Sectionals were a week away and they hadn't even started rehearsals, hell they didn't even have a set list. It was utterly ridiculous in Quinn's opinion. She knew that Mr Schue thought that they were at their best when they were loose and spontaneous but how could he know? When had they ever performed any other way? If Schuester had any brains in that curly haired head of his, he'd just hand the reins of the Glee Club over to Rachel and call it a day.
And speaking of the Devil, look who just turned up for Glee, five minutes late as usual. Not expecting anything of relevance to come out of the Spanish teachers mouth, Quinn turned her attention back to the half-finished sketch of Rachel in her notebook.
Rachel was up out of her seat before Schuester could even open his mouth. "Mr. Schuester, I have an announcement. I have selected the perfect moving ballad for Finn and I to sing to launch our performance at Sectionals."
"Me first," Schue said, holding up a finger. "Two things, first our competition at Sectionals are your classic stool choirs. Great voices but they don't move. If we're going to beat them, we need to do what they can't. Dance. Which is why I've decided to feature Brittany and Mike Chang's sweet moves in our performance."
I wonder if he even remembers Brittany's last name,Quinn idly wondered while the others celebrated the news.
"Wait, they're going to dance in front of me while I sing my solo?" Rachel asked, sounding disgruntled and confused.
"You're not getting a solo for this competition, Rachel."
Quinn's head snapped up in alarm. Had he completely lost his mind?
"Finally!" Mercedes exclaimed joyfully. "So what song do I get to sing?"
Schuester rubbed his sweaty palms down the sides of his jeans. He knew this decision would not go over well. But it had to be done, if Emma thought it was the right thing to do...She was a guidance counselor and she'd offered her guidance, he'd be a fool to ignore it, really. "I was thinking that the winners of our duets competition would take the leads."
Quinn's face fell. Oh no. Schuester, you son of a bitch! You're going to ruin everything!
"Ken and Barbie," Rachel sneered in disbelief. Quinn tried not to take it to heart. "Wait, are you trying to throw this?"
Quinn totally agreed with her sentiments. She was well aware her voice was not competition caliber, they'd never win. "I really don't think this is a good idea," she tried to protest but was ignored.
"Okay, listen, I have talked the talk about everyone in here feeling special for over a year now but frankly I haven't walked the walk."
And he picks now to try and change that?Quinn's fingers clenched around her pen, pretending it was Schuester's neck.
"I mean we have got a lot of talent here and I'm going to highlight it."
Why the hell did he pick me? If he wanted to highlight overlooked talent why didn't he give the duet to Tina and Artie? This is a complete disaster.
"Do something," Rachel hissed, elbowing Finn into action.
"Look, I'm all for pumping up the team, making everyone feel special but that's for practice. You don't take the star quarterback out before the big game."
I think that must be the smartest thing Finn has ever said. Quinn thought while Rachel emphatically agreed with her boyfriend. Does this mean that Finn is smarter than Mr. Schuester? Maybe there is hope for him after all.
"Easy to say when you're the star quarterback," said Tina.
"This isn't just about me, this is about the team."
"You are such a hypocrite," Santana jeered at him.
"Like you even know what that means," Rachel snapped right back. Quinn had to smile, a year ago Rachel wouldn't have dared to stand up to Santana like that.
"It means that your boyfriend is full of crap, Hobbit."
Rachel, already pissed about losing the duet, stood up and whirled around. "You know what, ever since the wedding you've been up my butt and I'm sick of it!"
"Come on, Rachel, she's not worth," Finn muttered, trying to get his girlfriend to sit down in case she ended up provoking Santana into saying something they'd all regret.
"Oh really? Cause that's not what you thought last year in that hotel room. That's right, Yentl, your sweetheart? He's been lying to you, cause he and I totally got it on last year."
Way to go, Finn.
Santana smirked in triumph, Rachel was wounded and Finn looked like he just realized that he really needed to go to the bathroom.
Quinn knew it was awful and it probably made her a terrible person but she could barely contain her glee. She had to look away in case Rachel saw the triumphant smirk that was threatening to spread across her lips. This was it, the end of Finchel. Santana had created a gaping wound big enough to drive a truck through and now all Quinn had to do was play the role of supportive friend all the while covertly delivering the coup de gras.
"Okay, enough already!" Schuester said loudly, jumping in too late as usual. "No more conversations about this or anything! This is our plan for Sectionals and that is that. Now Mike, Brittany, come on up and start choreographing."
For what was quite possibly the first time in the history of the glee club, Rachel was the first one out of the choir room after Schuester dismissed the meeting.
"You going after her this time?" Sam quietly inquired as Quinn scrambled to get her things together.
