Actions

Work Header

Particular Taste

Chapter Text

I

 

Rachel Berry’s favourite day of the week is probably Saturday.

It’s probably nothing unique, given that she’s just one of many high school students who probably adores the freedom of the weekend, but it’s actually for an entirely different reason than what would be considered normal for a teenager. 

She’s never quite admitted it to anyone, but Rachel loves Saturdays because of one Quinn Fabray.

While the two girls have never met, Rachel adores the blonde. She waits with bated breath until eleven-fifty-nine every Saturday morning for the prettiest girl she’s ever seen to update her second of three weekly videos on her YouTube channel, LatkesWithLucy. 

She knows the channel was named as a joke by Quinn’s best friend when she first started out, and it makes Rachel smile whenever Quinn rolls her eyes after she introduces every new video. She always says she’s going to change the name, but she never gets around to it.

Secretly, Rachel thinks she likes it too much, despite what she says.

Rachel hasn’t told anyone about her secret crush. Her fathers are well aware she watches Quinn’s videos almost religiously, but the crush, itself, is... recent. 

At least, she thinks it is.

This whole... gayness seems sudden, but it also might not actually be. She’s had a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Quinn - who was still Lucy back then - since she first watched her compete on Top Chef Junior when she was just ten years old.

Lucy ended up coming in second behind the eventual winner, Tyler Giles, and Rachel still believes the girl was robbed. Granted, Tyler was three years older than her, and clearly more experienced, but still. She should have won. Rachel will stand by that until the day she dies.

So, Rachel has been following Quinn’s career for six years. Initially, she was really interested in food and cooking food, but now she’s worryingly interested in the chef behind the food.

Quinn doesn’t consider herself to be famous, but Rachel still views her as her first celebrity crush. 

A girl one, that is.

Her first girl crush, at all. That she recalls, at least. Which caused quite the panic the first time she came to the conclusion she was actually staring at Quinn’s lips whenever she watched her videos. That started a series of events that gets her to this moment right here.

A Saturday in early November of her junior year of high school, and her finger hitting the refresh button on her laptop every few minutes. Quinn has been religious about her posting schedule, three videos per week, published on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays.

While Rachel would like to say her favourite video is the Saturday one - despite it being her favourite day - it’s actually the Wednesday one that has probably graduated her harmless crush into something else completely.

Quinn actually cooks on Saturdays. She tries out new recipes on camera, talks her viewers through the preparation and offers all sorts of tips. She makes it fun for kids to try out new dishes, and encourages them to participate whenever their parents are in the kitchen. It’s important to know what you’re eating and, while Quinn does indulge from time to time, the food she prepares is generally healthy.

The Sunday video consists of reactions from her friends and family regarding what she’s prepared. From it, Rachel has learned about Quinn’s parents, older sister, and closest friends.

But, Wednesday is when it’s all about Quinn and only Quinn. It’s the most informal video, with just Quinn and her laptop in the video frame. She just sits at her desk or on her bed and answers fan questions, or just tells little stories about how her week is going.

It’s when Quinn is the most real, and it’s why Rachel is certain she’s gay. 

It’s a realisation that came on slowly, and then hit her like a ton of bricks. Smacked her in the face, really, and she’s been terrified to tell a single other soul.

It isn’t as if she thinks her fathers wouldn’t approve - it would be awfully hypocritical of them, really - but there’s a part of her that suspects they’re hoping she ends up completely straight. 

The implications of being gay from a gay home in this stupid town can be astounding, and she’s definitely not ready to deal with that and what it'll inevitably bring to her life. Their family has suffered enough prejudice.

She’ll be the first to admit she was relieved when she developed her crush on Finn Hudson. She even went so far as to date him, which was one disaster after the other. They eventually broke up after it was revealed he slept with Santana and lied about it... which was just a few weeks ago, and Rachel still receives death glares from the Latina.

Well.

Rachel refreshes the screen again, and then jumps in place when she sees Quinn’s new video has been uploaded. It’s thirty-six glorious minutes long, and Rachel shifts into more of a comfortable position before opening the link in a new tab.

It’s amazing what merely the sight of the girl can do to Rachel’s breathing and beating heart. A smile spreads across her face as Quinn moves into view in the open kitchen setting and says the obligatory, “Good morning, good people. Welcome to Latkes with Lucy.” 

Rachel giggles softly when Quinn pulls a face at the channel’s name.

“So, today, I thought we would make pizza.” She grins so widely that Rachel actually sucks in a sharp breath. “Personally, I don’t eat much of the stuff - my Coach would probably kill me if I did - but Noah is obsessed. I’m sure he would inhale it if he felt so inclined. He’ll be coming over later to try our creation, so you’ll be reminded of how much of a vacuum he is in tomorrow’s video.”

Rachel knows Quinn is talking about Noah Puckerman, who is Quinn’s best friend, and responsible for naming the YouTube channel all those years ago. 

For a while, Rachel thought they were dating, which made her feel irrationally angry. She now knows it was mostly jealousy that fuelled her emotions, but she knows now that Quinn and Noah are not, have not and will not ever be a thing. 

Quinn claims to enjoy the single life, and she’s far too busy with school and cheerleading and trying to further her culinary career to focus on relationships. 

Apparently, Quinn has known she wants to be a chef since she was seven years old, which is something with which Rachel can really identify. She’s known she wants to perform on Broadway since she was three years old, and it’s a dream she’s holding onto with all her might.

“We’re going to make three types of pizza today,” Quinn says. “Noah is an absolute meat lover, so that’s a no-brainier, but we’re also going to make a vegetarian one, and... a vegan one.”

Rachel automatically perks up. 

“We’ll do the meat lovers on a thick base, which is Noah’s favourite, the vegetarian on a standard thin one, and the vegan is, well, it’s own other beast.” She smiles softly. “I got a few tweets about vegan options - dinah465, I heard you - so I thought we would give it a go. All the vegans out there, I commend you, and please don’t be too harsh. I’m trying.”

Rachel is so charmed. 

So, so charmed.

“Let’s get started.”

Rachel usually watches the entire video completely through before she even attempts to try her hand at the recipes. Quinn posts the written recipes on her Facebook page, so people can follow along, and Rachel usually does that on Sunday afternoons. 

