Spoilers: Season one to be safe, but this is completely AU.
Summary: “Once the shooting is over, I’m going to Ohio. As Rachel Berry. And I don’t want anybody to know anything about my life here. It’ll be like a clean slate.”
Disclaimer: Everything you recognize is not mine.
Author's note: This is unbeta-d. So all the mistakes - and I'm sure there are plenty - are mine. English is still not my first language.
A/N2: For this prompt at the Rachel/Quinn meme.
A/N3: So, a tragedy happened. I had over 14k words written for this, but something happened with the file and it just freaked out and I lost everything. So now I'm having to re-write everything, so it's gonna take longer to post it because I'm just posting as I write now. If anyone knows how to turn #### back into letters again on Open Office, I would love you forever and ever. Until then, I ask you to be patient with this. I'm trying my best. :)
In the end, running away is not as easy as she thought it would be.
The press goes crazy and damage control is a lot harder than people make it seem, so it takes a while before she’s actually able to leave New York without drawing too much attention to herself. Shelby stays, because not even that wouldn't help, but also because someone needs to stay in New York to keep everything running smoothly. It’s not ideal; she’s gotten used to having her mother around, and it’s hard to leave her behind, but in the end they promise to find a way to keep in touch, so she gets on the plane and leaves Rachel Corcoran behind, ready to begin her life as Rachel Berry, just another regular student at McKinley High.
She’s still not sure if things are going to work; even though Lima is worse than a hellhole, someone will probably know who she is, and she doesn’t want to dye her hair and hide behind a facade. She just wants a year to be herself and she doesn't think that going all Hannah Montana is the best course of work. Besides, she refuses to do something that ridiculous.
The clothes are her father's choice.
She thinks she never wore something that ridiculous ever since her grandmother – who used to give her horrible animal sweaters that Rachel could've sworn belonged to her at some point in her life – passed out, and it brings a strange feeling to her. She looks like a weird mix between her grandma and a toddler, and the skirts are much too short for her liking, but in the end she gives in because she wants to blend in and her parents have lived in this town for a few years so they would know, right? Besides, she can't really draw too much attention to herself, and maybe dressing like a loser will do that. As long as it keeps her concealed, she's not complaining.
Not too much, anyway.
One way or the other, she doesn't think it really matters because she's sure people in this town can't tell Prada from Target – as sad as that sounds. But her designer clothes would definitely stand out and she just can't have that. It's a sacrifice she has to make in the sake of having at least one normal year in her life. Lima is worse than a hellhole, yes, but she doesn't want to take any risks, so she raises her head high and decides to just suck it up. It's all for a really good reason.
She tries her best not to run back to her room when she enters the kitchen on her first day of school and her Dad – Michael – takes one look at her before he bursts out laughing so hard he might as well start crying right then and there.
It's not really amusing.
“I'm sorry, sweetie,” he says, shaking his head slightly, “but this looks like those sweaters your grandma used to give you and it's just so bad. I don't know why you let your father convince you to do this.”
She rolls her eyes, sitting on a stool and letting her forehead hit the counter in a defeated manner, “I look awful.”
“Yeah, you kinda do,” her Dad says, a chuckle escaping his lips and she can do nothing but groan. It's not a very good start to her day.
She hears footsteps closing in and then her Daddy – David – is placing a kiss on the top of her head, “You look beautiful, baby.”
Her Dad lets out a snort, and she looks up to see him shaking his head at his husband as he places a bowl of cereal in front of her.
“I thought we promised we'd never lie to her, David.” Michael says with a pointed look, that it's blatantly ignored as David movies to pour himself some coffee.
“Well, we'd also said we'd never hurt her, and sometimes, the truth can do exactly that.”
“So you do agree with Dad!” Rachel squeaks, letting her spoon hit the bowl as she gets up and snatches her lunch bag from David, who can't seem to stop laughing.
“Now, sweetie,” her Daddy tries, shaking his head slightly. “You never heard me say that.”
“This is unbelievable,” she mutters, walking out the kitchen. “I would just like to see the headlines, 'Just in! Rachel Corcoran leaves her house in Ohio dressed horribly and carrying her own lunch bag!'”
“Have fun, sweetie!” Her Dad chimes in and she just rolls her eyes, making sure to close the door a little more forcefully than it's necessary.
She's pretty sure she's going to go crazy in less than a week.
Scratch that, maybe a week is too much.
All heads turn to look at her as soon as she steps into the school, and it takes everything not to turn around and flee from this place as fast as she can. She's worried that she's been discovered, that the clothes did nothing to help her blend in, but one look at the crowd tells her that the reason why they're staring it's not because they know who she is. Cellphones are not popping out and she quickly realizes that they look at her as if she's a freak and not a celebrity.
Which, well, in those clothes, she kind of is.
It's bittersweet, to say the least. She's been in the business for as long as she can remember, and it's hard to have people barely giving her a second glance as she walks down the hall, because she's used to the attention, hopes for it, even. And yet, she realizes that in McKinley High she's no one, and she doesn't know exactly how to deal with this new fact. It puts everything in perspective, learning that there's a proverbial pyramid and she's probably at the bottom of it, whilst had she been in another place, she'd be higher than the top.
