Rachel takes a minute to think about how weird this is: Quinn Fabray without make-up sitting at the island in the Berry kitchen, sipping coffee out of a mug with a five-year-old Rachel in a tutu screened on one side and a big smiley face on the other.
Rachel pulls the door open and almost shuts it again, but her dad yells “who is it?” from the living room and she can’t very well just walk back in there and say “nobody”; he’d never believe her.
Instead, she crosses her arms over her chest and leans up against the doorframe with what she hopes is the most menacing scowl she can muster on her face, tapping her foot impatiently.
“What do you want?” Even if the glare on her face isn’t threatening, the tone of her voice makes up for it: low, menacing, angry, and plain bitchy.
Quinn looks up from her feet, briefly, but looks back down almost as quickly. Her hands, folded together in front of her, shake a little and even with Lima rush-hour traffic – honking horns and the sound of construction two streets over – she can hear Quinn’s breathing and it’s not regular. It’s shaky and thready and Rachel thinks, only for a moment, that it sounds like Quinn is trying to breathe underwater.
Quinn opens her mouth but nothing comes out so she closes it and opens it again. “I’m sorry to show up like this.”
Like this, with a duffel bag at her feet, red-rimmed eyes, and pale, sunken cheeks.
“I just couldn’t think of anywhere else I could go,” Quinn continues, biting her lip.
Something like fury rages through Rachel’s body. Who does she think she is? Rachel fumes. How does she think, after the way she’s treated me my entire life, that she can just show up here like I owe her something? Absolutely not, Quinn Fabray. Let’s see how you like being treated like dirt.
“Keep thinking,” Rachel sneers, “because you’re not staying here.”
She slams the door shut, looking down at her hands. They’re shaking so she puts them in her pockets before she heads back to the living room.
“Who was at the door?” her dad asks as she settles back into her seat, tucking her legs up under her body. He must see the red in her cheeks and angry tears forming in her eyes because he presses pause on the remote, freezing Julia Roberts and the UPS truck in motion. “Rachel, honey? What’s wrong?” As soon as he slides close enough to her, she buries her face in his shoulder and lets out a dry sob.
“Go check the door,” Phil commands, running a hand from the top of Rachel’s head to the middle of her back.
James goes to the door and after a couple of minutes, he comes back with wide eyes and Quinn trailing a couple steps behind.
Rachel breaks out of her dad’s hold and rises with her fists clenched at her sides. “I told you, you can’t stay here,” she growls.
“Rachel,” Phil warns.
“No, dad,” she throws back. “I’m nice to her in school and I tolerate her name-calling and her put downs because I understand where I am and where she is on the social order, even if she has dropped down a couple places,” Rachel says with a pointed look at Quinn’s stomach. “But this is my home. This is where I live. And she doesn’t get to be here.”
She’s breathing hard when she finishes and blood is rushing in her ears and her face feels like it’s on fire. Phil blinks a couple of times; James stands perfectly still and nothing happens until Quinn lets out a soft whimper.
“I shouldn’t have come here,” she whispers. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Quinn hoists her duffel bag back onto her shoulder and looks at Rachel with wet eyes. “I’m sorry,” she whispers again.
Phil steps forward as Quinn turns. “Stay.”
Phil ignores Rachel’s outburst and motions to James. “Could you show her the guest room? I think I put the clean towels in the linen closet.”
James glances at Rachel – who’s standing, furiously, in the middle of the room with narrowed eyes and clenched teeth – but smiles when catches he Quinn’s eye. “I put the clean towels in the linen closet,” he mumbles as he steers Quinn through the room – making a wide berth around Rachel – towards the stairs.
As soon as they’re out of sight, Rachel rounds on her dad. “How could you do that?”
“Don’t placate me,” she snaps. “This is my house,” she shouts, jabbing her finger into her own chest.
“Put yourself in Quinn’s shoes,” Phil tries to reason.
“I can’t, because I’m smart and responsible and not pregnant.”
“I thought,” Phil says gently, “that you were also a decent, kind, loving human being.”
Rachel nods defiantly. “I am.”
Phil sighs. “You could have fooled me,” he mutters, but Rachel doesn’t hear him because she’s marching up the stairs with heavy steps and slamming her bedroom door.
Phil sighs again.
Rachel doesn’t come down for dinner when her dad calls her. Food is overrated anyway.
In the morning, her daddy – James, with his Rachel-esque smile – puts a face on her pancake using fruit. She smiles brightly at him, but the smile fades as soon as he puts another plate down in front of Quinn with the same design.
Rachel scowls, peeking a glance over at Quinn in between bites. There are dark circles under Quinn’s eyes and red lining the hazel orbs; little lines in her forehead where her brow is pushed together; colorless cheeks.
She looks miserable, Rachel thinks, pushing syrup-soaked pancake bits around her plate. Her dad reaches across the table quietly and touches Quinn’s hand for a brief second and Rachel’s resolve – and angry – is solidified.
“We’re going to be late,” Rachel says tersely, sliding off the kitchen stool.
“Did you want to go to school, Quinn?” James asks quietly.
Rachel, with her back to the kitchen, doesn’t hear Quinn respond, but she must nod because Rachel can hear the car keys slide off the hook and then two sets of feet are following her through the door leading to the garage.
Rachel sits sullenly in the passenger seat and turns up the radio until she’s sure her ears are going to bleed.
He’s not hard to spot – because he towers over the student body in a way that’s freakishly disturbing – so the second she spots Finn, she beelines for him, lifting onto her tip toes and grabbing him by the collar.
“Come with me,” she commands, almost as if he has a choice, or can protest. They reach the Glee headquarters and she all but tosses him into the room, following quickly and pulling the door shut behind them.
“You, be quiet.” His eyes go wide and she can’t help but think he looks like a puppy when he does that, with his slack-jaw and his face bunched in thought. She shakes her head to clear the thoughts and focus on the task at hand: Quinn. “What is going on with Quinn and why isn’t she at your house?”
She frowns a little, because she had a whole speech planned out and there was going to be pacing back and forth, which she was looking forward to because with all her pent up anger this morning and waking up a little later than usual, she didn’t get her usual exercise routine in. Now, she’s skipped right to the conclusion of the speech and Finn’s wide-eyed, puppy look is gone, replaced by a scowl and hard, dark eyes.
“So that’s where she went? To you?”
Even though she’s wondering the same thing, she can’t help but be offended by his tone of voice; by the disbelief in his words.
Finn slams a heavy hand down on the piano. “I figured she’d go running to Puck, and he’d be waiting with open arms, because he sucks!”
“What’s Puck got to do with anything?” she asks, and then realizes that maybe she shouldn’t have, because Finn’s face gets red and his eyes go blank.
He laughs. “She didn’t tell you, did she?”
“Tell me what?”
“The baby is Puck’s,” Finn tries to say nonchalantly, but she can tell it hurts to because he bites his bottom lip and looks away from and his hands ball into fists.
Rachel knows she needs to close her mouth, but she just keeps staring at him, blinking. “The baby…”
“Is Puck’s,” he finishes for her, his head falling into his hands. “God,” he chokes out. “She’s not even my kid.”
She’s not sure what to do, but in the book her dad bought her – How To Make Friends and Keep Them – it says something about comfort going hand and hand with tears, so she sits, cautiously, next to him on the piano bench and puts a hesitant hand on his back, rubbing in small circles, the way her daddy did the first time the Cheerios commented on her MySpace videos. Finn’s body shudders at her touch and then he’s putting his head into the crook of her neck and no, this is not the way she imagined they would end up, but her neck grows wet from his tears and she’s helpless to do anything but sit there and rock side to side and whisper “it’s going to be okay” while all she can think about is hurting Quinn Fabray and shaving off Noah Puckerman’s mohawk.
Glee is a terribly awkward affair. Puck sits, sulking, in a corner and Santana sneers at him every few minutes. Quinn sits, cross-legged, on a chair near the piano, staring at Finn.
Finn, though, acts as if nothing is wrong. He smiles at Artie as they talk about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and laughs when Tina tells a joke that isn’t funny because she stutters through the entire thing. If his gaze roams and lands on Quinn, he only looks away and jumps back into the story Kurt is telling about his dad trying to bond with him over football.
Rachel watches the group and in her mind, they start to move, forming clusters and taking sides. A mental count gives her Finn, Kurt, Tina, Santana, Mercedes, and Artie as one team; Matt and Mike as a neutral party; Quinn and the baby as the opposition; Puck would be the one man front. She can’t figure out where to put Brittany but then decides to put Brittany where she put Santana, because there’s more to that friendship then either girl are letting on and it’s just no one has been able to pinpoint it yet.
Which leaves Rachel on no one’s team, just the way she’s destined to be; just the way it’s always been.
“Santana,” she hears on the right, in Quinn’s timid voice. She turns just in time to see Santana reel back from Quinn’s outstretched hand as if it’s on fire.
“Don’t you dare try and apologize to me,” Santana hisses, canting a hip to the left. “I have nothing to say to you.”
Quinn tries again. “I’m sorry.”
Santana rolls her eyes. “You should have thought of that before you slept with my boyfriend.”
Rachel watches the whole thing, but doesn’t say a word. What would I even say? she wonders. Besides, she decides, I want to be on Team Finn.
It’s clear, by the end of practice, that Glee is a club divided, and Rachel blushes and pretends, when her dad picks her up in front of the school and everyone is watching, that Quinn doesn’t get in the car with her.
“Rachel, could you pass Quinn the broccoli, please?” Rachel can feel her daddy looking at her, but she keeps her eyes firmly on her plate and pretends like she never heard a word. “Rachel,” he says in a voice she’s only ever heard twice in her life – once, when she broke a lamp during a ‘diva-fit’ and another time when she shouted that she was nothing but a talentless loser.
“It’s okay, Mr. Berry,” Quinn says quietly, stretching an arm across the table.
Before she can touch it, Rachel picks it up and thrusts it in Quinn’s direction. “Don’t do me any favors,” she grumbles.
She thinks she sees a spark in Quinn’s eyes – the kind of spark that usually led to mid-afternoon slushie facials and snarky comments – but as soon as it comes, it’s gone and Quinn is pushing the new broccoli on her plate around, mixing it with the broccoli she’s hardly touched.
“May I be excused?”
Her father’s both say “yes” before she even finishes the sentence and her chair almost falls back when she stands. On her way up the stairs, she hears her dad apologize for her behavior, and what Quinn says – something she can’t hear from the landing – makes her dads laugh.
It should be Rachel down there, laughing and eating with her parents, but just like everything good in Rachel’s life, Quinn Fabray is swooping in and taking over.
It’s just not fair.
Rachel regards him coolly before going back to her homework. Her daddy sighs and moves into the room.
“Rachel,” he starts, but she interrupts him.
“I’m still mad at you,” she announces, tossing her hair over her shoulder. She thinks she hears him snicker but doesn’t turn around.
She finally turns back to him and crosses her arms over her chest – a silent invitation for him to speak.
“I know this isn’t ideal, having Quinn here.” She doesn’t correct him. “But we raised you to be better than the silent treatment. And we both know that you’re a good person. Everyone here knows you’re a good person.”
“Maybe that’s what I’m tired of,” Rachel says quietly. James looks at her and gives her an encouraging smile. “Maybe I’m tired of being the good person. I just, I’m always the one who gets trampled on. People make fun of me and they call me names and I know it’s because they have low self-esteem and bad hygiene, but even though I’m the one they use to make themselves feel better, I always say ‘oh, it’s okay’ and maybe I’m tired of doing that.”
“I’m just tired of being the bigger person all the time because people just continue to put me down. And Quinn?” Her words catch in her throat and she waits a minute before she speaks again. “Quinn was always the ringleader. And now, just because she’s suddenly understanding what it’s like to be treated the way I’m treated, I’m supposed to welcome her with open arms?”
He’s quiet for a few minutes, thinking about what she’s said. “No, Rachel, you’re not supposed to. But there’s something else you need to realize. You have people. You have me and you have your dad and those Glee kids. Quinn doesn’t have that many people; not anyone that truly cares, at least.” He steps to her and leans down, pressing a kiss to her forehead, letting it linger for a moment. “Just remember that we all need someone, honey. And Quinn needs someone too.” He smiles down at her. “Goodnight, baby.”
“Night, Daddy,” she whispers to his retreating back.
She wakes up to a noise she doesn’t recognize. Her back aches, because she’s hunched over at her desk and her face is sticky from being pressed against her math book. Touching her cheek gently, she can feel the lines of the pages indented on her skin and she runs a hand through her hair, leaning back and arching over the top of the chair, cracking the sore spots on her back.
It’s not until she hears the noise again that she registers it woke her up. Cautiously, she tip-toes down the hallway, passing her fathers’ room, noting the door is shut firmly and no light leaks out from the crack between the door and the threshold.
Which means its Quinn; specifically, it’s Quinn throwing up.
Rachel nudges the bathroom door open with a foot and almost wishes she hadn’t. She’s beginning to realize that she opens a lot of doors with Quinn Fabray behind them and wants to shut them almost instantly, and if that’s not a sign, she’s not sure what is.
