The usual Thursday nights for Rachel meant going out for a few drinks with her friends, just to chill out before the weekends kick in. Tonight wasn't any different than any other Thursday nights, except tonight they decided to venture to Soho to check out the night life in the artsy side of the city. Rachel hardly went to Soho; she preferred to spend time in Midtown. Tonight it was just Rachel and her two other girlfriends, both she had known for a few years now. They were her old friends from NYADA. They found a café with an 'open mic' night and knew straight away that was where they would settle for the night. It had been a while since Rachel could just relax and belted out some tunes in public without any pressure. So when the announcer called her name, she was a bit giddy. She didn't use her real name of course; she didn't want to attract any unnecessary attention. People might not recognize her face instantly but New Yorkers might know her name, considering that she was nominated for a Tony award just last year. She walked up slowly to the small stage, hoping that no one would recognize her. Instead of introducing herself, like she would normally do, she started singing the moment the music started playing. She chose a song that she had performed almost a decade ago in the Glee club. Even though at that time she was singing it to Finn, she wasn't thinking about him at this moment. This time she wanted to sing it just because her voice sounded great in it, if she might say so herself.
Quinn was sitting at the counter and was having a chat with the barista, Amy. It was a café that she frequented almost daily because it was the closest to her apartment, and also because it was currently showcasing some of her art work. She was having a conversation about her new camera with the barista, who was a photography student at New York Film Academy. She was excitedly showing the pictures that she took earlier that day but when Rachel hit the first note, her breath caught in her throat and her hands suddenly started shaking. She turned slowly to look at the singer on the stage, hoping against hope that it was not her, but when she saw that it was Rachel, a myriad of emotions flashed over her face. She wanted to run away but she also wanted to stay. She knew that she had to leave now if she wanted to be undetected but her body didn't seem want to budge.
Rachel was scanning the room while she was singing. She always loved to gage the audience's reaction. Smaller crowds like this made it easier for her to see everyone's faces, unlike the big Broadway theatre. Everyone was mesmerized by her singing that she decided to put even more emotions into it, even when she was not really thinking of anyone while she was singing that song. When her eyesight reached the counter, the first thing she saw was that familiar blonde hair and hazel eyes; the eyes that she had not seen for almost 7 years; the same eyes that were currently staring at her. She almost lost her cue but she recovered quickly enough before anyone could take notice. She was a professional Broadway performer after all. But now she could not take her eyes off her, afraid that if she did she would disappear again. She wanted to make sure that this was real. Without realizing it, she was singing the final verse to Quinn, "I am lost, I am vain, I will never be the same, without you, without you, without you." As soon as she finished the last note, even though the music was still playing, she quickly got off the stage, solely focused on getting to her and ignoring all the clapped and shouted of 'encore' from the crowd.
Quinn knew that this was the moment for her to make her getaway, as Rachel was busy traversing through the crowd, but in that moment of hesitation, Rachel reached her side. They both just stood there looking at each other. Rachel moved for a hug and Quinn almost stepped back but she returned the hug anyway. They lingered for a bit until Rachel released her.
"What are you doing here? Where have you been?" Rachel asked excitedly but also exasperatedly.
"You know how I can't resist amateur singing," Quinn said playfully which made Rachel laughed. Quinn was fidgeting, so she blurted out, "Can I get you some coffee?"
"Ooh, you mentioned the keyword…'coffee'," Rachel perked up even more. There was something about being in Quinn's presence that made her feel so energized. And there was something about Rachel's demeanor that made Quinn relaxed, at least for a bit.
"So what would you like?"
"Can I please have an espresso?"
"Sure. Hi Amy, one espresso and one mocha please?"
Quinn sat back and Rachel joined her.
"So what happened to you? Last time when I tried to call you, it said that your number's no longer valid," Rachel asked eagerly.
"Oh, sorry about that, crazy ex-boyfriend," Quinn said with a tone that told her to leave it at that. Rachel wanted to push further but maybe it was too early to scare Quinn off, so she just pursed her lips.
"But why did you stop calling me? Or texting me? Or emailing me? Or even see me? I think the last time I heard from you was when we're in our third year in college."
"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry, but … I don't know Rachel. I guess we both just got busy with our own lives."
