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Whispers in the Dark

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 "I hated you." 

Rachel snorted. If this was Noah's idea of a secret they were going to have to have a long conversation about the definition of the word. A secret was not stating a fact that everyone knew and could see clearly. Still there was nothing between the double beds of the hotel room they found themselves in 100 miles away from Lima except for the last ten plus years. 

"I know that. I'm sure there's a still a slushy stained sweater at my father's house to prove it." Rachel didn't bother to soften her voice in the dark. She didn't bother to ask why he was in a crappy hotel 100 miles from home with her either. 

"No, not in high school. In high school I was afraid of you, intimidated I guess. You were going places Rachel. You were getting out of this shit hole and I was a Lima Looser." Noah's voice was as harsh as her own. It shouldn't have brought comfort but some how it did, like a scratchy blanket that smelled like Grandma's house. Or at least what her books said Grandma's house smelled like. Dad's parent's were dead and Daddy's parents thought it was bad enough he was gay, not to mention married to a black man AND converted to Judaism. They didn't talk about Daddy's parents.

They didn't talk about a lot of things.

"It felt like you hated me." Rachel stated, she didn't accuse. Glass houses and stones.

"I hated you for staying. After high school. You were supposed to be the one of us that got out of here. You and Kurt and the others. You were supposed to be everything you promised the world you'd be." 

Rachel could hear all the things he wasn't saying. She didn't want to. High school was a decade ago. 

"You were supposed to be better Rachel." 

Maybe they were putting words to all those feelings.

"You were supposed to end up in jail before your twenty-first birthday. Life isn't about supposed to Noah."

Maybe she was being mean. That's okay, there's a reason she's running with a boy who used to have a Mohawk and a slushy. Her gentleness (what ever gentle she had) left her a long time ago, pounded out by disappointment after disappointment. Resentment took ten years to build apparently and a hundred miles of road to let out. 

"No it's not Berry-Hudson." Noah tossed back at her. Rachel lay on her back and didn't say a word. Instead she mentally counted the money in her bag for the thousandth time and thought about the audition circled in the newspaper in her purse. Red circle with a star sticker stuck next to it. It and ten other auditions, apartment listings, and dance classes. She thought about notes left on pillows and promises made and broken.

"Fuck you Noah."

From the bed across the room Noah snorted. She heard all of his disappointments, resentments and broken dreams in that snort. 

"You're the one who took that off the table. Go to bed Berry, we can be just as fucking pissed at the world when the sun comes up."

It still took over an hour for Noah's soft snores to fill the air. It took longer still for her eyes to force their way shut.

~&~

Graduation was supposed to be it. Done with high school, done with Lima. Done with Quinn, Fin and everything this tiny back ass town never gave her. She was done. She was single. She was eighteen with a shiny acceptance letter to one of the best theater schools in the country. She'd never have to come back here unless she wanted too. Her bags were already packed and a plane ticket sat proudly on the kitchen fridge waiting for her. 

Then Daddy's heart gave out two days after graduation.

Words like triple bypass, and heart attack and no stress flew over her head in a hospital room while Dad broke down in her arms. Doctors asked questions about DNR's and power of attorney and Rachel knew all the answers and Dad couldn't give them and Daddy was pale and in a hospital bed. 

Of course Rachel knew the answers. 

Three years a go a senior boy wrapped his car around a tree and his parents waited three weeks for him to die. 

Daddy was a lawyer and Dad was one too. It didn't take long for them to answer all her questions. They believed in being honest with her.  They explained all the options a person had if something happened. They explained power of attorney and next of kin. They all drew up health care directives together.

It may have been morbid for a fifteen year old to think about what would happen if she died but having a plan made Rachel feel in control. Having a plan meant she knew where her life was going.

Now Daddy was in the hospital and a document only three years old was being dragged into the light and Dad couldn't answer any of the questions but Rachel had memorized them all three years ago.

She differed her acceptance for a year. A year of community college in Lima. She could use the money she saved to rent an apartment instead of living in the dorms. Her father's had made sure she'd go to school with as little debt as possible. She could rent an apartment if she stayed in Lima for a year. Just one year.