Quinn always encourages them to send her pictures of their creations, which Rachel has done a total of never. She’s too self-conscious of her cooking skills, but she’s definitely improved.

She thinks she’ll definitely try this vegan pizza, though, and possibly send it through. She doubts she’ll get a reaction from Quinn, but a girl can dream.

And, she has been dreaming.

She’s never quite felt this way before. She had a crush on Finn, definitely, but she never used to imagine conversations with him or think about them actually going on dates. 

She’s come to the conclusion that she was mostly attracted to the idea of Finn, and not the boy himself. Part of her thinks the same thing is happening with Quinn, but she can’t really be sure until, well, they actually talk. 

Which is unlikely to happen, because Rachel doesn’t think she’s brave enough to put herself out there, and what on earth would Quinn want with a nobody from Lima, Ohio, anyway?

As Rachel watches the rest of the video, she makes small notes in her own culinary notebook. For the most part, she writes about the little tips Quinn offers, but she sometimes catches herself doodling hearts and initials in those hearts. LQF + RBB.

So, her crush is proving to be a bit of a problem, but there’s nothing to be done, and she's not entirely sure she even wants it to go away.

Today, though, she really pays attention when Quinn makes the vegan pizza, noting the girl’s furrowed brow and intense concentration. She’s gorgeous, is what is constantly running through Rachel’s mind, even as she tries to concentrate on the words coming out of Quinn’s mouth.

She knows she’ll probably have to tell her fathers about her discovered sexuality at some point, but there’s a certain comfort to be found in holding onto this part of her. Everything else has been so exposed and ridiculed, and she’s enjoying the secret, even if it’s added unnecessary stress and fear and anxiety to her life.

It’s also brought a certain level of clarity, even relief. She knows, and that goes a long way towards making her feel comfortable in her own skin.

Well, when she’s not at school, at least.

At school, she wants nothing more than to be invisible... but certain beings make that very difficult. As much as Rachel tries to go unnoticed, it’s almost as if the jocks and cheerleaders have Berry sensors, and come for her at every opportunity they can get. It’s definitely worse now that she and Finn are no longer dating. There’s more of a target on her back.

Her days can be horrible, and she hates that the same people who she’s claimed as her Glee family are also some of the ones who treat her the worst. If she were braver, she would quit completely, but she wants to make it to Nationals this year, and she kind of needs them.

So, she suffers through the abuse and ridicule, and holds onto the one shining light in her lacklustre life: Quinn Fabray.

When the video ends, Rachel is tempted to watch it again, just to hear Quinn’s voice. She has a few - okay, a lot of - videos saved for moments when she needs a Quinn kind of pick-me-up, which are mainly Wednesday videos. Sometimes, she likes to imagine Quinn is speaking directly to her, as if her words are said with Rachel in mind.

It’s ridiculous and childish, she knows, but she’s a little bit crazy about the girl, and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

With a sigh, Rachel switches to her iTunes library on her laptop and plays a random song. Then she takes out her phone to check if Quinn has been active on Twitter.

She has. After a tweet about the recently uploaded video on pizza, there’s another tweet.

Quinn Fabray - @lucyquinnfabray
I think I need to run a poll to figure out if you all really think kale chips should be a thing. Are they? Did I miss the memo? Was I absent that day? Someone please enlighten me.

Rachel can’t help her smile. Quinn does this sometimes, openly engaging with her followers, and Rachel has tweeted her back twice before. It didn’t amount to anything, but she also doesn’t want to be one of those fans that constantly tries to get the girl’s attention.

Really, she’s a little terrified of what would happen if she actually did.

So, Rachel just likes the tweet, and then keeps scrolling. Her heart always beats a little faster whenever she realises that she has a pretty good idea of what Quinn is doing right this instant. She absently wonders how many other people feel the way she does about Quinn.

Quinn must have thousands of people with crushes on her. Probably even tens of thousands, based on the number of subscribers and followers she has. She’s also ridiculously pretty, with perfect teeth, the kind of hazel eyes that can pierce a person’s soul, silky blonde hair, cheekbones to die for, a voice from the angels and just an overall demeanour that’s all too inviting.

Rachel once read somewhere that crushes are supposed to last less than three months, and anything more is... dangerous. 

It’s been more than three months.

It’s been almost six. 

They’re way past dangerous, at this point.

 


 

Rachel’s vegan creation... sort of resembles a pizza. It obviously looks nothing like Quinn’s, but she’s oddly proud of her attempt. She doesn’t usually get to the final product, so this is a step-up for her.

She even braves taking a picture of it as it cools on the kitchen counter, and then tweets it at Quinn. 

She doesn’t think she takes in a complete breath for almost three hours after that.

Earlier, she watched Noah devour an entire pizza, and Quinn’s mother, Judy, tried her vegetarian creation. Quinn’s the only one who was brave enough to try the cheeseless vegan pizza she prepared.

“Not... terrible,” she finally concluded and, when Rachel finally tried her own, she had to agree with the blonde.

It definitely could have ended up worse. Normally, one of her fathers supervises - she’s sixteen, for goodness’ sake - but she was given free rein this time. Her dinner’s sorted. Maybe. Sort of. If it doesn't kill her.

Her fathers are pleasantly surprised, and she tries not to pout. They like to tease her, and she appreciates the easiness of their relationship more than she’ll ever be able to tell them. She shudders to think about what her life would be like if she didn’t have supportive parents.

“Since when does Quinn try vegan recipes?” Hiram asks at the kitchen table. He’s also followed Quinn’s career, a fan of the adult Top Chef himself. He’s also the one who’s encouraged Rachel’s interest by purchasing all three of the cookbooks Quinn has already released.

“Apparently, some of her followers have been asking her about it,” Rachel says, smiling.

“Are you one of those followers?” LeRoy teases.

Rachel can’t stop her blush if she tries. “No,” she says, which is the truth. She doesn’t think she could handle the stress of waiting on some kind of acknowledgement from Quinn, and she can barely keep a hold of herself right now.

Somehow, she manages to finish her dinner, absently does the dishes, and then goes upstairs to her bedroom to finish off the last of her homework and prepare her bag for the morning.

