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Just My Soul Responding

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Disclaimer: I, by no means, claim to own anything remotely related to the Glee Universe. No copyright infringement intended.


i. who was i to make you wait.

On the morning of Quinn Fabray's sixteenth birthday, she wakes to the sound of a sneeze.

All she knows, as she comes to, is that it's not her own, and there's nobody else in the room with her. She panics for only a moment before she accepts it was probably part of a dream she doesn't remember.

Which is a theory that gets shot to hell when it happens for a second time.

Quinn jerks into an upright position, her heart rate speeding up in her accelerated panic. "What the - " she says to the empty room.

For a moment, during which Quinn develops a painful headache, there's just silence. She can feel something there, like a door has been opened somewhere in her mind, and she's just waiting for someone to -

'Hi.'

Quinn screams.

'Oh, my God. I didn't mean to scare you.'

The breath leaves Quinn's body because, honest to God, what is happening right now? She covers her ears with her hands as if she can block out the voice, but she's smart enough to know it won't work. As much as she would like to play ignorant in this situation, she just can't.

'You don't have to be scared,' the voice says. 'This is completely normal. It's what happens when you turn sixteen, remember? Happy birthday, by the way.'

Quinn starts to shake her head because, no, this can't be happening.

This can't be happening.

'I can feel your disbelief. Are you sure you don't know what's going on? I thought everyone was supposed to attend classes to prepare them for the day they meet their - '

'Shut up!' Quinn snaps, and the voice immediately falls silent, which makes Quinn cringe in both guilt and embarrassment. 'Look, I'm sorry. Just give me a moment, please.'

Quinn can't seem to get a hold of her breathing and, frankly, she's convinced she's dying. She knows what this is. She knows full well that, on your sixteenth birthday, the connection to your soulmate opens.

Whether or not their connection has opened is another story, and you're more than likely made to wait months, or even years until contact is made.

Quinn knows all of that and, as a result, she's been both terrified and excited for her birthday. But, right now, all she wants to do is rewind to yesterday when she didn't have this to deal with.

No.

This cannot be happening.

Her soulmate is not a girl.

Quinn refuses to accept it.

There has to be some mistake.

The Universe is broken.

'Are you okay?' a hesitant voice asks.

Before Quinn can respond, her bedroom door flies open to reveal her father, halfway dressed for work, with a crazed look in his eyes. "Dad," she squeaks.

"You screamed," Russell Fabray says, scanning the room for the culprit.

Quinn blinks rapidly. "Oh, umm, there was a spider," she lies.

'You should know I can feel when you're lying.'

Quinn clenches her jaw, making a mental note to figure out how to shut whatever door that seems to have opened as soon as possible.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Russell asks, looking concerned, because his daughter looks rather pale. It's no secret to him that she's scared of spiders, but this reaction does seem a little extreme.

Quinn runs a hand through her bed hair. "It was kind of on my face," she explains. "I don't know where it went."

"You sure you didn't swallow it?" he teases, walking into the room.

"Dad."

He chuckles when she rolls her eyes. "Want me to search for it? Give it a stern talking to?"

"You're enjoying this far too much, aren't you?"

He just shakes his head as he gets close enough to drop a kiss onto the top of her head. "Happy birthday, Sweetheart," he murmurs.

Quinn breathes out, half in relief and half in… desperation. She needs to hold onto this moment, when her father is this. When he's kind and affectionate and just her dad.

Sometimes, he lets the stress of being Russell Fabray get to him, and it manifests in not-so-nice ways, but today looks like it's going to be a good day.

It's her birthday, after all.

"Your mother's downstairs," Russell says, straightening. "Up you get. I do believe she's making your favourite."

Quinn beams at him, not even a little bit embarrassed by the way she's soaking up the positive attention. She'll figure out the whole 'your soulmate is a girl' thing later. Right now, her family is having a good spell, and she's going to relish every second of it.

Russell pats her shoulder once, and then leaves her room, closing the door behind him. Quinn can only watch him go, her rising panic threatening. She knows this is going to ruin everything; it's going to break this fragile position they all find themselves in.

Quinn lies back against her pillows, her breath leaving her body. The voice in her head is, mercifully, silent.

The voice in her head is also unmistakably female, and that truth almost makes Quinn cry.

She's been trying to convince herself she's not gay.

She's not.

She can't be.

She's been fighting it off, keeping herself focused on her studies and cheerleading and her boyfriend. Who, incidentally, hasn't yet made contact with his soulmate.

And, as far as anyone is concerned, neither has Quinn.

Nobody is ever going to find out.

Nobody is ever going to know that her soulmate is a… girl.

God.

Quinn buries her face in her hands, the tears prickling at her eyes.

This isn't how it's supposed to be.

This can't be happening.

Not to her.

She's not gay.

But, she is.

Her soulmate wouldn't be a girl if she wasn't, because the Universe doesn't get these kinds of things wrong, and the certainty of such a thing is enough to get the tears she's desperately trying to suppress to fall.

 

In a town not too far away, one Rachel Berry sighs sadly, unable to ignore the feelings of utter heartbreak flowing through the connection that hasn't yet been properly closed. She's sitting at the kitchen table with her fathers having breakfast, but she's decidedly not hungry anymore.

LeRoy Berry casts a curious look at his husband, Hiram, who just shrugs, silently inviting him to be the one to ask the question. "Rachel, honey," LeRoy starts; "Is something wrong?"

Rachel pouts slightly, unsure how to explain. "It's - it's my soulmate's birthday today," she says, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Oh, that's wonderful," Hiram says, actually clapping his hands. "I assume this means you've made contact? Do they have a name?" He's careful not to use any gender pronouns, because he knows his daughter has expressed attraction to both.

"We made contact," Rachel says sullenly. She feels considerably years younger than her sixteen years. "Well, I made contact. It was such a surprise, really. I mean, it's something that's just been there since I turned sixteen, and I was almost used to the silence. And then I sneezed, and I felt them, you know?"

Both men do know. They've been hearing and feeling each other since Hiram became of age, just seven months after LeRoy.

"I didn't know I could feel fear so strongly," Rachel confesses softly, and both men stiffen. "At first, I thought it was just because I startled her, but it's more than that, isn't it?" She looks up at them. "It's because I'm a girl."

Neither man knows what to say.

"She's terrified," Rachel explains; "and I can feel her sadness. I can feel her determination to deny this, for herself and for me. I - I don't know what I'm supposed to do with that."