Long enough for Daddy to get better. Just long enough. Dad didn't even make a token protest when she told him her plan. 

Almost everyone of the Gleeks who graduated left Lima. Kurt went off to LA with Mercadee's. Britney followed Santana to Columbia. Quinn left for Minnesota. Mike went to dance. Everyone except Fin, Noah and now her. 

Finn appeared in her first class at community college and it was so good to see a familiar face. 

~&~

Rachel woke at dawn and stared at the ceiling for twenty minutes before she realized she couldn't hear Noah's snores anymore. 

Her marriage bed had been empty long enough she forgot how to listen to someone sleep next to her. 

She sat up abruptly and looked around the room. At the small table pushed in one corner Noah sat with a coffee in his hand and one on the table. A half eaten bagel sat in front of him smeared with cream cheese and Rachel knew without asking a vegan bagel and vegan cream cheese sat in the bag next to the second coffee.

"If we hit the road in an hour we can be out of Ohio and in New York before dinner." he told her without looking up from his coffee cup. 

"I'll be ready by then. I need a shower." Rachel told him as she got out of bed. Her loose night gown fell to her knees. Noah just grunted at her and switched from staring at his coffee to staring out the window. Rachel grabbed her own cup- in the ceramic to go cup she'd packed. Even ten years after the manic energy left her 18 year old self she still didn't believe in waste.

Plus a ceramic to go cup could come to the shower with her. She'd laid her clothes out the night before- 28 years of habit didn't go away. As she walked to the bathroom she turned to look back at Noah.

"Thank you for running away with me." she told him. 

"Berry I've been running since I gave my baby girl away to your mom when I was sixteen. Only difference now is I'm going a bit farther and I got something that looks like a direction." Rachel wondered when his voice had gotten so bitter.

Rachel ignored his use of her maiden name only and turned his words over in her head. 

"I stopped running and I think it might have killed me if I let it." she said, hand on the bathroom door.

"Didn't it?" Noah asked.

Rachel didn't have an answer for him. At least not any that didn't feel too close to the truth. She'd been dead for the last ten years and might just now be coming back to life. 

~&~

Finn knew about her father. Puck's mother heard about it in temple and she told Mrs. Hudson-Hummel who told Fin who hadn't called her but he asked how her Daddy was and sat next to her in class and he was familiar.

The world seemed very scary right now and he was familiar. 

She was only in Lima a year. Just one year until Daddy was better and she could leave. 

Finn was familiar. He laughed with her. He studied with her. He was something solid, something soft and the world seemed so fucking hard right now Rachel clung to the familiar.

Puck (he wasn't Noah yet, not really) was working. He'd been accepted at the University of Northern Ohio and lived at home, studied architecture and taught guitar lessons and ran a more legit landscaping company in the summer. Finn told her all of these things and Rachel slotted them into her head next to the image of the boy she saw a temple with his mother for Shabbat. 

She didn't think this information would be important. 

She didn't think about how this boy had never bothered to go to temple before. 

Daddy was going to get better. She'd stay in Lima one extra year. She'd go to New York and Finn would be the nice familiar boy who studied at community college with her for a year and Noah Puckerman would be the pretty boy who tormented her and then became a cautious ally. Maybe she'd write about him in her memoir one day.

Both hims.

~&~

They made it to New York in better time than they expected. Rachel directed them with the GPS to the long term hotel she'd researched online. The place looked as cheap as the price tag suggested. Crumbling paint and a faint damp smell. Three women who Rachel would bet the last dollar in her purse were sex workers, stood in the hall and exchanged gossip. Still the doors locked at it was only 350 per week and boasted a tiny kitchenette. Flatbush wasn't Manhattan but the train was close. 

There was only one bed but Rachel couldn't bring herself to care. Somewhere between Ohio and Pennsylvania she decided to trust Noah. 

They unpacked and found a crappy diner with a menu that showed questionably vegetarian options. Noah raised an eyebrow at her but didn't comment. 

Rachel wasn't eighteen anymore. 

