A/N: Life completely stood in the way for me to finish this chapter.
St. Rita's Medical Center – February 22nd, 2012
No one got me to go home, not even Quinn's mom, so I stayed with her in vigil through the night, alert to any further information about Quinn. In the morning one of the physicians announced that a surgery was necessary, highly risky, but vital, so Judy had to give her consent with her heart in a knot.
In the midst of the operation Santana and Brittany returned with all of our friends from glee, I could say that the waiting room was pretty much without room left.
About an hour passed before I noticed Finn's absence.
Three hours later, the wait was over.
"Quinn Fabray?" the surgeon finally came out to the waiting area.
"I'm her mother, doctor" Judy instantly jumped from her seat and went over him, I found myself standing right behind her.
"Alright Mrs. Fabray, I'm Dr. Wilson" he offered his hand politely and she took it, "the operation was successful, we were able to align the compromised bones back again and fix the fracture-dislocation. However, a spinal fracture is different than a broken arm or leg, Quinn suffered from major trauma and it is very possible that there'll still be consequences" He explained.
"What kind of consequences?" Judy embraced herself in anticipation.
"There's a wide range of them, it can be from simple back pains and sleeping disorders in the future to a chronic decrease of lung capacity, but I've got to be honest… there's also a high chance of paraplegia, temporary or permanent". The surgeon finished with an afflicted tone.
It took me a few seconds to understand the implied message. Quinn might not be able to walk again, solely and exclusively because of me, I was responsible for it. My heart started beating faster and stronger, and the pain inside me was reflected on the corner of my eyes in shape of angry tears. I couldn't move.
"Please doctor, you can't let that happen... she's just 17" Judy cried out and collapsed on a chair with the help of Tina and Mike.
"We're doing everything we can" He assured.
"But clearly not enough!" Everyone turned their faces to the origin of that statement, me. "There's a reason why you've got a degree" my blood was reaching boiling point, he was supposed to do his job right and get Quinn out of that situation.
The surgeon gave me an incredulous look and everyone remained silent for a few seconds.
"Rachel, I think we should go get you some water" Mercedes said and pulled my arm trying to dissemble, but it wasn't necessary, a nurse came running agitated and caught everyone's attention.
"Dr. Wilson you're urgently required in the intensive care unit, it's the Fabray girl" she announced.
"What's wrong with my girl?" Judy snapped at her. The nurse's wide eyes showed that, evidently, she had no idea the woman in front of her was the mother.
"I'll be back with news soon" The doctor promised before starting a sprint and the nurse was quick to follow him, leaving Judy and all of us without a response.
My vision became blurry making me notice that my eyes were completely filled with tears, I couldn't help it and began to mourn with my hands clenched into fists at my sides, my entire body started to tremble.
If only I hadn't sent her that message...
A hand grabbed my shaking wrist and forced me to sit in one of the waiting chairs. "Rachel, you need to calm down right now if you don't want to self combust-".
"I can't calm down!" I hastily replied to Santana, who was seated beside me. She crossed her arms annoyed at my response.
"Want a tissue?" Brittany offered flanking my other side. I reluctantly ripped one from the Kleenex package she was holding in front of me.
"I just can't understand how can you be so calm with all that is going on with Quinn, don't you care about her? Haven't you heard the nurse?" I told them in an accusatory manner before wiping the tears from my face even though they didn't stop coming out.
"Don't say that, of course we are worried about her, she's our friend too" Brittany responded and placed a comforting hand in my back.
"Although we have our differences I consider Quinn one of my very few close friends" Santana admitted. "You can't just say we don't care about her by being defensive" She finished.
I was completely torn, partly because I knew that what they said was true, I admit that I was acting unnecessarily defensive with everyone out of anger, but also, the situation was affecting me like nothing else had, and I didn't know why. Only one thing I knew for sure, I was hating myself.
"You know you're not to blame for any of this, right?" Brittany asked like reading my mind.
I chose not to respond and stare at the floor instead.
"Rachel" Santana grabbed my arm and made me face her, "it's-not-your-fault" she said aloud, some people turned to stare at us but she ignored them "Take that stupid idea out of your head, it was an accident. Stop feeling bad about it".
