A/N Written for the FaberryCon Fic Fundraiser for gleekterry, who prompted: "Rachel decides that she will confess her love for Quinn at Mr Schue's wedding. She will sing her a song during the reception. Quinn is all over Santana. The morning after finds a broken Rachel and a confused Quinn. They talk."
Title from Hazey Jane i by Nick Drake.
For the last few months, Rachel's felt as though she's drifting.
She's been dreaming about it, which is a first for her. In high school, her dreams were always absurdly literal, sometimes to the point of comedy. She'd dream of her name in lights, or of her wedding to Finn, or of replacing Mr. Schuester's hair products with a mind-control solution of her own invention that would force him to cede leadership of the glee club to her entirely. She's a performer, and her subconscious had respected that. It had given her plots and endings and something to hold onto the next morning.
Now it's just… vastness. She dreams of oceans and of herself floating upon them, of being late to class and wandering from one empty room to another and never finding anyone, of walking the city for miles and miles and never figuring out where it is she's trying to go, and she'd hail a cab, she would, but she can't until she has an address to tell them.
She hates the fact that she's struggling.
New York is supposed to be her big reward for all of the hardship she went through in high school, and it is, she swears it is, but she thinks she forgot to factor in the tiny detail where her reward is an awful lot of work. Nothing is like she thought it would be, and so she clings to the few things left she's sure of: Kurt, her talent. Brody, these days, when she can.
Still: nothing is as solid as she thought it was.
When she gets the invitation to Mr. Schue's wedding in the mail, she has to fight the urge to press it to her lips and kiss it, like a shipwrecked sailor would dry land. She doesn't want to think of Lima as home, and she'd been hoping that by now she wouldn't, but she still does, and she's excited and relieved to have a reason to go back and breathe for a little while. For a weekend, she'll be able to know where she is.
Her big plan runs into a bit of a hiccup when she realizes that Lima isn't any less confusing than New York. Being around Finn is… irritating, and hard, but not in the ways she'd planned for it to be. She thought it would hurt to look at him, that she'd feel that pull towards him she's always felt in the back of her chest every time they locked eyes. Instead, she just wants to escape every time he gets near her, which she can't really wrap her mind around. Why doesn't she want him close?
Then there's the other part, the part where no one else seems to want to be near her, and she thought they'd have outgrown that, too. That is… most people are nice enough, she can tell Mercedes and Mike and even Tina are happy to see her, and Noah actually pulls her aside to give her a hug and tell her he's proud of her, but they're not—well. They're not the right people, and she can't understand why she keeps catching herself thinking that.
It's just that Santana and Quinn have been fawning all over each other ever since the glee club met up for the first time last night, and it feels like… like a power play, maybe? Like they're reminding her that she's still on the outside looking in. She should be over that by now—she's living her dream, and high school is behind them, and they were all friends by the end, weren't they?—but it seems weirdly deliberate.
She can't stop thinking about it.
She carries her MetroNorth pass with her everywhere she goes. It's not that it's sentimental or anything, she's being practical. She just wants to know that she has it, in case she needs it. It's not on her at the wedding, because there was no logical reason for her to put it in the clutch she brought that goes with her dress, but—it's in her hotel room, along with her larger, every day purse.
Blaine pulls her onto the dance floor when the Cha Cha Slide comes on, and over her shoulder she can see Quinn and Santana getting drinks at the bar.
She decides that she wants a drink once this song ends as she—just for a moment—fantasizes about going upstairs and ripping her tickets to New Haven into tiny little pieces because she doesn't need them, and she doesn't need Quinn.
Rachel is much drunker than she planned to be, and she needs Quinn.
It's been a slow-rolling realization, moving through her like the alcohol in her veins all evening. The drifting sensation, the strange disconnect with Finn, the train passes she's never without but never uses. It all makes sense to her now. Before Quinn's accident, but especially after, they'd grown… close. They'd relied on each other. And Rachel's starting to get the impression that this feeling she's been feeling, the aimless neither-here-nor-there that has haunted her from New York to Lima and back again, has been following her ever since she and Quinn lost touch.
It's unacceptable. All of it. Her own blindness, the fact that they're separated, Quinn's seeming disinterest in spending any time with her. None of the pieces of the puzzle match up. Rachel's not sure they're even from the same set. Maybe they were all lost from different puzzles and tossed together, each trying to form a separate picture from the others.
God, she is so, so drunk.
Finn tries to corner her on the balcony with a flower and a speech she's honestly too intoxicated to make heads or tails of, something about them being endgame, but the one thing that gets through is that he wants to sing a duet with her, and… that she can do. Performing will help her clear her head, she thinks.
Quinn and Santana slow dance to her ballad as she watches from the stage.
She goes up to her hotel room after that.
Rachel is brushing her teeth when she hears a commotion in the hallway—thumping, giggling, snatches of what might be singing. She opens her door to investigate just in time to see Santana and Quinn disappear into a room down the hall, Santana's arms raised in what looks like an expression of victory.
When Kurt knocks on her door an hour later half-dressed with Blaine drama and a bottle of Malibu, she lets him in without a word.
She wakes up to her phone alarm at seven AM to two texts from Brody, one text from Finn, and a crashing, searing migraine. She's never been hung over before, but she guesses it feels like this.
