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This was different from every other time she’d “been in love.” Different enough, in fact, that she was considering removing that label from all her failed relationships.

She finally understood why everyone called it falling – it was exhilarating, it was hard, it was terrifying, and it was out of her control.

If there was one thing that Quinn Fabray hated more than anything else in the world it was being out of control.

--

Quinn ran. She didn’t know what else to do.

She ran, and ran, and ran, until she couldn’t run any further. Startled, she realised it had been an hour and she was a long way from home.

She hadn’t even noticed the rain.

“Of course it’s raining,” she muttered. “Of course it is.” Slowing to a walk, she began the long journey home.

Within five minutes she was soaked to the bone, the moisture clinging to her in the heat of the afternoon. Suddenly, she couldn’t keep trudging through. For the first time in a while she allowed herself to stop, to sit, to think.

Her tears were lost in the deluge.

Quinn wondered how she’d gotten to this point. She’d had everything she’d ever wanted by sophomore year – she was popular, she had a boyfriend who loved her, she was pretty, she was good at her schoolwork – then lost it all through one stupid mistake. She found new dreams, gained her reputation back, gave it up for Glee, again, and somehow this is where she’d ended up.

Out in the rain, miles from home, and hopelessly in love with the girl who’d become her best friend. Mercedes Jones.

Mercedes, who is straight.

Mercedes, who is so beautiful, inside and out.

Mercedes, who is far too good for someone like Quinn.

Mercedes, who is with Sam.

Quinn saw the way they were looking at each other – first at prom, and then in New York. They might have been able to fool the others, but not her.

She hadn’t told a single soul what she felt. Not for the first time, she wished she were less of a coward.

--

I’m so tired.

--

Looking back, it was both hard to pinpoint when she started feeling more than friendship for Mercedes, and not entirely surprising that she did. When she was with her, she felt like herself. Not just the person that everyone else expected her to be.

She could, however, think of a few moments that were important in retrospect.

One was the simple question that sparked their rekindled friendship. “Can we get coffee?” Plain, unadorned, unassuming; it was strange, now, to think of what it had lead to.

Like all friendships within New Directions, they’d had more than their fair share of drama. Quinn regretted pushing Mercedes away for the first half of junior year. She’d fallen back into quasi-friendship with Santana and Brittany, but they were such a single entity that she’d never really felt a part of their unit. She also spent a lot of time with Sam, which was odd to think about in her current position.

She’d missed Mercedes constantly during that time; she just never knew how to ask her for forgiveness. As it turned out, she never had to.

When Mercedes offered her coffee and a new start she clutched at it like a lifeline. The more time Quinn spent with Mercedes the more they fell into the pattern of their friendship from the year before. Quinn had almost forgotten what it was like to have someone she could rely on – someone who loved her without expecting her to present a façade constantly.

As the year wore on, Quinn found herself thinking more and more about Mercedes, her admiration growing.

She still couldn’t understand how someone as beautiful and whole as Mercedes would want to be friends with someone as messed up as she was.

--

People used to despise me just for existing. So I took control. I decided that I would give them real reasons to hate me.

 I hate myself for what I became.

--

Of course, then the whole Lucy Caboosey debacle came out.

Mercedes already knew, and had made it clear that she wasn’t going anywhere – it was part of the reason Quinn felt so comfortable around her, that she had nothing left to hide. Contrary to popular belief, Mercedes could keep important secrets – she might be a gossip, but she never shared personal secrets she was told friend to friend.

Now, everyone knew her past – it’d come back to haunt her as she’d always feared.

She was a fake, a fraud. And now everyone knew that. She felt like crawling into a hole and never coming out.

Mercedes was her rescuer, it seemed.

“A girl once told me that I was beautiful no matter what everyone else said. She inspired me to stand up to one Sue Sylvester, and I still owe her for that.

“Quinn, Lucy, whatever. You are beautiful, and I am so proud to call you my friend.”

--

Quinn allowed herself a small smile at that particular memory. Turning her face to the sky, she closed her eyes and held her arms out; clutching at the spark of happiness its rhythm brought her.

The moment passed, all too soon.

--

She’s the only one who ever really sees me. And even she doesn’t love me. Not the way I love her.

--

Then there was Prom.

Prom, where everything hit her full force.

