Watching the world take on a new form
All that I knew then fades to oblivion
So sure that I had what I needed
I should've seen it from the beginning
~Full Blown Love, Broods
"How do you feel about Chelsea?"
Rachel tears her gaze away from the apartment listings with a frown to look at her wife, who is currently slouched into the wingback chair with her feet propped up on the ottoman and her chin resting lazily against her palm. Her laptop is balanced precariously between the arm of the chair and the curve of her belly.
"It's a nice enough neighborhood…to visit," Rachel qualifies, thinking of the numerous art galleries and shops and restaurants located there. "But you know it's nowhere near the top of my list of suitable neighborhoods for raising a family." Though finding a decent, well-maintained, affordable apartment with enough space for them and their soon-to-be-born daughter in one of her top five neighborhoods is quickly becoming a Herculean task.
She silently blames this hiccup in her otherwise detailed (and mildly obsessive) plans firmly on Quinn's unpredictable libido. Silently—because she's way too intelligent to tempt her fate with Quinn's equally unpredictable mood swings.
They really should have had all of this squared away in March, but the weather had been mostly awful for the better part of the month and there was no way that Rachel would even think about risking Quinn's health by having her trudge through a cold and slush-covered city in her delicate condition merely to view apartments. They could have had it taken care of in April if not for Judy's extended visit (and Quinn's persistently insatiable libido) limiting their already limited opportunities to view vacant apartments in the neighborhoods that Rachel had deemed suitably appropriate for child-rearing, reasonably priced, and conveniently located. And they would have had it settled the first week of May if they'd been just a little faster snapping up the one apartment that they'd managed to find that they could both agree on—well, agree on enough to decide after a thorough debate over an extensive list of pros and cons to make an offer—but they'd toured it the Friday morning before Josie and Sarah's wedding, and Quinn had been a bridesmaid (for Josie, not Sarah, because that would have been even weirder than it already was) and with all of that excitement going on that weekend, they hadn't managed to call the building manager back to make the offer until Monday morning, and by then it had already been too late. Some other far more decisive couple had beaten them to the punch.
So here they are, feeling increasingly desperate as they scour every apartment-hunting website for the newest batch of potential apartments to view.
"I was actually wondering how you feel about it as a baby name," Quinn informs her, dropping her hand away from her chin. "Chelsea Fabray," she recites, testing it out with a thoughtful expression on her face.
Butterflies erupt in Rachel's stomach at the potential name—just the way they do every time something happens to make their daughter feel even more tangible to her. "It's a pretty name," Rachel concedes, though she's not certain it's quite right for their little girl. "What does it mean?"
"I'm not sure," Quinn admits with a shrug.
"Name meanings are very important, Quinn," Rachel chastises, fully aware that her wife had probably gotten bored browsing through the same apartments over and over and had let her mind wander off to baby names when she'd noticed Chelsea in the listings. "We have to make sure our daughter starts out her life on the right foot."
"Says the woman who's named after a character on Friends," Quinn teases.
Rachel shoots her a disapproving look. "That is exactly my point. Do you know what Rachel means?" she asks grumpily, not waiting for Quinn to answer. "It means ewe. A female sheep, Quinn!" she exclaims, attempting to ignore the way Quinn's lips twitch into a barely suppressed smile. "I love my fathers dearly, but they obviously dropped the ball with their haphazard method of naming me. I am not a sheep!" And she's not particularly fond of the story of her Hebrew namesake either, so she'll hardly claim that as a more fitting origin of her name.
"You certainly are not," Quinn agrees comfortingly, "but your name is still beautiful and fits you perfectly."
Feeling adequately appeased, Rachel offers her wife a sweet smile. "You know, Quinn means wise, and it does tend to suit you…most of the time," she adds playfully
Quinn snickers derisively, rolling her eyes. "Except that's not exactly what my parents named me, is it?"
"Lucy means light," Rachel reminds her, "and that suits you too, because you're the light of my life." When Quinn blushes prettily, Rachel's smile only grows. "Which is why I still think Lucy would be the perfect name for our daughter," she slips in, trying once again to convince Quinn to at least consider it.
With a firm shake of her head, Quinn insists that, "We're not naming our daughter after that version of me."
Even after all this time, Quinn still tends to talk about Lucy as someone separate from herself, but, "I love that version of you," Rachel tells her tenderly, "and you like her well enough to write under her name, Lucy Quinn."
"Which is another reason not to name our daughter that. I'm not that much of a narcissist," Quinn defends, amusement evident in her voice.
"Will you at least consider Lucy for a middle name?" Rachel asks, not willing to give it up just yet. She's not sure why exactly. She does love the name—she thinks it's pretty and she loves the meaning—but maybe it's more about Rachel wanting their daughter to have that connection to Quinn's truest self. After all, there is a reason that Quinn had chosen to publish her novels under that name. It's Lucy that used to escape into all of those big, fantastical dreams when she was a little girl, and Lucy's imagination that nurtured Quinn's love of literature. Lucy is the most innocent part of Quinn.
"Maybe if we can't agree on a better one," Quinn finally offers, albeit reluctantly.
"I'll take it," Rachel is quick to accept, grinning happily.