"Maybe she just needs some time," Hiram offers kindly. "It must have been a shock."

"It's more than that."

LeRoy sighs. "Then, the best thing to do really is to give her time to come to terms with it," he reiterates his husband's words anyway. "If she's going through anything that I did when I first made contact, then you have to understand how life-altering this must be for her. Particularly if she comes from a family that is unaccepting of same-sex soulmates the way mine is."

He's speaking from experience, Rachel knows, and that just makes her feel even worse. Because she knows her father's story, and she doesn't want that for her soulmate.

She doesn't want it for anyone.

With all the sadness already swimming inside of her, Rachel can't stop her tears even if she tries, so she doesn't. She just crumples in her seat and buries her face in her hands.

"I'm sorry," she says out loud.

And then, in her head, she says: 'I'm sorry.'

She receives no reply.

 

Quinn spends her entire birthday on edge. She's noticeably tense, but she's able to brush it off with a casual explanation of: Coach Lavigne was especially brutal at practice this morning.

Her best friend, however, sees straight through it, and Quinn isn't sure how she's supposed to explain that her life as she knows it has pretty much ended. She realises she might be acting a little melodramatic, but she knows what's going to happen if her family ever finds out.

God, what if the church finds out?

She heard from her older sister, Frannie, that Jerry Mallow from St Jude's was sent to some 'special' facility to help him with his 'illness' when it was discovered his soulmate was a boy.

Apparently, there's some kind of treatment for this particular affliction, and the soulmate connection has even been known to sever under extreme stress.

Quinn shudders to think about the levels of distress one would have to experience to ensure that happens. She doesn't want that. She just wants to stay at home with her parents and pretend none of this is happening. She was doing well with that before the girl sneezed.

Gosh, it was such a cute sneeze.

Quinn sighs.

She's so screwed.

 

LeRoy and Hiram allow Rachel to stay home from school because, really, neither man is heartless enough to send their clearly-heartbroken daughter to school when she's so distraught.

Neither man asks any more questions, but it becomes clear that whoever is on the other end of the connection has managed to shut Rachel out. Being the only one of them who knows what it feels like to deal with the silence, Hiram spends the morning with her, and tries to reassure her as best he can.

If LeRoy can come around, then so will Rachel's soulmate.

It just makes her cry harder.

After lunch, the men swap out, with LeRoy taking the afternoon off and Hiram going in for the later hours of daylight. Hiram can't help his relief, and he pats his husband on the shoulder in a silent gesture of good luck.

Thankfully, for all of them, Rachel spends a few of those afternoon hours asleep. It's time that LeRoy doesn't have to witness his daughter deal with the pain of two girls.

Instead, he's forced to recall his residual guilt from when he first shut Hiram out. It was difficult for them both, and LeRoy hates that he tried to sever the connection himself.

He knows that, if he could just get through to the girl on the other end of Rachel's connection, then he would be able to tell her that it's pointless and impossible to try. He would tell her that it hurts physically, and she'll regret every second of it. He would tell her that she has options, even if she can't see any of them right now.

The time Rachel is asleep is also time that Rachel doesn't have to acknowledge that the one person she's destined to have immeasurable happiness with doesn't want her.

Instead, Rachel dreams, not of pictures, but of voices.

A very specific voice.

Now that she's heard it, it's likely she'll ever forget her soulmate's voice… even if she never speaks to her again.

 

"Seriously, what's up with you?"

Quinn looks up from her homework, her eyes resting on her best friend's face after a quick check around the library. Nobody seems to be paying any attention to them. "Nothing," she says softly.

"Quinn," Sadie Michaels says. "I know you far too well for you to start lying to me."

She sighs. "It's really nothing," she says. "I just - I guess I'm kind of disappointed."

"Because there's no connection?"

Quinn just hums.

"Don't worry about it," Sadie says, very sympathetic to Quinn's situation, because she too hasn't made her connection and she's been sixteen for a few months already. "It just means, whoever he is, he isn't yet ready for you. There's nothing wrong with that."

"Yeah."

Sadie claps her on the shoulder. "Come on," she says. "Cheer up a little, will you? It's your birthday."

Quinn just about manages a smile, even though it feels as if her heart is breaking.

 

"So, Lee, how was work today?" Hiram asks over the sound of cutlery against crockery as the three of them eat dinner at the kitchen table.

Well, while he and LeRoy eat dinner, and Rachel just shifts her food around her plate.

LeRoy casts a worried look at his husband, but Hiram looks just as helpless as he's sure he does. "Oh, it was all right," he says. "We didn't have anything particularly exciting come in, but there was a - " he stops when he hears Rachel gasp.

The girl's eyes are wide. "She's scared again," she says, her voice sounding strangled. "I thought she closed the connection."

"Maybe she doesn't have a lot of control over it," Hiram offers as an explanation, even though his own research into soulmates has led him to the conclusion that, for the fear to be coming through a halfway-closed connection, it has to be strong.

Rachel tenses in her seat, her hands gripping the edge of the table until her knuckles turn white. "She's - she's so scared," she mumbles, her eyes searching for something on her father's face. "Daddy?"

 

"So, Quinnie, we didn't get a chance to ask, but have you heard anything from your soulmate?"

Quinn should know she was always going to be unable to avoid her parents asking this question, and she instantly panics.

For some reason, she thinks they already know, and they're just asking the question to determine if she's going to lie.

"Well?" Russell prompts.

Quinn's fists clench under the table, and her heart is thundering in her chest. They must be able to hear it, because how can they not?

"Quinn?"

After forcing herself to take a deep breath, Quinn plasters a smile on her face. "No," she says; "I haven't yet heard anything."

The confession is met with silence, and Quinn holds her breath as she waits.

"Oh, well, that's okay," her mother says, lifting her glass of wine and taking a sip.

Russell grumbles. "That means he'll be younger than you," he says dismissively. Then: "I suppose that's better than what's happened to the Sheffields."

Quinn blinks, her heart rate refusing to slow. She actually feels a little faint, merely anticipating what her father is going to say.

"Their daughter, Abigail, is connected to a Jewish boy," he practically spits, and Quinn flinches.

She can barely breathe. "What - what are they going to do?"

"What can they do?" Russell says distractedly as he sips at his Bourbon. "Short of killing the boy, they have to sever the connection."

Quinn audibly swallows, her panic rising. "Kill him?"