It was supposed to be the perfect night. She had the star boyfriend, she had a pretty dress that made her eyes sparkle, her hair was perfect, as was her make-up, and she felt beautiful for once.

Needless to say, she did not expect to slap Rachel Berry. She certainly wouldn’t have predicted that Rachel would just brush it off and start telling Quinn that she was more than that. More than a pretty face.

It was what she’d needed to hear for too long.

It was just a shame that Quinn couldn’t accept it, because it came from entirely the wrong person.

Jealousy is a strange thing, she thought. Everyone comments on the way it destroys things. No one ever tells you that it illuminates everything.

Quinn might as well have actually been green that night.

She was jealous of Rachel, both for being so unashamedly herself and standing up for herself, and for the fact that Finn still had eyes for her. Even though Quinn wasn’t being entirely honest with Finn either, as it turned out. She was jealous, in a weird way, of Kurt, because Blaine was willing to brave McKinley’s Prom just for him. She was jealous of the freedom that everyone else seemed to have.

And she was jealous of Sam. Sam, who got to spend the night dancing with her best friend. Sam, who had loved her once and felt it with all his heart. Sam, who had taken the person she loved more than anything to prom.

I love her.

I’m in love with her.

Shit, she thought.

I am so screwed.

--

I love her.

--

Knowing how she felt about Mercedes didn’t automatically mean Quinn knew what to do about those feelings. Strangely enough, she wasn’t freaking out at the fact she was in love with a girl. Much. Growing up with Santana and Brittany had opened her eyes to the many possibilities of sexuality, and then being friends with Kurt and Blaine had shown her that there really was nothing wrong with it. Her mom would disagree, but she put that thought out of her mind as best she could. She had thought about her own sexuality before, but had come up with nothing that told her she wasn’t straight. Until Mercedes.

She certainly couldn’t deny her attraction to men, so she figured she must be bisexual. That had to be it.

Armed with her new label, she went about her life as normal. Well, as normal as life as part of New Directions ever got. She spent time with Finn, and internally debated breaking it off with him. She hung out with Mercedes, and felt the butterflies in her stomach take off in her presence. Something was ever so slightly off, however, and her musings on sexuality lead her to her answer. She was absolutely sure she loved Mercedes, but she didn’t feel any physical attraction to her. She thought she was beautiful, of course, she always had. When she thought about being with her – she didn’t let herself often, it was too painful, knowing what she did about Sam and Mercedes – she thought about holding hands, about cuddling, about kissing, but that was it.

Quinn had no idea what to make of it.

--

Everybody leaves.

--

“Is this feeling enough for you?”

Quinn had tried so hard to keep control of her emotions, but it was impossible. Finn was breaking up with her, and even though she’d realised she was in love with someone else it still stung that she was being left by the wayside. Again.

--

Am I going crazy? I feel like it.

And I’m sick of it.

--

She was a mess all through the week leading up to Nationals. She took her anger and her confusion out on Rachel, on anyone that rubbed her the wrong way. She made an effort to keep herself in check with Mercedes, but even then she wasn’t entirely successful.

In a word, Quinn was desperate.

That was how she ended up sitting in Miss Pillsbury’s office, explaining her situation as vaguely as she could.

“Right, so, you’re in love with a girl, but you aren’t attracted to her.”

Quinn nodded.

“Well, it could be that you’re asexual, which is a very normal and real thing. Maybe these pamphlets might help you?” Miss Pillsbury continued.

Quinn took them, without much confidence that they would be helpful. She could see Miss Pillsbury fidgeting and getting uncomfortable at the thought that Quinn might actually ask for more details. Some guidance counselor, she thought snidely.

She shrugged, and got up to leave. “I’ll read them.”

When she got home that afternoon she locked herself in her room and settled on her bed.

She glanced through the pamphlets, and found that while they did have some useful information about asexuality, it didn’t seem to fit her at all. She may have been in the celibacy club at school, but it was all about control of her body, not a lack of sexual desire or attraction. Besides, look where that “control” had gotten her. Nowhere.

She thought about Puck, and how he’d always caught her eye – even though she’d been told, repeatedly, that he was bad news.

She thought about Sam, with his abs and his arms and his hair.

Hell, she’d even taken notice of Kurt during “Born This Way.” Who knew he could amp up his confidence and sex appeal like that? She laughed to herself at her next thought. Blaine would have.

