Yale, as far as Quinn was concerned, was heaven.
At least, compared to Lima, Ohio.
Despite what others might think, Quinn was nervous about heading to Yale. She was beyond glad to get out of the sinkhole that was Lima, but that didn’t quell her fears about being on her own. Having just recovered from her accident, Quinn knew she could take care of herself, but she still carried lingering nerves with her. However, these didn’t stop her from diving into the experience, head first.
Her second day on campus, a week before classes began, she visited every student activity center she could. Getting people to like her had never been difficult for Quinn: her entire childhood was spent tailoring who she was to the people around her. Making friends, on the other hand, was a battleground.
She was surprised to see how friendly everyone was. While she wasn’t expecting coldness from every person she came across, Quinn certainly wasn’t expecting the kindness she received from most people. The expected competitive nature of an Ivy League school was not present; Quinn couldn’t even begin to describe how grateful she was.
After the beginning of senior year and the Shelby situation, Quinn had changed her ways. For the better, this time. She had stopped dwelling on the past and looked to her future: Nationals, graduation, Yale.
Nationals, graduation, Yale. The mantra repeated in her head, week after week. When she received her acceptance letter, her confidence only grew. Then, a bombshell dropped.
“Finn asked me to marry him.”
Quinn couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her first thought was to laugh, but, seeing the serious look on Rachel’s face, Quinn had immediately shut that down. Her second thought was about Finn. What a fucking idiot! What the hell was he thinking? Marriage? She immediately pushed those thoughts away as well, coming back to the present moment, when her third thought came.
There were countless reasons Quinn applied to Yale, and the two hour train ride from New Haven, CT to New York City was definitely one of them.
Despite her plans to erase McKinley High School from her memory, Rachel Berry was one character that she could never get rid of. No matter how hard she tried, Quinn could never forget about Rachel. There wasn’t one day that went by when Quinn didn’t think about the girl at least once.
(There’s a reason they call Yale the Gay Ivy).
The closest she had ever come to revealing her true feelings was a last ditch effort to stop Rachel from getting married.
“When you were singing that song, you were singing it to Finn and only Finn, right?”
She knew if there was any chance Rachel felt the same way, if there was any chance Rachel had any doubts about Finn, if there was any chance Rachel wasn’t a complete fool, she would say so.
But instead, Rachel just nodded. The faintest head nod, almost as if Quinn had imagined it. But it was enough confirmation for her, so Quinn did her best to accept it and show up to her wedding.
And then came the blaring horn of the truck and blinding headlights. Then, nothing.
Because she was young and athletic, recovery was relatively speedy. Nationals, graduation, Yale. The mantra returned, and, before she knew it, she was performing on stage in Chicago and walking across the McKinley auditorium stage in her red cap and gown.
And, now, here she was. Yale.
Quinn stared down the front of the building where her first class was to take place. Modern American Literature.
“Come on, Fabray,” Quinn muttered under her breath. “You survived four years under Sue Sylvester; you can survive anything.”
After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Her first class went as well as it could.
It was a small class, containing around twenty students, being that it was an early class, at 8 AM, and it was offered by two other professors at later times. Her professor, Dr. Harlow, was a middle-aged woman with short, blonde hair, not unlike her own, and black rim glasses.
Walking into class that day, Quinn noticed her professor’s full name written on the board.
Dr. Rachel Harlow
Of course, Quinn thought. No matter where I go, I can’t escape her.
Quickly pushing the thought of the brunette out of her head, Quinn sat down at a desk near a group of people who were talking to each other. As she pulled a notebook and pencil out of her bag, a girl walked up to the seat on her other side.
“Is anyone sitting here?”
Quinn looked up at the girl from where she was hunched over her backpack. Long, brown hair fell over her shoulders, and she tucked some of it behind her ear as Quinn took her in. She was short, shorter than Quinn at least, with deep brown eyes and strong cheekbones.
