Title: Maneuvering Landmines
Length: 92,812 total [over 14 parts], 6711 for part 1
Spoilers: Through Journey
Summary: Based on a glee angst prompt, What if your true soul mate was your. . .sister? (even if she is adopted) - This EPIC prompt was issued by avadacantare and apparently she liked it, so yay! I feel pleased. I would have been in a well of despair and rejection if it was hated.
Bonus for having Brittany and Santana be close friends with Rachel.
Note: first half of this story is more from the Quinn perspective, the second half is more from the Rachel perspective and so it all kind of balances out.
Warnings: Rape warning in chapter 5 (neither Quinn nor Rachel perpetrates it against the other, and it’s not particularly graphic, but the incident comes up again in more detail in chapter 9) Potentially triggery.
This is what Quinn remembered of the day she first met Rachel:
It was the day after Christmas.
She was sitting in the kitchen with her mother, eating a leftover Christmas cookie in the shape of a bell. She was keeping her mother company while her mother cleaned up the kitchen after lunch. Her dad was at work. Her big sister, Aubrey, was upstairs doing God knows what. Aubrey was twelve and enjoyed reminding Quinn of that fact, especially when Aubrey was using it as an excuse for why Quinn couldn’t be around her. Her mother had just started the dishwashing cycle when the phone rang and her mother answered it.
Quinn watched her mother’s face which twisted into an expression that Quinn had never before seen. Quinn’s mother sat down into a chair at a table and listened quietly on the phone, barely saying a word.
Once she was off the phone, her mother addressed her.
“Go upstairs, get changed and tell your sister we’re leaving.”
Quinn didn’t ask any questions. Back then, she loved her Daddy, but her mother was her hero. Her mother was prettier than any Barbie doll she had and could fix almost anything. When her mother told her to do something in that tone, Quinn just did it. Most of the time, her mother listened to everything her father said, and her father tended to get his way, even if it was in opposition to what her mother wanted. But when her mother got a certain look on her face, or said something a certain way, no one, not even her father said anything to oppose it.
And so that day, Quinn slid out of her chair, ran out of the kitchen-- skidding a little on socked feet and ran up the stairs to tell her sister it was time to go. Quinn could tell her sister wanted to protest because the current war between Aubrey and their parents was over Aubrey’s insistence that twelve was plenty old enough to stay at home by herself for a few hours, but their parents disagreed. Quinn wanted to point out their parents had a point. Just last month Aubrey nearly burnt the house down cooking a hash brown.
“Mom says we’re leaving now.”
It said something about being sisters that Aubrey could see from the look on Quinn’s face that it really was time to leave, because her protests died in her throat and she just made sure Quinn was appropriately dressed for the weather before she took her little sister by the hand and led Quinn downstairs to their awaiting mother. Aubrey was frequently dismissive, but Quinn could count on her to be a good older sister when it really mattered.
They drove to the police station where Quinn laid eyes on Rachel Berry for the first time and it would be one of those memories that would remain especially vivid for Quinn, despite their young ages at the time.
They were both four years old, though Quinn pointed out that she’d been four much longer than Rachel had. (Rachel, eight days, Quinn, eight months).
Rachel was quietly crying and hiding behind a police officer’s leg when the Fabrays were introduced to her.
Judy Fabray crouched down, reached for Rachel and hugged her close. Rachel was small for being four and fit snugly in Judy arms. Rachel didn’t squirm or try to get away, but her crying got louder.
“I don’t know you,” Rachel said, voice quavering.
“I was your daddy’s friend,” Judy murmured, trying to comfort her. “Don’t be afraid.”
Quinn approached them and petted Rachel’s hair, wanting to comfort the other girl as best she could. Something about seeing Rachel cry just hurt. Seeing Rachel cry made Quinn feel sad and Quinn just wanted to make Rachel feel better so she could stop crying. As far as Quinn knew, people only cried when they were sad.
Even as an adult when Quinn was better equipped to connect all the dots, she was mystified by how she was so affected by the sight of Rachel crying because she wasn’t a child who was considered particularly empathetic or sympathetic. She was the baby of her family and generally coddled by everyone so she never had to worry much about how other people felt-- people cared about how she felt. But in that first moment, all she wanted to do was to make Rachel feel better.