So, she was pretty sure she wasn’t asexual.

Maybe she just wasn’t attracted to girls. If that was the case, she would never be enough for Mercedes. Even if she did return her feelings somehow, she knew Mercedes was a very sexual person and that was part of any relationship that she’d want. Quinn was sure of that.

Oh, god. How would I even tell her? I love you, but I’m not attracted to you at all, sorry.

What the hell is wrong with me?

She stayed there for hours, her thoughts running in circles – until the group prom picture on her wall caught her eye.

A flash of red satin against tan skin and dark hair, to be precise.

Santana.

The thought planted in her head, she closed her eyes and tried to imagine kissing Santana. The idea wasn’t one she’d ever seriously considered, but then, she’d never expected to fall for Mercedes either. To her surprise, kissing Santana was a very appealing idea.

Huh.

Unbidden, the fantasy progressed, until she was imagining what it would be like to be have Santana on top of her, pressed up against her, skin on skin.

Her eyes flew open as what she was doing sunk in. She wasn’t just attracted to Santana, she wasfantasizing about her. She blushed, embarrassed, even though no one else was there to see her.

She was more confused than ever.

--

I can’t get anything right.

--

The rain got even heavier, jolting her out of her reverie.

She’d stopped crying, but her mind was still whirring with the events of the last few months.

She hauled herself to her feet, and started walking home.

--

 I’d do anything for her.

--

She managed to keep her mind blank for most of the journey home, just enjoying the way the rain felt on her skin – like it could actually wash her clean if she let it.

New York was a month ago, but she felt its sting as keenly as she had at the time. Everything she’d thought, everything she’d suspected, had all been confirmed in one fell swoop.

They’d lost. She might have said she didn’t care, but she cared more than she wanted to admit. Mercedes cared, and so Quinn did.

Finn and Rachel were back together.

Sam and Mercedes were together. There was no doubt in her mind.

She was definitely attracted to girls. Not just Santana, but Brittany too. Watching them dance, dancing with them had shown her that. Just not Mercedes.

She smiled wryly to herself as she remembered her conversation with Santana and Brittany.

I’m not that into that.

Problem was, she would be so into that, except she was in love with Mercedes Jones. Hopelessly, desperately, in love with someone she wasn’t attracted to.

--

I like guys. I’ve always liked guys. So why now? And why her?

--

It wasn’t until she’d nearly reached her house that she realised she really didn’t want to go inside. She didn’t want to force a smile, to pretend she was okay, to make her mom believe that she wasn’t broken.

That was what it felt like.

She decided to go to Mercedes’ house instead. It often felt more like home to her anyway.

She was suddenly very glad that she lived within walking distance of Mercedes’ place. It’d take her half an hour, more in this weather, but it wouldn’t matter. She was already soaked.

--

Hiding is exhausting.

--

“You are Quinn Fabray. You can do this.” She said to herself as she walked. “Just tell her. She won’t love you back, but she’ll know how to fix you.”

Quinn hoped so, anyway.

--

I have problems with letting people in.

--

She reached the Jones’ and knocked on the door, praying that Mercedes would be the one to open it.

She was.

Mercedes took one look at Quinn’s wet clothing and hair and ushered her inside.

“What are you doing out in the rain?” she asked, incredulous. “Stay here and I’ll grab you a towel and some dry things to put on.”

Quinn suddenly had no energy left to even protest.

By the time Mercedes came back Quinn had adjusted to the cooler temperature in the house and had begun to shiver. She quickly dried herself off with the towel Mercedes handed to her, and excused herself to the bathroom to change.

“Come up to my room when you’re done, yeah?”

Quinn nodded, wilfully ignoring the concerned look Mercedes was aiming her way.

She was warm now, but her hands wouldn’t stop shaking. This is really happening. I’m going to do it.

She slowly made her way to Mercedes’ room, the same as every other time she’d been there but not, somehow. It seemed to take longer. She took a deep breath in the doorway, and sat down next to Mercedes on her bed. Instinctively, she curled into the safety of Mercedes’ side, and then everything overwhelmed her again.

She was too overwrought to care that she was sobbing loudly, body shaking, her tears soaking into Mercedes’ shoulder.  She felt strong arms wrap around her, one rubbing her back and the other cupping the back of her head. Thankfully, no words were needed. Not yet, anyway. Quinn was quite aware of the fact she hadn’t breathed a word that anything had been bothering her.