"Awesome, I'll run interference with the others."
Quinn flashed him at grateful smile as she pulled the zipper closed on her Cheerios gym bag and slung it over her shoulder before making a quick exit.
She didn't have to go far to find Rachel. The girl was huddled in the alcove down the hall from the choir room. It was the exact same spot where one year ago Quinn had come to lick her wounds after her own painful Finn-centric revelation. Only that time it had been Rachel coming to comfort her. Quinn had to appreciate the irony of it all...Wait, was it really ironic? That Alanis Morrisette song had really screwed with her understanding of that word.
As she cautiously approached the teary girl, Quinn remembered what Rachel had said when she overheard -okay, totally eavesdropped on- the girl's first ever conversation with her birth mother, about how Rachel could never tell if she was sad or thirsty because her fathers always gave her a glass of water when she was upset. Which in itself struck Quinn as incredibly sad, even in her ridiculously repressed family, her parents had always at least hugged her when she was upset. Always...Well except for that one time that they kicked her out of the house.
"Thirsty?" Quinn asked, dangling her Cheerios water bottle in front of Rachel's tear-streaked face.
Rachel smiled weakly up at her and took the offered bottle. "Thanks." She popped the top and drained almost half of the contents without appearing to take a breath.
"I'm sorry about before, calling you and Sam, Ken and Barbie," she apologized, handing the water bottle back to Quinn who tentatively took a seat beside her.
"Don't worry about it," Quinn said dismissively. "As far as insults go, it was pretty tame. Santana calls me worse than that every day. Besides, I totally get why you're upset. Mr. Schue shouldn't have taken the duet away from you, especially not based on the results of the competition that you rigged in the first place."
Rachel's eyes widened in surprise. "You knew about that?"
"Of course I did." Quinn chuckled. "You aren't as sneaky as you think you are. I figured you were up to something when you were so insistent that I sing with Sam and so I checked the votes after everyone else left. You and Finn were the only ones that didn't vote for themselves, it didn't take much to put two and two together. I knew that you were using me a bait to keep Sam in the club."
Rachel had the good grace to look ashamed. "Wait, if you knew that I was using you then why did you go along with it?"
Because I can't say no to you.Outwardly, Quinn just shrugged. "Sam's a good guy, it's not like you were scheming to pimp me out to Jewfro or something...Look, I'll just go to Schue and tell him that me and Sam don't want the duet and to give it back to you and Finn, okay? I honestly don't know what the man was thinking with all of this. It makes about as much sense as it would for Coach Sylvester to bench Brittany for Nationals."
Between picking Sam and Quinn for the duet and then choosing quite possibly one of the cheesiest songs ever written -ranked only just below Evergreen, in Quinn's opinion- for them to perform, Quinn had to wonder if Schuester really was intentionally trying to throw the competition.
"Yes!" Rachel all but shouted, her frustration with Mr. Schuester's haphazard style of leadership getting the better of her. "The Warblers were already amazing and now they have Kurt, I don't understand how Mr. Schue can be so confident we'll be able to beat them that he wants to send in the C-team...No offence."
"It's like he doesn't even care that if we lose at Sectionals, glee club will be over for good."
Honestly that thought hadn't even occurred to Quinn. She'd completely forgotten that they still had to place at Regionals this year to secure the club's future and they wouldn't be able to do that if they lost at Sectionals. What in the holy hell was Schuester thinking when he decided to jeopardize the entire club's future in some misguided attempt to be fair.
"But still," Rachel continued. "I can't in all good conscience let you give up your duet for me."
Wait, what?"No, seriously, Rachel. I don't want it, I like swaying in the background while you sing, it's fun! I'm not like you, okay? I'm perfectly fine with not being in the spotlight. In fact, I prefer it. I mean, the thought of getting up there and having all those people looking at me, judging me. The fate of the glee club resting on my shoulders." Quinn was on the verge of a panic attack just thinking about it. "Seriously, I don't want it."
"You shouldn't be so afraid, Quinn," Rachel said, smiling encouragingly. "You have a lovely voice and as long we continue our lessons then I'm sure you won't embarrass yourself at Sectionals."
Rachel Berry turning down a chance to perform in front of an audience? No, there was definitely something more going on here and Quinn was sure it had to do with that moron Finn, he really did ruin everything. "I'd still prefer to give it to you."
Rachel closed her eyes and shook her head. "I'm afraid that singing a love ballad with Finn is the last thing I want to do right now. And I don't want to jeopardize our chances, any further than Mr. Schuester already has, by risking the judges sensing the insincerity in my performance," she said stiffly. "At least you and Sam are happy and in love."
