AN: This is my first Faberry fic that I've actually posted (I have several in my documents that are all incomplete) and it's my favourite too. I've worked hard on it and I hope that you'll like it. Updates should be relatively frequent if I keep the pace of filling in missing scenes. Thanks to flooj9235 for proofreading the first two chapters. Enjoy x
Title: The One That Got Away
Pairing: Quinn Fabray & Rachel Berry
Rating: M (Just to be safe)
Summary: A twist of fate brought two McKinley High graduates together on a journey of happiness, tears and heartache against a backdrop of Lima, New York, New Haven and the house by the lake. They thought they were invincible and for a while, they were.
The One That Got Away
Present Day: New Haven, CT
The weather in New Haven was practically idyllic; the sun was shining and there was barely a cloud in the sky. The heat of the day meant the ice-cream parlours were probably making a decent amount of profit. In fact, there was a large queue in the student union for iced beverages but Quinn was in her last class of the semester, her only intention was to make it through these next few minutes and get home to complete and submit her final essay.
The walk from campus to her apartment wasn't too far. Admittedly it was further than the student halls where she had lived for her first year of college but she much preferred to have her own space without drunken college students disturbing her sleep or trying to get her to participate in their extravagant parties. By the time she reached the steps to the large brick building, her white blazer was draped over her left arm while her right hand was occupied with finding her keys. It had definitely increased in temperature since she stepped out this morning for her nine o'clock lecture and she cursed herself for wearing jeans instead of something cooler like that summer dress she bought last week. The back of her neck felt damp as she ran her hand across it, sighing in the heat as the door pushed open.
She was grateful for the coolness of the air-conditioned building as she closed the heavy door behind her. Bypassing collecting her mail, she made her way up the stairs with her hand gliding along the iron banister. A brief jingle of metal and her key was in the door of her second floor apartment, the shiny silver four adorning the green painted wood just above the gold-rimmed peephole. Once inside, the blonde grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator, dumped her messenger bag on the bed and sat down at the small desk she'd had since high school. Drinking half the contents of the bottle in one go and with a refreshed sigh, she opened her laptop which sat where she'd left it last night and began to type. She only had about two-hundred words or so to write, and with the information she gained from today's class, she knew exactly how to finish off the twenty-page long assignment which had dulled her to tears on several occasions.
Almost sixty minutes passed before the lid on Quinn's laptop made a satisfactory click as it finally closed. The paper was complete and submitted electronically; it was over. There were a few moments of mechanical whirring before it went quiet, her palm still resting on the machine in the room which was now completely silent bar the birds chirping outside. It was then she realised she was free for summer vacation. All her assignments were now completed and all her exams were already over. She was free.
Stretching to rid herself of the remaining stresses in her body, she reached over to grab her iPod which lay discarded on the bedside table. She pulled out the earphones and placed the device in the docking station on her desk; she selected an album and cranked up the volume to rid the room of the previous studious silence. For a few minutes, she just listened to the song, to the rhythm and to the lyrics, her foot tapping with the beat and her fingers drumming along the desk. She sighed, relaxing and tried not to wonder how long this stress-free period would last. It was the end of the semester and the end of her second year; it should be a summer of no stresses at all.
Taking another deep drink of the water, the blonde crouched and pulled one of her old moving boxes out from under the bed and began her usual end-of-year clear-out. She started sorting through various folders, placing work and notes into the box that she wouldn't need next year but didn't want to throw away lest she wanted to refer back to them. It didn't take all that long but the room was stuffy, the heat making it seem much longer. She opened the window which looked down onto the street before resuming her previous organisational attitude by tackling her chaotic notice-board. The box was dropped on her desk by her laptop with a small thump, her hands making quick work of de-pinning various sheets of paper, post-it notes and deadline reminders from the cork notice-board. Each one she removed supplied her with a sense of relief, removing the weight that had been on her shoulders these past few hectic weeks. The removal revealed several photos which had been buried beneath school-work. There was one of Beth taking her first steps, another showing her first day at school; a photo from the McKinley production of West Side Story sat next to one of Santana in her Rocky Horror outfit. There were various snapshots of college life with a few classmates and the occasional work colleague but the majority of the photos came from her High School years and she smiled at the memories scattered before her.
Quinn still had her first Yale acceptance letter pinned up; rereading the words she already knew and deciding it was time to take it down and put it somewhere safe. Her fingers grasped the red push-pin and gently tugged, only to drop the pin an instant later as a photo dropped onto her desk. The red pin rolled under the desk but Quinn didn't notice. The Yale application floated out of her grasp, sailing on the air to land several feet away; she didn't see this either. She couldn't take her eyes from the photo which was face down on her desk; she knew which one it was, now remembering she had pinned the letter over it so she wouldn't have to see it.
