When she turned seven, Quinn asked her mother why God lived in the clouds.
A youthful, emergent Judy Fabray at just thirty responded with a saccharine smile. A smile that reached her eyes back then.
"Oh sweetheart," she sighed. Her thin, elegant fingers curled around Quinn's braided hair, carefully undoing it, "He's living up there so He can see everyone. So He can see you."
Quinn understood the appeal of such a reality. A nice man living in the sky, highly attentive, ever-supportive, why not speak about Him like He's some God? He certainly sounds like one.
At just seven, Quinn found solace in Him. She memorized every hymn, adopted a cross pennant around her neck and took diligent notes with purple crayon during every Sunday service. She was devoted; God played a leading role in her life now and Quinn was beginning to rely on Him much more than her actual father.
It broke Quinn's heart that God did not intervene when her mother sank to her knees and pleaded, negotiated with Him. “Help restore Russell's faithfulness, help alleviate his crassness, his narcissism, oh Lord. He knows not what he does." Judy gave it all to God through prayer, a trusting yet somber expression etched on her face. Quinn didn't understand why the prayers weren't working.
The day her faith wavers is the day her father leaves, (the day her mother takes her first swig of Irish scotch, the day her older sister leaves to college) just a week before Quinn's fourteenth birthday. It's to be expected. And God is no longer a source of anything but mystery to Quinn. Still, she doesn't remove the cross hanging from her neck.
Her sloppy life transpired hurriedly after her father's departure, as if God had decided to finish one of His abandoned paintings and then grew irritated halfway through, completely wrecking it, throwing His massive fist through the canvas.
She doesn't feel it at first, the pain that follows the breaking of skin.
It's the first week of Sophomore year, a balmy Tuesday in August, and Cheerios practice ensures three agonizing miles around the oval running track. Quinn is at the top of the social pyramid and has begun cultivating elaborate plans for herself this year. And the Cheerios is just a give in, it’s something required of her, just like everything else.
She's rounding the perimeter of the football field, completing the final lap of her second mile when she feels her heart itching its way up her throat. Her ears are carrying out a rhythm which does not match that of her heart, and she can feel sweat hurrying into her eyes, burning, biting at her vision.
It's then that she plummets to the ground, immediately feels the branding and carving of the rubber track into the soft skin of her knees. The sting of significant discomfort spikes, demands a vocal admission of agony from Quinn. "God," she chokes out, and quickly apprehends the severity of the blow to her chin, her mouth. She nearly begins murmuring a word of prayer for her teeth. The muscles atop her shoulders tighten, tense, and she pushes herself up and off the ground with her calloused hands. Warmth pricks at her nose, thickening and coating her throat enough to make breathing a chore.
She lifts her hand, particularly wary of the tingling sensation residing at her mouth. She brushes the back of her hand over her lips and winces, then retracts, observing a smear of red on her pale skin.
As expected, Coach Sylvester yells at her through her megaphone, assuring loudly, “You can turn in your pom-pom's if you're going to act as a distraction to the rest of the squad with your pathetic flailing, Q."
Sue's words hurt Quinn more than her aching feet, more than the burn in her chest and the silence in her throat.
It escapes her attention how she's made it here, but she's certain she's arrived at the nurses office, somehow knows she's sitting on that gray bench that she's witnessed Puck bleed onto.
There’s a voice aimed in her general direction, but the pain she’s experiencing demands every ounce of her attention. Her vision is impaired, unclear and indistinct, so she closes her eyes and counts to ten before reopening them.
She’s bestowed with sight and suddenly aware of a stranger sat to her left. A girl. A girl whose dark eyes sparkle vehemently.
Warm, brown orbs find pain-stricken green. "It's good you landed on your chin instead of your nose," the girl says solicitously, her voice like silk. "Your complexion is exceptionally pale and I'd surmise that because Miss Sylvester works each of you to the point of exhaustion, you're not eating enough to maintain a healthful diet while undergoing those strenuous daily workouts. From what I gather, you're dehydrated, and you haven't eaten in at least eight hours."
Quinn is positive she's hallucinating, is all the more amazed when the girl lifts her hand to Quinn's face.
Quinn's heart is a warm, beating hammer in her throat.
She nods, doesn't understand why.