"Yeah..." Quinn awkwardly agreed and quickly turned the conversation back to Finn's betrayal. "You know, I'm really sorry it all had to come out like that, I thought that Finn had already told you."
"Wait, you knew? For how long?"
"Since last year. Santana told Brittany and Brittany told me, I just assumed that Finn would have been honest with you about it," Quinn added slyly. "If it's any consolation, Santana said that he sucked in bed. She said that he was the worst she's ever had and she's had a lotso..." She trailed off at the utterly heartbroken look on Rachel's face. "And that isn't helping at all, I'm sorry."
She shifted closer to Rachel and hesitantly put her arm around the smaller girl's shoulders. "Look, I know that this hurts right now but I really think that you two breaking up will be the best-"
Rachel pulled away and looked at her uncomprehendingly.
"I'm not breaking up with Finn."
Oh, you've got to be freaking kidding me!"Rachel, he lied to you about having sex with someone else. With Santana!"
"That doesn't mean that we have to break up! In time we can get past this, this is just a bump in the road-"
"Pretty big bump," Quinn couldn't help remarking sarcastically, her pent up anger leaking out. "You're sixteen years old, Rachel, you shouldn't have to fight this hard to maintain a relationship. I mean, what the hell are you going to do to try and fix this, go to couples therapy?" Quinn laughed at the absurd suggestion. Rachel, on the other hand, looked like she was having some kind of eureka moment.
"Quinn, that's a brilliant idea!"
"What? No, it's not. It's a terrible idea."
"I don't know why I didn't think of it before," Rachel babbled excitedly. "It saved my father's marriage. I need to go make an appointment with Dr. Boumstien. Thanks, Quinn."
She squeezed Quinn in a quick hug, releasing her before Quinn even had a chance to enjoy it, much less reciprocate, and hopped up.
"You're welcome," Quinn muttered, letting her head thud back against the wall as Rachel skittered off down the hallway. She may have loved the girl but Rachel Berry was without a doubt the most frustrating person Quinn had ever met.
I really need to find out who the architect was that designed this school, Quinn thought as she surreptitiously spied on Finn and Rachel's counseling session with Ms. Pillsbury, through the amazingly convenient glass wall of the guidance counselor's office. Maybe send them a fruit basket or something.
Apparently, Dr. Boumstien hadn't been able to fit them in on such short notice, so in desperation Rachel had dragged Finn in to see Ms. Pillsbury. So far, much to Quinn's delight, things did not seem to going well at all.
Judging by the look on the redheaded teacher's face Finn had just said something incredibly stupid and insensitive and Rachel was about to either slap him or storm out.
Oh crap. Quinn gasped and whirled around, pretending to be completely absorbed in the school notice board, as Rachel came storming out of the room behind her. Since when did we have a ninja club?
Quinn oh-so-stealthily craned her head to follow Rachel's progress down the hall, smirking when she realized that she was heading towards the auditorium. Perfect.
Eight Mississippi, nine Mississippi, ten Mississippi, Quinn counted in her head as she loitered just outside the doors to the auditorium. As much as she wanted to, she couldn't just go barging in there straight after Rachel. She didn't want Rachel to think that she was stalking her or something. Twenty one Mississippi, twenty two Mississippi, twenty thr- Oh screw it, I'm going in.
She pushed the door open just enough to slip inside, letting it click shut behind her. Even across the huge empty room, the sobs of the girl sitting at the piano on stage could be heard.
"Rachel?" Quinn cautiously approached the girl who still hadn't realized that she wasn't alone. "Are you okay?" She played it perfectly, coming across as tentative but concerned.
Rachel's head shot up and her hands flew to her face, to try and scrub away any evidence of her tears. Never let them see you cry, it was one of her many mottos. "Quinn, what are you doing here?"
"I came to practice," Quinn lied, gesturing to the piano.
"By yourself? Where's Brad?" Rachel's head whipped around as she searched for the mysterious piano player who just always somehow happened to be there whenever needed.
Quinn shook her head and joined Rachel on the bench. "I don't need him, I can play."
"Yeah, I took a lessons for a few years when I was a kid." Before her clarinet lessons were dropped in favor of ballet ones, the violin replaced by gymnastics and finally piano abandoned for cheerleading. The day Quinn told her she was quitting the piano, her teacher, Mrs. Irving, had cried at the loss of her most promising student. It all seemed like a lifetime ago and in a way, Quinn supposed, it was.
Quinn set her hands on the keys and began to play the first thing that popped into her head. "I'm a little rusty, I haven't played in a while." That was a lie, she'd been practicing for weeks now, knowing that musicality was definitely an essential feature that Rachel looked for in a love interest. Puck could play guitar, Jesse the piano, even Finn was a drummer.
