Thank you to all my lovely reviewers again :) I'm sorry this chapter took a bit longer but I've finished all my exams now so you can start to expect more frequent updates. Hope you like it :)
Shelby couldn't sleep. She was in the Berry's spare room staring into space trying to get her head around everything that had happened in the past couple of days. It was one thing promising to be there for her and take things at her pace, but what if Rachel never got used to the idea that she was her mum? She didn't know if she could take it. Her depression was under control, yes, but that didn't mean she didn't have bad days and by no means did that guarantee that it wouldn't come back as bad, if not worse, than last time. What if she was only ever a friend to her daughter? Someone who would take her to nice places and help hopefully get to help her with her promising career but could never be her mum? Of course just being in her life would be great, but Shelby wondered if it would really be enough for her. Could she deal with it? Whatever happened, she promised herself that Rachel would never find out how badly giving her up had affected her. She wanted her daughter to look up to her and trust her, not think of her as someone who couldn't even look after herself.
She knew was different now though, she was stronger. There were still times that she had to be careful, she'd cut her nails short before she left and bought wax for her legs so that she wouldn't be tempted to... No! Stop this, Shelby! Don't think about it, she told herself, knowing it wouldn't help anyone.
Fully aware that she needed a distraction, Shelby looked at her phone. She had a message from her agent, Kimberly, reminding her for the hundredth time that she still hadn't confirmed if she'd be going on The Ellen Show. She replied, saying that she would go as long as it was not over the spring break but asking Kim not to question it. They got on well but she wanted to know everything that was going on in her life. Still, she was just doing her job and Shelby couldn't really complain, she'd got her loads of work and was great at what she did.
Eventually, Shelby's body gave in to tiredness after a day of travelling and releasing emotions that had been building up for nearly 18 years. Once Hiram and Leroy had gone to bed she broke down in tears. She wasn't even sure why but she couldn't calm herself down. She was sure that the older men could hear her but also knew them well enough to know that they wouldn't disturb her for fear of making her uncomfortable, a gesture that was greatly appreciated.
Rachel woke to the sound of Don't Rain On My Parade blasting from her alarm, as it did every morning. She thought it strange, that something so normal would happen after yesterday. It seemed almost insignificant, but it definitely brought her down from her high. Her early alarm reminded her that she still had to face going to school today, she had to face everyone again and, to add to that, she'd have Kurt questioning her about why she wasn't replying last night. What could she say? She promised him an explanation. He would freak if he knew the truth and would definitely want to be her friend if she told him. But that wasn't fair on anyone. Besides, could she trust him not to tell? Honestly, she didn't know.
Deciding not to think about it, Rachel started getting ready for school as normal. She would just have to get through today and could spend as much time as possible with Shelby before she had to leave.
Much to her dads' surprise, the teenager left for school without a fuss. They had all tried to be quiet around the house, knowing that Shelby hadn't had much sleep and would probably be grateful that she wasn't woken up at 6am by the usual rushing and noise in the Berry household every morning.
I've been running in your direction
For too long now
I've lost my own reflection
And I can't look down
If you're not there to catch me when I fall.
Rachel listened to the lyrics of one of her favourite songs, realising not for the first time how it seemed to describe her feelings towards her mother almost perfectly. She relaxed and sung along as she drove to school, hoping that her good mood would last.
"If this is the moment, I stand here on my own
If this is my rite of passage that somehow leads me home
I might be afraid
But it's my turn to be brave"
As she sang, the lyrics began taking her mind to places of bullying and unhappiness. Then she remembered the previous day's events and decided that worrying about the stupid kids at school was pointless, knowing that when she got home she would be able to finally get to know her mother after years of wanting and praying for her to come.
Finding out who her mother was really did prove to Rachel that you never know what a person has been through, even if you follow them on twitter, know their songs by heart and have watched every video and read every article on them in existence. She could only hope that some of her peers would grow up and realise this sooner rather than later. They may think they know her as the talented, annoying girl with two gay dads but they didn't seem to realise that she had feelings too.