She almost looks like-
Quinn stopped her thought before it could go any further. Mustering up a smile, she sat up, pencil in hand.
“It’s all yours.”
The girl smiled, sitting down. Quinn continued looking at the girl as she pulled her materials out. Her nose was smaller than Rachel’s, she noted. Her skin was lighter, too, closer to Quinn’s skin tone. The girl’s jawline was stronger, more defined, and her lips, Quinn noticed, were less full than Rachel’s. Then, as the girl looked at her expectantly, Quinn realized her lips had stopped moving, and there had been sound coming out of them.
“Sorry, what?” Quinn ran a hand through her hair, embarrassed at having been staring so hard that she missed what the girl said.
The girl laughed quietly, and Quinn noted that her laugh was much softer than Rachel’s boisterous laughter. She met her eyes and repeated, “I’m Mikayla. What’s your name?”
“Oh, sorry. I’m, uh,” Quinn stammered, still flustered from thinking about Rachel. “Fabray. Uh, I mean, Quinn. I’m Quinn.”
Quinn’s eyes flickered from Mikayla, to the board in front, to Dr. Harlow, to the group on her other side, and back to Mikayla. No one else had seemed to notice her humiliating first attempt at talking to someone. Even better, Quinn managed to get her mind off of-
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Quinn.” Mikayla tilted her head. “Are you a lit major too, or just here for the fun of it?”
Quinn laughed lightly. “Drama and lit, actually. Although, I do enjoy the reading part.”
“Alright, everyone come grab your copy of The Color Purple .” Dr. Harlow called out.
As Quinn began to stand up, Mikayla placed a hand on her arm. “I’ll grab yours.”
Her hand lingered for a moment, and their eyes met. Mikayla held her gaze for a moment before squeezing her arm and walking to the front of the room. Quinn exhaled heavily, releasing a breath she didn’t even know she was holding.
She watched Mikayla walk to the front of the class, face still flushed. Good to know that I am capable of liking other girls besides her .
Mikayla stumbled on her way back, tripping over someone’s stray bag, and Quinn laughed loudly. Hand brushing Quinn’s as she handed her the book, Mikayla stuck her tongue out, “Here you go, Lucy .”
Quinn’s face went pale. “What did you just call-”
Mikayla pointed to the label on the cover of the book. Bottom left corner. Lucy Fabray.
Quinn looked over at Mikayla’s book, and hers was the same. Mikayla Stewart.
“Fuck,” Quinn muttered, looking up at Mikayla. Her expression was one of curiosity rather than judgment, and Quinn released a sigh. “Quinn is my middle name. All of my friends and family call me Quinn. I don’t go by… Lucy, anymore. I could’ve sworn I wrote on all of the papers that I go by Quinn, but I guess the people that put the labels on the books don’t really care about that. I wasn’t… lying to you. I just, uh…”
She trailed off, knowing she probably already lost her during her rambling. Mikayla merely smiled.
“Quinn suits you better, I think.” She winked and spun forward, turning her attention to the professor.
Quinn blushed for what felt like the hundredth time and followed her, turning to face the front of the classroom.
“I’m sure most of you have heard of this novel, probably from the Spielberg film adaptation, and I also know most of you just sighed in relief now that you know there is a movie you can watch rather than actually reading the book,” Dr. Harlow paused for the laughter that followed. “But what you might not know is that The Color Purple has also been adapted as-”
“A musical.” Quinn finished absently, fiddling her pencil between her fingers.
Dr. Harlow looked at her. “I’m sorry?”
Suddenly, Quinn realized that all eyes were on her. Her pencil clattered to the ground. She swallowed, setting her shoulders back. “A musical. The Color Purple , right? Opened in 2005, nominated for eleven Tony Awards, but only won one: Best Actress in a Musical for LaChanze as Celie.”