"I said maybe, Rach," Quinn cautions when she notices her expression. "I can already think of at least half a dozen better ones."
"But two weeks ago it was solid no," Rachel points out undeterred. "I'm wearing you down."
"This apartment hunt is wearing me down," Quinn counters with a tired sigh.
Rachel hums in sympathy. "I know, baby, but that's all the more reason for us to find one soon. So let's get back to work," she encourages, turning her attention back to her own laptop to scroll through the next page of three bedroom apartments on the market. It really is getting frustratingly repetitive.
"Chelsea means port," Quinn announces a minute later. "From the old English chalk wharf."
Rachel frowns at her wife's deliberate detour to Google. "That's not apartment hunting, Quinn."
Quinn grins sheepishly, shrugging her shoulder again. "You made me curious."
"We're not naming our daughter for a port," Rachel declares, mentally crossing Chelsea off the possibilities list—not that it was ever really on there to begin with because she's not remotely inclined to saddle their daughter with the same name as a neighborhood in Manhattan.
Quinn nods her agreement. "I guess it doesn't flow all that well with Fabray anyway."
"And it certainly won't sound right with Lucy as a middle name." Chelsea Lucy Fabray is just a ridiculous mouthful.
Quinn dismisses her observation with a roll of her eyes. "So we're still searching."
"Apartments first," Rachel commands in her most authoritative voice. "Baby names later."
They still have a good three and half months to find the perfect name for their daughter. They have considerably less to find the perfect apartment if they want to bring that daughter home to it.
It's that time crunch pressing down on them that eventually finds them looking at a four bedroom on the Upper West Side that's just above their previously agreed upon budget.
They haven't really been looking for four bedrooms, confident that three are certainly enough to meet their immediate needs, and there are so few currently on the market that it really hadn't factored into their hunt until now. But the location and the building amenities are far too tempting to outright dismiss, and the other dozen or so apartments that they've seen in the last several weeks have all fallen short for one reason or another—the kitchen was too small, the appliances were too old, there weren't enough windows, the master bedroom was on the other side of the apartment from where they'd want to put the nursery—so they'd agreed to broaden their search.
Rachel is instantly enamored with the building. It's smack dab in the middle of West End Avenue, so it doesn't boast the greatest views, but it's pet-friendly (which is a must for Oliver) with a doorman, an on-site exercise room, and a spacious elevator that's both fast and smooth—a far cry from their current building. It's also located in a fairly good neighborhood with a (relatively) low crime rate, well-ranked schools, and within walking distance (if they're in the mood for a twenty or thirty minute walk) to Central Park, Lincoln Center, and the apartment that Santana now shares with Teresa. The walk to Santana's place is significantly shorter. Rachel mostly counts this as a plus.
There are a few negatives though. One is the extra distance to both the theater district and their doctor's office, but Rachel supposes that she won't have to worry about the commute to the Cort Theatre in a few short months, and the building isn't very far from a stop on the Broadway-Seventh Avenue line that would take her into Midtown. Trips to their doctor's office will be undertaken via taxi or car service, of course, because Rachel deems it a far safer mode of transportation for Quinn in her current delicate condition.
Their biggest concern about the apartment, however, is the price. With Rachel's steady income having an expiration date that is fast approaching, she's a little worried that they might eventually feel the pinch of meeting the rent every month. Moving here would mean taking the gamble that Quinn's books will continue to be a success, the pending film adaptation will actually come to fruition and adequately pad their bank account, and that Rachel will be able to easily find other roles once she's ready to go back to work. Even assuming that all of those things work out in their favor, neither one of them can accurately predict just how much the baby will cut into their savings once she's actually here, so Rachel is acutely conscious of the possibility that she might need to take on more projects sooner than is currently planned.
Rachel's eyes stray to her wife as they step off the elevator, taking notice of the way she's currently rubbing distractedly at a spot on her lower back as they follow the building manager, Leo, to the apartment. Quinn is starting to do that more often now that she's well into her sixth month, and Rachel is beginning to worry more that her pregnancy is putting a bigger burden on her body than she'd originally imagined it would.
She reaches out to gently rest her palm against Quinn's lower back, close to the spot that she's been kneading. "Are you feeling okay?" she asks quietly when she catches Quinn's attention.
"I'm fine," Quinn promises, offering a reassuring smile. "Just a tiny muscle ache. Don't worry."
Rachel frowns. It's nearly impossible not to worry, but she's doing her best to trust Quinn's judgement when it comes to her own body. She really just wants them to find a suitable apartment and get moved in quickly so Quinn can relax for the next three months and not have to traipse around Manhattan, climbing up steps and stoops and battling tiny, rattling elevators while she stresses out about finding the perfect home for their growing family. And maybe Rachel is more than a little eager to stop stressing about all of that as well—she has more than enough other monumental life-changing events to stress over.
"Here we are, ladies," Leo announces with a proud smile as he stops them in front of apartment 10-E and unlocks the door before inviting them inside.
When they step into the entryway, they're met with hardwood floors, clean white walls, and the scent of pine from the cleaning products that had been used to scrub away any remnants of the last tenants. There's a small foyer with a coat closet to the left, a short, white wall just begging for a picture frame or painting directly in front, and spacious kitchen to the right that's immediately within their view.