When the girl mildly, tenderly dabs Quinn's chin with a cotton ball drenched in hydrogen peroxide, Quinn watches with a kind of hypnotic wonder, feels alternately hot and cold, discovers relief in the idea of not having to speak.
She doesn't immediately believe in (or even understand) God, doesn't experience a magnificent epiphany, but rather, finally perceives an inkling of what it is she wants, what it is she needs.
It’s why Quinn slaps her, because now everything’s ruined, everything she’s ever been certain of, everything she’d once bet her life on, is casually, rightly wronged by Rachel.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It’s cerulean, the dress she chooses for junior prom.
She won’t admit it to anyone, but it’s something that Rachel says in class that helps her decide this. They share a two-seater desk in advanced placement English, and Rachel, being Rachel, sky rockets her hand at every opportunity.
Quinn feels like the questions are always directed at the shorter girl anyway, knows no one present could answer as rightly, as fluidly.
“He’s emphasizing cerulean blue, how it’s derived from the Latin word caeruleus, almost definitely derived from caerulum. It means heaven, or sky. He’s used that color, deemed her eyes that color because obviously, they’re heavenly,” Rachel says, confidence never waning, “but, really, he chose that color because she’s a stark contrast to his otherwise dark and hopeless outlook. He could have wrote blue, just plain blue. Cerulean is purposeful. It means something heavenly is coming. It’s a promise.”
Quinn naturally raises an eyebrow, her lips quirking up thoughtfully at the brilliance of Rachel’s thought process, her passion infused tangents (despite the inevitably unnecessary length of each of them.)
The blonde tries hard—and it always proves difficult— to keep her eyes from wandering down to Rachel’s opened notebook, taking in her neat handwriting and Cornell note-taking.
Her notes sure are colorful, (Rachel has every color highlighter in the world) (Quinn is sure this is how the girl knows of every color and their shades, their underlying meaning when used in literature) bold and purposeful. Not once does Quinn witness Rachel scratching any of her notes out, rewriting them again with her fine tip pen.
Which is, something Quinn does habitually. Mistake after mistake, rewrite after rewrite, she never gets it right, always has to reiterate it on the page to remind herself next week when she’s due for an exam.
She sometimes wishes she had Rachel’s notes at hand, aiding her in her studies, bright colors, underlined sentences and all.
She doesn’t think twice, she chooses cerulean.
Later that week, when Quinn’s just freshly slapped Rachel—passive-aggressiveness has always been her forte, her mechanism— in the lower level girls restroom, she yearns to tell her:
“I didn’t wear just blue, this color means something, Rachel. And I’m begging you to notice. Please notice, because you-, you notice everything.”
Something along those lines.
Quinn never utters those words, never finds the strength to allow the plea to pass her throat.
She’s frustrated, because what are these feelings, firstly, but—really— what is she going to do with them? When will they finally be released, finally directed at the brunette in a harmless and productive way?
It’s why Quinn slaps her, because now everything’s ruined, everything she’s ever been certain of, everything she’d once bet her life on, is casually, rightly wronged by Rachel.
She hates that she’s wrong, hates that that makes Rachel right.
“You’re a very pretty girl, Quinn,” echoes in her head, loud and sure, until Quinn isn’t sure of anything but what Rachel lends.
“But you’re a lot more than that.”
It satiates, soothes, her devastation evaporates.
Rachel always sees the underlying meaning of things, and although Quinn’s mind isn’t tuned to that way of thinking, she finds herself entertaining just how superficial her outlook may have been. Rachel’s words are refreshing; the title and the crown don’t mean a thing, not really. Not when the truth is much larger, for the truth cannot be threatened.
And the truth is, none of this high school status bullshit matters in the grand scheme of things, regardless of how well shes executed it.
Much later that night, about midnight, Finn and Jesse are m.i.a., and Quinn is moping around the empty halls of the school.
Most of McKinley’s junior class has made their way out of the gymnasium and into their cars, happily heading to afterparties, (Puck’s specialty) still buzzing with the lingering magic of prom night.
There’s a thin layer of sweat over Quinn’s body from the dancing, and though she hasn’t had a single drink tonight, she feels a warmth in her belly, a fire starting in her heart.
She’s making her way out the big doors of the gym, bee-lining it for the parking lot as she clutches her heels, her purse, in her hands, when Rachel’s voice meets her ears.
