Chapter 17: Red
Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street
Faster than the wind, passionate as sin, ending so suddenly.
Loving him is like trying to change your mind once you're already flying through the free fall
Like the colors in autumn, so bright just before they lose it all.
"Time to get up! Today's the big day!" The light was turned on, and so Rachel turned over to bury her face in the pillow.
"Go away," she grumbled, not sure if Kurt would be able to hear her through the pillows and not really caring either way.
"You slept your entire Christmas break away, so I don't want to hear any complaints about not having enough sleep," he said, pulling back the covers to let the glorious warmth escape. If Rachel hadn't been friends with Kurt, she would've fired him then and there.
"Who even let you in?" she questioned as she finally sat up in bed.
"I have a key, remember?"
"Remind me later to take that away from you," she said. "Now get out. I'm awake and I need a shower. I suggest you go get my coffee if you haven't already done so."
"Your driver has gone to get it right now," he explained. "But I'll go wait in the living room. Don't take too long."
Rachel sighed, getting out of bed to head to the bathroom. She wasn't ready to go back to work, and she certainly wasn't ready for what she had to do that day. Yet she knew she had put it off long enough.
She had hoped that she would receive a phone call over break, one from London that would cause her to change her mind. She had left her number with Brittany and Santana for a reason, after all, and as much as she tried to tell herself it was because she wanted to keep in contact with the two, it was mostly so Quinn would have a way to prove she still cared if she did. Which it was obvious that she didn't. Weeks had passed without any word from London.
It disappointed her more than anything, because she really wanted to give Quinn a chance. She believed in Quinn, and Quinn had let her down. Even then, she still had a small amount of hope that Quinn would call. The hope was eating her alive, but she couldn't help but hold onto the charming girl she met on the airplane.
This was the last day she could hold onto that hope, because this was the last day Quinn could come back into her life without there being numerous walls to block her. She had to let it go.
So before she left her room to meet back up with Kurt, she resolved herself to put Quinn out of her mind. What's done was done. She had to focus on what was happening right then.
"Ready?" Kurt asked, standing up as she entered the room.
She nodded, unable to find words. Her shower had washed away any anger she had for Kurt. He was just doing his job, and had he not come to collect her, she probably would not have gotten out of bed. No, he wasn't doing his job. He was doing much more than that; he was being a good friend. It just so happened that the things that made him a good friend also lined up with his job requirements.
"Got your ring on?"
Rachel held up her hand so he could see the engagement ring. The light hit it and caused it to sparkle.
It was the first time she would wear it out in public. Once she stepped out those doors, Quinn couldn't swoop back in and make her fall in love again.
Kurt led the way outside. Rachel paused in the doorway, taking in a deep breath. This was it.
She looked down at her phone, willing it to ring.
Fifteen seconds passed before Kurt noticed her. "What are you waiting for? Let's go."
She slipped her phone in her purse and looked up, determined to get through this. She put on her best show face and took the first step out the door. Then the next. And the next.
Nobody stopped her.
Losing him was blue like I'd never known
Missing him was dark grey all alone
Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met.
Quinn had spent her Christmas break in way very similar to Rachel. She, however, had spent it alone. Santana and Brittany both went home to stay with their respective families, and even though they each invited her along, she declined. There just didn't seem to be any Christmas spirit in her this year. In fact, she didn't seem to be feeling much of anything but numbness during those days.
So her days were spent inside, out of the spotlight, slowly navigating between her bedroom, the kitchen, the living room couch, and occasionally the bathroom. She watched movies and slept all day for the entire week her friends were gone.
Brittany had marked all of Rachel's movies in hopes that they would encourage Quinn to call Rachel, but that didn't happen. Quinn just watched all the movies, along with her tv show that she found on Netflix, on repeat, feeling even worse with each passing day.
"Why can't I just call her?" Was a question she found herself shouting at various points throughout the week.
Quinn honestly had no idea why she couldn't call her. She wanted to. She needed to. But she couldn't dial the number without starting to feel panicked. So she would put her phone down and resolved to try again later.
She needed to be working on paintings; she had two commissions due soon after the start of the new year. Yet she couldn't leave the house without fear that the paparazzi would be at her studio still. Plus she knew that whatever she made during this time wouldn't be anything of quality due to her emotions getting in the way.
This all changed when Santana and Brittany came back.
"Okay, Q. You've had your mourning period. You were with her for like four days. It's time to get the fuck over it," Santana said upon walking in the door and seeing Quinn sprawled out on the couch watching one of Rachel's movies.
"It's nice to see you too, S," Quinn replied.
"Don't mess with her," Brittany chastised, having walked in behind Santana.
"It's been weeks!" Santana said, lowering her voice to talk to Brittany. Quinn could still hear her. "I mean it was understandable for her to be upset about Zoie because they'd known each other for years and she was a bitch, but she was with Rachel for a few days.They weren't even officially together."
