The Joyce Summers Academy in Cleveland has a new teacher. The singing ghost was just a bonus.Disclaimer:
This is a derivative (aka transformative) work. All BtVS characters belong to or were created by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the suits at Fox. Not sure who owns Glee - Ryan Murphy created it and Fox broadcasts it.Spoilers:
Glee: Seasons 1,2 (not Season 3 compliant), BtVS: all 7 seasons. Not Buffy Season's 8,9, Angel comics compliant.Author's Notes:
Set at least a decade after the events in "Portal Girl and the Science Lady". A series of ficlets, infrequently updated. Unrelated to any of my other BtVS/Glee crossovers.Word Count:
The dreams started the day after Rachel Berry's memorial service. The one she didn't go to. Because they'd never really become friends, barely tolerating each other for the rest of their junior and senior years. Because Santana was too busy consoling Brittany, who had become one Berry's few real friends, to guilt her into going with the rest of Glee and singing at the service. Because she was a threat to every thing Quinn was supposed to be. Because she already had too many regrets and she was only nineteen.
She never remembered them completely the first year. Sometimes she was sitting next to Berry on her plane, listening to her talk at a furious pace, almost too fast to be understood, as it rocked and shook before slamming into the ground in a huge ball of flames. Other times, they shared a piano bench in the auditorium and Berry serenaded her with something disturbingly like a love song, though she couldn't pick out individual words. Or she would be standing next to Berry, holding an umbrella over them both as gallons of purple slushy rained down.
She never told anyone about the dreams.
Frowning, Quinn looked down at the scrap of paper from the Cleveland employment office. It was late August and she desperately needed a job for the new school year.
Life after high school hadn't turned out as she'd planned. She'd always envisioned herself as an important, powerful person. A lawyer or maybe some kind of executive at the top of a large corporation. But she barely passed the business classes she took freshman year so that was out. By junior year, she found herself working on a double major, English and PE. She figured that if she couldn't get into law school, she could always become a gym teacher or coach.
Law school reminded her too much of the cut throat life at the top of the social pyramid in high school. She dropped out after a year, broke and exhausted.
After a summer sleeping on Santana and Brittany's couch in San Francisco, she took enough courses to get a teaching certificate, and became a gypsy, never staying more than half a school year, filling in for PE and English teachers on maternity or medical leave and summer school. Never staying long enough to become attached or to get tenure, she only spent money on the important things - school supplies, food, clothes, rent, the occasional graduate class to keep her teaching certificates current. The rest she saved for an emergency.
The dreams changed over time and became less frequent, but they never ended. It was like having an imaginary companion who only appeared in her dreams. Like real Rachel had been in high school, dream Rachel could be difficult, and argumentative, and annoying as hell, but dream Rachel always came back. Dream Rachel became her support when things became tough. Dream Rachel knew all of her hopes, her dreams, and her fears. Dream Rachel could talk for hours without taking a breath.
On days like today, she wished that dream Rachel was real, and not just proof that she'd lost the plot years ago. Her cash was running low but something had drawn her back to Ohio. She'd spent a week in Lima, smothered by her mother, avoiding old friends, memorizing the small plaque in the cemetery that was the only proof that Rachel Berry had really existed outside of her memories and dreams. Getting into a fight with dream Rachel afterward because she refused to check on Rachel's dads while she was there.
And now she was standing in front of a huge iron gate guarding the entrance to the Cleveland branch of the Joyce Summers Academy. She'd heard of them but had never run into anyone who claimed to have actually taught at one of the dozen national and international branches. A school with a very exclusive student body, recruited from all over the world.
There didn't seem to be any way through the gate. It almost looked like it was welded shut. At the employment office they'd said they needed someone who could start immediately but that wouldn't matter if she couldn't make it to the interview.
Quinn followed her young escort up the long driveway. She'd suddenly appeared, dressed like the cliche of a Japanese schoolgirl, just as Quinn was about to call for a cab and head back to her dingy motel room.
Willow observed the tall, professionally dressed blonde sitting quietly in Dawn's outer office through the one-way mirror, having joined Dawn after the interview. The woman seemed to be completely unaware of the ghost that was pacing back and forth in front of her. The ghost that had appeared even though the building was warded against uninvited visitors.