Quinn, on her knees, bent over the porcelain bowl, doesn’t look back when Rachel takes a step into the small room. If anything, Rachel notices, she grips the edges of the toilet a little tighter and pulls herself closer, away from Rachel.
Just as Rachel is about to say something, Quinn’s body convulses and she dry heaves a few times. Sighing, because if Quinn doesn’t calm down, her fathers will be out here soon, she kneels down beside Quinn and pulls sweaty tendrils of hair off of Quinn’s face, wrapping them around her finger and tying them back. Quinn tries to pull out of her grasp, but Rachel moves with her, one hand pressing low on Quinn’s back to keep her steady.
“Just let it go,” she whispers softly, the words echoing off the cold ceramic.
After a few minutes more, Quinn’s body sags a little to the left, into Rachel, and they sink to the floor, Rachel’s back pressed against the cool bathtub, Quinn sprawled across her lap. Rachel’s fingers move across Quinn’s face, wiping away the sweat and pushing the errant hairs behind Quinn’s ears.
“This doesn’t mean I’m not still mad,” she feels the need to announce, albeit quietly. Quinn nods, but the motion is almost imperceptible. “And,” Rachel continues, “This doesn’t mean I don’t dislike you. I dislike you very much.”
“Okay,” Quinn whispers. “That’s okay.”
They don’t talk about it in the morning – anyway, what would they say? Rachel still doesn’t talk at breakfast and the music is still almost unbearably loud, but she doesn’t throw dirty looks at Quinn and she doesn’t sprint out of the car when her dad pulls up to the school.
It’s a start, Rachel decides.
She’s not a saint, she’s a teenage girl.
At dinner, she corners her parents while Quinn is upstairs.
“She gets one chance. If she messes up, she’s out of here.” Phil quirks an eyebrow, nodding only after James elbows him lightly in the side.
Rachel nods resolutely. “I mean it, too. If I say she goes, and she deserves it, she’s gone.”
James reaches a hand out and touches Rachel’s temple lightly. “Of course, kiddo.”
“You can’t do that,” Quinn protests. Rachel pauses outside of the band room and lingers by the door.
A chorus of voices rises, but Finn’s stands out – she would be able to recognize that voice anywhere. “Yes, we can. And we did. Majority rules.”
She rounds the doorway and sees what the commotion is all about: Quinn is standing in the middle of the room, with the Glee kids in a semi-circle around her, minus Matt and Mike and Brittany who are all sitting on the risers, pretending not to pay attention.
“Majority rules,” Santana echoes smugly.
“Majority rules what?” Rachel asks, stepping into the circle. She thinks she sees something like defeat cross Quinn’s face, but the blond schools her features and tries to stand there defiant.
Finn smile excitedly. “We kicked Quinn out of Glee.”
“What?” Rachel sputters.
His smile falters a little, but Finn repeats himself. “We took a vote and kicked Quinn out of Glee.”
Rachel takes a moment to process. “Well,” she finally asks,” what were the numbers?”
“The numbers?” Finn asks, tilting his head to the left.
“The ‘for’ and ‘against,’ Finn,” Kurt says, exasperated. “Six for extermination, one against, three no votes.”
“That doesn’t add up,” Rachel points out, but it clicks when she see Quinn glaring, specifically, at Santana. “Santana,” she says wearily. “You can’t vote for Brittany, especially when she votes for herself.”
“She’s my best friend,” Santana argues.
“The vote is disregarded,” Rachel says authoritatively. “Who’s the vote against?”
Puck, who she didn’t see in the far corner, raises his hand. Rachel nods and tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
“Well, as Glee captain, I veto your vote. Quinn stays.”
Mercedes tosses her hand out as if to say “who cares about this anyway” and Tina follows suit. Puck smiles, genuinely, from the corner. Quinn’s shoulders sag – with relief, Rachel thinks – and a hand strays to her stomach. Rachel watches it, wondering if Quinn even knows she’s muttering under her breath and whispering to her unborn daughter.
Only Finn and Santana remain standing, sneering at Rachel.
“We voted!” Finn cries while Santana nods furiously.
Rachel shrugs. “I vetoed you.”
“You can’t do that.”
“Yes, I can,” Rachel says slowly. “You both are letting this become a personal vendetta. I can understand that, because generally speaking, I don’t like you, Quinn.” Quinn’s hand freezes on her stomach then drops and Quinn frowns. “But this can’t be about our personal feelings,” she continues. “Like it or not, we need Quinn,” she says resolutely, addressing the other Glee kids. “She’s the even number. We have six guys and six girls. If we kick her out, we’re down a person and we won’t qualify for Sectionals.”
“So we get someone else,” Santana says flippantly.
“On short notice?” Rachel shakes her head. “It won’t work. Quinn knows the songs and the dance steps and she has a marginally decent voice. If we want a shot at winning Sectionals, we need her.”
She sees the gears in Santana’s head turning – the cheerleader is vindictive, sure, but she’s almost relatively intelligent and knows that Rachel is right: they need Quinn if they want to get through Sectionals into Regionals. Santana meets Rachel eyes and shrugs. “Whatever. She can stay. But she better stay over there,” she decides, pointing away from the group.
Rachel nods. “Done.”
“Hey,” Quinn says, insulted.
She turns to Finn, but he’s staring at her with a blank look and she knows he doesn’t understand. “So you’re choosing her over me?” he asks quietly.
Rachel shakes her head furiously. “I’m not choosing anyone over anybody,” she tries to reassure him.
He laughs, but it’s an empty laugh. “Sure you are. You’re choosing her. Over me.”
“Finn,” she tries, but he’s pushing past her and then past Mr. Schuester as they collide in the doorway. “Finn,” she calls, but he doesn’t turn around and doesn’t stop moving.
“Everything okay?” Mr. Schuester asks hesitantly.
Rachel steels her shoulders and turns back towards the center of the room where everyone is looking at her with wide eyes except for Quinn who won’t make eye contact with her. She smiles at Mr. Schuester and he has the common courtesy not to tell her just how fake the smile is, but says “Let’s get started, shall we?”
Rachel looks up when she feels someone watching her.
“Thank you,” Quinn says after a moment. “For making them keep me in Glee.”
“I didn’t do that for you,” Rachel says quickly, harshly. She sees Quinn flinch and softens her tone. “I did it for Glee. It’s too late in the year to get someone new up to speed.
“Okay,” Quinn says, but she looks unconvinced. “Whatever the reason; thank you.”
Quinn doesn’t hang around for the “you’re welcome.”
Finn appears at her locker a week later, his shoulders hunched over, scuffing the floor with his feet. “I owe you an apology, huh?”
Rachel pretends like he’s not even there, which is easy, because from where she’s standing, it’s not like she can just stare into his eyes. It would require her to lift her head all the way back so that her spinal cord would bend ninety degrees, which is uncomfortable.
“Rachel,” he pleads.
“Yes, you owe me an apology. But I’m not the only one,” she says pointedly, looking down the hallway.
He follows her gaze and immediately begins to protest. “Absolutely not,” he declares. “She doesn’t deserve it.”
“Well, she certainly doesn’t deserve your forgiveness, but she does deserve an apology. You tried to kick her out of Glee, Finn. I’m not telling you to go over there and suddenly say it’s okay that she’s having the baby of your best friend, but maybe if you told her that you were sorry that you let your personal attachment almost successfully sabotage Glee, it’d be a start.”
He stares down at her. “How do you do that?”
“Do what?” she asks slowly. Down the hall, Quinn looks at her and raises her hand in a half-wave, letting it drop when Rachel doesn’t wave back.
“Become a robot. You just, like, shut off sometimes. Not that it’s a bad thing,” he says quickly, because he must see the way her eyes widen – she can feel them widen and burn around the edges.
“It’s a talent,” she says blandly, shutting her locker quietly and moving down the hallway.
“Damn,” she hears him say under his breath.
This time, she’s the one staring. Quinn is lying on her back on the guest bed, head positioned up at the ceiling, little white buds in her ears. She can hear Quinn quietly singing – it sounds like “Black Velvet” and it’s pleasant enough that Rachel is content to stand in the doorway and listen to the rest of the song.
Right before the end though, Quinn turns and her eyes lock with Rachel. Her voice drops to a hum for the last few bars and when the song is over, she pulls one of the earphones out and rolls over and into a sitting position.
Rachel sighs. This was a bad idea, coming here to talk to Quinn.
“This was a bad idea,” she repeats, out loud.
“Hey, wait,” Quinn calls as Rachel turns back to the hallway. “What did you want to talk about?”
The words and the look on Quinn’s face – the genuine-looking curiosity, which could very easily be attributed to the fact that Quinn used to be a social butterfly and now she’s just lonely and willing for any company – have Rachel crossing the threshold and perching on the edge of the bed.
“Do you think I’m,” she pauses, not sure how to word it, but then decides that Finn said it best. “Do you think I’m robotic?”
Quinn snorts and promptly covers her mouth with her hand, eyes wide with laughter. “I’m sorry,” she says from behind her hand. “What did you just ask me?”
Rachel takes a breath, purses her lips, straightens her shoulders and asks again. “Do you think I’m a robot?”
“It would certainly explain a few things,” Quinn says, but she’s smiling and it doesn’t sting the way Finn’s words did. “No, to answer your question, I don’t think you’re a robot. I think you’re,” now Quinn pauses, and Rachel can see the way she sticks the tip of her tongue in the corner of her mouth while she thinks. “Determined,” she finally says. “Determined and appropriately distanced when you need to be.”
“So I’m pretty much a robot,” Rachel sighs. “You just made it sound nicer.”
Quinn doesn’t confirm nor deny, but pulls the other bud out of her ear. “Who called you a robot? Puck?”
Rachel sighs again. “Finn mentioned it.”
“Finn? Why would he call you a robot?”
“It’s not important,” Rachel says, rising to her feet and giving Quinn a hesitant smile. “Thanks.”
Quinn nods. “I didn’t really do anything,” she admits, “but you’re welcome.”
“What are you doing today?” Quinn asks, passing Rachel the sugar bowl.
Rachel takes a minute to think about how weird this is: Quinn Fabray without make-up sitting at the island in the Berry kitchen, sipping coffee out of a mug with a five-year-old Rachel in a tutu screened on one side and a big smiley face on the other.
“Uh,” she finally says, “School.”
Quinn nods. “Right. I mean after school. And after Glee.”
“Oh.” She goes through her mental planner. Today was supposed to be a heavy, afternoon workout on the elliptical, followed by a deep rinse facial, but Quinn looks eerily nonchalant and her eyes are darting back and forth between Rachel’s face and her quickly-draining coffee mug. “I’m not sure yet,” she lies. “Was there something you needed?”
Quinn waves a hand in the air, like she’s brushing away invisible lint. “It’s not a big deal.”
Rachel reaches out and grabs Quinn’s flailing limb, holding it still against her elevated knee. They both pause for a moment, but Rachel recovers first, still holding Quinn’s hand. “What do you need help with?”
Quinn laughs a little, but it’s pitchy and dies quickly. “My second ultrasound is this afternoon. Finn isn’t coming, obviously. Puck offered, but that’s just, it’s just a ‘no,’ so I was wondering if you wanted to tag along.” Quinn bites her bottom lip and flexes her hands, one of which is still on Rachel’s knee so Quinn’s nails dig into her flesh quickly before Quinn realizes what she’s doing. “Sorry,” she murmurs.
On the inside, Rachel is laughing because Quinn looks so nervous and self-conscious and even though she’s seen the ex-cheerleader cry more times over the last two weeks than she’d like to admit, she still is a little freaked out whenever Quinn doesn’t just demand something. She thinks it makes Quinn human; it’s endearing and personable and easier to see Quinn when she’s like this, all hesitation and half-smiles.
“I’m your third choice,” she says, trying to act insulted. She can’t though, because at Quinn’s wide-eyed look and the useless opening and closing of her mouth, Rachel breaks into a laugh and doubles over. “I’m sorry,” she wheezes. “It’s just that you, and then…”
Quinn is staring at her like she’s lost her mind.
“Oh jeez,” Rachel mutters, tossing Quinn’s hand back at her lightly, grabbing another piece of toast off the stack on the counter, biting off a generous corner. “I think I broke you,” she laughs.
“Jerk,” Quinn mutters, following Rachel out of the kitchen.
Without thinking, Rachel looks back over her shoulder and winks.
Rachel fiddles with her hands and glances around the room, taking in the shiny metal objects, shuddering.
“Are you nervous?” Quinn asks, breaking through the fog in Rachel’s mind. Rachel goes wide-eyed guiltily and shakes her head furiously. “Because I’m the one with my feet in stirrups, so, calm down.”
Adjusting her gown, Quinn flashes a smile and Rachel tries to take a deep breath.
“It’s the metal,” she admits.
Quinn looks over and quirks an eyebrow. “The metal,” she repeats.
“It’s just so Terminator, you know? I used to think it was going to come alive spontaneously.” She claps a hand over her mouth, horrified. “I never said that.”
Except that Quinn is openly laughing and she really did just admit that out loud. “Would have thought that Rachel Berry is afraid of the doctors?”