Her statement made me have a moment of realization. It just hit me.
"I'm not like this just because I'm feeling guilty" I muttered to myself.
"What?" her face scrunched, unable to completely listen what I had just said.
I wanted to vanish, being with anyone but myself for a moment.
"I'm sorry" I apologized before getting up and walking towards the restrooms. They just stared at me in awe.
It was a relief that no one else was in there.
I locked myself in one of the vacant stalls and sat on the closed toilet seat, then I allowed myself to cry, no longer out of anger as before, that time out of pain. I had realized that deep inside me, I knew the problem wasn't just an unfortunate text message, of course I was feeling terribly guilty for the fact that somehow I'd caused the accident, but it was so much more than that.
Quinn was the one prostrated in a hospital bed.
I had never got to talk to her. I never got to tell her that I knew how she felt about me. I didn't respond her that at some point, maybe, there could be a small chance for us.
I knew I wasn't in a position to philosophize about my sexuality at that time, but I was certain that I've always cared more about feelings and the inner of a person instead of its physical body. I just never realized what that meant because I'd never felt the need to act on those sentiments.
Quinn was definitely important to me and I cared about her… like more than just as a friend. That moment I knew.
That was why I couldn't forgive myself.
Since I reached that conclusion I lost track of time thinking about all the things that finally made sense. The insatiable desire of becoming her and have everything she had... it was all showing my inner need to be closer to her, to feel myself like her, and somehow, just to feel her. How much time had I lost?
The sound of heels entering the room took me out of that trance. I checked my phone to see the time, half an hour had passed since I had left the waiting room.
"Rachel, are you there?" Judy's voice broke the silence I had become accustomed.
I quickly wiped the traces of tears out of my face with some of the toilet paper from the dispenser and tried to compose myself before answering.
"Ehh... yes, I was about to get back out there" I opened the stall and lied.
"Can you stay a little longer and talk to me?" Her request took me by surprise. It had become very difficult for me to look at Judy's face since last night, how was I supposed to hold a proper conversation with her? "...please" she added.
"Of course" I agreed without having further option. My eyes found hers after a bit of struggle, it wouldn't amaze me if they were equally red at the time.
"I wanted to thank you for staying last night" she started, "I didn't know you and Quinn were that close" a sad smile appeared at her face.
"Don't thank me please, I just really care about her" I honestly answered. Judy nodded and took a few seconds before continuing.
"I heard part of your conversation in the waiting room" She changed the subject, "I want you to know that I don't blame you for what happened, Rachel" she reassured.
I lowered my gaze.
"I'm sure not even Quinn for that matter" She said after lifting my chin up.
"But I do blame myself" the stupid tears made a second appearance in my eyes.
"Why would you blame yourself for something you haven't caused, dear?" she cleaned a few drops from my face.
"Because I should've known better" I replied. I really should have known better.
"Listen to me, Rachel" Judy held my face with both of her hands "There's anything you could've done to prevent this from happening, it was all an unfortunate mix of events and a bad decision from Quinn's side" she stated.
"But I- " I was about to contradict her, but she stopped me.
"I want you to stop feeling miserable about this because I know how much my daughter cares about you" I froze, not just by her words but by the look in her eyes as well. "Quinn and I talked the day before your wedding... I know- I know how she feels about you".
"You know?" I asked in shock.
"Yes" she frowned "and it seems that you too... Did she tell you?" suddenly that was becoming an awkward conversation.
"Not really, I just found out yesterday" I admitted. A concern popped in my head and I couldn't help asking gingerly "are you ok with it?"
"I am" Judy shrugged and lowered her gaze "I just want her to be happy and loved. It's up to her if she chooses a man or a woman to do that".
"I'm glad you see it that way" I thought that being a Christian it would've been difficult for her to accept it, but fortunately not.
"Well, I'm sure Russel won't be so pleased the moment he finds out" she looked at me "He's in the waiting room, he arrived ten minutes ago".