She looked around the room, seeing her classmates’ half-bored and half-impressed faces. She could’ve sworn she heard Mikayla mutter, “Damn drama majors,” under her breath, but when she turned to look at Mikayla, the girl only grinned and winked at her.
Quinn spun back to face the teacher who looked impressed. “Drama major, huh?”
“Drama and literature,” Quinn corrected softly, and Mikayla chuckled next to her. “But I have a… friend that is pretty much responsible for all of my theatre knowledge.”
Damn you, Rachel.
Dr. Harlow chuckled softly. “Your friend must be very dedicated. What’s your name?”
You have no idea, Quinn thought, suddenly remembering the professor asked her a question. “Fabray, ma’am. Quinn Fabray.”
“Well, Miss Fabray, welcome to Modern American Lit. Let’s get started, shall we?”
Quinn sat back in her seat, releasing the tension in her body that she hadn’t even realized had formed.
“Damn, Fabray,” Mikayla leaned over, whispering to her as Dr. Harlow was turned around and handing her the pencil she had dropped. “You’ve got serious guts.”
She sighed. This was going to be a long year.
“You what ?” Santana said, incredulously.
“I-yeah, I didn’t even mean to. It just slipped out!” Quinn laughed, clutching the phone tighter to her ear as she paced around her dorm room.
Santana cackled. “Damn, Fabray. You’ve got balls.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s what Mikayla told me.”
Santana went silent for a few moments, and then softly, “Mikayla?”
“Oh, whatever. Like you haven’t already made friends to replace me yet.” Quinn deflected easily.
“Well, yeah, but that is not what I was expecting from you, Q. You usually take at least three months before you accept that they aren’t out to get you. The only exception was-”
“ Santana ,” Quinn hissed before she could get the name out.
“Cálmate, pendeja,” Santana hissed back.
Quinn sighed. “Look, I just… I don’t want to talk about her right now, okay?”
“Okay, fine. Who is this Mikayla bitch that is stealing my best friend?”
“Best friend? Hardly.”
Santana laughed. “Don’t think I don’t notice you deflecting.”
Quinn walked back to her bed and sat down, running a hand through her hair. “Her name is Mikayla, and she’s a lit major. That’s about all I know.”
“Do you have her number?”
“Not for me, you dumb bitch. I’ve got Britts.”
“Yes, I do.” Quinn put her phone on speaker mode, pulling it away from her ear. She opened the newest contact in her phone, staring at the number and the blank contact photo. Mikayla Stewart.
“Then get off the phone with me and ask her if she wants to get coffee or something.”
Quinn’s jaw dropped open. “Who are you and what have you done with Santana Lopez?”
“You need someone over there to occupy your time when I’m busy having phone sex with B.”
“There she is.”
“And,” Santana continued, “You need friends. Real friends, not just people you pretend to be nice to during class or divas who you’ve been crushing on for three years.”
Laughter blared from her phone speakers. “I’m hanging up on you. Call Mikayla and tell her how much you want to fuck the friend that taught you all of that boring shit about musicals.”
Quinn opened her mouth to respond when she heard the dial tone, ending her call. That fucking bitch . She looked back at the number in her phone, finger hovering over the text option.
Santana’s words rang in her head. Real friends.
Decision made, Quinn quickly typed a message and sent it before she could convince herself otherwise. Tossing her phone behind her, she stood and cleared her books off her bed.
A few moments later, her ringtone went off. She picked it up and accepted the call, not bothering to check who was calling.
“Hey, Mikayla. Just give me a second.” Quinn said absently, moving to place her copy of The Color Purple on her desk.
Quinn lightly gasped, book slipping out of her hand and clattering to the ground. She’d recognize that voice anywhere. Slowly, she pulled her phone away from her ear and looked at the caller ID. Muffled noise came from her phone, but all Quinn could focus on was the name staring at her from her phone screen.
She hesitantly brought the phone back up to her ear. Taking a deep breath, she spoke softly.