“I’m afraid of the possibility of Judgment Day,” she corrects adamantly. “If you’re going to laugh at my expense, at least take the time to make fun of the right phobia.”
“You’re right,” Quinn concedes, eyes twinkling. She opens her mouth, about to say something else when the door is pushed open and instead of the doctor, Puck and Finn are standing in the doorway, shoulder to shoulder.
Rachel recovers first. “What are you two doing here?”
Puck steps forward and frowns. “What are you doing here, Streisand?”
“I asked her to come,” Quinn says from the table, clapping her knees together and crossing her arms defensively across her chest. “I didn’t, however, invite you two.”
“That’s my kid,” Puck says, pointing at Quinn’s stomach.
“Yeah, well,” Finn says from the doorway. “I used to think that was my kid.”
“And you’ve made perfectly clear that you don’t want anything to do with this baby,” Quinn says in a low voice. She turns to point at Puck. “And you. I told you to stay away from me.”
Puck takes another step forward. “And that’s my kid in that stomach of yours, so I’m staying.” He sits down a stool, as if to prove his point.
Rachel rises off of her own stool. “She said she didn’t want either of you here.”
“Stay out of this, Manhands. What do you even know about boys?” Quinn snaps. Rachel’s head turns back around towards Quinn, who’s suddenly realized what she said. “Rachel, I-”
Rachel smiles brightly and grabs her purse off the floor by her stool. “Just bring her back when you three are done working through all your sexual tension, okay?” she asks, directing it at Finn.
Wordlessly, he nods.
Things are tense again, and underlying current running across the table like they’re two opposite ends of a magnetic, battling for the center charge.
Rachel doesn’t speak at dinner and almost snaps at her dad when he asks how her day went, but shovels another forkful of strained cauliflower into her mouth before she says anything stupid. She isn’t expected to talk a lot anyway; James and Phil want to know all about the ultrasound and the little baby girl nestled in Quinn’s lower abdomen.
She nods and hums in the right places when her fathers look at her, because as far as they know she was in that doctor’s office the whole time. Instead, she hangs on every word surreptitiously, and notices that Quinn conveniently leaves out the Shrek-like oaf and the Neanderthal that crashed the appointment.
Quinn follows her up the stairs, but doesn’t say anything because Rachel’s parents are still within hearing distance. As soon as they reach the landing, Quinn reaches for Rachel’s elbow, but Rachel pulls away right before Quinn touches her, mumbling something about sleep and escaping to her room. She leans against the door, listening to the footsteps in the hallway.
Quinn stands in front of her door a couple of minutes before moving down the hallway and Rachel exhales a breath she didn’t know she was holding.
“This isn’t a good idea anymore,” Rachel announces at breakfast, in between taking a sip of her orange juice and chewing a piece of cantaloupe.
Phil’s hand freezes, hovering above the table; James drops the corner of the newspaper he was reading and looks down his nose, through his glasses at Rachel.
“What’s not a good idea anymore?” Phil asks slowly.
Rachel chews what it’s in her thoughtfully, swallowing. “Our current living situation.”
Quinn drops her spoon. It clatters against the ceramic plate, a loud echo in a quiet room. “Rachel,” she says quietly.
Phil looks at James who shrugs his shoulders. “Girls, what’s going on?”
Rachel own utensil hits her plate and the sound is louder than before, mostly because she throws it more than drops it. “Don’t do that. Don’t say ‘girls’ like she belongs here.”
Quinn clears her throat and Phil falls silent. “She’s right,” Quinn says softly. “I’ve imposed on you guys for too long now.”
“No,” she continues, cutting James off. “I was, uh, wrong to expect to be able to stay here.” She wipes the corner of her mouth with her napkin and pushes her stool back, dropping to the tile floor. “I’ll get my stuff together.”
Rachel watches her leave the kitchen and takes another long sip of her juice, trying to ignore her parents looking at her like she should do something, but she can feel their stares so she looks up. “What? I told you,” she directs at her dad accusingly. “One misstep and she’s gone. We talked about this.”
“You’re an adult,” her dad says softly. “And you’re more than capable of making your own decisions, but I’m pulling the Dad card.”
Rachel’s mouth drops open. “You can’t do that.”
“Ah ha,” he hums, eyes twinkling. “I can and I just did. That’s the beauty of being a dad.” His smile fades and his eyes grow serious. “Go. Go stop her from leaving.”
Rachel thinks about pouting, but her daddy is chuckling light behind his newspaper and her dad is waiting for her to get up from the island, so she goes, but she stomps a little when she walks.
Rachel pauses with her hand raised, knuckles resting against the door. She hears the ripping sound of a zipper and words she can’t comprehend and then silence. Before she can back away from the door, it’s pulled open and her hand just hangs uselessly in the air.
“What?” Quinn snaps, not actually looking at Rachel, but rather, over her shoulder into the hallway. “Did you come to make sure I get to the front door alright?”
Rachel shimmies through the doorway, avoiding contact with Quinn’s body.
“I wanted to,” she swallows hard, “apologize.”
Quinn laughs mirthlessly. “No you don’t’.”
“Yes I do,” Rachel insists, stepping forward with conviction, eyes ablaze with determination. “I was wrong to want you to leave.”
“Listen,” Quinn sighs, dropping into the chair at the desk her daddy brought up from the basement for the blond. “I know you don’t like this situation and I know you think I’m invading and trying to take over. I just can’t go home and I obviously can’t stay at Finn’s anymore.”
Rachel leans her elbows on her knees. “Why did you say anything to him? About being the father,” she clarifies.
Quinn shrugs her shoulders. “Puck already knew and all of the baby drama was stressing Finn out. I got tired of lying, I guess.”
“So you just kind of blurted it out?” Rachel’s curious, because she never heard the story of how Finn came to know about Puck and Quinn; she’s only heard that she did and Quinn wasn’t exactly graceful while doing it.
“Word vomit,” Quinn mutters. Rachel’s face stays blank; she has no idea if she’s supposed to know what that means. “You know,” Quinn prompts, and clearly Rachel should have. “Mean Girls?”
Rachel gives a small smile.
“You have no idea what I’m talking about,” Quinn concludes, smiling a little.
“No,” Rachel admits sheepishly.
“I have it here, somewhere,” Quinn says, eyes scanning the room. “We can watch it…”
Quinn’s voice trails off, but Rachel makes a decision and tries not to dwell on it. “I have too much homework tonight, but how about tomorrow night? We’ll watch your movie and then I’ll pick one?”
“Tomorrow?” Quinn asks hesitantly.
Rachel nods, slightly unsure but aware of what she needs to do. “You should stay. I was…out of line, to want you to leave.”
“It’s your house. It’s your life,” Quinn says.”And I just kind of jumped into it without warning.”
“And you need a place to stay. If only for the baby’s sake,” Rachel adds.
Quinn pulls at the leg of her jeans. “I’m sorry about the snapping yesterday. And the name-calling.”
“It’s fine,” Rachel insists, blushing. It’s really not fine – it stung more than usual because she had her guard down; she’s become entirely too comfortably around Quinn Fabray and she paid for it in embarrassment and humiliation. Quinn must see that on her face because when Rachel looks up, Quinn is blushing and sucking her cheeks in and biting her bottom lip.
“Well, anyway,” Quinn says in an almost-whisper. “I’m still sorry. And I really did want you there.”
“Next time,” Rachel promises, heading for the door.
“Next time,” Quinn repeats. She winks. “It’s a date.”
She can’t sleep.
She’s tried water and warm milk and she’s turned on some music – her daddy’s soft rock collection – only too turn it off again because nothing works.
Rachel can hear restless walking – pacing one way then the other – and knows that nausea is keeping Quinn up again. In the morning, the blond is going to refuse a cup of coffee, gulp down orange juice, flinch at the smell of the scrambled eggs and insist on eating plain toast. Rachel is going to outwardly sigh – just by knowing tonight that Quinn will eat all the toast, Rachel is going to want some tomorrow – but inwardly, she’ll grin – more coffee for her.
I haven’t forgiven her completely, she decides. I can’t forgive her yet, and I can’t let my guard down either, because I’ll only get hurt.
She turns over and buries her face in the pillow. Girls like me aren’t friends with girls like her.
Except that her guard slips a little more each day, every time Quinn smiles or makes a joke or adds two teaspoons of sugar – “It’s the perfect amount” Rachel argues – to Rachel’s coffee in the morning before Rachel even gets downstairs.
Quinn sneaks in through the cracks when Rachel isn’t looking.
“We’ve got The Princess Bride…and according to your facial expression, Princess Bride is a no,” Quinn laughs, tossing the DVD case onto the easy chair in the living room. “So,” Quinn continues, holding up both hands. “Charade, featuring the gush-worthy Cary Grant, or we can watch Casablanca.”
Rachel tilts her head to the left. “How did The Princess Bride get mixed up with those two?”
Quinn shrugs and smiles. “Who knows? Just pick one so we can eat the popcorn already.”
Rule #3 of movie night in the Berry house: no eating until the movie start, including the pregnant girl – an amendment Rachel insisted upon adding when Quinn finished an entire bowl of popcorn before the movie even started.
She pretends to take her time even though they both Rachel will pick Casablanca because Humphrey Bogart, Rachel claims, the only truly honest character she’s ever encountered in her life. Quinn chooses not to comment, but decides to agree, she told Rachel once, only because they get to eat more when they argue less.
“Casablanca,” Rachel decides, but Quinn already has it popped out of the case and is just waiting for the DVD player to open.
Quinn settles into a corner of the couch and then looks around wildly for the popcorn, but Rachel, at the other end of the couch, has it planted on her lap and she’s slowly eating one kernel at a time.
“That’s not funny.”
Rachel smirks. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
“Berry,” Quinn growls, but her eyes are laughing and her teeth are clenched in a way that Rachel finds comical and cute. “You better hand that popcorn over, or else.”
“Or else what?” Rachel taunts. “You’re going to stare at me until I die of boredom?”
Quinn flushes. “Fine,” she grumbles. “I’m coming over there.”
“I’m glad you’re warning me about this,” Rachel says, pulling back the blanket she’s huddled underneath. Quinn slides underneath it gracefully, and by the time the flurry of hot pink jersey cotton settles around them, Quinn has her hands balled up under her chin and her ear is pressed to Rachel’s thigh.
“Pass the popcorn,” Quinn mutters.
She looks up and pauses. Tilting her head back even further, she finally makes eye contact with Finn and gives him a soft smile.
This Finn-crush thing has been running its course, and in the week and a half that they haven’t spoken, since he crashed Quinn’s ultrasound appointment, she had almost completely forgotten about him. She thinks maybe it’s because she has no one to fight for his attention – Kurt, really, doesn’t stand a chance – and she’s been so consumed with school and Quinn lately that Finn has just slipped his mind.
“Hello, Finn,” she says, closing her locker. She turns and dives into the morning crowd. He catches up with her quickly and falls into step easily.
“So, I was wondering something,” he starts, lifting his backpack higher up on his shoulder. “Rachel, stop,” he says with a laugh, grabbing her and turning to face him. One hand covers his shoulder and the other slides along her jaw line.
Rachel glances around the hallway nervously and yes, everyone is watching to see what is going to happen next.
“I was wondering,” Finn says quietly, “If you wanted to maybe go out with me. Friday,” he adds.
A wave of a murmur goes through the hallway and with Finn looking down at her with those big, puppy-dog eyes; she’s not sure what to do. She swallows, hard, and tries to move her head. It tilts up and down a little bit and his eyes start to sparkle.
“Sure,” she says, but it’s more a question than a statement, and she doesn’t really understand this: she’s supposed to be in love with Finn. He’s supposed to be her high school sweetheart – the sensitive jock with a heart of gold and the voice of an angel. She’s supposed to get a butterfly type of feeling in her stomach every time he touches her and when he smiles at her and she’s not supposed to be able to contain her excitement when he finally asks her out on a date.
That’s what all the movies say.
Except she’s only thinking about what Quinn will say when she finds out – even thought Quinn has said, many times, she’s over Finn and the golden boy dreams she used to have.
It doesn’t matter to Finn. He smiles and nods enthusiastically. “Awesome. I’ll pick you up at eight. We can go bowling again!”
As soon as he bounds down the hallway, Rachel remembers that Friday is movie night with Quinn.
Quinn pauses in the middle of separating the laundry – “Reds over there, Rachel, and the whites over here. That’s why all your clothes are pink” – giving Rachel a look that Rachel can’t put a name to over her shoulder. “Well,” she says, “that’s nice.”
“You’re not mad?”
Quinn laughs and puts another dark sweatshirt into the washer machine. “I told you, Finn and I are done, for good. Have at him, if you really want him.”
Rachel is sure Quinn is trying to sound friendly, trying to sound happy and carefree, but there’s a hint of darkness in her tone and her eyes won’t meet Rachel’s across the room.
“I don’t have to go,” Rachel says softly; so softly she’s not sure Quinn hears her over the dryer, because the blond doesn’t say anything for a moment. Finally, Quinn looks back over her shoulder and gives a smile that doesn’t reach her eyes.