This time it’s real, real Rachel, not the Rachel living comfortably in her head.
“Quinn? Are you walking home?”
She flinches at this, eyes tired and posture pathetic. But she halts altogether, waits for Rachels footsteps to reach her, until the girl is standing just a few safe steps away, eyes wide and waiting.
Rachel’s eyelashes cast shadows on her face when she blinks, curtesy of the moonlight spilling all around the virtually empty parking lot.
“Yeah,” Quinn replies thinly, practically stung by the girl's radiance.
“I have my car. Jesse doesn’t drive during competition season; it distracts him,” the faintest traces of a frown flit across Rachel's drawn features at the fact that she’s just mentioned Jesse in front of Quinn. She stammers a bit, but continues, “any extra stimulation is a no, from him. I find it a bit unnecessary, but, anyway.”
Quinn nods and remains silent, (Rachel finding anything unnecessary is uncharacteristic, so this Jesse kid must really be something) holding back the retort bubbling up in her throat.
After a moment, Rachel continues almost timidly.
“Can I offer you a ride home? If you don’t mind it, of course.”
Quinn just stares at her in disbelief, mocking her a bit when she repeats her words back to her, “if I don’t mind it,” she says just above a whisper, shaking her head. “Rachel, I slapped you tonight, and you’re asking if /I’ll/ be comfortable riding home in your car with you?”
“Yes, actually. Is that not-“
“I don’t-” Quinn starts, fighting the urge to look away as Rachel holds her gaze, brown eyes as gentle and expectant as ever, “you aren’t uncomfortable with my riding with you?”
“Why would I be uncomfortable?”
“Because I hurt you, Rachel.”
Quinn’s voice is raw, thick with emotion, and Rachel’s lips part ever so slightly at the sound.
“I know,” Rachel says, faintly, “and I’d rather you not do that again, of course, but if it helps, I haven’t noted the beginnings of any bruising nor irritation.”
It does help. A little, but Quinn doesn’t tell her that.
Instead, she walks soundly beside the girl, toward the nearby football stadium parking lot, it’s lights still on, bright and brash. Quinn isn’t particularly fond of the lights shining on her face, exposing her sharp features, pale, glistening skin, terribly aware of how Rachel’s sneaking glances at her.
The ambience of Rachel’s car is serene. It’s impossibly tidy (excessively clean.) Quinn can vaguely smell Rachel’s shampoo—vegan probably, coconut possibly—lingering in the compact air.
Before the brunette puts the keys in the ignition, she fumbles with her corsage in her hands, fitting it neatly in its clear box, then placing it gingerly on the floor of the back seat.
But when Rachel doesn’t start the car, worry all too suddenly taking over her face, her hands wrapping over themselves in contemplation, Quinn takes the bait against her better judgment, solely because the silence is becoming something else entirely.
Quinn blinks, eyes seeking out Rachel’s own in the near-dark. She takes a deep breath, prompts, “Rachel?”
She grows absurdly shy, staring out the window away from Quinn’s searching eyes, and says, “Its nothing. I was considering going to Puck’s party. It’s silly... I wanted,” she turns to meet Quinn’s gaze, “I wanted to host my own.”
A beat. “Your own party?”
“And you think that went well, the last time?”
Rachel doesn’t look hurt by the blondes words, but it’s a near thing, and Quinn promptly curses herself for speaking before thinking.
“Sorry,” Quinn tries, aches with it.
Her usually animated voice is flat, tired. And Quinn sighs in defeat. She’s already knee-deep in this guilt for the whole Rachel thing, having sat with it for years, now, and yet she’s always managed to exacerbate things. It’s hopeless at this point, trying to repair and mend everything that never was between them.
Quinn’s frankly exhausted by it, all of it, but Rachel? Rachel has never stopped trying for her.
“It’s laughable, to me, that you haven’t slapped me back yet,” Quinn says simply, half-joking.
A smile flickers across Rachel’s mouth as she looks up at the girl opposite her, and her voice is completely relaxed when she says, “I don’t think I could hit you, actually.”
Quinn doesn’t even bother to suppress the surge of affection that makes her chest expand and contract visibly.
“Are you suggesting I hit you, Quinn?”
