Quinn nods her head in time with the music, trying to focus on the words in front of her but her attention keeps drifting, a pretty common problem whenever her wife is singing. She cuts her gaze to the right where Rachel is behind glass, headphones on, eyes closed, singing a song from her latest show on Broadway with a small orchestra accompanying her. It sounds phenomenal to Quinn but there’s muttering on this side of the glass and the performance is cut short.
“Rach, something is a little off with this number,” says Eric, one of three people gathered at the mixing desk. Based on his excessive use of hairgel, Quinn dislikes him but tolerates the other two: Simon, Rachel’s agent, and Celia, one of the in-house producers. “I don’t know, we might have to cut it…”
“Not a chance. It’s my favourite song in the show. It’s one of the reasons I agreed to do this album,” Rachel argues, arms folding across her chest and a frown falling over her face as she glances between Eric and Simon. “We’ll find a way to make it work.”
“Fine, we’ll come back to it,” Simon says hastily speaking over Eric’s answer. “How about we break for fifteen minutes? Get a little air and try something else.”
Celia is the first to leave the room, already tapping a cigarette from the box in her pocket. Quinn considers following after her despite any real desire to smoke but instead closes her notebook, leaving her elusive characters behind for a while, and makes her way into the recording booth.
“Hey,” Quinn says, coming up behind Rachel to sweep her hair to one side and press a kiss to the base of her neck. She feels Rachel shiver at her touch and grins. “How are you holding up?”
“That Eric guy is a jackass,” Rachel sighs, flipping through the music on the stand in front of her. “I don’t know what Simon was thinking, asking him to produce this.”
“It sounds great to me,” Quinn insists, sliding her arms around Rachel’s waist. “But then, you always do.”
“Flattery, Mrs Berry-Fabray…” Rachel turns around, pressing a quick peck to Quinn’s lips. “Have you written anything this morning?”
Quinn scrunches up her nose.
“Chapter three has a basic outline,” she shrugs. “I’m not meeting with Freya until Monday now. I’ll have something for her by then. Unfortunately, you are proving to be a little too distracting.”
Quinn punctuates this by pressing a longer kiss, lingering to tug gently on Rachel’s bottom lip.
“You’ll have to stay at home tomorrow,” Rachel admonishes, eyes fluttering shut as Quinn continues pressing soft kisses down her neck. “No lounging about at my photo shoot for you. You can take me out for dinner though, if you want.”
“I’m not lounging about here,” Quinn protests, drawing back and reaching for Rachel’s music.
“Please,” Rachel scoffs, shaking her head before pointing to the room behind the glass. “You’ve been horizontal on that couch since we arrived here. I thought you’d fallen asleep at one point.”
Flipping through the sheets of music, Quinn ignores the jab and strolls over to the piano.
“How about you strip back All I Have ?” she asks, easily changing the subject. “I know it’s the big number of the second act but wasn’t it originally supposed to be just you on the stage and, like, a piano accompaniment?” Quinn starts to pick out the chords, fingers forming the right shapes effortlessly, humming the tune as she goes along.
When she looks up at the end of the chorus, Rachel is beaming at her.
"What?” Quinn asks, her cheeks colouring.
“Go from the beginning,” Rachel says, walking over to the piano and sitting down on the bench next to Quinn. This time Rachel sings along, reigning in her voice for the first verse the way she’d sung it the first time she’d stood in the rehearsal room two years ago.
Everything had stopped when she’d started to sing the number: the producer and the director had stopped arguing; the choreographer had paused at the back of the room, mid-step with Rachel’s lead actor; the ensemble had come to a standstill in their corner near the door. For three minutes, Rachel had everyone entranced and that had been the moment they’d known that the show would be a success.
Somewhere through the course of rehearsals and never-ending rewrites, the song had been cut and re-introduced, cut again and then brought back as a massive ensemble number and no-one had ever mentioned the original incarnation again. Until now.
As the chorus ends, Rachel returns to the microphone, spying Simon and Eric on the other side of the glass and sending them a smile when Simon gives her a thumbs up. Unaware of their audience, Quinn keeps playing, gaze on her hands, ignoring everything her piano instructor had ever told her. She doesn’t even risk glancing up when Rachel hits the power note in the final chorus and Quinn’s vision blurs with tears. Not until she’s lifted her hands from the piano for the final time does she allow herself to look up.
“Shit,” she mutters when she sees that everyone – Simon, Eric, Celia, the band and the backing singers – are all watching. Celia leans forward, pressing a button on the desk.
“I think we can find somewhere for that on the album,” she grinning as she shoots a look at Eric. He rolls his eyes in response.
“Fine, it can stay.”
Rachel claps her hands together and turns to look at Quinn, smile so wide that she might combust.
“Think you can do that again, babe?” she asks. Quinn stutters for a few seconds before collecting herself. “For me?”
“Yeah,” Quinn nods. “I definitely can.” She gestures for Rachel to come closer to the piano. “Does this mean I’m on your album?”
“It would appear so,” Rachel says, her eyes lighting up. “Maybe we could do a duet!”
“Rach, you’re the star,” Quinn says gently, seeing the agitated look on Simon’s face at the thought of more rehearsing and another number to fit into an already packed song-list. “And this is a solo album.” She pauses. “Maybe we can revive something from high school when you do a duets album. Maybe.”
Rachel considers this before bouncing back to the microphone.
“From the top then?”