The last time Rachel had been this nervous she'd been stood behind the stage curtain at the Gershwin Theatre in New York City about to perform in her Broadway debut as Miss Fanny Brice, as though her life depended on it. And now, she's stood, tapping her foot anxiously against the leg of the table the she'd been previously sitting at.
She's managed to actually get out of her chair, which is a testament to itself given that she's been dreading seeing the head of blonde hair again. She's one step closer to confronting to her fears, her guilt.
She didn't think she'd turn up if she's quite honest. Apart from Brittany and Santana and maybe Sam, Quinn isn't particularly the best of friends with anyone here. She knows that her and Puck broke up nearly three months ago now, but it seems that they both took it quite well and were now amicable with each other. Rachel thinks it's probably because Quinn came out to Puck before anyone else - much to her disappointment.
She's not yet been able to admit why she felt so many mixed emotions when she'd found out. Part of her was angry because Quinn didn't tell her before Kurt could find out - a mishap that was later rectified when Quinn called her up to apologize for the way she had to hear. That hadn't been her intention. Another part of Rachel was thrilled! Of course, because her friend could embrace herself and love who she wanted to love. Then there was the excitement, dulled down entirely, by a deep dread that she could feel set in the pit of her stomach whenever someone mentioned Quinn's potential suitors.
Most annoyingly, people are still trying to set Quinn up on dates, when Rachel knows in clear sight that it isn't what the blonde wants. But Quinn never protests, she just goes along with it, completely un-phased by it all.
It makes Rachel worry more and the idea of seeing Quinn with a girlfriend mortifies her. She doesn't want her to rush into something without giving it time and end up broken hearted. And that's exactly what she'd told her last month when she'd visited her for the weekend.
The weekend ended on an awkward note, and Rachel hasn't spoken to her since. She's still watching her, across the room chatting animatedly with Sam and his girlfriend. She's happier, it's all over her face, just as it had been when Rachel had last seen her. Her smile is brighter, especially when she's laughing, and her face has a new glow about it. She looks free and while Rachel definitely is happy about it, she can't ignore the fear that Quinn has met someone who puts that look there.
Rachel continues to watch, and Sam stands up from the table, leans down to kiss Quinn on the cheek and then pulls girlfriend towards the dance floor.
Quinn's table is empty and before she has time to think about what to say, her nervous feet have stopped tapping the table and she's on her way over.
She's two thirds across the room before Quinn notices her approaching. Her face lights up immediately - though she doesn't smile, and Rachel's tummy flips at the sight of those beautiful hazel eyes staring at her like she's the only woman in the room.
Quinn's shuffles around and pulls out the chair Sam had been sitting on as an invitation that Rachel gladly accepts. She's a little relieved to say the least, that she's been welcomed so warmly after the way they left things last month.
Maybe she hasn't ruined her second chance at being Quinn's friend after all.
Still no smile, but it doesn't deter Rachel. She's here now so she might as well make the effort.
"Hi Quinn." She crosses her legs and tucks a little further into the table. "How are you?"
There's a drink between them. It's a little cloudy and looks relatively untouched. Quinn's hand is on the table toying with her phone between her fingers. A nervous tick Rachel noticed a long time ago.
Quinn isn't sure how to answer that question at the moment. She's great, because she's finally being honest with her family and friends and it's brought them closer. She's also terrified because everything is changing and there are no more lies to hide behind.
She's also quite lonely, and Rachel has a lot to do with that.
"The wedding was beautiful, wasn't it?" She says, ignoring the question all together.
Rachel holds her gaze for a few seconds too long and notices a twinkle in her eye, and then breaks away to look around the room. There isn't a single person who isn't smiling or dancing - or singing - and for a moment she feels a sense of pride for the happy couples for putting this together. Quinn was right, the ceremony had been beautiful. Kurt and Blaine look very handsome in their suits and Brittany is one of the most beautiful brides she's seen - and she's watched a lot of movies and spent a lot of time imagining what today was going to look like. She'd known it would be beautiful though, having spent weeks listening to Kurt fret over the plans he'd made. But all had gone off without a hitch to say the least and the happy couples are very happy indeed.
"Kurt will be very pleased that you said that," she smiles, turning back to Quinn.
"I wonder if he'd have done anything differently if he'd known he was planning his own wedding."
"Possibly more lights."
Quinn smiles and Rachel swoons a little at the sight. She doesn't think she'll ever get over how beautiful Quinn is. Her teeth are stunning, and her lips a soft pink, colored by lipstick and a little plump. Her hair is down just over her shoulders in loose waves, complimented by a pale blue clip, holding her fringe away from her face. Truly, the prettiest girl she's ever met. Especially when she smiles.
"I didn't think we'd see you here." It's a quiet statement but Quinn's smile falls away immediately and she bows her head.
"I thought you'd be uncomfortable with Puck being around," she's lying. "And Sam, and Joe and-"
"Need I remind you that we both have multiple exes in this room?" Quinn smirks as Rachel realizes that this in fact is true. "I wouldn't let that stop me from coming to celebrate my two best friends from high school getting married."
"I-I thought it'd be a little different for you after coming out. I thought you'd want to avoid things like this."
"Things like this?"
"You know, big reunions where people ask questions and pry."
Quinn sighs. She understands where Rachel is coming from. It's true that she'd been a little apprehensive about coming to the wedding, knowing that the secret she'd been keeping for years was now out in the open for everyone to know. Sam had openly wondered about her inclinations just a few minutes ago when he'd been sitting with her and his girlfriend. She'd expected it but wasn't prepared for it and had ended up stuttering over her words when he'd asked how long she'd known.
