Quinn Fabray bopped her head with the song on the radio as she rolled up to the gates at the Paramount Pictures lot. The security guard checked her name off on the production list and waved her through, and she smiled wiggled her fingers at him playfully as she drove off. She had put her time in doing bit parts on television as she worked her way through school at USC and some higher-profile supporting roles in larger productions after she had graduated, and now, at the age of twenty-five, she had made it to the big leagues.
She pulled into a space marked ‘Fabray’ and grinned.
“Alright, you enjoyed it, now suck it up and act cool, Fabray. At least pretend that this isn’t your first rodeo,” she lectured herself as she unplugged the aux cable from her iPhone. She slipped the phone into her purse next to her wallet and a ridiculously expensive pair of noise-cancelling headphones. She had learned early in her fledgling acting career that sets can be obnoxiously noisy places to work, and that thin aluminum trailer walls did little to drown out the sounds of people talking, metal clanging, and cars zipping by. In order to maintain her sanity, she needed to block that extra noise out.
Quinn took a deep breath and closed her eyes, counting to ten as she breathed in and out slowly, and by the time she got to ten, her childlike grin was gone, replaced with a cool, calm, professional façade. Once her expression was perfectly schooled, she climbed out of the car and nodded hello to various grips and other technicians milling about as she made her way out of the bright Southern California sunshine and into the dark interior of Building 5.
She quirked one corner of her mouth up into a half-smile of greeting as she saw the screenwriter coming her way and she felt her heart skip a beat in her chest at his expression. It was serious. And she had been around sets long enough to know that a serious look on the screenwriter’s face on the first day of shooting meant changes. Usually big changes.
“Chase, what’s up?” she asked, pushing her aviators up onto her forehead. Her half-grin turned into a frown the longer the lanky, typically-bookish man remained silent.
“I...um... I was hoping I’d be able to find you before you got over to hair and makeup,” Chase Evans said timidly.
“What happened? Are we shooting today or not?” she asked, suddenly wary. The final read-through the night before had gone well. Everybody had seemed to have a decent grasp of their characters. So for the writer to be looking like he was about to pee himself not even twelve hours later, something big had to have happened.
“Um, yeah,” he muttered. “There’s just been a tiny casting change.”
“Well-” he toed the concrete floor anxiously, “-Tyson…”
Quinn nodded understandingly and groaned at the writer’s mention of her male co-star’s name. Tyson Howe had that boy-next-door look, the build, the goofy smile, but he was far from the brightest light bulb in the box. “What did that moron do now?”
Chase grimaced. “He got arrested.”
There were any number of things Quinn was expecting to hear, but that was certainly not one of them. “Arrested? For what?!”
“Soliciting a prostitute,” Chase murmured.
Quinn rolled her eyes at the man’s stupidity. “He could have walked into any club in the city and had any girl he wanted, and the dumb fuck decides to pick up a hooker. Was she at least pretty?”
Chase blushed and looked down at his shoes as he mumbled, “Well… I’d give her a four.”
Quinn stared at the writer for a moment as his words sank in before she started laughing. Loudly. Not giggles, but full-on belly laughs that had tears pouring from her eyes. It was too much. It was… “Perfect!” God, he really was an idiot.
Chase watched Quinn laugh and didn’t know whether it was out of actual amusement or hysterics, so he just stood there, nervously shuffling his script from hand to hand as he tried to look anywhere but at her. Once her gales of laughter had faded to a faint chuckle, he asked, “Are you okay?”
Quinn shook her head and waved her hands in front of herself. “Yeah. No. I dunno. What’s the plan?”
“Well, he’s been fired.”
Quinn’s laughter died. No male lead meant no movie. “What?”
“But, me and James Moore,” he said, referring to the film’s director, “have a plan.”
Quinn frowned. “A plan?”
He nodded vigorously, causing his shaggy brown hair to fall into his eyes and his glasses to slip down his nose. “Yeah. We’d actually had a couple of different variations in mind for the script as the two romantic leads were fairly ambiguously written, and after his arrest we decided to go with our plan B.”
“Which is…” She encouraged.
“What would you say to a female romantic interest?”
Quinn swallowed thickly as his words once again took their sweet time making sense. She was not opposed to the idea at all, especially considering her personal preferences, but it was a drastic change from the traditional rom-com she had signed on for. It was certainly forward thinking. A move that would create waves in the press and bring the film a ton of publicity, both good and bad, but still…
“A female romantic interest?” she echoed, thinking that she should probably call her agent before she agreed. But then she realized that she was quite interested in the idea of doing the movie with a female costar, no matter what her agent thought about it, and disregarded that thought completely.
Chase slowly tipped his head in confirmation, deciding not to say anything more until he had a better idea of what Quinn was thinking.
“The studio signed off on that?” Quinn asked, her head still spinning as she tried to envision what the final product would look like. Would they change the script at all? There were a number of rather explicit love scenes in the script that she didn’t think a major studio would be comfortable with. A small-budget Indy film, sure, but this was Paramount Studios.