The blonde exhaled, clutching her phone tighter. “Hi.”
“How are you?”
Rachel’s voice was soft, uncertain, as if she was afraid of speaking too fast and scaring Quinn away.
“I’m-I’m good,” Quinn shook her head as she stuttered over her words.
It’s just Rachel.
Yeah, just Rachel, the girl you’ve had a crush on for three years.
“Good. That’s…” Rachel trailed off, deciding what to say. “That’s good.”
Quinn thought back to the last time she had spoken to Rachel in person. It was the week of graduation, and they were in the girls’ bathroom at McKinley. She remembered offering Rachel the envelope in the same way she had handed her Yale acceptance letter to her.
A Metro-North pass, from New York to New Haven. I got one for me into New York. You know, everybody keeps talking about staying in touch, and I want to make sure that we do.
Quinn had bought those passes at two in the morning a few weeks earlier when she had been high off her pain meds and eager to make poor decisions. Days later, she received two passes in the mail with a slip of paper, reading Thank you for choosing Metro-North.
They had texted casually over the summer, mostly initiated by Rachel, and Quinn had received an email from the brunette wishing her the best of luck at Yale two days before she was supposed to leave for New Haven. Quinn hadn’t responded.
“Rachel,” Quinn began, not knowing what to say or, rather, where to start. “I’m sorry for not responding to your email and for being… distant lately. It’s just…”
“Quinn, it’s alright.” Rachel cut her off. “If… if you’re rethinking this whole ‘keeping in touch’ scenario, I-I understand. I’ll leave you alone. I suppose I can give the train pass to Santana when she moves here after winter break and I’ll-”
“No,” Quinn interrupted, frightened at the thought of the pass being given to Santana. “No, that’s not it. It’s just been pretty hectic recently, with moving into the dorms and classes starting and getting used to the new atmosphere.”
“Okay, that’s-that’s good. I’ll be honest. I really didn’t want to have to give my Metro-North pass to Santana.”
Quinn laughed, and Rachel continued. “Maybe you’ll let me know when you have a free weekend soon, so I can come up to visit?”
Her phone began vibrating. Quinn pulled it away from her ear, seeing the words Incoming call: Mikayla Stewart flashing up at her just below Rachel’s name.
“Rachel, I’m so sorry to cut this short, but I have another call coming in.”
“Mikayla, I assume?”
Quinn’s jaw dropped. “How do you-” She paused, remembering how she answered Rachel’s call and blushed. “Yeah, it is her.”
“Well, I am glad you’re making friends. You deserve to be happy, Quinn. Let me know about that free weekend, okay?”
Quinn could hear Rachel’s smile through the phone, and it made Quinn smile back. “Will do. Bye, Rach.”
The dial tone rang, and Quinn quickly accepted the other call.
“Meet me outside the English hall in five.”
The dial tone rang again, leaving Quinn in silence. Standing up, she threw her wallet and other belongings into a small backpack, slinging it over her shoulder as she looked at herself in the mirror.
Over the summer, Quinn had cleared out her wardrobe, getting rid of the babydoll dresses that haunted her throughout most of high school. College, she decided, was for trying new looks, and that is exactly what she intended to do.
She eyed her outfit, a plain white shirt tucked into cuffed jeans and a leather jacket. After she put her shoes on, combat boots that she had fallen in love with, Quinn ran a hand through her hair and stepped out the door.
As she approached the English department building, Quinn saw Mikayla standing outside, checking her phone. Mikayla looked up when Quinn got closer and burst into laughter.
Quinn looked down at herself nervously. “What? Do I have-what?”
“God, sorry, you just-” Mikayla stopped laughing, trying to compose herself. “You just look so gay.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
Mikayla burst into laughter again, and Quinn looked down at herself once more. How can you look gay?
Seeing the nervous look on Quinn’s face, Mikayla stopped laughing and gestured towards Quinn’s body. “I mean, it’s just the boots, and the shirt tucked into the jeans, and the jacket, God, the jacket .”
