Your first instinct was to believe Quinn’s text had been an accident.
She must have known other people in New York City. Kurt had wandered over to your city of blinding lights and Blaine had eventually followed as well. Maybe Quinn had known another Rachel in New York City.
But by the time you got home, you realized that your initial instinct was wrong.
Quinn Fabray didn’t make those type of mistakes. She had always been so meticulous, so cautious, so deliberate in her actions that to believe it had been an accident would have been a mistake.
Your second instinct, therefore, was one of anger.
Quinn would come back into your atmosphere, just like that Train song from so many years ago claimed she would. She came back into your city of dreams and it wasn’t enough for her to haunt you in your dreams, now she was back as well, in person to remind you of the nights she wouldn’t leave you alone.
Why now? Why, after all those months of complete silence, was Quinn wandering into your city? You thought the terms of separation had been clear after graduation. You got New York City and Broadway, and in return, Quinn would build her own empire in New Haven.
Your worlds were never meant to intertwine after graduation but then again fate had never really been in your corner either.
Perhaps the most infuriating part of it, though, was Quinn’s radio silence after her initial text.
You had responded, of course, because proper phone etiquette dictated you should.
It had taken you a little longer than it should have to find the right words to respond to Quinn’s text, but could you really be blamed for that? Quinn had seemingly been content with building a new kingdom at Yale. She had never given any indication that she was even interested in leaving her fortress.
And now –
Now, for whatever reason, she had been tempted out of her kingdom, and had landed in your city.
Your text to Quinn was both welcoming and hesitant, because her words didn’t give away anything other than she was in New York. As so often with Quinn, you were expected to play a specific role, but she had yet to give you her script.
And then it was complete silence.
It was as if Quinn had never texted you at all and the complete lack of communication started to drive you to distraction.
It used to be that you would only think of Quinn in your dreams but now she was on your mind during the day. You would find yourself staring at passersby when you were in Starbucks and slowly their features would merge into Quinn’s.
Your professors would talk and even though you were enough into the semester to know their voices, they would still blend into a husky tone that you hadn’t really heard after high school.
She was everywhere, except where you wanted her to be.
It wasn’t really a question of you wanting her to acknowledge you, because you had honestly been doing fine since you last spoke to Quinn. High school was behind you and you were fine with accepting that.
But you felt you had a right to know. Yes, you were aware of the exact number of people living in New York City but you still had a right to know why she was here. Why she had contacted you after so many months of making sure everyone knew how happy she was at Yale.
I am fine without all of you, Quinn had seemed intent of broadcasting to everyone, I don’t need you at all.
And yet she was here, in your city, with either a peace offering or a declaration of war.
You had the right to know what it was that Quinn wanted from you, because nothing Quinn did was by accident. Her entire empire at McKinley had been built with a very strategic purpose, even if it was simply burying Lucy and any reminder of that lifestyle.
Quinn didn’t send mass texts. And she didn’t send that text to you by accident. So what did she want, exactly?
Did she want you to know she now considered New York as rightfully “hers”? Had she finally grown bored of New Haven and that she wanted to expand her kingdom? Yale had been hers by its very definition of elitism so did she now crave something more?
At some point everyone was seduced by the idea of dreams. So was that why she came to take away yours?
Your relationship with Quinn had always been complicated at best because she had the ability to install such complete confidence in you and make you question everything at the same time. Her presence in New York was jarring for that precise reason.
You weren’t at your best at rehearsal that night.
You could sense the director’s irritation growing and under normal circumstances you would channel his frustration into being better now it just added to your insecurities.
If he can get under your skin so effectively, what did that say about the damage Quinn could do should she decide to include New York in her empire? The relationship between you two was far too complex; no matter the size of New York, it wouldn’t be big enough if both of you wanted it.
The rehearsal kept going until late. You were exhausted, physically and emotionally, when the director finally ended the rehearsal; by this time it was close to 2 a.m.
You felt her before you saw her. You had heard the saying countless times before, about how time would allegedly come to a stop; how every single detail is frozen in time before it is completely amplified.
How in one moment, a fraction of a second, you could feel everything and in that moment, as the molecules, these thousands of little particles, suddenly crashed into place, you were cursed with absolute clarity.
She was leaning against the wall, just as you had imagined she would. To anyone else, she would look relaxed, but you knew Quinn well enough to know it was simply an act. She wasn’t at ease at all; if anything she was bracing herself for rejection.