"I suppose. Yeah, I remember, third year was insane! I can't even remember who sent the last email, or even whose turn to reply. But hey, it doesn't matter now. I found you again," Rachel was beaming again.
Quinn wanted to say something but the words stuck in her throat, so she only said, "Yeah," with a barely there smile, but Rachel chose to ignore it. Their coffee arrived in time to break the sudden tension, so they decided to focus on sipping their coffees instead.
Rachel broke the tension, "Well, tell me what you've been up to? Are you living in the city or you're here just for a visit? Or how long have you lived here? Are you acting now? Oh my god, is that purple streak on your hair?"
"Woah Rachel, slow down."
"Oops, sorry, you know how I get when I'm too excited." That made Quinn smiled.
"Yeah, something's never change, kind of comforting that way." Quinn suddenly got quiet, as if she was reminiscing the past, but Rachel was still waiting for her answer.
"Hmm? Oh. Yeah, I live around here."
"You've lived in New York all this time and you didn't try to find me?"
"How am I supposed to find you?"
"I don't know, like call me for example. I haven't changed my number you know," Rachel said sarcastically.
"Sorry, I lost your number. I dropped my phone in the water and lost all the numbers."
"Well, you could have asked … somebody. I don't know. Don't you keep in touch with anyone?"
"I do keep in touch with Santana and Brittany, and Puck, of course."
"How come you didn't lose their numbers?" Rachel was pouting.
Quinn couldn't help but laugh, "We exchanged emails."
"Aha, you could have emailed me!"
"I …" Quinn knew that she's out of excuses, "Yeah, you got me there. I'm sorry Rachel. I know I should have but it just … didn't feel right at the time."
"I … I don't know. Listen, can we just drop this? There's no point of rehashing the past, pointing out all the things that we could have done. There's nothing we can do to change them."
"Yeah, you're right. Besides I have you here now," Rachel was beaming again. Quinn didn't know how to respond to this. Being this close to Rachel and having Rachel acting this way made her almost dizzy, so she decided to make a run for it.
"Hey, I have to wake up early tomorrow, so I got to call it a night."
"Oh, okay," Rachel sounded disappointed.
"Who are you here with anyway?" Quinn wondered out loud.
"I came here with some friends. Would you like to meet them?" Rachel sounded eager to introduce her friends.
"Umm … not now, I'm really beat." Quinn was not ready for any of this.
"Oh, okay," again with the disappointed tone.
Quinn's feeling of discomfort returned, so she just asked the first thing that came to mind, "Where are you living now?"
"A few blocks away from Central Park. You should visit one day. Hey, can I have your number?" Rachel blurted out, her eyes full of expectation.
"Umm … sure, it's …." and Quinn gave her number while Rachel entered it into her phone straight away. She typed something in her phone and Quinn's phone beeped.
"That's me. Now you have my number too. At least I know it's your real number, so you can't run away from me now Quinn Fabray," Rachel smiled.
"And why would you think that I'm running away from you Rachel Berry?" Quinn's playful tone and her patented eyebrow raised completely took Rachel by surprise that it got her flabbergasted. Quinn quickly changed the subject, and besides she really had to leave. "Hey, it's really nice to bump into you." She gave Rachel a brief hug, "Well, I gotta go. Good night!"
She quickly left the café.
Rachel stood staring at the door that Quinn had just walked out of. It took her a few minutes to recompose herself and she felt completely dissatisfied with how things ended that she had to text Quinn straight away.
Would you be free for lunch tomorrow? Or dinner, whichever works for you.
Quinn was about to open her apartment's door when she received the text. She was trying not to think too much about what just happened. Her thoughts were all so jumbled up; she knew it would be a long sleepless night tonight. She stood still in front of her apartment. In one hand, she had half the key in the door while the other was holding her phone. She read the text over and over again. She felt compelled to just delete it and ignored everything that just happened, but just like before when her brain was telling her to do something, her heart would make her do something else.
She replied: Sure. How about RSVP at Thompson St at 12.30 pm?
Rachel grinned when she got the text and replied: See you at 12.30.
She went back to her friends feeling like the high school Rachel all over again; thrilled that Quinn, the pretty blonde cheerleader, was giving her the attention that she craved.