AN: Sorry about the wait. Life's been... stressful. But whatever.


Chapter 3

You flinch at Santana's words. Despite how often you've heard them, you've never quite gotten used to it. There's a viciousness in the glare she's sending you, but it leaves you instantly when Rachel nudges her side. "San, stop it." Her voice is soft, a whisper, very unlike yesterday when she protected you from those boys. Santana just gives her an incredulous look. It's like she's asking if this is some sort of joke. "I mean it, San." Santana huffs and twists in her chair so that she's not facing the two of you.

Rachel turns to you with a smile. She's about to say something, but stops when her friend gives her chair a slight kick. Rachel gives her a look. You can tell that she wants to say something, but she chooses to sigh instead. A student squeezes past you, and you then notice that you're kind of in the way. You step around to the front of Rachel and Santana's table.

"I see you got my flower," Rachel says cheerfully, eyeing the gardenia that you're holding close to your chest. You nod, offering a toothy smile.

"Yeah, I did. Thanks, it's lovely," you say, earning a gagging sound from Santana. You hate that she's around; she's ruining the moment. You try to take it with stride, to not let it bother you. Your failure at doing so is shown clearly on the apologetic smile on Rachel's face. She mouths out the words, 'Ignore her.' You try.

"I wasn't sure what you'd like, so I went with something I thought would highlight the color of your eyes," she admits. Santana groans. Your eyes dart to her momentarily before refocusing on Rachel.

"They're actually my favorite."

"Really? Oh, I knew that," she says with a laugh. "That's what I meant to say." Santana continues to be obnoxious by roughly clearing her throat. Rachel sighs. You just can't seem to win. "We'll talk later, okay?" You nod meekly and make your way to your seat, gently placing your flower down in front of you. The two of them start talking again, although the nature of their conversation is more hostile than it was when you entered the room.

They're talking about you. You don't hear your name, but you know that they are. You squirm in your seat, torn between eavesdropping and just minding your own business. You decide on the latter, but with your close proximity, you overhear bits of their conversation regardless of how much you try not to. You get nothing concrete, just some curses from Santana, and nothing at all from Rachel.

Rachel's too quiet for you to understand a word she says. You assume that she's trying to be considerate of your feelings, but you'd prefer it if you could hear her telling Santana that you're not a freak. You look down; focusing on the assignment you have today. A ball of paper hits you directly on the tip of the head. Your eyes dart up to be met with the Latina's devious smirk.

You want to say something. You know that you can't, not that you actually have the guts to do so anyway. Luckily you don't have to since Rachel lightly punches her arm and shakes her head. You squeak out a, "Thanks," but Rachel doesn't acknowledge it. You guess that she didn't hear, or at least you hope that's the case.

The pair of them have stopped bickering, but you can't help but feel a pair of eyes burning holes in your skull. You decide that it's better not to check to see if you're right. Instead you focus on your work, which is a bit of a challenge in it of itself since you left your books in your locker and no one in class will even think about sharing with you.

It wasn't always like that; you're first month in McKinley had actually gone by pretty well, but once you were targeted by the football team and the Cheerios everyone started avoiding you like the plague. Good thing that you're always ahead of the class; you'll be able to finish most of this assignment off of memory.

You get to work, focusing on the sound of your pen scratching on paper. The work is simple enough, although you get stuck here and there. Your foot taps a beat whenever you need a second to think. You're finishing up faster than most everyone else. You pause to sniff your flower, noticing that Rachel had scooted herself to the far end of the table she shares with Santana.

She's not far behind on the assignment and you wonder if you'll get your chance to talk. It's not ideal with Santana around, but this class in the only one you share with Rachel. It's unfair, you think. The both are smart and take the same honors classes and the two of you are surely to take the same AP courses later on, but despite that you only share one period. One.

It's unfair, you think, but there's not a thing you can do about it. Supposedly you could ask for a transfer of class, but without a valid reason for one you're out of luck. And of course, changing around your whole schedule just to see Rachel more often is a bit extreme, and if you were to do so you'd probably see your behavior as of a stalker and you don't want that.

You look at the clock. There's still a good amount of time left in class. You're almost done and by the looks of it Rachel's already finished. It's perfect but you hesitate only for a second before extending your leg in an attempt to tap her chair. Santana notices your movement and roughly swats your foot away with her own. You winch and let out a weak squeak at the pain. You try to glare at her, but she doesn't even take the effort to look at you.

Your ankle hurts a bit. You bring it up onto the chair and rub it gently. It doesn't look bad. You don't think it's likely to bruise, but that knowledge only does so much to brighten your mood. You try again with your other foot. Santana won't be able to reach you this time… unless she's willing to go as far as kicking Rachel's chair into your leg. You sure hope that she isn't.