Russell laughs as if he's just made a joke. "I'm kidding, Quinn," he says, waving a dismissive hand. "Murder is a sin. You know that." He sighs, his gaze drifting to the side. "Well, so is crossbreeding, but what can we do?"

Quinn feels as if she's in a cold sweat and, okay, she's actually not being melodramatic. She's going to have to close the connection herself, and ignore everything as it is. She's rather adept at it, but it's going to require extra effort on her part to keep it up, because she can already feel the strain.

She has no choice now.

 

It's later, when Rachel is lying in bed, her mind quiet and her heart aching, that she feels it. It's everything all at once: desperation, anger, fear, anguish, determination, disgust, disappointment, heartache, longing, frustration, curiosity and just so much.

Rachel actually gasps, and then she hears a tiny, sorrowful voice speak.

'I'm sorry.'

Rachel sighs, just knowing what those words mean for both of them. 'Me too.'

 


 

ii. i feel like I'm drowning in ice water.

The next few weeks are difficult for Quinn.

It's a constant, desperate, energy-sapping, physical and mental struggle to keep her end of the connection closed, and she can feel herself unravelling with every day that passes.

Well, every night, more likely.

Because, at exactly ten-thirty, when she's lying perfectly still in bed, she feels a slight tingle in her mind, as if the other person behind the door is merely knocking, asking to be let inside.

Every night.

Without fail.

It's a comfort for Quinn, but she feels such guilt about taking anything from the warm presence just waiting behind the door she's forced closed, patient and understanding.

There's such a gentleness to the action, lacking in expectancy or desperation, that Quinn cries herself to sleep. She's undeserving of such kindness, and she hates herself even more for it.

Every night.

Without fail.

 

It takes Rachel almost sixteen days to wrap her head around the fact that she's going to have to be patient, which has never been her strong suit.

It hurts.

Of course, it hurts, but LeRoy helps her understand. They talk about it nearly every night, either at the kitchen table, or when she crawls into his lap after dinner like she's still a six-year-old seeking comfort after a nightmare instead of a teenager.

It's in that position, weeks after she's come to accept her new reality that she reaches a realisation that startles her.

"She doesn't have this, does she?"

LeRoy hums in question, lifting his gaze from the medical journal he's reading. Rachel's face is very close to his, so he pulls back slightly to catch her gaze.

Rachel waves a slow hand over their positions, absently smiling at the comfort she finds in her father. "This," she reiterates. "She doesn't have it, does she?"

LeRoy hums again, and then sighs. "Maybe," he allows. "Or, maybe she does, and she's just too afraid to lose it. You can't know, Sweetheart."

"I wish she would tell me," she mumbles, burying her face in his chest. "I just wish she would talk to me. I want to help."

LeRoy's hand rises and he gently rubs circles on her back, unable to find the words to make any of this better for her. Of course, he's tried to guide her as much as possible, and she's even confessed to joining a few online support groups for people dealing with the pain of a closed connection.

This situation isn't wildly uncommon, and he hates that it's happening to his daughter.

"I feel her sometimes," Rachel murmurs, closing her eyes tightly and breathing slowly. "When she doesn't realise it. Sometimes, she slips up, and I feel this - this sadness and this self-loathing, and I worry for her, Daddy. I worry so much."

LeRoy hugs her close. Just hearing about it makes his heart ache, so he can only imagine what Rachel is going through.

Or, what this unknown girl, who holds the key to his daughter's happiness, is having to endure.

 

Quinn's resolve wavers in mid-April, when everything she's trying so desperately to hold onto starts to slip through her fingers.

She's tried.

God, she's tried to do everything she possibly can to make it go away, but it's still there.

The gayness is permanent.

The gender of her soulmate merely proves it.

The morning starts as normal, with Quinn going through the motions at home. They're having a 'bad' spell. Her father is stressed out at work, and it follows him home, creating a stifling, suffocating atmosphere. Every little thing about Quinn is picked at and berated, and Judy just spends hours out of the house with the other housewives and her trusty friend, Chardonnay.

Quinn isn't expecting anything different to happen today. She likes routine, and she prefers to have control of every little thing in her life.

And, until this very moment, she was convinced her boyfriend was also one of those things.

Declan Marx, whose smile should set her heart alight, is just part of the carefully-constructed exterior she uses to keep her secret. He's sweet enough, and he's somewhat respectful. He hasn't pushed for much from her - not that she would give it - and she knows he does it only because they both know they have an expiration date. One of these days, his soulmate is going to turn sixteen, and that'll change everything.

Just from the utter relief and happiness she sees on his face when she gets to school, Quinn knows that today is that day.

Declan meets her at her locker, and immediately starts to babble about his soulmate, Rebecca, who is just so lovely and perfect, and every word he says feels like a weight settling on her already-battered heart.

The moment Declan catches onto her facial expression, he stops speaking, and then blushes. "Sorry, Quinn," he says, and he sounds sincere about it. Stupid, sweet Declan. "I'm just so happy. I can barely contain it."

Quinn drops her gaze.

"Look, we both knew this was going to happen," he says, sounding slightly morose. "We're all around that age, so it shouldn't be long for you now."

She almost tells him, but she bites the inside of her cheek to stop herself.

"It's doubtful I'll be meeting Rebecca any time soon, but I still think we should break up," he says. "I care about you, but we both know it'll never be the love we're destined for. It'll never be what we deserve."

To her utter horror, Quinn actually tears up.

Declan pulls her into a hug. "I promise it's going to be okay," he assures her. "We're still going to be friends, and I'm going to be like the fifth person you tell when you make your connection."

Quinn just cries harder, wrapping her arms around his waist and holding on. The second he lets go, she has to, essentially, face the music, and she's not ready for that. This new development probably isn't going to go down well with her parents.

Not only does their sixteen year old daughter not have her soulmate, but she also hasn't managed to hold onto her boyfriend until then.

They're supposed to understand.

Judy might.

Maybe.

But Russell needs any excuse, really, to let out his stress and frustration.

And, after the fifth hit, both he and Quinn are crying when he pulls her into his arms and whispers apologies into her hair.

They're crying for different reasons, sure, but the pain is all the same.

 

Rachel actually jerks when she feels it, and her hand flies to her cheek in both shock and anguish. She experiences a flash of complete horror, and then the connection slams shut hard enough that it leaves an echo in her mind.

"No, no, no," she cries, shaking her head as she drops to her knees. "No, no, no." She eventually curls into a ball on the floor of her bedroom and just sobs.