"Oh," Quinn gasps softly, placing a hand over her heart as she immediately wanders into the kitchen. The pleased little smile curving her lips lets Rachel know that her wife is already in love with what she sees there.
The kitchen is larger than the one in their current apartment, built into the corner with a fairly open design, and it's divided from the adjoining room by only a breakfast bar that's specious enough to seat four. Seeing Quinn's immediate interest, Leo begins to go over the details of the kitchen. The countertops are white and black granite with natural veining and are polished into a gleaming shine, while the cabinets are a warm oak with a finish light enough to keep the kitchen bright. All of the appliances appear sleek and modern, yet somehow blend seamlessly into the more traditional style prevalent in the cabinets and countertops.
"I love this kitchen," Quinn murmurs appreciatively, still grinning in delight as she trails the pads of her fingers over the countertops. "I don't think I'd ever feel claustrophobic in here."
Rachel reaches out to snag her hand, entwining their fingers with a soft smile to let Quinn know that they're on the same page. A larger than average kitchen is a big selling point for Quinn, and Rachel is perfectly willing to defer to her wife's preferences on that front. More than a few of apartments they'd seen had been outright rejected by Quinn purely on the basis of a tiny kitchen alone.
"The refrigerator is fairly new," Leo informs them. "It was replaced five months ago. And the oven and dishwasher are both in great shape. I think the former tenants lived on take out and frozen meals," he jokes.
"Well, we'd definitely be taking full advantage of this kitchen," Quinn assures him, gazing around with a pleased smile on her lips. Rachel guesses that she's already imaging where all of her kitcheny things would go.
"I know you could probably spend an hour in here inspecting every cabinet," Rachel teases her wife, "and I promise you can do that before we leave, but can we see the rest of the apartment first?"
Quinn rolls her eyes. "I'm mildly impressed that you haven't already run around from room to room, opening every door."
Rachel blushes, ducking her head as Leo attempts to muffle his obvious amusement. She might have possibly done that when they'd seen some of the other apartments—well, all of the other apartments. She doesn't think there's anything wrong with wanting to establish an overall impression of the whole before picking apart the details of every individual nook and cranny. Really—why even waste the time if it doesn't feel like a place she could be happy living in from that very first look?
In truth, they don't actually need to step out of the kitchen to have an idea of what the rest of the apartment looks like. There's a clear view over the breakfast bar into the next room, where large windows line the far wall. They can't technically be classified as floor-to-ceiling, but the effect is similar, and the clear panes of glass reveal just a hint of the Hudson River peeking through the buildings on the opposite side of the street. Rachel immediately prefers the view to the unrelenting brick and concrete outside of so many of the other apartments they've toured in the last several weeks.
When they do leave the kitchen, Leo first stops to show them that the adjacent wall that creates the foyer actually houses a closet—this one with double doors and far more spacious than the coat closet—and it effectively hides most of the open living room from the view of the front door to offer an added sense of privacy.
"It feels bigger than the other apartments we've seen," Rachel comments as her eyes take in the spacious room. Quinn hums her agreement as she wanders over to the windows to get a better look at the view.
"The open floorplan probably makes it feel a little bigger than it actually is," Leo cautions, "but this room is plenty big enough to fit a full living room set and a dinner table without feeling cramped," he assures them before gesturing toward the nearby hallway. "The bedrooms and bathroom are all down that hall."
"Then let's see them," Quinn instructs, already moving in that direction. Rachel can tell by the intense gleam in her eyes that she's eager to see if the rest of the apartment lives up to that kitchen.
"Of course. That's what we're here for," Leo says as he steps out ahead of them only to pause at the first door on the left. He twists the knob and pushes it open, proudly announcing it to be the, "Laundry room."
And by laundry room, he means a room. Unlike the standard stacked washer and dryer combo that's commonly found shoved into hallway closets barely big enough to contain them all across Manhattan, this apartment features an actual room about the size of a small bathroom with enough shelving and storage space to actually do the laundry in it—and possibly the ironing too.
"Oh, nice," Quinn murmurs, glancing at Rachel with a delighted grin before disappearing into the room for a closer inspection.
"This is a definite check in the pro column," Rachel agrees. This apartment is looking very promising so far—and Rachel can tell by the expression on Quinn's face that she really wants that kitchen and now this laundry room.
Once Quinn has investigated the shelving and the condition of the washer and dryer, they move onto the bathroom next door. It's about on par with most of the others they've seen, which is to say that it's large enough to fit two adults without feeling overly cramped while still requiring a certain degree of litheness to avoid any major collisions. Rachel silently attempts to assess just how functional it might be once Quinn hits her ninth month of pregnancy and, after that, when they add in a baby for bath time, but Quinn seems happy enough with what she sees, nodding her approval as she surveys the space, so Rachel supposes she can put aside her preference for something just a little bit bigger.
There's a sleek sink with a vanity cabinet, just enough room in the corner to maybe fit some kind of shelving, and a combination bathtub and shower with a detachable shower head. That's a definite plus for so many reasons, not the least of which is that they'll soon have a daughter who'll require baths and not showers for the foreseeable future.
