She got the phone call as she was switching costumes during rehearsal and the moment she answered the phone, it was as though everything had stopped.
No one around her was moving and the only sound she could hear was her own ragged breath and her feet as they hit against the cold linoleum of the hospital floor. She spun on her heels facing room 403, she was supposed to be here Rachel thought as she looked around the room. Empty. This isn't right, it wasn't supposed to be empty. A sad, sympathetic smile graced the lips of a short brown haired nurse and as she spoke, the words didn't register until a crisp, clean white envelope was shoved in to her hands.
Her name was clearly written on the front in black scrawl.
Shaking hands and nervous fingers fumbled with the back flap as she pulled out a letter and opened it to find the same black scrawl, a letter, addressed to her. A broken sob was the last thing Rachel remembered as she sunk down to the floor, still dressed in her Fanny Brice costume she had left the rehearsal studio in when she got the call.
My Dearest Rachel,
If you are reading this, I am gone. I will forever regret that I didn't have a real chance to have a Mother/Daughter relationship with you, not a chance I deserved anyhow, but I want you to know that I never regretted your birth, I never regretted you. I gave you to your father's with the hope and dream that you would be given everything I could not provide you with and I believe that I made the right choice. And I now I have another choice to make and I need you to be strong for me, be strong for her.
I've been sick for a while, I have known for the last year that I didn't have long, the cancer had progressed too far by the time they found it, there were no options for treatment, trust me, I looked in to every one possible. I am sorry I didn't tell you, but I wanted nothing to hold you back, nothing to distract you from your dreams.
You will be contacted by my Lawyer, Mr. Evan Delheim, over the custody of your sister, my daughter, my second chance, Beth. Do not worry about money, I have taken care of everything I thought needed to be taken care of.
All I ask from you is that you please take care of her. She is still just a baby, Barely 3, although somedays it seems as though she is going on 25. I don't know why I chose you as her guardian, it just felt right, please do not question it, I believe it's for the best. I believe she will bring you happiness as she has brought me.
I love you Rachel, I have always loved you, please know this. Please make sure Beth knows I loved her too. I will be watching over you both with a smile on my face.
A photo fell from the envelope as Rachel struggled to put the letter back. It was of her and Shelby at the hospital the day she was born. Another broken sob ripped through her.
It had been barely five hours since Rachel read the letter, four since she spoke to Mr. Delheim and three since she picked up Beth from Children Services. Keys jingled as Rachel struggled to open the front door of the apartment she shared with Kurt and Santana, Beth on her hip, unaware as she played with Rachel's hair.
"Rachel?" A familiar voice hollered through the open apartment, "Rachel? Is that you, you have to see this show, this lady just-" Santana stopped dead in her tracks as she rounded the corner and took in Rachel's appearance and the sight of a small blonde headed toddler who looked like, no, Santana shook her head, that couldn't be, could it? "What the fuck?" Santana whispered before she was swiftly scolded by Rachel for swearing in front of a child.
Santana watched as Rachel set Beth on the couch and handed her a sippy cup of juice and a teddy bear. "I was watch-" Santana was about to protest as Rachel flipped the TV to cartoons, before thinking better of it.
"Santana, kitchen. Now. Beth, we'll be right back." Rachel said to the toddler before she stalked out of the room, Santana on her heels.
"Okay Berry, what the hell? I didn't even know you were still on speaking terms with Shelby let alone babysitting and you do know Quinn will be arriving in less than an hour, right? What the hell are you doing!? She's going to completely-" Before Santana could finish Rachel burst into tears once more as she shoved Shelby's letter into Santana's hands and stood there, watching Santana's face as it went from anger to confusion, to sadness and worry. "Oh Rach."
Santana wrapped her arms quickly around the tiny brunette, trying to soothe her. "It's going to be okay Rach, we'll figure this out, I am so sorry, I didn't know, I wouldn't have yelled if- it's going to be okay. I promise."
"But Quinn," Rachel sobbed into Santana's shoulder, "Santana, why, how? I can't raise a baby, I can't raise Quinn's baby. And Shelby, she's, she's gone and now I'll never have a Mom."
Before Santana could respond a shriek tore them apart as they ran to the living room to find Kurt standing in complete shock. "Did you guys shrink Quinn in some Honey I shrunk the kids kind of way?" He whispered, earning a snort from Santana.