There was something enchanting about Quinn when she allowed herself to feel vulnerable. She had always seen it as a sign of weakness so when flickers of insecurity shone through it meant the world.
She hesitated briefly when she saw set out of the room, and started shifting her weight back and forth. Her backpack – one you had never seen in high school – laid at her feet. To anyone else, she looked every inch of a traditional college student, but for you, she was the image of royalty.
Quinn stared at you, and all you could do was simply blink in return.
“Hi,” she breathed quietly.
& & &
There were so many questions you wanted to ask Quinn.
Why now? You wanted to ask. After all this time, why are you coming back into my life now? After all we’ve been through, after so many months of not thinking of you at all, why did you decide to crash into my atmosphere now?
I was fine, dreaming without you, but now you’re back in my life and you and I both know that will change everything.
Instead, you asked something completely different.
“What do you want from me?” You asked quietly. You couldn’t bring yourself to look at her in the eyes, your gaze fixed on her backpack.
She had changed so much, and yet she was also the same person from before, and you didn’t know what to make of that.
“Same thing anyone wants at 2 a.m. in New York City,” she answered as she seemingly thought about smiling. “Coffee and pie.”
You still didn’t look up, keeping your focus on the ground. You knew she was sincere if only from the sound of her voice. She sounded so uncertain, so awkward, and if she was there to hurt you in any shape or form she wouldn’t have sounded so unsure of herself.
In a strange way this was Quinn’s version of a compromise, of a peace offering coming about four years too late.
She would never really be able to redeem herself for everything she put you through but here she was, on your turf, at your university, asking for a pardon without ever saying those words.
But here she was, trying, and maybe that was what mattered most. Quinn had never been about grand gestures and it would be unfair to expect her to start now. But this – these little details; of a college student wanting to be forgiven for her own past – that was the start of something.
This wasn’t the girl who ruled an empire, but the girl with dreams of doing something with her life while trapped in a castle. You could be friends, you thought to yourself, with this girl.
“I know this place a couple of blocks from here,” you said, finally looking at Quinn in the eyes. “They have really good pie, too.”
Quinn seemed to think about smiling again and picked up her backpack, following you half a step behind.
You didn’t really talk on the way there. Even at 2 a.m. New York was filled with life, constant movement and blinding lights all around you. You were grateful for the distraction as it provided Quinn something to focus on other than yourself.
You just needed to be alone with your thoughts for a little bit longer, trying to come to terms with the fact that your precious renegade came in from the cold. Quinn was a little like a renegade but in the general sense of the term – she hadn’t deserted Lima so far as she had simply fallen in love with a different allegiance.
Yale had always been her kingdom but you couldn’t help but wonder if the reason she ended up leaning against the door outside of your rehearsal was because she felt that something was missing.
I feel it too, you told her silently, the words never making it past your subconscious. I felt something was missing, too, and that feeling of emptiness always disappears when you are on my mind; do you feel it, too?
You glanced at Quinn, but she wasn’t looking at you. She was focused on the lights all around the two of you and that look of open admiration on her face was almost breathtaking. You had always known Quinn was incredibly good-looking but in this instance she had the kind of beauty the Ancient Gods would have been jealous of.
The kind of beauty poets would write sonnets about, really.
You came to a stop in front of the diner and immediately Quinn’s nerves came back. Gone was look of admiration, replaced instead with a look of uncertainty.
Quinn might have been the queen of her empire, but the revolution was getting harder to contain.
“The pie here is good,” you offered as a way to calm her nerves.
“They serve vegan pies here?” Quinn’s traditional eyebrow raise brought a level of comfort that perhaps wasn’t entirely intentional but by then you had learnt to take the little things.
“Yeah,” you smiled, “they do.”
There had been a sarcastic remark at the tip of your tongue but instead of fighting with Quinn you found yourself wanting to reassure her. You weren’t a psychology major but you didn’t have to be to see how close she was to giving in to her fight or flight response.
It was quiet, for the most part.
Quinn had always been someone who chose her words carefully and you couldn’t help but wonder if maybe her silence was simply her rewriting your script in her head.
You were still expected to play a role with Quinn, but she had yet to play the part of your director.
While you waited, you took the time to really observe her. Yale had treated Quinn well, as you expected it would. Although her body seemed tense there was still calmness in her expression. Even miles from home she still found comfort in her empire.