Once she could breathe again, Quinn pulled away. Just a little.

“You gonna tell me what’s up now? You’ve been, well, distant for weeks now.”

Quinn bit her lip and looked down guiltily. She’d thought she’d been hiding it – she should have known that Mercedes would see straight through her.

That was her problem right there. She was the only one who ever could.

“Yes.” It was more of a breath than a word, but it was a start.

“I didn’t mean to pull away, I’m so sorry, I never wanted you to think you’d done anything wrong, it’s all me, it’s always me, I’m sorry.” Quinn cut herself off, realizing she was babbling. “These past months have been hard. Really hard.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Quinn closed her eyes tight.

“Because you were the problem,” she said. Sensing that Mercedes would try to interrupt, she quickly continued. “Not like that. You’ve done everything right, been so good to me. ‘Cedes, I’m in love with you.”

Quinn opened her eyes.

It was clear that Mercedes was surprised, her mouth open and eyebrows raised. She was openly staring at Quinn, and she could almost see the penny dropping as she made sense of her recent behavior.

“Please don’t ask me about my sexuality, because the answer is I really don’t know. All I know is I love you, more than I’ve ever loved anyone.”

Mercedes was still shell-shocked.

“Say something? Please?” Quinn was on the verge of tears again, her voice shaky.

“How long?” Mercedes asked.

“I’m not sure, exactly, it kind of crept up on me. I realised just how much, at prom.”

“I thought you were jealous because-”

“With Sam. Yeah.” Quinn laughed bitterly. “My life can never be that clear-cut, can it?”

“Oh, Quinn,” she said. She pulled Quinn close again. “You know I’m not going anywhere, right? ‘Cause I’m not.”

“I’m so sad, Mercedes. Why am I so sad? It won’t go away. Tell me what to do. I can’t do this anymore.” Quinn buried her face into Mercedes’ shoulder again. “Please help me,” she whispered.

“Shh. Just breathe.”

Once Quinn had calmed down, Mercedes started talking. “I know it’s hard, but have you thought about talking to someone? Someone, professional…”

“I went to Miss Pillsbury, but-”

Mercedes rolled her eyes. “She gave you pamphlets and sent you on your way?”

“Yeah. They made me more confused about everything.”

“Okay. When I take you home, I’ll find you Dr. Fuller’s card, alright? When James was younger he had some problems, I can’t say what, but he said that she was really great. Promise me you’ll at least think about it?”

“Okay.”

“That’s my girl. Now, let’s go watch a movie or something, and I’ll take you home after.”

--

I’m confused. Scared. Mostly scared.

--

Quinn stared at the card in her hands until the numbers blurred together. In the week since Mercedes had given it to her she’d pulled it out of her wallet every other hour, willing herself to have the courage to make the call.

Calling meant admitting something was very, very wrong.

Calling meant admitting weakness.

The voice in her head that told her this could be a way out eventually won. With shaking fingers and a pounding heart, she keyed the number into her phone. Her thumb hovered over the call button for a whole minute before she could make herself press it.

“Hi, my name is Quinn Fabray and I’d like to make an appointment to see Dr. Fuller.”

--

She believes in me. I want to believe in me.

--

She texted Mercedes quickly, before she could lose her nerve.

I made an appointment for Wednesday. Will you drive me?

I’m so proud of you. Of course I’ll drive you.

Quinn put her phone down and sprawled across her bed. She hoped that she’d finally find out what was wrong with her. She sat up with a jolt when she realised she’d have to ask her mom for money to pay for the therapy sessions.

Shit.

She could use her credit card, but her mom always checked statements thoroughly. This wouldn’t have been a problem when her parents were together, but since the divorce they’d had to be much more careful with money. The only reason she still had the card was for “emergencies.” She scoffed. Her mom wouldn’t consider this an emergency – even though this was the most desperate Quinn had ever felt.

Quinn had made up her mind about going, and she wasn’t backing down now. She’d guilt her mom into it if she had to. She’d say it was because of the divorce, and because she’d been kicked out. It might even be true.

--

Sometimes I dream of packing a bag and buying a plane ticket to somewhere far, far away. I could start over.

--

Over the space of the next day Quinn became very glad she had only booked two days ahead.