Absurdly, Quinn finds it easy to laugh, airily and attractive, “I certainly deserve it,” she counters, working the muscle in her jaw to get over the rush of emotion filling her chest, “I sort of think it would even things out.”
“Oh my god,” the ex-cheerio says, good-naturedly, and majorly because it bubbles up her throat and out of her mouth before she can stop it, “I can’t win tonight, can I.”
Quinn watches as Rachel smiles apologetically. She’s counting on a response from the other girl, a carefully articulated one at that, and: “I think you’d thrive inevitably. Maybe your definition of winning has been thwarted over time, Quinn. And maybe winning is much simpler than you think.”
Quinn stares expectantly at Rachel, urging her to continue to sate every unanswered question, every untimely desire, every loss and loose end in her mind. Her eyes trace over the planes of Rachel’s face, quickly mapping out the curve of her jaw, her soupçon pout, the eyelash that’s made a home on Rachel’s cheek, “Yeah.”
Rachel’s eyes widen in panic, (Quinn really should have known better than to reply with a single syllable) and she ventures to reiterate, reply, sighing softly, “I’m sorry if I’ve overstepped. I tend to elucidate.”
Quinn knows that (all too well) but she really just-
“I like it when you do,” is said without a trace of malice. Frankly, it’s uttered with that same thinly veiled longing and Quinn honestly can’t believe it originated from her own mouth.
The brunette doesn’t tear her eyes away from Quinn, pausing momentarily to purse her lips in thought, “You do?”
“Yeah, you’re never wrong. You’re never wrong about me.”
Rachel’s eyes restore with light, a barely-there blush on her cheeks that Quinn’s able to tally (bask in) even in the dimly lit car, “I also have a tendency to pay attention,” Rachel adds, pulling her lips into a grin finally. And she looks so happy to have just learned of a truth that has always wrecked Quinn.
Which. God. It forces all the breath out of her. Puts everything into a perspective so clear, Quinn’s tired eyes, her inner lens, are suddenly wiped clean, made new. She could never win, not really, not when she never knew what winning really was, really felt like. Rachel makes her feel like a champion, like she’s absolute and without missing parts, like she’s whole already. Perhaps she just needed to redefine winning, after all. Perhaps she just needed to be the reason for (and please spare her, she knows how this sounds) Rachel’s smile.
“Oh, I know.”
“I’m very sorry, Quinn, it’s just occurred to me that we’ve been in this parking lot for twenty five minutes, and I never even started the car.”
“Its okay, Rachel.”
Later, when they’re pulling into the Fabray driveway, Rachel compliments her dress in finality, says, “That shade of blue looks beautiful on you, Quinn.”
The brunettes voice sounds like a promise, something like cerulean blue, lingering and hopeful and god, Quinn thinks, it feels good to win.
I plan on writing (a girl can dream), at least three more chapters, one for each year. These are one word prompts by the way, procured from tumblr.
She’s suddenly all-too-aware of her heart and how it is absolutely still in-place, in-tact, whatever, beating too harshly to signify anything but how she still cares.
When Quinn dyes her hair candy floss pink, (starts smoking three to five cigarettes a day, rips all her clothes up with her teeth) Rachel is third to approach her about it.
She doesn’t lie to Rachel.
It is true that she’s grown ill of her reputation, wary of her routine: it’s why she’d decided on wrecking it. All of it.
She’s learned through damaging experiences that having a plan doesn’t mean it will bode well, thinks it’s high time she try her luck at a non-plan, tells Rachel as much; She won’t be returning to glee. Simple.
But as they converse beneath the bleachers, Quinn watches Rachel—more fully than she’s ever allowed herself to— and what she quickly gathers is that Rachel actually seems quite affected by this new version of her.
And not in the way everyone else seems to be affected—jarred and fearful and avoidant—because Rachel doesn’t look that way now.
Firstly, she’s staring— not that her record is exactly clean, because Rachel’s the kind of person that stares— but it’s not the usual careful and revenant glances she receives from the shorter girl.
There’s something new rising in her dark eyes, in the way she slides them across Quinn, looking at the strong lines of her jaw and then down to the strength at the turns of her neck.
Rachel appears truly awestruck, seemingly searching for a Quinn that’s familiar beneath all the foreign layers, and its as if she’s tallying every new addition with her gaze, contemplating each and every one. Because that’s what Rachel does, she seeks, yearns to understand. Quinn especially.