“Of course you do.”
She knows the night is going to go horribly wrong the minute he grabs her hand as they’re moving down the walkway to the car, because his hand is sweaty and she knows if she were to turn around, Quinn would be sitting in the front window, watching them go, holding a bowl of popcorn that she doesn’t have to share with anyone.
The whole night, she can’t shake the feeling that Quinn is watching her.
Shutting the door softly behind her, she finally lets out the breath she’s been holding since the car stopped in front of her house. Rachel knew Finn would try to kiss her; it was inevitable. He’d been hinting at it all night, with his hand on the small of her back and grabbing her around the waist each time she threw something other than a gutter ball.
When the car stopped, he smiled at her from the driver’s seat and then he was sliding towards her across the disgusting vinyl of the seats and cupping her face and kissing her.
It was slobbery and he bit her bottom lip in way that stung and failed to be smooth and she’s almost positive that Jacob Ben Israel could kiss better than Finn Hudson.
She sees the light off the TV and tip-toes lightly into the living room. Quinn is sprawled across the couch, one arm pillowing her head and the other grazing the carpet, the remote half-under the couch. Smiling to herself, she kneels down to pick the clicker up and when she lifts her head, she lets out a small gasp.
“Jesus, Quinn,” she hisses. The other girl doesn’t speak or smile or even breathe, just stares at Rachel until Rachel can feel her face flush. “You should be sleeping upstairs. The baby is enough strain on your back as it is. Sleeping on this couch can’t help.”
Quinn finally blinks a few times, as if she’s just noticing that Rachel is kneeling next to her.
“Hi,” Rachel says softly, reaching forward to brush a piece of hair off of Quinn’s face. “What do you say we head upstairs?”
She goes to stand, pushing her palms into the carpet, but Quinn’s hand is suddenly tracing the same line that Finn traced along her jaw, starting at the top of the bone by her ear and ending at the soft dip in her chin. Quinn says something but it’s so soft that Rachel has to ask her to repeat herself.
Quinn clears her throat. “Did you kiss him?”
Rachel stills. “Yes,” she whispers, her head dropping. Quinn’s fingers push up underneath her chin and she doesn’t have a chance to get an apology out because Quinn’s eyes are so close and they’re sharing the same air.
“Quinn,” she says softly, but Quinn’s mouth is pressed against her own, pulling the words out from behind her teeth. The kiss is neat and warm and Quinn doesn’t bite down on her tongue and all the butterflies in her stomach that didn’t flutter when she kissed Finn suddenly start filling her stomach at the static pressure of Quinn’s hand against her face and Quinn’s bottom lip in between her lips.
Rachel rocks back onto her heels but Quinn doesn’t follow and Rachel attempts to control her breathing while trying to figure out what just happened.
In a daze, she lifts to her feet, pulling down the hem of her shirt self-consciously. “Goodnight,” she whispers, turning her back to Quinn and climbing the stairs slowly.
Lying in bed, she can’t fall asleep.
On Monday, after two days of avoiding Quinn, Rachel spends all of the day avoiding Finn who wants to hold her hand in the hallways and share a lunch with her for everyone to see.
It’s overwhelming and she knows – because Quinn really did make her watch Mean Girls – that all that will result from keeping this bottled up is word vomit. Which doesn’t even sound pleasant.
The only thing is she has no friends. She has Quinn, but she can’t talk to Quinn about anything because this morning she nearly cried “Why did you kiss me?” at the kitchen table when she was trying to ask her dad for the milk and so that leaves her locked in a bathroom stall during her lunch period, picking at the peanut butter and jelly sandwich Quinn left in a brown bag on the counter for her.
Before the bell rings she moves through the hallways avoiding open doors and making a wide circle around the cafeteria, bee-lining for the only safe place she can during Spanish – Quinn and Finn in the same class is just too much to handle right now.
Ms. Pillsbury looks up from her Lysol container. “Is there, uh, is there something I can do for you Rachel?”
Rachel nods – more certain than she actually feels – and sits down, sinking into the hardwood chair. “I was wondering if you had a pamphlet relating to teenage sexuality.”
Ms. Pillsbury seems to choke on air, tapping a finger lightly against her chest as if it will clear her air passage and Rachel watches the finger for a moment before her eyes dip lower, tracing the v of Ms. Pillsbury’s shirt. A subtle cough pulls her eyes back up to wide – alarmingly wide, really – eyes that are actually sparkling with amusement.
Quinn wasn’t kidding when she called Ms. Pillsbury ‘Bambi’ and said you could “see almost everything in those eyes.”
“And by ‘teenage sexuality,’ you mean…”
“Having feelings for members of the same sex,” Rachel clarifies.
“Oh,” Ms. Pillsbury says lightly. She frowns. “What about Finn Hudson?”
Rachel frowns too. “What about Finn Hudson?”
“Oh, nothing,” Ms. Pillsbury rushes to cover. “I just thought that…”
“So did I,” Rachel admits. “He asked me on a date and I went and it was…nice.”
“But it was only nice. It wasn’t exhilarating or stomach-twisting. Or even romantic.”
Ms. Pillsbury’s mouth quirks a little on the left. “Rachel, you’re only in high school.”
“Yes, but isn’t that when you’re supposed to feel it the most? When you’re young? Isn’t it supposed to be invigorating?”
“Well, if you only went on one date, then there’s room for improvement. One bad date isn’t reason to, uh, switch teams. Trust me,” Ms. Pillsbury grumbles, “I’m still trying.”
“His hand was sweaty,” Rachel says blandly.
Like a well-trained mysophobe, Emma Pillsbury shudders from head to toe and her face twists up in horror.
“And regardless of his malfunctioning glandular issues,” Rachel continues, “it wasn’t what I thought it would be.”
“Maybe your expectations were too high,” Ms. Pillsbury suggests.
Rachel nods. “It’s possible.” She taps her fingers together and sighs under her breath. “Quinn kissed me. In my living room. On the mouth,” she adds necessarily.
Ms. Pillsbury’s eyes go even wider – if that’s possible – and she looks like she swallowed something hot. “Quinn Fabray?”
“Quinn Fabray,” Rachel repeats, nodding. “She lives with me now.”
“Yes,” Ms. Pillsbury mutters. “So I’ve heard.”
“I got home from my date, and she kissed me.”
Ms. Pillsbury opens her mouth and closes it, like a fish gasping for air. “Well,” she says softly. Her hands go into a flurry of activity, opening drawers and pulling at papers and leaflets but when she looks back up again, she shrugs regretfully.
“I don’t have a pamphlet on that.”
She’s chopping vegetables at the kitchen counters, swaying to “Only The Good Die Young” when she feels hands on her hips and then she’s being spun around, the edge of the counter pressing into the small of her back and a mouth covering her own, hands wandering from her waistline to under the bottom of her shirt. The knife falls to the floor and she’s being lifted a couple inches off the ground, sliding onto the countertop and her knees are forced apart and a body is stepping between them.
Quinn bites down on her bottom lip and her mouth opens, a tongue that not hers sliding in past her teeth. Cool hands slide across the front of her stomach and fingertips dip beneath the elastic waistband of her sweatpants.
Just as quickly as it starts, it’s over and Rachel’s sitting on the counter with her hand over her heart, panting and Quinn is in the next room, asking her dad if they can check the final score of the UCONN game.
Her dad comes into her room and leans up against the edge of her desk.
“Everything going okay?” he asks.
She nods in what she hopes is a reassuring manner. “Sure, Dad. Everything is great.”
“Because you can tell me if something is wrong.”
“Of course I can.”
“So, if you need to talk,” he says, trailing off, because Rachel’s attention is suddenly pulled to the hallway, where Quinn is walking to her room, and the sides of the skirt she’s wearing is moving left and right and left and right. When the blond disappears inside her room, she turns back to her dad.
“Sorry,” she says sheepishly. “What were you saying?”
He doesn’t repeat himself, but he hmms under his breath and touches her cheek before he leaves.
Rachel runs into Quinn as she’s coming out of the bathroom, hair still wet from her shower. The blond looks genuinely surprised, but before Quinn can say anything, Rachel is taking a step back into the bathroom and she’s pulling Quinn with her.
She wants to ask questions. She wants answers. She wants the who, the what, the when, the where, and most importantly, the why.
Quinn, thought, doesn’t want the same things, because as soon as Rachel opens her mouth to speak, Quinn is shaking her head and backing out into the hallway.
“No,” she says adamantly. “No, no, no.”
“I just want to know…”
Quinn’s face is pinched together and it looks like she’s in pain. “I can’t do this right now.”
“But I just want to know what it means,” Rachel whispers to any empty room.
Fine Rachel decides, flipping her phone opening and hitting keys furiously. She scrolls through her contacts, finds Finn and hits send. If that’s the way she wants to do things, then fine.
Finn is waiting at her locker when she walks into school the next morning and as soon as she sees her, his face lights up and Rachel feels marginally guilty for this, but she smiles brightly at him all the same and holds her breath as he gets closer to her.
She can hear Quinn’s shoes slapping against the tile behind her and Finn is barreling down in front of her and it’s like an explosion when Rachel meets Finn in the middle of the bisecting hallways and his arms loop around her waist and her hands grip the collar of his shirt.
She sort of feels like Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing and she’s leaping into Patrick Swayze’s arms, but Quinn doesn’t really fit into the equation, so it doesn’t make that much sense.
“Hey,” Finn whispers right before his mouth closes down over hers, and it’s not like when Quinn kissed her.
When Quinn kissed her, the room faded out and the noise went with it and all that was left was a sweet humming noise from the back of Quinn’s throat. When Finn kisses her it’s like amplification: she’s too aware of everyone whispering behind their hands and the sound of sneakers squeaking against the tile is like a thousand fingernails scratching against chalkboards.
When Quinn kissed her, the blond’s hands were light against her waist and they weren’t demanding, but they felt right. Find’s hands press so that she can feel the waistband of her skirt cutting into her skin.
When Quinn kissed her, it was good and Finn isn’t. He’s too much too fast and she regrets her whole “maybe-Quinn-will-be-jealous-if-she-sees-me-making-out-with-her-ex-boyfriend” plan, because when Finn spins her in a half-circle, Quinn isn’t even standing there anymore so this “letting-Finn-stick-his-tongue-down-her-mouth” idea is really just a waste of time. She rips her mouth away from his and resists the urge to wipe away his saliva with the back of her sleeve.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, because while he’s “a, tall, bumbling human made only of shiny teeth and a fleshy stomach,” or so says Quinn, he’s perceptive and sensitive.
“I-” but she doesn’t seem to need to say anything else, because he’s smiling sadly and nodding like he already knows what she’s going to say. “It’s not that I don’t like you,” she tries to explain. “It’s just, at this time in my life, there’s-”
“More important things in your life,” he finishes for her, incorrectly.
She was going to say “there’s Quinn” but it sounds better the way he says it.
“Right. More important things.”
“Well, that’s okay,” he says good-naturedly. “Maybe someday we can try again.”
Rachel looks up at him, really looks at him and thinks, for a moment, that Finn Hudson is highly underestimated.
The thought passes and what she’s left with is Quinn, and the overwhelming need to find her.
“Sorry!” She shouts the minute she bursts through the door, closing her eyes and clapping her hands over her face. She turns quickly, trying to get back to the door but she trips over a bench and lands on the cool concrete floor.
“Oh, gosh,” Brittany says, pulling Rachel up off the ground. “Did you hurt yourself?”
“What are you doing here RuPaul?” Santana sneers, crossing her arms defensively over her chest.
It loses some of the effect, Rachel thinks, when Santana tries to make fun of her and she’s the one in just a cheerleading skirt and a bra. Rachel quirks an eyebrow and Santana glances away, but Brittany is still brushing invisible lint off of Rachel’s arm.
“What are you doing here?” Rachel asks, batting Brittany’s hand away as nicely as possible.
“Oh, we’re totally not making out,” Brittany says with a smile.
Santana groans. “Brittany.”
“What? I thought that was what we’re supposed to say?”
Rachel pats Brittany on the shoulder. “It might be slightly more convincing if you were wearing something else other than your underwear,” she says gently.
Brittany smiles widely. “Oh, right.”
Rachel turns back to Santana and tries to stifle her giggle, but she can’t when the other brunette’s arms are stuck inside her elastic top and the only thing visible from Santana’s torso up is her ponytail. Brittany, in her sports bra and her spankies, gives Rachel a wide smile and skips over to Santana, tugging down the fabric over Santana’s face.
“Thanks,” Santana whispers before turning back to Rachel with a frown. “Now, what are you doing in here Smurfette?” Brittany coughs. “Rachel,” Santana corrects, giving Brittany an “are-you-happy-now” look. Brittany giggles.
“I was looking for Quinn.”
“And you thought she’d be here?”
Rachel swallows and nods. “She witnessed a mistake and I wanted to explain what happened.”
“Are you talking about Finn’s tongue down your throat?”
“H-how did you know about that?” Rachel stutters.