"I got this Rach," Santana whispered as she walked towards Kurt and pulled him in to the kitchen, Rachel watching the scene in front of her. Santana showed him the letter and Kurt's head snapped up as he looked between Santana and Rachel, his mouth making an 'O' shape as he fixated his stares to the child sitting in the living room.
"She looks like Quinn, but she has Noah's nose." Rachel whispered, Santana and Kurt nodding in agreement as they watched Beth pull a blanket off the back of the couch and curl up, thumb in her mouth.
They hadn't known how long they had been standing there, just watching, until Santana's phone went off.
'Everybody's been there, everybody's been stared down by the enemy.'
"It's Quinn," Santana barely managed to whispered as a panic over took her, "her train just got in, she'll be here in 40 minutes."
"Shit." Kurt muttered.
"Is it illegal to hide a baby in a closet?" Santana mused.
"Call her." Rachel ordered, turning her attention to Santana. "Call her and tell her no one is home and that she is to meet me at the corner café just a couple blocks from here."
Santana quickly did as she was told, the serious look on Rachel's face was one she'd never seen before and was definitely not one she felt she was in a position to argue with.
"Good, good, bring Beth to the café, Quinn won't commit murder in a public place, nope, she definitely won't do that," Kurt mumbled as he paced back and fourth half listening to Santana's phone conversation and half listening to his own thoughts that were swirling in his mind.
"Oh no, no, no, I am not bringing her, I can't I can't just show up with the child she gave away, do you think I have a death wish Kurt, I cannot risk my Broadway dreams of playing Fanny Brice." Rachel all but screamed as Santana walked from her makeshift bedroom back to the pair. "You two are going to babysit."
"I have to work." Kurt quickly interjected as his gaze turned to Santana.
"Oh hell no, I do not babysit, nope."
Yet less than a half hour later Santana found herself saying her goodbyes as she saw Kurt off to work and gave Rachel one last comforting hug before she headed to meet Quinn. Santana closed the apartment door and walked cautiously to the couch. "Hey there, um, Little Q? Beth? Blondie?" Santana's words were jumbled, she didn't babysit and she for one, never thought she would be babysitting Quinn's illegitimate child from her one night stand with Puckerman.
Rachel waited with baited breath on a bench outside of the café, a soy latte in one hand and a caramel Macchiatto in the other. Her mind was racing, what was she going to say, how was Quinn going to react, would she be mad, would she be sad? Rachel was lost in her own thoughts she hadn't even noticed the tall blonde dressed in jeans and Yale sweater sitting on the bench next to her.
"One of those for me?" Quinn asked, causing Rachel to jump, Quinn eying her carefully as Rachel handed her the Macchiatto. "You okay Rachel? I mean you were waiting for me, why do you look so scared, like you've seen a ghost or something."
"Yeah, or something." Rachel muttered before mustering up enough energy to fake a smile and pull Quinn in for a hug. "Thank you for meeting me here Quinn. I am sure after the long train ride you would have much preferred to just get settled in to our apartment for the weekend, but I needed to speak with you and I felt it would be best done in the presence of caffeine and people. An audience is always best to prevent a murder scene or so Kurt says."
Before she could continue her speech, Quinn cut her off. "Murder? What are you talking about?"
"Shall we take a walk?" Rachel asked as she stood up and started off down the street without waiting for Quinn's answer.
"Rachel, wait," Quinn called after her, running to keep up, "I may not be in a wheel chair anymore, but could we maybe walk a little slower, my legs still get sore and- Rachel? Are you even listening to me?"
"What? Oh yes, rehearsals are going well."
"That's not what I- Rachel what is going on you look nervous."
Rachel spun on her heels and stared up at Quinn, deep brown eyes staring into light hazel ones as they watched her intently. "Quinn, I have something I need to tell you, but I need you to promise that you will not be mad or angry and that you will not walk across the street to that convenience store in order to buy a slushy to throw at me."
Quinn chuckled and placed a hand on Rachel's shoulder in hopes to calm the girl. "Rachel I believe you and I are way past the point of slushy facials, now please, what's going on? Between Santana's phone call and the way you are acting, I am starting to get concerned."
Rachel took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in her throat. "Quinn.."