"Moonlight Sonata," Rachel said, recognizing the piece Quinn was playing.
"It's my favorite." Being the miserable little girl she was, it was no surprise that Quinn had always found herself being drawn to the more maudlin pieces. "So I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the counseling session didn't go so well?"
"Understatement," Rachel huffed. "Finn doesn't seem to understand why I'm so upset that it was Santana that he slept with. He's acting like I don't have a right to be upset with him because we weren't together at the time."
"Of course he wouldn't understand why you're upset that he had sex with the girl that he broke up with for because she was more popular than you and then lied to your face about it," Quinn said with more than just a hint of bitterness. "It's not like he's ever understood your insecurities about her."
Finn made the girls he dated almost cripplingly insecure, Quinn had first hand knowledge of that. She didn't think he did it deliberately -although she was now starting to have her doubts that he was quite as clueless as he made himself out to be- but he'd always had wandering eyes, an almost pathological desire for what he couldn't have, and the keen ability to subconsciously identify and exploit a girl's insecurities to get her to do what he wanted. It was part of the reason Quinn had been such a raging bitch when she was with him.
Her own self-esteem crushing experiences while dating Finn were why she'd gone along with Rachel's insane scheme to test Finn's loyalty. Because just a year before she had been in Rachel's position, only then Rachel had been her Santana.
Rachel sighed and looked down at Quinn's long fingers moving deftly across the keys. She really was very good. "Maybe he's right though, maybe I'm making too big of a deal out of this."
"You're not," Quinn assured her. "He slept with Santana and lied about it. That is a big deal, even if you ignore the emotional aspect of it. You know that between having sex with Brittany and Puck and slutting it up with half the football team, Santana must be a walking petri dish of STDs, who knows what she might have given him that he could have passed onto you. I mean, you know how they say that when you have sex with someone you're also sleeping with everyone that they've had sex with? Well, by doing it with Santana, Finn's had sex with pretty much the entire town."
Rachel frowned. "Who told you that? I thought that you were excused from Sex Ed because of the Celibacy Club."
Quinn abruptly stopped playing. Really? That's what she's focusing on?"I was. And my doctor told me...just before he informed me that Puckerman had not only gotten me pregnant but he'd also given me chlamydia." It was something that Quinn had never planned on revealing to anyone and the half-shocked/half-disgusted expression on Rachel's face reminded her of why.
"I'm fine now though," she rushed to assure Rachel, not wanting her to think that she was some kind of diseased whore. "I took the drugs the doctor gave me and I'm totally clear...I just, I wanted you to understand where I'm coming from when I tell you that what he did is a big deal."
"I'm sorry that you had to go through that alone, Quinn."
"I'm not, I couldn't bear the thought of anyone finding out. It would be mortifying."
"But you told me," Rachel breathed, looking up at Quinn with the starry-eyed awestruck gaze that was usually reserved for one Finn Hudson.
"But I told you," Quinn repeated softly, holding Rachel's gaze until it started to overwhelm her. It was too much, too soon. She wasn't ready for Rachel to look at her like that yet.
She looked away, breaking the connection, clearing her throat loudly, and started playing again. Chopin, this time. Nocturne in E Flat Major. "So, um, since we're both here, do you mind helping me with the duet? It'll help to take your mind off things and, let's face it, I need all the practice I can get."
"Of course. You should text Sam, get him to meet us," Rachel suggested, shifting along the bench so she was sitting closer to Quinn. Way too close for cheerleader's comfort.
Quinn gulped, feeling Rachel's body heat radiating against her bare thighs, the close proximity was making her skin positively tingle. Stupid Cheerios skirt.
"I really should," she muttered, not moving an inch, just in case she accidentally brushed against Rachel and it made her lose all pretence of having actual control over her body. She needed a buffer between them, she needed Sam to keep her from doing something incredibly stupid.
"Are you going to text him?" Rachel asked, frowning at Quinn's suddenly odd behavior.
"Yesss." Good Lord, Quinn, get it together.
Leaning away from Rachel, Quinn used her left hand to fumble around in her bag until she found her phone and sent a quick text to Sam asking if he was available to rehearse with them.
There was an awkward silence between them as they waited for his reply. Rachel didn't understand it at all, one minute Quinn had been comforting her and divulging her darkest secrets and the next she was acting like she was about to jump out of her own skin.
They both jumped when Quinn's phone beeped as it received Sam's reply. Sry cant. Football prac. Have fun tho!
"He can't," Quinn informed Rachel, praying that she'd be able to keep herself in check without him. "He's got football practice."
"Looks like it's just you and me then."
Please God, don't let me do anything to screw this up.