It’s kind of exhilarating, the whole stare down, and the once-blonde has to remind herself that she really shouldn’t care—she’s not that girl anymore—about this, whatever it is.
She’s mildly surprised when Rachel starts sending her texts every day after that, the majority of which pose a proposition for her return to glee.
She’s counted twenty three messages in two weeks, replied to each of them as wittingly as she can.
iMessage Rachel is all proper punctuation, pleasantries and punctuality; it’s everything Quinn expected but never experienced through a screen, exactly, and she can’t even begin to fathom how Finn communicates with Rachel through text.
Or at all, really.
It goes like this:
Quinn receives a text on a Thursday night.
Rachel, 7:35pm: If you come back to glee, I will gladly become very own personal assistant. Though I must say, I draw the line at procuring cigarettes for your new habit, Quinn. I refuse to enable you altogether, as I’m sure you’re aware the side effects-all of which are negative-of smoking are irreversible! You can say goodbye to healthy teeth, hair, and skin!
Quinn, 7:39pm: Goodbye, healthy teeth... hair... skin...
Rachel, 7:40pm: Those are the three most identifiable physical traits in any person! How could you joke about something as serious as dental hygiene?!
There’s a momentary pause, then: they send their respective texts at once.
Quinn, 7:41pm: Fine
Rachel, 7:41pm: You just look so different.
It surprises each of them.
Especially Quinn, because Rachel’s caller id promptly pops up on her phone screen.
She answers despite herself, after the second ring, and Rachel speaks first, a sweet, gentle greeting.
And really, truly, Quinn’s always detested phone calls, would venture to guess that Rachel prefers them, but it’s remarkably easy to forget they’re on one once Rachel starts talking.
They fall into a simple rhythm of back and forth; Quinn is sardonic and swift when she speaks and Rachel is brimming with questions yet overflowing with answers, has always been an apt battler of Quinn’s defenses.
Their conversation borders on intimate way too many times for her to count, but it’s really the way Rachel pushes to know each of her feelings about things that are so ridiculously mundane that really winds her.
She’s suddenly all-too-aware of her heart and how it is absolutely still in-place, in-tact, whatever, beating too harshly to signify anything but how she still cares.
It’s kind of remarkably easy to do so, whenever Rachel hums or laughs or sighs into the phone, or when Quinn finally gets into bed and her voice adopts a few degrees of roughness, and Rachel’s tone changes just that much upon hearing it.
And, if this how it feels to be Finn, honestly get Quinn some help right now, because she likes it far too much for someone who is supposed to be actively disliking everything and everyone.
They share a French class this year, French three, specifically, though Quinn’s not so sure how she, personally, made it this far, (actually, she is; she forced herself to take three years of a foreign language so she could look that much more consistent on her college apps) but, whatever. All down the drain, now.
Today’s lesson is pretty impossible from the start—French subjunctives—and Quinn wishes she had ditched, up until Rachel waltzes right up to her, politely asking if she’d like to be her dialogue partner.
It’s strange because Rachel’s a lot more versed in French than herself, (top of her class and dual language and all) but Quinn agrees anyway, nonchalantly, even if she’s quietly reveling in the fact that Rachel’s eyes are absolutely sparkling at her response.
The ex-Cheerio brings the cigarette to her lips and sucks up a lungful of smoke, blowing it upward and into the sky.
"Are you eating enough?" Rachel asks faintly, and Quinn’s knows Rachel’s the only person in the school whom is not wary of her, (besides the skanks of course, they’re remorseless) enough to ask such a thing.
Old Quinn might have gawked, thrown a tantrum, started planning World War three, but right now she just finds herself nodding in reply. Her gaze is warm and she’s at ease when she glances to her left at Rachel, squinting at the sun behind her head.
"Yes. I eat all the time.”
"Well, where do you go at lunch? You’re never in the cafeteria.”
“It‘s chaos in there. I eat at home.”
Rachel actually frowns.
“Yeah, don’t you ever eat alone?”
“My meal preparations are mainly catered to others, these days. Mercedes requested my bringing tater tots the other day, so I made her a vegan tater tot casserole from scratch. It was a pretty big hit with everyone,” Rachel says, confident and brisk, absently running her fingers over her French textbook, “I think you would have liked it.”
