A/N: Sorry about the delay, friends. I finally finished moving this past weekend, and so I hadn't had a chance to update, and then when I tried to update, the website wouldn't let me log into my account, so I've had some technical difficulties. All is well now, though, so hopefully there will be no more upsets.
There is a specific paragraph that I wrote in this chapter that means a lot to me. I can't really explain exactly why. It just has sort of stuck with me since I wrote it, and seems quite accurate to an experience I've had in my own life. So, I'm happy to get to share it with you all.
I hope you will all review and tell me how you are liking the story. Every little bit helps. Enjoy! XO-Chrmdpoet
Chapter Twenty-Five: Echoes of Emotions
It wasn't that I didn't know that eavesdropping was wrong…it was just that I didn't really care in that moment; not that I'd really ever cared. Eavesdropping was how I'd gotten the majority of my dirt over the years, except this time I was eavesdropping on Q and Rachel. I wasn't at first…swear…but then I was passing by the room (door closed, mind you), and I heard a specific phrase that caught my attention.
Rachel had fallen asleep in my arms while Quinn and I sat on the couch with her and rocked and held her after her nightmare, so I'd carried her to her bed and tucked her in there so that she could get some more sleep. Q and I, of course, had our own private cryfest afterwards, because ever since Rachel's attack, she and I had basically been reduced to sobbing bawl-bags at every possible convenience. Then, about an hour or two later as we were watching some lame movie that Q picked on Netflix, based on some lame book that Q read in like seventh grade or some shit, Rachel's soft voice quietly echoed into the living room and snapped us both to attention.
"Quinn?" She'd called out. Even though I secretly wished she'd called out for me, I wasn't really upset about it. Q and Rachel had been best friends for a while, basically since the middle or end of senior year, and they didn't get to see each other as often as they'd like. I knew they had both been missing each other, especially since the attack. Q called or skyped every single night to check on Rachel, which warmed my heart. I never thought I'd see the day that we both cared so much about Rachel Berry, but especially Quinn. She'd practically raged against the diva for years, and now she loved her probably more than she loved me, or it was more like she just loved her in a different way. They had a special friendship. It wasn't shallow or typical. It was like they really, truly just got each other, you know? There was no bullshit between them. It was always just so open, and I think they had both needed a friend like that for a long time before they decided to just throw all their bullshit away and be that friend for each other, and I was happy for them.
Q didn't say a word as she just instantly slid off the couch, patted my shoulder affectionately as she passed me, and headed for the bedroom. I was cool with minding my own business. If Quinn was who Rachel needed in that moment, or even if she just wanted to spend a little time with her without me, I was totally fine with that. I liked to have time with both of them on my own, too, so I definitely understood. I just had to keep myself busy so that I wouldn't die of boredom, because I sure as hells wasn't about to watch that lame-ass movie on my own. I paused it in case Q was actually enjoying it and wanted to finish it later, before I popped off the couch and headed into the kitchen to make myself some coffee. Still waiting for the day that someone invents a coffee-IV, or like a coffee patch or something, because brewing it got old and I had to down like at least five cups of coffee a day. At least.
Once my coffee was brewed and steaming in my cup, I decided to go rummage through Quinn's shit to see if she brought her DS, because I needed something to do. I passed by the door to Rachel's (and my) room as I was rounding the kitchen island to go to Kurt's (temporarily Quinn's) room, and that's when I heard it. Quinn's soft, raspy voice bled right through the door as if I was meant to hear that specific phrase at that specific time.
"Santana would understand, Rachel," she said, which practically had my ears perking up like freaking Scooby Doo and I couldn't make myself keep walking toward Kurt's room. I had to know what they were talking about. I mean, I would understand what exactly?
Aaaaaaand that's we how got to now, with me basically pressed up against Rachel's door, my ear flat against the wood and straining to hear every little bit of the conversation. It wasn't an easy task, mind you, because Rachel was speaking very softly, but damn if I wasn't giving it my all. I rationalized the eavesdropping in my mind as perfectly acceptable because I'd heard my name. I mean, if someone is talking about you specifically, then that makes the conversation fair game, right? Like, I should have a right to know what's being said about me. Right? Right.
"I've been in therapy before, so that would be nothing new," I heard Rachel say, which gave me another Scooby-Doo moment. Was she implying that she wanted to go to therapy, or had Quinn suggested that she should go? That was always the negative aspect of eavesdropping. You never knew how shit started or the actual context of things. "I just don't want Santana to think that she doesn't help me enough, because she certainly does. She has been so wonderful, Quinn."