“Got Steven Shepherd to sign off on it just now,” Chase confirmed, referring to the studio’s CEO.
“What kind of changes were put into the script because of this?”
“None,” Chase said with a grin. “We were told, and I quote, ‘I’ll give you the rope you need to hang yourselves with, do with this as you see fit’. So, we see fit to keep it all the same and just change the gender of that one character.”
Quinn licked her lips and nodded, unable to find it in herself to turn down the opportunity to make a movie that she knew was already contracted out to be shown in thousands of theatres across the country. “Okay then. Yeah. I’m in. Who do you have in mind?”
The writer let out a loud sigh of relief and ran a hand through his hair as he smiled at his star. “She’s actually been on Broadway for the last few years, won three Tonys, and is now wanting to branch out into film.”
Quinn’s jaw dropped for what felt like the hundredth time that morning. She knew that résumé by heart. She Googled the owner of that résumé at least three times a week just to see what the brunette was up to, how her career was going, and, though Quinn would never admit it to anyone else, who she was dating. She didn’t consider herself a stalker, per se, but whenever she was bored, lost, or lonely, she would punch those eleven letters into the search box to see what was happening with the other woman. “Rachel Berry?”
Chase perked up and nodded, both surprised and pleased that Quinn knew who he had been referring to. “Yes. Do you know her?”
Quinn sucked her lower lip between her teeth and worried at it for a moment as she thought of all the different ways she knew Ms. Rachel Barbara Berry. Some were real, some were fantasy, but yes, she definitely knew her. “Yeah, you could say that.”
“Great!” Chase exclaimed, his face lighting up with joy, obviously unaware of the blonde’s history with Broadway star. “Well, she’s getting on the studio’s private plane as we speak and she should be here by lunch.”
“Excellent,” Quinn drawled distractedly.
“Oh, this is great. I’m so glad you’re on board with this. This is actually the plot I wanted all along, but then Shepherd made me change Hayden’s gender from female to male and…”
Quinn stared at the man as he babbled on about changes to his ‘baby’ and how he was ‘so happy they were going to make the movie he’d wanted to make’, not hearing one word that fell from his lips as she tried to process exactly what was going to be happening in four short hours.
She was going to be filming with Rachel Berry. The Rachel Berry she had tormented through high school because it was easier to be positively awful to the brunette than admit that what she felt for the pint-sized powerhouse was not hatred so much as an overwhelming attraction.
Fuck, don’t start lying to yourself now, Fabray, she chastised herself silently as Chase Evans continued to ramble on-and-on in front of her. It is definitely way more than attraction—you love her.
And that was going to be a big problem. Because she was pretty sure that Rachel hated her guts.
Rachel slipped her oversized designer turtle-shell sunglasses onto her face as she gracefully descended the stairs from the Gulfstream jet the studio had sent for her. At first, she had been tempted to tell the director of the film that he made the mistake of not casting her initially and that Rachel Berry played second choice to nobody; but, as she looked around her lonely apartment, she realized that she needed a change. Her contract for her latest Tony Award winning play had expired the week before, and she had opted, against the wishes of her agent, not to re-sign. Not because she did not enjoy being on stage—she did, the stage was her home—but she was tired. Tired of the eight-shows-a-week schedule. It was a grueling existence, an absolutely exhausting way to live, and she needed a change. That was why she had originally auditioned for the part in the brilliantly written rom-com that would, she knew, show the world that it did not matter who you loved, it just mattered that you had somebody to love. Honestly, she had been more upset about not getting that part than she had been the first time she had been nominated for a Tony while she was still in school at Julliard and lost.
But, she had been in the business long enough to know that it was a business. As much as the people who wrote and directed and acted only wanted to exercise their craft, the only reason they were allowed to do it was money. Generally speaking, lots of money. So, though she was upset about losing out on the part to a man, she understood. It was not the director’s fault that he had caved to the studio executives at the last minute and decided to go with the safer heterosexual love story instead of the lesbian love story. It was not his fault that the suits made the writer change his screenplay. So, she had agreed to take the part without bothering to ask who ended up to be cast as the other lead. In fact, after she had listened to his entire spiel, she only asked him one question.
“When do you need me there?”
After what seemed like a never-ending string of compliments Moore had said, “How fast can you get here?”
And that was how she ended up on the opposite side of the country from where she woke up, looking at the bright late-morning sun and breathing in thick, smoggy air. Los Angeles was a completely different animal than New York City, but that was exactly what she wanted. She had conquered Broadway, just like she had always told everybody she would; but the victory, while exhilarating and humbling, was also hollow because she had nobody to share it with. Sure, she had dated. Being the biggest thing on Broadway guaranteed a never-ending line of pretty-boy suitors. But none of them had the spark, the fire, the presence of the person who dominated her dreams, leaving her with an indefinable feeling of emptiness. Her days were full of singing, dancing, and interviews, while her nights were full of curiously warm hazel eyes, soft, silky smooth lips, and gentle loving touches that never failed to cause her to awake flushed, sweaty, and oh-so-painfully aroused as she gasped for air and struggled for some recollection of her mysterious lover’s face.