Chapter 7: State Of Grace
I'm walking fast through the traffic lights
Busy streets and busy lives
And all we know
Is touch and go.
"So we need to avoid touristy areas, right?" Quinn asked Rachel as they stepped out into the streets.
"Not necessarily. It's Christmas, and they're likely to be so crowded that no one will notice me," she replied. "So wherever you want to go, we can go."
"Well you've seen all the sights already, haven't you?"
"Yeah, for the most p—" Rachel stopped, realizing she had never once told Quinn that she had been to London before. "How did you know that?"
Quinn shrugged. "Lucky guess."
Rachel was good at reading faces, and she could tell Quinn was hiding something. She stopped walking. "Quinn."
"Hm?" She turned around when she noticed that Rachel was no longer by her side.
"How did you know that?" Rachel questioned once again.
She sighed, walking back to Rachel and taking her hand to pull her along. "Fine. You caught me. I may have googled you this morning when you were putting on your makeup."
"And what did you find?" Rachel wasn't letting go of Quinn's hand for anything. Quinn didn't seem that inclined to let go either.
"You've won some awards, made a couple movies, been on a few well-known television shows. Big deal." Quinn had just summed up the last few years of her life like they meant nothing to her, like they weren't the only thing that mattered to her. And that, that was something Rachel could get used to.
"But you know that I spent a summer here filming a movie," Rachel stated.
"I do. The part about it being in London caught my attention."
"Were you here then?" she questioned as they waited at the crosswalk.
"You know, it's funny. I actually was, and I have this memory of Zoie wanting me to go watch when you were filming on location. It was a couple blocks down from our flat at the time, and I was going to go."
"But you didn't," Rachel said for her. "Because otherwise you would've known who I was on the airplane."
"I didn't. I got caught up in a painting and completely missed it. I remember I had to make it up to Zoie with Chinese food," she replied. "But isn't it weird? How close we came to meeting years ago, but we didn't. If I hadn't missed that filming, we might not be here today."
"It's weird how things work out," Rachel agreed. "For what it's worth, I'm really happy you didn't go that day."
"Besides, it rained so much that afternoon. I was freezing and I'm sure I looked like a complete mess. I'm glad you met me when I looked like an important businesswoman instead," Rachel joked, trying to get a smile out of Quinn, and it worked. Their topic had begun to shift toward the serious, and Rachel liked for it to stay light between them.
"I'm sure you still looked as beautiful as ever," she said. "This way." They suddenly changed directions.
"Quinn Fabray are you saying you think I'm beautiful?" Rachel teased her.
"Maybe, maybe not. The world may never know."
"Well, I'm Rachel, not the world. I have a right to know."
Quinn rolled her eyes. "Fine, superstar. I do think you're beautiful. Very much so. But it's a secret."
Rachel grinned. Quinn would play along with her, and it made her happy. He had never been so considerate. "Can I tell you a secret then?"
"I think you're beautiful, too."
Quinn looked away, trying to hide her smile, but Rachel still saw it. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. But it's a secret, remember?"
"Of course. I will let no one know that superstar Rachel Berry called me beautiful."
"Good. So where are we going?" she asked, noting the abrupt turn they had taken before.
"You mean you don't know yet?" Rachel shook her head. "Then it'll be a surprise."
Most of the time, Rachel hated not knowing where she was going. She needed a destination and she needed to be in control of how she got there. If it had been anyone else, she might have refused. Except this was Quinn, and somehow Rachel trusted a girl that she had known less than 24 hours more than she trusted anyone else. She knew this should be setting off warning signs, but she ignored them in favor of living in the moment.
So you were never a saint
And I've loved in shades of wrong
We learn to live with the pain
Mosaic broken hearts
But this love is brave and wild.
"Do you know where we are now?" Quinn asked ten minutes later.
They were at the entrance to a park that Quinn knew well. There were tons of people all about, and it was decorated for Christmas, but Quinn felt that Rachel should still be able to recognize it.
"I kind of do. It's familiar to me but…" Rachel looked confused, and Quinn felt her heart melt a bit over how adorable she looked like that. "Are there usually carnival rides? And so many people?"
Quinn laughed. "No, there aren't. That's what is throwing you off."
"So where are we?" Rachel questioned as they entered the into the mass of people.
"Hyde Park," she replied.
Rachel jumped up and down, momentarily letting go of Quinn's hand in her excitement. "Oh! I do know this place!"
Quinn smiled at how happy she was. "I thought you might."
"This was where I filmed my movie that day," she stated, following Quinn through the crowd.
Quinn nodded. "It is. It's just a bit different in the winter."
"Hey, hold on," Rachel said, taking a few steps to catch up with her and grabbing her hand. "I never said you could let go."
"You're the one who let go," Quinn reminded her.
"Well I won't again." Rachel promised. Quinn felt herself freeze, remembering a similar conversation that she had with Zoie. She tried to push the thought out of her mind, but it was already there. Zoie had eventually let go, so how could Quinn believe Rachel wouldn't?
Her guard went back up, but she tried her best not to let it show. "Okay. Come on, I've got an idea of something for us to do."
This is a state of grace
This is the worthwhile fight
Love is a ruthless game
Unless you play it good and right
"Just so you know, I haven't done this since high school and I think I'm doing pretty well for myself," Rachel said after Quinn had to catch her to keep her from falling once more.
Quinn just laughed. "I think you're doing fantastic."
Rachel huffed, not believing her for a second, despite Quinn's sincere response. "Do you take all the girls ice skating just so you can have them fall into your arms?"
She shook her head. "Only the pretty ones."