“I needed to see it for myself,” she eventually said, breaking the silence.
Out of everything you thought Quinn would say, it definitely wasn’t that.
You stared at her, confused, but Quinn’s gaze was on the coffee cup in front of her. You stared counting the seconds off in your head, and when it got to a minute, you wondered if perhaps Quinn was simply waiting for her key to continue.
“It?” You repeated. “What did you need to see, exactly?”
“They – well, Blaine, actually – he told me you had been cast in a school production, that it was quite an honor, especially as a freshman.” She hesitated, seemingly thought about looking at you, then decided against it.
“I always knew you were going places, you know,” she continued quietly. “I knew it before you did, in some ways. But I just wanted to make sure that your dreams really were coming true.”
“You couldn’t have just asked me?” Quinn blinked at you and you imagined it wasn’t the response she probably had been expecting. “I would have been honest with you, Quinn, really, I would have. I would have told you the truth.”
“I know.” And finally, for the first time since you saw her in the hallway, Quinn Fabray actually smiled. “But like I said, I just wanted to see for myself.”
She stood up from the table. “Well, would you look at the time. I need to get back to New Haven.”
“It’s late,” you responded immediately. “You can just stay with me, you know. It’s okay, you don’t have to go back so late.”
She shook her head. “No,” she said quietly, “I need to get back, Santana – she won’t be happy that I was even here. But it was good seeing you, Rachel, and I’m glad your dreams are working out for you. Have a good night.”
You assumed she meant a cab, because there weren’t any trains this late at night, and you were still mulling it over as Quinn walked into the darkness outside.
& & &
You didn’t sleep at all that night.
& & &
When you finally did – when slumber finally claimed you after having eluded you for two consecutive nights – it wasn’t the dream you expected.
You thought, perhaps foolishly, that in your exhausted state you wouldn’t dream at all. That since your subconscious had been whispered Quinn’s words at you for so long that even it would have be driven mad from the endless echo of I just needed to see for myself.
You kept hearing those words during the day and even for the next two nights they were all you could think about.
Because it suggested Quinn actually cared, and this was one of the first times she ever said the words in person. In high school, yes, she had implied it when she claimed you were destined for something greater than Lima but this –
This was out of character, even for someone with as many personas as Quinn.
But eventually Quinn’s voice in your head softened. It didn’t fade completely, but it was quiet enough that you could close your eyes and wouldn’t feel as if Quinn was right next to you.
You closed your eyes and then –
And then you were greeted with “your” Broadway stage.
This you could handle; this you were familiar with.
You had been here many, many times before and your first instinct was to believe that Quinn would be nowhere to be found. You were simply following a sequence of events you had created long before Quinn Fabray ever wandered into your dreams.
Your stage, your songs, your captivated audience.
This was exactly how you had imagined it would be.
It made you feel alive again, which was necessary because the constant insecurity caused by Quinn’s visit was starting to kill you inside. Maybe you needed this, maybe you needed to have this dream again if only because it made you feel so much more again.
It was your visions of greatness, of belonging, of meaning, of –
Even in your dream state you couldn’t help but stumble slightly towards the audience. You had only dreamt of Quinn in the audience once before, and you weren’t sure whether you were just having a repeat dream or if this was something completely different.
But she really was there, watching you, and this time it wasn’t so much admiration on her face so much as curiosity? But even that word wasn’t quite right. It was as if she was trying to understand something, but no one knew what questions she was asking of you.
You could feel your eyes widen in panic, and even though the audience was on their feet giving you a standing ovation – Quinn Fabray included – you could still hear her words perfectly.
It’s okay, love, she said, smiling, I just needed to see it for myself.
You jerked awake, gasping for breath and your heart pounding.
The clock read 2 a.m., and you didn’t get back to sleep for the rest of the night.
& & &
Weeks later, it was a phone call from Santana that started to torture your subconscious.
You had exchanged texts your freshman year at university but they had been polite and emotionally distant at best. Both of you had made a point of leaving Lima behind, and in some ways the presence of each other was simply a reminder of the past.
Pretending to be close was simply too painful for either of you.
So you were surprised when, one cold April night, your cell phone vibrated and an obviously intoxicated Santana was on the other line.
“Why is it always you?” She slurred at you, and you froze, completely thrown off guard.
“You know you’re calling Rachel Berry, right, Santana?” You asked, not sure of where this conversation was supposed to be going.