They explore the bedrooms next, starting with the one across from the laundry room and nearest to the living area. Leo informs them that it's technically the smallest one, and it certainly feels that way when they step inside. Even empty, Rachel can tell that they probably wouldn't be able to squeeze anything above a twin-size mattress into this room if they'd want to leave space for any other furniture, but it at least has a large window—the same as the ones in the living and dining room—to brighten it up.
"This would make a good office," Quinn observes, obviously thinking along the same lines in terms of the size. Rachel can easily guess that Quinn would choose to position her desk facing out that window so she could enjoy the partial view of the Hudson while she writes, leaving the walls free to be lined with all her bookshelves.
The next bedroom is bigger with plenty of closet space and sunlight, another partial view of the river, and is, according to Leo, right next door to the master bedroom. Quinn thoughtfully bites into her lower lip and presses a hand to her belly as she surveys the room with a discerning gaze.
"You're thinking this would be the nursery," Rachel guesses quietly, slipping her own hand into Quinn's empty one because she suddenly feels the need to be connected to her wife and unborn daughter, and she doesn't think Quinn will appreciate having her belly rubbed with Leo watching them.
Quinn glances at Rachel with shining eyes and a tremulous smile. "I can already picture it." And Rachel finds that she can too, easily imagining a cheerful yellow rug to cover the hardwood floors and a decorative trim of teddy bears along the walls.
Feeling the familiar sting of moisture in her eyes, she attempts to clear the lump from her throat. "We should probably check out the other rooms before we make any decisions," she prompts, squeezing Quinn's hand in hers when Quinn nods her agreement.
"The master bedroom is next door, but we should save the best for last," Leo suggests, grinning as he leads them back into the hallway, skipping over the next door and turning the corner towards the third bedroom. This hallway is actually fairly short with a door at the end, one adjacent to it on the right, and bi-folding doors between that and the master bedroom that conceals another large linen closet. Rachel is silently impressed by how much closet space there is in this apartment, especially when Leo shows them yet another small storage closet behind the door at the end of the hall.
The bedroom he shows them is longer than the other two but not quite as wide, though the length does make it feel a little more spacious than the first room they'd seen. It also has a single, large window, though it faces south and mostly looks out at the neighboring building.
"This could work for a nursery too," Rachel murmurs absently, considering the possibility that the south-facing window might be better in the evenings than one exposed directly to the setting sun.
Quinn hums thoughtfully as she looks around the room before deciding, "I think I like the other one better. It feels brighter."
Rachel agrees, but, "This one might be cooler."
"Maybe in the summer," Quinn concedes, "but it might be colder in the winter."
Rachel frowns, not having fully considered that. Colder is definitely worse. "I suppose we still have some time to debate the merits of sun exposure before deciding on the proper placement of the nursery." Though not nearly as much time as Rachel would prefer.
Quinn laughs, light and breezy, as she lifts her hand to pat Rachel's cheek. "That's what curtains are for, sweetie. The nursery goes in the other room."
"You're assuming quite a lot, Quinn," Rachel challenges, crossing her arms. "We haven't made any firm decisions on this apartment yet." Though she has to admit that she's impressed with everything she's seen so far. She knows that Quinn is too, and there's still the pesky little fact that they are swiftly running out of time to make a decision, but, "We haven't even seen the master bedroom yet."
"What d'ya say we rectify that, ladies?" Leo cuts in, looking mostly amused by them, albeit with a trace of bewilderment evident in his eyes. They tend to get that look quite often for some odd reason.
"I think that's a great idea," Quinn agrees, grinning at Rachel as she follows Leo back to the final bedroom.
"I think you'll really like this room," Leo says with a smile, opening the door and gesturing for them to go ahead inside. He's quoting the dimensions to them from the hallway, just as he has with the other rooms, but Rachel can't say that she's really paying attention because her focus is entirely on the bedroom from the moment she steps inside.
It feels huge compared to the others, and there's more than enough room for a queen-sized mattress—maybe even a king—with plenty of space left over for furnishings. They could probably even fit in a chair or a small loveseat. Three large windows light the room—two on the west-facing wall and another on the southern wall—and the view, while not exactly spectacular, is unarguably the nicest one in the apartment. The entire room feels ripe with possibilities.
"Oh, wow," Rachel breathes out appreciatively.
She's startled out of her admiration of the space by Quinn's near-frantic, "Rachel," and a cold rush of dread cuts through her blood as she spins around, worried that she'll see Quinn on the floor or clutching her stomach in pain or something infinitely worse, but instead she sees a wide-eyed Quinn grinning like a madwoman in front of an open door on the far wall. "There's a walk-in closet," Quinn gushes before she disappears inside.
Rachel presses a hand to her chest and takes a deep breath to calm her racing heart before she moves to follow her wife, biting her tongue to keep from chastising Quinn for the near heart attack she'd just given her. But when she steps into the closet, all the anxiety that she'd felt evaporates. "Oh, wow," she repeats, her own eyes widening as she gazes around the closet while Quinn spins around with a gleeful expression on her face.
The closet is huge, with clothing rods fastened to the walls and built-in shelving. They might actually be able to share this one without Rachel needing to store half of her wardrobe in the hallway closet. "I definitely don't remember this being mentioned in the listing."