She wasn't twenty or twenty-five.

She'd spent the last ten years learning to compromise and she didn't have the luxury of changing that yet. Maybe she would one day but until then she didn't plan to loose anymore sleep over it. She'd lost enough sleep over the last decade.

"He still hasn't called." Puck said as the waitress dumped their plates in front of them. The sad looking woman let the silverware clatter to the table next to the plates. 

"I'm not even sure if he know's I left yet. I'm less sure if he cares." Rachel shrugged, she'd had the last seven years to accept her marriage for what it was. 

~&~

Finn was familiar and Daddy wasn't getting better. 

Daddy wasn't getting better and her second semester at community college was starting and she wasn't in high school anymore and it didn't matter how many plans she had and Finn was familiar. 

She fucked him long and deep in her childhood bedroom while her fathers visited another specialist. 

She fucked him hard and fast in a bar bathroom three towns away with a fake ID from Puck. Turned out guitar lessons helped pay the bills but they didn't cover them completely. She'd never tell him that part of her respected his willingness to do almost anything with only a hand wave of respect for the law. 

She fucked Finn and she studied at the fucking community college and she made dinners, and lunches and set out medications and reminded Dad about his important cases and kept the house clean and quietly made plans to apply for the University of Northern Ohio.

She fucked Finn because it felt good and he was familiar and god damnit she wanted something to feel good. 

For the longest time they only fucked and saw each other in class. 

Rachel remembered the girl- only a year ago- who would have been lost wondering what it meant. 

Rachel the woman she was becoming didn't have the energy to care.  

~&~

"Why did you sleep with Quinn?" Rachel asked later that night, the two of them on opposite sides of the queen bed. The ten inches between them might as well be an ocean. An ocean might even be easier to cross. The door locked but the walls were paper thin and they could hear a couple shouting in the next room. Loud music blared from the other and Rachel couldn't help but think about the girl she'd lost years ago.

"Fuck Berry that was thirteen years ago." Noah said.

"I never asked you before, not really. You hurt lots of people when you were a teenager but never Finn, not until Quinn. Why did you fuck her?" Rachel pressed. Noah lay silent next to her and for the longest time Rachel thought he planned to ignore her until he fell asleep.

"Because Finn was mine." Noah whispered finally. "He was mine in all the ways teenage boys aren't supposed to belong to each other and she was taking him away and fuck. I was really fucking tired of people leaving me. I thought if she left him or I took her from him, I'd get to keep him. Instead I lost him and my daughter."

"I never loved Finn." Rachel whispered back after several moments passed. She figured after his confession Noah deserved one of her own. 

"I know." Noah replied and didn't that just take the fucking cake.

~&~

Finn was familiar, Daddy was getting worse not better, she was still in fucking Ohio two years after graduation. Finn's dick felt good and she knew what was expected of her and she didn't really expect much from him and they went out now, in public, with clothes. 

She didn't tell Finn that sometimes he fucked her too gentle. That sometimes she wanted him to fuck her as hard as she hated herself for being bitter, for being angry, for being in fucking Lima Ohio and living in her childhood bedroom while her twentieth birthday chased it's way across the calendar. 

She did stare at the pregnancy test in her hands and wondered how she could trap herself to this god forsaken place in another way. Daddy would get better. The newest specialist sounded so sure of it. Daddy would get better and she'd reapply to NYADA and Finn would be the boy who comforted her for the two years she was stuck in hell.

The little line on the pregnancy test told her a plus one might be along for the ride. 

She looked up clinics. She wouldn't be Shelby. She wouldn't leave her baby, come back and leave again. She'd take care of things. 

Finn found the test before she could take the trash out. She'd forgotten he planned to come to dinner after Daddy's latest doctors appointment. 

Her father's loved Finn. 

They were so happy she found someone to keep her happy in Lima while she stayed. 

Rachel knew they were happy because the thought if she had someone here, if she was happy they didn't have to feel guilty for needing her to stay.

Rachel practiced her smile in the mirror every morning before she left her room.