“It’s always you,” she repeated. There was something about her tone – this wasn’t a lover’s confession about how there had never been anyone else. No, this was penance, an accusation for something you weren’t quite sure you had done.
“I… never pretended to be anyone else?” You offered as a compromise. “I’m sorry, Santana, I just don’t know what you want from me right now.”
“Quinn has Yale,” Santana slurred, and you wondered how this conversation suddenly became about Quinn’s academic career because it certainly wasn’t about Brittany. You really didn’t know what to expect anymore.
“Indeed she does,” you agreed, staring up at the ceiling. “I’ve heard New Haven is quite lovely this time of year, if you feel so inclined as to visit her.”
“Quinn has Yale,” she repeated, “and you have Quinn.”
“Well, I would hardly go that far,” you told her. “At most I have Quinn’s cell phone number. Is that why you’re calling me? Because you need her number?”
“She wants to save you, you know.”
And even though Santana’s words were barely above a whisper, you heard her perfectly. You held your breath, waiting for her to continue.
“You’re the only one Quinn actually believes in.” The accusation was harsh, biting. “You don’t even know her like I do but you’re the one she cares about most. She shouldn’t notice you at all, you know, but now you have New York, and she has Yale, and it’s unfair because she’s been pushing you to succeed but me?”
“Me, she just doesn’t care.” The crimes you wanted to plead guilty to kept piling up, and you were at lost for a defense.
“Tell me, dwarf, what is so special about you that you’re the only one Quinn will believe in?” Santana continued to snarl at you, her voice barely above a whisper. “What’s so special about you that she puts you above me and Brittany?”
You didn’t respond, instead, you stared up at the ceiling wondering if perhaps you stared hard enough, the answers you were seeking would write themselves on the wall.
“I’m sorry,” you said, very quietly, very softly. “I don’t know what I did to deserve this treatment from you but whatever it is, I’m sorry. I didn’t ask Quinn to choose me, I really didn’t…”
“That’s exactly the problem!” Santana snapped at you. “You never asked her to choose and yet she is constantly picking you. She cares about you. She wants to save you. And you don’t even need saving.”
“You have New York.” The words were harsh, biting. “You think you are even going to remember who Quinn is when you start getting roles on Broadway? You think you’re going to remember any of us? Don’t lie, Berry. It was never your intention to remember us.”
“But Quinn will remember you.” Santana stopped, and you could hear how hard she was breathing over the phone. You could picture it almost clearly, the way she would look at you with so much resentment and it took you this long to understand why.
“Quinn will remember you,” she repeated softly, “and I hope, if nothing else, that is what will haunt you in your dreams.”
She hung up the phone, after that, leaving you alone with her words echoing in your head.
& & &
Your dreams shifted after Santana’s phone call.
If before Quinn played the part of the audience in your dreams, always on the edge, always observing you, after hearing the biting accusations she was constantly leaving you, and you were the one chasing after her.
You had always seen Quinn as the girl who would always be out of your reach, and in your dreams, she was exactly that.
Santana had accused of you of leaving the others behind but in your dreams, you were the one whose only friend was solitude.
The dreams would start out in a familiar fashion. You were on your stage, with your audience and the ever present feeling that this was how it was meant to be – on your stage with your musical and the sense that you finally found something that belonged to you alone.
The first time you had this dream, there was a sense of comfort in running through the set list. You knew these songs, knew the dialogue, knew the choreography. It had become a part of you, much as the role was just another part of your identity.
You felt complete at first. You were happy, believing this was how it was always meant to be, and you were tricked, somewhere between the songs and the stage lights, that it was a feeling you would always have.
And then, and then…
And then you would see Quinn.
At first, the sight of Quinn Fabray would provide you with a sense of comfort. It wasn’t the first time Quinn had ever wandered into your dreams and so her presence didn’t throw you off that much. She was just there, as she had been on occasion in the past.
You knew how this sequence would play out. You had, after all, been here before.
The musical ended, and you stepped out onto the stage to claim the standing ovation that was rightfully yours. Your eyes swept over the audience.
You didn’t know why you sought out Quinn when she was there. There was the comfort of seeing a familiar face, of course, but there was also something else, something that went a little deeper than that. Something that reminded you a lot of understanding, or maybe fate, or other words you didn’t know why you associated with the sight of Quinn but you still did it anyway.
