Title: You Hit Like a Girl (2/?)
Pairing: eventual Quinn/Rachel, Puck/Rachel friendship
Spoilers: Season 1 compliant, AU Season 2.
Summary: The summer after her sophomore year, Rachel Berry has three goals: 1. Prepare for Glee 2. Befriend Quinn Fabray 3. Create a Lasting Romance with Finn Hudson. By the fourth week of summer she's completely failed two of them. Now what is she supposed to do?
When Rachel woke up the next morning, she tried to be okay. It didn't work when, as soon as she stepped onto her elliptical, she was greeted with the sight of her goals for the summer. She closed her eyes to ignore it, her arms and legs pumping faster as she tried to work out her frustration. She wasn't heartbroken about she and Finn's parting of ways, just angry and a little hurt. Angry that she had wasted so much effort, angry that she allowed him to sway her, angry at him for being such a simpering fool and hurt that, for someone who was supposed to be her friend, he was such a homophobic coward. His fears might not have been a full-blown case of queer hating homophobia, but it was homophobia nonetheless. The more she thought about it the angrier she got until, finally, her eyes snapped open and she got off of her elliptical, storming over to the list taped on the wall and ripping it to shreds. By the time she was done, her chest was heaving and it wasn't because of the exercise. It was at times like this that Rachel wished she hadn't been banned from sparring at the local karate dojo. It wasn't her fault they neglected to tell her she couldn't use capoeira. Now they had a sign in their front window and her picture was in the office. Rachel sighed and went to take a shower, determined to not think at all.
When she went downstairs for breakfast there was a note from her dad apologizing for missing breakfast because he had to go into the hospital early. Her dad was a doctor in the ER and during the summer he tried to have the mornings off so he and Rachel could have breakfast together. Her daddy was a cop and his shifts usually started at 5 am so Rachel never saw him off. She was kind of thankful they were both at work this particular morning because she wasn't looking forward to telling them about Finn. They had never really liked him, but they were going to be furious, and she wasn't sure if she could convince her daddy that he didn't need "a good talking to."
Rachel made some toast and pulled out some fruit. Before she started eating, she sent a text to Quinn.
Rachel: Good morning, Quinn. I hope you have a spectacular day.
Rachel drummed her fingers on the counter top, languidly eating her breakfast. She was having a hard time accepting the fact that her carefully thought out summer goals were now worthless and she didn't have anything to replace them with.
While her first goal was still achievable, and Rachel was the consummate professional, it was going to be hard to listen to Finn's voice or pick out songs that would suit Finn's vocal range when every time she thought of him she wanted to cry or make someone cry. She tried to sing it out, but her voice could only take so many angry rock songs. Perhaps she could borrow her daddy's Eminem CD. While he wasn't partial to rap, he insisted on owning anything put out by a Detroit based artist. Eminem might not be the best vocalist, but he knew something about anger.
Rachel meant it when she said good riddance to Finn, so she wasn't saddened about the loss of that particular goal (or that particular person). She was, however, sad at the loss of a goal in general. Rachel was the type of person who needed an end in sight in order to put her best foot forward. She was a very visual person.
The loss of her second goal bothered her the most and she still wasn't sure why. Just like she wasn't sure why she couldn't bring herself to scrap it completely. If Quinn didn't talk to her, and she made it pretty clear she wasn't going to, Rachel couldn't befriend her. It was already obvious that Quinn didn't hate her, she had allowed her those two text messages, so she couldn't make "Get Quinn to not hate me" her new goal. Maybe "Get Quinn to respond to a text message"? Rachel shook her head and popped a grape into her mouth. She knew herself enough to know that if that was her goal she would resort to ridiculous measures to achieve it. She wanted Quinn to like her, not strangle her. For now all she could say about her second goal was that it involved Quinn and, even though it was vague, it would have to do. The problem was that it still left Rachel with too much free time and she didn't know what to do with it.
Throughout the day Rachel pondered her dilemma. She thought about maybe trying to befriend one of her other glee mates but, the more she thought about it, the more she realized it wasn't a good idea. Mercedes had made it perfectly clear before school let out that she didn't want to hear from the diva over the summer, glee related or otherwise. Kurt still viewed her as a rival both for solos and for Finn's affections. Though Finn was no longer a problem, he was in that he and Kurt lived together and that would be all kinds of awkward. Rachel actually felt sorry for Kurt, living with Finn. He would never stick up for Kurt the way he needed him too.