"Quinn's father is here?" my eyes nearly popped out. She nodded. "How did he- Did you call him?"
"I had to. At least now I know he still cares about her" tears started forming in the corner of her eyes even though her face was still calm, but the last thing I wanted was to see her crying again.
"Of course he cares. You did the right thing, Judy" I reassured her and placed a comforting hand in her shoulder. She looked more confident.
"That's good to hear" she wiped away the single tear that escaped her eyes.
"Do you want to go outside and see if there's any news about Quinn?" truth is that the anguish was killing me.
"Sure" she agreed. "But first you need to promise me that you'll stop this nonsense of feeling guilty, and I want you to say it aloud" she quickly recomposed herself and stared at me in expectation.
"I don't think I can do that, Judy" I couldn't say something I didn't feel.
"Yes you can, do it for Quinn, believe me, this is what she wants you to do" she didn't shift her position. With that argument I couldn't deny her anything, and she knew it.
I took a deep breath.
"I promise" I finally said.
Judy motioned for me to continue.
"I promise that I'll do my best to not feel guilty again" That response seemed to satisfy her.
Judy placed one of her arms around my shoulders as we were walking down the hall back to the waiting room. It was amazing and somewhat ridiculous to realize how many things I had learned about myself in a bathroom stall.
Out of nothing, we started to hear yelling, as if someone was trying to pick a fight, so we hasten our steps.
"You're just a bunch of incompetent bastards!" Russel was confronting Dr. Wilson in the middle of the room and I couldn't help but feel embarrassed for my early performance against said doctor.
"Please Mr. Fabray, you need to calm down" He politely tried to restore the quiet environment of the hospital, but Quinn's dad didn't stop his rant.
They continued arguing, or at least Russel did, but I lost interest in them once I stared at everyone else's faces. Some of they were crying and hugging their significant ones and others were completely immobilized and in shock. It could only mean one thing.
Something had happened with Quinn, and it wasn't something good.
"Where's Quinn? Is she ok? ... oh god" Judy asked alarmed noticing the same overwhelming scene as me.
The doctor indicated some male nurses to take charge of Russel before walking towards us with a serious expression.
"I'm sorry to announce this Mrs. Fabray, but Quinn's brain hasn't responded as expected, we have been trying to stimulate her cerebral cortex for the past hour, but there's no activity whatsoever. She's currently in a comatose state".
Judy cringed by hearing that, but never left my side. On the contrary, she supported herself tightly on my shoulders.
And somehow I was still standing even though I had stopped feeling.
William McKinley High School – April 18th, 2012
Carmen Tibideaux's face remained inscrutable.
Kurt had just finished one of his best performances I'd ever had the pleasure to witness, everyone else in the auditorium clapped for him, but she merely took some notes on her pad.
"That was just... beautiful" Blaine, completely moved, congratulated his boyfriend with a hug and a kiss on his cheek.
Kurt thanked him and then turned to face me. It took me a few seconds to realize what I was socially expected to do and then I hugged him as well.
"You did great" I told him sincerely, with the best smile I could manage to put on my face.
"Then you'll do amazing" He reassured me knowing that I might run away off the stage anytime.
Truth is, it took him about three weeks to convince me in not giving up on my NYADA audition.
After Quinn went into a coma, I changed a lot. For better or worse, I didn't know yet. I had lost the enthusiasm on everything the first few weeks, spoke only when necessary and limited myself to just observe. I'd become an expert at observation.
For example, one day while walking down the school hallways I could see the usual ads for Prom King and Queen since prom dance would be a couple of weeks later. It didn't surprise me to find Finn's face in one of them alongside a blonde cheerio, what surprised me was how different I looked at him right then. There was no more prince charming image, all I could see was a good-looking tall boy with a lot of insecurities and an uncertain future. I hadn't bothered on avoid him at school, I wasn't going to spend my energy on that, but apparently he would, because the few times I saw him he turned his back and left. Go figure.
Something else that I'd learned to observe, and I was quite proud of it, was the real way love works.