It’s almost ten o’clock when she finally checks her phone, and this is the moment when every part of her dull life changes.

Because -

Because.

Quinn Fabray - @lucyquinnfabray
Definitely! This one looks awesome, @BroadwayBerry! I especially dig the Harry Potter dish towel in the background there - you’re definitely a girl after my own heart ;)

  • Rachel Berry - @BroadwayBerry
    Is it a masterpiece or what, @lucyquinnfabray? The vegans thank you for your consideration. *photo*

And, Rachel is pretty sure she’s died and gone to heaven.

The shriek she lets out can be described as only inhumane. She almost drops her phone when she jumps up and down in excitement and disbelief and ohmygod ohmygod.

She’s still freaking out when Hiram comes running into her room, eyes wide with panic. “Rachel,” he shouts over her shrieking. “What on earth is going on?”

Rachel practically shoves her phone’s screen in his face. “Look!” she exclaims.

Hiram shifts back, eyes wide. “Sweetheart, what exactly am I looking at?”

“Quinn,” Rachel says excitedly, practically dancing in place. “She tweeted me, Dad. She knows who I am. Oh, my God, this is honestly the best day of my life.” She looks at her father. “Dad. Dad. Do you have any idea what this means?”

“I actually do not.”

“Quinn knows I exist,” she says, and her smile is so wide, her cheeks are starting to hurt. “Like, she knows, Dad. She knows. She totally tweeted at me. This is - this is incredible. I don’t even know what to do with myself. What do I do? Do I retweet her tweet?”

Hiram just stares blankly at her. “I think I should say yes.”

Rachel gasps. “Do you really think so?”

“Yes...?”

Rachel stares at her phone again, decidedly calmer than she was five minutes previously. “I have to retweet it,” she finally says. “I can’t not. The entire world has to know that Quinn Fabray has just made my entire life.”

Hiram can hear the slight wonder in her voice, and he honestly doesn’t know what to make of it. He’s never seen that look on his daughter’s face before, and he doesn’t know what it means.

“If you’ll excuse me, Dad,” she says, which is a dismissal if he’s ever heard one.

Hiram just gives her one last curious look, and then leaves her room with a slight frown on his face. He gets the feeling he’s missing something very important, but he just can’t put his finger on it. So, he leaves Rachel to continue her freakout.

Which she does for the next seven minutes, her finger hovering over her phone’s screen.

She’s uncertain.

As far as she knows, nobody from school actually follows her on Twitter. She has a measly thirty-seven followers, and most she’s quite certain aren’t even real people. In contrast, she follows 348 people, and Quinn is one of them.

She paces for another minute, and then just does it. 

Retweet with a comment.

She has nothing to lose.

Rachel Berry - @BroadwayBerry
MADE MY LIFE. I can die now. Thank you, @lucyquinnfabray!

Her heart pounds when she posts it. Realistically, she knows nothing is going to happen, but she just can’t get her heart rate to slow. She can feel it beating right through her entire body, which makes getting to sleep profoundly difficult.

It comes to her eventually, exhaustion claiming her. She’s going to need all the rest she can get if she’s going to make it through another week from Hell.

What feels like mere seconds later, her morning alarm is going off, and she’s rolling herself out of bed. Monday’s are normally terrible, but they seem to be getting worse. 

Still, Rachel has a near-perfect attendance record, and she’s not about to let bullies and ex-boyfriends keep her from school. She’ll just pack her extra clothes and hope she flies under the radar for the day.

She has breakfast with both her fathers, Hiram asking if she’s recovered after the day before. The memory brings a smile to her face, and she flushes under his gaze.

“Sorry if I scared you,” she says. “I was just really excited.”

“I could see that, Sweetheart,” he says, patting her forearm with his hand. “Did you eventually, uh, retweet? Is that the term? I can’t keep up.”

Rachel laughs softly. “Yes, Dad, I retweeted.”

“And?”

She shrugs. “I don’t know. I haven’t checked.”

Which is what she does the second she’s back in her bedroom after breakfast. It’s probably a good thing she’s eaten before she looks, because it’s doubtful she’ll ever remember to feed herself again.

Quinn tweeted her back.

Repeat: Quinn tweeted her back.

Quinn Fabray - @lucyquinnfabray
No, don’t die, @BroadwayBerry! The world needs you vegans. Who else is going to lecture us about the moral, ethical and health benefits of kale chips? (I’ve begrudgingly accepted they’re actually a thing.)

And, with that tweet has come a whole 173 followers... and counting.

Jesus.

But, what really takes the cake is the direct message in her inbox.

From Quinn Fabray.

Rachel’s legs buckle, and she’s lucky she’s so near her bed or she might have ended up with several bruises. 

Quinn messaged her. 

Quinn Fabray sent her a message.

Rachel’s fingers are actually trembling when she opens the message, and her head is throbbing to the beat of her racing heart.

Quinn Fabray: Tell me, are you actually a vegan? Because, if not, this could get awkward very quickly :)

Rachel can’t seem to catch her breath, and it doesn’t help that she reads the message another four times. What is she supposed to say? She’s not cut out for this. This is something out of her wildest dreams. Quinn is actually talking to her.

Why?

Why her, out of everyone she probably gets tweeted by on a daily basis?

That’s the question she wants to ask, but she doesn’t. Instead, she takes a moment to gather herself, and then very carefully composes her reply.

Rachel Berry: I’m actually a vegan, yes. I’ve been one since I was eleven and watched a documentary (I probably shouldn’t have watched at that age) about the treatment of animals in the food industry. It was disturbing, and I cried for two days straight. I made my parents watch it, and my Dad is now a vegan, as well. I can provide the link, if you’re interested. I’m sure I could convert you. (Is that a sufficient lecture from this token vegan?)

And, once again, her heart is pounding, and she hopes the playfulness comes through, or it really will turn ugly quickly.

“Rachel,” Hiram shouts from downstairs. “It’s time to get going, or you’re going to be late for school.”

“Coming,” she calls out, but it still takes her another three minutes actually to move, and then another two to gather her already-packed bag. She slides her phone into her pocket, feeling the weight of it, and then heads downstairs.

She has an entire day to get through.