Finn was so happy with that damn test. A do-over for the baby he never had the chance to be a father too. A do over for a baby that wasn't his but was his and was somewhere in the world (California) with Rachel's mother. Her father's were happy because Finn didn't know how to keep his fucking mouth shut and Daddy looked so happy and Dad looked happy that Daddy was happy.

Rachel practiced her smile more. 

~&~

Their first week in New York they spent each day looking for an apartment. Rachel didn't know when they decided to stick together rather than just be a means to an end for getting to the city but rent split two ways meant more time to audition and less time having to work. 

They looked at places all over the five boroughs before settling on a five story walk up in Bed-Stuy. The two bedroom's biggest redeeming feature was the large bathroom and kitchen counters. Both bedrooms were roughly the size of closets and they soon strung clothing racks across the living room thanks to the ingenuity of Noah's architecture degree. They managed to find furniture and other supplies cheaply.

Noah started sending out applications to architecture firms and made flyers offering guitar lessons. 

Rachel started circling auditions and finding dance studios. 

Her phone didn't ring.

His did. 

Every night his mother or sister called. Rachel could hear the worried words over the tin of the phones speaker as Noah paced their living room talking to them. Rebecca Puckerman wanted her son safe and happy. Leah Puckerman was pissed her brother left. 

Rachel didn't bother checking her phone for anything other than call backs. 

~&~

It surprised Rachel but she began to love the thing growing inside her. For the first three months after she found out about her pregnancy she convinced herself that this wasn't what she planned but just as good or better. 

Then she started cramping. 

Then she started bleeding. 

Then it was her turn to be rushed to the hospital. 

Second trimester miscarriage at fifteen weeks. 

Daddy wasn't getting better. 

Dad and Daddy were crying. 

So was Finn. 

So was she.

For awhile the tragedy of the miscarriage brought her and Finn closer. For awhile she thought she loved him. After a while they started going out in public together again. They saw their (his) friends. She took their sympathy and from some of the other woman their empathy. She downed a bottle of vodka a week for two months but she always looked perfect when the sun came up.

Daddy wasn't getting better. 

Dad needed help.

Her third year of college in Lima Fucking Ohio was starting.

Finn was familiar. 

She noticed Noah Puckerman never seemed to do anything but glare at her. She couldn't really give a damn if he hated her or not. She hated herself after all. Turns out if you hate enough someone else's hate doesn't matter. 

She practiced her smile in the mirror.

~&~

It took Noah one month to land a job at a firm and her three to get past the first call back. 

It took six months for the divorce papers to come. He hadn't called once. 

She got the job. An ensemble role that doubled as the understudy for Jenna in Waitress. Three months in New York and she had her first role on Broadway. She tried not to think about where she would have been if she'd started at eighteen not twenty-eight. She tried not to think about the indulgent smiles of her husbands friends when she'd kept up with her vocal lessons and dance lessons. She tried not to think of singing at weddings, at churches, at synagogues, at anywhere because it wasn't New York, it wasn't Broadway but not singing at all would kill her more.

Rachel thought it should be a sign of growing up that she was trying to let go of being bitter.

She also thought it was a sign of who she was as a person that she failed as much as she succeeded. 

Sometimes she tried to tell herself if she'd came to New York sooner, if things had gone the way she planned she wouldn't have made it. That she only got this role because of the intense emotional connection she had to the song She Used to Be Mine. 

She did have that connection but there were other songs. Other auditions, other chances and she couldn't believe she would have failed. 

She couldn't completely regret who she'd chosen to be either.

That meant something. 

Noah didn't say anything when she got the part but the next morning her favorite vegan bagel with vegan cream cheese waited for her in the fridge with a sticky note that read "good job." 

That meant something too.

~&~

Daddy wasn't getting better. 

Daddy wasn't going to get better. 

Rachel gained a four year degree in three years. Finn did two years at community college and worked for his stepdad. Rachel helped run her father's law firm because Daddy couldn't work anymore and somebody had to step up. 

She practiced her smile in the mirror. 

She pretended she didn't see Noah Puckerman glare at her every time he saw her on Finn's arm. 