When Mercedes showed up at school one morning with a recording contract on her hands and screaming that she'd move to California the next year, Sam was the first one to go and celebrate with her. Nevertheless, when she wasn't looking at him, I noticed how his smile changed from a joyful to a sad one, he just knew he had to let her go.
Every day at lunch time Santana and Brittany separated themselves from the rest of the cheerios in the table and placed their open binders over it before Santana started explaining. At first, Brittany's face constantly wrinkled in confusion, but as the days went on, she seemed more confident. It wasn't until I heard them talking by the lockers that I understood. "Guess who's graduating with her girlfriend this year?" Brittany asked slyly. Santana squealed, jumped into her arms and circled her waist with her legs. Good thing I couldn't hear what she murmured in Brittany's ears afterwards, because I could swear I'd never seen the blonde girl as blushed.
Before, I never would have noticed those meaningful little moments. But right then, I knew I wanted to have them too.
"Rachel Berry" I heard my name being called by Miss Tibideaux and woke up from my thoughts.
"Make her go craaazy" Kurt sang to cheer me up.
"Good luck" Blaine said and gave me a smile.
I walked the few steps left to reach the center of the auditorium, the anxiety I had disappearing instantly. Once I get there and raised my gaze, somehow, I felt like if I was standing in another dimension, where nothing else existed, just me and the feelings about to be expressed trough the song I would perform.
Everything felt right and perfect, finally.
Upon reaching the last note of the song along with the background music, the few people in the auditorium silently waited a few seconds before clapping their hands loudly. The only exception was Miss Tibideaux, she didn't clap, didn't smile and didn't took any notes on her pad, but a little sparkle on her face made me realize a tear was falling down her cheek.
That day I gave my best rendition to "Don't rain on my parade".
William McKinley High School – May 23rd, 2012
Mr. Schue saw me waiting out the door of the choir room and gave me a pleased smile before turning his gaze to the members of the glee club.
"I have one final announcement to make... I want you to welcome back one of the most valuable members of the New Directions, the heart of our glee club, please give it up for Miss Rachel Berry"
I wasn't ready for such an introduction, but somehow I gathered the courage to walk inside and even a smile appeared on my lips. I had really missed my glee club, it had been three months since I left them.
I was received with applause and lots of hugs, from all of them but Finn, he just remained in his seat trying not to show discomfort but failing incredibly. However, it was very easy for me to set aside his bitterness thanks to the excitement of everyone else.
"We've got Nationals in the bag!" Puck celebrated and all of us cheered up and laughed. That was one of the few moments where I was able to genuinely feel happy after a long time.
"Rachel, can I talk to you for a minute?" Mr. Schue asked me once the meeting finished and everyone was leaving.
"Sure" I walked towards him.
"I want to make a confession" he started once everyone had left, "when you auditioned for NYADA last month, I couldn't help it, I had to sneak and take a little peek".
I just shook my head and held a smile.
"I got to tell you, what you did there was… I can't even find the right words. You've always been amazing, Rachel, but somehow you've grown into such a powerful performer. I'm really proud of you".
"Thank you, Mr. Schue" I doubted about telling him about it, but then decided to share it "I became another person when I was up there. It had never happened to me".
"That's amazing, Rachel, for most performers it takes years of experience to be able to connect with a song at such magnitude..." he was thrilled, "we'll miss you when you move to New York" he assured.
That was one of the main reasons why I didn't want to audition in the first place. I knew I had promised Judy that I would stop with the guilty feelings, but the thought of me achieving all of my dreams while she wasn't even able to open her eyes was extremely painful. Besides, if I was accepted in NYADA, I'd have to stop seeing her.
I couldn't even consider it.
"Rachel?" Mr. Schue asked after not receiving any answer.
"Yes, I... thank you" I quickly replied "I should get going now. Thanks again, Mr. Schue" I could swear I had never left the choir room with such a rush.
St. Rita's Medical Center – June 10th, 2012
"Chicago was great" I started, knowing that I only had one hour left to do the two things I had planned to do there that day, "at least this year we were able to afford five rooms, two for the girls, two for the guys, and one for Mr. Schue and Miss Pillsbury. I was supposed to stay with Santana and Sugar in the same room, but somehow Brittany switched beds with Sugar at 2 am and I just had to get out of there" I let out a chuckle trying to joke, but seeing her motionless and with her life depending on a machine was too much to ignore. I just had to stop for a moment.