Rachel was so deep in thought that she almost didn't realise she'd arrived at school until she heard Kurt tapping on her window. She must have been driving practically on autopilot.
"Earth to Rachel!" He yelled.
Shaking herself out of her dazed state, Rachel opened the car door and greeted Kurt.
"So, what's up? You were completely out of it back then."
"Sorry, I've just got a lot on my mind right now."
"Is this about those idiots at school?" Kurt asked.
"Something like that." She mumbled.
"What was up with you last night?"
Rachel sighed, she knew this was coming.
"Nothing, Kurt." She said, trying to put on the most convincing smile possible. Obviously, he wasn't fooled. She could tell this from his expression. "Look I said it's nothing, okay? Just drop it. I will tell you what's wrong if and when I decide I want to but not before so don't push it!" The young diva yelled. She slammed her car door and locked it, before rushing to her first lesson.
School dragged by just like every other day, although today it seemed to take ten times as long.
It seemed everywhere she turned someone would give her a funny look or call her names. By lunch she was starting to get paranoid. Did they know? The rational part of her brain told her it wasn't possible and she was just being stupid and overreacting. It was just like any other day, except now she had a mother.
By the time glee finished, Rachel was certainly ready to go home. Luckily she'd managed to go a whole day without getting slushied. Two days straight, she thought, it must be a new record. As she was thinking that, however, Karofsky came around the corner with a slushie, obviously pissed at having an after school detention, and appeared to be looking for someone from the New Directions to take his frustration out on. With Rachel rushing out of the choir room in a desperate attempt to get home, she became the footballer's target.
She felt the cold drink splash on her face. Her eyes stung and the red liquid was already starting to drip down her top. The humiliation she felt every time this happened came flooding back and she rushed into the nearest girls' bathroom to try and wash her face.
Once she'd cleaned herself up she went to her locker to get some spare clothes, only to remember that she'd forgotten to bring some more after the slushie attack on Wednesday, what with everything that had been going on at home. She was just thankful that it was the end of the school day and she could get changed as soon as she got home. Her dads knew about the bullying now, she didn't have to hide her 'slushied' clothes from them any more for fear of questioning and them finding out.
Rachel swore to herself when she got into her car. Shelby was going to see her! That was the last thing she wanted. She looked a mess. What would her mum think of her looking like this? Would she not want anything to do with her? Would she leave just as quickly as she arrived? Then she thought about how perfect Shelby always looked in all the photos and videos of her online. She even managed to look gorgeous with her face covered in green makeup.
She couldn't hold in her tears any longer. She wanted her mother, her mum. She so desperately wanted her to love her. Looking at her reflection, she couldn't see how anyone would. She was a mess, there was still slushie in her hair and her eyes were already swollen from the drink and she knew that crying would only make that worse. The sting of both the iced liquid and the humiliation of what happened was almost too much for the teenager to handle. Realising that she still had to drive home, Rachel pulled herself together, dried her eyes and started the car. Staying in her car park would accomplish nothing apart from briefly putting off the inevitable.
Unlocking the door, Rachel could hear Leroy and Shelby talking in the living room. She tried to sneak upstairs and change before either of them saw her.
"Rachel, dear, would you come in here for a moment?" Her dad called to her. She should have known she wouldn't be so lucky.
Slowly, she walked into the room. Shelby gasped when she saw her daughter and rushed across the room to her, with Leroy not far behind.
"What happened?" She asked, her mind instantly filling with the most improbable possibilities as to why the young girl had red liquid down her front.
"Nothing." Rachel mumbled. She knew they wouldn't buy it so told them the truth. "Okay, fine I was slushied. If you don't mind, I'd like to go upstairs and change. I don't like standing around in cold, wet clothes."
The teenager stormed upstairs, unaware that two of her parents were sharing a silent conversation behind her. Leroy persuaded Shelby to go after her, hoping that mother and daughter could bond and maybe Rachel would start to feel more comfortable with the whole situation.