She's not sure how to act.
In the back of her mind she thinks about people saying that high school isn't easy, and even though she never gave that people much credit, she's starting to realize how right they were. She wants to go home, back to her fame, back to her mother's arm, back to the people at her beck and call.
She wants life to be easy again.
Her first day is hell.
She makes no friends, and at some point after lunch she almost runs over a kid in a wheelchair, if such thing is even possible.
Maybe her mother was right, after all.
This is a bad idea.
Her second day is better and worse.
She's used to how everything works, but somewhere in the back of her mind she has an odd feeling that something is about to happen, she just can't figure out what. Some boy has been staring at her for the entire day, and she's pretty sure that had she not ran away after classes and disappeared at lunch time, he'd have cornered her by now and it's just really creepy and borderline stalkerish.
But that's not really what's bothering her.
It's just after lunch and she's putting away the books she won't be using and taking out the ones for her next class when something catches her eyes. Well, a lot of things, actually, which might be the reason why she can't really make sense of what happens in the next minute.
First she sees the skirt swishing down the hallway, as one cheerleader makes her way through the crowd, barely looking as the people part for her. Rachel feels something weird in her stomach as her eyes travel along the girl's body, trying to keep her mouth from falling.
She's pretty sure she's never seen such a beautiful girl in her entire life, and considering where she comes from, that's saying something.
Second, she notices the creepy boy staring at her again, his gaze confused as if he's trying to decide something really important. She thinks he wants to move closer to her, but it's not sure if he should and he's really starting to creep her out.
Besides, she has the cheerleader to focus on.
Or well, she had.
Before she can notice what happened, she feels something cold hitting her face and there's the faint taste of grape and she hates grape and her eyes burn and it's not nice at all. And then there's soft hands reaching her and pulling her somewhere and it's just more than she can handle at the moment, feeling so lost and confused and just...
She's pretty sure it's the worse feeling in the world.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid Karofsky!” someone is saying, and she feels wet towels cleaning the corn syrup from her face. “I know his brain is the size of a peanut, but I can't believe he'd be so dumb! Don't these people watch TV?!”
At this she seems to snap back into reality, her eyes opening widely as she stares at the boy in front of her, the one who had been in her tow for the past day, a displeased expression on his face.
“I'm sorry, what did you just say?” she asks, because maybe she just heard wrong. Chances are, whatever she has all over her face is driving her completely insane. It's perfectly reasonable, right?
He takes a good look at her, sighing before he moves to grab another paper towel, “I apologize for Karofsky's stupidity. He should know better than to slushie someone you.”
“Someone like me?” she asks, though she's not sure if she wants him to confirm her suspicions.
“Yes, you! Rachel Corcoran!”
Before she knows what she's doing, her hands are trapping his mouth shut, her eyes gazing around the bathroom to make sure they're alone, which, thankfully, they are.
“Berry!” she hisses, glaring at him. “Rachel Berry.”
He takes her face in his hand, watching it closely before he pulls back, shaking his head, a smug smile playing on his lips. “No, Rachel Corcoran.” he states confidently. “I'd know this nose anywhere.”
Her hand flies to her nose and she turns around, her eyes meeting his through the mirror reflection. She takes a few deep breaths, biting her lower lip before she turns to him again, offering her hand.
“Rachel Barbra Berry,” she states, a tentative smile playing on her lips. “Or Corcoran. Whatever.”
“So it is you! I'm Kurt. Kurt Hummel.” he beams excitedly, eagerly shaking her hands. “Oh my, wait until Karofksy finds out he slushied a Hollywood celebrity, not to mention Broadway royalty!”
“No!” she squeaks, eyes widening. “No one can know who I am. I'm Rachel Berry, just a regular student here at McKinley. You can't tell them, Kurt.”
He seems a bit puzzled, as if this is some kind of concept he can't quite understand. Maybe he can't, really, because he's not her and so he doesn't know the reasons why she's doing this, why she needs this.
She sighs, cleaning some corn syrup from her hair, “I came here to know what's like to have a normal high school experience and that's not going to happen if people know I'm a celebrity. Please, Kurt, I'm begging you. I'll do whatever you want, but please don't tell them.”
He looks down at his feet and she takes the opportunity to text her fathers asking for a change of clothes. When she's finished, Kurt is looking at her with a soft expression, a small smile playing on his lips.
“You don't have to do anything,” he assures her, squeezing her hand. “Well, maybe give me an autograph. And perhaps your friendship? At least you won't be slushied alone.”
She laughs, not because the prospect of getting another cold beverage thrown in her face is amusing, but because she realizes that if things go wrong, at least she made one good friend. She barely knows him, but one look at Kurt tells her there's no one better to keep her secret, as excited as he was to tell everyone about it. And she knows if she's really going to do this, she's gonna need someone by her side and the boy standing in front of her is not really a bad choice at all.
Her second day isn't that good, but she has a friend for the first time, so it might as well be the best day of her life.