She is standing there, looking at you. She's expecting you to do something. Something right.
You know this because you have been in this position before. You've been at the receiving end of this look countless times, in the years you've known her.
She had this look when she told the glee club that she's marrying Finn. She expected you to stop her, to object, to sweep her off her feet and convince you that it is wrong to choose Finn. That she should choose you. Of course, you didn't. You weren't sure then.
Actually, you're not sure now either.
It's been a week since the Lopez-Pierce wedding, which you've opted to miss (much to Santana's dismay) because you didn't want to see all your exes in one place during such a conflicting moment in your life.
You just broke up with Puck a few weeks before the wedding. You told him, as carefully as you can, not wanting to hurt his feelings for the nth time, that you're not for each other and it's best to part ways now rather than later. He was surprisingly calm about it. He gave you a tight hug, and whispered, Go after what makes you happy, Quinn.
You didn't want to see Sam, too. Because last time you heard, he and Rachel were dating.
Saying that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, as much as the first time you repeated it after Mercedes told you, during one of your bi-monthly phone conversations. You couldn't believe it at first. The idea of Rachel and Sam together seemed more ridiculous than the idea of Rachel and Finn, or even Rachel and St. James. The idea of them together seemed so ridiculous to you, you had to drown yourself in school work and, when that didn't work, you let the bitter taste of countless tequila shots numb you. You also thought, quite stupidly if you're being honest to yourself, that the feel of a petite brunette with long legs in your bed will make everything hurt less. You regret the decision to sleep with a Rachel Berry copycat as soon as you wake up the following morning. You realize that seeing someone who resembles Rachel in your bed reminded you of what you're missing, all the more.
You know not wanting to see Puck, Sam and Rachel is a flimsy excuse compared to the need to be present when your two best friends get married to each other. And Santana, in so many words, tells you so when you see her and Britt off before they fly to somewhere for the expensive honeymoon Sue gave them.
You try to make up for it with hugs and kisses and apologies. Santana wanted you to grovel. Brittany gave you a tight hug, like the one Puck gave you, and said that she understood. She said knows how painful it is to see the one you love being happy in the arms of another person. You didn't expect Britt to be so straightforward. Her sweet voice and comforting tone did not make her words hurt less. You had to bite your lip harder than usual to keep the tears from falling.
When their flight got called, Britt made you promise to see them as soon as they got back while Santana warned you, Get your shit together Q.
You nod in agreement, as if it was as easy as that.
You look back to that moment in the airport with Santana and Britt because you can't be in this moment right now. Rachel is looking at you, as she sits across you, in a slightly secluded corner of Lima Bean. She just told you she plans on moving in with Sam.
She has that look again. It's as if she's expecting you to convince her that moving in with Sam is wrong, or is not the best option for her right now. But, like always, you don't. You can't.
Not until you're sure that you can give her what she wants. What you can give. What you've been dying to give her, to show her, since you realized you love Rachel Berry.
So you just nod, and say, Hmm. Because that is the only answer you can give her that isn't a lie. You don't want to lie to her and say that it's okay and that you support her. So you just nod again, and take a sip from your coffee.
You part ways that afternoon--you, back to Yale; she, to meet Sam--with a smile, a hug and a fake promise to keep in touch.
You have this habit of escaping the future by getting consumed by the present. You devote all your time and effort to school work, to divert your attention from that nagging feeling at the back of your head. You think that if you don't think about it all the time, your heart (and your mind, too) will forget about Rachel Berry and your need to be with her.
You did this before. You spent your time obsessing over being head cheerleader, being girlfriend of the quarterback, getting Beth away from Shelby, sleeping with Santana at Mr. Schue's non-wedding, dating a guy your parents would approve of, an dating an improved version of Puck--all to convince your subconscious to stop wanting Rachel Berry.
Your plan is going smoothly until Sue Sylvester shows up in your usual spot at the library, reading what looks like a WMHS yearbook. She looks up at you with a smirk.
You recognize that smirk, and you know you're in trouble.
You greet her, Sue.
She greets you back, Q.
What are you doing here?
Getting straight to the point, I see.
You shrug. Might as well get this over with.