It's not supposed to be like this. She's supposed to make her soulmate's life better. They're supposed to work to find happiness together.

This is how Hiram finds her, minutes later, when he goes upstairs to call her for dinner. She's borderline incoherent when she tries to explain what's happening, and he desperately wishes his daughter wasn't one of those people who feels things so strongly and acutely.

For a selfish moment, he almost wishes the connection would just be severed, just to save his daughter from all this heartache. Possibly, to save them both from the lives they'll be forced to live if they don't at least try to build something. Hiram acknowledges that not all soulmate pairings do end in happily ever after, but those relationships always remain good.

Platonic.

The idea is that your soulmate will always, essentially be your person, and he never wants to imagine a world where he doesn't have LeRoy.

Rachel is feeling this, and she's barely even spoken to her soulmate.

Maybe, just maybe - and he feels guilty even thinking it - that's best for now.

 

Quinn lies perfectly still in her bed, her left hand resting over her right on her abdomen. She breathes steadily as she tries to slow her mind enough to get to sleep. It's almost ten thirty, and the numbness she's been feeling since she removed herself from her father's trembling arms and went to her bedroom hasn't managed to dissipate.

It's everywhere, and she can't escape it.

She also has a rather nasty bruise on her left cheek, and a cut just below her eye where his Championship ring caught her skin a little too well. She's only slightly concerned about what she's going to say to explain it in the morning, but she just wants to get some sleep.

It doesn't take a genius to guess that's unlikely to happen.

When she feels it, Quinn's heart stutters. It's gentler than normal, almost defeated and resigned in a way, and Quinn's chest clenches tightly.

Quinn takes three slow breaths, and then she opens the door.

Just a little.

Just enough.

'I'm sorry,' Quinn says, and she's immediately flooded with surprise and relief and gratitude and concern and sadness.

'Are you okay?'

'No.'

'What can I do?'

'I don't know.'

'Do you want to talk about it?' There's an amused pause. 'Well, think about it, really?'

Despite how terrible she feels, Quinn actually smiles, which turns out to be a bad idea when her cheek protests at the sudden movement, and she grimaces.

'Are you in pain?'

Quinn chuckles darkly. 'I'm always in pain.' Then: 'But, no, I'm really okay. Just a little scratch.'

'On your cheek?'

Quinn freezes. 'How do you know that?'

'I felt it.'

'Oh.' Quinn closes her eyes. 'I'm sorry you had to - '

'Are you in pain?' the voice asks again, cutting off her apology.

Quinn sighs, unsure how to answer that particularly tough question.

'And, remember, I can tell when you're lying.'

'In general, how do relationships even survive that? It sounds terrifying.'

'Well, I think the best relationships are based on honesty, anyway.'

Quinn hears something that's almost humming.

'Also, don't think I didn't notice your attempt to deflect,' the voice says. 'Is it bad?'

Quinn's heart beats a little faster at hearing the obvious worry in her voice, and she can feel what's almost a caress against the barely-open door.

'It's not bad,' Quinn says. 'It just surprised me.'

'Do you want to talk about what happened?'

'Not really.'

'Okay.'

Quinn risks yet another smile.

'Just, you know, if ever you do want to talk about it, or anything, really, I'm right here.'

Quinn feels this warmth settle over her body. 'Thank you.'

The voice is quiet for a moment. 'I'm Rachel, by the way.'

'Hello, Rachel. I'm Lucy.'

 


 

iii. tell me all the ways to love you.

'Is it just me or is this world just full of complete idiots?'

Rachel chuckles to herself, hearing the obvious disdain in Lucy's voice. She enjoys these moments, when Lucy sounds light and unburdened, and Rachel's come to realise that Lucy talks to her only when she's in one of these moods.

Which, subsequently, isn't all that often, but Rachel will take what she can get.

'It's not just you,' Rachel says, absently reaching for her calculator. She hates Math with a burning passion - it's not going to help her in her career, surely - and every second of it is torture.

A few days ago, Rachel learned that Lucy actually enjoys it, so she's keeping her own personal tutor on hand while she endures the torture of her homework.

'I think people woke up this morning and were like 'I'm going to be an idiot today.' It was some kind of collective decision. It's a conspiracy, I'm telling you.'

Rachel can't help her smile. 'Tough day?'

'Every day is a tough day,' Lucy says. 'Today was just especially filled with idiots doing idiotic things.'

Rachel chuckles. 'Gosh, you're adorable.'

Her words are met with silence, and she actually palms her face because, of course, she has to put her foot in her mouth. They're just having an easy conversation because they're trying to be friends, and friends aren't supposed to find other friends 'adorable.'

Are they?

Rachel really wouldn't know. She doesn't have many friends, if any.

'Sorry,' Rachel says, 'it kind of just slipped out.'

'You find me adorable?'

'Very.'

'But you've never even met me.'

'Are you trying to tell me you don't have any opinions about me?'

Lucy laughs softly. 'Oh, I have plenty.'

'Care to share with the class?'

'No.'

'That's not fair.'

'Life isn't fair.'

'And that's precisely the attitude that's going to ensure it stays that way.' Rachel can practically feel Lucy's amusement, and it's some kind of balm to her, soothing and comforting.

'I think you're very special, Rachel,' Lucy says. 'I'm starting to count myself lucky that I get to know you.'

Rachel practically swoons, her heart rate picking up. 'You are adorable.'

'I suppose I am.'

'Modest, too.'

 

Quinn's life gets infinitely better the moment she fully opens the door to Rachel.

They call it the 'Power of the Soulmate,' which is just completely ridiculous to her. Apparently, it's an actual thing, and she now understands that goofy, I'm-so-happy smile Declan is always wearing these days.

The two of them have remained friends. In fact, he's probably her closest friend at the moment because Sadie has grown… distant.

Sullen, maybe.

Quinn suspects she's dealing with the same kind of soulmate pressures as well.

Both their parents can be unreasonable. It's not as if the teenagers have any control over the Universe. It's not as if they can decide when their connections open.

Or who ends up on the other side.

Quinn knows her parents are also getting antsy. The more weeks that go past, the more they worry about how it will look if Quinn's soulmate is all those 'weeks' younger than her.

Quinn just knows that nothing will be good enough, and it's all a little heartbreaking whenever the realisation creeps up on her.

Her father has been especially nice to her, though.

It's part of the cycle.

Russell gets stressed out, takes it out on her and Judy, apologises, and then buys them things in an attempt to make up for it.