"Sometimes all it takes is a few days to fall in love with someone," Brittany explained. "That's how it was with us, right?"
Santana sighed. "Yeah, I guess it's possible. But I don't get why she can mope around when she could just fucking call Rachel. She went through all that trouble to get Rachel's number and now she's not even going to try to fix it. I have no pity for that."
"You don't have pity for anything," Quinn added, but she was ignored by both of them. This was how it always was when Santana and Brittany had a serious conversation with Quinn in the room. Quinn could spill her deepest secrets, but the two would be so wrapped up in the other that they would have no idea what she said.
"Then take it into your own hands. If you can't let Quinn do it her own way, then fix it yourself," she replied.
"How do you suggest I do that?"
"Well, what would you do if you were Quinn and Rachel was me?"
Santana thought about it for a moment before answering. "Well first of all, there's no way in hell I would've let you get on that plane. But if for some reason I wasn't able to keep you from getting on the plane, I would follow after you. Especially after that whole kiss picture in the papers. I would fly my ass out to fucking Hollywood after that just to make sure you were okay. To hell with the consequences."
Brittany smiled at her. "But Quinn's already missed being able to do that. What would you do now?"
"I'd still fly out there. Surprise you with one of those big romantic gestures you like. Show you how truly sorry I am and beg for your forgiveness," Santana said.
Brittany nodded, agreeing with what she suggested. "So I guess we need to book plane tickets."
"What? We?" Santana asked.
"We," Brittany confirmed. "After all, Quinn can just as easily do nothing in America as she can in London. We have to make sure she fixes it."
"Woah hold on," Quinn said, sitting up to look at the two. "We can't just go there." Once again she was ignored.
"You're right. Quinn would just watch movies on her sister's couch and whine about how close but far away Rachel is. She needs us to make sure shit gets done," Santana said. "I'll order tickets, you go deal with Quinn?"
Brittany nodded, and then she was in front of the girl in question.
"We're not going to America," Quinn stated before Brittany could say anything.
"Quinn, I know you're scared," Brittany admitted, sitting down beside her. "It's going to be okay. Santana and I will make sure you don't get hurt. Though I don't think Rachel would ever hurt you. She's not mean."
"What about school? Santana has med school. And you have your dance classes! Surely you can't just pick up and go to LA on a whim," Quinn tried.
"Santana doesn't start for another week. And it's very easy to cancel a couple days of dance classes when you're the owner of the dance studio."
"But I have paintings I need to be working on." It was a last-ditch attempt, and Quinn knew it wasn't going to work before she even said it.
Brittany shook her head. "We all know you can't work when you're sad. So let's go make it where you're not sad."
Quinn sighed. It seemed she had no choice. "I'll call Frannie and see if we can stay with her."
In a fit of excitement, Brittany hugged her. "I'll get to have real pancakes!"
Touching him was like realizing all you ever wanted was right there in front of you
Memorizing him was as easy as knowing all the words to your old favorite song
Fighting with him was like trying to solve a crossword and realizing there's no right answer
Regretting him was like wishing you never found out that love could be that strong.
They met up with Finn and his manager in the hair and makeup department. He was already there, being prepped.
"Hey, Rach," he said, despite the fact that there was a girl working on his face at the moment.
"Good morning, Finn," Rachel replied softly. Then she sat down in her own designated chair and let her team do their job.
"Did Kurt brief you on what we're going to say?" he asked. He was trying to make conversation, but he was just making his makeup artist's job a lot harder.
"Yes. They're going to ask about my situation with Quinn first and we're going to move the topic of conversation to our relationship," she stated. It's what they had been over on the drive there, so it was fresh in Rachel's mind.
"Right. I still can't believe you were with a girl. I mean it's totally hot for me to think about, but isn't it kind of nasty for you?"
Rachel tried to keep her emotions in check. She really wanted to go off on him, but here was neither the time nor the place. "No, it is not. And it was just a kiss." It was way more than a kiss, but that's what Rachel and Kurt were playing it off as.
"But still. You're not gonna go all gay on me are you?"
"I'm marrying you, Finn," Rachel stated, hoping that would answer his question.
Truth was, she wasn't sure about this anymore. She hadn't been sure about it for weeks. At the time of him asking the question, Rachel had said no. He didn't give up, though. He pursued her for days. It wasn't until Kurt talked to her and explained her options, or lack thereof, that she said yes. She still wasn't sure she was doing the right thing. Of course she couldn't take it back now. The announcement of their engagement was exactly what her image needed to cover up the comments that she's a cheating slut. If she went back on it now, well, it would ruin her.
Marrying Finn wouldn't be so bad, though. He was nice occasionally. He was very good with the paparazzi. Plus Rachel wasn't sure she would be able to do any better. Any person that she dated would be in it for the perks that came with dating a superstar. While it was true that Finn was also with her for that, she had at one time loved him. Maybe with time she could love him again. That was, if she could ever get Quinn out of her head.