It really doesn’t help that her facial expression keeps flipping between bewilderment and extreme elation. She may or may not be having an actual conversation with her celebrity crush. In whose world does that ever happen?

Rachel checks her phone between every lesson, but there’s nothing from Quinn. She does receive more follower notifications, and her father texts her about what she might want for dinner.

Vegan pizza, please, is what she texts back, and she can just imagine his eye-roll.

Her obvious distraction leads to getting caught off guard by a slushy to the face. She’s not prepared, and it gets in her mouth and eyes, and onto her phone. The laughter is normal, and she can almost ignore it, but the humiliation is sometimes too much.

She just wishes they would stop. She wants it all to stop. She doesn’t know how a boy who once claimed to love her can just stand there and laugh while she suffers through this degradation.

The one good thing is that she’s no longer wearing rose-coloured glasses when it comes to Finn Hudson. She sees him for who he is, and that’s more than what others get.

With a sigh, she carefully swipes at her stinging eyes, and then turns and walks towards her locker. She needs her slushy kit, and she needs to get to the bathroom. At least they were courteous enough to wait until the lunch hour, so that she doesn’t have to miss class.

Getting cleaned up is an art she’s perfected. Sometimes, it’s bad enough that she actually needs a shower, but it’s not as terrible today. She does make sure to lock the bathroom door, though, so she can safely peel off her soiled sweater and wipe herself down. Her phone is, thankfully, protected by one of those heavy duty covers, bought specifically for this such situation.

They’ve all learned from Kurt’s ordeal in freshman year.

She rinses out her hair in the sink, towels it, and then plugs in her hairdryer. It’s all part of the process, and she’s going to have to up her haircare when she gets home. It’s a great source of pride of hers, and God only knows what sort of damage the syrupy drink is doing to her long locks.

The entire routine takes nearly twenty-five minutes, mainly because she doesn’t actually have to rush. It leaves her with just under a half hour to get something to eat. She has leftovers from the previous night, which allows her to skip out on the cafeteria and rather hunker down in the Choir Room. It’s her safe place. Usually. When she’s alone.

She’s just biting into a slice of pizza, absently checking her phone, when she notices it. She has a message. On Twitter.

She forces herself to chew and swallow before she checks the message, and then has to tell herself to stay seated when she spies Quinn’s name. Okay.

Okay.

Quinn Fabray: You should know that your lecture has been noted, and so ignored, but props for trying. If you know anything about me, it’s that I worship the bacon a.k.a. the food of the Gods. I think I’d have to be certifiably insane to give it up. Is your Dad your only success story? (Would you be insulted if I guessed that, yes, he probably is?)

And, Rachel can’t stop her smile if she tries. They’re talking about absolute nonsense, but they’re talking, and Rachel can almost forget how horrible a day she’s just had. 

Is currently having.

Before she can overthink it too much, she starts on a reply.

Rachel Berry: I would be insulted, definitely, if you weren’t correct. Sometimes, I think he did it just for me, which is a commitment and a half. I almost want to hand him a tub of ice cream and put him out of his misery, but it’s more fun to suffer with others, I’ve come to learn. (And, wow, I just read that back, and I sound very bitter about something.) And, not to come across as too much of a psycho - see previous sentence - I did know about your obsession with bacon. You should probably see a professional about that.

Rachel thinks it helps that Quinn doesn’t actually know her. She can be whoever she wants with Quinn. She can be herself, and just hope that she doesn’t scare Quinn off the way she’s managed to do with everyone else.

She doesn’t have to wait very long for a reply, and she wonders if Quinn is also on her lunch break. The thought makes her giddy; that the girl would dedicate any of her free time to messaging her.

Quinn Fabray: Speaking as someone who has tried to drown her sorrows in ice cream, it’s not a permanent solution to whatever’s responsible for the bitterness. Whatever it is, I do hope it gets better soon, but rest assured it will one day. And, just for your information, I am seeing a professional... chef, about my bacon appreciation (not obsession, thank you very much.) There’s a legit bacon restaurant open in Manhattan, and I’m taking Noah there as soon as I can.

For some reason, Rachel gets the feeling she’s talking to someone she actually knows. Quinn seems so open and willing, just conversing with a complete stranger, and Rachel wonders if she’s like this with everyone she meets. 

From the videos, Quinn seems friendly enough, but there’s always been a guarded quality about her that shines through. Rachel hopes she doesn’t actually encounter her.

Or, maybe she wants to. She wants to know all of Quinn, which is a terrifying thought. This entire thing could end in a moment, and she’s going to savour every second of it.

Rachel Berry: Temporary solutions are kind of on my own list at the moment. Why does high school have to be so hard? Thank you for saying that. I hope you’re right. Hmm. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression Noah is Jewish, ergo: no to the bacon? I sometimes forget you live in New York. I would give anything to be there instead of in this backwards town.

It’s more truth than Rachel anticipates telling a stranger who’s not really a stranger, but she’s not even worried. She wants Quinn to know her, and it’s probably the most childish desire she’s had in a while. And that’s saying something, because she’s had her heart broken quite recently.

Rachel finishes her second slice of pizza, and then nibbles on her fruit salad while she waits impatiently. One glance at the time, and she has only five minutes before she’s expected in class. Is Quinn going to respond before then? Will Rachel have enough time to reply?

She gets her answer four minutes later, when she’s standing at her locker with a quiet phone and a ringing bell. She’s oddly disappointed, but she’s holding out for a reply. 

Part of her wonders if she’s imagining all of this; if she’s somehow managed to cook up an entire conversation with her crush the same way she’s thought up all sorts of other conversations.

No.

One look at her phone proves it’s really happening.

It’s real, and it’s terrifying, because this has the potential to hurt her in ways she can’t ever tell anyone. Quinn is Quinn, and she’s Rachel, and this is a disaster just waiting to happen.

She tries to force the thoughts from her mind as she finishes off the last lessons of the day. She’s slightly distracted, so she doesn’t participate as much, which she thinks is a relief to both students and teachers alike.

Glee is terrible.

Horrible.

They have Sectionals in a few weeks, and their Glee director, Mr Schuester, seems to be toying with the idea of having the winners of the duet competition he held earlier in the year actually perform for the competition. Rachel was an idiot for allowing Finn to convince her to throw the competition.