Quinn hates it.

She despises it.

The only thing that seems to make it even remotely better is the bright voice in her head, constantly telling her that everything is going to be okay, and that things are going to get better.

With the connection comes shared feelings, which means that Rachel senses when Quinn is scared and terrified and feeling especially cynical. She always has something perky to say, which manages to lift Quinn's mood, if only for a moment.

A moment is all she needs, anyway.

As a result of Quinn's openness, she also feels Rachel's emotions quite acutely. During the school day, her mood shifts in a sinusoidal wave enough to give Quinn whiplash. There are so many highs and lows, elation and loneliness and hope - that's usually dashed - and abject horror, but Rachel doesn't really talk much about that.

Quinn thinks she knows what it is, but she won't push Rachel to talk about it until she's ready and willing. She'll do Rachel the same courtesy the girl affords her.

In the evenings, Rachel's emotions shift completely. There's a certain warmth that emanates from her, and Quinn knows it's because she's at home with her fathers. Who love and adore her with no expectations or conditions.

The first time she experienced Rachel's emotions, Quinn felt jealous and tried desperately to force the connection closed before Rachel could sense it. It didn't work, and Quinn's apparent mortification was mollified by Rachel telling her it was okay.

'I understand, Lucy. They're good dads, and I know I'm lucky. I don't think any less of you for your feelings, okay? We're in this together, remember?'

Quinn started crying moments after that, and the two of them just cried together for almost an hour.

Quinn hasn't tried to hide anything from her since, even though there are still things they don't talk about.

Like Quinn's father.

Like the fact that Quinn hasn't told her parents that she's met her soulmate.

Like the fact that nobody knows her soulmate is a girl.

Like the fact that she still can't quite accept that she's gay.

Like the fact that her name isn't even Lucy anymore.

 

Rachel's heart always beats a little faster whenever Lucy is the one to start a conversation. It's happening more often now, and it doesn't matter what mood she's in. The connection remains unabashedly open, and Rachel can practically feel herself falling in love.

With a smooth voice.

With a gentle laugh.

With a beautiful cry.

'Guess who just got an A+ on her English paper?'

Rachel smiles to herself as she walks down the corridor of William McKinley High School, her attention half on where she's walking, and the other half on a girl a world away. 'Who?'

'Rachel.'

'Lucy.'

'Can I tell you something?'

'You know you can tell me anything,' Rachel assures her. 'I'm always going to be here to listen.'

Lucy is silent for a long moment. 'I missed you,' she says. 'I don't know how that could be when we've never even met. I mean, I don't even know who you are, but I can barely imagine a day when I don't get to talk to you, and I can't help feeling… clingy when all I want to do is talk to you. Constantly.'

Rachel swoons, and she makes the mistake of letting it show on her face.

It happens so quickly, she barely sees it coming.

She doesn't have time to make an attempt to block it, and she just manages to close her eyes, though her mouth is still open when the freezing slushy hits her face.

Rachel jerks in surprise and anger and then… apathy. She's embarrassed, of course, because everyone is now laughing at her.

'Rachel?'

At the sound of Lucy's timid voice, Rachel lets out a whimper, and then scrambles out of the corridor towards the nearest bathroom.

'Rachel, did something happen? Are you okay?'

Rachel doesn't want to tell Lucy about this. Rachel's supposed to be the strong one. She's the one who's supposed to be helping Lucy with whatever she's going through, and she shouldn't be adding to -

'Talk to me,' Lucy practically whispers. 'You know you can tell me anything,' she says, echoing Rachel's earlier words. 'I'm always going to be here to listen.'

Rachel stares at her face in the bathroom mirror, looking and feeling utterly pathetic.

'Rachel?'

She sighs. 'Do you have bullies at your school?'

Lucy is quiet for a long moment. 'We do, yes. I think it's generally a thing among high schools.'

Rachel picks up on something in her voice, and she turns ice cold - well, colder than she already is. 'You're one of them, aren't you?'

'I - I was,' Lucy admits, and Rachel feels her heart clench. 'I've been both, actually, and I was blinded by determination not to be the one I hated more.' She sighs. 'I've made mistakes. I know that. I'm trying not to be that person anymore.'

'What person is that?'

'The type who causes others pain to distract herself from her own,' Lucy confesses sadly. 'I'm trying not to be my father.'

Rachel sucks in a sharp breath. Lucy doesn't really talk about her family, and definitely not about her father, so Rachel needs to pay attention.

'I'm trying to be better than him,' Lucy says. 'I'm trying to be loving and accepting and kind and thoughtful. I'm trying to be better, Rachel. For you, and for myself.'

And Rachel is back to swooning, her brain practically melting. It's the only explanation she has for the next words she thinks. 'Is it too early in our relationship to tell you I think I'm in love with you?'

Silence.

Rachel starts to panic. 'Lucy? Lucy?'

 

Quinn is sitting in Calculus when Rachel first says the word 'love,' and the entire world stops… and then shifts a number of degrees that she has to concede is life-changing, before starting up again.

It just feels as if everything she's ever found so desperately important in her life just isn't anymore, and she has to smile at that, drawing a curious look from Sadie, who's sitting at the desk beside her.

'Lucy? Lucy?'

Quinn snaps to attention. 'Sorry,' she says, sounding apologetic. 'I'm here. You just caught me a little off guard.'

'I'm sorry. I rushed it, didn't I? I went too fast and, for that, I apologise.'

'Rachel, please don't apologise,' Quinn practically pleads, her face twisting into something uncomfortable. 'Did - did you mean it?'

'Of course.'

'Oh.' Quinn sucks in a breath at how sure the other girl sounds. 'Well, then, it's definitely not too early.'

'It's not?'

'No, it's not.'

Quinn actually jerks in surprise at the onrush of elation she feels. It's coupled with surprise, apprehension, joy and just this burst of love that results in Quinn's smile being practically blinding.

Sadie nudges her with her elbow. "Okay, seriously, what is up with you?"

Quinn can't even bring herself to respond. The happiness flowing through the connection is palpable. Quinn swears she can almost taste it. It's there, on the tip of her tongue, and she's reaching for it with both hands.

This definitely is the 'Power of the Soulmate.'

Sadie regards her carefully, searching the blonde's face for something. Anything, really. Quinn doesn't really talk about anything, so it isn't as if Sadie is disappointed that whatever's bothering her friend is still a secret.