And if she never did, she could always divorce him after the rumors about Quinn died down. So really she could put up with being unhappy for a few years if it meant saving the career she had worked so for.
Finn didn't try to continue the conversation after that, much to Rachel's relief. He just wore a smug smile on his face for the rest of their time in hair and makeup.
After getting microphones pinned on their clothes, they were ready for their interview. They were led by the staff to where the session would be recorded. Their interviewer was already there, looking over a set of notecards. Rachel knew almost instantly that this was Sugar Motta, one of the most famous entertainment gossip tv hosts.
"Okay so I know who you are, you know who I am. No need for nice introductions," Sugar said just as Rachel had been about to smile and introduce them. "We go live in five, so if there's anything you don't want to discuss, tell me now and I'll consider it."
Rachel was pretty sure that everything about her was going to be discussed, so she just shook her head. Finn did as well.
"Alright then get into places and we'll start soon. I've been looking forward to this for weeks," Sugar stated. She then went and sat down in her chair where she started looking through her notecards again.
Rachel knew that Sugar looking forward to this was a horrible sign. Sugar was very well-known for ripping apart stars' reputation. She had no idea why Kurt had gotten them on this show.
"Going live in 10… 9… 8…" As the guy counted down, Rachel put on her best smile and tried to look like the happy newly-engaged girl she was pretending to be. Maybe one day it wouldn't be an act.
"Hey bitches!" That was how Sugar addressed her audience. Rachel resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Today's the day we've all been waiting for. With all the rumors flying around since Thanksgiving, we just don't know what to believe. So I've finally got mega hunk Finn Hudson and award-winning Rachel Berry here to dish on all the gossip surrounding their lives."
"It's so nice to be here, Sugar," Rachel lied.
"Yeah, it's a great way to begin the new year," Finn agreed. "We've both been on Christmas break with our tv shows, so it's nice to finally be back in front of a camera."
"I'm totally going to want to know what happens on your shows later on, because I watch both of them religiously, but right now we have other matters to discuss." Rachel felt her heart sink. Why couldn't she just talk about what was going to happen on her show this season? "So Rachel. You flew off to London for your birthday weekend without Finn. Why is that?"
"My show was still filming," Finn supplied. They had agreed on this beforehand. If someone looked into it, they'd find it true. "She decided to go spend it with her friend."
"Oh but from what I've seen she looked like a lot more than a friend. Care to explain, Rachel?"
"She is one of my friends, and she's very protective of me. That would explain the photo of us leaving the airport." She knew this wasn't the photo that Sugar was talking about, but if she could avoid it she would.
"But what about the kiss?"
Before Rachel could respond, Finn answered. "I've always suspected that Rachel's friend has a crush on her. My theory was just proved correct when they were saying goodbye at the airport. She came on to Rachel and kissed her. She probably even called the paps herself to cause all this drama in hopes of breaking us up."
Rachel couldn't listen to this. She knew she should stay quiet, but this wasn't what they agreed on. "That's not true."
"Really now?" Sugar looked excited, and Rachel knew she had just thrown herself to the sharks.
"She didn't call the paparazzi," Rachel confirmed. "She was just as surprised about the picture as I was." Rachel didn't know this, but she was sure that Quinn didn't call them. Zoie maybe, but not Quinn.
"Interesting. I think we have to consider who we're dealing with, though. For those who don't know, the 'friend' that we have been referring to is Quinn Fabray, a resident painter in London. She is also best known for leaving a string of broken hearts wherever she goes." Rachel really hadn't wanted them using Quinn's name on the air, but it was out now.
"She's my friend. I wasn't another one of her broken hearted girls," Rachel replied.
"If you two are friends, as you so claim, then why haven't you been spotted with her during other times?"
"My work schedule doesn't often allow me to go to London, just like hers doesn't allow her to come here." Rachel had been prepared for this question.
"What about when you filmed in London two summers ago?"
"My schedule was so hectic during those few weeks that any time that I didn't spend on set was spent in my hotel room sleeping."
"Hm. Finn, how do you feel about the kiss?"
He shrugged. "I mean, it can't be helped. Rachel didn't start it, and it happened weeks ago."
"Yes of course. But how do you feel? Did you think it was hot? Did you want to punch Quinn in the face? What went through your head upon seeing that picture?"
"I wouldn't be a real man if I didn't think it was hot, so of course that. But what really went through my head?" A smug grin appeared on his face. "Well, it was disappointment that I had to work that weekend because otherwise I might have been able to score a threesome."
It was highly unprofessional of Finn to say that, even with him being from a comedy show and the liberties those type of actors are given. Rachel wanted to rage. How she was going to be married to such an insensitive pig, she didn't know. So Rachel couldn't help it when she muttered, "Not likely."
