The first time they locked eyes in the halls of McKinley High School, she was laughing after witnessing members of the glee club get showered in grape flavoured slushy. It was their sophomore year and already Quinn had donned the flashy title of Head Cheerleader, with her Quarterback arm-candy she was practically unstoppable.
Right after she slammed her locker to head off to fourth period, she saw those losers in the glee club be soaked by two of Finn’s neanderthal teammates. The laughter that bubbled up inside her just managed to overwhelm the pang of empathy she felt towards them. She was on top now, and she would never go back to being down where they were; she had to keep face.
Still covering her mouth with her perfectly manicured hand, her eyes locked on to those of a short brunette on the edge of the crowd. The face was like a spectre from the past, sending all feelings of mirth right out of her body. But before she could do anything, call out, make any sound at all, those familiar brown eyes had disappeared.
The second time was at Sectionals later in the year. Finn had joined glee club and Sue had her Unholy Trinity on spy duty. Quinn had reluctantly joined her oaf of a boyfriend and his loser friends to sing showtunes and dance, but after a while, she realised that the club was the only place she could really feel at home, not under a microscope, like at home or in the halls. She always had to be the perfect girl with the perfect grades and perfect hair and perfect figure, and then the baby debacle came and the glee kids were the only ones who stood by her.
Ringing with the angry and hurt words Finn had said in the choir room, she got on stage and did the only thing she knew to do, put on her stage face. The club wasn’t particularly good, lacking an enthusiastic and driven leader, but they scraped by with just enough members and a strong solo from Mercedes.
Just as she was belting out the last note, their eyes met again. This time the face looked different, older, more… masculine. The eyes roamed the whole group eagerly, almost wistfully, as if they wanted nothing more than to join them on stage. Lips silently moving along to the songs and head swaying slightly to the beat, the focus Quinn was getting fuelled her to give it her all.
When they won, she searched the crowd but the face was nowhere to be seen.
Glee club’s devastating loss at Regionals reduced their popularity even more, and, desperate for new members after Matt’s transfer, they decided to perform during lunch. Though they were good, the crowd milled about them like they weren’t even there. While Finn caught the new guy tapping his foot to the beat, Quinn was once again distracted by the presence of the not-as-short-as-usual brunette, now with broad shoulders and a square jaw, sitting alone staring enraptured at the performers. This time, she wasn’t going to let him get away. She had to know if this was just some weird hallucination brought on by her troubled past, or if it really was just some huge coincidence.
As soon as they had changed out of their costumes, she went on the prowl. The feeling of seeing the crowds part as she passed through, fear of the red and white uniform and what it meant making her powerful again, was amazing. Finally feeling some semblance of power after months of having it stripped from her felt like a lifeline.
She searched the school in vain for the person who may or may not just help pull her up.
Ray Berry had almost perfected the art of being invisible. Being invisible was safe; it meant no bullying, and no one finding out. For about eleven years of his life he had lived as Rachel Berry, the girl who wanted everything too much and couldn’t shut up about it. Rachel was teased all through elementary and middle school for being who she was, a star and not ashamed of it. Her fathers exalted her and told her that no matter what the bullies said or did, the most important thing was for her to follow her dreams.
He tried so hard to convince himself that the reason he felt lost and uncomfortable all the time was because his talent wasn’t being appreciated, but when puberty came he finally realised that it was because he wasn’t being true to who he was.
He started visiting a gender identity clinic at the age of thirteen and by the age of fourteen he had started hormone blockers, cut his hair, and in his new school McKinley High, he was registered as Ray. He had decided with his fathers that it would be best to be stealth about his gender identity, it was a small town in Ohio and they already got shunned for being gay fathers. So on his first day of school, he kept his head down and his mouth shut, and somehow no one bothered him.
When the story of Quinn Fabray, the youngest head cheerleader in a decade, reached his ears he felt his stomach flip. It couldn’t be the same person. The person he knew from Middle School, the only friend he’d had back then, she most certainly wasn’t a cheerleader. And anyway her name was Lucy Fabray. Lucy Quinn Fabray.
He couldn’t fully believe it until he saw her with his own eyes. She strode into Spanish class, blonde hair, five sizes smaller, no glasses and a different nose, but it was most certainly her. He kept his eyes down and hood on, fear gripping his throat at the thought of her recognising him. She sat flirting with the enormous guy next to her, unaware of the brown eyes observing her from across the room.
He got to know that the new Lucy, Quinn, was very different to the one he knew. Those who crossed her or just were too ‘lame’ in her eyes would be dealt with using either harsh words or a slushy facial from her football team lackies. However, when their eyes met after one such slushy event, he could see the fear and remorse written plainly upon her features. He stood, entranced for a moment before remembering himself and slipping away. He did his best to avoid her for the rest of the year.
There was one thing that often made him question staying invisible, and that was glee club. Even though he’d lost a large chunk of his self-confidence, he still longed for his chance in the spotlight, his chance to show everyone how much of a star he was. It was like a raging fire pushing him to join, put himself out there, but it was dimmed significantly by the thought of what might happen if he did. So he kept his low profile, ignoring the pangs of longing he felt whenever he caught them performing.
Ray knew it must have seemed nigh on masochistic to book tickets to their Sectionals performance, but he just couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. He spent the whole of the performance overwhelmed by the aura of it all, but still picking up on all the times one of them went flat or stumbled slightly on a dance move.
Try as he might to stop it, Ray’s eyes kept wandering over to Quinn. Her effortless movements and beaming smile were captivating, but what distracted Ray was the way it didn’t quite reach her eyes and the weariness of carrying another life weighing down on her shoulders.
He left after the performances, unable to bear the longing much longer.
Ray all but forgot about glee after that, channelling all his energy into his studies. That was until they decided to perform during lunch, invading his senses with their amazing talent. He tried his best not to look, he really did. He studied all the different seeds that were in the bread of his avocado and pesto sandwich, but in the end he gave up unable to keep himself from inspecting their choreography.
Of course, he picked just the wrong moment to look up. Quinn’s gaze shifted over to him and they locked eyes once again, and this time Quinn’s hardened into a determined look. Whatever she was determined to do, he guessed it wasn’t going to be good for his reputation as the guy with no reputation at all.
Avoiding open corridors and dashing into empty classrooms whenever he saw a cheerios uniform could only work for so long, he needed his books for his next class.
He thought about not turning up to class, he doubted the teacher would notice, but no, if he wanted to get out of this hellhole of a town and have any chance at the spotlight, he would have to retain good grades.
Thwarted by his own ambition, Ray headed surreptitiously down the bustling corridor to his locker. Quickly stuffing the essentials into his bag, he slammed it shut, only to reveal one Quinn Fabray heading down the hallway.
Ray turned sharply almost colliding with a very flamboyant boy standing next to him.
“Hi, Kurt Hummel.” The boy said, extending a hand toward Ray.
“Hi.” Ray replied, proud of the way his voice was lower than Kurt’s but also anxious to leave before Quinn found him.
Kurt looked put off by the less than warm greeting but pressed on nonetheless.
“I saw you today in the courtyard. You were totally into our song. You should join, we’d love to have you in Glee.”
“I-uh I’ll think about-“
“Kurt!” Ray was cut off by a sharp call from a voice that sounded very much like Quinn’s. Taking Kurt’s distraction as an opportunity, he fled.