Leo chuckles as he leans against the doorframe and observes them. "It's an extra feature of the corner apartments due to the layout, so we don't tend to list it. Wouldn't want to make the other tenants jealous."
"And how much does that extra feature add to the rent?" Rachel questions warily when she steps out of the closet with Quinn close behind her.
"You do lose a half bathroom with this floorplan," Leo reminds them, referring to the fact that most of the other apartments in this building feature two and half bathrooms while this one only offers two. "So the rent comes out just about even."
"Define just about," Rachel demands, feeling Quinn poke her warningly in the back. She quite obviously really wants that kitchen and the laundry room and now this closet.
"It's an extra two hundred a month for the corner units," Leo admits grudgingly.
"It should be less if I'm losing a bathroom," Rachel mutters, thinking that a bathroom must be worth more than a closet—no matter how spacious and convenient and wonderful that closet might be.
"Rachel," Quinn cautions, resting her hand on Rachel's shoulder. "I'll take this closet over the extra half bathroom any day."
Rachel huffs a little and crosses her arms as she stares down Leo in silent challenge. He knows what she's getting at. He's a shrewd businessman, and she is a shrewd businesswoman—well, not technically, but she is a determined negotiator and not above attempting to talk him down a little on the rent. He only chuckles again, shaking his head as he points them towards the other door in the room. "Why don't you check out the connecting bathroom, and then you can let me know if it's worth it."
Skeptical but curious, Rachel opens the other door and steps into the bathroom where she instantly freezes in stunned surprise when she's met with a full marble vanity with double sinks and a large mirror, a window on the exterior wall, and a walk-in shower that's big enough for two with a sleek glass door and—
"Dual shower heads," Quinn breathes out reverently as she pushes past Rachel, making a beeline for the shower and opening the door to inspect the decadent interior. "And a bench," she gushes, gazing longingly at the sight of the seat built into the shower wall.
"Seem a little more even now?" Leo calls after them from the bedroom.
Quinn spins around to face Rachel. "I think this is the better deal," she whispers excitedly, gesturing back to the shower.
Rachel does not disagree. She instantly imagines all the ways that she and Quinn could enjoy that shower. And it really would be incredible to have that walk-in closet, and the corner apartment with so many windows, and that kitchen that Quinn loves, and the doorman and onsite exercise room. But, "It's over our budget," she reminds Quinn cautiously.
"Only by three hundred, which isn't bad for a four bedroom corner unit," Quinn argues quietly, reaching down to link their hands together. Her expression is almost pleading when she says, "I really love this apartment, Rach. It's perfect for us, and we're kind of running out of time here," she points out with a wry smile, glancing down at her protruding belly.
And that's probably the most important factor of all. The apartment in Murray Hill really isn't going to be big enough for a family of three in the long run, and trying to do everything they'll need to do to get moved after the baby comes feels practically impossible. Even now, without a newborn baby to take care of, it's going to be an exhausting ordeal.
"I do really like this place," Rachel admits, smiling up at her wife as she lets go of her hands only to place her palms gently over Quinn's belly—she feels safe enough doing so with Leo in the other room. "I can picture us starting our family here." There's room enough for three with a just enough extra space for a visiting grandparent or two, it's in one of Rachel's top four most desirable neighborhoods for safety and schooling, there are parks nearby, and the rent isn't completely unreasonable for everything they'll be getting.
Quinn covers Rachel's hands with her own. "So we're going for it?" she asks hopefully.
Their daughter chooses that moment to move beneath their joined hands, and they both giggle. "We're going for it," Rachel decides with a firm nod, forcibly pushing aside her lingering doubts about the rent. The kitchen and master bedroom are probably worth the price alone, and she knows that if this building was located on Central Park West or Riverside Drive, the rent would easily be five thousand more a month just for the view. Rachel doesn't need a perfect view, and she certainly doesn't want to make the same mistake they'd made with the last apartment by taking too much time to make a decision—not when this apartment is the first one they've seen that really feels like it could be home.
They complete the application that day, providing all their necessary documentation via email—pristinely scanned prior to the viewing and ready to be sent via cell phone—before they even leave the building. Rachel is nothing if not thoroughly prepared, and they've certainly seen enough apartments to know what's required of them for the application process. Leo assures them that the credit reference and background check is just a formality, but they'll still need to wait another day or two for their official approval.
When it comes late on Tuesday afternoon, they're quick to sign the lease, returning to West End Avenue bright and early on Wednesday morning to finalize the paperwork, and there's a certain sense of relief that comes in knowing that they can finally stop scouring the apartment listings and stressing over the move. Except—
"Oh, God," Rachel gasps, gripping tightly to Quinn's hand tightly in the backseat of the taxi that's taking them back to Murray Hill. "We have to move."
Quinn gives her an odd look. "Yes, Rachel. That's been the general idea in looking for a new apartment."
Rachel frowns at her tone—the slightly condescending one that she uses when she thinks Rachel is being particularly obtuse. "I know that," she counters testily. "But now we actually have to do it. We have to pack up all of our possessions and get rid of all the excess stuff we've accumulated over the years and clean the apartment and give our notice to Howard."