Santana doesn't, but your light tap isn't enough to gain Rachel's attention. You tap her chair again a tad harder. Her head pops up and turns back to you. You offer a shy wave. Rachel smiles. She turns back momentarily, to adjust her things, before twirling her chair around and scooting herself to your table.

"So gardenias are your favorite, huh?" she asks, continuing your conversation from earlier. You nod.

"They mean 'secret love'," you explain. Her eyes widen slightly.

"Do they?" She's genuinely surprised, and the small flicker of hope that filled your chest earlier has dimmed slightly. You nod, keeping your smile in place. It's irrational to feel this upset. "I didn't know that." It's almost as irrational as thinking that Rachel had a secret crush on you. But you do feel upset. "I just thought that they were pretty like you and went well with your eyes."

You tilt your head down to hide the blush on your cheeks. Really, does she have to be such a charmer? And now she's giggling. She's doing this on purpose! Not that you mind, this kind of attention is far better than the kind you get from the rest of the Cheerios. She's just watching you, seemingly smitten at your actions which she apparently finds to so adorable.

The bell rings. Class is over. Darn. She gets up and puts her seat back to her table. "I'll see you later, okay?" You manage a small nod and she disappears from the room. You get to your feet grab you flower and make your own way out. The still feel the butterflies in your stomach, making your knees buckle. You make it a few steps out of class when an arm blocks your path.

Santana.

"We need to talk," she says. Your eyes dart to her cold expression. Most days she looks at you like you're nothing. She doesn't think much of you, if anything at all. But right now she's acknowledging you as something more. An enemy? A threat? You don't know, but it feels a bit empowering. You hold your head up high, clutch your gardenia closer to your body, and try to go around her.

"I have nothing to say to you." She looks stunned, but is quick to cut off your escape.

"Good, you can just listen then." Her cheerleading workouts make her more agile; you probably can't out maneuver her. You relent and let her speak. "I'm just going so say this once, Blondie. So pay attention." You steel your expression, not letting her see a hint of weakness. "Rachel's my friend. I look out for my friends, and she doesn't need people like you dragging her down. So back off." She turns to leave.

"And if I don't?" you mange, swallowing a lump in your throat.

She spins back with a smile on her face. She's laughing. "You don't want to know," she says. You don't like the glint in her eye. You can almost see the gears turning in her head; all the things she plans to do to you if don't do as she says. "You think what I've done so far is bad? You have no idea." She's silent for a bit, examining you. Her eyes flicker up to yours for a second and she smirks. "You're lucky that Rachel gave you that," she says, looking down at your gardenia, and then leaves.

Your following class is laced with thoughts of how to proceed. It wracks your mind. You're good enough to be Rachel's friend; you know you are. You can't let yourself listen to Santana. You have to ignore her threats. Rachel will protect you. Right?

You sigh, clearing your thoughts and closing your eyes. You've barely touched your work for this period, and only because you are otherwise preoccupied. Every few seconds you can't help but check on the jocks sitting in the back of class. They may not actually answer to Santana, but they'll surely do as she asks. A warning attack feels imminent; it's only a matter of time. And it's only worse since you have no idea what the Latina has planned. The name-calling, the shoving and tripping, the slushies; they've all come to be expected. If Santana tries something, it'll be bigger.

You about Lamby and what happened yesterday. The whole thing was a spectacle and with the way things spread, the entire school should know about it by now. Jacob probably even put it up on his blog. Santana would know. You reach for your bag, making sure that she's securely in place. You zip your bag back up. Lamby's claustrophobic, like you, but it's for her own good. You bring your gardenia closer to you, easier for you to grab.

You just feel nervous. You're alone for most of the day, and they could strike at any given moment. And as second period comes to an end you feel the looming danger ever approaching. You'd feel more at ease if you had some more classes with your friends. Luck is never on your side.

As you walk to your locker you run into Mercedes. "Hey girl!" She comes up to you, taking you into a big hug. "Why didn't you tell me about what happened yesterday?" she asks, adding in a whisper, "About Rachel?" You redden. "You've been crazy about her since forever and you don't tell me?" she playfully chastises.

"I'm sorry. I was kind of caught up, I was…" Dreaming about a future where you were married to Rachel. Yeah, you're not going to tell her that. She shakes her head. You get the feeling that she knew what you were thinking.

"It's no biggie," she tells you. "You can tell me about it later."

"Yeah, totally."

"And who's that from?" You look down to see her looking at the flower Rachel gave you. Oh, this day is just a train wreck of emotions. Up and down, up and down. You'll probably go crazy by the end of the day. Hopefully it'll at least be at a high point. "From Rachel?" she teases, causing your cheeks to turn a shade of pink. "Oh girl, we really need to catch up. But we should get to class." She offers a goodbye, leaving you completely embarrassed in the middle of the hallway.