“I probably would have,” Quinn entertains, putting out her cigarette, “but you should really make them pay you.”
Rachel shakes her head amusedly in reply, and Quinn adjusts herself on the bench they’re sharing so that she’s straddling it. She naturally rests her elbow on the table, her chin in her palm, watches Rachel carefully.
“Sont vous prêt?” Quinn asks, and not because she thinks it might impress the other girl (she’s totally not overthinking anything, isn’t thrilled at all by the way one of Rachel’s bare legs is touching one of her own.)
“Oui,” Rachel replies, smile in tow.
Days pass, they all look the same; Rachel is giddily approaching Quinn at her locker between classes, Rachel is pressing a bag of ice to Quinn’s knuckles that time she punches some obnoxious senior boy in the face, Rachel is sharing her thoughts and anxieties and songs with Quinn and—something is definitely shifting, if it hadn’t already.
They’re contrasting colors on the exterior, red and blue; even more so on the inside; Rachel is warm and poised with purpose and Quinn is cold, careless, never quite certain.
But the funny thing is it’s working, somehow, being friends finally, or whatever it is they are, even if Quinn sometimes can’t take all of the heat Rachel provides whenever she’s around,—Quinn’s coldness doesn’t stand a chance, melts away entirely when Rachel is beside her— even if she’s pretty sure Rachel’s been eyeing her differently these past few days.
It’s not a look of pity or concern, either. It’s expectance there in Rachel’s eyes, a bubbling curiosity, a thrill threatening to be tested; there is so much that they are dancing on the edge of; there is so much Quinn wants to understand: only regarding Rachel. She’s still finding it difficult to care about anything else.
Finn, of all people, approaches her.
He’s angry about something, stomping around like a giant, but his delivery is that of a toddlers, so much so that when he chastises Quinn, she genuinely doesn’t understand what for.
It definitely pertains to Rachel, that much is certain. But out of his entire long-winded tantrum, she can only recall, “bad influence,” and “she’s being weird with me,” and “stop making her weird.”
It shouldn’t satisfy her so much, but she’s pretty pleased with herself, all in all. Especially because she’s done absolutely nothing wrong.
She doesn’t tell Finn off, (doesn’t tell him that Rachel yearns for intelligent conversation and that Finn’s basically a nightmare in that department, so she has since decided to take over) just squares him with a degrading look before walking away.
They’re sat on the stadium bleachers at school, the sun setting neatly on the horizon behind them.
Rachel is a step above Quinn, her textbook cradled in her lap; the latter is tilting her head back, watching the former recite some irregular verbs in French.
It’s kind of really beautiful outside, and Quinn wishes she had her camera or a journal or something to help capture this moment, but Rachel’s dad calls before she can get the chance.
“Gotta go?” Quinn asks, and when Rachel nods, Quinn reaches for the girls textbooks and book bag—god, she knows—carries them in her arms all the way to the car.
They’re pulling up beside the Berry household, the warmth of the car is bordering on uncomfortable—Quinn’s without an air conditioner at the moment— but a benign breeze is spilling in from each slitted window.
The radio is playing some nineties song, dipped in static, and Rachel clears her throat, asks, “What were you speaking to Finn about, earlier today?”
Quinn sighs a little and puts the car in park. She really doesn’t want to talk about him.
“He was at your locker? Tina told me.”
“Why is Tina always eavesdropping?”
Rachel makes a face and Quinn acquiesces, the corner of her mouth quirking up when she speaks up again, low and unhurried, “He said I was making you weird.”
It takes her all of two seconds to gauge that Rachel is decidedly annoyed at this—they don’t really talk about Finn, and for good reason—because her face says it all, and usually.
“I genuinely do not understand him.”
“Yeah, you’re not alone.”
Rachel tilts her head to the side, watches Quinn searchingly, “You don’t make me weird. Thats ridiculous. That’s— were you offended?”
“It doesn’t matter how he makes me feel, just how he makes you feel,” Quinn answers honestly, shrugging, and Rachel’s sideways glance melts into something akin to surprise, fondness; it’s beautiful to watch, absolutely new.
She wishes she were a fraction braver, further inclined to continue, say what she really wants to say, then again: she doesn’t exactly want Rachel’s current expression to alter at all.