Though telling their current landlord that they're officially moving out will actually be something of a relief. They certainly have nothing against the man, and they've always liked the building, but they'd chosen not to renew their lease at the full term in February in preparation for their eventual move, opting to pay month-to-month since then. Subsequently, their rent had increased significantly. Thank God Howard generally likes them (and is a fan of Rachel's singing voice) so had given them a very slight discount on the mandatory increase.
"And we absolutely need to hire a moving company this time," she continues with a worried frown. "There's no way we're doing everything by ourselves." She loves their friends and her dads dearly, and she knows that they'll all be willing to help out again, but she can't be expected to oversee them properly while she's busy making certain that Quinn doesn't lift a single thing. That's how sofas crack door frames in half and chairs get dropped out of windows and cats get stepped on or escape never to be seen again!
Her eyes widen with sudden panic. "Oliver! We didn't have Oliver last time. He'll be so confused!" she exclaims, beginning to fret over how he'll handle the move. Their current apartment is the only home he's ever known—aside from those first awful months that he'd spent living on the streets and under dumpsters. "We should have been preparing him for this. You know how stressed out he gets just from going to the vet."
Quinn worries her lip for a moment before prudently suggesting, "We could always drug him up."
"Quinn! We are not drugging our cat." Rachel already has enough to worry about without adding a potential feline overdose to her already extensive list of possible disasters.
"Maybe we can board him at Doctor Sweeney's office for a couple of days," Quinn suggests thoughtfully, frowning now as she clearly considers the potential complication of having to navigate this move with an occasionally temperamental cat underfoot. "Or hire a cat sitter or something."
Rachel can't imagine that leaving Oliver at the vet's office for an extended period would be any less stressful for him. He'd ignored them for days after they'd had him neutered and he'd only been left at the vet for eight hours—of course, he'd also lost certain body parts on that occasion that very well may have contributed to his irritation with them. "He's going to hate us." Their cat is a champion at holding a grudge.
"Well, he probably won't be happy with us," Quinn admits, sounding genuinely regretful, "but we don't have a choice, Rach. We need to move, and Ollie will just have to adjust. Maybe you can bribe him with extra food to make him feel better," she offers with a tiny smile of encouragement.
Rachel refrains from reminding her wife that the extra food currently isn't working to rectify Oliver's increasing distaste for Quinn's rapidly disappearing lap. Rachel lets her head drop back against the top of the seat with a sigh, staring blindly up at the mildly disgusting roof of the taxi. "And now I have to add researching reputable cat sitters to my list of things to be done," she laments, tossing up a hand in desolation.
She can hear Quinn's quiet laughter from the seat next to her, and she lets her head roll in that direction to pout at her wife. Quinn instantly attempts to bite back her smile. "Josie and Sarah might agree to take him for a couple of days. They'll be back from their honeymoon by the end of next week, and he seems to like them well enough."
"He likes Teresa better," Rachel counters, though she suspects it's primarily because he seems to sense that it irritates Santana. "And we wouldn't have to drag him all the way to Queens." She strongly suspects that car trip wouldn't go over very well with him.
"But he doesn't like Santana," Quinn reminds her, amusement evident in her voice.
With another despondent sigh, Rachel concedes, "You're right. One of them wouldn't survive." She's afraid it would be Oliver, though she's certain that he wouldn't go down without a fight.
Quinn doesn't bother to stifle her laughter this time. "My money's on Oliver, especially if Teresa's in the room."
A grin sneaks onto Rachel's lips. "I'd rather not find out. We'd be better off asking Kurt to take him." He'll undoubtedly complain about all the potential cat hairs on his leather sofa and designer jackets, but, "He might agree if he thinks it will get him out of schlepping boxes around."
Quinn's eyebrow inches up. "We'd let him get out of that?"
"No," Rachel admits, "but I'm not above letting him think we might until it's too late." Oliver should be able to refrain from destroying anything of value in Kurt's apartment for a few hours.
"We'll figure it out," Quinn promises, reaching over to tuck a stray piece of hair behind Rachel's ear. "And maybe Oliver will surprise us. We can see how he seems after he watches us pack up boxes over the next few days."
Rachel groans. "Don't remind me!" She's already dreading all the work they need to do, especially when she still has a full show schedule to deal with. "Do you think there are any moving companies that will pack the boxes for us?" she wonders out loud.
Quinn rolls her eyes. "Even if there are, there's no way we're letting a bunch of strangers paw through our personal items. It's bad enough letting Santana do it." Rachel grimaces as she recalls the embarrassing strap-on debacle from their first move. "The movers can take the furniture and the boxes after we've packed them."
"But it's so much work," Rachel whines petulantly. "And I don't want you lifting anything." She'd much prefer Quinn to remain safely and comfortably seated while she directs everyone (who is not Rachel) how and what and when to pack.
"I'm not an invalid, even if I am turning into a whale," Quinn grumbles sullenly, rubbing a palm over her expanding stomach. "I can still clean and pack, which you should know very well since you go all crazy overprotective on me every time I do it."