“Don’t cry, my mom gives the best hugs. You’ll feel better.”
That seemed to calm Rachel down a little bit because her crying softened until she was just taking huge gulps of air trying to calm down. She sniffled occasionally, but soon, she’d stopped crying completely.
The first time Quinn got a solid look at Rachel was when her mother gently pulled away after breaking the hug. Rachel’s left eye was bruised and swollen shut and her left cheek was bruised, too. She was wearing a long-sleeve purple shirt and blue jeans. Quinn stared at the stains all over Rachel’s clothes which were a dark crusty red.
“What happened to you?” Quinn blurted.”What’s on your clothes?”
Aubrey gave Quinn a hard pinch on the arm and put her hand over Quinn’s mouth.
Quinn was gearing to bite her sister’s hand because she hated it when Aubrey silenced her that way but then Aubrey spoke.
“Not right now, squirt,” Aubrey whispered.
Quinn remembered her mother was ready to take Rachel with her, but the police stopped her by informing her that Rachel’s grandparents were en route.
“But I’m Samuel’s emergency contact!” Judy protested.
“I realize that, but after we contacted you, the little one said she had grandparents and she knew their names, address and phone number. They’re family, so we had to call them, too.”
Later, Rachel sat in between Quinn and her mother in the children’s room at the police station, clutching each of their hands. Aubrey sat on the other side of Quinn and turned toward Rachel to make funny faces in an effort to make Rachel smile and laugh. Rachel laughed softly and Quinn felt a flare of jealousy that Aubrey had been the one to make Rachel laugh and not her.
But she was still the one holding onto Rachel’s hand.
They talked about movies and TV shows, but a lot of Rachel’s favorites were ones that Quinn never heard of before and Rachel didn’t seem like she wanted to talk, it seemed more like she was talking because Quinn wanted her to talk. (As very young children, this would be a pattern-- Rachel, somber and contemplative almost to the point of depressed muteness but speaking because Quinn wanted her to, until Rachel learned to fill the silence with babble and became known for being hyper loquacious.)
After a while, they just sat in silence and eventually Rachel fell asleep curled up in the chair. It was a hard plastic chair and couldn’t be particularly comfortable. Quinn watched with a spark of envy when her mother picked Rachel up and settled the other girl into her lap. She was used to being her mother’s baby and it was a shock to see her mother cuddling some girl she didn’t even know, even if she was fairly certain that Rachel was her best friend in the world.
“Don’t be jealous, my love. Rachel had a bad day,” Quinn’s mother explained, seeing the look on Quinn’s face. “That’s why we’re here.”
“Okay,” Quinn said simply.
Quinn, Aubrey and their mother stayed with Rachel at the police station until her grandparents came to retrieve her.
Rachel’s grandparents and Judy Fabray greeted one another coldly.
Quinn observed them and didn’t like way they were mean to her mother and her new friend. They didn’t even look nice.
Rachel’s grandfather yanked Rachel to her feet and pulled her along by the wrist to the exit of the police station faster than Rachel could keep up even though she was running. Then he yelled at her when she couldn’t keep up and dropped her hand once they were outdoors. Rachel was quiet and somber and just tried to keep up the best she could.
Quinn, Aubrey and Quinn’s mother followed them to the parking lot where Rachel scrambled to keep up with her grandparents, running on small legs. Quinn’s mother picked Quinn up, held her close and scurried to catch up to them. Once she did, she grabbed Rachel by the hand and guided her to her grandparents’ waiting car.
“Do you have a car seat?” Quinn’s mother asked, peering into the backseat that definitely did not have a car seat.
Quinn was in a booster seat now, but Rachel was small enough that she still needed a car seat.
“It’ll be fine, Judy” Rachel’s grandfather said gruffly. “She isn’t a baby.”
“It’s against the law,” Judy Fabray said firmly. “She’s too small, she needs a car seat.”
“Well, it’s none of your business,” Rachel’s grandmother snapped. “She’s our granddaughter.”
Rachel was practically tossed into the car by her grandfather and then they were driving away.
“They’re mean,” Quinn whispered worriedly, watching the car get further and smaller. She was still cuddled against her mother’s body and she buried her face into her mother’s neck. For a moment, Quinn thought her mother was going to follow after them, but then her mother seemed to remember that she was there. “They were scary.”
