Rachel doesn't have any other public appearances scheduled until later in the month, but she still finds herself wanting a reason to hire Whitney for another engagement. Mostly, she wants to quell her curiosity, to prove to herself that this woman isn't Quinn, that if she were, she'd certainly tell Rachel.
"What do you need, 'hon?" is the reply from Walter's end of the phone call. It's Tuesday, which means he isn't scheduled to come by her apartment until the afternoon, but it's still morning and he's probably on a breakfast date or working out or something.
"I want to hire her, again."
There's a pause, then realization. "Ryder. Right. She was good. I can see if she's free for your next event."
"I want a consult before then. Sometime this week."
Another pause. "Her... rates aren't exactly cheap."
"Negotiate. It's what I pay you for, isn't it?"
"No, that's why you pay your lawyer."
"Can we talk about this when I get there?"
Only she doesn't want to wait, so she Googles "Whitney Ryder" but doesn't find a damn thing about West Coast White Knight Security Services, which is the name of the company on the card she was handed two nights ago. She's already tried the number, but it says the voice mailbox is full and to try again later.
There's another element to all of this, something she just remembered this morning.
There as a survey, a questionnaire, she filled out last month. Walter insisted it was for a liaison service that paired high profile individuals with security personnel who were the most compatible.
"Do you have a preference in gender? Hair color? Height? Eye color? Regional dialect?"
The questions spanned at least five pages and some were seemingly unrelated, like, "Do you prefer the radio or a playlist? How often do you order take-out? Would you consider some of your personal beliefs to be unconventional?"
Walter told her she was free to skip any questions she didn't care to answer, but Rachel being Rachel filled out every single one, including the physical description with "Female. Blonde. 5'6''-5'8". Hazel/Green." She even admittedly was thinking of Quinn when she made the entries, because if someone was going to be standing around while she performed, it might as well be someone easy on the eyes.
Her sexual orientation isn't a secret. After her break-up with Finn there had been one more boyfriend in college, during her freshman year, and then Rachel met Charlotte, a moderately moody NYU sophomore who did abstracts and listened to NPR and always had paint on her clothes. It was only a six month relationship, but she was Rachel's first girlfriend of many, but the only brunette.
It's a fact that Rachel Berry is a Kinsey four point six. It's a fact that she prefers blondes. It's a fact that she's not above hiring someone who physically resembles a high school crush.
Though, she wasn't expecting someone who looks and sounds just like Quinn Fabray.
By the time Walter shows up, just after one, she's made up her mind.
"Okay, I'll set her up for your show downtown, on the twenty-sixth."
"I want to see her before then."
"She's... probably very busy."
"Honey, look... what is this about? Are you lonely? You haven't had brunch with Kurt in at least six months. Maybe you should call him."
Rachel glares at him from her lotus position. "This isn't about brunch, it's about... I would just prefer to meet with her before the next performance."
Walter considers this, and then it hits him. "I get it. This isn't a security thing. This is a hot blonde thing." He nods and smile that spreads across his face just earns him an even harder glare.
"It is not!"
"Oh, it is. And, I get it. She's very attractive. You two certainly meshed well. Oh, god, I should have seen this coming. It actually makes perfect sense."
Rachel can no longer focus on her meditation, so she unfolds her legs and reclines until she's lying flat on the floor. "What does?"
"Ah, well..." Walter paces along the open space of the workout room. "She... isn't from a standard security firm."
"Right. She runs her own private company, I know that."
"Well... not really."
"Are you saying she lied?"
Rachel pushes herself up on her elbows. "Okay, then what are you saying?"
He stops moving, his body turned away from her, toward the window. "I'm saying..." There's a pivot and then he's facing her before he drops down to the mat on the floor. "Remember last year, that story about John Mayer and the escort?"
"You hired a prostitute?!" Rachel's all the way upright, now.
"No, no." He waves a hand at her. "That was just the cover story. My cousin Kelsey, she was at the holiday party last year, remember? The one who works for TMZ? She had this scoop on how the escort was actually... uh... from a much more premium service than anyone thought."
"If you didn't hire a prostitute, what does this have to do with anything?"
"I wasn't going to tell you because it's better if you don't know. It's... questionable, according to certain parties. But... if you want more than security, I can work that out for you."
"Okay, I don't even know what this conversation is, anymore." Rachel's about to push herself up onto her feet, but Walter grips her wrist and gently pulls her back down.
"She can be anyone you want. We just have to keep it quiet. You've been somewhat reclusive, lately, and maybe some specialized interaction would be good for you."
Her mouth hangs open, because he isn't making any sense. "I... Walter, you either need to explain this or drop it, because it's starting to sound really weird."
"They... shape... individuals for their client needs."
It's like it clicks. Even though it's absurd. But it makes sense, especially given the questionnaire. "They program people."
"I'm assured it's all consensual. The people they hire know what they're getting into."
Rachel knows this is the kind of thing that could destroy her career if it ever found its way to the public. She knows the ethics are questionable, because even with consent, there has to be a wealth of other liability issues at hand. But she's curious, especially given that she still isn't a hundred percent sure that Whitney Ryder isn't Quinn Fabray.
She only has one question.
"Can we change her name?"
"Not at all."
"You're absolutely certain?"