Santana tosses her head. “Puh-lease. I got a mass text about two minutes before you barged in here and interrupted us. Speaking of that,” she says, turning to Brittany. “You can put your skirt back on. And your top. Berry here ruined the moment.”
Brittany pouts for a minute but redresses and then slings an arm around Rachel’s shoulders.
“Let’s go find Quinn!”
Santana rolls her eyes. “Yeah, lets.”
They don’t find her until the end of the day, in Glee, and even then, Quinn won’t look at her or talk to her or even acknowledge her existence.
Rachel stares at Quinn longingly until Santana leans over during a break.
“Your cheer-sex with Quinn is abhorrent. Can you stop staring, for like, two minutes, please?”
Rachel’s so shocked at the word “please” that she forgets to ask Santana what “cheer-sex” means.
“Have a good night,” her dad calls as he closes the door behind him. Rachel and Quinn sit motionless at the kitchen table as the car starts and the sound of the engine eventually fades.
For the first time since the bathroom, four days ago, they’re alone and Rachel can’t get her tongue to work and her hands lie on the countertop uselessly. Quinn pushes her food around on her plate – Rachel’s is shaped into tiny little snow globes on her own plate because it’s not that her daddy didn’t make good paella, it’s just that she can’t eat when she can’t focus and she can’t focus because Quinn won’t look at her.
In between a sip of her milk and shaping a sandcastle out of rice she glances up at Quinn and tries to get her mouth to open and words to form.
Quinn, though, beats her to it. “I think I’m going to move into Puck’s basement.”
“Oh,” is the first thing she can think to say. Apparently, it’s the wrong thing to say, because Quinn glares at Rachel through her eyelashes and grits her teeth.
“Oh? That’s all you have to say?”
Rachel stares helplessly. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
It’s as if Quinn doesn’t seem to hear her, because she’s rising from her seat and scraping the food off her plate and into the trash, then turning on the faucet, but when she spins back towards the table, her eyes are narrowed and her face is unreadable.
“I was thinking something along the lines of ‘Oh, Quinn, don’t move out,’ but maybe that was stupid of me,” she hisses.
Rachel pushes back from the table. “Well how was I supposed to know that? You won’t even talk to me!”
Quinn ignores her. “I thought you would at least care a little bit.”
“I didn’t know I was allowed to care!”
Rachel’s on her feet, her entire body straining towards Quinn and she can feel her ears getting hot. Quinn stands impassively, staring at Rachel; staring through Rachel.
“You should have known,” Quinn finally says softly before leaving the kitchen. Rachel hears the front door and shut and then the house is completely silent and she’s alone, confused, and unsure if Quinn thinks she’s should be chasing after her.
“You should have said something,” she finally says, but she’s sure Quinn is halfway to Puck’s by the time she says anything.
She knocks loudly before opening the door. She can still hear Santana whispering viciously in her ear the last time, when Brittany turned away from them for a second that “if you ever interrupt us again, Berry, I’ll make it hard to find the body,” and since Santana is someone who genuinely frightens her, Rachel made a conscious decision, before Brittany even turned back to face them, that she would absolutely never do that again.
“Are you going to stand in the doorway, or are you actually going to come in?” Santana snaps from the bench against the wall.
Rachel had heard about this locker room and its many features, but she had always assumed it was a myth that Sue Sylvester actually put massaging chairs in here for the Cheerios, only to find out that it is very much the truth.
“What do you want?”
Brittany smiles at her from over Santana’s shoulder but doesn’t stop braiding long dark hair.
“She’s moving to Puck’s,” Rachel says, hoping she doesn’t sound as hopeless as she feels.
She must, because Brittany’s smile immediately drops to a frown and even Santana’s eyes seem to soften.
“She hasn’t moved yet?”
Rachel shakes her head. Quinn came back in the middle of the night and in the morning, she smiled at Phil and James but avoided Rachel altogether.
“So just go tell her that you’re all hot for her tot and let that be the end of it,” Santana says dismissively.
“But,” Rachel says, wringing her hands, “when she told me, I think she expected me to try and stop her and when I didn’t say anything she started yelling at me.”
Santana sighs. “I can’t deal with your baby-gay drama, okay? See, the thing about Quinn, is that she expects you to be able to read her mind. Obviously,” Santana drags out, rolling her eyes. “You’re not good at that. Fix it. Be romantic, or, or spontaneous. Just stop her.”
A part of Rachel thinks that taking romantic advice from Santana Lopez is a bad idea.
Another part of Rachel, however, thinks that if Brittany has managed to deal with her so long, Santana must be doing something right.
For the second time in a month, Rachel finds herself preparing to stop Quinn from moving out. This time, she doesn’t wait until Quinn opens the door; this time she throws the door open herself, slides inside, and shuts it just as quickly.
Quinn, in the middle of folding a shirt that Rachel has only seen once – the night they spent sleeping against the tub in the bathroom because Rachel had wanted to go back to bed but by the time she worked up the nerve to move, Quinn had already fallen asleep – looks up with wide eyes. As soon as she registers it’s Rachel, though, her eyes narrow and Quinn looks away.
“What do you want?”
Rachel’s ready this time. She crosses to the other side of the bed in the most confident steps she can manage and grabs Quinn by the sides of her face, yanking the girl down her own height.
Anything Quinn tries to protest is cut off as Rachel kisses her hard, pouring everything she’s feeling into one single entity: confusion, frustration, hope, desire. She presses forward until she feels Quinn’s body connect with the windowsill and Quinn’s arms go up around her reflexively.
She pulls back just before she loses all her nerve.
“Go on a date with me,” she whispers against Quinn’s mouth.
The blond still under her touch and pulls back. “What?”
Rachel opens her eyes and tries to stay calm. “I’m asking you out on a date.”
“You were asking?” Quinn asks in disbelief.
“Well,” Rachel says sheepishly. “So I was kind of telling you, but I want you to say yes anyway.”
“Yes,” Quinn breathes out, her neck stretching forward towards Rachel.
Rachel smiles and ducks out of the way. “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it the right way,” she announces, holding in her laugh at the look forming on Quinn’s face. “No more kissing until after our date.”
“But that’s not fair,” Quinn whines.
“Friday, 8 o’clock; be ready,” Rachel says over her shoulder.
Back in her room, she shuts the door and leans up against it, grinning like mad. She grabs her phone off the desk and clicks a few buttons.
Ten minutes later, her phone beeps.
“Yippe-freaking-doo,” Santana texts back. “How did you even get this number?”
On Friday, she all but pushes her parents out the door before running upstairs to change. They think that it’s just another movie night, and they’re half right, because Rachel plans on watching a movie, just not here.
She checks her reflection in the mirror and nods: jeans, a loose top, sensible shoes – but not too sensible – and a jacket. Brittany, who cut class with her earlier, told her that this was the outfit to wear and that Quinn would like it. She runs her hands lightly through her hair, patting at the little fly-aways that her curling iron can never catch and decides that yes, she looks decent enough.
Slowly, she makes her way down the hall, hoping that her hands don’t sweat too much and wondering if Quinn will even want to hold hands with her and now she’s not even sure if Quinn will like the dinner-and-a-movie idea or if it’s too cliché or if Finn did that and now she’s going to lose Quinn over something stupid like a that.
“Stop it,” she hisses under her breath. Pausing in front of Quinn’s bedroom door, she sticks her hands in her pockets – but that’s a sure way to guarantee they’ll sweat – then takes them out again nervously.
Quinn pulls the door open breathlessly, her face a little flushed and her smile wide. “Hey,” she says softly.
Rachel lifts her hand like she’s going to wave, but realizes how stupid that would seem and, at the last minute, tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Hey,” she echoes.
“So where are we going.”
“A movie,” Rachel blurts out, closing her mouth quickly. “I mean, I was thinking about going to Coughlin’s, that diner next to the coffee shop on Lietcher, and then going to see a movie?”
Please say yes, please say yes, please say yes, please say…
“That sounds good,” Quinn says, moving into the hallway and pulling her door closed quickly behind her. Rachel catches a glimpse of the clothes scattered around the room and piled on the bed – half of Quinn’s closet, Rachel figures – and smirks to herself. I’m not the only nervous one, I guess, she thinks smugly.
“The only thing is,” Rachel says sheepishly, scuffing the toe of her shoe against the carpet at the top of the landing, “you’re going to have to drive. I don’t have my license yet.”
Coughlin’s isn’t crowded when they get there, so Rachel lets Quinn pick a seat and they end up in the window, watching Lima nightlife crawl by.
“You weren’t in Spanish today,” Quinn points out after the waitress takes their order.
“I was picking out what I should wear,” Rachel admits, ducking her head.
Quinn tilts her head back and laughs. Rachel’s mesmerized and she wonders why she didn’t see this before; why she didn’t see that Quinn’s eyes aren’t brown or green, but they’re hazel and tonight, they might even be the slightest hint of blue; why she didn’t notice that Quinn’s laugh sound like she’s singing; why she didn’t realize that Quinn’s smile is practically perfect except for that the left side lifts a little higher than the right, and that makes it even more perfect, really.
Finn, her mind supplies. You were occupied with Finn.
“Do you happen to know where Brittany was?” Quinn asks, but she asks as if she already knows the answer.
Rachel smiles sheepishly. “She was eager to help. I think Santana sent her to make sure I didn’t wear something ridiculous.”
“Well,” Quinn says conversationally, “I happen to like you like this. But I like what you wear every day, too.” Quinn turns the menu over in her hands. “So, what’s good here?” She immediately blushes. “I have no idea why I said that. I’ve eaten here plenty of times.”
“I thought it was cute,” Rachel says and Quinn’s face fades back to its normal shade of pale.
“This isn’t weird, right?” Quinn blurts out suddenly.
Rachel opens her mouth and closes it again. “No,” she says finally. “It’s…different?”
Quinn gives a shaky nod. “A good different.”
“A good different,” Rachel agrees. She takes a deep, solid breath and reaches across the table, catching Quinn’s fingers between her own. “A right different.”
The waitress breaks the moment, placing their food in front of them and giving them a smile. “You ladies let me know if you need anything,” she says, winking at Rachel.
They spend the rest of dinner making small talk about Glee, the baby, Santana and Brittany and the people they aren’t fooling and Rachel only smiles and giggles when Quinn steals fries off her plate.
“That was an awful movie,” Quinn says for the umpteenth time.
Rachel groans and puts her head into her hands. “I feel so bad for making you see that.”
Quinn laughs and pulls them to a stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Quinn pulls Rachel’s sleeve until she’s looking up at Quinn and behind her, the streetlight gives off an eerie glow that catches her attention until Quinn is hooking two fingers under her chin and pulling her head back.
“I thought it was cute,” she says, echoing Rachel’s earlier words.
“You,” Rachel says shakily, “are just saying that because you want me to kiss you.”
Quinn pouts but doesn’t stop pulling Rachel towards her. “That no kissing rule is stupid,” Quinn whispers.
Rachel smiles and pulls away right before Quinn lunges forward the few final inches separating them. “I said no kissing until after the date.”
“Technically, the date is over,” Quinn argues.
“I still have to walk you to your door,” Rachel points out. She holds out her hand, though, and smiles. “I wouldn’t object if you wanted to hold hands though.”
“Purist,” she hears Quinn mutter under her breath, but Quinn fits her fingers in between Rachel’s anyway and smiles out of the corner of her mouth.
“So,” Quinn says, dragging the vowel out. Rachel watches her lean one shoulder against the doorway and smirk. “This is my door.”
Rachel looks the piece of wood up and down. “So it is.”
“You aren’t nervous, are you?” Quinn asks, her smirk growing wider.
“Of co-course not,” Rachel stammers unconvincingly. Her shoulders sag. “Kind of,” she admits.
Quinn leans a little closer. “Me too,” she whispers. “But I won’t tell if you won’t tell.”
Rachel gives Quinn a grateful smile that doesn’t stay on her face long, because she’s leaning in – slowly, like an old-fashioned romance movie, because she really loves them – and her hands meet Quinn’s hips before her mouth finds Quinn’s bottom lip, but Quinn inhales and Rachel’s hands move up, grabbing at the ends of Quinn’s hair, giving a small tug.
She freezes when Quinn gives a hybrid groan-moan because she’s sure she did something wrong, but Quinn only turns a little so that Rachel can feel the door jamb pressing along the length of her spine and it should hurt, but Quinn takes the sting out of her when cool hands slide along Rachel’s ribcage.
Blindly, she reaches for the doorknob, because they’re standing in the middle of the hallway and seriously, she thinks, my dads could come home any moment now.
Quinn chuckles against her and reaches for the handle, turning it and pushing it open. Rachel loses her footing but Quinn’s arms, one wrapped around her waist and the other spread wide, fingers splayed against the back of Rachel’s head, buried in her hair.
“I should say goodnight,” Rachel murmurs as Quinn’s mouth moves down her neck, stopping briefly at her pulse point and pursing her lips.
Quinn groans and buries her face into the crook of Rachel’s neck, blowing light against the skin. “Now?”
Rachel nods. “Now.”
“I’m trying to be respectable,” Rachel whispers against Quinn’s temple.