"You're not a whale," Rachel assures her quickly, not wanting to take any unnecessary chances with Quinn's occasionally delicate body image. She's still absolutely gorgeous, of course, but there's no ignoring the fact that she's getting bigger and, therefore, a tiny bit less graceful in her movements at times. Rachel still isn't able to predict with any real accuracy when a stray comment like that one is a general lament, quickly dismissed from the conversation, and when it's a portent of a self-esteem spiral that will inevitably result in tears. Today, thankfully, it seems to be the former, as evidenced by Quinn's faint smile, and Rachel reaches across the seat to place a comforting hand on her leg. "But I can't help worrying about you."
"I know," Quinn acknowledges on a sigh. "But can you maybe worry less about me and more about helping me get ready for our move?"
"Is that not what I'm currently doing?" Rachel asks with a confused frown. She's quite certain that's been the driving force of this entire conversation.
"It sounded more like freaking out to me," Quinn informs her with a shrug.
"I think a little freaking out is perfectly permissible in this situation, Quinn," Rachel huffs, crossing her arms. "Frankly, I don't understand why you're not joining me."
An indulgent smile pulls at Quinn's lips, and she shakes her head. "Because we're currently in the back of a speeding taxi, which is automatically more stressful to me than our impending move," she points out wryly, prompting Rachel to take Quinn's hand in empathy, "and I'd actually like to celebrate our new apartment for at least a few hours before I freak out over all the work we still have to do to get moved into it."
"That's an annoyingly reasonable answer," Rachel grudgingly concedes. "Will you freak out with me when we get home?"
Quinn chuckles as she squeezes her hand. "Possibly." She leans closer, lips curving slyly. "But I'd rather you celebrate our new apartment with me." Her voice drops into that rich, husky purr that never fails to make Rachel shiver, and there's a certain telling glimmer in her hazel eyes that Rachel has come to know intimately.
Rachel licks her lips in response, causing those glittering eyes to darken noticeably. "I suppose I could be persuaded." They still have a good three hours before she has to be at the theatre for her show, and she's gotten very good in the last several months at satisfying her wife's very specific and urgent needs under tight time constraints.
Pink lips quirk up into a sexy smirk. "I'm very good at persuading," Quinn boasts quietly.
Dragging in a deep breath, Rachel glances at their driver to make sure he isn't paying too much attention to their conversation. Satisfied that he's mostly watching the road—and pleased to see they're almost home—Rachel leans close enough to her wife to whisper, "I know," before placing a soft, teasing kiss to those smirking lips.
It's enough to put her little freak-out on the backburner—at least until after they've thoroughly finished their celebration.
The freaking out happens in due course.
Rachel spends the entirety of the morning after they sign the lease reading every resource she can find on the internet in order to determine which local moving companies are fully licensed and insured with the highest ratings and the fewest complaints. They want to be moved into their new apartment before the end of May so they won't have to pay another month of rent on their current one—and maybe also because Rachel is nominated for another Tony (along with her show and two of her costars), and she'd rather have the stress of the move (mostly) behind her before she fully commits to stressing out over her award and choosing an appropriate dress to wear for the ceremony that will make her appear equally humble should she win and gracious should she lose.
It doesn't quite work out that way.
Apparently, everyone in the New York metropolitan area and all of its surrounding suburbs wants to move by or on Memorial Day weekend, so Rachel can't get any of her top five moving companies scheduled until the first of June, which is a Thursday, and they're lucky to even get that date—thankfully, someone had only very recently cancelled a reservation, leaving a small window of availability for Rachel. She'll need to miss a show, but she jumps at the date.
It's okay. She's not panicking. It gives them more time to clean and pack, and she'll still have a good eleven days to stress out over the Tonys, and technically they won't actually be living in the apartment in June, so she convinces Howard (possibly by begging and bribing him with two tickets to her show) to agree not to charge them another month of rent.
She absolutely does not obsessively call everyone they know in a blind panic to see who'll be available to help them.
It's not blind at all—it's very clearly focused and methodic in its completion.
Her dads and at least two of their friends (thank God Teresa and Kurt have mostly flexible schedules) will be available to help them for the entire day, and Santana might be able to get her schedule rearranged at the hospital—and if she doesn't, Rachel will torture her by singing show tunes (that she doesn't like) every time they see one another for the next ten years at least. Harry should be able to swing by after work, and Rachel will guilt Josie and Sarah into doing the same once they get back from their honeymoon and she's therefore permitted to call them. (Quinn had been very clear that Rachel is not to contact them while they're still overseas.) And Peter is free in the morning before he'll have to leave for an evening performance of his new play.
The only one not doing his part is Steven, who'll be on location in Vancouver through the end of June, filming exterior scenes for his newest movie—stupid famous sperm-donor!—and she supposes that she'll have to give him one pass since he'd graciously contributed to their growing family in other very important ways.
Shelby has to work (which is not a valid excuse in and of itself) but even if she didn't, Beth still has school until the middle of June, and Rachel isn't about to demand that she engage in truancy this late in the school year, so she's reluctantly agreeing to let them off the hook this time as well.
Rachel is trying not to stress too heavily over the scheduling she'll need to do to make all of this work when she has too many other things to stress over—like coming home from her show to find Quinn boxing up the rest of her books without Rachel's supervision.
"Quinn! You're not supposed to be doing this when I'm not here!" Rachel practically screeches, rushing over to grab the book right out of her wife's hands.