She pretended she Finn's dick was good enough to justify staying in a relationship with him. She pretended she was satisfied. She pretended she was happy.

Rachel was very good at pretend. 

On the last night of Hanukka Finn proposed. Daddy looked so happy. Dad looked like he wasn't worried for once. 

Rachel looked at the boy who was still so familiar. They had a miscarriage and a sea of lies (hers) between them. What was one more?

She said yes.

She found out she was pregnant again. This time she hadn't tried to stop it, she hadn't tried to do it either. Maybe a child would justify the sham of a life she was building. Maybe this time her baby wouldn't die inside her. Maybe this time she'd have something she loved to hold her to Lima and not just duty.

Her second pregnancy lasted exactly nine weeks. 

Her third one lasted ten.

Her fourth pregnancy ended in a clinic at six weeks because she wasn't going to let her body purge itself again. By her fourth pregnancy she was three years into her marriage and accepted it for exactly what it was. 

Rachel Berry-Hudson knew exactly how selfish she was but she wasn't bringing a baby into her sham of a life. 

~&~

The first night Rachel performs on Broadway Noah is in the audience. She also receives a text from his mom and sister wishing her luck. 

They're the only numbers she has in her phone from Ohio. 

She only has them because one night Noah didn't come home and apparently Rebecca had tried to call him but couldn't get a hold of him and worried. So she called Rachel. Who tried to delicately explain Noah went out for drinks with a nice woman from the office and hadn't been home yet. 

Apparently Noah hadn't missed a single call since they left Lima at two am months ago.

~&~

Her wedding happened before her second miscarriage. It was a nice ceremony. Outside. Not at the temple. Not with her rabbi. With a justice of the peace. 

It was easy to not offend his extended family by mixing religion into the wedding. 

Still when she had dreamed about this she was in New York, about thirty years old, solidly established in her Broadway career, in a temple, under the arch and a smashed glass. 

She didn't even question the fact she didn't get a single thing she wanted in her wedding other than her fathers walking her down the aisle. 

She didn't even try to fight for anything else. 

Puck was Finn's best man and he glared at her the entire ceremony. 

She was pregnant on her wedding night and she didn't even know it. 

~&~

She left the divorce papers on the kitchen counter for three weeks after they arrived. Finally Noah picked them up and dropped them in front of her. 

"Berry, what the fuck. Just sign them. He's not asking for anything. Clean split and you get to start over."

"I just don't like admitting in written form every choice I made from eighteen on was either wrong and made me miserable or right and made me miserable." Rachel confessed. 

"Tough shit. You got a rotten hand and you played it as best you could and you didn't always do great. Throw the cards in and get a new hand." 

"When did you become so damn smart?" Rachel asked as she took the pen. She thought of eighteen year old her and how she never imagined curse words would flow easily into her vocabulary. She never thought she'd live with Noah Puckerman in New York either.

"When I figured out why I hated my best friends girlfriend so much sophomore year of college. Come on, you have tomorrow off and tonight we're getting fucking drunk." 

He never called Rachel after she left.

He never called Noah either.

~&~

Daddy died after her second miscarriage and before her third. She was twenty three years old, married for two years, so far from any dream she had and Daddy couldn't get better anymore.

She didn't recognize Dad either. Her Daddy was dead and her Dad hadn't left his bed in three days. 

Rachel had a folder filled with funeral plans she'd been arranging for the last year. Her Dad could pretend this wasn't coming but that had never been Rachel's style. 

Daddy was dead, Dad was falling apart and Finn was familiar. He loved or- or he believed he loved her enough she could believe she loved him. He didn't question when she suggested they give up their lease and move in with her father. Just until he was doing better. They couldn't leave him in that huge house all by himself. 

Rachel spent the week after the funeral trying to turn her childhood bedroom into something new. Something that didn't feel like broken dreams and failure.

She spent four weeks bringing food trays to the master bedroom only to pick them up again uneaten several hours later. Still it wasn't like she was eating herself. Glass houses and stones. 