“Rachel, this isn’t the 1920’s and you’re not an old man. Respectable isn’t something you should be worried about. In fact,” she says, scraping her teeth against Rachel’s collarbone. “Respectable is just stupid.”
The front door opens and Rachel hears her dad and daddy stamping their feet on the front rug. Quinn groans and reluctantly pulls her hand out of Rachel’s hair, catching Rachel’s bottom lip between her own briefly as the footsteps starts up the stairs in their direction.
Rachel pushes across the hallway and wipes at her mouth as her dad rounds onto the landing.
“Hey you two,” he says with a smile, James a half a step behind him. “What’d you girls get up to tonight?”
“Nothing,” they both say at the same time, Rachel’s voice cracking.
Phil lifts an eyebrow slowly and looks at James over his shoulder. “Well, okay. We had fun, by the way. In case you were wondering,” he adds, smirking. He pauses and looks down at Rachel with a bemused grin.
“Yes, Dad?” she asks, shooting a questioning glance at Quinn, who shrugs her shoulders almost imperceptivity.
“Honey, I need you to move so I can get into my room,” he says, laughing lightly.
“Oh!” She jumps back across the hall, her shoulder colliding with Quinn’s bicep and Quinn winces but Rachel doesn’t notice because she’s trying to be smooth and failing miserably.
“Well,” James says hesitantly. “Good night, then.”
Rachel, feeling bold, presses a quick kiss to Quinn’s lips as the door closes behind her fathers, then slips down the hallway to her own room.
When she turns back over her shoulder, Quinn is standing alone in the hallway with her hand on her shoulder and she’s staring at Rachel with an expression Rachel can’t place.
It’s not a bad expression, Rachel decides, and for the first time in a small while, she sleeps soundly.
At breakfast, she giggles when Quinn’s knee brushes against her own under the table and immediately focuses on something else because Quinn gives her a half-glare, offset by a smile, and her dad frowns at her, like he doesn’t get the joke.
Rachel’s mortified for the rest of breakfast.
“This is a terrible idea,” Rachel says, but her sentence is muffled by Quinn’s mouth as she’s pressed against the cool lockers.
“Why?” Quinn asks, sliding her hands around Rachel’s back. “Is it because we’re breaking your respectable rule?”
Rachel laughs and rests her forehead against Quinn’s. “No, it’s because we should be in History and instead we’re making out in the Cheerios locker room.”
“I still don’t see what’s terrible about this.”
Rachel drops her head slightly and catches Quinn’s lower lip between her teeth. She pulls back to say something but the door slams open and the person barging into the room lets out a feral growl.
“God!” Santana yells. “Listen, I don’t care what you two do, how you do it, or when you do it, but where you do it is a different story.”
Quinn looks over her shoulder and Rachel can’t see the look she gives to Santana, but it must be something fierce because the now-head Cheerio’s ears go red and she draws in a deep breath, grabbing Brittany by the hand.
“Come on, B. We’ll find a new make out spot for today,” she says loudly.
Quinn turns back to Rachel.
“That,” Rachel says with an “I-told-you-so” tone of voice. “That is why this was a terrible idea.”
There’s a man outside the house – Rachel can see him out her bedroom window – in a car on the street with his headlights off and the car still running.
Rachel thinks about telling her dad and he could go out there and take care of things. She thinks about going down her herself – she thought this on day one, and now, on day eight – and asking him to find another corner to loiter on. She thinks about asking Quinn if she knows who he is, and why he’s here.
She disregards the last option almost as soon as she thinks of it because something in the pit of her stomach tells her that the man in the car on the corner is nothing but trouble for them all.
Quinn is in the middle of a story about freshman year of high school when the doorbell rings. Rachel frowns because the ding dong drowns out the punch line of the story and she’s just wasted twenty minutes and is left with nothing but cold food – Quinn glared at her every time she tried to pick her fork up while Quinn was speaking.
Her dad is still laughing as he gets up and rounds the table, moving through the house to the front door. His laugh echoes through all the room; a deep, cavernous sound that has always managed to make Rachel feel better, no matter what. Quinn keeps going, waving her fork through the air wildly and that’s why Rachel doesn’t notice at first, but the echoing laugh has died down.
She turns to the doorway only because Quinn’s words die too and her mouth just stays hanging open like she’s trying to say something but can’t.
The man from the car on the corner is in her kitchen, wringing a baseball hat between his hands nervously. Phil is standing behind him, frowning and then Quinn gasps, pulling them all out the sudden spell they’ve fallen under.
The man – Mr. Fabray, Rachel thinks – gives a shy smile that Quinn clearly inherited and a half of a wave. “Hi, Quinn.”
Quinn blinks. “Wh-what are you doing here?”
“It’s been almost two months,” he says as if Quinn doesn’t know; as if Rachel doesn’t know that Quinn makes a tiny mark on the calendar Quinn keeps on her desk for every day that her parents ignore her. “Your mother and I,” he says, pausing, “we thought you should come home now.”
“Yes,” Quinn says at the same time Rachel says “No.”
Quinn turns to her and looks at Rachel, biting her bottom lip. “Rachel,” she starts slowly.
“No,” Rachel says again. “Absolutely not.”
“With all due respect,” Mr. Fabray begins.
“Rachel,” Quinn cuts in.
Rachel ignores them both and clenches her fists tight, her knife cutting into her palm. “No, Quinn. He kicked you out of your own home.”
“Rachel,” her daddy says gently, putting a large hand on her shoulder. She shrugs it off and glares at Mr. Fabray.
“Who do you think you are, coming in here telling her to come home like you have any right to her,” she snaps.
Mr. Fabray frowns. “She’s my daughter.”
“She stopped being your daughter-”
Quinn grabs her by the elbow and pulls her off her stool, marching her out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the hallway.
“Stop,” Quinn hisses.
Rachel grabs the sides of Quinn’s face and pulls Quinn down so that they’re eye to eye. “He abandoned you,” she tries to explain.
Quinn’s eyes, though, are clouded over with hope and the possibility of getting her life back and she doesn’t even need to say “But he wants me back,” for Rachel to know that she’s lost Quinn and there’s no use in trying to reason with her.
Quinn pulls out of her grasp and as if on autopilot, Rachel finds herself back downstairs glaring at Mr. Fabray; sending pleading looks at Quinn who only has eyes for her father; resisting the urge to leap forward and grab Quinn around the waist and hold her until she says “yes, I’ll stay”; watching blankly as Quinn hugs Phil and James goodbye; stepping back when Quinn steps forward, crossing her arms over her chest defensively.
“Rachel,” Quinn whispers, ducking her head, trying to catch Rachel’s gaze.
Rachel, though, turns her back to the Fabray family reunion and makes sure to slam the door to her room harder than she needs to.
She realizes the irony in the situation: When Quinn wanted to stay, Rachel wanted her to go. Now Quinn is gone and Rachel wants her to come back.
The next day is a blur. Rachel feels like her life has become one of those teenage movies and walking down the hall makes her feel like she’s in slow motion while everyone around her is moving a double the normal speed, racing around like flashes of light. Finn’s face sticks out in the crowd and she thinks there might be a time or two during the school day when he calls out her name, but she doesn’t even want to talk to him.
Quinn isn’t in school either and there’s a coldness to the day that the weather outside – the shining sun and the warm breeze – doesn’t reflect.
In Glee, everyone is whispering about how the Fabray’s took Quinn back, baby and all.
Santana, once she hears – and Rachel doesn’t dwell on how strange it is that Santana Lopez didn’t know the latest McKinley High gossip – turns to Rachel and gives what Rachel thinks is a genuine look of concern. Brittany doesn’t say anything or look at her, but Rachel jumps when a hand slides into her own and out of the corner of her eye, Brittany is just staring at the nails on her free hand, nodding when Kurt suggests a darker shade of pink to offset her pale skin.
Puck is the one who pulls her aside during a jam session. Finn is pounding away on the drums, Artie’s guitar sounds like it’s wailing and Tina and Mercedes are doing a “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” duet and Puck’s hand slips around her bicep, pulling her to face him a little.
“Do you think if I went over and talked to her dad, she’d let me help with the baby?” He asks desperately.
It’s not Puck’s fault, Rachel knows. None of this is Puck’s fault, except for the getting-Quinn-drunk part, but the rest of it – kissing Finn, kissing Quinn, taking Quinn out on a date, all the feelings in the bottom of her stomach – as nothing to do with Puck.
Still, she needs to blame someone and Puck is sitting in front of her asking her if Quinn will let him back into her life and all Rachel wants is Quinn in her life.
Her hand is already back at her side by the time she registers that she slapped him.
“What the hell, Berry?”
The room goes silent instantly – the way Rachel imagines it to be after an atomic bomb drops: pure silence and stillness and not a single person breathes.
“If you had just stayed away from her in the first place,” she says in a low voice. “If you had just left her alone…” She trails off and stares at her hands. “Noah-”
He looks up at her and he must see something because he sighs and takes her hand, the one that hit him, and cradles between his own. “Yeah, Berry, I know.”
When Quinn doesn’t show up the next day, Santana starts to murmur under her breath about breaking some perfect attendance award and Brittany starts checking her phone every two minutes. Even Finn frowns when he thinks someone isn’t looking and Glee is a subdued affair.
Rachel, though, sings and it’s almost like Quinn Fabray never existed.
“Hey, Rachel?” her dad asks, knocking on her bedroom door.
“Come in,” she says dully, not looking up from her math homework. The number started blurring on the page a while ago and she’s just been doodling in the margins, nonsensical drawings of numbers and shapes.
She feels the bed shift. “You didn’t want anything to eat?”
“I know you’re upset that Quinn left,” he says gently and Rachel snaps to attention, her eyes meeting his unerringly.
“No, I’m not.” She smiles, but it feels forced and Rachel knows he can see through it. “In fact, I think maybe I am hungry, after all.”
“Dad,” she snaps. She sighs and tries to soften her tone. “Dad, it’s sweet that you care, but, really, I’m fine. It’s a funk. I’ll get over it.”
Except she’s not sure she will.
“Okay, we need to do something about this,” Santana says, leaning up against the locker next to Rachel’s.
Rachel looks around wildly, but no, Santana is really talking to her.
“Yes, you,” Santana snaps, as if reading her mind. “It’s been a week. They could have her tied up in the basement for all we know.”
Rachel rolls her eyes. “Please. They have a social image to uphold. Locking your pregnant teenage daughter in the basement is hardly the way to win any Christian Fellowship awards.”
Santana grabs her by the elbow, digging manicured nails into her skin and Rachel winces because it hurts. She opens her mouth to ask Santana where her keeper is, but then Brittany rounds the corner and she looks like she’s about to cry.
“What’s wrong?” Santana asks first, even though Rachel is thinking it. The taller brunette intercepts Brittany and holds her face steady, whispering words that Rachel can’t make out. Rachel takes the cell phone out of Brittany’s hand and scrolls back up to the beginning of the message on the screen, reading words like clinic and forced adoption and nunnery.
“Do you have your car?”
Santana looks over at Rachel and frowns. “Of course I do.”
Rachel sticks her hand out. “Well, give me the keys.”
Cautiously, Santana fishes them out of her backpack and drops them into Rachel’s hand. “You’re, like, an experienced driver, right?”
“Of course I am,” Rachel says over her shoulder, crossing her fingers and hoping that karma decides not the bite her in the ass today.
Mrs. Fabray pulls the door open and almost shuts it again, Rachel can see the urge to in her eyes, but puts her hand out and pushes forward, forcing her way into the Fabray’s house.
It looks like a cold, empty place for a child to grow up, is Rachel’s first thought.
The second is “where the hell is Quinn.”
She ignores Mrs. Fabray’s protests, which is hard because the older, Botox version of Quinn is screeching at her, and takes the stairs two steps at a time, opening the first door she comes to.
It’s not Quinn’s room, and neither is the next door, but when she throws open the door to the third room, Quinn is sitting on the edge of the bed with her hands on her knees and her back impossibly straight.
Quinn’s eyes go wide. “You’re not Brittany.”
“No,” she says. “But let’s go.”
“I texted Brittany,” Quinn says, not moving off the bed.
Rachel rolls her eyes and looks around, spotting Quinn’s duffel bag on the ground. She unzips it and starts pulling out dresser drawers, tossing the things in each drawer into the bag, shoving clothes and a couple of pair shoes and some things on the top of the dresser into the side pockets. It won’t zip shut, but she doesn’t care.
Quinn jumps off the bed as Rachel unzips another bag.
“What are you doing here?” she asks. Her voice is high; almost hysterical. “I told Brittany to come get me. I told Brittany that if she had to bring someone to bring Santana. Why are you here?” Quinn looks out the window, eyes wild. “How did you get here.”
“Did Brittany steal Santana’s car? Or is Santana out there waiting?”
Rachel ignores the question and takes a pillow off the bed, shoving into a ball in the bag she’s holding.
“Rachel,” Quinn says in a low voice.
They hear footsteps on the stairs – footsteps too heavy to be Mrs. Fabray – and at the look on Quinn’s face, Rachel crosses the room boldly and slams the door shut just as a meaty hand reaches out. She presses her body against the groaning wood and holds perfectly still.