“I know, baby,” Judy said softly. “But Rachel is going to come live with us soon. That’s your new sister, okay, baby? But we’re just going to have to wait for her to be able to come home.”
The next time Quinn saw Rachel was at the funerals for her fathers-- both held on the same day. Rachel was standing in between her grandparents. Rachel happened to turn around and saw them. Her face lit up and she moved toward them, but she was grabbed by her grandfather and pulled back. He bent down to speak to her and Quinn saw Rachel’s lower lip quiver. But Rachel gave them a bright smile and a small wave and Quinn waved back until Aubrey elbowed her and told her to show a little decorum.
They only had a brief chance to talk after the funeral-- Quinn didn’t even get to exchange more than a ‘hi, how are you?’ Her mother bent down to hug Rachel and scooped her up. Her mother held Rachel close against her chest for a few seconds before she set Rachel down. When Judy asked Rachel how she was doing, Rachel gave her a bright smile and said everything was fine, but her lower lip and chin both wavered.
“I have to go,” Rachel said quietly, running toward her grandparents who were gesturing to her.
When Quinn got older, she found out that her mother had been close friends with Rachel’s father, Samuel, since they were in middle school.
“I would have married him if he’d been straight. He and I talked about getting married anyway and starting a family and raising children together because we did love one another and the most important thing about a family is love. But then he met Paul. And then, of course, I met your father.” She sighed. “We were all very young…” she said wistfully.
Her mother told her this one night when Quinn was twenty two as they cried over Cadillac margaritas and a basket of just-fried tortilla chips and extra spicy salsa.
Her mother’s friendship with Rachel’s father became somewhat strained when her mother married her father, who disapproved of Samuel’s “lifestyle,’ but her mother stayed in contact with Rachel’s father over the phone.
It was a testament to their friendship that although they lived in the same town but communicated only by telephone, and that they had similarly aged children who never met, she was still Samuel’s emergency contact when he and Paul, Rachel’s other father, were killed.
In that moment, it didn’t matter to her that her husband frowned upon her friendship with Samuel-- when she heard that Samuel and Paul were killed in an alleged gaybashing and their four year old daughter was a witness to the crime, Judy Fabray put friendship first. She rushed to the police station thinking she could take her friend’s child home with her, only to be told that Samuel’s parents were already on their way.
It didn’t make sense to her considering Samuel’s parents claimed they had no son.
But when she saw the way Rachel’s grandparents treated her, even though it was hours after the child witnessed her parents’ murders, Judy Fabray was determined Rachel would come home with her and her family. She knew Rachel’s grandparents had rights to her, but they didn’t seem to want her and Judy did. She also remembered them very clearly from when she was growing up with Samuel.
“Sam was good to me,” Judy said wistfully. “He was sweet to me even when I was unkind to him. He was the sort of friend you could mistreat and abandon and he would still be there when you realized that you made a mistake.”
Quinn’s eyes filled with tears and she hung her head at the description of Rachel’s father which seemed to be so fitting of his daughter, too.
“We promised each other in college that we would take care of one another, no matter what,” Judy said softly. “After Aubrey was born, I made him promise that if anything ever happened to your father and me, he would take care of her. I made him promise again after you were born. He said of course he would.” Her mother gave her a weak smile. “Rachel had some complications after she was born.” She sniffled. “I never really knew exactly what they were, just that Sam and Paul were more concerned with making sure she stayed alive. I suppose that’s why they never made arrangements for her care in the event something happened to them because I know Samuel would have preferred Rachel go into foster care than live with his parents.”
Quinn swallowed hard. “Were they that bad?”
Judy smiled sadly. “Why do you think I fought so hard to get her? I knew when I looked at her that she was meant to be ours,” Judy said, wiping at her eyes. “I knew she was meant to be my daughter and a part of our family. I knew she was meant to be your sister.”
Quinn swallowed hard. She’d known from the moment she looked at Rachel that Rachel was meant to be a part of their family, too. But even back then, she never quite felt right about the ‘sister’ part.