Now, Sam and Santana are probably going to take the stage, and there’s very little she can do about it. It doesn’t help that Santana loves to throw it in her face, and it takes everything Rachel has to ignore her. She won’t give the Latina the satisfaction of knowing she’s getting to her.

Because, she is.

Everything just seems to be getting to her, and she can sense that she’s reaching some sort of breaking point.

Which is why she almost bursts into tears when she gets blasted with another slushy just as she’s leaving at the end of the day. She hears the laughter, and she can see the jock standing in front of her, a smug smile on his face, and she wants nothing more than to hurt him.

The force of the desire scares her, and it’s that thought that has her turning around and heading back into the school. She won’t bother changing when she’s on her way home, but she does dry herself off, so she doesn’t drip all over the seats of her car.

She gets caught up staring at herself in the mirror, and she wonders how it is she ended up this pathetic. She has to tell herself repeatedly that she’s going to be a star one day. She’s going to surpass all these Neanderthals, and they’ll all just be a distant memory.

It takes another four minutes to convince herself, and then she’s on her way, registering relief that neither of her fathers is home to see her. They know some of what she’s been through, but she’s hidden quite a bit from them. Including this.

Rachel opts for a shower, spending an obscene amount of time under the spray, practically burning the sticky syrup off her skin. She ends up red and raw, but it makes her feel good when she finally steps out.

She throws on some comfortable sweats, and then settles at her desk to get started on her homework, soft music playing from her laptop. Rachel doesn’t really like silence. She likes sound, particularly the kind she can control.

She’s in the middle of a dreaded Calculus worksheet when her phone chimes, and her heart skips a beat, because she suspects she knows exactly who it is.

She’s not wrong.

Quinn Fabray: I think synonyms for ‘high school’ should include ‘absolute hell,’ ‘test of one’s sanity’ and ‘place where nothing makes sense.’ I just got home from a heinous day, and all I want to do is sleep, but I have something like five hours of homework ahead of me. Technically, Noah IS Jewish. He claims it’s more his culture than his religion. I fed him bacon by mistake a few years back, and he’s been unable to untaste it (yes, I’m aware that’s not really a word). To be honest, I sometimes forget I live here too. Have you ever been? I haven’t lived here my whole life, you know. Before, I lived in a backwards town too, so I know what you mean. Don’t worry, though, you’re going to make it out.

Rachel surprises herself with the absolutely dreamy sigh she lets out. If she thought Quinn was perfect before, she definitely thinks it now. This crush is bound to get worse with the way things are going, but she doesn’t have the willpower to stop it.

It takes her a while to think of a reply, and she also doesn’t want to appear too eager by responding too soon.

Rachel Berry: That’s quite the thesaurus you have for yourself there, but I think you left out ‘torture city’ and ‘place where nobody really cares.’ What exactly consists of a heinous day, because I think I have you beat? I’d say it's been the worst one, but I've definitely had worse. I think I get that. My parents are of mixed religion, but neither really practices. We’re culturally Jewish from my Dad’s side, and we participate only during the big holidays. (Does that make us bad Jews?) By all means, make up new words - you could probably get away with it. I’ve been to NY once, yes. I was four, I think, so I can’t remember much of it besides the bright lights and Broadway. It’s where I want to be one day, and I’m going to do anything and everything to make sure I get there. You did? I actually didn’t know that. I better brush up on my Quinn Fabray trivia.

Rachel feels both anxious and oddly calm when she hits send. Some of the pressure of the day seems to have been alleviated, and she’s baffled as to how that could be. She doesn’t even know Quinn, and the girl already has all this power over her.

With a sigh, she leans back in her chair and tries to calm her racing heart. This can’t be healthy, surely.

Quinn Fabray: Can we add ‘place with ridiculous expectations’ to the list? Okay, so, I get the feeling your day was worse than mine. Did something happen? I just had early morning cheerleading practice, and then I had Culinary Club in the afternoon before I went to the restaurant for an early dinner service. I don’t know how I’m functioning right now. Well, I don’t think it makes you bad Jews. I think there are far worse people in the world, and it doesn’t even matter what religion they claim to belong to. I assume you know I’m a Christian and, while I’m a believer, I wouldn’t call myself a very pious Christian - my Dad claims I’m too liberal or something. Well, then, you definitely have to come back to NY, even before going after your Broadway dream. It’s a place to be experienced. Oh, yeah, definitely. I’m totally an Ohio native, born and raised until I was nine. Are you sure it’s not on my Wikipedia page (which is where I assume people get most of their information about me)? Hmm. You know all this stuff about me, and I know next to nothing about you. Doesn’t seem fair to me... what’s your favourite colour?

Rachel has to stop herself from imagining Quinn is actually interested in her in some way. Quinn is just being friendly. Quinn is kind and thoughtful and trying to maintain a conversation with someone who is obviously a fan of hers.

There’s a part of Rachel that almost wanted Quinn to be awful in real life. Just to help ease up on her crush, but Quinn is definitely not. She’s actually pretty great, and Rachel has the sneaking suspicion she’s going to get very little homework done if Quinn keeps talking to her.

Rachel Berry: As long as we can tack on ‘place where souls go to die.’ Something happened, all right. Are teenagers just genetically predisposed to be awful, because it’s difficult to come by ones that aren’t? I have to admit that Culinary Club sounds pretty awesome. I’m part of my school’s Glee Club, which can be cool when it wants to be (even though social norms claim it isn’t). I think those are the worst kind of people, really. The ones who openly practice religion, but still commit some of the worst atrocities. Liberal as in burn the bra, huh? The plan is so make it to show choir Nationals in New York this year, so we’ll see what happens. You’re from Ohio? Seriously? I am, too. Do you still have family here? (Which really translates to: do you ever visit Ohio?) Is that really the first thing you want to know? It’s yellow. Gold, maybe. Sometimes, pink. But, definitely yellow. Is yours red? Or green? My bet’s on the former.

Rachel wonders if they can actually keep this up, because the messages seem to be getting longer and longer. She just really wants to know Quinn, and she’s amazed that the girl seems to want to know her back.

It has her curious as to why but she’s too scared to ask. She’s probably not going to like whatever Quinn might tell her.