As much as her head told her to simply toss the photo out, alongside many of the others she still kept; her heart simply couldn't throw away the memory. "Get a grip Fabray," she told herself and reached out to the photo, lifting it to eye-level. She didn't want to look at the memory forever captured on that small rectangle but her actions were out of her control, her fingers flipped the photo and her eyes took in every single megapixel of the image before her. "Just throw it out," but she continued to stare at the memory formed at her parent's cabin by the lake so long ago, her vision blurring from the tears beginning to collect in her eyes.
There was a knock at the door which startled the blonde and the photo dropped from her hands. She watched as it fell to the floor, mesmerised. Another knock brayed on the door. "Fuck," Quinn breathed, kneeling to scoop up the photo and wiping at her eyes lest those tears which threatened actually decided to fall. Memories were powerful things, Quinn knew this better than anybody and she resented the power certain memories still had over her. Another knock. Quinn muttered about impatience under her breath, irritated by whoever was on the other side of the wood. She dropped the photo in the box still sat on her desk, knocked off the music she could barely hear over her thudding heart and went over to the door, pulling it wide open with a "What?" without even looking through the peep-hole first.
"Well it's nice to see you too, Fabray," came a cocky response with a humorous lift of a single dark eyebrow.
"Santana?" the blonde questioned, not believing her own eyes. There was no mistaking the dark haired beauty currently stood in Quinn's doorway; it was most definitely the one and only Santana Lopez. The same Santana who had been part of the popular trio dubbed 'The Unholy Trinity' in High School. The same Santana who was considered to be one of the most attractive girls in McKinley High whose physical appearance had only improved with age. "What are you doing here?"
"What? No hug? No 'come on in'?" Santana smirked, teasing the ex-cheerio captain before dropping a duffel bag to the ground and wrapping her tan arms around the slightly taller girl. The blonde hesitated for just a second, the photo still weighing heavily on her mind, and then her arms were around Santana's back securing the Latina to her, much like she used to years ago when she needed an anchor.
"I know we haven't seen each other in a while but I know that hug, Fabray," Santana said seriously, pulling out of the embrace slightly. Her arms were loose around the blonde so she could look at Quinn's face; dark eyes studied the face they knew so well but it had changed so much since their high school days. Her features were much more defined than senior year, her face a little thinner but there was one thing that would never change about Quinn Fabray; those eyes. You could tell so much from those deep pools of hazel, it was like reading a book and Santana practically had the Cliff notes. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she lied, dropping her face from that studious dark gaze.
"Q, this is me; I know you and it isn't nothing," Santana told her firmly, not allowing the blonde to dismiss this situation. Santana, knowing Quinn like she did, had no doubt that this 'nothing' was to do with an affair of the heart and knowing Quinn like she did, she had a pretty good idea about who.
Quinn sighed softly, releasing the dark haired young woman and grabbing the large duffel bag from the floor. She turned back inside without another word, knowing her friend would follow. Santana was a patient person when it came to important and emotional issues such as these, particularly ones which concerned Quinn and so she waited; she waited for Quinn and didn't rush the blonde to tell of her problems. The Latina remained silent as she stepped over the threshold, closing the door behind her. Quinn was on the sofa in the relatively small living room, the duffel bag was on the coffee table where it had been discarded.
"You've redecorated," Santana noted casually, glancing around the apartment; it had been a long time since she had last been here but she knew this room was most definitely a different colour to before.
"Quit with the small talk," came Quinn's voice, her tone was harsh but the volume betrayed the vulnerability beneath. Her hand held something out in a loose grasp between two fingers toward her guest and Santana strode over and sat beside Quinn, taking the photo from those slender digits. Santana took a final glance at the blonde who stared at the woven carpet before her own eyes curiously dropped to the photo.
"Rachel." Santana breathed simply; the single word confirming what she already knew.
"What else would it be?"
A few moments passed before Santana spoke again, recalling the day that the photo illustrated. Quinn had told her everything about that week at the lake; she knew it as if she had been there herself. She knew the importance this image held for Quinn. "How long has it been? A year?"
"Two and a half," Quinn told her with great certainty; she knew the dates all too well.
"Shit, really?" Santana was surprised but her tone was soft, she knew the kind of pain Quinn was in and knew all too well that it was everlasting. Santana moved closer to the girl she valued over all others and placed a hand comfortingly upon Quinn's arm. "You're not over her," she said simply, rhetorically.
There was a small chuckle, one without humour and one which caught in the blonde's throat. "I don't think I'll ever get over Rachel Berry," Quinn sighed, tucking her feet under herself and leaning on Santana's shoulder. The hand moved from her arm to around her shoulders, encircling Quinn in a safe embrace reminiscent of many in the past. "I don't even know if I want to."
AN: This is only a short introduction but as the story will flick between past and present, I thought it best to separate the time zones into their own chapters for an easier read. Please review and I hope you'll stay tuned for Chapter Two 'The Summer After High School'.