Quinn spent the next three years after meeting Rachel just waiting for Rachel to finally come home. She spent those three years listening to her mother argue on the phone with attorneys, Rachel’s grandparents and in person with Quinn’s father. Quinn knew her mother went to court for Rachel, but she and Aubrey were always in school when their mother went. She was jealous of her mother because she knew her mother got to see Rachel at these court dates but Quinn’s mother always brought something back for her from Rachel, a letter, a toy, or a trinket of some sort, so it almost made up for it. Almost.
She, her older sister and her mother visited with Rachel two times a week at a police station in Marion, which was the only neutral location midway between their two cities that Quinn’s mother and Rachel’s grandparents could agree upon.
It was always fairly uncomfortable, at least physically. They couldn’t even use the children’s room even though every police station had one, because it wasn’t set up for visitation. So, Quinn, her sister and her mother just sat in the lobby with Rachel, eating food and talking. Rachel always seemed happy to see them and the visits with Rachel were always the highlights of Quinn’s week. The seats were always hard and people always looked at them curiously, like they were this band of freaks or something, but Quinn didn’t mind as long as she got to see Rachel.
“Do you want to come over?” her friend Santana asked her one day after pre-school. Santana was standing next to Brittany, both of them standing with their hands on their hips.
“I can’t!” Quinn exclaimed. “I’m going to visit Rachel!”
Santana shook her head. “Why do you have to visit your sister at the police station? Is she in trouble? What did she do?”
Santana sounded more envious and curious than anything else, because even at the age of four, almost five, Santana Lopez was a bad ass who admired and envied bad assery in others.
Quinn was troubled. “I don’t know.”
She asked her mother why they could only visit Rachel at the police station, but her mother hemmed and hawed and never gave her a straight answer.
So she asked Aubrey who told her, “because Rachel’s grandparents are assholes, so don’t bring it up again, especially to Mom or Rachel, squirt.”
Quinn spent part of her fifth birthday at the police station, slicing a small cake with Aubrey, her mother and Rachel.
“I wish you could come to my birthday party on Saturday,” Quinn said wistfully.
“Me too,” Rachel said softly.
“How come you can’t?”
Rachel shrugged. “I don’t know. But my grandma and grandpa said no.”
Quinn pouted. “Maybe you can beg them and pretend to cry. Mommy and Daddy always say yes when I beg and pretend to cry.”
“No,” Rachel said quietly. “I don’t want to get them mad. Nobody likes a crybaby anyway.”
“Your grandma and grandpa are scary,” Quinn admitted.
“Yeah.” Rachel swung her legs, which hung in the air because they weren’t long enough to reach the ground.
Quinn’s legs weren’t long enough to touch the ground, either, and when Rachel began swinging her legs, Quinn did, too. Quinn swung her leg at Rachel and Rachel giggled and swung back. They began playfully wrestling their legs together until Aubrey glanced over, whacked both their legs and told them to quit it before one of them started to cry. They looked at her with identical resentment and rubbed the spot on their legs where Aubrey hit each of them.
“Aubrey, don’t hit your sisters,” Judy chided.
“Sorry, Mom,” Aubrey said. She glared at Quinn and Rachel who looked back at her. Each of them stuck her tongue out at Aubrey and Aubrey chuckled, shook her head and looked away.
Rachel reached into the pocket of her skirt and pulled something out. She reached for Quinn’s hand and slipped the object inside.
“Happy birthday,” she said shyly.
Quinn looked at the gold bracelet with the gold star charms in her hand. Every time she visited Rachel, she’d always seen Rachel wear it. “But this is yours.”
“I know, but it’s my favorite. My daddies gave it to me when I turned four,” Rachel explained. “And I want you to have it.”
“Rachel,” Quinn’s mother intervened. “Honey, no. You keep that. Quinn, give your sister her bracelet back. That’s hers.”
Rachel shook her head. “I want Quinn to have it,” she said adamantly.
“Rachel, that’s your bracelet. Your daddies gave it to you for your birthday, I’m sure they’d want you to keep it.”
Rachel pouted. “I want Quinn to have it. It’s her birthday present now!”
Quinn’s mother sighed. “Honey, won’t you miss it?”
Rachel looked thoughtful. She looked at Quinn and poked Quinn in the shoulder. “Do you miss me when I’m not around?”