"I know," Quinn agreed, which made me smile, because hell yes…Rachel thought I was WONDERFUL, and apparently so did Q. "I've never seen her so open and emotional and comforting with anyone before, not even Brittany. It's nice to see that side of her."
Okay, Q…you're squashing my rep. Dial it down a notch or two.
"Yes, and that's another reason that I think I would like to go to therapy," Rachel said quietly, sounding slightly insecure. "Not only do I believe that therapy may help with the nightmares and the overall anxiety, but I believe it may help me to sort out my feelings about Santana."
"What do you mean?" Quinn asked.
"This stays between us?" I heard Rachel asked insecurely. "It's not that I don't trust Santana, because I absolutely do, and once I get everything sorted out in my head, I would certainly wish to speak with her personally about all of this, I just don't want her to know until I am certain."
Well, shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. She just had to say that, and now I felt guilty. Great. I knew I should just walk away at that point and respect Rachel's privacy and the fact that she was choosing to confide in Q and not me. I knew I should, and I even stepped away for just a moment, but then I did what I'm pretty sure most people would do, and went right back to the door, pressing my body against it and practically digging my ear into the wood. I didn't walk away, but the fact that I seriously considered walking away made me feel a little better about…you know…not walking away.
The 2.5 seconds I'd spent away from the door apparently made me miss Q's response to Rachel's request for privacy, though there was obviously no doubt in my mind that she'd agreed. That was confirmed seconds later when I heard Rachel say, "Good, thank you, Quinn. I'm sorry to ask you to keep things from Santana. I am just a bit overwhelmed, and I have come to find that Santana only makes me feel even more overwhelmed."
I could practically hear Rachel's blush in that moment, which made my heart swell, because I was pretty sure that her tone of voice and the inflection she'd used when she'd said that implied that she'd meant it in a very good way. Score.
"I get it," Quinn told her softly. "So you have feelings for Santana, then? I mean, I kind of figured you did after seeing your Facebook post, but S said that you just did that to get Finn to shut up."
"Yes, she said the same to me," Rachel said, "and I simply let her believe what she wanted. However, I did tell her that I had feelings for her. She asked me how big my feelings were."
They both giggled then, and I face-palmed. Seriously, Rach? That was a private moment.
"I told her that they were quite large," she continued, "but I must admit that I am a bit concerned. I can't recall ever having any romantic feelings toward Santana prior to the attack, though obviously I could never deny her physical attractiveness. She has always been very beautiful; however, she and I didn't even become friends until the end of senior year, and our friendship wasn't solid as yours and mine was and is, Quinn. It was rocky, and then she showed up here and declared she was moving in, and that was all fine and well, because we actually got along and I really enjoyed her company; that is, until the whole issue with Brody. I swear, Quinn, I am still so ashamed of myself. I cannot believe that I chose to believe someone I barely knew over someone I've known for years. My strange and tense background with Santana aside, I shouldn't have done that. I still haven't forgiven myself for kicking her out, even though it only lasted a grand total of two days or so. She took care of me. She did all she could to prove to me that he was no good, to protect me, even though she owed me nothing, and I was fairly certain that she didn't even like me that much. Apparently, I was wrong."
"Rachel, you're rambling," Quinn suddenly cut in. Christ. Thank you, Q! It's hard enough to hear shit through the door, but then to have the dwarf go off on a novel-long tirade of re-hashing events that have already happened…damn, close the floodgates, Rachel. We only need a little water at a time.
"Right, sorry," Rachel said, letting out a nervous little giggle that positively made me swoon, not that I would ever admit that out loud. "My point is that though Santana has always been gorgeous and I have always been open to the idea of alternative lifestyles for myself, I never had romantic feelings for Santana prior to the attack."
"So…?" Quinn asked slowly as if she was afraid to hear the answer, and I didn't blame her, because sha…I was fucking terrified. In fact, just that introductory sentence made me want to run from the door and plug my fingers in my ears, but because I like to utterly torture myself, I stayed put. I had to hear what was coming.
"So, I am afraid that I only feel for her romantically because she saved my life," Rachel told her. "What if my feelings are a result of some sort of hero complex I have with her now? They feel genuine, Quinn. They really do, but do feelings truly just burst out of nowhere like that?"
