It surprises Rachel at first. Even now, after their third date, she still sees Quinn as the Quinn Fabray she first met many years ago: cold, calculating, separate from society. One that looked down on mortal actions. The Quinn that always monitored her actions, determined not to slip.
It's why Rachel goes stiff when Quinn approaches her at her locker and wraps her arms around her waist, nose brushing her neck as she cuddles into the brunette's back. Rachel can't help but to look around, alarmed. They hadn't discusses how open about their relationship they were going to be in public, and the singer can't help but brace for the return of the Quinn that would love nothing more than to have a slushie tossed in her face.
When Quinn pulls away, a slight frown crosses her face at her girlfriend's rigid posture that she quickly hides as she takes Rachel's books from her before kissing the shorter girl on the cheek and grasping her hand softly in her own, walking her to class. Even Rachel's reaction couldn't erase the gentle grin on the blonde's face for long.
The next time, the two are watching a movie in Rachel's bedroom one evening. When Quinn pulls the smaller girl between her legs, Rachel assumes that the ex-cheerleader has grown tired of the film and instead wants to make out. It's a progression she's grown used to from dating Finn and Jesse, and her brief dalliance with Noah. So she's a little lost when Quinn positions Rachel away from her, leaning the brunette back against her chest and encasing her in her arms. Quinn's fingers play with Rachel's that are in her lap as they watch the movie, and the blonde carefully rests her head on Rachel's shoulder. Eventually Rachel relaxes into the warmth emanating from Quinn and returns her focus to the movie.
The third time, Rachel resolves to talk to Quinn when they have a spare moment alone. The taller girl pulls her onto her lap when she walks into glee club practice, mindless of the confused stares of the other members. Despite the incident in the hallway, their relationship has remained under wraps, in large part to the hallway being deserted. She sets Rachel sideways, placing the singer's arm behind her neck even as she wraps her own limb around the brunette's hip. Her other hand reaches upwards and caresses the dark locks, rubbing sensually against her scalp.
“Why do you do that?” she asks as they walk along a pathway in the park later that night, strolling hand-in-hand.
“Do what?” returns Quinn, gazing over at Rachel.
“This.” The girl lifted their linked hands.
Quinn laughs a little. “It's customary to hold hands with your girlfriend, Rachel,” she replies, squeezing gently. Rachel stares at their hands.
It isn't that the concept of holding hands is exactly foreign to Rachel. It's something that she sees Mike and Tina, and Brittany and Santana, do all the time. But it's different for Rachel. She's always been crushed into someone's side, heavy arm slung over her shoulder trapping her there against their body. A side effect of being small, she supposes.
Quinn notices where her attention has drifted. “It's just holding hands,” she teases gently. The blonde's eyes are alight with mirth, gazing affectionately at her girlfriend, but Rachel's still looking at their hands when she mutters an 'oh' and tries to pull away.
Quinn stops walking. “Rachel.” She pulls the brunette flush with her, one arm wrapped around her waist while the other is rubbing soft circles against the back of her neck, their foreheads touching. “I want to touch you.”
Rachel's eyes widen and she pulls away slightly. “Not like that,” Quinn assures her. “Well, not right now anyways. I just, look. I want to do these small gestures because I care about you. I care about you so much, Rachel.” Quinn looks away before returning her gaze to Rachel. “It frightens me sometimes, but then I touch you and it's like you're my rock and it all goes away and being with you is all that matters.”
She separates the two of them and reaches for Rachel's hand again. “Sometimes, all I want to do is touch you, Rachel.”
The two continuing walking for a time, both silent. Quinn glances nervously at the brunette a couple of times.
Eventually a small smile works its way across Rachel's lip, and she squeezes back.