"So, she's haunted?" Dawn asked. "Is that even possible?"
"I've never seen it happen before," Willow said, "but your answer is right there." She waved at the ghost.
"Do you think she knows?" Dawn asked.
"Can't tell. Not without poking around in her head," Willow murmured. "You'll have to ask her."
"What's that in her aura?" Dawn asked, curiously. "Is that caused by the ghost?"
"No..." Willow frowned. "But it looks familiar."
"Research?" Dawn said, sighing.
"Research," Willow said, nodding her head.
"Tonight then," Dawn said, moving back to her desk.
"Do you still think we should hire her?" Dawn asked, leaning back in her chair.
"You need another real teacher on staff," Willow reminded her. "One with the correct paperwork for the state. And she has a lot of experience."
"Stupid bureaucrats," Dawn muttered. "Can't you just hack into their computers and fix it that way?"
"Not for something this trivial," Willow said, plopping down onto the window seat near the outer door. "Besides, you actually need someone with the ability to teach, even though her resume seems a bit odd."
"It's probably the whole haunting thing," Dawn said. "Just think about it," she added in response to a raised eyebrow. "There's all that restless ghost energy floating around her. Weird things probably happen to her all of the time."
"So she'll fit right in," Willow said.
"So, hire her?"
"If anything goes wrong I'm so blaming you!" Dawn told her. "And you get to tell the ghost to behave herself."
"Me?" Willow squeaked.
"You're the head of the Council Special Magic Projects Office," Dawn said, smirking. "I think this is one of yours."
"And who's idea was that?" Willow grumbled, poking the cushion she was sitting on.
Quinn stared down at the hiring packet. This was the first time she'd ever been asked to fill out a non-disclosure agreement. And just to teach English. But she needed the job. It was just another school, not some secret government agency. She'd left law school before such things were covered so she wasn't sure if the clause applying the agreement to any members of her household that she was responsible for was normal. Or necessary. She lived by herself. No pets, and dream Rachel wasn't even real.
Signing the form, Quinn put it aside and started reading the next one. The benefits seemed a bit too good to be real but living at the school would save her rent money so she wasn't going to object. And maybe the food in the cafeteria would better than she remembered school food being.
There were many things about being a ghost that Rachel Berry didn't like, not the least of which was being attached by some supernatural leash to her high school nemesis, Quinn Fabray. She'd measured the distance once. Apparently whomever had inflicted this cosmic joke on her used metric measurements. A decade spent no more than a thousand meters from Quinn must have been some sort of punishment.
Being stuck wearing only clothes Quinn had seen her in was another. She'd been on her way home from a week long trip to New York, a completely new wardrobe in her luggage, before the crash, and now she was never going to be able to wear any of it.
Before she died, if anyone had asked, Rachel would have said ghosts were common, but time had taught her differently. Quinn, in all her travels, managed to avoid places that Rachel thought should have ghosts. And when she did run into another ghost, it was usually just an echo, not something with a mind that she could communicate with. Very disappointing if the only person she could talk to, for the foreseeable future, was Quinn in her dreams. And she knew Quinn still thought she was a figment of her imagination.
This place, this new school, felt very different than the last few. For the first time since dying, Rachel felt energized. She couldn't influence Quinn directly or even talk with her except in her dreams but she really hoped this was the place they could finally settle down in. A place they could both belong.
Normally she would sit quietly, politely, waiting for Quinn to finish before exploring but the energy had her pacing. She felt like bursting into song but only dream Quinn ever heard her.
At some point in her pacing, Rachel noticed that there was slightly more energy near a large painting, next to the door to the inner office. Looking back at Quinn, her nose scrunched up adorably as she read one of the documents in front of her, Rachel decided, just this once, that it wouldn't hurt to look around a bit while she waited.
She preferred to use doors, even if she couldn't actually open then. Being a ghost was no excuse for being rude. Usually, she could just walk through them, but this one seemed very solid. Frowning, she pushed on the wall between the door and the painting. It took more than a little effort but she was finally able to get through, into the next room.