Rachel slammed her bedroom door and sat on her bed crying. She didn't even have the energy to change her clothes, she just wanted to disappear. She hadn't meant to shout and yell and she knew her dad would be angry for her reacting like that to such a simple question. As for Shelby, she didn't know what she would think of her now. She'd probably think she was just an immature kid and want nothing to do with her.
Meanwhile, Shelby was waiting outside Rachel's bedroom, listening for signs that she'd finished getting changed so that she could go in. Instead she heard crying. The muffled sobs of a girl in pain. Not just any girl either, her daughter, her baby. She was hurting and Shelby hated it.
Gently, she knocked on the door and asked to come in. When she didn't get a response she pushed the door open slowly and walked in to sit next to her daughter.
"Do you want to talk about it?" She asked.
"No. It's no big deal, it happens almost every day."
"Rachel, hunny, if someone is able to reduce you to tears then it is a big deal. Have you talked to the Principal about this?"
"I haven't, but other kids have. Apparently slushies aren't on the school board's list of suspension-worthy weapons or some shit like that."
"Language." Shelby warned. Rachel mumbled an apology. If she wasn't so upset she would have been annoyed that her newly found mother thought she had the authority to do that but as it was she really didn't want to start another argument and make everyone feel even worse. "And that's just unacceptable."
"There's nothing we can do about it though." She said, looking down as if in defeat.
"Sweetie, look at me." Rachel raised her head slightly, keeping her eyes focussed on the sleeve of her cardigan that she was currently fiddling with. "Did they hurt you?"
"It stings my eyes a little bit but to be honest I'm used to it by now, all the glee kids are."
"Come here, Rachel" She said softly, enveloping the young girl in a hug. "It's going to be okay. We'll stop this for you. Now, shall we get you cleaned up?"
Rachel nodded and moved away from Shelby to get some clean clothes out from her wardrobe. Silently, she put her favourite old hoodie and a pair of leggings on her bed, not wanting to fuss with any nice clothes when all she was going to do was sit around at home. She realised that Shelby didn't care that she looked a mess and this thought alone made her feel a lot more comfortable. She walked into her en-suite and took a quick shower to get rid of the remaining slushie from her hair and down her front while Shelby waited patiently on her bed.
While she was in the shower, her mother took the opportunity to have a proper look around the room. Covering the walls were pictures of famous Broadway actors and various signed playbills, all framed. She noticed there were more than a couple of posters and photographs of her on there, which made her unable to contain a smile.
It wasn't long until Rachel came out of the bathroom, combing through her long hair.
"Do you want me to do that?" Shelby asked before she could help herself.
Rachel blushed slightly and nodded. She knew she was no longer a kid and was capable of brushing her own hair but she could tell her mother really wanted to do it for her. She had to admit she'd missed someone doing that to her. He dads would help her with her hair when she was younger. It was long and hard for the young girl to manage but they hadn't done it in years. She handed Shelby the brush and sat in front of her on the bed.
As she was brushing through her daughter's gorgeous brown locks, Shelby started singing. Rachel recognised the song instantly, she'd been listening to it only this morning on her way to school.
At least it's the first day of the rest of my life
I can't be afraid
Cause it's my turn to be brave
Rachel joined in after the first chorus and the pair sang beautifully together. They both wished that they could hold this moment in their hearts forever because, no matter how unfortunate the circumstances, it was perfect and exactly what both women had been dreaming of for the past 17 years.
"Mum?" Rachel asked, turning around.
Shelby nodded as she tried to fight back the tears forming in her eyes after hearing that word come from her daughter's lips.
"I love you."
"I love you too, baby." Shelby replied, letting the tears flow freely now and smiling from ear to ear.
A/N: The song is Brave by Idina Menzel. Although I expect that's stating the obvious to a lot of you. If not listen to it, it's really good :) xx