It takes some effort, but she manages to focus on her homework, right until the moment Quinn’s next message arrives, and Rachel’s eyes widen at the sheer length of it.

Quinn Fabray: Also ‘place where no joy and excitement can exist.’ Well, I don’t think all teenagers are awful. There are some okay ones, sometimes. I’m starting to get the feeling you generally have a less than ideal time at school. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but do you get bullied? If so, I truly am sorry. I was bullied quite a bit when I was younger; when I still went by Lucy. Those were some of the worst years of my life, and I wish them on nobody. I’ve discovered that those who get bullied generally have something that the bullies envy and, if you’re part of your school’s Glee Club, then I imagine you must be a talented singer, right? People see that, and the awful parts of them want to strip you of it. Please, please don’t let them. Those are the worst kind of people, yes. Especially those who use their religion, twisting it in ways to justify the worst actions. The fear of God means nothing sometimes, which is a sad truth. Haha, no. Liberal, as in a lot more open to societal changes, I guess. Burning the bra seems a little extreme, and it really just seems as if it’ll result in a slap in the face (See what I did there? Admit it, I’m hilarious). I really hope you make it to Nationals. Everybody deserves to experience it once in their life, I think. You’re also from Ohio? Whoa, small world. My mom’s parents live in Columbus, but my dad’s family is from Arizona. We don’t visit all that much - were you hoping I’d pop in and cook for you, huh? Well, no, not the first thing, but asking about your favourite colour seemed like the safest place to start. What would you like me to know about you? Yellow? Wow. That’s different. Is there some reason why? It’s red, yeah. It’s been steadily growing on me, and now it’s all I want to wear... much to my mom’s chagrin.

Whoa. 

Just, whoa.

Rachel feels breathless when she’s done reading, and she can’t stop herself from wondering what Quinn would say if she knew Rachel has the biggest gay crush imaginable on her. If she can help it, Quinn won’t ever know, because she doesn’t want to scare off the girl.

Now that she knows what it’s like to talk to Quinn, she doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardise what they’re currently doing.

Rachel Berry: We should definitely write our own thesaurus, with the way we’ve been going. Can we add ‘breeding ground for little psychos’ to the list? I assume there are not-so-awful teenagers in the world, but I’ve yet to encounter them. Maybe they’re hiding behind all the ones who make it their mission to make my life a living hell. It’s embarrassing, mostly, but, yes, I have been bullied since I was old enough to recognise it for what it was. Normally, I’m better at rising above it, but it’s getting a lot harder. I know they’re merely jealous of my talent and how far it’ll take me, but it’s just taking its toll, I guess. I’m sorry you were ever bullied. Lucy never deserved that. Nobody does. They are the worst, yes; cowards hiding behind the interpreted word of God to excuse their psychopathic actions. We can only hope it’ll get better, right? Oh my! A slap in the face? You like to think you’re a bit of a comedian, huh? You went to your Cooking Nationals last year, right? That was in Seattle, right? I assume you do quite a lot of travelling, right? Both my parents’ families are from Ohio, but they actually met at university in Chicago. Sometimes, I hate that they chose this place in which to settle, but what can I do? And, yes, I was hoping for a personally prepared meal from you... especially seeing as you’ve embraced this vegan cooking. That’s a heavy question, Quinn. What would I like you to know, hmm? Well, I’d probably lead with the fact I’m an only child, dedicated to my craft of singing and dancing, and I have dreams of performing on Broadway. While I probably wouldn’t sing his music - I’m more of a ballad girl, myself - I think Ed Sheeran has the power to speak to the soul. Well, he speaks to mine. I like the colour yellow, because it’s typically depicted as the colour of stars, and stars are important to me. I view them as a metaphor, in fact, and metaphors are important. I can’t say I wear red all that often - read: probably never - but you seem to wear it really well.

And, shit, she presses send before her mind fully registers what she’s actually written in that last sentence, and it’s too late to take it back.

Oh, no.

She made it weird.

She just ruined it all, didn’t she? Quinn’s going to figure her out, and she’s going to want nothing to do with her now. God. Did she just out herself? Is this it?

Rachel’s phone buzzes mere seconds later, and she’s surprised to see Quinn’s name. Oh, God. Is Quinn about to tell her they can’t keep talking?

Sucking it up, she opens the message, and then chokes on her breath.

Quinn Fabray: Do you have an email address? Twitter is giving me a headache, and I think these messages are getting far too long for this platform, don’t you think?

Rachel just stares for a full two minutes, and then does the next thing that’s going to change her life: send Quinn Fabray her email address. 

She’s not really sure what to expect from it, but, when Quinn’s first email arrives with the subject line I am so a comedian, what are you talking about?, Rachel knows she’s in deep, deep trouble.

 


 

Now, Rachel really doesn’t know what to expect from this new correspondence with Quinn, but she finds herself constantly on alert and in a deep state of unexpected calm because of it.

It’s surreal, really, but then Quinn’s Wednesday video is preceded by a quick look at Twitter, and she almost has a heart attack at what she finds.

Quinn Fabray ✔️ followed you.

Technically, it’s Quinn’s turn to send her a mother of all emails, so Rachel doesn’t really know what to do with her excitement. She jumps around her room for a while, unsure what to say or do. This week has been one of the best of her life, and she can’t quite wrap her head around the fact it’s really happening.

Wednesday videos are published at 19h59, because Quinn likes to be funny, so Rachel doesn’t really expect an email before then, but she gets one, and she throws herself onto her bed to read it while she waits.

To: rachel_berry
From: lucyquinnfabray
Subject: I’m pretty sure I’m a superhero.
Date: 10 November 2010

Broadway,

After today, I’m definitely adding ‘idiot central’ to the list of synonyms. It’s really uncanny just how stupid people can be on a daily basis. Sometimes, I really wish I went to school with Noah, just to have someone normal around, but that’s wishful thinking at its finest.

Damn. I’m sorry you had such a terrible day. I know I say it’s going to get better, which may or may not seem like empty words at the moment, but I do mean it. There are good people out there, even in your school, and sometimes you just have to look harder to find them. I’m not giving up, so you can’t either. We just take it one day at a time, pick ourselves up, dust the hate off, and keep going. It’s all we can do, and I’m proud of you for keeping on keeping on.