And she would be there, looking up at you with that look in her eyes and smiling at you, and the dream would be complete.
Or at least, that was how your dreams used to go.
They changed, after Santana’s phone call.
Yes, Quinn was still there in your dreams. She still sat in the far left corner, watching you during the show. There was that same open-look of curiosity bordering on admiration, as if she was intrigued by something she had actually understood all along.
But she never stayed anymore.
She would always leave right after your final solo. You didn’t know why it hurt so much except that it did. It hurt in ways you didn’t know could hurt. You felt betrayed, and lonely, and abandoned – and all those little insecurities you had once associated with Quinn suddenly came back.
Why did she leave? Were you suddenly not good enough? Had your spell over the audience been broken? Was there someone else, another singer, another show, another stage that somehow meant more to you?
Did Quinn look at you and no longer feel like this stage was yours by right? Did she – did she think it should belong to someone else?
You wanted answers. You wanted to know the reasons for her constant departures, why if she came to watch the show she never stayed to the very end. You had so many questions, so many insecurities, and they could go away if Quinn would just stay and look at you the way she did before.
You needed her to stay, just one time, but instead, she always left you behind.
She would always leave, and the loneliness you felt on the stage would still linger when you woke up. Out of instinct, you would reach out, your hand searching for someone you already knew wasn’t there.
The loneliness hurt, but at least it reminded you that you could still feel.
It was something, at least.
& & &
They talked all the time about fate and tragedy in your drama class.
The real tragedies, your professor told the class, were the ones where the audience knew from the beginning how it was going to end and yet were powerless throughout to change it.
“A tragedy should make you feel hopeless,” he said. “Your role as actors is to portray that convincingly. You should make the audience want to change something that is completely beyond their control. You should make them want to defy the Gods.”
He paused, looking out at the class.
“A good tragedy,” he continued, “is also about raw emotion. It is about the very essence of the soul. And if – if you are exceptionally talented, you will be so convincing that the audience will believe that with every breath you exhale, you are losing a little bit of your soul. Your moral compass can be lost with something as simple, as basic, as breathing.”
He paused, looking at the class. “Can you imagine that? Losing the one thing that makes you good by doing as simple as breathing? Good. Now write it. You’ll be acting this out next week. Class dismissed.”
It wasn’t as if you were short on inspiration, and that weekend, you were sitting in Starbucks with your laptop ready to write your tragic scene.
But the point of a tragedy was being at the mercy of fate, and destiny had never been kind to you in the past.
Just at that moment, Quinn Fabray walked into your city, your Starbucks, for the second time in a month.
She didn’t spot you at first, her attention focused on ordering the drink. You were completely still, wondering if you didn’t move at all, maybe Quinn wouldn’t notice you at all.
But you still looked at her. She had that same casual elegance about her, the one you had noticed the last time you saw her: the one that spoke of power and vulnerability at the same time. Like a queen in charge of an entire empire but still wanted to please her subjects.
A smile to the cashier. A quick smile – Quinn was obviously distracted by something but still wanted to come across as being polite. A move to the end to get the coffee. She drummed her fingers against the counter. Her impatience was rising. Coffee arrived.
She stopped for a moment, and you held your breath before glancing down at your laptop. The page was blank. You exhaled softly, until you felt more than saw Quinn standing next to you.
“Is this seat taken?” She asked softly.
The trouble with tragedies was the audience already knew how it was going to end.
& & &
She didn’t say why she was in New York and you didn’t ask.
Even in the middle of a tragedy you couldn’t help but want to keep the stolen moments to yourself. You didn’t want to share what was happening between you two. And you didn’t want Quinn to break the spell, either, so instead you tried your best to keep this moment between the two of you.
So you stayed there, just the two of you, as you typed on your laptop and Quinn scribbled notes in the margin of a book. A glance at the title didn’t say anything to you except that Quinn’s fondness for abstract novels hadn’t faded with time.
She looked like any other college student, but she was here, with you, and there was a part of you that craved for it to mean something.
You just wanted to know why, again. Why here, why now, why you? Why, after all this time, was Quinn so intent on making sure you wouldn’t forget her in your dreams?
Instead, though, you didn’t say anything at all. You just watched her out of the corner of your eye as you built an entire world around her. She would never know, of course, maybe there was an element of tragedy in it after all but it also made it so much more real, so much personal…
Your eyes kept flickering back and forth between the screen and Quinn, and so the first time you actually caught her looking at you, you assumed your subconscious was just trying to trick you.