“You might have to drive back to my house.”
“You drove here?” Quinn practically screams. “You don’t even have a permit!”
Rachel loses her footing and the door gives a little but just as quickly she’s pushing back. “I was coming to get you,” she points out.
“I texted Brittany,” Quinn growls.
“And what was she going to accomplish?” Rachel asks rhetorically.
Quinn answers her anyway. “She wouldn’t have driven here illegally for one. And two,” Quinn yells, “she would have thought to bring Finn! Or Puck!” Quinn tilts her head to the left. “Well, actually, Brittany would have showed Santana the text message and Santana would have thought of bringing the boys, because Santana thinks things through instead of flying off the handle with half-assed plans!”
“Well,” Rachel grunts, shouldering the door again. “Excuse me, for trying to rescue you. You know what? I’ll just leave. You can stay here and wait for your knights in shining Cheerios uniforms. How’s that sound?”
“Oh, don’t be stupid Rachel.”
“Would you help me hold this door?” Rachel shouts, twisting her face.
“Let the door go,” Quinn whispers so softly that Rachel’s not sure she hears correctly the first time. “Rachel, please.”
Rachel pretends like it doesn’t sting, but she must not do a good job because Quinn steps forward and traces underneath her left eyes and the tip of her finger comes back wet.
“I’m not letting the door go. Do you know why? Because whether you’d like to think this or not, you don’t deserve this, this, this kind of punishment. You’re a good person, Quinn, whether people tell you that on a regular basis or not. I think you’re a good person.”
Quinn hiccups. “You think I’m a horrible person.”
The door stops rattling against Rachel’s shoulders and the footsteps recede down the hall, but Rachel doesn’t move.
“I did,” she says bluntly. “But you’re different now. It was them. They did this to you; made you who you used to be.”
Quinn steps back until she’s at the window. “What is it going to take for you to leave?”
Rachel’s mouth opens, but nothing comes out, so Quinn keeps talking.
“What do I have to do to get you to just leave me alone?”
“Kiss me,” Rachel finally says, and Quinn crosses the room in three giant steps, pushing so that Rachel’s back is flat against the door.
It’s not a pretty kiss; it’s a battle for dominance and Quinn is winning, her tongue pushing past Rachel’s lips roughly, almost painfully. Hands that used to graze against her stomach are now gripping her hipbones hard and Rachel’s mouth opens in a silent cry when Quinn’s cold, ice-like fingers slide past her skirt, past her underwear and into Rachel’s body without preamble.
It hurts and stings and Quinn bites down on her bottom lip and there’s a sudden flow of copper racing through Rachel’s mouth but she doesn’t think about it too much because Quinn’s wrist is between their bodies and pressing up and just like that, Rachel Berry isn’t a virgin anymore.
“Quinn,” she gasps, her hips moving sporadically in an uneven rhythm. “Quinn.”
Quinn pushes again and bites on Rachel’s collarbone at the same time Rachel feels the ground beneath her explode and a stinging sensation behind her eyes.
Quinn’s hands leave as quickly as they appeared and when Rachel’s eyes open, Quinn is in the middle of her room, clothes strewn everywhere, staring blankly.
“Now,” Quinn pants, “you can leave.”
She sits in Santana’s car in the parking lot for a half an hour, sore and emotional exhausted, before she walks back into school slowly. Santana is waiting at her locker, her faced twisted in fury.
“You don’t have a license?” she hisses, snatching the keys out of Rachel’s hand violently, leaving an angry red gash across Rachel’s palm.
“Santana,” Brittany says softly, grabbing Rachel’s hand and rubbing gently at Rachel’s hand. “That was mean.”
“She doesn’t have license, let alone a permit. What the hell were you thinking, Berry?”
Rachel looks up blankly. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Like hell it doesn’t,” Santana snaps.
“You got your car back, okay? And I got nothing.” She glares at Santana, pulling her hand out of Brittany’s grasp roughly. “It doesn’t matter.”
Rachel, later that afternoon, thinks about quitting Glee, but it’s all she has left, so at the very last minute, when Mr. Schuester asks her what she wanted to talk about, she launches into a tirade about how singing “Silent Night” in an upcoming weekend competition is prejudice against Noah and their combined Jewish heritage.
Her daddy is sitting on the couch, reading the day’s newspaper, when she gets home from school.
“Hey, honey,” he says without looking out from behind the page. It’s only when she doesn’t say anything that he looks past the newsprint and catches her eye.
As soon as he looks at her, with his hazel eyes, she breaks.
“Daddy,” she sobs, hot hears tracking down her face and off her cheeks.
He rises off the couch quickly and grabs her around the shoulders, pulling her into his body and wrapping her into a tight hug. “Oh, baby,” he whispers into her hair, over and over again.
They watch Casablanca twice before Rachel lets herself surrender to sleep.
“I think I have our new number for Sectionals,” Mr. Schuester announces the next day in Glee.
“What about our new member of Glee?” Kurt asks, pointing at the empty chair at the end of the line. Rachel doesn’t turn to look at it like everyone else does and keeps her eyes trained firmly on Mr. Schuester.
He frowns. “Good point, Kurt. We’ll have to find someone quickly, see if they can fill in until Quinn comes back.”
“She’s not coming back,” Rachel scoffs, and she’s not even sure she said it out loud until Artie asks her to repeat herself. “She’s not coming back,” she says louder.
“Now, Rachel, we don’t know that,” Mr. Schuester tries to say, but Puck cuts him off.
“Yes we do,” he sighs. “Let’s face it; the Baby Mama ain’t coming back.”
Finn punches him in the arm. “Dude, be a little more sensitive.”
“We need to be proactive and realistic,” Rachel continues. “Even if Q-” but she can’t actually say Quinn, “she were to come back, she can’t do the choreography. It’s a strain on the baby.”
“Well, who are we going to get on short notice?”
Everyone turns towards Santana and Brittany who seem to be arguing, whispering harshly. When they notice they have an audience, Brittany blushes, staining her cheeks pink, but Santana gives them a stare that has half the boys shrinking back in their seats and Kurt just giving a small, unimpressed laugh.
“What?” she snaps.
“Do you think you could get one of the Cheerios to join us for a little while?” Mr. Schuester asks cautiously.
Santana lets out a laugh that sounds hollow. “Please. Brittany and I are shunned as it is. No one else will join Glee. You wait,” she says smugly. “Tubbers will be back.”
Rachel pretends like she doesn’t hear the tremble of uncertainty in Santana’s voice.
It’s odd, but one morning in school, three weeks after Quinn stops showing up, she seems to have fallen into a sort of friendship with Santana and Brittany.
Rachel likes it, thought she’ll never say it out loud. Santana is witty and even if more often than not she’s making some underhanded comment about Rachel that Brittany doesn’t catch, she has a smile that makes up for it. And they’re never Santana-and-Brittany around her, just Santana and Brittany, which is nice because she sometimes finds that Santana-and-Brittany can be overwhelming suffocating, but Brittany is far too considerate and insists that Santana sits at least five feet away from her whenever they’re around Rachel.
That’s usually when Santana starts being bitchy, so Rachel tells Brittany one day, when it’s just the two of them, that she doesn’t care if they sit next two each, or if they hold hands or braid each other’s hair, because not doing any of that stuff makes Santana grumpy.
“That’s never good,” Brittany says with a wry smile.
It’s not the first time Rachel thinks that there’s more to Brittany than she let’s on.
They walk down hallways together and Rachel soon finds out that their lockers are actually on the same stretch of wall and instead of sitting at the table in the corner of the lunchroom by the kitchen doors, Brittany giggles – Santana rolls her eyes but let’s Brittany giggle anyway – and says “now you’re with us, silly” like it’s something Rachel should have known.
She tells Santana, when Brittany is off trying to figure out why the Vitamin Water machine won’t take her dollar coin, that no matter how hard they try, they’re never going to get Rachel into a Cheerios uniform and it’s comforting when Santana snorts and mutters “don’t flatter yourself” before taking mercy on Brittany and giving her a dollar bill.
Rachel thinks stealth is something Sue Sylvester must teach all her Cheerios because when Rachel isn’t looking, Santana and Brittany sneak in under her skin the same way Quinn did.
“Here come the three musketeers, late as usual,” Puck mutters grumpily from his seat, glaring at Rachel when she sticks her tongue out at him.
Mr. Schuester claps his hands together excitedly and bobs his head.
Kurt, sitting next to her, leans over with a grimace. “Is it normal for his hair to not move when he does that?”
Risking a glance at Kurt’s hair, which hasn’t moved an inch since first period, Rachel shrugs and focuses her attention on the Spanish teacher in the middle of the room.
“I have some exciting news,” he says, pausing dramatically. “Quinn called me last night and she’ll be back in school tomorrow!”
If he’s expecting an uproar of applause or a cheer, Rachel feels bad for Mr. Schuester, because the room goes pin-dropping silent and the only sound is Brittany’s foot tapping against the riser.
Puck speaks first. “Why?”
Mr. Schuester’s smile drops. “Because she’s ready,” he says slowly.
Now Rachel snorts. “We were ready weeks ago.”
“She’s not going to be able to learn the choreography in time,” Finn argues.
“What is she go-goes into labor while dancing?” Tina asks.
Kurt grimaces. “I’m so not up for anyone giving birth while dancing.”
Mr. Schuester sighs. “Yeah, guys,” he says wearily. “Okay.”
She won’t stick up for Quinn this time, if the Gleeks decide to kick her out.
Quinn never stood up for her; Santana always says payback’s a bitch.
Brittany is telling Rachel about some weird music video she watched the night before when Rachel sees a flash of blond and there Quinn is, staring at the combination lock on her locker like it’s going to open itself.
She stops in the middle of the hallway and Brittany takes another step before she realizes what Rachel is staring at, but when she does, because she’s Brittany and she’s bubbly and sweet and genuine, she’s rushing over to Quinn and hugging her tight and squealing and patting Quinn’s really large baby bump.
Quinn isn’t even actively trying to hide it, and Rachel thinks that’s brave and stupid all at the same time.
Brittany waves at her, motioning her over and her feet almost betray her, but Santana swoops in before she can take a step, hooking her arm through Rachel’s, pulling. They walk past the two blonds and Rachel isn’t sure who’s more shocked when Santana stops briefly to kiss Brittany in the middle of the hallway like it’s something they’ve been doing since the first day of freshman year – Brittany, Santana, Rachel, or Quinn.
Rachel decides that it’s Santana, because as they walk away, she can hear Santana muttering “oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” under her breath.
“Well, I think it goes without saying, but Quinn,” Mr. Schuester says with a wide smile, “welcome back!”
Quinn smiles hesitantly but no one does anything. Finn taps his drumstick against the symbol a couple of times; Puck taps his foot; Brittany is texting; Santana is ignoring everyone; Tina and Mercedes are whispering about what Tina should wear on her date with Artie; Kurt is examining his cuticle; Matt and Mike aren’t even here; Artie is reflexively squeezing his hand brake, his wheels squeaking against the tile.
Rachel looks anywhere else but Quinn.
“Guys,” Mr. Schuester says disappointedly.
“What do you expect?” Rachel asks, her loud voice a small explosion in the quiet room. Everyone except Santana flinches.
Mr. Schuester gets a little red in the face. “I expect you to be a team, Rachel. I expect you to lead this team.”
He strikes a chord; and he’s right. If they want to win Sectionals, then they’re going to need Quinn Fabray and they’re going to need her now. Mr. Schuester knows that Rachel knows that and he’s giving her a look like he wants her to step forward and start something; he needs her to step forward and start something.
So she does. She stands in the middle of the room and begins to delegate.
“Brittany,” she says, but the blond doesn’t look up until Kurt tugs on her skirt. “Good. Brittany, you’ll work with Quinn on the choreography and Santana,” she looks to the left, ignoring Santana’s sneer, “you’ll work on the singing. Kurt, since you’re going to be Quinn’s partner, please make sure you find time to practice with her.”
Mr. Schuester looks relieved, and he claps Rachel on the shoulder as she goes to sit down.
“So! Let’s get singing!”
Quinn is hanging by her locker at the end of the day and Rachel doesn’t see her at first, but Santana stiffen next to her – and Santana still feels hurt by Quinn, no matter what she tells people – and so Rachel looks up. Quinn is standing there, pulling at a loose strand of hair, waiting.
“I’ve got it,” Rachel murmurs under her breath.
“I’ll give you a ride home,” Brittany offers brightly. “Oh,” she says, her smile dimming. “Well, Santana will give you a ride home, because she’s my ride home.”
“Thanks, Britt,” Santana deadpans. “She’s right though. We’ll get your stuff and give you a ride home. That way, I can yell as loud as I want when I bitch you out for making me sing with her.”
Santana always has alternative motives but she means well.
“Don’t worry about it,” Rachel says, stretching the smile on her face so at least it doesn’t look fake. “If anything happens, you’ll give me an alibi?”
This gets a genuine laugh out of Santana but Brittany frowns and instead of asking what it means, gives Rachel a hug and says “see ya!” before winking at Santana and turning back towards the parking lot.
