While Quinn was looking at swatches of Canary Yellow and Desert Sage, Rachel was sitting in an evaluation session, listening to everyone around her talk as if she wasn't there.
It'd been six months since the "incident," two and a half since the settlement, and and three weeks since Leroy Berry contacted an old college friend who happened to be on the admissions board of Dickinson College.
"Genevieve, I really appreciate you taking all of this into consideration with such short notice."
"For you, Leroy, it's not a problem."
Rachel knew it wasn't because of Leroy or old friendship or anything sentimental. It was because of the million dollar donation being made to the school, the one that was nearly ten percent of her settlement, the same pool of money she wasn't allowed to touch until after graduation.
She spent most of the meeting with her eyes focused on the table in front of her, looking through the lined yellow pages of the legal pad, beyond the varnished mahogany, and into the past where her hopes and dreams once lived, before they were snuffed out.
Everything she had was gone.
Her father and this woman she's never even seen before this meeting were discussing her future, her education, and all she could think about was how she has no idea if she's even good at anything, anymore.
She looked up to see her father offering an expectant smile. A business smile. Not the kind he used to give her before. "Sorry, I was thinking about something."
"Genevieve was asking about extracurriculars."
Everything Rachel loved isn't really an option. "I... what do you suggest?"
"Well, given your, um," even Genevieve sounded awkward about all of it and she didn't even know Rachel, not at her peak, not ever, "history in dance training, it's possible you may enjoy being on one of our sports teams."
It took one glance at her father for Rachel to see exactly where this was going. Being on an athletic team meant she'd automatically be expected to stay clean.
She didn't care. At this point, her life was about getting from point A to point B.
"What starts first?"
"Soccer tryouts are in July."
She put on her best show smile, a business smile, and said, "Sounds great."
Rachel stares out the coffeehouse window, her brain muddled and overloaded from the thirty-six pages of World History she's just read and highlighted and marked. Even though she's supposed to be a junior, she's taking freshman classes, because NYADA doesn't have general education courses. The goal of a NYADA graduate is to work professionally as a performer, so there really isn't a need for standard core classes.
Two years, wasted.
As in, they would have been wasted, even if she hadn't fucked up. What if she'd wanted to teach music, even as a guest instructor? Would she have been able to?
Fuck music. She dedicated her entire life to it and what did it get her?
Across the street, she can see Hannah and Liz sitting in one of the window booths. There are other people with them, but Rachel can't make them out from where she sits. They're already drunk, she knows that much. It'll probably be another hour before they're ready to go back to campus, and then they'll pile in her Nissan and she'll drive them back to Dickinson. They'll smell like beer and one or both of them will probably have some guy they're bringing back with them.
She's become the damn Intoxicab.
At the very least, watching them fall all over each other and sloppily make out with strangers makes her feel better about opting for coffee over alcohol. Not that liquor was ever really her poison.
She doesn't let herself think too much about that.
Instead, she picks up her phone and logs into her Facebook. She really only ever uses it to keep in touch with her dads, Cassie, and Noah. There are no new messages, but she does have a friend request and she's already fairly sure it's from Quinn before she even opens it.
If she denies it, the way she always does, she knows Quinn will just send another, especially now that she's seen where Rachel is. And they'll run into each other again, because there's another match between Dickinson and Bryn Mawr in a couple weeks.
She doesn't accept or deny the request. She navigates to Quinn's page and opens a new message. In the box, she types: what do you want?
She figures that, out of anyone she's ever known, Quinn Fabray will appreciate that she's getting right to the point.
It's nearly one when Quinn pulls into Frannie's driveway and her sister is crossing the lawn to greet her before Quinn has time to kill the ignition.
"I thought I'd have to wake you up," Quinn says, as her big sister practically pulls her out the car.
"I have a newborn, I don't sleep."
"I missed out on that thrill, so you'll have to tell me all about it." It's self-deprecating joke Quinn probably wouldn't make to anyone, but this is her sister and it's also the truth.