So, I just heard news about this youth culinary camp they’re running in Maryland for parts of the Winter Break, so I’ll soon be able to add that to my list of destinations I’ve been. It’s obviously not as exotic as Spain, France and Germany, but I find I love just being around people who are as interested in food as I am. I suspect you feel that way about people and music. I can’t say I know a hell of a lot, but you should know that you can talk to me about it, if you want. I don’t mind. I’m a fan of people who are passionate about their passions.

I’ve actually been thinking about what would be the perfect meal I would cook for you. My sister found this awesome recipe for garlic and herb vegan rolls that I’ll probably attempt to make some day soon. Hummus, as well. Maybe I could try a vegan burger, which I’ve come to learn are notoriously difficult to get right. Don’t fret, I’m on the lookout. I will have the best meal in my arsenal when I do eventually cook for you.

Seeing as we’re sharing things about ourselves, I think something people don’t generally know about me is that I can play the piano. I started lessons when I was four years old, and I’ve played and written exams up to Grade Six. Admittedly, the instrument has taken a bit of a back burner to a lot of the other things in which I’m involved, but it’s always going to be an integral part of me, and I just thought you should know.

Now, I have to tell you why I consider myself a superhero. I had Culinary Club today, and Walker almost set himself on fire, so there was an actual disaster, and I was running late getting home, and I didn’t know if I could get today’s video out on time, but lo and behold, I am a legitimate Captain Marvel, and I saved the day. Pay close attention to this one, Rachel. Hint hint, nudge nudge.

I hope your evening goes far better than your day did, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Kind regards,
Quinn  

Rachel wonders if there will ever be a day when her heart doesn’t end up beating erratically after any communication from Quinn. It’s unlikely, she knows, but a girl can hope she doesn’t develop some kind of heart arrhythmia just because of a crush. Gosh, how do people survive these things? 

If Rachel were even a little less realistic than she is, she would probably claim she’s a little bit in love. It’s been only... three days of constant contact, and she’s quite certain she would happily give up her firstborn child if Quinn asked.

Rachel sets aside replying to Quinn’s email, and rather goes to Twitter, spying that Quinn has actually tweeted.

Quinn Fabray - @lucyquinnfabray
Wednesday video up and available. Was a struggle to get this one up in time, but I think you’re all going to learn a little something about me you never knew... dun dun dun ;)

Rachel feels her heart race, again, and it’s proving to be a problem. She navigates to their initial direct message thread, and sends a quick message.

Rachel Berry: You followed me.

Quinn’s reply comes moments later, and it startles Rachel from where she’s now looking at Quinn’s YouTube channel on her laptop.

Quinn Fabray: So I did. I went looking for you on Instagram, but I couldn’t find you.

Rachel laughs to herself, because this all so surreal.

Rachel Berry: Is this your way of asking for my social media profiles, Quinn?

Quinn Fabray: Yes.

Rachel sighs, feeling her heart squeeze slightly.

Rachel Berry: Well, I had to delete my Instagram account because I made the mistake of not having stringent enough privacy settings, and the... hate was too much, and then I was just over it, and I haven’t really thought about it that much since.

Quinn Fabray: Rachel, no. You need Instagram. It’s the best one, I’m telling you. It’s where I post all my creations. Do you mean to tell me you’ve missed out on all that glory? I’m hurt. How could you?

Quinn Fabray: But, in all seriousness, you can’t let them win, okay? I know it must suck, but you have to live the way you want to. It’s your life, and you have to be proud of the one you’re living. The rest of them don’t matter.

Rachel sighs. It’s nothing she doesn’t already know, but it sounds heavier coming from Quinn, for some reason.

Rachel Berry: I could handle it on my MySpace page, but it really takes a lot out of you whenever anything you post - regardless of what it is - results in people commenting about how you should get sterilised and how your parents should send you back.

She waits with bated breath for Quinn’s response, mainly because she doesn’t know what to expect.

Quinn Fabray: Good God. What kind of people do you live with? That’s awful, Rachel, and I’m sorry you’ve ever had to go through that. 

Quinn Fabray: But, Jesus, please don’t tell me you still have MySpace :|

Rachel doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, and she thinks it would probably be untoward to ask Quinn for an actual hug, right?

Rachel Berry: I wasn’t kidding when I said I was surrounded by psychopaths. I get by, though, and I’ll leave them all behind, one day. ... Would you still be my friend if I said yes?

Quinn Fabray: That’s the right attitude. Consider me proud. ... I suppose I’ll have to be ;) No, seriously, I’ll still be your friend. Do you?

Rachel Berry: I do, yes. I used to post my own videos of me singing, just trying to get my name out there, but I seem to have garnered little success from it.

Quinn Fabray: Is it insensitive to tell you that's probably because you're using the wrong platform? Gosh, I’m going to go look at this page right now. Wait. Does MySpace even still exist?

Quinn Fabray: Found it. Well, now I know what I’m going to be doing for the rest of the night. Screw Biology homework.

Rachel laughs through her panic.

Rachel Berry: Quinn, no. I could go my entire life without you seeing how young and pathetic I was - and still can be. They’re just some silly videos that I’ve come to regret in my later years. Please don’t.

Quinn Fabray: Well, if you really don’t want me to, I promise I won’t. But, this is a part of you, and I want to know you. (I’ll also be the first to admit I’m deathly curious to hear you sing, so there’s also that.)

Yip. Quinn could ask anything of her, and Rachel would willingly give it without a second thought.

Rachel Berry: Okay, fine, but no laughing. While you watch me, I’m going to go watch you and try to reply to your beast of an email.

Quinn Fabray: No laughter. I promise.

There’s something so severe behind the words, and Rachel can’t help but wonder if Quinn is feeling remotely anything she’s feeling. Their conversations feel heavy, and she likes to think this friendship they’re developing is going to last a lifetime.

Which is a thought that’s somewhat confirmed when Rachel watches Quinn’s Wednesday video, and there’s Ed Sheeran playing softly in the background, and Quinn talks about red and gold and how she wanted to be a Gryffindor until she was actually Sorted into Ravenclaw.