My stomach was fucking roaring in that moment, and I felt like I might just hurl any minute. Rachel was basically voicing my fears out loud. It was the same thing I'd told Q earlier, that I was terrified that Rachel only thought she wanted me because I was like her new hero or something and she had some weird damsel-in-distress complex going on. And Rachel had pretty much just confirmed as much, or at least, she confirmed that she, too, thought that that's what it could be.
FUCK. Why does shit like this always happen to me? Here I am, in fucking love with another person whose feelings might not be real or might only be half-returned. What the hell is wrong with me? Do I not deserve to love someone fully and be fully loved in return?
God, this was the worst feeling. Okay, not true. The worst feeling was the one I'd had the night that I found Rachel in the alley, and the time I'd spent in the emergency and waiting rooms just hoping to hear that she was going to live and be okay. However, this feeling definitely sucked. And though I tried not to let it get to me too much, because at least Rachel was honestly concerned and like apparently wanted to go to therapy to work it all out just to avoid hurting me, which was really sweet, I just couldn't help but feel like a fucking idiot. A hurt idiot.
It was pretty much impossible not to feel hopeless at that point.
"How do you even know that your feelings simply burst out of nowhere, Rach?" Q asked her, which caught my attention and pulled me out of my pathetic moment of self-loathing and wallowing in my own pathetic heartache, because well…yeah. How did she know? How could anyone know really? Damn, why did feelings have to be so fucking complicated?!
"What do you mean?" Rachel asked her, sounding thoroughly confused. "It is obvious, isn't it, Quinn? I certainly can never recall a desire to see Santana naked or to touch her inappropriately or to have her tongue in my mouth, prior to recently."
"Seriously, Rach? Was that necessary?" Quinn deadpanned. "I really didn't need those images of you two in my head."
Suit yourself, Q, because I was pretty sure that I most definitely needed those images in my head. I could not believe that Rachel had just said that; then again, it was Rachel. She never had much of a filter. Still, my entire body suddenly felt hella hot and I absentmindedly brought a hand up to fan at my face as I kept my ear pressed to the door.
"Well, obviously, those things haven't happened, Quinn," Rachel sighed exaggeratedly. "I was simply attempting to make a point. Oh, except for the tongue in my mouth. That one happened."
I had to clamp a hand over my mouth to keep from laughing as I heard Quinn groan before saying, "Uh huh, yeah, okay…ANYWAY, the point that I was trying to make is that you have known Santana for years, and though you had a volatile relationship, that doesn't mean that you didn't care for her. You tried nearly as often with her as you did with me to open her up to being friendly with you. You helped her when your lame ex-fiancé outed her against her will, and you guys sang several songs together in Glee. Anyway, the point is that I think you have always cared about Santana on some level, Rachel, and you have obviously always been at least a little attracted to her since you just mentioned multiple times how attractive she is, plus, let's face it, who hasn't been at least a little attracted to her at one point or another?"
Wow…eavesdropping had never stroked my ego so well before. That shit was getting thoroughly petted, and I was pretty much loving it. Major upgrade from the heart-crushing, what-if-I-only-like-her-because-she-saved-me shit.
"You make a fair point, Quinn," Rachel agreed. I then had to clamp my hand over my mouth again to keep from laughing as the little munchkin went on to shock both Quinn and I by saying, "You know, Quinn. It simply isn't fair that you've had sex with my might-be/should-be/maybe-will-be-after-I-go-to-the rapy girlfriend and I haven't. What if when we finally have sex…" Rachel then cleared her throat before continuing by saying, "Excuse me, I shouldn't make assumptions. If Santana and I have sex, what if she compares me to you? What if I'm not as good? What if—"
"Okay, no," Quinn cut in thankfully, because I was totally about to burst into extremely loud laughter that would've instantly given away exactly what I was doing. The whole conversation had taken a sudden turn for the extremely awkward, though I couldn't deny that I found Rachel's insecurity in that moment completely and utterly adorable, despite the fact that her mention of my little drunken sexcapade with Q had my cheeks flushing with embarrassment; not really for myself, because I didn't care, but mostly for Quinn. I knew she was probably red as a fucking cherry in there. She was not one for talking openly about her sex life.
Q cleared her throat LOUDLY which only made me want to laugh harder, and then she completely dismissed that line of conversation by saying, "ANYWAY, Rachel, the point, again, is how do you know that your feelings simply burst out of nowhere? How do you know that they didn't simply evolve into romantic feelings because of what you went through together with the attack? I'm sure you two have talked and shared things with each other and gotten to know one another since the attack in a way that you never did before, right? How do you know that you're feelings aren't just growing, Rach?"