The second time, though, as you glanced up, hazel eyes were definitely there, watching you.
It was that same look of open curiosity that you had seen on Quinn in your dreams, the one that, in the right light, bordered on being admiration. The one that promised maybe things could be different, depending on if you rolled the dice and won.
“You came back,” you said quietly.
Quinn had never been careless with words. There was a reason, a motivation for everything she did, for every action she took. She spoke the way she moved: with a subtle motivation, her intentions revealed only to herself.
She was graceful in that lethal kind of way, the kind authors so often described as poetic but was it really that if it could only end in heartbreak?
It became quiet again, as you suspected Quinn knew it would.
In time, maybe, she’d give you answers but for now she seemed content with making you wonder.
That was intrigue at its best, was it not? Always knowing the question and yet never being able to answer it, never even being able to fully put it into words. It was always there, lingering in your subconscious, touching upon thoughts you assumed you had buried – but would never live.
Maybe, you thought to yourself, that was actually romance.
Romance in the form of Quinn Fabray – it was the type of things tragedies could only dream of.
You weren’t bitter, not really.
But you wanted answers, and Quinn was the only one who had them, and she was just sitting there opposite you reading a book.
You were foolish, really, to think that Quinn would just show up at NYADA one day and explain her actions out of the blue – she didn’t do those sorts of gestures. What she did was just be there, occasionally, like the thought you could never quite grasp and never quite shake off, until it became all you thought about.
And then she would just look at you and you’d understand you had been thinking of her the entire time.
But sometimes you just wished Quinn would let the outside world into her head, if only so you could just understand.
Understand why she was here, in front of all, after all this time.
“Do you think I need saving?” You blurted out, and your words were enough to pull her out of her silence.
“You made it to New York, didn’t you?” Quinn responded. You blinked at her, and she simply smiled in return. “Not sure you needed much saving. You got here in the end.”
“Because of you,” you said softly. It was only three words but it was enough for Quinn to actually put the book down and pay attention to what you were saying.
“I didn’t do anything,” she said. “You’re the one who applied. You’re the one who auditioned. That was you, Rachel, not me.”
You looked at her. Could it really be that simple?
It wasn’t, and you knew it.
Yes, it was your voice that got this far. It was your voice, your drive that made you roll the dice enough times for it to eventually fall in your favor. You were the one that gambled and won.
But it was because of Quinn that you even picked up the dice to begin with.
“You made me believe in myself again,” you said, your voice barely above a whisper. And yet you knew she still heard you, even though Quinn’s familiar mask was beginning to settle over her face.
It was precisely because of that – because Quinn was putting so much effort into making you believe she wasn’t feeling anything at all – that you knew she was feeling something. Quinn was capable of many things but complete indifference was a form of self-defense.
“It’s not…” She trailed off, her eyes glancing between the coffee cup, you, and the page.
It was interesting, seeing Quinn work through her thoughts, carefully selecting how to put them into words.
Coffee, you, words. There was a link in her mind, a sequence of events only her subconscious could really understand, while everyone else got precisely this – glimpses, fragments even she could not hide.
“You just made me believe in something,” she eventually settled on.
“I lost my faith and then – then you came along, with your hopes and dreams and it sounds a little cliché but sometimes I feel like we met when I didn’t believe at all and you just – you gave me something to hold on to, something to believe in. Your dreams of New York were the one certainty I had in my life at one point.”
It was a strangely intimate confession coming from somebody like Quinn, who so often was prone to not confessing anything at all.
Except, you corrected yourself, that wasn’t quite right.
You remembered another time, when Quinn had talked about certainties and faith, but the setting was completely different. It had been high school, in front of that piano, and you remembered, too, the dreams that came with it.
How Quinn had seemed so certain that you would leave Lima, and how certain she had been that she would stay.
How times changed.
You were both here, now, and maybe that was really what Quinn was trying to imply – that you believed in each other enough to make a difference, enough to want to believe in something when all else was taking away from you.
“I’m not really a dreamer by nature,” Quinn confessed quietly.
She was looking at the book and this was the Quinn you cherished the most – the quiet Quinn, the one with hidden vulnerabilities, the one who spoke quietly from heart if only so others wouldn’t hear her confessions.