And, then, Quinn laughs this little laugh and says, “I’m taking Noah to watch a Broadway show Thanksgiving weekend, so there’s that,” and Rachel is pretty sure she’s in love.

 


 

Which is almost confirmed on the weekend when Rachel receives an email from Quinn with the subject line of: Okay, so don’t be mad.

Rachel abandons her homework immediately and opens the email on her laptop. She doesn’t know what to expect - her mind, of course runs through the worst scenarios - but nothing could have prepared her for what’s actually happening.

To: rachel_berry
From: lucyquinnfabray 
Subject: Okay, so don’t be mad.
Date: 14 November 2010

Broadway,

So, I may or may not have done a thing.

Okay, I did do a thing, and I really need you not to freak out about it. I did it for your own good, and I hope you won’t be too mad.

First, I want you to know that you are ridiculously talented. I’ve watched your videos endlessly these past few days, and I couldn’t help thinking that it’s not fair that other people don’t get to hear you. 

So, I showed my sister, and she thinks you’re brilliant. I showed my mom, and she’s convinced you’re going to go very far, and my dad claims we should start booking tickets for your shows now.

It was when I showed Noah that I came up with the idea. I’m apologising in advance for going behind your back, but I won’t apologise for actually doing it. Obviously, throughout the years, I’ve picked up a few things regarding my own YouTube channel, but I’ve learned a lot from Noah, and so he’s the one I asked when I came up with the idea.

Please don’t be mad.

I made a YouTube channel for you. It’s called BroadwayBerry, obviously, and I’ve spent the last few days downloading, cleaning up and migrating all your videos - Okay, maybe not all, because some of them had bad sound quality and poor lighting - to YouTube. These are the account details. 

Obviously, I listed your Twitter and Facebook, but you’re going to have to get on that whole Instagram thing. 

I know you said you stopped making videos, but I think you should never stop. At this stage, YouTube is the best platform for this kind of thing, and you can really build an actual fan base for yourself. 

Only if you want to, of course. I’ll never force you into anything, Rachel, but I truly do think you’ll be doing the world and yourself a gross disservice if you don’t share your talent. I can’t even begin to explain how hearing you sing has made me feel.

It’s probably off-base, but I would describe it as having a ‘Come to Jesus moment.’ Like, I can’t even go back and unhear (not a word, I know) you, nor would I even want to. You have a gift; a beautiful, glorious gift, and the world needs to hear it as much as you need them to hear it.

In terms of the channel, I thought it would be cool to consider taking requests. Obviously, you won’t sing only Broadway songs, but that’s your passion, and it’s clear to see whenever you perform a song from a musical. It’s in your eyes and your voice, and just your entire body, and it’s so fascinating.

You are mesmerising and captivating when you sing, and I feel selfish that the great big world doesn’t yet know about you. You can go places, and I want a hand in helping you get there.

So, I’m actually trying not to care whether you’re mad or not, because I don’t regret it. Do us a favour and go and check out the channel. It’s pretty neat, if I do say so myself, and I’m a legitimate YouTube star, did you know that, so I just know these things.

Happy Sunday!

Kind regards,
Quinn

P.S. My first request is All Of The Stars by Ed Sheeran, by the way, so you should get on that as soon as possible. One day, maybe, I could play piano, Noah the guitar, and you could sing, and we could call ourselves The Yellow Bell Peppers or The Screaming Squashes or The Spice Jews and Milk Froth or even The Great Lima Beans (hah).

Rachel can’t be sure she’s still breathing by the time she reaches the end of the email. What on Earth is this girl doing to her?

With shaky fingers, Rachel opens a new tab and goes to her new YouTube channel. It’s absolutely surreal seeing her own videos in a new light, and her heart is thundering against her ribcage. The channel is live, and she’s already had a few views, and she reasons Quinn could probably help her with advice on how to get the numbers to go up.

If that’s even what she wants.

Cautiously, she reaches for her phone and opens Twitter. For the short, quick messages, they still use Twitter’s direct message platform, and it’s one sure way for her to get immediate access to Quinn.

Rachel Berry: Quinn.

Rachel Berry: What did you do?

She’s really not surprised when she gets an immediate reply. 

Quinn Fabray: Wait. I can’t tell if you’re actually mad or not.

Rachel Berry: Quinn.

Rachel Berry: I don’t know what to say.

Quinn Fabray: Oh my. Have I rendered Rachel Berry speechless?

Rachel almost replies that Quinn does that more often than she thinks. For the first time, she wishes she could call Quinn and actually talk to her. The idea, itself, is terrifying, but it’s what she wants in this moment. Just, to hear Quinn’s voice; to hear Quinn actually say her name.

Quinn Fabray: Broadway? You still there?

Rachel Berry: Why?

Quinn Fabray: Why what?

Rachel Berry: Why did you do this? Why would you? You barely even know me, Quinn, and this is... I don’t even know what this is, but it feels like a lot. Too much. I don’t know how to feel or what to do. Nobody’s ever done anything like this for me.

Quinn Fabray: I still don’t know if you’re mad or not, but I’m going to assume you’re just overwhelmed at the moment. As for why, Rachel, I told you that you’re talented, and I want you to be recognised for it. You deserve the recognition and the exposure, and I can help with that. All this cost me was time, which I would willingly give up all over again. Feel whatever you want to feel, okay? We’ll deal with it. Well, then, I think you need better friends.

Rachel feels tears pool in her eyes, and there’s really no escaping it now. The more she talks to Quinn; the more real the girl becomes, and Rachel is smitten. 

Dangerously so.

Rachel Berry: I’ll let you know when I figure out what I’m feeling. I don’t really have any friends, so I guess I’m just lost with regards to all of this.

Quinn Fabray: I’ll be waiting patiently, then. Hey, I’m your friend, and friends do these kinds of things for each other. As far as I know, anyway, because I could just be spoiled. Noah is a little self-absorbed sometimes, but he’s the best friend I’ve ever had. You really only need one real and true one, and you’re set, I reckon. I can be that for you, if you’d like.

Rachel takes a deep, shuddering breath, and then releases it slowly. Having Quinn as an online friend is more than she ever thought possible, and she would be a fool not to take it.

Rachel Berry: I’d really like that, Quinn.