Topher rotates the soda can in his hand. "Positive."
"You're saying there's no risk of triggering anything?"
"There's nothing to trigger. To Lima, it's the same engagement protocol we programmed before, just with a different name. It doesn't matter what it is."
Adele isn't sure she likes it, but then perhaps it's worth exploring the outcome. Just in case. "Fine. Proceed."
Rachel's eyes stay on the security monitor the entire time the blonde figure with the duffel bag slung over her shoulder moves from the front lobby of the building to the elevator to the eleventh floor hall until she's standing outside apartment 11C. The doorbell rings and Rachel's already reaching for the handle before the chime finishes playing out.
"Hello, Quinn," Rachel's tentative as she tries the name. "Please, come in."
"Thank you." There's a flash of whitened smile as Quinn enters the apartment.
"How was your flight?"
"It was good. No delays or anything."
There's an awkwardness that hangs between them and Rachel wonders if it's because she's now looking at this woman as if she really, truly is Quinn Fabray or if it's because she's assigned the name to someone else.
"Why don't I show you to your room and you can put your bag down. Then we can... have a drink?"
"I don't normally drink on the job... but considering this particular assignment, I suppose it's acceptable."
The assignment, as it stands, is one of personal, in-home security. It's only for the weekend, because three days of round-the-clock attention from the agency was already enough to eat through Rachel's rainy day money. But it also has to be enough time for her to assess whether or not this woman is someone she used to know or just an extremely convincing doppelganger.
Rachel leads her to a room across the hall from her own. Up until now, it's been Walter's crash pad, but he's removed his personal items and the room looks like a regular guest room with a few mod touches. "I'll let you get settled. You have your own bathroom if you'd like to freshen up after traveling. I'll be in the living room when you're ready and I can brief you on the weekend."
"I'll just be a few minutes," Quinn assures her.
While she waits, Rachel pours herself a vodka and lime, which she sips as she stares out her window at the Central Park treeline. What's she even expecting out of this?
Despite Walter's suggestion to "enhance" the situation, all Rachel requested was the name change from "Whitney Ryder" to "Quinn Fabray" because it was just too unnerving to call this woman by a name that didn't seem to suit her. Everything else was to remain the same.
The story to explain the necessary weekend security was based in reality. Rachel had received a few email messages that seemed a little too invasive, suggesting one of her more enthusiastic fans may attempt to visit her at home. The only stretch of truth was the part where Walter had to return to Arizona for a family emergency, leaving Rachel alone and vulnerable.
"So, basically, I just would like someone here with me while he's gone. I'm not paranoid, I'm just cautious. My family still lives in Ohio and I keep a very small social circle here in New York."
"It's completely within reason," Quinn says, sipping her scotch and soda. "And it's wise of you to take this stalker seriously."
Rachel's disappointed that there's no reaction to the mention of Ohio, so she decides to try another angle. "Is your family out in California?"
"Yes." It provokes a smile from behind the glass. "My parents are still in Santa Barbara, where I grew up and went to college. My brother went to UC Davis... that's near Sacramento... and our baby sister went to UCLA." Quinn laughs to herself. "That's a little more than you asked for, but I'm the oldest. I like to brag on them a little bit."
"It sounds..." Wrong. All wrong. "Nice."
The remainder of Friday afternoon is relatively uneventful. Rachel reads through a script for an independent film while Quinn sits at the table in the breakfast nook, replying to various emails and typing up documents. Whatever goes into the business of sending people out to be what other people want must be very detailed, because Quinn's actually receiving replies to whatever she's sending out, which means there must be someone on the other end, perpetuating the reality of this non-existent security company in California.
Around six, Quinn excuses herself to the guest room. "I'm just going to lie down for a while. I have a tendency to get a little lagged when I travel, even though it doesn't make sense when it's later here than it is at home."
"Of course," Rachel replies from behind her script. "I was thinking about ordering in for dinner around seven, anyway."
Quinn nods and Rachel slumps back against the sofa cushions. It's terrible for her posture, the way she's sitting, but Walter's not here to reprimand her. Besides, she's allowed to flop around on her own furniture like a disappointed teenager when she's spent close to a million dollars on something that already feels like it's a total waste of time.
This woman certainly looks like Quinn, but whoever she is, she hasn't had Quinn Fabray's life.
She falls asleep with the script covering half her face, but she isn't even aware that she's dozing until she's jolted awake by the shout from down the hall. Her feet hit the floor but her shin hit the edge of the coffee table, so she hobbles down the hall toward the guest room, where the door's partially closed until she pushes it open to see Quinn sitting up with her hand over her eyes.
"Are you okay?" It's kind of a funny question to be asking someone you hired as a protector.
"I... yeah. I'm sorry." Quinn takes a deep breath and drops her hand away from her face. "I had this really vivid dream. It just... it shook me up."
Rachel leans against the door jamb, taking the weight off the leg that's still throbbing from the impact against the table. "At least if you're dreaming, you were getting decent sleep," she offers.
Quinn breathes out a laugh. "Well. I think I'm done with the sleep for now. I can't really relax after that." She swings her legs over the side of the bed and looks up at Rachel. "I got hit by a truck."
Rachel's wide awake but, suddenly, she feels completely broadsided.