You need to get your shit together.
These were the exact words Santana said to you when you saw her and Britt off at the airport. You have a feeling that Sue knows your secret. You wonder how she knows. Did Santana or Britt tell her? Or were you so smitten it shows all over your face?
You feel uneasy that Sue knows so you try to lie and say, I have no idea what you're talking about.
Quit the BS, Fabray. You know what I'm talking about. You've been obsessed with Berry ever since you told me you wanted to join the glee club to spy for me. I should've known then that you were just using me as an excuse to follow that midget as she dances around her short skirts.
Stop calling her that.
See? You didn't even bother to deny it.
No sense denying something you have clearly convinced yourself as the truth.
What do you plan on doing?
You decide there's no sense in denying and hiding things from your former cheerleading coach. You sigh and say, Nothing. Rachel is happy with Sam. That's what's important.
Q, listen carefully as I repeat one of the lessons I hoped you have learned from me in the years I have been your coach, which you obviously didn't learn.
You raise an eyebrow.
Mediocrity is settling for something okay when you know you can do better. In my years as a multi-titled national cheerleading champion coach, I tried to impart to my cheerleaders an important lesson yet very simple lesson.
The intensity in her eyes as she looks at you makes you nervous.
Never. Settle. For. Mediocrity. Sadly, you, despite my belief that you are a young Sue Sylvester, didn't get that.
You huff, and fold your arms across your chest. It's none of your business, Sue.
Actually it is. As your cheerleading coach, I believe it is my duty to push you harder, to push you to do better. Not that I think that singing midget is better than all the boys and women you've dated. In almost a whisper, you heard her add, I want you to go after something, or someone, that you think will make you happy.
Your lower lip quivered a bit. What Sue said reminded you of what Puck said when you broke up with him. It seemed like everyone was out to make sure that you're happy.
What if you say defiantly, this makes me happy?
You're startled a bit as she takes a few steps towards you. You don't back down, and stand your ground. She's literally in your face when she says, What are you talking about? Are you telling me it's better to waste your time in this library, doing god knows what, rather than go after that midget and tell her how you feel, on the off chance that she'll choose you over Trouty Mouth?
Yes, you say, even though you know that is not true.
Sue shrugs her shoulders and say, Fine. She takes a step back and starts to walk away.
You're surprised that she leaves you without a fight. But then you realize how wrong you are and how cunning she is when you notice the WMHS yearbook she left on the table. It is opened to the glee club page. The page you got for the club, when you found out that Rachel wanted one.
Damn you Sue.
You close the yearbook without looking at it, afraid of what it can do to you. How it can weaken your resolve right then and there.
It takes you 9 hours and 12 minutes. Damn you Sue.
You open the yearbook 9 hours and 12 minutes after Sue left it, with a bottle of beer in hand. You let the bitter taste of beer drown your emotions as you look at the happy faces of the kids you grew up with. You look at everyone except Rachel, even if she's in the middle.
By your third bottle, you smile fondly at how young and naive you all were. Clueless that about how harsh life could get, how a death of a loved one can affect all your lives, and how difficult it would be to be with the one you love.
As you look at the picture, you notice something. Sam wasn't even there.
Somehow, this simple fact irrationally empowers you. Finn was there. You understand that, in the hierarchy of boys, of people, who get to have Rachel, Finn has the best right out of all of you, since he noticed her first. But since he is gone now, you, being the one after Finn to notice how special Rachel was, should be next in line, to claim Rachel. As if her heart is a throne and you, Finn and Sam are all princes vying to be the next king.
The stupidity of this argument escapes you at the moment. Maybe it's because of the beers you've had, or the challenge from your former cheerleading coach, or the slightly yellowed pages before you that remind you of the past, but somehow you've reached this crazy conclusion that before Sam Evans even has the right to claim Rachel's heart, you, Lucy Quinn Fabray should have a chance first.
You pound the table with a determined fist. You curse the miles separating you and Lima right now but you thank Steve Jobs for inventing a way to enable you to talk to Rachel now. You dial Rachel's number. When she answers on the third ring, you don't waste any time and confidently declare that, Sam Evans is not following the rules of the universe.