates the hell out of you that you can remember how to identify that someone is Spanish yet have no clue what yellow hair is called. Santana Maria Lopez, 16, says that she and Brittany – whose last name no one can seem to pronounce except for the girl herself who claims to have forgotten it along with her middle one – nearly 18, are your 'second in command' and your best friends. You start to think that maybe nothing is going to fit right because you simply don't remember these people, so you nod and move on. The rest all tell you pretty much the same story; you've always kind of been around each other but never really knew each other until you joined the glee club. When you asked why exactly you joined this club full of people you didn't really know no one could give you a solid reason. Just that maybe you really liked to sing. It doesn't seem like a terribly personal question and the fact that no one can answer it makes your stomach feel a little hollow. You start to hope that another group of kids will show up soon that fit better. You ask Santana and Brittany about who Rachel is to you hoping to get some idea of what happened earlier.
"The troll? She's pretty much your nemesis," Santana replies easily. Your breath catches and you feel colder. You have no idea what troll means but nemesis is a word you're pretty clear on.
"Oh. Why?" you ask trying to make sense of it. Santana looks genuinely confused as if she expected that to be the one thing you remembered from your entire life.
"Because she's Rachel fucking Berry. She's annoying as hell, she's always singing and prancing around the damn hallways and threatening to sue like everybody, shenever shuts up, and she looks like her purpose in life is to find the one and only ring." Brittany laughs at this and mutters something that sounds like 'he's so bald and squatty'.
"Plus her wardrobe is horrendous," offers Kurt Evan Hummel, 16, gay, and so far kind of bitchy. A few others agree with him and you get the feeling that the hatred of Rachel Berry is almost a universal thing.
"Oh," you say lamely, not being able to come up with anything better. "Well thank you all for coming to see me, I really do appreciate it, but I'm feeling kind of tired. I think I just need some time to really absorb everything."
"Come on guys, let's leave Quinn alone to get some rest." William David Schuester, 32, glee club advisor, perhaps trying to recapture his youth through his students. Something about him makes you very uneasy. You hope he doesn't visit you again.
The glee club slowly filters out with promises to see you later and hoping that you feel better, as if it's just a cold you need to shake off. As you lie down and try to quiet your mind enough to go to sleep you can't help but wonder if the people you met today will ever start to feel familiar to you or if you'll have to start all over with them. You wonder why Rachel left so quickly. But then again you suppose if you were stuck in a room full of people that hated you then you probably wouldn't stick around too long either. You wonder where the Fabrays are, seeing as it's already quite dark outside. A part of you is positive that they won't even bother coming back tonight. You wonder how with two ex-boyfriends and two best friends in the room Rachel was the only one who seemed to have any idea what you needed or how to calm you down. Mostly you wonder how you met fourteen people today that claim to be close to you and yet your nemesis, the girl you apparently hate above all else, is the only thing that fits.
It's still dark when you wake up and you feel even more tired than before you fell asleep. Your brain keeps running through all the things you've been told today trying to connect the dots but you don't have the lines to connect any of them. You hear someone sniff to your right and turn your head to look at them slowly, fearing that maybe the Fabrays did come back after all. You can't help but grin when you recognize her. She sniffles again and sits up straight in the chair she's pulled up next to your bed.
"Hey you," she says softly, taking a deep breath before returning your grin.
"Hey. You okay?" She chuckles and rolls her eyes.
"Says the amnesiac in the hospital bed. I'm fine, I just keep yawning and it's making my eyes water."
"Speaking of yawning, how did you get in here this late? I thought it was only family at this time of night."
"Oh I have my ways." She smirks and winks at you. You laugh at that, for the first time in your new existence.
"Yeah I bet you do. So why are you here anyways? Not that I'm not glad to see you or anything."
"Well I figured your parents might not be back tonight and I thought someone should stay with you."
"Oh. Thanks." You push yourself up to lean against the headboard and take a few moments to just stare at her trying to see everything the glee club was saying earlier. You can't. Not any of it. Granted it's dark and you kind of have to squint to really see her but you look at Rachel Berry and you don't feel anything like hatred. "Rachel. Can I ask you something?"
"No reason to stop now," she teases and smiles. You take a deep breath and look down at your lap fiddling with the blanket. You don't know how to say it while looking at her.
"Santana, well the whole glee club really, they. . ." You turn to look at her suddenly deciding you need to see her face when you say it. "They all say that I hate you." Now it's her turn to stare at the floor.
"Ah, that," she says quietly after a moment. She sighs and gets lost in her own thoughts for a bit before seeming to remember that you're still waiting on a response. Waiting for her to tell you it isn't true. "Well that's because. . . ." She looks up then and just stares into your eyes and for a second you feel lost and grounded all at once. She snaps you both out of the trance before you can even begin to figure out what it was. "That's because you do, Quinn." She gives you a sad half smile before looking back down at the hands in her lap. You don't understand. You have no idea about anything in this godforsaken world, you have no idea who you are or who anyone else is, you don't know your favorite color or what you wanted to be when you were little, and you can't for the life of you remember what to call the button on the wall that turns the lights on. But the one thing you're absolutely sure of is that you don't hate Rachel Berry, and you can't understand why everyone around you keeps telling you that you do. On impulse you reach over and slip your hand into hers. The calm from this afternoon washes back over you.
"It doesn't feel like I hate you, Rach." She stares at your hands for a moment before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, barely moving her thumb back and forth over your knuckles. You sit like that for nearly a minute before you realize neither of you knows what to say now. "It feels like maybe I hate Mr. Schuester though." The joke catches her off guard and she starts laughing. Really laughing like you haven't heard before and suddenly everything feels okay again.
"Yeah, you hated him the first time you met him too," she says after her laughter dies down some. "He takes some getting used to but he's okay. A little over enthusiastic maybe."
"He smiles like a little kid does right before he throws something gross at you. At least I think he does. I can't really remember." You lock eyes for a full second before you both bust out giggling.
"You're such a dork," she teases before standing up and placing your joined hands back on your bed. "I'm gonna go get a coffee and maybe grab a snack. You should try to get some more sleep. It didn't exactly look like you were doing a whole lot of resting, what with all the tossing and turning." And just like the first time you met her she smiles, squeezes your hand, and turns toward the door.
"Hey Rach?" She stops halfway out into the hallway and turns to look at you. "What's your middle name?" She raises an eyebrow and just stares at you for a second no doubt wondering where the hell the question came from.
"Barbara?" You immediately smash your lips together to keep from laughing. You're not sure what you were expecting her to say exactly but that certainly wasn't it. She just grins and shakes her head.
"Shut your mouth, Fabray," she says before turning back to leave. "And go to sleep!" you hear before watching the door shut on her again.