Frannie has Quinn by the hand and Quinn figures she can get her bag, later. "Hurry up, I want you to meet him."
"Aren't you not supposed to wake a sleeping baby? Isn't this your sacred time or something?"
"We'll whisper. And he's bound to wake up any second to eat, again."
They tiptoe through the house like they're trying to avoid parental wrath. Doug's also apparently asleep and Frannie insists he's earned his shut-eye, so they quietly navigate the hall until they're in the same room Quinn helped paint Desert Sage, that summer.
There's a nightlight on the dresser that dimly illuminates the nursery enough for the two women to peer over the edge of the crib at the tiny baby boy who sleeps on his back and occasionally shifts his feet while he slumbers.
"Peter the Magnificent, meet Lucy the Valiant," Frannie whispers.
"Ah, another Narnian royal, I see," Quinn softly replies. She curtsies and bows her head. "Your highness."
"Does royalty have to bow to each other?"
"That's something we royals will worry about and not you, Frannie." Quinn can't help the giggle that escapes, because she's tired and it's actually kind of funny. "The Royal We."
"I know you like to believe I'm jealous that you got named after Mom's childhood Narnia obsession."
"You are the one who insisted everyone call you Susan when you were twelve."
"It's my middle name, asshole. And, you're not even one to talk about that, at all, Luce."
Frannie's the only other person on the planet who still calls Quinn by her given name. She doesn't even mind, because it sounds like the right name for her older sister to be calling her. Anyway, she's pretty sure there's no way she could convince her to call her anything else.
"Well, you're obsessed, too. You went and did the same thing to your kid."
"They're good books, okay?"
"Are you two going to be up all night?" comes a male voice from the hallway.
Both Quinn and her sister turn at the same time to shush Doug, but it's too late and Peter's squirming and making baby noises that border on crying.
"Can I pick him up?" Quinn asks.
Frannie graciously waves toward the crib. "Please."
Carefully, Quinn reaches in and picks up her nephew, careful to heed all the baby holding warnings she's ever heard in life. There's still a part of her that automatically seems to know just how to do it and there's a very specific tug on her heart as she holds him against her chest and makes soothing sounds to attempt to lull him back to sleep.
When she finally climbs into bed in the guest room, she can still smell baby powder on her hands. When she drifts off to sleep, she dreams of Beth, who's already four and a half, but in Quinn's dreams, she's always the same seven pounds, four ounces Quinn held in her arms that day in the Lima General Hospital delivery room.
In the morning, Quinn isn't sure how to respond to Rachel's message, because she doesn't even really know what she wants or what she's expected. They've fallen out of touch and, for some reason, Rachel has no desire to pick up their friendship. Or, at least, that's how it seems, given the way she's reacted to Quinn.
She's staring at her phone while sitting at the breakfast table and Frannie finally snatches it up out of her hand.
"Hey!" Quinn reaches to grab it back, but Frannie holds it away from her. "Come on, I was trying to do something."
"Well, I've asked you about ten times how many pancakes you want and you've responded with a big absolutely nothing. So, either you're not hungry or you're one of those rude texting people."
"I wasn't texting."
Frannie glances at the screen. "Okay, Facebooking."
"Two." Quinn holds out her hand for the phone.
"I meant, what do you say, Lucy the Rudest."
"Two pancakes, please, bitch."
There's a moment where it seems like Frannie's about to throw the phone at her, but she ultimately just slaps it back into Quinn's waiting palm. "Who are you even talking to? Because it doesn't look like they're interested," she comments, turning back to the stove.
"Why are you so nosy?" Quinn asks.
"Because I care," Frannie replies, offering a wide Cheerios worthy smile over her shoulder.
"She's... someone I used to know."
"What'd you do to her?"
"I didn't do anything!" Okay, that's actually not true. "I mean, we didn't always get along. But we eventually were friends."
"Doesn't really sound like it."
"You don't know my life, Fran."
"I know enough."