You should really break up with him, why are you always with me, why do you choose to be, I’m ridiculous, Rachel. I can’t be anything but wrong unless I’m with you.
She wishes she had the gumption to say it all.
“Quinn,” Rachel starts, after an awfully long pause. It’s like she’s in the other girl’s head for the hundredth time that day, “I enjoy our time together. I really-“ Rachel stutters, actually stutters it’s such a wonder, and Quinn rushes to relieve her from the pressure to say anything more.
It’s enough, she thinks. For now.
Quinn has been invited to the Hiram-Berry household a whopping two times.
It’s a lot more than she’s deserving of, sure, and she’s aware of this when Rachel asks her over a third time, but she agrees anyway because she absolutely needs an A on this exam, or something.
Quinn runs a hand through her hair, unsuccessful in taming it. She’s knocking on the door with bruised knuckles and a lump in her throat, is irritated to discover that she is nervous, however un-punk that may be.
Rachel answers the door quicker than Quinn expected—and she was expecting record time— immediately offering her a beverage.
She is the most attentive hostess in the world, Quinn believes.
When they get up to Rachel’s room, Quinn sits on her bed, runs her fingers over the duvet, “Is this linen?”
“It’s hypoallergenic, and not entirely linen. That fabric helps promote sleep. My dads found it online.”
“Cool,” Quinn deadpans, worries her lip in between her teeth.
“Are you ready?”
And, yeah, this strangely feels like it’s not a planned study date between friends at seven PM on a school night, but Quinn nods anyway.
It’s eleven-thirty (does Rachel even have a bedtime anymore) when Quinn announces that she has to leave or else her mom will call the cops, or worse: her father.
So Rachel walks her out to her car, her voice gentle and lilting while she reminds Quinn of a few pestering French adjectives she knows she’d been struggling with.
Quinn unlocks the drivers car door manually underneath a black sky, a warm night.
Rachel follows her there—she’s shrouded in darkness, but there’s not a chance in hell Quinn couldn’t make out her eyes, her face, the swell of her lips—happiness etched all over her face.
“Thank you for tonight, Quinn,” she says, voice clear and smooth in their proximity, it’s nothing if not coaxing, god, but there’s absolutely no expectation (on Quinn’s end) of a hug.
She’s only experienced this with Rachel, like, two times in total and it’s always been brief yet (since Rachel’s so prone to dramatics) heavily emotional, gut-wrenching in the best-worst way.
But Rachel leans into Quinn anyway, and, deciding to run with it, one of Quinn’s hands comes up to press against Rachel’s lower back, thin fingers spreading themselves out over the fabric of her top.
She doesn’t expect anything more than this, really it’s enough, (not even close) but all too suddenly Rachel’s moving in even closer her so that their chests are pressed together fully, finally wrapped up in an embrace.
They fit together perfectly.
It’s the warmth of Rachel’s lithe body, the scent of her shampoo—most definitely vegan coconut— and the way Rachel’s initiating the way they’re touching each other at every jut and curve that ignites a fire low in Quinn’s belly. It's like a damn has burst and the taller girl is faltering, useless, helpless without the foundation Rachel once provided.
She should really pull away, get herself out of this hug, but Rachel pulls back for her, just a breath away, eyes softening as she sweeps them over Quinn’s.
“Why pink?” Rachel asks, gesturing gingerly to the wild mass of pink that is Quinn’s hair.
She chuckles naturally, low and hearty, “The dye bottle was on sale.”
“No, I-,” she starts, pulling out her cigarettes from her back pocket, “I just thought it would look cool, stand out the most, I guess.”
Rachel purses her lips in thought, a question swimming in her eyes, but she assures, “I think you’ve always looked... cool.”
Quinn snorts, her roll of eyes is lovely, accompanied by a ill-hidden smile.
“Rachel Berry thinks I’m cool?”
“Amongst other adjectives, yes.”
She thinks she shouldn’t have asked, is momentarily worried that the adjectives that describe her, from Rachel’s perspective at the very, very least, probably is not what she wants to hear.
“Intelligent, for one. You carry a conversation well,” Rachel offers, the breeze softly blowing at her hair.
“Are these objective truths?”
“Okay,” a tilt of her chin, a barely-there blush on her cheeks, “go on.”