To find herself under the stern gazes of the tall brunette woman who'd interviewed Quinn earlier. She'd introduced herself to Quinn as Dr. Carter-Summers, the Headmistress. A petite redhead had joined her from somewhere, and was sitting in the window seat.
"Next time, knock," the Headmistress said.
Rachel smiled nervously, slowly backing up until she hit the wall she'd just walked through.
"Um... Hi?" she squeaked in surprise. This was the first time in a decade that anyone had acknowledged her.
"Do you have a name?"
"Oh, sorry," Rachel said. "I'm Rachel Berry."
"Does she know that you're haunting her, Rachel?" the redhead asked sternly, standing up.
"We talk all the time," Rachel said defensively.
"Really?" asked the Headmistress skeptically.
"In her dreams," Rachel muttered petulantly, feeling like a naughty child. "She thinks I'm imaginary."
"How long have you been haunting her?" the redhead asked, slowly approaching, her expression making Rachel feel like a bug under a microscope.
"She didn't come to my memorial service," Rachel grumbled, turning to follow the woman circling her. It still bothered her that Quinn hadn't made an appearance, even to gloat. "I didn't do anything to her. It wasn't my idea to get stuck to her."
"So you knew her before this?" the Headmistress asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Rachel answered reflexively. "We were in Glee together."
"So you must have been close friends to end up connected like this," the Headmistress asked.
"Not exactly," Rachel said. "She was captain of the Cheerios and I was going to be on Broadway."
"Huh." the redhead frowned at her. "We'll figure out the why later. If you're going to be wandering around, there are some ground-rules if you don't want to experience an exorcism up close and personal."
"Rules? You have rules for ghosts?" Rachel asked. "Are there other ghosts here?" she asked, bouncing eagerly on her toes.
"You're the first mobile non-corporeal being to make it through the wards," the redhead said.
"Wards?" She'd heard the term before but wasn't sure what it meant.
"What have you been doing since you became a ghost?"
"Traveling with Quinn," Rachel said."Why?"
"You don't know much about the supernatural do you?"
"I'm a ghost," Rachel said, stating the obvious.
"Ever run into any vampires, werewolves, or witches?" she asked.
"Those are just myths," Rachel said confidently.
The redhead shook her head, giving the headmistress a look Rachel couldn't interpret. "Not myths," she said.
"Do vampires really sparkle?" Rachel asked excitedly.
"No," the Headmistress said. "And they aren't cuddly vegetarians."
"No?" Rachel asked, frowning in disappointment. "How about witches? Do they ride broomsticks like in Harry Potter?"
"Witch," the redhead said, pointing at herself. "Not a stereotype. No brooms or black cats or pointy hats."
"Willow? Rules for the non-corporeal," the Headmistress reminded the redhead. "You can debunk stereotypes later."
"Right," Willow said. "Okay, several simple rules for now. One - you aren't allowed anywhere your host can't go. Two - no practical jokes or poltergeist-like activities. And no disrupting classes. Three - the rules that apply to her also apply to you. Clear?"
"Yes, ma'am," Rachel murmured.
"There's an orientation for new staff tomorrow morning," the Headmistress said. "You and Miss Fabray will be there."
"Anything else?" Rachel asked.
"Miss Fabray needs to know you're real," the Headmistress said. "If you don't tell her, we will."
"I've tried," Rachel protested. "She doesn't believe me."
"Try harder," Willow told her.
"Yes, ma'am," Rachel said. "Can I go now?"
"Use the door," Dr. Carter-Summers said. "No more sneaking through walls."
Rachel nodded. Turning around she walked through the door, rejoining Quinn.
"You're going to have your hands full with that one," Willow said, watching Dawn going through the folder of forms Quinn Fabray had filled out before leaving.
"Just another supernatural being," Dawn said. "Who doesn't take up real space."
"One who's an invisible teenager," Willow said. "At least you don't have to feed her or have parent-teacher conferences."
"Should we have warned her that some of the girls might be able to see her?" Dawn asked, closing folder.
The whole 'Quinn the Nomadic Substitute Teacher' concept is not reality compliant. Just pretend there's such a thing as a national teaching certificate and she has one. Also, this is not the first Glee ghost story where one or more of the Gleeks is a ghost.