Rachel walks the rest of the way to her locker very slowly, taking time to consider each step in front of her. She walks by the water fountain and idly thinks that it’s been a long time since she’s been slushied; it feels like it’s been a lifetime and that she’s a new Rachel Berry now.
She almost sighs in relief when Quinn says something first. “So, you and Cheerios, huh?”
“What about it?” Rachel asks defensively.
Quinn puts her hands up in front of her and shrugs. “Nothing. I just wasn’t expecting it.”
“Well, I wasn’t expecting you to come back, so I guess that makes us even.”
“I guess,” Quinn says softly, tucking her hair behind her ear. “I tried to call you.”
“No you didn’t,” Rachel snaps.
Quinn blushes. “I did. I just couldn’t finish dialing the number.”
Rachel opens her locker, blocking Quinn from her view and there’s a small moment where she thinks that Quinn is going to slam the locker shut, but Quinn is still for a minute – Rachel is looking down, watching her shoes to see what she’ll do – and then she’s moving around Rachel to the other side, leaning her other shoulder up against the metal.
It gives Rachel a clear view of Quinn’s baby bump.
Quinn follows Rachel’s eyes. “I woke up one morning and it just was there. I had to go shopping in the maternity section at the mall.”
Quinn sighs. “Rachel, can we just talk? Just for a minute?”
“I believe we have said everything that needs to be said between us,” Rachel says conversationally.
“I want to apologize,” Quinn protests.
Rachel gives Quinn a steady look, trying to find something in her eyes, but when she can’t find it, she shakes her head. “I wanted you to apologize before you broke my heart.”
It’s the first time she’s admitted to anyone – herself, Santana, Brittany, her parents – that Quinn Fabray successfully managed to take her rock-hard façade and crack it in half.
The weight on her chest that she thought would dissipate, if anything, get’s heavier.
Quinn, of course, pulls it off. Her voice is good – better, even – and she’s always caught onto the dance steps easily enough. Mr. Schuester modifies a few things – no throwing the pregnant girl up into the air, for example – and the competition goes off without a hitch.
She hiccups. “I’m drunk.”
Quinn stares, unimpressed. Rachel tries to take a step forward but stumbles over the end of the couch in the hotel suite and nearly falls to the ground. Quinn’s arms wrap around her waist and pull her upright and suddenly, she’s face to face – almost nose to nose, in fact – with Quinn and all she would have to do it tilt her head to the side and move maybe an inch or two forward.
Santana’s voice cuts through her stream of thought. “Hands off her, Grabby.”
“She almost fell over, because someone,” Quinn says with a glare in Puck’s direction, “gave her alcohol. I was helping her stay on her feet.”
“Brittany can do that,” Santana declares, reaching for Rachel’s elbow, but Rachel retreats and moves her body, slowly and awkwardly, until she’s half-shielded by Quinn.
“Everyone needs to stop,” hiccup “manhandling me, okay? I’m a big” hiccup “girl.”
By the time she finishes speaking, she has her arms wrapped around Quinn’s waist and she’s standing on her tip toes with her chin on Quinn’s shoulder, thankful that she’s still wearing the heels she performed in and Quinn took hers off.
“Seriously guys,” she whines. “I’m good.”
Santana gives Quinn a once over, starting at her feet and ending at her forehead and Rachel thinks it’s possible she feels Quinn shiver against her, but before she can wonder too long, Santana is leaning in close, her face almost touching Rachel’s and she’s whispering into Quinn’s ear. “Upset her and I’ll ruin you.”
Quinn scoffs. “I can ruin myself, thank you very much. Come on, Rachel.”
Rachel winks over her shoulder at Santana and the other girl’s glare softens a little and when she seems to realize what she’s doing, it hardens again and Santana whips around demanding more alcohol.
Her head falls against Quinn’s shoulder as they walk out of the room into the hallway and even if Rachel has no idea where they’re going, her hand is practically on Quinn’s ass, so she doesn’t care.
Quinn drops her heavily onto the corner of the bed and she hits it then slide to the side, hitting the carpet.
“Ouch,” she groans.
“Come on,” Quinn says, holding out her hands.
“You could come down here,” Rachel tries to compromise. “The room spins less down here.”
She hiccups again and Quinn sighs, dropping awkwardly against the bedside and sliding down.
“I used to be able to do this, you know. I could do jumps and splits and cartwheels. And now I’m a beach ball.”
Rachel reaches out and traces an invisible line on Quinn’s face. “You’re a very pretty beach ball.”
“Santana was right,” Quinn says suddenly. “I should go get someone else to sit with you.”
Rachel pouts. “But I want you here.”
“You’re drunk,” Quinn says, but Rachel is already shaking her head no.
“No,” she says out loud. “It’s liquid courage, right?” Her eyes are wide and hopeful and she can see them reflected in Quinn’s eyes. “That’s what Puck said. He said that if I drank some of it, I’d be able to do whatever I want and I wouldn’t get nervous or, or mess it up.”
Quinn sighs heavily and shakes her head. “Puck lied, sweetie.”
“No he didn’t.” She scoots closer. “Because if he lied, I wouldn’t be able to do this.”
She presses her hand into the carpet uses it to lift herself up a little, her nose bumping against Quinn’s before she finds Quinn’s mouth and even though all she can feel when she swallows is sticky sweet liquid, Quinn tastes like vanilla and chocolate chip cookies, courtesy of Mrs. Hudson. Rachel can hear Quinn let out the smallest whimper and something inside of her breaks like a slow flood so that she can feel it rushing through slowly, starting at her toes and ending at her fingers; finger that she’s thrust into Quinn’s hand and formed around Quinn’s scalp.
Quinn pulls back first and Rachel takes advantage of the situation, nipping her way down Quinn’s neck while her fingers start to unbutton Quinn’s shirt.
“Didn’t I just say,” Rachel asks, her voice muffled against Quinn’s skin, “that everyone needs to stop telling me what to do?”
“Yes,” Quinn agrees. “But you’re drunk-”
“And I want you,” Rachel finishes. “I want this, with you.”
Quinn shakes her head and grabs the edge of the bed, lifting herself off the floor. Grabbing the sides of her shirt, she pulls them together and holds them with one hand, the other hand over her eyes.
“I can’t. Not with you like this. Not with us like this.”
She’s gone before Rachel can stop her.
They say there’s a calm before every storm and that should be the first sign that things are going to erupt in a big way and no one will be able to stop them.
The first sign, actually, is Quinn not showing up to school again. After the weekend spent in Cleveland, Quinn missed Monday and then Tuesday and by Thursday, they’re all starting to get anxious every time a phone rings or someone gets a text.
By Friday, Puck has his hockey stick on standby and Finn has taken to carrying around his helmet.
It’s like they’re preparing for a war; Kurt deems it “A Holy War” and insists that he should be a tactical advisor because he’s “a lover, not a fighter.”
Rachel finds it all ridiculous, but if the Fabray’s try to keep them away from Quinn, she’s going to unleash Rachel Berry circa 1999 Miss Lima talent contest.
She’s told people still have nightmares about that pageant.
The phone rings in the middle of the night and it takes her a minute to realize what it is, where it’s coming from, and that she should pick it up.
Santana is on the other, clearly annoyed that it took Rachel almost four rings to pick up the phone at 3:30 in the morning and Rachel thinks about yelling at her, but then Santana says “Operation Baby Mama Snatch is a go” and Rachel is too busy trying to keep the phone to ear to hear who is picking her up and trying to put her shoes on at the same time and yelling at Santana will just have to wait until Quinn is back in the guestroom at the Berry house, where she should have been all along.
In the back of her mind, she’s mildly irritated that Quinn never seems to call her when she needs to be saved.
Mike’s pick-up is already outside of her house by the time she scribbles a note to her fathers telling them not to worry, don’t call the police, she’s just gone to get Quinn and she’ll be back in time for breakfast.
He’s blasting Journey so loudly that the speakers crackle and she knows they can’t be hitting a bump in the road every time the cab of the truck jumps, because the bass is so off. He turns it down when they stop outside of Tina’s house and Rachel slides over to the middle seat as they take off into the night.
They park about a block away from Quinn’s house and shuffle into Kurt’s giant SUV.
He’s wearing a pink shirt that says: “Christ Crusaders!” and when she raises an eyebrow at him, he shrugs and tells her he thought it was clever.
“So what’s the plan?” Finn asks from the hatchback.
“The plan is to go in there, get Quinn and get back to Berry’s,” Puck says in way that makes Rachel think he’s been saying this all night.
Mercedes waves wildly from the passenger’s seat. “Hold up. We’re going to breakin?”
“We’re going to get Quinn,” Rachel corrects.
“By breaking in!”
“Listen, she’s in there waiting for us and she’s going to open the door for us, so technically, it’s not breaking in. What it is, though, is an extraction and it needs to be done now, so if you don’t have the balls to go in there and get her out,” Santana sneers, “you can sit in the car with Kurt.”
By the time they stumble out the car, Kurt, Tina and Mercedes have opted to hang back, Artie is at home, connected via Skype and Rachel is tiptoeing up the front walkway to the Fabray house.
Finn knocks twice. The door whips open and Quinn is standing there, face flushed, hands on her hips, teeth clenched.
“What the hell took you so long?”
Finn shrugs his big shoulders and grabs the first couple of bags by the door, tossing them to Matt and Mike who agreed to load them into Mike’s truck first, then Kurt’s car if they needed to. Puck flashes her a charming smile and starts passing parts of a disassembled crib to Brittany and Santana.
Rachel, though, bypasses the pile of “need-to-go” items and grabs Quinn by the chin with one hand.
“I want you to know that I think you’re an idiot.”
Quinn gapes at her, her mouth a very thin oval in Rachel’s grip. “What?” she asks, her words garbled.
“If you had just listened to me the first time, when I told you not to leave, we wouldn’t be doing this now. And I wanted you to know that I think you’re extremely stupid for it. And that I can’t decide between hitting and kissing you, so I’ve decided to do neither.”
Puck leers from the doorway. “You could do both.”
He puts his hands up in surrender and tosses another duffel bag out the door.
“I thought they meant it,” Quinn whispers, her eyes shining in the pre-dawn light. Rachel puts her hand back at her side. “I thought that they wanted me back because they loved me and that I could stay here and still have everything.”
“I know,” Rachel whispers back, her need for an “I-told-you-so” moment gone.
“But then they wanted to make me have an abortion and I texted Brittany and thought that they needed to cool down for a couple of hours and if they found out I mentioned to someone what they wanted to do, they’d let go of the idea.” Quinn gives a shaky laugh. “I wasn’t counting on you showing up and going all crazed-girlfriend on the place.”
“That’s why they let you come back to school.”
Quinn nods as Puck tiptoes down the stairs, carrying the bedding Quinn boxed up. “For a little while, anyway. When they realized that nothing was actually going to happen, that no one was suddenly going to show up at the door and call them bad parents or haul them away, it was already too late to,” she pauses and grimaces, “terminate the pregnancy.”
“Don’t drop that,” Quinn hisses when Matt fumbles with the box he’s holding. He’s got steady hands, though, and recovers quickly, despite Quinn.
“You should have told me what was going on,” Rachel says only half as harshly as she means it.
Quinn shrugs and looks away. “I didn’t want to drag you into it?”
She looks back when Rachel lets out a loud laugh that she immediately stifles. “Drag me into it? You dragged me into this when you showed up at my door and moved in. You dragged me into this when you kissed me after I went out with Finn.”
Finn, at the door, opens his mouth to say something but Puck pushes him back outside.
“You dragged me into this whole thing and it’s been you taking control of us lately, so now it’s my turn, okay?” She waits until Quinn nods before she continues. “I’m in this. You can’t get rid of me.”
“I suppose trying is a moot point,” Quinn says with a sigh, but she’s smirking and leaning over a little to the side and placing one of the sweetest kisses Rachel has ever received in the corner of Rachel’s mouth.
“Jerk,” Rachel mutters, grabbing a teddy bear that fell out of a box Finn carried outside.
Quinn goes out the front door first, looking back over her shoulder at Rachel, and winks.
If her fathers think it’s weird that Quinn is sitting at the breakfast table, sipping decaf coffee out of a mug with seven-year-old Rachel screened on the front playing the piano, they don’t say anything about it to either girl.
Phil puts another bagel in the toaster oven and James takes down four glasses from the cabinet.
“Thanks, Mr. Berry,” Quinn says cheerily, her hand resting on Rachel’s knee under the hanging counter of the island.
“Sure thing, Quinn,” James says through a yawn.
“When is Sectionals again?” Phil asks, wiping sleep out of his eyes. His gaze slides past the girls and ends up in the living, his eyes going wide at the mountain of things Quinn and Rachel were too tired to lug upstairs at four in the morning.
“Two weeks,” Rachel and Quinn say at the same time.
“We need to make sure we get more film for the camera,” Phil says, dropping a bagel onto Quinn’s plate first, blowing at his fingers.
James picks up his cup of coffee. “I’ll get more film for the camera,” he mumbles before he takes a sip.