The day has been crazy enough, but luckily third period is your most calm class. There are only a few Cheerios there, and with only mere taunts, they aren't very threatening to you. Truth be told, you think that they're just trying to make names for themselves and show that they'll follow Santana's orders. They're only minions, poor ones at that.

Their comments are the same as always. Jeers about your glasses, your religion, your everything. They even make fun of you by calling you a dumb blonde. It's completely absurd as you keep a perfect GPA, not to mention that a few of them are blonde themselves. You'd laugh at the irony of it, if you wouldn't suffer any backlash.

The torment from these girls is strictly verbal, but today you feel a few things hit your head. You check the ground; balls of paper. Such childishness. They continue their petty assault whenever the teacher has her back turned, though with Sue on their side, they probably wouldn't get as much as a slap on the wrist for their behavior. It's only an annoyance. You continue to work, easily being able to ignore their actions. It makes you feel suspicious. Something's up.

It's not long after that you see Dave through the window of the door. You're still got a good ten or so minutes left in class. You ask to use the restroom and are able to catch him, a giant cup in his hand, rounding the corner to the hall that you usually use to go to your fourth period. It's a trap and you conclude that the Cheerios were merely trying to distract you.

When you get back in, you feel a swell of confidence. It's bit unwarranted, but hey why not allow yourself to feel good? The only thing is that this is obviously not of Santana's planning. You hate to admit it, but she'd smarter than this. You can only guess that Finn is behind this; payback for yesterday, you suppose.

He's not very bright, so a simple plan would be perfect for him. You know he has a thing for Rachel, just like you so you have a particular hatred for him. But as far as you know, you have no reason to be jealous of him; Rachel's love life is… obscure at best. If anything, he might just jealous of you. Rachel had defended you and made him look like a fool in front of everyone. Yeah, he's totally got a grudge against you.

You're forced to take the long way round after class. You avoid it due to the immense danger that it presents, but with the jocks waiting for you in a separate hall you'll be fine if you're quick. You move fast, your books held close to your chest and your gardenia firmly grasped in your hand. Your light blue baby doll dress and matching flats will be able to survive a slushie attack, but your white cardigan won't.

Every now and again you check over your shoulder, but there's no one in sight. The dimwitted jocks probably haven't even taken into consideration that you took a different route. You giggle at the thought. You round another corner and spot Rachel, all by lonesome, down the hall. You wave at her. She spots you, smiles, and waves you to come over.

You're going that way anyway so you have no reason not to. She waits for you at the intersection. You get closer and then see her roughly pulled into another hallway. You break into a sprint, chasing after her. You don't know who would hurt her, or even who would think about hurting her. But you can't just stand by and do nothing. As you reach the corner you hear a familiar voice.

"What's been going on with you?!" It's Santana again. She's always there. Always.

"What are you talking about?"

"Uh, the way you're trying to be friends with Fabray," she says matter-of-factly. "Why are you wasting your time with Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes?" You hear Rachel try to answer, but her response is quickly cut off. "Really Rach, she's starting to think that the two of you're actually friends," she scoffs.

"She is my-"

"Yeah right," Santana replies, disbelievingly. "Look Rach, we both know that she's just your little charity project. And you know what? If you feel that bad for her, fine. I don't care, but at least tell it to her straight." You feel your heart clench, like Santana just thrust her hand into your chest and is now squeezing the life out of your heart.

"It's not like that Santana." Rachel's voice is stern, but shaky. She seems to have forgotten about how you were approaching her in the hall; she's too distracted. You refuse to believe that she's only doing this to clear her conscious. You can't. You look down at your gardenia. "You don't know what you're talking about. Quinn's… special." Santana scoffs again. "She is… she's…"

"Come on Rach, I'm your friend. She's not." Santana growls in frustration. "What is so special about her, huh? She's a nobody, and she's going to drag you down. And just cause she thinks she's better than us doesn't mean that she is."

"Santana just stop."

"No." She's adamant, and even if you can't see her you know the look she has on right now. "Just tell me, why do you even care about that stupid little-"

"Santana!" Her counterpart calms down. You can hear her deep breaths.

"Just tell me."


AN: So due the popularity of this fic, I am totally considering make a full-on "Choose Your Own Adventure Fic" complete with branching paths and multiple endings, but I'm not promising anything. Nor do I have plot but I was thinking of either of something like a horror fic or a mystery. Something like that. If I do go through with it, I won't be posting it until I'm completely done or nearly done.

On an unrelated note, I really want to write a Marley fic, but I don't know who I ship her most with yet...

And does anyone know of a good Faberry/Stardust crossover fic

But anyway...

Choice:

A) Do you continue to listen

or

B) Do you leave

And to add more depth...

Feelings For Rachel:

A) Do you believe and trust her

or

B) Do you let Santana's word discourage you

Please be specific about your votes. Thanks!