But then she sees Quinn smile, and her eyes light up slightly. And, it's when her cheeks flush from… literally nothing happening around them, that Sadie figures it out. She's seen it on others before.

"Oh, my God," she squeaks, and their teacher shoots her a look of reproach.

Quinn ducks her head, suddenly embarrassed.

'Oh, no. What happened?' Rachel asks, clearly sensing it.

'I'm sitting in class and grinning like a complete fool, Rachel. What do you think happened?'

Rachel laughs warmly. 'I bet you look adorable.'

If it were possible, Quinn goes an even deeper shade of red. 'You should know that I always look adorable.'

'I don't doubt that, Lucy.'

Sadie gets her attention before she can reply, mere seconds having past by. "You're totally talking to your soulmate right now, aren't you?"

Cue the panic.

It floods through her, and her breath catches sharply.

'Lucy?'

Quinn ignores Rachel in favour of looking at Sadie. "What?" Her voice comes out a little shakily, and she curses herself.

"Why didn't you say anything?" Sadie asks, her expression difficult to read.

Quinn presses her lips together. "Because I remember what it felt like when Declan told me he made the connection," she says, which is true. "And I didn't want that for you."

Sadie's facial expression softens. "Oh."

"I'm sorry."

Sadie smiles slightly. "Will you tell me about him?"

"Later, I promise."

 

'What happened today?'

Rachel can't resist asking the question. After the 'Love Declaration' - as she's come to call it - Lucy was fine, and then she just wasn't. After the flash of fear and panic, the connection closed, and that hasn't happened in a few weeks now.

Now, at ten-thirty, the connection is open again, and she can feel Lucy's apprehension and guilt. It doesn't sit well with Rachel, because she was under the impression they were taking strides forward, and she's more that a little hurt to learn that might not be the case.

'My best friend found out about you.'

Rachel closes her eyes. She's known her existence was something Lucy was keeping a secret, but the confirmation of it hurts a little too much.

'I'm sorry,' Lucy immediately says. 'Please don't be mad.'

'I'm not mad.'

'You are,' Lucy counters gently. 'I can feel it and, believe me, I know anger better than most.'

Rachel clenches her teeth. 'What does your best friend know?'

'That the connection is open. That we're talking. That your name starts with an 'R,' and that you make me very happy.'

'I do?'

'Very much so.'

'But she thinks I'm a boy?'

'She does, yes.' Lucy sighs, and it sounds painful. 'I haven't tried to correct her pronouns. I'm sorry.'

'No, I get it.'

'Do you?' Lucy asks. 'Because, sometimes, I don't think you do, Rachel.'

'Maybe,' Rachel allows, because she's nothing if not self-aware. 'But I'm trying.'

'I know, and I appreciate it,' Lucy says, sounding sincere. 'I can't imagine this has been easy for you, and I really wish things were different. I wish I wasn't such a terrified coward, and I wish I didn't come from such a messed up family.'

'Lucy.'

'Have you told your friends about me?'

Rachel smiles sadly, accepting the quick topic change. 'I don't really have friends.'

Lucy is quiet for a long time. 'I know what that feels like,' she says. 'Sometimes, I don't actually think Sadie is my friend. I think we just both come from families with impossibly high standards, and we find some sense of kinship in the other.' She's quiet for a moment. 'She's actually kind of a bitch.'

Rachel laughs out loud, and then sobers to something serious. 'Lucy?'

'Hmm?'

'About what I asked you earlier…'

'Yeah?'

'I love you,' she whispers, and she's immediately flooded with positive emotion. She can't stop her smile if she tries.

Lucy lets out a tiny, happy laugh, and thinks words that confirm everything for them both. 'I love you, too.'

 


 

iv. i'm climbing up these walls; i'm invincible.

In the following weeks, Quinn's anxiety… builds.

Sadie asks about 'R' all the time, as if she's enjoying living vicariously through Quinn and, while it should make Quinn feel good about her connection, it just makes her even more wary.

Quinn can't help feeling as if Sadie is searching for something. With their summer vacation coming up, she honestly can't wait for some respite. She's going to have to make a decision about what to tell her parents soon.

Things are becoming increasingly tense at home, and she imagines things are only going to get worse when her sister returns for the holidays.

Her sister, Frannie, who's already met and fallen in love with her real life - total douchebag of a - soulmate is expected to visit for an extended period of time. Why, Quinn doesn't know, but she just knows she's in for it.

The two of them are sickeningly cute, and Quinn hates them a little bit. They're literally a match made in Heaven - if Frannie would ever exist there - and they're unafraid to let the entire world aware that they know it.

'Someone's in a mood today.'

Quinn automatically smiles. 'I don't know what you're talking about.'

'Isn't today supposed to be the last day of school? Aren't you supposed to be overjoyed and possibly jumping from the rooftops and all of that?'

'I don't think "jumping from the rooftops" is the term. It's actually a terrible thing, if you allow yourself to think about it.'

'Oh, hush, you,' Rachel says, the smile in her voice. 'Why aren't you ecstatic?'

'I am,' Quinn weakly says. 'I just have a lot on my mind.'

'Care to share with the class?'

Quinn's smile widens. 'I really miss you.'

'I'm right here.'

'I know. I just, it doesn't ever feel like it's enough.'

Rachel sighs. 'You know, I have all these fantasies of holding your hand.'

'Is that all your fantasies consist of?' she practically drawls.

Rachel laughs until she's coughing. 'Lucy! I'm at school!'

'So? I am, too.'

'I need to concentrate.'

'On what?'

'Not blushing like a complete and utter fool.'

Quinn giggles softly. 'I think I have you beat there.'

'I wish I could see it.'

Quinn breathes a defeated sigh. 'Yeah, me too.'

 

'Do you want to watch a movie together?'

Rachel startles at the voice, and the question, because she's in the middle of doing laundry, and isn't Lucy supposed to be at church?

'What?' Rachel squeaks.

'Hello, to you too, dear.'

'Lucy? Are you okay?'

'I'm fine. Why?'

Rachel sets down the sweater she's attempting to fold, and sighs. 'You just sound… odd. Did something happen?'

'Wouldn't you have felt if something happened?'

'I suppose,' she allows. 'You just seem a little… frustrated.'

'I am.'

'Oh.'

Lucy remains silent.

'Umm, what's this about a movie?'

'I was thinking, you know, we could watch a movie together. Like, the same movie at the same time, and we can almost pretend we're not separated by… everything. How does that sound?'