Moving on, the little diva had never been inclined to become best buddies with Artie, especially when she heard from Tina about his obsession with Call of Duty that lead to him ignoring her for long periods of time. Rachel considered Tina her friend, though she wasn't sure the feeling was mutual. The Goth was going to be at Asian camp for most of the summer. So was Mike, which she had heard from Matt. Matt was also someone she considered a tentative friend, but he had moved right after the school year ended. Her dad and his mom worked together and she told him Matt's father had received a job off out of state. Rachel had been intent on throwing Matt a going away party, but he quietly told her he didn't want to make a big deal of it, so she hadn't.
There were three people left in Glee club: Brittany, Santana, and Puck. Rachel liked to think she and Brittany had a kind of secret friendship ever since kindergarten when they shared a cubbyhole. Brittany had never called her names or slushied her and she had never called Brittany stupid. It helped that Brittany was a fantastic dancer. While she wouldn't mind exploring their friendship, she knew Santana wouldn't appreciate it. She and the Latina had only recently come to an understanding: Rachel didn't believe Santana was Satan incarnate and Santana didn't always want to kill Rachel. Truth be told, Rachel sometimes thought they had the potential to be incredible friends, but now was not the time to test that theory. That left Puck and Puck had ruined the best friendship she had ever had.
Rachel and Noah had been best friends since before they could walk. Lima was a small town and the Jewish community stuck together. She and Noah had bathed together. Some time around fifth grade Noah started to pull away and by the time sixth grade started there was only Puck. It was as if Noah and their friendship never existed. Rachel still didn't know what had happened or how to deal with it. When he had offered her that slushy and asked her to be his girlfriend she had thought, for a moment, she was getting her friend back. But he wasn't back and Rachel didn't want to take that risk again. So, she resolved herself to another friendless summer.
By the time her parents came home for dinner, she was still agitated and they noticed. It took her an hour to convince them that it wouldn't do any good to go and yell at Finn, that he wasn't worth it. She talked to them about her goals and, though they exchanged an odd look when she talked about Quinn, they supported her. Her dad asked her why she couldn't just befriend Brittany away from Santana and Rachel laughed so hard she almost cried. She wasn't sure how to explain the complexities of Brittany and Santana's relationship, so she settled for kissing him on the forehead.
Rachel had hoped to be sufficiently relaxed by bedtime, but after listening to Finn sing "Faithfully" she wanted to do something. She tried to push the feeling away and get ready for bed, changing into matching yellow sleep pants and top. She sent Quinn a text (Good night, Quinn. I hope you sleep peacefully.) and settled beneath the covers. At midnight she was still staring up at her ceiling. She tried counting sheep, humming, full out singing, but nothing worked. She had this frantic energy in her body and she needed to let it out. She threw the covers off of her body and slipped out of bed, switching her pajama pants for a pair of athletic shorts and a pair of shoes. She grabbed her phone and taped a note on her bedroom door in case her dads got up in the middle of the night to check on her. Going for a run in the middle of the night might not be the smartest idea in the world, but her elliptical wasn't going to cut it.
She arrived at a small park approximately 3.6 miles from her house before her nerves started to settle. It wasn't the park Finn had asked her to, but a park that had been closed when that one opened. There was only one set of swings, a decrepit teeter totter, and there used to be a really tall slide, until some little kid broke his arm. The park also bordered a small section of forest (another reason it was closed). Rachel loved it and she had spent most of her childhood there. Now there was a locked gate and even the delinquents stayed away.
Rachel wiped the sweat off of her face and climbed over the gate. The top layer of the teeter totter crumbled when she touched it. The diva sighed and looked towards the woods. One summer she and Noah had spent their days sneaking supplies out of their houses to build a tree house. She wondered if it was still there. She bit her lip and made her way into the woods.
When she found the tree, she was pleasantly surprised to see the tree house still mostly intact. A couple of the steps were broken but Rachel was confident in her tree climbing abilitiess. She reached the top step, her eyes barely peeking over the floor, and froze. There was a body in there. She was about to scramble down when she saw the mohawk. Puck's back was to her and he sat with his legs dangling over the edge of the tree house where one of their poorly constructed walls had disappeared. He didn't seem to notice her and she didn't know what to do. After several moments of internal debate she hoisted herself into the tree house.
He didn't look at her until she sat down beside him and, even then, it was barely a glance. Rachel stared off into the treetops and kicked her feet. For once, she didn't feel compelled to talk or offer him any words of wisdom. She didn't want to really look at him because she didn't want to see what he had done to himself. She heard through the grapevine that he had been having a hard time since Beth had been given up for adoption. They sat like that for an hour, not looking at each other and not saying a word. The frantic energy finally seeped out of her body and when it was gone she got up and slipped out of the tree house.
It was 2:30 before she got home and when she finally crawled into bed, she slept.