"What was that, Rachel?" Sugar asked, having very well heard what she said.
"I just don't think that would've happened for a multitude of reasons that I do not wish to discuss on television," she said.
"Rachel's right. I'm sure we wouldn't want to ruin Quinn's reputation any more. Although I don't really see how it can get any worse." This was the point where Rachel felt something inside of her snap.
She laughed a little. "You know, that's funny coming from you, Finn."
"How so?" Sugar asked, seeing as Finn looked a bit speechless. Oh yes, Rachel was doing this. Finn had crossed the line several times over.
"Sugar, do you want to know the real reason I went to London for my birthday?"
"Oh my god yes!" Sugar cried.
"Well," Rachel started, ignoring Finn's warning. "I had recently broken up with him for cheating on me."
Sugar gasped in a way that Rachel considered highly too dramatic even for her own standards. "No!"
Rachel nodded. "The worst part was that when I found him in bed with another woman, he didn't even notice I was there."
"None of that is true!" Finn protested, but Sugar was fixated on it now.
"Yes, it is," Rachel said. "We were waiting until after Christmas to announce the news so as not to ruin the holidays."
"She's lying! We just got engaged, check her finger!" Finn was grasping at straws now, but Rachel could handle it. He was the one making a fool of himself on television.
Rachel held up her hand, showing her ringless finger. She had subtly taken the ring off after his first jab at Quinn. Even if her career took a hit, even if she stayed single for the rest of her life, she knew she couldn't marry him. Kurt would kill her after the interview, but it was her own life to live and she was tired of living it for someone other than herself.
"I don't even know what to say," Sugar said, but she soon did. Sugar was never speechless for long "What about Quinn? Where does she fit into all of this?"
"She's just a friend who helped me through a bad time," she stated. "I think that's all you need to know about her for right now."
Sugar grinned at her. "Maybe in the future we can have you and her on here."
Rachel wasn't giving anything away, partly because she had no idea herself. "Who knows."
Remembering him comes in flashbacks and echoes
Tell myself it's time now, gotta let go
But moving on from him is impossible
When I still see it all in my head
In burning red.
They all sat stunned in Frannie's living room, just taking in what had happened.
Frannie had gladly welcomed the three into her apartment earlier that day, glad to see both Quinn and her friends again. After explaining everything regarding Rachel and Quinn, Brittany had informed them that Rachel was being interviewed on Sugar & Spice that day, having apparently seen a million commercials for it while watching MTV on their flight to LA. They all gathered around the television to watch the interview, wondering what Rachel would say.
Well. They certainly hadn't expected that.
Santana was the first person to speak after the interview was over. "Holy shit."
Quinn nodded in agreement, unable to find words.
"See? Rachel still likes you," Brittany said.
"I think it's time to call her," Frannie stated, looking over to Quinn.
"No, I can't do that. Not after what just happened," Quinn said after finally finding her voice.
"What the hell do you mean? She defended your ass on tv!" Santana shouted, hitting her in the arm. "She obviously forgave you for the Zoie incident, so call her!"
"I mean," Quinn said with emphasis, "that I have to do better than that. I need to see her in person. That's what we came here for, right?"
They all agreed, and so Frannie scoured the internet for Kurt's phone number. They would need to talk to him to find out where exactly Rachel lived.
It didn't take long to find (though convincing Kurt to tell her where she lived did take a bit longer), and before Quinn was aware of what was happening, she was on Rachel's doorstep.
Quinn forced herself to ring the doorbell. She was so scared of what could possibly happen, but she knew she had to play this cool. She couldn't be an emotional wreck when Rachel opened the door.
The shock was clear on Rachel's face when she opened the door. "Quinn?"
"Hey. I saw your interview. I had just gotten into LA a couple hours before," Quinn explained. "I needed to talk to you, and I couldn't do it over the phone. So here I am."
"Um." It was clear that Rachel didn't know what to say. Quinn wanted to panic, but she stayed calm.
"Anyway, I just… I'm sorry for what happened with Zoie. It's something I deeply regret doing because I know how much it hurt you. These past few weeks have been hell, and I've wanted nothing more than to call you to make sure you were okay with what happened, not only what happened with us but with the whole kiss photo coming out, because I knew you didn't have any friends who would check on you. But I couldn't because I didn't know how you'd react."
"I waited for you to call," Rachel admitted. "You never did."
"I know, and I hope you can forgive me for being scared of rejection. It's something I'm working on by just being here. I'm taking a chance, because I would hate myself if I didn't." Quinn took a deep breath. "Rachel, I know I don't deserve it after everything I put you through, and you shouldn't feel obligated to say yes, but I want to know if maybe we can begin again?"
And that's why he's spinnin' 'round in my head
Comes back to me, burning red.