She was jumpy, and her emotions were all over the place. One minute she would convince herself that she was fine, so she got sad sometimes, that it wasn’t a big deal. The next minute she would be in frantic tears, panicking over tiny details, and she latched onto the appointment as one string of hope.

And so it went. She wondered if she was going crazy. It would explain a lot.

--

What if she throws me out? She didn’t stop him last time. That time it was for one mistake. This time, in her eyes, I’ll commit a lifetime of sin.

--

Surprisingly, her mom didn’t object to paying for the sessions at all.

“Whatever you think you need, darling.”

Quinn smiled tightly, thanked her, and then retreated to her room to forget the condescension in her mother’s tone.

She doesn’t care.

--

“It sounds like you’ve had a couple of rough years, Quinn. Why are you here now?”

“Because I love her, and she asked.”

--

By the time Mercedes came to pick her up, Quinn was emotionally exhausted. The drive there was silent save for the sighs that escaped Quinn, and the rustle of her clothes as she fidgeted. When they arrived, she made no move to get out of the car.

“Quinn, look at me. You can do this. I know it’s scary, but I know you can.”

Quinn nodded.

“Do you want me to come inside or wait out here?”

“Come sit with me while I wait? Please?”

“Sure, babygirl.”

They went inside, and Quinn didn’t have to wait long at all. It was probably for the best, as she must have been cutting off the circulation in Mercedes hand, the way she was gripping it.

Quinn willed her own hands to stop shaking, and that the butterflies in her stomach would leave. Why was this so scary?

From what she’d heard about therapists, Quinn figured that she was walking into a question and answer session with some old woman. She was wrong. She tried not to let her surprise show on her face, but Dr. Fuller’s amused half-smile told her she hadn’t been successful.

“Let me guess, you were expecting me to be an old lady who wouldn’t understand anything about you?”

Quinn nodded, vaguely ashamed at her assumption. She had got to stop doing that.

“The curse of having a name like Fuller.” Quinn could have sworn she winked.

“I never much liked it anyway. Hi, I’m Mia.”

She held out her hand, and Quinn shook it briefly.

“I’m Quinn.”

“So I’ve heard. Take a seat,” she gestured to the chair behind Quinn, and pulled her own out from behind her desk so she was sitting directly across from Quinn.

Quinn took that moment to observe a few things about Dr. Fuller. No, Mia, she corrected herself.

Mia had long, wavy, dark brown hair, eyes the same color, and was as tall as Quinn herself. She had much the same build, too. She couldn’t have been older than 25. She really is quite pretty, Quinn thought.

“So, Quinn, tell me – what brings you to me?”

Now that she was here, Quinn had no idea what to say. She stared at the floor, her mind racing.

“You can start by telling me a little about yourself, if that’s easier.’”

“Okay. I’m Quinn Fabray and I’m a bit of a control freak…”

--

Maybe I should tell her the whole story. Would that help? Or would it just push her away?

--

“I’m never going to ask what you say to her – you only ever tell me what you want, kay. I have to ask, what do you think?”

“She’s really sweet,” Quinn didn’t know how much to say. “And I think you may have found me the most open-minded therapist in Ohio.”

When she’d summoned enough courage to talk about her tipping point, she’d let out an enormous sigh of relief when Mia showed no shock, no disgust, and no horror at her confession – reactions that she’d come to expect from the people of Lima.

Mercedes just smiled, and something in her expression lead Quinn to believe she’d already known that. She didn’t ask.

“Come on, let’s get back to my place – Mom said you’re welcome to stay for dinner. It’s homemade pizza,” Mercedes teased, as if Quinn would need convincing.

“Sounds great.” Even to herself, Quinn’s voice sounded tired and weak. It wasn’t surprising, considering the day she’d had. Thankfully, Mercedes had quite clearly dropped the subject.

The ride back was just as quiet as the one there, but without the tension. Quinn allowed herself to hope, just for a second, that things could be better.

--

I still miss her. I never even really had her. For the few minutes I did, everything seemed right. Perfect, even. I want that back.

--

Quinn thought it would get easier to bare her soul to Mia. She was wrong.

Every session, she’d stare at the floor and mumble.

Every session, it felt like she was cutting a hole in her chest.

Every session, information would spill out of her in dribs and drabs.

Soon, Mia began to ask questions.

“Can you explain why you’re scared?”

