Every night it was the same dream and every morning the same cripplingly depressing realization for Rachel.
They didn't win Nationals. They didn't even go to Nationals. The Warblers won Regionals at least in part because Finn talked/guilted her out of performing.
She wasn't going to NYADA. She’d choked at her audition and no amount of pestering Ms Tibodeaux was going to change that.
Quinn didn't dance with The Troubletones, she didn't stand up at Prom to the shock of all. Quinn was gone… t-boned by a speeding truck on route to Rachel’s wedding, killed on impact.
She wasn't prom queen. That other girl was.
She didn't have a tearful, cathartic goodbye with Finn at the train station on the way to her new life in New York. Her goodbye with Finn involved a lot more anger, bitterness, and yelling on his part, pleading, guilt, and pain on hers.
It was just that he didn't understand what she was going through. He didn't get the connection that she’d felt to Quinn, a connection that she’d never get the chance to fully realize now. She couldn't blame him for not getting it at first. Most, if not all, of the girls’ shared moments were in the privacy of the various ladies' restrooms around the school, but still even when she explained things to him, he didn't seem to get it. His brain still had them fixed as enemies and didn't seem to want to budge.
It was because of this that she went in search of someone to commiserate with. Santana had Brittany, Sam had Mercedes, Kurt had Blaine, Mike and Tina, Sugar and Rory… Noah didn't talk about things and Rachel didn't trust herself around him when she was in an emotional state (ironic, she would think in hindsight), so there was Artie.
She really, really, really hadn't meant to sleep with him, but she just wanted to talk to someone about Quinn and he was a sweet guy (most of the time) and he listened and he was hurting too. He missed Quinn almost as much as she did. He’d apparently been carrying a torch for her for some time but never said or did anything, thinking he had no chance in hell. When he’d said that, Rachel tried to tell him that he was better than he thought which only brought up more memories of Quinn. She kissed him on his salty, tear streaked cheek. That kiss led to more and a burning desire to feel anything other than pain overrode their good sense.
They both knew that it was a huge mistake immediately afterwards. Rachel confessed to Finn who was understandably pissed and yelling and she was remorseful and sobbing. How that led them into her bedroom she wasn't sure but Finn fucked her (and there’s no other accurate way to describe it) that night. In the morning he was gone… like from Lima. Later she’d find out that he dropped out of school with two months to go so he could run off to join the army.
Kurt was pissed at her, naturally. All of the guys gave her these judgmental glares. She couldn't even look at Artie without feeling sick at her stomach. Mercedes, bless her, had tried not to take sides but between her friendships with Kurt and Artie and her relationship with Sam, she just couldn't juggle everyone’s feelings, opting instead to just stay out of it. Tina had always had some weird over investment in Rachel and Finn’s relationship so she wasn't there to talk to. Sugar… Rachel and Sugar interacting was sort of like chlorine and bleach interacting, a really bad idea.
So when the pregnancy test came back positive having no way of knowing which one of them was the father and lacking the guts to explain the situation to her dads, she instead turned up on Santana’s doorstep. After a lot of talking, Santana wound up driving her to Planned Parenthood in Columbus. For the rest of the summer, Rachel practically moved into the Lopez House. Even when Santana was out enjoying the time she had left with Brittany, Dr. and Mrs. Lopez didn't have the heart to send Rachel home.
Home, where her fathers still didn't know about any of this. Officially, they didn't even know that she and Finn had broken up much less why or anything that followed.
When Santana said that she was leaving for New York in two weeks, Rachel didn't respond. Seven days after when Santana said she was going in a week she received a similar reaction. So a week later, on the morning she was due to leave, Santana literally, physically dragged Rachel out of the guest bed and into the nearby floor. “Get up you shiftless shit,” Santana said nudging Rachel with her foot when she didn't immediately react to her forced relocation, “We’re leaving.”
“Where are we going?”
“To your house,” Santana said, “To get your crap and then we’re going to New York.”
“I can’t go to New York,” Rachel said burying her face in the blanket that she’d dragged off the bed with her. “I didn't…”
“You didn't get it,” Santana cut her off completing the sentence for her. “Neither did I because we fucked up and didn't apply enough places. Yesterday’s mistakes. But we’re officially adopting Brittany’s attitude of getting shit right the second time. We've got six month until the next filing deadline which gives us just enough time to become legal residents of the State of New York and save ourselves a shit ton of money on out of state tuition costs. How do you like that for a silver lining?”
“Don’t wanna,” Rachel said.
“Didn't ask,” Santana said, “I didn't want a depressed as fuck roommate all summer but your ass was here, so now I know I can be in close quarters with you and not feel the need to torture you to death. Even with my nest egg, I can’t afford New York on my own so you’re my new roommate. We’re gonna share this tiny little shit hole apartment, not to mention a bed. A friend of a friend of a friend of Puck’s found us jobs at a bar.”
“They need singers?” Rachel asked.
“They need waitresses, dumbass,” Santana sighed in exasperation at the lump still in the floor. “Pie-in-the-sky fantasy days are over, Princess. Now we get to do this shit for reals. We’re gonna hit up Target on the way out of town and stock up on tight tops and short shorts and we’re gonna get leered at and hit on and probably groped a dozen times a night while we save up for better accommodations and look for better work. It’ll be just like that TV show 2 Broke Girls only not hilarious.”
And that was Rachel’s life after that. Which is why every night she dreamed about a better version of events, a better version of her life… not a perfect life, not even close, but just better than it was, but unfortunately morning always came.