“I mean it in the best way, I promise. I’m sure men love you, but you could crush it as a lesbian.”
Mikayla winked, and Quinn blanched, causing Mikayla to laugh one more time. She started walking and looked back at Quinn. “You coming, Fabray?”
God, help me , Quinn thought as she caught up to the brunette, noticing the extent of their height difference when she had her boots on. With the boots, she was at least four or five inches taller than Mikayla.
I wonder what Rachel would think of my new look.
“So, Mikayla,” Quinn began, trying to lead her train of thought literally anywhere else. “Where are you from?”
They turned a corner, Quinn following Mikayla’s lead, and she replied easily. “Illinois. A suburb outside of Chicago. You?”
“Nowheresville, Ohio. Also known as Lima.”
“Gotta love that Midwestern mindset.” Mikayla remarked. “What did you do in Ohio besides impressing everyone with your vast musical knowledge?”
Quinn laughed. If only Rachel could hear this. “Okay, first, I am not a musical geek. Trust me. I wasn’t lying when I said most of my knowledge comes from a friend.”
Mikayla held her hands up in fake surrender, and Quinn continued, “I was in show choir for most of high school, and I did cheerleading too.”
“You? A cheerleader and in show choir ? Wow, I definitely had you pegged as the rebellious art-type.”
“Is that a compliment?” Quinn replied teasingly.
“Sure is.” Mikayla winked.
The blonde retorted. “Do you realize how much of a flirt you are?”
“Sure do. It’s part of my charm.” Mikayla turned a corner, Quinn following behind. “So, how in hell were you in both cheerleading and show choir? Still can’t wrap my head around that one.”
“I joined the cheer team my freshman year, and I became captain the next year.”
“You were captain sophomore year? Either you’re insanely talented, or the rest of your school sucked.”
Quinn chuckled, knowing how she would react to her next comment. “Actually, we were National champions, six years straight.”
Mikayla stopped walking and spun to look at Quinn. “You’re shitting me.”
“I wish I was.”
“Damn. Color me impressed.” She began walking again, looking at Quinn as she asked, “And how exactly did show choir fit into all of this? Don’t tell me you were six-time National champions too.”
“Only one-time National champions. Sorry to disappoint.” Quinn quipped.
“Please tell me you’re joking.”
Quinn laughed, shaking her head, and Mikayla stopped in her tracks, again, and looked up at the blonde. “Holy shit, you’re not joking.”
“Again, I really wish I was.” Quinn looked at Mikayla, who had an expectant look on her face, clearly waiting for an explanation. “I joined sophomore year because I thought the club’s captain was trying to steal my boyfriend after she convinced him to join as well. Turned out I really enjoyed it, and, thanks to my school’s ridiculous amount of talent, we made it to Nationals junior and senior year, and we ended up winning senior year.”
Quinn raised an eyebrow. “That is what you got from my whole speech just now?”
“What can I say? I have priorities.” Mikayla grinned, and they continued walking, Quinn still following the brunette’s lead.
“You’re unbelievable.” Quinn shook her head, seeing the smirk on the shorter girl’s face. “Yes, he was my boyfriend. We were on and off throughout sophomore and junior year for several reasons, none of which I am going to tell you, so don’t even ask.”
“I have a question, but it isn’t about that. Well, it sorta is. Was the club’s captain actually trying to steal him from you?” Mikayla asked, chuckling at the thought.
Quinn paused for a moment, thinking about sophomore year, more specifically her relationship with Rachel. “Not exactly, but he did kiss her the week after joining the club, and they got together after he broke up with me. Twice. So I wasn’t exactly wrong either.”
“He dumped you? Twice?”
“Again, that’s all you got from that?” Quinn rolled her eyes. “Yes, he broke up with me twice. The only reason I was even with him was for status, him being the quarterback and me being the head cheerleader.”