“Who are you angry at?”

Gradually, Quinn opened up more and more.

--

I don’t blame her. I’m not worth it.

--

By the time Mercedes told Quinn about her breakup with Sam, she was strong enough to be there for her. She distracted her, she held her, and she hoped she helped.

Meanwhile, she cursed the tiny bubble of hope threatening to burst out of her.

--

It’s different.

--

Eventually Quinn was posed a question that she couldn’t answer.

“Why do you think you aren’t attracted to her?” It was completely in context of their conversation that day, but it struck Quinn speechless. How could she answer that when she’d spent months asking herself the same thing without success?

She closed her eyes, willing the floor to open up and swallow her.

This is too hard, help.

As always, Mia didn’t press for an answer, she simply waited – her perfectly manicured fingers folded in her lap.

“I really don’t know. She’s so beautiful, and I love her so much, but I don’t ever want to do more than kiss her. Even then, the kisses are still,” she paused, searching for the right word, “tame.”

Mia let that hang in the air for a moment before asking her next question.

“Have you considered whether you might be somewhere on the asexual spectrum? It’s not unheard of to feel sexual attraction to only one gender but feel romantic attraction to both.”

Quinn sucked in a deep breath.

“Yes. I’ve thought about that a lot, recently. It’s not-” she broke off, wondering how to phrase her next thought. “I’m attracted to guys, and girls.

“Just not her. I don’t understand,” she let the tears fall. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Mia wordlessly handed her a tissue and waited for her to look up again.

“We’re out of time today, but can you do something for next time? I’d like you to bring in some photos of people you have been attracted to. Celebrities, friends, anyone. If you have one of Mercedes you could bring that as well.”

Quinn agreed, and they organized the next session for later that week.

--

I was obsessed with weight. I won’t deny that. It consumed me.

--

Quinn followed her instructions, and spent that evening searching out photos. She was still a little embarrassed about her fantasies about Santana and Brittany, but she grabbed the group prom picture and put it in her bag anyway, before she could chicken out. She’d definitely point out Puck and Sam, anyway.

Keira Knightley, Mila Kunis, Leighton Meester, Miranda Kerr.

Cillian Murphy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brendan Urie, Tom Felton.

Santana, Brittany, Sam, Puck.

She could guess why she had to bring photos, but she wasn’t getting close to working out why she wasn’t attracted to Mercedes.

--

What’s wrong with me?

--

Things with Mercedes were relatively normal. She seemed to be coping with Sam leaving well enough, and Quinn managed to function as her best friend.

It was hard, but she wasn’t going to throw away this friendship again.

Above all else, she needed Mercedes. There was no way she could do any of this without her.

--

I want to be better. For you.

--

Some days, Quinn felt fine. She’d be happy, relaxed, and able to push the stray hurts away. Others, she wasn’t so lucky. Those ones were the ones where she felt hopeless and helpless, and found herself crying into her pillow for hours on end.

--

Why can’t I beat this?

--

Soon enough, her next appointment with Mia rolled around. Even after all these weeks, she still felt the butterflies start – today was no exception.

She clutched her bag tightly, letting go only to retrieve the photos as she sat down.

“Hi Quinn, how are you?”

Like every time she greeted her with that question, Quinn fought back a wry laugh at the simple, overused nature of it. Here was almost the only place she’d ever answer it honestly.

“I’m okay. Well, today I am. Mostly.”

Mia raised an eyebrow, as if to say “go on.”

“It’s just hard. I see her all the time, and she’s been so wonderful though this. Sometimes I wonder if it’d be easier if she’d been horrible about it and I could hate her.” As soon as the words left her lips she felt guilty. “And now I feel completely ungrateful.”

“It’s okay to be frustrated with the situation, you know. You are allowed to want some time to figure things out.”

“I know. But somehow that feels like betraying the person I trust the most right now.”

She felt the tears well up again, and cursed under her breath. She always ended up crying in the sessions, no matter how well she’d been doing that day or that week.

“Okay. So, did you find some photos for me?” Mia smiled, and Quinn handed them over.

The way that she could switch between being very serious to almost mischievous in a heartbeat was one of the things that made Quinn feel comfortable talking to her. She idly wondered if it was all just some psychologist’s trick. If it was, it was certainly an effective one.