“I’m not really a dreamer by nature,” she repeated softly, “but you make me believe that sometimes, dreams happen for a reason.”
“Is…” You trailed off. “Is that why Santana is so upset with me? Because I’m the one who made her believe, not her?”
“Santana and I believe in different things.”
It wasn’t quite the answer you were hoping for but as with most things with Quinn, you learnt to compromise.
She would tell you, in time. She always did.
For the next hour, you simply pretended to work on a play and Quinn pretended to read. Quinn was the drama major but really you were both acting in this instance.
You were both at the mercy of something neither of you could define, and maybe, something neither of you wanted to define.
Was this moment really meant to be put into words? Did such a thing exist? Would either of you be able to do this moment justice if you tried to explain it?
“I always knew you were going to make it, you know,” Quinn continued, but she was still looking at the book. “It was one of the few certainties I’ve always had. You were always going to be in New York. I knew before you did, really.”
“How?” You asked. “How could you be so certain?”
Quinn smiled to herself as she got up and started putting things away, ready to escape back to her castle in New Haven.
“I saw it in a dream,” she said.
& & &
She didn’t visit you again during your freshman year and you actually a little grateful. You didn’t want any distractions as the year-ending musical approached.
It was just you and your thirst for perfection and it just felt so good to have something that was yours again.
This play was good for you. You needed it, really, the reminder of what you thought you could become in high school, before you lost sight of your own ambition. This was the perfect reminder that talent had a purpose behind it – that you could be something, if you really wanted.
You missed this – the sheer adrenaline rush that you only ever associated with performing.
It was like fire was running through your veins, this burning sensation throughout your body as your heart rate doubled, tripled.
Even your director and choreographer had noticed how suddenly you came to care again. Because this was it, you thought to yourself, this was what was meant to be all along.
It wasn’t Broadway but it was a stepping stone, a way to get there. It was part of your plan, really, and that was good enough – it still gave you that rush, that reason to live that evolved around you and nobody else.
“You’re going to be something great, kid,” your director said, and there was something in his tone that led you to believe he didn’t say it often – and more importantly, that this time, he really meant it.
In the back of your mind you added the rest of the sentence – you’re going to be a star because you had once believed in, then doubted, and then believed in again.
You were laughing and smiling and happy because you belonged to something special, and that question you had once asked in Glee, “being a part of something special makes you special, right?” was actually proven to be true.
You were special, and you were a part of something special.
It wasn’t Broadway, it wasn’t Funny Girl, but it was still something you wanted to describe as rightfully yours. Something you had loved, you had become a part of; something you had cried over and laughed over. It was your child, the one you had come to care for and love and cherish.
It was yours.
And so, come opening night, you felt the same flicker of nerves you had felt before the likes of Nationals and even Regionals, but something else too – something close to anticipation, something that fueled a belief of understanding fate. Or perhaps wanting to tempt fate, of wanting to roll the dice as many times as it would take just to see what the outcomes would be.
You almost skipped to your dressing room on opening night where you were greeted by one of your costars staring at a bouquet of flowers.
“What’s going on?” You asked, confused.
“These were delivered for you earlier,” your costar said, torn between sounding impressed and jealous.
“Who are the flowers from?”
Your costar squinted into the bouquet. “Don’t know, there isn’t a card. They’re pretty, regardless.”
You nodded, still feeling a little confused. You knew they weren’t from your fathers because they had flowers delivered to your dorm, and you weren’t close enough to anyone else to have merited such a gift.
“Well, I better get changed,” you prompted, glancing between your costar and the door.
“Of course,” your costar smiled. “I never knew you liked gardenias, Rachel.”
You were thankful your costar had already turned their back to leave and they didn’t see your face.
You would have had difficulty explaining the panicked expression on your face, or how it genuinely felt that your heart just stopped.
You knew that Quinn wouldn’t be there – you had done your research; Yale was in the middle of finals when your opening night took place – but it didn’t stop you from still looking into the crowd. You wanted to win the audience over, remind them of why they came here, but you wanted to see her, to show her that you believed in yourself again, that the dreams the two of you had been having were right all along.
You wanted someone to see that the girl you had been during sophomore year had been right. That her dreams were bigger than Lima and that this moment was all about that.
You wanted Quinn to be here because there had been a time when she had believed in your dreams when you hadn’t, and this opening night could have dedicated to that.