'Lucy, are you asking me out?'

Lucy chuckles nervously. 'Well, technically, I'm asking you in. But, yes, I guess I am.' She sucks in a breath. 'I realise there's very little we can actually do. Dating isn't exactly easy when it exists entirely in your head, but this is something we can actually do, you know? We can pick a movie to watch, and we can chat about it. I can even pretend you're hogging all the popcorn.'

'I would do no such thing,' Rachel interjects.

'Sure, you wouldn't.'

Rachel laughs. 'Okay, I'm in.'

'Really?'

'What time?'

Lucy mumbles something to herself. 'Um, I'm just getting home now, so, in about an hour?'

'It's a date.'

'It really is.'

 

Dating, as it seems, is actually a lot easier - and cheaper - when you're in your head.

Quinn discovers this quickly, as she and Rachel spend nearly every afternoon of their summer together. Sometimes they watch movies; other times they listen to music, read to each other or even go out to restaurants alone and pretend the other is sitting across the table from them.

'What do you look like?' Rachel asks her one day when they're each at a Thai restaurant in their respective towns. They've both just placed their orders, and the awkwardness of being alone at a restaurant is dispelled by the respective voices in their heads.

'What do I look like?' Quinn echoes nervously. 'Why?'

'Because I'm staring at the chair across from me and trying to imagine you in it, but it doesn't seem to be working. Right now, you're just a red balloon floating in my psyche, with a lovely, melodic voice.'

Quinn chuckles softly, earning her a curious look from the couple sitting at the table on her left. She pays them no mind as she responds to Rachel. 'Well, what do you want to know?'

'Umm, just the normal, boring things. Hair and eyes.'

Quinn licks her lips. 'Well, I'm blonde, and I have hazel - more on the green side - eyes. I'm also particularly pale. My sister loves to tease that I'm a vampire, which is ironic when she's the bloodsucker in the family.'

Rachel is quiet for a moment, clearly processing. 'You don't really talk about your sister.'

'She's kind of horrible,' Quinn admits. 'She's been particularly insufferable since she met her soulmate, and it just seems to get worse and worse every year. Sometimes, I just want to scream at them all that I've found happiness too, but I'm too scared of what's going to happen.'

'They might surprise you.'

'I'm sure they will,' she mutters sarcastically.

Rachel just takes it in stride. 'I'm a brunette, by the way. Brown eyes, too. Pretty boring.'

'I'm sure you're beautiful.'

'You can't know that.'

'I think I do,' Quinn says. 'Isn't it the soul that makes a person beautiful? And your soul is. Ergo, you are.'

'Lucy…'

"Quinn!"

Quinn's head snaps up, and her neck clicks. She panics for all of four seconds until her eyes settle on Sadie as the girl approaches Quinn's table. "Hey," she says, trying to control her suddenly-racing pulse. "What are you doing here?"

"Just picking up some takeout because Mom was having a craving," Sadie casually says, sliding into the seat opposite Quinn.

Quinn visibly cringes.

Sadie straightens. "Oh, sorry, is someone sitting here?"

Quinn sighs. "Not exactly," she confesses. "I'm kind of on a soulmate date."

Sadie's face brightens in a smile. "That is totally adorable," she squeals. "He's such a romantic, isn't he?"

"Yup."

'You're not even listening to me, are you?' Rachel's voice is saying.

'I'll be with you in a minute.'

'You're lucky you're so stupidly adorable.'

'I know.'

"So, are you any closer to meeting him?" Sadie asks, remaining in her seat.

In Rachel's seat.

Quinn swallows nervously. "Umm, no," she says.

"Oh? Why not?"

Quinn isn't sure what to say.

"Because Declan met Rebecca."

"I know," Quinn says. "He called me the other day. I was pretty sure he was going to break into song at some point. He's such a dork, sometimes."

Sadie laughs. "He's in love. You can't blame him."

Quinn nods. "No, you can't."

"So, why aren't you making plans to meet R?"

For a moment, Quinn considers telling her everything. It would just be so easy to unload all of this, because it's a lot to deal with. All this terror of what'll happen if her family finds out really weighs on her. "I can't," she eventually says.

"Why not?"

"I haven't exactly told my family about R," she confesses.

"What? Why?" Sadie asks with wide, excited eyes.

"I have a feeling they wouldn't approve," she says carefully. "I'm trying to work up to telling them. You know how my father is. If your soulmate isn't… perfect, he'll have something to say about it."

"And R isn't perfect?"

Quinn wants to shout that Rachel is the most perfect person in the world, but those words will ruin everything. "You know my father, Sadie. Nobody would be perfect."

Sadie nods in sympathy. "You're going to have to tell them, Quinn. They're bound to find out at some point."

"I know," she breathes. "I'm going to tell them. I just need to figure out how."

"You'll figure it out," Sadie says as she gets to her feet.

"Thanks, Sadie."

"Sure thing, Q."

And, for the first time not in her own head, Quinn actually feels as if things will be okay.

 


 

v. pack yourself a toothbrush, dear. pack yourself a favourite blouse.

While Lucy tries to hide her building panic, Rachel still feels it. It builds every single day and, whenever she asks about it, Lucy changes the subject or insists that everything is okay. Even without the built-in, soulmate lie detector, Lucy is a lousy liar, and Rachel is unafraid to tell her.

'I'm not lying,' Lucy defends.

'And, there you go again,' Rachel says with a sigh. 'Lucy, what's going on?'

'I - I want to tell my parents about you,' she eventually confesses.

'Oh?'

'Oh, indeed.'

Rachel isn't sure what to say. 'Is that why you're an anxious mess?' She asks the question with the intention of getting Lucy to laugh, and it works.

'You could say that, yes.'

'When are you planning to do this?'

'This weekend, some time.'

'Are you sure about this?'

Lucy is quiet for a long moment. 'Do you remember last week when I closed the connection?'

'I remember.'

'I didn't want you to feel what he was doing to me, Rachel.'

'Lucy.'

'No, just listen,' Lucy says. 'It's getting worse. The more time passes without my soulmate appearing; the worse it's going to get. It's the summer, which means that we're getting invited to all these barbecues, and everyone loves to talk about their children and their respective soulmates. My father is literally burning with something, and it'll make everything easier if I just tell them the connection is open.'

Rachel closes her eyes. 'You're not going to tell them I'm a girl, are you?'

Lucy doesn't have to answer, because Rachel can feel the anguish and guilt and frustration and hopelessness. 'I'm sorry,' she says instead.