It's still a relief though. Finally being able to tell the truth about herself. After so many years of building up walls between herself and everyone she cares about lest they suspect anything, she became sad and lonely and isolated in her cage of lies. She'd disguised herself with boys draped over because she knew they all wanted her. And she pretended to want them too though it only made her feel worse when she went home and looked at herself in the mirror and her neck was covered in hickeys or her skin was sore from inexperienced hands. It was too much.
"I'll always remember feeling like I was no good." She admits, glancing up to see Rachel staring at the phone she's fiddling with. The statement stole Rachel's attention and she met her gaze with soft eyes.
She knows what she's going through. They've spent hours up all night talking about it, talking about her parents and how even though they understand who Quinn is, she thinks they're having a hard time accepting it. They're supportive and aren't ashamed of her for even a second, but Quinn tells Rachel all the time how uncomfortable it is when they try to talk about it - for both parties. Russell doesn't say much and Judy can't seem to stop speaking. Rachel expects they'll find a balance soon. Quinn isn't as hopeful. She's lonely and wants love in her life.
"I know you're caught between confusion and pain but someday, love will find you."
Quinn frowns a little. It's accurate, too accurate for comfort but she knows Rachel is aware of most her thoughts nowadays. She's still getting used to having her close - just not in the way she wants. She's wondering if Rachel ever thinks about that night. It was a dream for the few days that they'd spent together but the evening was something else. Only fueled by a little drink and a lot of passion, Rachel had kissed her. And she hadn't stopped all night.
They've never spoken about it. It's a month gone now and though things haven't been awkward so far tonight, Quinn can't imagine she'll be able to hold her tongue much longer. Especially if Rachel says thing like 'love will find you' as though she's foreshadowing something amazing. Something Quinn can only hope for.
"You're watching everything you ever held on to slip away from you." Rachel goes on. "The answers don't fall straight out of the sky."
"I know that." Quinn interrupts, a little annoyed by the insinuation that she's expecting it to be easy. But then she remembers that Rachel has been there for her through everything and understands better than most others that it isn't easy.
She tries a smile and Rachel welcomes it gladly with a grin on her own. Quinn hides her blush behind her drink as she brings the glass to her lips and sips on the cool beverage. Rachel's eyes find hers and her smile widens. It makes her heart soar and Quinn knows more than anything that as long as she has this girl in her life she's going to be just fine.
She lowers the drink back to the table and picks up her phone again.
"I don't know why it is, but it lifts me up..." Her eyes close. She can't finish the sentence, not with Rachel watching her with glossy eyes that make her feel like she's the only one she's seeing.
She clears her throat. "I became stuck in a prison of my own lies."
Rachel's face softens and she nods in understanding.
"I know what it's like when you can't fake a smile and you just can't get out of your bed."
"Sometimes," she leans a little closer. "Don't you feel like you've never really had a love that's real?"
As soon as Rachel dips her head she knows she's done wrong and upset her. It clicks right away and she shakes her head.
"I didn't mean it like that." She apologizes. "I'm sorry. I know you and Finn were in love."
Rachel looks up in acknowledgment and smiles sadly. If she doesn't count Finn, Quinn is right, but she'll always count Finn.
"I just mean that I haven't been in a relationship that's been a real love." Quinn shrugs dejectedly. "I don't want clever conversation. I just want someone... that I can talk to."
Rachel's chews her lip nervously as Quinn goes on.
"Have you ever felt this way?"
Her eyes flicker to Quinn's lips for a second before she looks away again. It goes unnoticed and she answers with another mute nod. She is listening, she really is, but she can't stop thinking about how soft Quinn was to kiss. She wonders if Quinn thinks about kissing her too, or if she spends sleepless nights going over that night because she can't understand what it means.
Her eyes had glazed over a while ago but it doesn't bother Quinn. She knows Rachel hangs on to her every word.
Across the room, a swish of white catches her eye and she follows the light over to see Santana turning around to greet her friend from school. Em, or rather Emilia Thompson, British expat currently studying beside Santana at Columbia university is a little too charming for Quinn's taste. She is nice enough and she has incredible hair but there's something Quinn dislikes. It could have something to do with the way her blue eyes shine so brightly that it irritates Quinn's lenses. Or the way Santana seems so smitten with her - Brittany too. She's probably the same height as Quinn but when they met she towered over her with her confidence and suave. She'd been so polite and introduced herself with a humble handshake but Quinn wasn't impressed. She isn't sure she can put her finger on it.
And God, suddenly they're making eye contact and Em smiles and throws her hand up in a wave. She's coming over, shit, she's coming over. Quinn takes a deep breath and puts on her best smile; the one that only Rachel can see straight through.
"I've been looking for you." Em says once she reaches the table. Except she's not talking to Quinn, she's addressing Rachel. She watches the exchange with knowing eyes and - ah, there it is. Em bends down and kisses Rachel on the cheek, just shy of the lips and Quinn's stomach turns. That's it. That's why she can't stand her.
Emilia Thompson, girlfriend of Rachel Berry is slowly ruining her life. Albeit, it may be a little dramatic but when Rachel catches her gaze once more with a hazy look in her eyes, Quinn knows in plain sight that her life is already ruined. Ruined in the best way, by Rachel Berry.