Look, you wanted to show her, look, look, do you see? Your faith in me paid off. You were right to believe in me because look at how far I’ve gotten. Look, I’m on stage again. I’m performing again, and it’s all because one day you decided to roll the dice and won.
You wanted to have someone who would understand the subtle messages in your song and Quinn had always been so good at reading you, that you knew if she had been here she would have realized it.
She would have understood the meaning of a song just by watching you perform it. That subtle intimacy between the audience and a performer was simply something that couldn’t be faked, particularly if it was a relationship that was built over time.
Instead, though, all you saw were strangers whose paths you had occasionally crossed.
You saw students, and teachers, and performers. You saw the student from your English class, the TA from your Drama elective, the desk receptionist in your dorm. You saw others, but you didn’t see her.
The disappointment you felt hurled itself against the adrenaline rushing through your body, neither side gaining a clear advantage. Yes, you were living your dream, but so often you had dreamt of Quinn being in the audience that the fact she wasn’t left your world feeling a little off-center.
She had just always been there in your dreams, one of the few constants in your life, and suddenly she wasn’t there.
Reality had a way of being a disappointment.
But then you had your closing act, and your solo, and even with the dimmed lights you could see the effect your voice was having on the audience.
The lights came on, you heard their applause and you got the standing ovation you so rightfully deserved.
Somewhere between the lights and the flash photography, somewhere between trying to catch your breath and giving your final bow, you turned your head to the side and caught the silhouette. You could only see the profile as you were staring directly into the lights.
Quinn was in New Haven. It was Finals Week.
But for a moment, you could have sworn she was in the back row on opening night.
The gardenias gave a different meaning when you returned to your dressing room. You looked at them, trying to decipher Quinn’s motivations – who else could it have been?
A part of you wondered if Quinn’s intentions were malicious. She had never really confessed if she knew you were behind her corsage for Junior Prom and you never really had it in you to tell her the truth. She had needed something to hang on to, at the time, and so you kept quiet about the truth.
And yet now you were confronted with the possibility that maybe Quinn really had known – or at suspected – the truth all along.
It wasn’t just about a secret love because that would imply no one would ever know, and as complex as your relationship with Quinn was, it had never been a secret. You were always in each other’s orbits and try as either of you would to fight it, some connections could simply never be broken.
You traced the tip of the flowers. To a certain extent, there was a comfort in the uncertainty of what they were meant to represent.
Secret love, maybe – but was what the secret? What weren’t you meant to discover? What was the one thing Quinn could be so intent that no one, particularly you, should discover?
You leant against the counter, just looking at the gardenias, trying to see what Quinn would have been thinking of when she sent them.
You noticed a small card on the floor and bent down to pick it up. There was a note written in Quinn’s handwriting. Nine words greeted you, making you frown because it didn’t help you understand Quinn’s motivations any better.
I figured it was time I return the favor. X Quinn
& & &
You read once that dreams were merely a manifestation of your subconscious, that it was a way to express something you probably knew all along but didn’t realize you actually realize you knew.
It had been Quinn. In a way, it had always been Quinn, even when you couldn’t imagine dreaming of anyone other than Finn Hudson. She had just been there, both of the side and on your side.
She believed in you, and you believed in her, and somewhere along the way the two started to intertwine.
Although you wanted to, you didn’t text her after the show, and Quinn didn’t contact you, either. But you kept her note in your purse, and occasionally, you would reach in and just touch it. It was comforting in a manner you could never quite explain.
It was just there for you, something that could be called yours, and Quinn was so guarded there was actually relatively little of hers that could be yours at all.
But she still gave little parts of her to you, over time, until you suddenly found yourself with pieces of Quinn Fabray and it was up to you to either put them together or just throw them away entirely.
Quinn had always been many things to you.
She had been the girl who had it all, the girl who lost it all, the girl who believed in you, the girl with dreams, the girl who left.
She could have had it all, lost it, and got it back – and throughout it all, she still believed in your dream coming true.
You sighed as you eventually got to your dorm and looked up at the ceiling. There wasn’t really anything to look at but you wondered if sometimes, Quinn would look up at the ceiling in her dorm and wonder why you were constantly in each other’s orbits.
Eventually, exhaustion began to take over, and you closed your eyes. You knew you would dream of Quinn before you were even fully asleep.
“Hi,” she smiled at you.
- Unpaid interns don't own Glee
- Special thanks to Erika for looking it over