"Wow, Quinn, have you ever considering becoming a therapist?" Rachel asked seriously, sounding totally in awe of what Q had just told her. I had to agree, though. I'd had the same revelatory moment with Q earlier that day when she'd dropped the whole "but what if she does feel the same way" bomb on me. Quinn Fabray was a like our own little psychologist. All she needed was a fancy couch, some bifocals to perch on the tip of her nose, and a hot, funky accent.
"Nope, not even once," Q laughed, "and I'm not going to, so go ahead and make an appointment with an actual therapist, Rachel, because I agree with you that it's a good idea. I don't think your feelings for Santana are just because of some weird hero complex, but I do think that therapy could really help you sort everything out so that you aren't so anxious or confused all the time. I think it might help with the nightmares as well."
"Mm, I agree," Rachel said. "I will have to call my fathers and have them set it up, but I think it might really help. That detective also mentioned something about support groups for…for r-rape victims…" She stumbled over those words, and my stomach bottomed out. I knew that Rachel had really been trying to come to terms with what had happened to her, but it was fucking hard. It was hard for all of us. Hell, obviously it was fucking hard to even say the damn words, let alone accept that it had actually happened.
Q's voice trembled a bit when she spoke up, but I couldn't help but smile (with tears in my eyes, obviously) when she very strongly said, "I believe the word you are looking for is survivors, Rachel. Not victims…survivors."
"R-right," Rachel said quietly. "I thought I might look into one of those, too. What do you think?"
"I think that's great," Q told her, her voice full of love and sincerity. "If you want, Santana and I could go with you the first couple of times if you're afraid, or just one of us. It doesn't matter, Rach. Whatever makes you comfortable."
"Yes, I think I would like that," Rachel said, and my heart practically exploded in my chest. God, she was…incredible; so fucking strong, and she was really trying to get better. She had never, not even once, laid down after the attack and let her life just slip away from her while she curled up in her depression and let the memories of the attack eat her alive. She wanted to get better. She wanted to get back to being herself, and she was really going for it. I was so fucking proud of Rachel in that moment that my pride was practically spewing out of my pores.
There was a long moment of silence after that, long enough that I almost walked away, figuring that the serious part of the conversation was over; but then, I heard Rachel clear her throat. She then very timidly, very quietly said, "Quinn…if I do this. If I go to therapy and a support group, and I realize that my feelings for Santana are truly genuine, that I am…i-in love with her like I think I might be…what do I do?"
Wait, what?! Did Rachel just say that she thinks she's in love with me?! Okay, seriously, a million things happened to me in that moment. My emotions pretty much just exploded like a fucking bowl of soup in a microwave. My stomach felt like it was either going to shoot up my throat or fall out my ass. My head swam dizzily enough to make me sway against the door a bit and blink my eyes rapidly to clear my suddenly blurry vision.
You never think that something like that is going to affect you as much as it does, but it always does. When you have genuine feelings for someone and then you find out that they might actually return those feelings, it's like everything just shakes and rumbles and flips completely upside down. It's like being on a roller coaster—your heart pounds, your breath sticks in your throat like a giant ball of super glue, your stomach drops and flips and makes you feel like you're either going to throw up or pee your pants, and your skin tingles like you're being assaulted by a million invisible feathers all at the same time. And the weirdest thing about all of that is that as awkward and as uncomfortable as all of those sensations may seem, when it happens…it is the best goddamn experience of your life, and you never want the ride to end.
"Well, I think you just tell her, Rach," Q said, and I could seriously hear the smile in her voice as she said it. I'm sure she was getting a kick out of the fact that both Rachel and I had apparently decided that her little visit to New York was a good time to assault her with our mutual feelings for each other.
"But what if she doesn't feel the same way?" Rachel asked timidly, almost an exact echo of the same shit I'd said to Q earlier that day. "I know she has feelings for me, because she told me as much, but love is a very strong word and emotion, Quinn. Perhaps, she merely has a crush or is just very attracted to me. She may not feel the same as I feel."
I heard Quinn laugh softly, and I knew exactly why. She was remembering me asking the same nervous question that morning, and so, I couldn't help but smile when Q answered Rachel the same way she'd answered me.
"But Rachel," Q said, her voice light and airy and practically bursting with glee, "what if she does?"