Still she made food everyday. She washed the dishes. Let Finn kiss her on the way out the door. She went to her father's law firm and spoke to clients on the phone, delegated tasks to younger attorneys and appeased clients who wanted Mr. Berry and not some fresh out of law school associate. 

Dad began coming in for half days. Sometimes full days. 

Rachel pretended not to see the whiskey bottle getting replaced once a week, twice a week, three times a week.

She practiced her smile in the mirror. 

She stopped taking her birth control. 

~&~

The first night she performs as Jenna people wait outside the theater to have her sign their playbooks. One girl tells her it's the third time she's seen the show and Rachel is her favorite Jenna. Rachel locks herself in her dressing room after to cry before slowly removing the layers and layers of stage make up. 

She's finally where she's supposed to be and she thinks maybe it took too much to get there but she also knows she'd pay the price again. 

Noah takes her out to mimosa's and breakfast at an outrageously expensive restaurant in SoHo. She tried to pay but he insisted on treating her. She had the day off and he took the day off and they drank enough mimosa's to take a cab home instead of navigate the subway. 

She kissed him in the stairwell of their apartment building.

He kissed her in the doorway of her room. 

They fell asleep tangled in her sheets, clothes still on and Rachel wondered when they'd crossed the line from allies to friends. She thought it might have been in a shitty motel one hundred miles outside Lima when he set a vegan bagel in front of her. 

She wondered what line they were crossing now.

~&~

Rachel thought maybe because she tried for this baby her body would want it enough to keep it inside of her. She thought maybe this baby would stay. 

It didn't. 

She lost the baby at nine weeks and didn't get out of pull out bed on the couch for two weeks after that.

She couldn't sleep in the bed where she'd woken up in a pool of her own blood. 

Finn stayed next to her and he was so sweet Rachel wanted to kill him. Didn't he know it was her fault her body kept purging itself? Didn't he know how bitter she was? Didn't he know that there was so much poison under her smile, so much resentment that there was no way a life could grow there?

Dad stopped drinking for the those two weeks and part of Rachel thought that maybe if her Dad stopped drinking eight months after her Daddy's death maybe loosing her third baby would be worth it. 

After that thought she started hiding the vodka bottle again. 

Still after two weeks she climbed into the shower. She arranged for the mattress to be taken away to the dump and a new one delivered. She put on her make up and practiced her smile and went to the law firm she ran. 

Rachel was twenty four with a degree in music and she ran her father's law firm because he couldn't do it any more. 

He hadn't once mentioned her going to New York.

Not since his token protest when she was eighteen. 

Finn never asked her how she felt staying in Lima. He never asked about her dreams even as he watched them break. 

Rachel felt guilty for every time she resented both of them. 

Noah still continued to glare at her when ever she and Finn socialized and in temple when he sat next to his mother and sister. 

~&~

Rachel signed the divorce papers the night after she kissed Noah and sent them back. 

~&~

Noah finished school and worked for a local firm. She knew this from Finn, Rebecca Puckerman bragging in temple and from Noah himself. She knew he still lived at home. 

She didn't know he paid all of the bills in the house on the sly and took the money his mother would have used and set up a college fund for his sister. She didn't know that he quietly refinanced the mortgage so it was in his name. She didn't know that Rebecca Puckerman worked only one job for the first time in her adult life. 

She probably wouldn't have cared either. 

She was too busy trying to keep her own life from sinking completely to worry about her husbands best friend who she dated for one week in high school seven years before. Who threw slushies at her. Who for one week looked at her like she might be the most special thing he saw. 

Finn looked like that at her once. Or at least she thought he had.

~&~

In New York Noah took home men and women. 

Well take home wasn't exactly right. He never brought anyone to their apartment. She didn't either. 

Both of their beds were theirs alone when they finally fell into hers naked and desperate. Finn was the only man she'd ever been with before coming to New York. She didn't know if her husband ever strayed during their marriage but she hadn't. 

It was a cold comfort when she knew she hadn't loved him enough to care if he had. 


Since coming to New York she'd had several one night stands and a short thing with a nice boy from Queens who worked at the theater. 