“Then when you miss me, you can look at the bracelet and you don’t have to miss me anymore! And then when I look at my wrist and see that my bracelet isn’t there, I’ll think of you and I’ll know that you have it and I don’t have to miss you anymore, either.” Rachel beamed at Judy. “I want her to have it. I won’t miss it.”
Quinn’s mother sighed. “Quinn, thank your sister.”
Quinn beamed at Rachel. “Thanks, Rachel!”
Rachel smiled back. “You’re welcome!”
“Put it on me,” Quinn said holding her wrist out and giving the bracelet to Rachel.
Rachel tried a few times, but fumbled with the clasp. Rachel looked at Aubrey timidly and tapped her thigh. “Aubrey, can you help Quinn put the bracelet on?”
Aubrey ruffled Rachel’s hair. “Sure, shrimp.”
Rachel passed Aubrey the bracelet and Aubrey put it on Quinn. Once the bracelet was on, Quinn held up her wrist to admire it. “I like it,” she declared.
Rachel beamed at her. “Gold stars are my favorite.”
“You’re my favorite,” Quinn said.
Rachel grinned. “You’re my favorite, too.”
After a year of fighting, Russell Fabray gave in and said that in the highly unlikely event that Rachel’s grandparents gave up custody, Rachel could live with them. Quinn’s room was immediately restructured to accommodate another twin bed and Quinn waited for her friend, because while everyone else, even her father, referred to Rachel as her sister, it didn’t quite feel right to Quinn and she only called Rachel her sister if she absolutely had to. She loved Rachel and she didn’t feel any jealousy or anything-- it was just that it didn’t feel right to call Rachel her sister.
“When is Rachel coming home?” Quinn asked impatiently.
“We’re going to bring your sister home,” Judy told Quinn firmly. “Just be patient, honey.”
“When is Rachel coming home?” Quinn demanded.
“Give it a rest already!” Aubrey exclaimed. “Mom’s trying to bring her home! Be patient!”
“When is Rachel coming home?”
Her father sighed. “Quinn. Stop asking. Your mother is trying to bring her here.”
But they didn’t understand. Rachel was supposed to share her room. Seeing Rachel’s empty, unoccupied bed every night was a constant reminder Rachel wasn’t where she was supposed to be. The rest of her family may have been able to forget Rachel for a night or two, but it was impossible for Quinn to do the same.
“When is Rachel coming home?” Quinn demanded one night at dinner.
Her parents and her sister each released simultaneous groans of frustration, but Quinn didn’t care.
“When’s Rachel coming home?” she repeated, shaking one indignant finger in the air. The gold star charm bracelet jangled on her wrist and she felt the need to ask it again. “When is Rachel coming home?!”
“Quinn,” her father warned.
“When’s Rachel coming home?!”
Rachel had just turned seven when Rachel’s grandparents canceled a visit at the very last minute. It was particularly upsetting because it was supposed to be Rachel’s birthday visit and so they had presents and a small cake to cut. Judy, Quinn and Aubrey were already in the parking lot of the Marion police station when Rachel’s grandmother called to cancel.
Quinn saw her mother’s jaw clench and Quinn assumed they were just going to drive home, but instead Judy drove all the way to Mansfield, cursing under her breath.
Quinn was watching the scenery pass by the window when she caught sight of Rachel, or at least, she thought it was Rachel. It was hard to tell when the car was going so fast, but she just sort of knew it was Rachel.
“Mom! There’s Rachel!”
Quinn’s mother glanced over, saw the dark-haired child, braked and pulled to the side of the road. Judy got out and Quinn tried to scramble out of the car, but found that the child lock was on, and she couldn’t get the door open. Quinn banged insistently on the glass.
“Stop it,” Aubrey said, as she got out of the car. “Mom is going to be pissed at you.”
But Quinn didn’t care because it was Rachel. Her mother opened the door for Quinn and the blonde gave her mother a dirty look.
“I don’t like the child locks!” she exclaimed, stomping her foot. Then she pushed past her mother and practically threw herself on Rachel, grabbing her into a tight hug. She ignored the shriek of pain from Rachel and rocked Rachel to and fro.
“Quinn, you’re hurting your sister,” Judy snapped sharply. “Let her go right now!”