Mikayla burst into laughter, drawing looks from people around her. “This boy the two of you fought over, he was the fucking quarterback? God, your life sounds like a bad teen drama show."
“Tell me about it. Honestly, it felt like I was living in one sometimes.” Quinn looked at Mikayla, her hair flying in the wind behind her. “Enough about me. What about you?”
“Speaking of rebellious art-types,” Mikayla joked. “Sadly, my life has not been nearly as interesting. Growing up outside of Chicago is exactly as exciting as it sounds. My parents both grew up in the city but didn’t meet until after college. My dad is a mechanic, and my mom is a lawyer. She went here, actually.”
“You’re kidding. You’re a legacy?” Quinn asked, genuinely surprised.
“Don’t I just scream white privilege? I figured I might as well apply here, knowing I had a better chance of getting in because of my mom even though I wasn’t the perfect student. After visiting the campus, I fell in love. Besides, there’s no way I could pass up attending the school known as the Gay Ivy.”
Quinn laughed, question forming in her mind. “About that…”
“Don’t tell me I’m the first gay person you’ve ever met, Miss Show Choir.”
“No, God, no. My two best friends, who are both girls, have been together since freshman year. I can just imagine that your experience has been a bit different than two girls in Lima, Ohio.”
Mikayla sighed. “Probably. I’ve been out since I first saw Beyoncé in the Single Ladies music video. My uncle is gay, so my parents were pretty cool about it. My younger brother hates that I get more girls than he does.”
“You have a brother?”
“Really, that’s what you took from that?” Mikayla asked, mockingly. “Yes, his name is Timmy, he is three years younger than me, and he is a baseball-playing pain in my ass.”
“Do you have a girlfriend?” Quinn asked in a way which she hoped was casual.
Mikayla grinned. “Now you’re asking the important questions. No, I don’t. Why, you interested?”
“Just asking the same questions you asked me.” Quinn retorted.
“I didn’t ask you if you had a girlfriend.” Mikayla’s grin grew wider, making Quinn’s head spin. “I’m just teasing. I dated girls in high school, mostly casually. My last girlfriend and I broke up since we were heading off in separate directions. We were together pretty much all senior year.”
Quinn asked curiously, “Not one for long distance?”
Mikayla shrugged. “I loved her, and she loved me, but we knew it wasn’t going to work out, with her in Arizona and me over here. It wasn’t a bad break-up at all if that’s what you’re asking. Plus, now we’re both single and can experience college for what it’s meant to be: meaningless, drunken hookups that you’ll regret the next day.”
“Is that what college is meant to be? I must have missed the memo.”
“That’s a part of it, at least. It’s the whole thing,” She explained, “Meeting new people, trying new things, learning more about yourself. We both agreed that it would be best for us to not have anything holding us back during this time in our lives.”
Quinn exclaimed, “God, finally! Someone that sees this the way that I do.”
“A lot of people in your high school desperate to cling onto their past?”
"You can say that again.” Quinn scoffed. “My friend and her boyfriend, who is actually my ex, got engaged last school year, and they nearly got married before some shit happened. I tried talking to her, convincing her to let him go, but she was so caught up in him that she nearly gave up her whole future to stay with him back in Lima.”
“But she didn’t?”
“No. They’re still together, I think, but she’s going to the school of her dreams while he’s at boot camp for the army.” Quinn stopped. “God, sorry, I don’t mean to complain, but the whole situation just frustrated me so much. She almost gave up her dreams over a boy . Call me crazy, but…”
Mikayla quirked an eyebrow. “What’s her name?”
Her name? Why does it matter?
“Rachel.” Quinn exhaled.
“Well, Rachel’s lucky to have someone like you who cares so much about her.” Mikayla spoke cautiously as they arrived outside at a small coffee shop. “Up for some coffee?”
“Sure.” Quinn replied.
So much for keeping Rachel off her mind.