Mia flicked through the celebrity shots Quinn had printed off first, taking few long seconds to scrutinize each one. Quinn fidgeted in her chair, feeling oddly exposed.

Once Mia got to the prom photo she called Quinn over to point people out.

“Santana’s the one in the red satin dress, Brittany’s the one next to her. That’s Mike, I’ve never told anyone I’m kind of attracted to him before. That’s Puck, and that’s Sam, my ex,” she said, pointing everyone out as she mentioned them. “And that’s Mercedes.”

Quinn went back to her seat, unnerved by Mia’s continued silence and carefully blank expression.

A few minutes passed, and Quinn grew more and more nervous as the time passed without a word spoken. It wasn’t like silence was uncommon, but it was normally because Quinn was struggling to put her feelings into words. She couldn’t help feeling like she was being judged. In a way, she was right.

“There’s an interesting mix of people here.” Mia said quietly. “I want you to think about what they all have in common. You don’t have to tell me, now or ever, but I want you to spend a couple of minutes thinking about it right now.”

Quinn nodded and shut her eyes. Many different features presented themselves to her. Eyes, lips, hair, breasts, torsos, arms, style, stomachs, legs, asses, backs, shoulders, collarbones. Taut muscle, tall, thin, sexy. Everything I’m not.

“I think, Quinn, that your past obsessions with weight might have something to do with what you see as attractive.”

“No,” Quinn’s tone was icy. “I vowed I would never again judge people for their weight. Least of all Mercedes. I will not sit here and be told that I’ve failed when I know I haven’t. Fuck that.” She rose to leave. “I’ll take my prom picture back, thank you.”

Mia handed it back. “Quinn,” she implored softly. “I’m not going to make you stay or even ask you to. I want you to ask yourself something. When did you last feel desirable? Why?”

With that, Quinn stalked out of the room, her posture rigid.

--

I really thought I was past this.

--

The next few days were hell. Quinn spiraled, feeling lower and more confused than ever. She didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. As much as she confided in Mercedes, she still hadn’t discussed much about her struggle with her sexuality. Especially not in terms of physical attraction. She certainly couldn’t bring herself to tell her that her therapist thought her lack of attraction to her had something to do with weight.

After everything, she’d promised herself that she wouldn’t let weight affect how she treated people. She was past that, wasn’t she?

She pushed down the voice in her head that reminded her that this wasn’t something she could actively control.

--

Sexy. People used to say it about me, all the time. I don’t think I ever truly believed them.

--

Truth be told, the last time she’d felt desirable was the day she’d been out shopping with Mercedes last month. They tried on all sorts of ridiculous and outlandish outfits for fun, as well as their normal choices of clothing. They’d stumbled on a short, black, one-shouldered satin dress in one of the nicer shops they visited. It was very fitted, and a size smaller than Quinn would normally wear, but they decided it was too gorgeous to walk past without at least trying it on. To her surprise, it had fit perfectly. She’d looked in the mirror and saw someone tall, thin, and adult looking back at her. It felt good. Really good.

After Mia’s comments, that moment haunted her.

--

What if Lucy is all I’ll ever be?

--

It took a week for her to accept that she was still obsessed with weight – her own in particular. It was like suddenly being made aware of the lenses she’d been seeing the world through. She started noticing what she noticed first about people. Suddenly, it was all she thought about.

It took her another week to swallow her pride enough to make another appointment with Mia.

I think you might have been right.

--

I still feel… lost.

--

Recently Quinn had learnt that identifying a problem doesn’t automatically provide the solutions. Knowing that she was somehow being influenced by Mercedes’ weight didn’t stop that from being the case. Quinn spent a lot of her time running it over in her mind, trying to let go of her prejudice.

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t working. She needed to do something to prove to herself that it didn’t matter in the end.

The idea hit her suddenly one night when she was settling down to sleep. Her mind flashed back, again, to her fantasies about Santana – particularly her first one. If the imaginary didn’t work, why not try something real? She couldn’t believe she hadn’t thought of it before.

Now, she had a plan. Quinn always felt better when she had a plan.

--

I can do this.

--

She got her chance the next time she saw Mercedes. They were just hanging out in Mercedes’ room, sitting cross-legged on her bed and talking about everything and nothing all at once.

Quinn shifted uncomfortably as she tried to work up the courage to ask what she wanted to. She took a deep breath and just went for it.