Quinn jerked away, eyes wide.
Judy crouched in front of Rachel, who was crying, tears of pain leaking out. “Where does it hurt, honey?” she asked softly.
Rachel shook her head.
“Tell me where it hurts, honey,” Judy said. She frowned when she saw the odd set of Rachel’s arm and hesitantly reached for Rachel, but pulled back when Rachel withdrew.
“Does your arm hurt, Rachel?”
Rachel‘s eyes were wide and she just stared.
“Silly,” Quinn said. “Just say yes if it does, and no if it doesn’t.”
Aubrey, who was fifteen, gave Quinn a sharp pinch on the arm to quiet her. “Don’t be a jerk.”
Quinn rubbed her arm and glared at Aubrey who didn’t know Rachel like she did. She wasn’t trying to be a jerk, it’s just that a person had to talk to Rachel a certain way sometimes.
Rachel looked at Quinn. “Yes,” she said softly.
“Get in the car, Rachel,” Judy said quietly.
Judy drove, Aubrey sat in the front and Quinn and Rachel sat in the back. Quinn held onto the hand of Rachel’s good arm. She leaned over and kissed Rachel’s cheek. “Does it hurt less now?”
Rachel gave her a small smile. “Yes.”
The arm was broken and there were bruises on Rachel’s stomach and back, the pattern from the slotted spoon easily discernable. Quinn’s mother released a low moan when Rachel was disrobed to put on the hospital gown-- the shirt had to be cut off and Quinn’s mother’s mouth was in a thin tight line as an Emergency Room doctor spoke to her.
Judy Fabray rarely ever pushed for anything, but when she did, she always got her way. And this time, she pushed.
Rachel went home with them that evening and it was years before Rachel saw her grandparents again.
Quinn’s mother walked into the house with Aubrey, Quinn and Rachel trailing behind her.
“Our daughter is home,” she announced to Russell.
Russell looked at Judy, looked at Rachel and then looked back again at Judy.
“All right,” he said.
Quinn beamed at Rachel. “Let’s go up to our room!”
Rachel smiled back. “Okay.”
“Come down in fifteen minutes, girls,” Quinn’s mother said. “We’re going to have Rachel’s party.”
As they left, Quinn heard her father question her mother.
“What happened to the arm?”
“Spiral fracture,” Quinn’s mother answered softly. “The radiologist said it looked like someone tried to twist her arm off. She’s going to be in a cast for months.”
Quinn’s bed had a Disney’s Cinderella theme, whereas Rachel’s bed had a Tinkerbell theme. Quinn sat down next to Rachel on Rachel’s bed, and took a lot of care not to bounce on the bed, even though she was excited. Her mother cautioned her to be careful of Rachel’s arm because it was broken and Aubrey yelled at her when she tried to hug Rachel once they got up the stairs.
“Quinn! Be careful! Her arm is broken, get off her! You’re going to make it worse!” Aubrey yelled out her open bedroom door when she just happened to look out her door and see.
Quinn was trying to be gentle, but when her sister scolded her, she blushed furiously and pulled away.
“Sorry,” Quinn said, contrite.
Rachel took Quinn’s hand. “It’s okay.”
“Does it hurt a lot?”
Rachel’s lower lip was wobbly. “No, it’s okay. Honest.”
Quinn held up her wrist to show off the bracelet that Rachel had given her. “Now that you’re here, I don’t have to miss you anymore,” she declared. “Do you want this back?”
Rachel shook her head. “It’s a present,” she said with a smile. “It’s yours. I wanted you to have it and now I don’t have to miss you anymore, either.”
Quinn smiled. “Yeah.”
Quinn went from the youngest child in her family to the middle child, but she didn’t really mind.
The first few days after Rachel moved in, Rachel borrowed some of Quinn’s clothes, which were slightly too big because even then, Rachel was short for her age and Quinn was tall.
Her parents went to pick up Rachel’s things from her grandparents house, and Aubrey watched over them as they watched a movie in the living room.
“Do you think they’ll remember to bring Barry?” Rachel asked anxiously.
The only thing Rachel asked Quinn’s parents to bring back was Barry, her teddy bear. Rachel was very specific in her description of him--he was coffee-with-milk brown, medium-sized and wore a distinguished trench coat.