Then, without missing a beat:
“You’re determined. You like knowing what’s going to happen. Like me. Which is why it shocked me so much, seeing you trying so hard to actively not care, because it’s such a contradiction. You’re adamant about showing everyone how you don’t care anymore, but you still care that you’re seen that way, so the root of that is simply that you do care. You will always. You pay attention, Quinn. It’s my favorite thing about you. I was so scared it had been washed away, until you were willing to spend all this time with me, and I could finally see you, again. You’re still very much here, and I keep finding that,” she shakes her head a little, glances down at Quinn fiddling with the cigarette box in her hands, “I don’t ever want you to leave yourself, and if that’s selfish, so be it. I care about you far too much to allow that.”
Quinn’s too enthralled to speak, thinks she might quit speaking altogether, move to the alps or something so that Rachel’s words are the guaranteed last thing she ever has to hear.
She decides to reply with a touch, because why the hell not, so she’s moving in closer to Rachel now, slowly lifting her hand to her face and brushing her right thumb against the apple of her cheek.
It’s easy to tally how Rachel’s lips part ever so slightly in response, how her breathing alters a bit, how she leans into the touch.
“Quinn,” she whispers; perhaps it’s a warning, even if it doesn’t sound at all like one.
Still, it drives the taller girl to pull back entirely, (how she could have possibly done that just now, she doesn’t know, she’s always been so good at repressing, always repressing, especially with Rachel and it’s so baffling that all it takes are a few reassuring words because she’s a puppet, really, for Rachel, doesn’t think she could ever not be helpless around the girl, but she can’t exactly take it back now, can’t take any of it back) and she turns around to open the drivers door, swiftly slipping away from their shared space and into the leather seat.
She puts the keys in the ignition, moves to shut the car door, but Rachel’s hand stops her.
And, if you told Quinn, a week ago, that in the near future Rachel would be invading her personal space this willingly,—in her freaking car of all places— and then softly pressing her mouth against hers?
Yeah, she wouldn’t believe you. She’d have gawked, probably, maybe she’d punch you, all part of having rage as a counterpart, a default setting, or something.
They fit perfectly together. One of her hands is a warm comma on Rachel’s back as they kiss, hesitantly at first, an inquiring hum pressed against Rachel's lips before their mouths part open. Their tongues brush together, briefly, (oh my god goes through Quinn’s mind like a mantra) and Rachel adjusts herself so that she’s essentially straddling Quinn’s lap.
Which, Quinn thinks is absolutely terrific, even if it’s an awkward position, (not practical at all, Jesus Christ they couldn’t have picked a worse setting in which to do this) as she cradles Rachel's face with her right hand, thin fingers spreading across her cheek.
Quinn can’t feel anything but the fire burning low in her stomach, the press and pull of Rachel’s lips, the way her brain short circuits when Rachel says her name between kisses.
“Quinn,” Rachel breathes, once again, drops her forehead against the taller girls, the fingers of her hand are now playing in unruly pink hair.
She nods, says, “I know.”
Rachel calls her that same night when she gets home.
Her voice has taken up a softness that only ever surfaces when she’s around Finn, or puppies. Quinn thinks the two are basically interchangeable.
And there’s absolutely no rush, right, but Rachel (being Rachel) tells Quinn she’s going to finally break up with Finn tomorrow at school, tells Quinn she’s been fantasying about them for weeks now, and Quinn just chuckles warmly, says okay to all of it.
How could she not?
She washes the color out of her hair on a Friday night. Puck is hosting some theme-less party again, and Rachel helps her with the process in Puck’s mom’s bathroom.
“Does it look okay?” Quinn asks, turning to look at Rachel, water dripping in her eyes.
“Yes. You look like you. Though I must say I will miss the particular pop of color. I had grown fond of pink altogether, honestly...” Rachel replies happily, taking Quinn’s hand.
“Only you, gosh.”
“I like you however, save for the nicotine dependency.”
“You should really work for 1-800-Quit-Now,” Quinn quips, bringing the back of Rachel’s hand to her and kissing it quick.
Rachel laughs softly, it’s warm and right, “Why thank you. I can’t think of a more purposeful job.”
She thinks Rachel being Rachel—wholly herself—is a job in and of itself, the most meaningful, purposeful, promising.