“Mercedes, can I ask you something?” she asked, cutting across the latest gossip about McKinley that Mercedes was spouting.

“Of course,” Mercedes said, tilting her head at the non sequitur.

“Can I… I know that you don’t feel… and you just broke up with Sam but…” she suddenly couldn’t find the right words.

Mercedes shuffled closer to Quinn on the bed, and rested her hand lightly on Quinn’s knee, waiting patiently. Quinn relaxed.

It’s just Mercedes, calm down, she thought to herself.

“Can I kiss you?” she blurted, the words running together. As soon as she said it she felt awkward and strange. She was about to start panicking fully when Mercedes nodded.

“Are you sure? I can’t give you what you want from me, you know that.”

Quinn bit her lip, but nodded. She didn’t trust herself to speak again.

“Come here then.” Mercedes patted the bed beside her.

Quinn moved over so she was tucked up into Mercedes’ side, relishing the contact and the way it made her feel safe – even if the butterflies in her stomach had started going crazy.

“Close your eyes, okay?” Quinn obeyed, and heard Mercedes take in a deep breath of her own.

What are we doing? she thought, before she felt Mercedes’ lips; soft against hers.

Mercedes started gently, but the kiss soon heated up. Quinn wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting, exactly, but Mercedes was not holding back. It was intense. Quinn was overwhelmed with the need to touch, and unthinkingly turned herself around and swung her leg over Mercedes’ lap. She pulled them closer together and ran her hands down Mercedes’ sides as she felt Mercedes’ hands make their way into her hair.

She wanted to stay like this forever. No, wait. She wanted clothes to vanish and to be lying down and-

Oh.

Oh.

When the kiss broke they were both flushed and a little disheveled. Mercedes pretended to fan herself with her hand, laughing slightly.

“Fuck, you are so hot,” Quinn muttered, before she registered what she was saying. When she did, she blushed bright red and smiled privately to herself. It worked.

They both glanced at each other and immediately looked away again as Quinn maneuvered herself off of Mercedes’ lap. There were a few moments of could-become-awkward silence before Mercedes said, suddenly, “Damn, girl, you are a fine kisser.”

It’s easy with you, Quinn thought, but she just smiled and looked down at her hands. The first full, genuine smile in what felt like forever.

Quinn caught Mercedes’ eye, and they both started giggling hysterically.

“Did we really just do that?” Mercedes asked, incredulous.

“Yes,” Quinn said, shyly, “yes we did.”

With that they were utterly lost to their laughter.

--

Loved. Wanted. Enough. I just want to be enough.

--

Mercedes loved her, she knew that.

She also knew it wasn’t the same way that Quinn loved her, but that was okay. It would be enough.

She was going to be okay.

--

I really thought I was getting better.

--

He was the last straw.

Quinn was used to struggling with relationships, with boys, with girls, with anyone. She’d thought, however, that they were better than this. That she was more important than this.

From the moment Mercedes met Shane every word out of her mouth was about him. Shane this, Shane that. Shane wants me to focus on me. Over the course of a week and a half he became her entire world.

Shane, Shane, Shane.

At first, Quinn was all right with this, figuring it would pass. She’d certainly experienced the giddy first stages of romance herself. She shoved the green-eyed monster down, and concentrated on being happy that Mercedes was happy, and felt confident that she could succeed.

Then Mercedes stopped calling, stopped answering her texts with more than one word, and brushed off Quinn’s attempts to organize time to hang out.

The first few times, Quinn justified Mercedes’ actions for her. Then it happened, and happened, and happened. It hurt.

--

She promised.

--

Quinn had few delusions about Mercedes – she knew she could be selfish, and that when she got into her self-termed “diva-mode” she could steamroll anyone to get what she wanted, and Quinn was okay with that. After all, Quinn wasn’t all that selfless herself. After the summer they’d had, though, she never thought Mercedes would do this.

Once again, Quinn had been cast aside when something better had come along.

Not for the first time in the last few months, Quinn felt her heart shatter into a million pieces.

--

 I needed her. I still need her.

--

She couldn’t be that person any more. The one who got left behind.

She stopped trying to contact Mercedes.

She stopped going to her therapy sessions.

She dyed her hair the most ridiculous color she could think of, got a tattoo, and changed her entire wardrobe.

Anything to be someone else.

--