“I know they will,” Aubrey said. “Don’t worry.”
“And I have bears,” Quinn said. “So you can share mine.”
Rachel gave her a small smile. “But it’s not the same.”
Quinn’s parents came home a few hours later with Rachel’s belongings. Quinn’s mother held out the brown teddy bear dressed in a trench coat. “Here’s Barry,” she said, bending down and handing it to Rachel.
Rachel beamed and threw one arm around Quinn’s mother. “Thank you!”
Quinn looked at the teddy bear. “He’s cute,” she commented.
Rachel grinned at her. “We can share.”
Rachel rarely asked for her grandparents-- she didn’t talk about them even when Quinn asked questions.
“Do you miss them?” Quinn asked.
Rachel paused. “A little bit.”
And that was that.
She never talked about her fathers. The first few times Quinn asked about them, Rachel didn’t respond, so Quinn thought maybe Rachel just didn’t hear her. It took her a few more times to realize that Rachel was ignoring her and Quinn just learned not to touch the subject again.
Quinn had Rachel mostly to herself for the first few weeks after Rachel moved in because it was winter break from school. Quinn told Rachel all about Gasdsen Street Elementary School and she couldn’t wait to show Rachel off and show her around.
Quinn introduced Rachel to Santana and Brittany during the tail end of the vacation when Quinn’s mother finally stopped worrying about Rachel somehow injuring her arm even further by being outside. After the first few days in which Rachel bit her lower lip through most of the day, Rachel spent several days pleading for Judy to cut the cast off before trying to do it herself with a pair of safety scissors. (Over the years Rachel would exhibit an especially high pain tolerance and an almost suicidal physical bravery.)
“What happened to your arm?” Santana asked bluntly.
“I broke it,” Rachel explained simply. She looked over at Quinn who nodded.
“Yeah, she broke it.”
Quinn’s mother had asked Rachel a few times about how it happened and why Rachel was wandering around by herself when they found her, but Rachel didn’t seem to want to talk about it. If Rachel didn’t want to talk about it with her mother, Quinn doubted Rachel would want to talk about it with anyone else.
“I think she meant how,” Brittany said.
“Mind your own beeswax,” Quinn snapped. She smiled at Rachel. “Let’s go.”
“Okay,” Rachel said, following after Quinn as they left Santana and Brittany behind.
The first few months after Rachel moved in were like an endless sleepover. They got reprimanded a few times because they stayed up talking well past their bedtime. Quinn’s father was sterner than Quinn’s mother about that sort of thing, but even he seemed to soften when Rachel looked like she was trying not to cry after being scolded.
“Just go to sleep, both of you,” he said gruffly.
“You can’t cry every time, or it doesn’t work,” Quinn explained once her father left after yelling at them to go to sleep already.
“Sorry,” Rachel whispered, wiping at her eyes and sniffling.
And then Quinn realized that Rachel was real-crying not fake-crying.
“Aw,” Quinn said, climbing out of her bed and walking across the darkened room. There was a night light on Quinn’s side of the room because she was still a little afraid of the dark. She climbed into Rachel’s bed like she did when Rachel woke up crying and calling out for her fathers. “Why are you crying? Are you scared?”
Rachel’s voice was eerily flat. “I’m not scared of anything anymore.”
“Then why are you crying? Are you hurt anywhere? Is it your arm?”
Rachel sniffled. “I’m not hurt. I don’t know why I’m crying.”
“This will make you feel better,” Quinn declared before she kissed Rachel’s nose and then put her arms around her. She was glad Rachel’s cast had finally come off the week before because now they could do more things together. “I always feel better when Mommy does that to me.”
Rachel sniffled again and cuddled close to Quinn. “Yeah.”
Quinn woke up later that night still in Rachel’s bed. Rachel had curled away from her and she was now crying and calling out for her fathers. Quinn shook her awake and Rachel woke up with a choked cry.
Quinn lay there next to Rachel for a few minutes while Rachel covered her mouth with her hands to quiet her crying. Quinn rubbed Rachel’s back comfortingly.
“Don’t tell anyone about this, okay?” Rachel whispered, just like always, once she caught her breath.
“I won’t,” Quinn swore.