Noah fucked like she wished the rest of them had. He wound her up slowly and drove into her hard. He gripped her hips like he knew she wouldn't break and she knew there would be a hickey bruised on to both of her breasts and her hips from his teeth. 
She knew she returned the favor. Laying next to him, panting and sweating she saw the lines her nails had left and a few places where she'd broken skin. The crease of his hip was already blooming with kiss shaped bruises that matched her own. 


"How long were you in love with Finn?" Rachel asked. They'd already laid each other bare in every other way.


"Until I realized I hated him for trapping you in fucking Lima. You stayed for your father's sure but he made sure he was another weight and he didn't even regret it." Noah said. "You walked into UNO looking so fucking broken and he was so fucking thrilled he had you."

"I still would have stayed."


"He didn't need to keep you broken to have you." 

 

~&~


After Rachel put herself back together the whiskey started disappearing again. Dad started missing work. Rachel promoted the most experienced associate to partner. 


She was 25, she lost one father and her other father was doing his best to drink himself to death and her husband didn't seem to notice anything. 


Well he must have noticed something. He started spending more time with Puck. Puck finally moved into his own place and Friday's Rachel learned not to expect him home. He usually fell asleep on Puck's couch after beers and video games.
Rachel usually fell asleep with more vodka than she wanted to admit. 

Maybe she would have left instead of watching her father kill himself slowly with a bottle but she had a husband. She had three miscarriages and she had a law firm to run. 


She practiced her smile in the mirror. 


~&~ 


They didn't do anything so dramatic as move into one room. After a crappy seven year marriage where the bed felt empty no matter who was in it Rachel wasn't ready to give up her space.

 
Neither was Noah. 


They'd fuck in which ever room they ended up in. Sometimes the kitchen. Sometimes the living room. Sometimes the bathroom. Sometimes they fell asleep with limbs tangled together sometimes they kissed and retreated to their own spaces. 

He still took her out to breakfast on her days off and she took him out to dinner between her Sunday matinee and evening performances. Her contract with Waitress was almost up and she'd performed the lead every matinee for most of her year long contract. She now had an agent who emailed her various audition opportunities at least once a week now.


She refused to audition for West Side Story and didn't give her agent a reason why. 


~&~


Rachel was twenty seven when she found her father dead in his bed. This whiskey bottle plus the pill bottle sat on the bedside table with a note that told her he was sorry but he couldn't do it any more. 


The note said he was sorry he kept her in Lima. The note was the closest thing to an honest conversation she'd had with her Dad since her Daddy's death. 

Three weeks after the funeral she had an appointment with a doctor for an abortion


~&~


The first time Noah said he loved her was after they'd been in New York for almost two years and she landed her third Broadway role and her first staring role. 


She was going to be playing Christine in the revival of Phantom of the Opera. 


She smiled a smile she didn't have to practice any more and told him she loved him too. 


She was thirty years old and she was finally where she was supposed to be.


~&~

After Dad's funeral Rachel sold the house. She bought a small two bedroom house with Finn. She continued to run the law firm because she didn't know what else to do. 

She brought up leaving Lima once and Finn laughed and asked why would they leave.

That was the first night she saw Puck at a bar. 

He glared at her but she hated herself too much to let his hate touch her and drinking alone sucked. Drinking alone reminded her of whiskey bottles and uncapped pills. 

Finn still drank and fell asleep at Puck's house every Friday night and Rachel spent half of hers on the couch. 
Saturday's though she ended up in a bar next to Puck who was slowly becoming Noah and drank with her husbands best friend. 

One day after she turned twenty-eight (she celebrated alone. Finn hadn't come home and she wasn't sure where he was) Noah turned to her. 

"Why don't we just leave?" he asked. 

Rachel didn't have a good answer for him. 

A week later he asked the same question. 

A week after that she showed up at the bar with a suitcase in her car and a notebook in her hand. 

"Let's go." she said. She wrote her husband a note and left it on his pillow before climbing into her car with his best friend and driving a hundred miles before they stopped at a crappy motel.