Quinn wants to be irritated at her sister, but there are two delicious smelling golden pancakes suddenly in front of her, which unfairly shifts her mood. "What time are we leaving for Mom's?"
"Around two? I talked to her earlier and she said she's making a ham."
"Of course she is." Quinn shakes her head and laughs as she pours syrup over her pancakes. "It's not even a holiday."
"Oh, but it is. The prodigal daughter's coming home."
"I've been at school! Not... out sowing my wild oats."
"No, you did that, already."
Quinn frowns. "Okay, that's totally uncalled for." She waits until Frannie looks like she might actually apologize, then continues. "And anyway, if I hadn't done that, who would you have called at three in the morning during your pregnancy to ask innocuous questions about heartburn or if I ever had sex dreams about authority figures."
"I still can't believe your answer to that, by the way."
"Stay out of my dreamscape."
"Seriously, though. Mr. Schuester?"
"It was one t-" she catches her sister's glare. "Okay, twice. But I was a very confused pregnant teen!"
"Yeah, well, you're the one who got knocked up by a guy named Truck."
"Puck." Which reminds her that she's supposed to let him know when she'll be in town, because he's having a party later that night. Quinn picks her phone back up and exits the Facebook application to send a text.
"And we're back to the phones."
Peter's cry comes through the baby monitor and Quinn doesn't even look up at Frannie when she says, "Leave me alone and go feed your baby."
The drive from Columbus to Lima takes about two hours. Quinn follows behind Doug's SUV and swaps out her audiobook for one of her driving playlists. It includes a couple songs that have always had the cut since high school and one, in particular, is an Avril Lavigne track that always makes her think of Rachel.
She suddenly knows exactly what she wants to say, but she has to wait until they stop somewhere, because there's no way she's ever texting (or Facebooking) while she's driving. One near-death experience is enough for her, thank you. Anyway, that gives her time to spend the rest of the drive refining her reply and reflecting on the possibilities that have left Rachel so cold and distant at a school in the middle of Pennsylvania.
I want to know how you're doing. I want to know why I never knew you were interested in soccer. I want to know what I can do, if anything, to get you to talk to me. I want to let you know that our friendship still means something to me, even though we haven't talked in a long time.
That's what I want.
Rachel's in her dorm room, the one she has all to herself. As much as her fathers were reluctant to let her be alone without someone to keep an eye on her, Rachel was insistent that it certainly wasn't fair to put that burden on another student and, besides, she'd signed an agreement to attend all of her classes barring actual illness or injury and her participation in a team sport meant she has to show up practice and games, so it isn't as if she would have much time to get herself into any trouble.
She doesn't want any trouble.
She doesn't want any of this.
She definitely doesn't want to explain to Quinn Fabray, of all people, how she's doing.
That said, as much as she's purposely distanced herself from just about everyone she's ever known, maybe Quinn's exactly the person who would understand all of this. But she's not even close to ready to opening up about the last year and a half of her life.
Soccer, though. That's a safe subject. And since she's given Quinn the cold shoulder twice in a row, she feels somewhat obligated to offer something, because Quinn doesn't have to be nice to her, she didn't have to say hello, and she certainly didn't have to send such a damn thoughtful message.
Obligation, though, has its limits and Rachel finds herself sending something less than a formal response.
I could ask you the same thing. Bryn Mawr doesn't have cheerleading?
She's actually pretty sure they don't, but she doesn't bother to edit anything before she hits send.
It's barely a minute before there's another message.
Nope. And even if we did, I haven't been able to do a standing tuck since before the accident. That's why I'm only assistant managing for the soccer team instead of playing, though I probably would have picked volleyball if I were able to seriously consider a sport.
Okay, now Rachel actually feels bad. How could she have forgotten about the accident? Or, it's not even that the memory is completely erased from her brain. She knows Quinn was hit by a truck. It's impossible for her to forget.
She just isn't really in the habit of thinking about other people, anymore.
She doesn't know what to say in response to Quinn's reply.
So, she doesn't say anything, at all.