“You can’t. Not ever.”
“Not even if you’re mad at me.”
“Why would I be mad at you?”
“You can be mad at someone and still love them. So promise me you’ll never tell.”
“I won’t. Not even if I’m mad at you.”
“You can’t tell anyone. Your Mom and Dad will think I’m a baby and no one likes a baby.”
Quinn frowned. “Everyone likes babies. Even Santana likes babies.”
“No one likes a crybaby.”
“You aren’t a crybaby.”
Rachel sniffled. “Promise me. Promise me you won’t tell.”
“I promise, I won’t tell.”
And so they went on that way-- sharing secrets, friends and a family.
When Quinn reflected on it as an adult, she remembered Rachel veered between two personalities. She was cheerful and bright, walking around the house and belting out Broadway songs or songs she’d heard on the radio. But she was also often somber and serious-- moody and difficult to be around, at least for Quinn, because Quinn was the only person who saw that part of Rachel. There were times when it truly hurt her feelings that Rachel always smiled at everyone even mean people like Dave Karofsky, but was sullen and quiet when all Quinn was trying to do was see if Rachel wanted to play a game or something. Quinn spent a significant part of their early childhood trying to cajole Rachel into a better mood.
Even back then, Rachel was a good actress because when other people were around, Rachel was always cheerful and sweetly bright-- always able to talk a million miles an hour and just seemed so eager. She was able to fool everyone into believing she was happy and well-adjusted. Everyone assumed Rachel had adapted without any problems and Judy Fabray often marveled with friends and other family members over the resilience of children.
“You would never know anything happened by looking at her,” Judy would say proudly. “She’s such a good girl, she doesn’t give us any problems.”
But even as a child, Quinn knew the face Rachel presented to everyone else wasn’t the real one. They spent so much time alone together that Quinn just wasn’t fooled by the image Rachel deliberately tried to project to the world even when she was very young.
Quinn wasn’t fooled even when Rachel tried to fool her, too.
Quinn remembered the games they used to play when they were little-- not board, computer or video games (though they did play some board and computer games, neither were ever a fan of video games and Rachel detested the murder mystery board game, Clue) but games they made up. Rachel liked to act out scenes from movies doing very good imitations of Audrey Hepburn, Patty Lupone, Barbra Streisand and various other actresses. She also liked to practice acceptance speeches for multiple distinguished awards. But Quinn liked to make up her own games and nearly all of them involved her being the hero saving Rachel from some imagined distress. It always ended with the same reward-- a kiss on Quinn’s nose from Rachel, which Rachel always gave willingly and Quinn always took eagerly.
In school, Quinn terrorized anyone who dared to pick on Rachel, but people soon realized that even though Rachel kind of was a crybaby, she wasn’t afraid of much, if anything at all. She was the kind of kid who might cry if someone made fun of her nose, but somehow managed to keep smiling if someone kicked her in the shins. And anyway, Rachel was the kid who accepted any dare--from climbing up the jungle gym and leaping off the top to knocking on the door of the principal’s office and running away, so she earned respect even from the people who didn’t like her, like Dave Karofsky. But Dave Karofsky didn’t like anyone and no one liked him either.
Rachel wouldn’t stand up for herself, but she wasn’t above getting into a fight if she was pushed hard enough into it-- and Rachel was pretty scary when she got mad enough to actually fight, especially if she was crying while she did it. There’d been a fight in third grade in which it took three teachers to peel Rachel off Dave Karofsky--Rachel was sobbing as she swung her fists and legs, but she was still trying to wiggle away from the teachers to finish Karofsky off, despite the fact that he was so much bigger and heavier.
By the time they graduated from fifth grade, Quinn had told off more people than she could count, caused the entire school to freeze Jacob Ben Israel and Mona Kincaid out of the social circle and had been in five fights over Rachel. Rachel had only been in three fights, each of them occurring after she went after someone who’d hurt Quinn while the blonde defended her. The students from Gasdsen Street Elementary School matriculated into Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School with the knowledge that Quinn Fabray may have looked like a sweet little doll, but she should not be crossed and that Rachel Berry-Fabray may usually be the sweetest kid in school, but she could only be pushed so far before she snapped and came after you, and God help you if she was crying as she did.