I stared down at her only free hand, the right one. Her nails were still perfectly manicured and painted, two days ago I had done them. The new "blue my mind" nail polish I'd purchased made a beautiful contrast with her skin tone. I held it with both of my hands.
"We won Nationals, Quinn... we finally did it" I confessed, my lips joined the conjunction of our thumbs, "we agreed on bringing the trophy here to decorate your room, Figgins allowed it" I smiled for a second, "but I'm sure you'll have to return it pretty soon... right, Quinn?" tears threatened to appear in my eyes so I breathed deeply and moved on to my second task.
I picked up my bag from the floor and put it on my lap. I felt it was heavier than ever even though I'd left most of my books in my locker.
"I know this isn't as important to me as it was before, but I really want to share this moment with you" I opened the zipper and took out a white envelope, it hadn't bent or crumpled at all because the moment I received it I just put it in my bag and left it there.
Kurt hadn't made it.
I'd already decided I wouldn't be going. I just had to know if I was good enough.
"It arrived on the mail this morning, it's from NYADA" I turned the envelope from one side to another a couple of times in my hands before finally opening it.
Before, I would have read ten times every single word, but right then I was in search of a specific one. I gave a quick glance at the letter until I found such word in the second line. Immediately, I folded it back, put it in its envelope, kept it in my bag and tossed it away from me. I stood still.
A minute later, when my heavy breathing calmed down, I slowly got up from the chair and approached the bed headboard to get closer to her.
"I'm sure I won't be the first nor the last one to reject a NYADA acceptance letter" I told her while stroking her soft blonde hair strands.
There was nothing left to say at that time, I had it already decided. I would apply to the Lima Conservatory of Music and attend the acting classes at the local Academy of Dramatic Arts. I would also take a part time job at "The Lima Bean" and go visit Quinn every day, as always, from 3 to 5pm until she wakes.
The plan was to tell everyone I hadn't made it.
"This is the right decision" I told her, secretly trying to convince myself, but all I could imagine in that moment was Quinn desperately telling me otherwise.
I blocked that thought. Just like everytime I asked myself what she would think about my decision.
Instead, another image began to take shape in my mind, my surroundings changed completely, and suddenly, I found myself at Principal Figgins's office, around six months ago. Quinn sat by my side.
"What do you think about Yale?" she asked me, out of nowhere, her eyes with a little spark waiting for my answer.
"Oh, no, I have my sights set on NYADA" the old me, the one who thought everything spun around herself, answered.
"No, for me" she clarified, "I'm not the singer that you and Kurt are, but Yale has an amazing drama program, and I really do like to perform" her excitement was still there, I could sense it.
"Yeah!" was all I said.
Then, the memory finished.
I swear I could have kicked myself in that moment. She was really excited about sharing her decision with me, and I just answered with an empty single word. I would give anything to go back in time and tell her how proud of her I was. I felt powerless.
I looked down at her and couldn't find a better picture that explained how I was feeling.
In that moment I realized that I had done it again. I had gone back to being selfish. Quinn deserved to have an opinion in my decision. She was a big part of it as well. And I knew she couldn't hear me or talk to me, but I knew her... and she knew me.
For eighteen years I'd thought my main purpose in life was becoming a big Broadway star.
Quinn, after all she had been through, had managed to be accepted at Yale, but sadly she wouldn't be able to attend. Not yet, I kept in mind.
I really wished she could be able to achieve all of her dreams someday, and all I could imagine was that she felt the same about me.
Giving up on my dreams would be like giving up on Quinn, and I could never do that.
I had to go.
I'm sorry about this super sad chapter, it was just necessary. The good news is that I can now update this story at least weekly. Having two jobs it's difficult to find spare time, but I'll definitely continue.
If you want to know how much is left until next chapter check it on my profile page, I'll be updating the percentage I have ready so far.
Thanks for reading and reviewing!