Rachel sighs. 'Me too.'

'I feel as if all I keep doing is apologising to you.' The deep, deep sorrow she gives off is overwhelming. 'I have a plan, maybe. I can hold them off until I graduate, and then we can try to be together.' She pauses. 'Umm, only if you want that, I mean.'

Despite how helpless she feels, Rachel finds herself smiling. 'I would really like that, actually.'

'Good,' Lucy says, and Rachel can hear the smile in her voice.

'Great.'

 

And, as most things go in Quinn Fabray's life, all her plans get derailed by the mere fact that her best friend can't keep a secret.

Or, she's just a bitch.

Whichever one it is, it doesn't really matter to Quinn when she gets home from another lunch 'date' with Rachel to find her parents and sister waiting for her in the living room, looking expectant, furious and disbelieving respectively.

She freezes in the doorway, and she immediately knows that they know.

They know, and the rush of fear and panic and oh my God, this can't be happening has Rachel jumping to attention in her head.

'Lucy? Sweetheart, what's happening?'

Quinn can't bring herself to respond as she stares at her family while they stare right back at her. She swallows nervously, and she's sorely tempted to run up the stairs to her bedroom and lock herself away until she turns eighteen.

"Quinn," Russell says, waving her forward with his right hand. "Is there something you'd like to tell us?"

Wisely, Quinn doesn't respond immediately.

"Because we've just come back from a luncheon with Bryan and Julia Michaels, and they had some very interesting things to say about their own daughter's soulmate status."

Quinn just stares at him.

"Did you know Sadie made the connection?"

Quinn shakes her head, still not speaking.

"Well, she did, just two days ago," Russell says. "It turns out that her soulmate is an Asian boy from California." He says the words with such revulsion, and Quinn feels her heart rate rise to such dangerous levels. "Though, she was sure to mention that your soulmate is also less than ideal."

Quinn internally cringes.

They have no idea.

Judy tilts her head to the side. "We weren't aware you had a soulmate, Quinnie," she says. "How long has the connection been open?"

Quinn thinks she might throw up.

'Lucy, it's okay. Whatever it is, it's okay. I promise it's okay.'

Quinn blinks a few times. "I - I was going to tell you," she eventually says. "This weekend, actually."

"And, what exactly were you planning on telling us?"

Quinn wrings her fingers together, making the decision she deems the safest. "My soulmate is half-Jewish," she says, and Russell actually gasps. If Quinn wasn't so terrified, she might even have laughed.

But, alas, she's practically vibrating with fear, so there isn't even a hint of a smile on her face.

"I - I didn't know how to tell you," Quinn continues. "I remember what you said about Abigail and I - " she freezes when her father rises to his feet.

And then Russell laughs.

He actually laughs, and Quinn can barely breathe.

'Lucy! Oh, my God. What's happening?'

Russell just continues to laugh. "Did you really think you could hide this from us?" he asks, practically growling. "We were always going to find out, Quinn."

Quinn blinks back her traitorous tears. "I'm sorry," she says. "I - I don't have control over it. It's not as if I chose this. It's just what the Universe decided for me."

"Well, the Universe is wrong!" he yells, and Quinn steps back. "Where do you think you're going?" he snaps, and she backs up even more. She knows she has to get away, but her legs feel like lead, and there's a part of her that knows it wouldn't even be worth it.

He'll chase after her, and he'll enjoy it far too much.

So, Quinn ceases her retreat and straightens. "What would you have me do?" she asks, her voice surprisingly steady.

"You already know what's going to happen," he snarls. "When I'm done with you, your precious little soulmate won't even want you!"

Quinn shakes her head.

No.

Rachel loves her.

They're going to be together one day.

He's wrong.

He has to be.

It doesn't stop Russell from attempting to use his heavy fists and his harsh words to prove otherwise.

And, for a moment, it works.

Quinn's traitorous mind starts to convince her that Rachel won't ever want her.

Not after this.

Not after she's been beaten, bruised and broken.

Who would?

"Nobody's going to want you after this!" he spits down at her, disgusted at the way she's curled up on the floor. "You soulmate isn't even going to want to talk to you!"

"No," Quinn chokes out, clutching at her stomach as her head swims from the pain. "She loves me," she whispers brokenly, which is probably the single stupidest thing she's ever said in her entire life.

She's just dazed and confused, and all she wants is Rachel.

Russell's head snaps up, and his eyes grow hard. "She?" he spits.

Quinn has enough sense to know that this is the moment.

It's the moment when he completely unravels.

It's one thing for her soulmate to be half-Jewish, but a completely other thing for said soulmate to be a she.

Russell advances on her menacingly. "Never in my life - "

And, when Quinn cries out again, reaching out for someone who isn't there, the only thing on her mind is Rachel.

'Rachel.'

And then she passes out.

Mercifully.

 

'Rachel.'

The brunette has been in tears for nearly twenty minutes. Ever since Quinn's fear first spiked, practically crippling them both. She was in the kitchen putting away her leftovers from lunch when she was hit by the emotion's raw intensity that her body even seized up.

She ended up dropping the container to the floor, and then crumpling, following right after it. She curls up into a ball on the cool tiles and feels it everywhere. The fear and the loneliness and the pain. It rips through the connection Lucy desperately tries to close, but it's futile.

Rachel feels everything.

'Lucy, please! Lucy!'

Rachel can barely catch her breath from the potency of it, and her heart is beating rapidly.

'Lucy, I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!'

Rachel's own tears are blinding. "Daddy! Daddy!"

Her fathers come running into the kitchen, both of them home on a late Friday afternoon, and they falter at the sight of their daughter sprawled out on the floor, a sobbing mess.

She's reaching out for someone, and it takes them both a moment to realise that someone is in her head.

It's mere minutes later when Rachel passes out.

 

When Quinn wakes, she's in a car.

She registers the pain in her body, but the silence in her mind is even worse.

'Rachel? Rachel, are you there?'

"Oh, good," a voice says, and Quinn snaps her head up, biting back her groan at the agony that shoots through her entire body at the abrupt movement. "You're awake."

Quinn can barely see through her swollen eyes.

"Don't worry," the voice says. "We're going to take good care of you."

 

When Rachel wakes, she's in her bed. She registers her exhaustion, but the silence in her mind is even worse.

'Lucy? Lucy? Lucy! Please! Answer me, please!'

There's nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Just darkness

And silence.