She goes back to sleep.
The free hotel breakfast ends at ten, so she drags herself out of bed at half past nine in order to try and get some food in her stomach. She's tempted to go down there in her pajamas, because it's not like this weekend could get any more humiliating, but the idea of having to confront someone from glee club without her new makeover look acting as armor is terrifying.
On her way out the door, she deletes all of the texts.
Rachel freezes with a forkful of fruit salad lifted partway to her mouth, because the last thing (or is it the first?) she wanted to hear this morning was that voice.
"Good morning, Quinn," she says evenly, moving her chair to the side to give Quinn enough room to sit down next to her.
"It is, isn't it?" Quinn says, and when Rachel looks over, she suddenly feels the need to shield her eyes, because Quinn is… radiant. More so than usual, which is saying something. It's like she can't keep the smile off her face.
"Sounds like you're in a good mood," Rachel notes, turning back to her breakfast, but out of the corner of her eye she can see Quinn's face fall.
"Sounds like you're not. Is something wrong? I'm sorry we didn't get to talk much last night; things got pretty crazy."
Rachel doesn't know how to deal with this strange reversal of roles. Normally she's the bright and chipper one, the one asking all the questions, the one trying to soothe, while Quinn sits stonily by. It hasn't been that way in a long time, but she never thought the tables would turn quite like this.
"I'm just… sad for Mr. Schue," Rachel finally settles on. "To have done all this work and come all this way only to be rejected must be extremely difficult for him, and I fear our celebrations only exacerbated the problem."
Quinn cracks a smile at Rachel's verbosity. "There's the Rachel Berry I know and love," she teases, and the way Rachel's chest implodes at the word love is entirely intolerable. "And I guess you're right, but I mean… this is our first time seeing each other in a while. Try not to feel guilty. It's hard to turn down a free party when we're all so excited to spend time together."
"You and Santana certainly seemed excited to spend time together," Rachel's mouth says without her permission, and they both freeze.
"Where are you going with this?" Quinn asks slowly, a furrow forming between her brows. Good. Rachel's been the only one on edge in this conversation for far too long.
"Please don't try and be coy with me, Quinn. We've walked that road too many times. I think I deserve the truth."
"What are you talking about, I—"
"I saw you together!" Rachel explodes, and suddenly they're getting odd looks from the people around them. Before she has a chance to even try and formulate an apology, Quinn has a vice-like grip on her elbow and is forcibly dragging her from the room. It takes about five seconds to reach a fire exit, which Quinn throws her out of without warning.
It's freezing outside, but it's nothing compared to the ice in Quinn's gaze.
"How dare you."
"I just—really? I thought you, of all people, would understand how hard it might've been for me to seek out Santana like that. I thought you, of all people, might be supportive of me, would care about me." Everything is moving too fast for Rachel to adjust in time. Quinn's frosty glare has already melted away, leaving Quinn teary-eyed and upset. "But I guess I was wrong."
"You're right, Quinn, I don't understand. But I'm trying to. Why were you with her?"
"Because I wanted to be! Is that a crime? Why does it bother you so much?"
"Because you picked her, and I wanted it to be me!" Rachel shouts, and there it is. Out in the world. Said. The air is so chilly she can see the steam of her breath; for a moment, she imagines taking the particles of vapor and trying to stuff the words back into her mouth, but it's too late.
Quinn just stares at her, eyes wide and uncomprehending. "What?"
"You heard me," Rachel sighs, taking a step back and hugging herself around the elbows—for warmth, and for protection, weak though it may be. "I'm—I'm just as surprised as you are, if it matters. I didn't figure it out until this weekend. But seeing you with her…"
"Please, let me finish. I owe you an apology, Quinn. Probably several. I'm sorry I haven't been keeping in touch, and I'm sorry I haven't visited, and I'm so, so sorry for dumping all of this on you now. But I suppose that old song was right when they said you don't know what you've got until it's gone. I've been so focused on Finn, and on NYADA, and on Brody, and none of it matters. None of it made me feel better, and none of it has felt like it fit. But when I'm with you…" Rachel trails off, staring at the ground.
"Rachel, please. Look at me." When she tilts her head up, Quinn's giving her a watery smile. Hope blossoms in Rachel's heart. "You're so frustrating, you know that?"
And just as quickly, the hope is gone. "You don't have to mock me, I—"
"Rachel, listen," Quinn says, stepping forward to grab onto her wrist. "I'm—God. I've been trying to get over you for two years."
"… Come again?" Rachel asks weakly, because she has to have heard that wrong. Two years?
"Santana means nothing to me. Romantically, anyway. She'll always be a good friend, but that's all last night was—her being a good friend. She knew I'd never have admitted what I am unless I was pushed, so… she pushed me. But I don't want to be with her."
Rachel lets that sink in, and then looks down at where Quinn's fingers are wrapped around her wrist. "So… who do you want to be with?"
The look Quinn gives her could take the paint off a wall. "Rachel."
"I'm being frustrating again, aren't I?"
"You… you should probably find a way to make me stop talking before I embarrass us both any further," Rachel ventures with a tentative smile.
Quinn finds a way.