Quinn had led them to the ice skating rink in the park. At first Rachel had protested, not having ice skated in years. Even when she did ice skate, it was only once a year with her dads around Christmastime. So she wasn't the best ice skater, and she didn't want to make a fool of herself. Quinn had insisted, though, and Rachel couldn't resist her when she saw Quinn smile like that. Though Quinn was constantly having to help her, Rachel was happy with her decision. It showed Quinn cared enough not to let her fall.
"Glad to know I'm not a special case then," Rachel teased. "I thought you might be picking on my inability to properly ice skate."
"Never," she promised, steadying Rachel as they swerved around a small child. "How would I even know that?"
"I don't know. I assumed my ice skating skills would be on the internet like everything else," Rachel replied, gripping Quinn's hand tighter as they sped up. She felt like she was finally getting the hang of it, but she still didn't want to fall.
"Well they might be, but I didn't look for them," Quinn stated. "I would much rather learn about you from you."
Rachel would've swooned if she was more confident in her skating abilities. Finally someone who wanted to know her side of things; who wanted to get to know her instead of cheating with the internet.
"What do you want to know?"
"Everything," she responded at once.
Rachel dramatically took a deep breath. "At 10:29am on the morning of December 18th, 1994 I was born to—"
"Wait," Quinn interrupted. "It's the 17th today."
"Congratulations, Quinn, you can read a calendar," Rachel remarked, knowing what was coming next. She had hoped to keep this fact from Quinn, but knew it would probably come up eventually.
Quinn slid to a stop. "That means your birthday is tomorrow. Why are you here with some random stranger instead of with people who love you?"
Rachel hoped the pain couldn't show on her face. She thought she was well-equipped with a mask to hide her emotions, but with Quinn she wasn't sure. "Can we talk about something else?"
She could tell Quinn was frustrated. She wanted to know what was going on, but she didn't press the issue. "So as you were saying? Born to?"
Rachel smiled, shaking her head. What was she going to do when she had to leave this woman on Monday?
Just as they were about to start back skating, Rachel felt someone, a small someone, run into her from behind. She would've fallen had she not had Quinn to steady her. When she turned around to help, she saw that her assumption had been correct: it was a little kid, and a girl at that.
Rachel bent down, Quinn at her side. "I'm so sorry. Are you okay?"
The girl nodded, straightening her glasses that had been knocked askew. She looked to be about 8 or 9, hardly old enough to be skating in this big crowd all on her own. When she looked up at Rachel to say something, she froze, her eyes going wide in recognition. She immediately flattened her brown hair down with her hands, making sure it and her hat were still in place so she wasn't making a fool of herself in front of the Princess Anna.
"Are you her?" the girl asked, still in awe.
"Princess Anna? I am," Rachel replied. "But here I go by Rachel. What's your name?"
She could see out of the corner of her eye that Quinn was smiling at her, watching this interaction. Quinn was keeping quiet, though, knowing that this moment was important to the girl. She knew that this sort of thing mattered to Rachel, unlike him. He would always rush her through things.
"I'm Alice," she mumbled, looking down at her mittens.
"Alice, I'm sorry I knocked you down," Rachel apologized.
"It's okay, I was showing off for my friends anyway."
Rachel didn't see any other kids lingering around, waiting on her. "Where are they?"
"Well… They're not really my friends. They kind of tease me because of my glasses and because I take skating classes. But I thought if I showed them all the fancy tricks I learned they wouldn't think I was a loser anymore."
"If they're not nice, who needs them?" Rachel stated. "I never had friends when I was growing up. But you'll find someone who likes you for who you are, because you're so much more awesome than I was at your age. For one thing, I'm sure you can skate a lot better than me." Rachel heard Quinn giggle at this.
"Thanks," Alice said, finally glancing back up at Rachel.
"Um, Rachel?" Quinn said.
Rachel turned to her, wondering why Quinn was choosing now to speak up. "Yeah?"
"I hate to end this because you're adorable when you do this, but I think they found you." Quinn gestured in the direction across from them, outside of the rink. Sure enough, there was a man with a camera taking pictures of this whole scene.
Rachel sighed, slowly standing up. "It was nice meeting you Alice, but we have to go now."
"Bye, Rachel," she heard the girl say, but she was already skating off toward the exit with Quinn. She hated doing that, but she knew Kurt would kill her if she didn't at least try to stay out of the press.
These are the hands of fate
You're my Achilles heel
This is the golden age of something good and right and real.
"Why are we running anyway?" Quinn asked as they changed out of their ice skates. "I mean, you were talking to a kid and ice skating. It's not like you were getting drunk at a gay club."
"No, that was last night," Rachel said wryly, causing Quinn to grin.
"But really though."
"People will assume things," Rachel said, focusing her attention on her shoes.
"Like things," she replied, a bit more forcefully than she'd wanted.
"So like that you and your boyfriend have broken up, or that you're cheating on him with some slut artist?" Quinn asked with a tone of bitterness.
"Quinn…" Rachel knew this was likely to come up when she heard that Quinn had googled her.
"No, you don't have to explain anything to me," she said, standing up from the bench they were sitting at. "I'm not entitled to know anything."
"That's not true. You told me your story last night. You have a right to know mine. It's just… I— is there somewhere more private we can go?" She could still see the photographer.
"Yeah. Follow me." Quinn didn't offer up her hand, and Rachel noticed.
And I never saw you coming
And I'll never be the same.
Just a little note that I have never been to London, so anything that I did or did not get right throughout this chapter and the rest of them is due to that. The internet can only help me so much.