"Don't start with me, Rachel," Quinn warns, rolling her eyes as she attempts to take back the book. "If I only pack when you're here, we'll never be ready in time." Rachel tries to ignore the subtle dig at her schedule as she braces her body against Quinn's attempt to wrest the book away from her. "Let go," Quinn growls, tugging on the book that Rachel is now clinging to with both hands.
"We agreed that you could fold clothes and towels and…various other soft, fluffy, weightless stuff," Rachel argues, unexpectedly winning the tug of war with the book when Quinn abruptly lets go—sending Rachel stumbling a few steps backward.
"All the clothes that can be packed now are packed. My entire pre-pregnancy wardrobe has been in boxes in the spare closet for the last two months," she reminds Rachel, flinging a hand in the direction of the closet in question. And it's true—Quinn had made certain that they'd gotten a good many things in their spare bedroom cleaned out and packed up at the beginning of April before her mother had come for her last visit. Judy's particular brand of critiquing their apartment had only been ninety percent responsible for the cleaning spree. "Unless you want us to walk around naked until we're in our new apartment, I can't pack anymore clothes. What I can pack are our books and photos and your music collection and awards."
Rachel frowns, clutching the book to her chest with crossed arms. "You aren't to touch those awards, Quinn. They're far too heavy."
Quinn throws her hands up in agitation. "Stop treating me like a child, Rachel! Doctor Barnes said it should be safe for me to lift up to twenty pounds. Your damn awards are nowhere near that."
Rachel gasps at the affront to her awards, but that's hardly the most pressing issue. "She said it should be, Quinn, not that it definitely is. I'd rather we err on the side of caution, especially with your previous back injury."
Quinn's eyes flash with fire, and Rachel worries for a moment that her wife is about to greatly elevate her blood pressure with a heated tirade about her general good health and fitness levels, but then Quinn takes an audible breath and seems to deliberately calm herself down, even as she pushes her fingers through her hair in clear frustration.
"Your version of caution borders on tyrannical," she mutters before resting her hands on Rachel's shoulders and looking her squarely in the eyes. "Rachel. I love you. But you are driving me crazy." The frustrated admission stings, but Quinn ignores her little huff of protest and continues on. "We need to pack and clean this entire apartment, and I don't want the stress of having to do it all at once. It's easier to tackle a little at a time, and unless you plan to skip every show until we're actually moved into our new home and have completely unpacked and settled in," and Rachel winces a little at the mere thought of missing that many shows, "then you need to trust me to do some of this when you're not here. I know what my body can handle, baby and all."
Rachel opens her mouth to object, sees Quinn's eyes narrow almost immediately, and promptly closes her mouth again. She inhales deeply through her nose and lets her arms fall away from her chest, careful not to let the book that she's still holding drop to the floor, before she nods ever so slightly. "But…"
"Rachel," Quinn cuts in warningly, gripping her shoulders a little more tightly.
"But," Rachel repeats more firmly, undeterred, "can you at least understand why I'm concerned that you're doing these things while you're here in the apartment by yourself?" she asks, placing a hand on the side of Quinn's belly in search of the physical comfort that their daughter's gentle movements offer her. "God forbid, if something were to happen when I'm not here and you couldn't reach a phone, it might be hours before…before I'd know…before you'd get help," she adds, voice cracking as the images that have been plaguing her on and off for the last several months assault her all at once—Quinn on the floor, in pain and alone and bleeding—and Rachel feels a few traitorous tears escape down over her cheeks. "I'd never be able to forgive myself for leaving you alone," she trails off, choking back a sob as she shakes her head in helpless despair.
Quinn's hold on her instantly changes, and she tugs Rachel into her arms, holding her close. Rachel lets the book drop to the floor now, wrapping her arms around Quinn and clinging to her. "Oh, sweetheart. Don't do that to yourself," Quinn soothes. "Don't create catastrophes where there aren't any."
Rachel shakes her head again, burrowing her nose into the soft collar of Quinn's button-down maternity shirt where she inhales the familiar scent of her perfume. Logically, she knows that Quinn is perfectly healthy—backaches aside—and capable of assessing her own physical limitations, but emotionally—
"I just keep remembering that day in glee…when you were pregnant with Beth and…and you fell," she eventually murmurs, her voice trembling with emotion. She can still recall it so vividly—the frightening moment when Quinn's feet had slipped out from beneath her and she'd gone down heavily on the cold, hard floor right next to Rachel. "I swear my heart stopped for a minute. I was so terrified that you might lose the baby, and she wasn't even mine. You weren't mine," she recalls sadly, lifting her head to meet Quinn's now glistening eyes. "But my first instinct was to rush to your side anyway and…and somehow make it better. Make you both okay." She even remembers taking a step in that direction until she'd noticed both Finn and Noah do the same. "But I couldn't because it wasn't my place."
"And now it is," Quinn murmurs in understanding, lifting a hand to Rachel's cheek where she brushes away the traces of her tears with a gentle thumb.
"Now it is," Rachel confirms solemnly. "And I don't ever want something like that to happen again. Not on my watch."
Quinn's lips twitch into a faint grin as she drops both her hands to Rachel's waist. "I think I can pretty much guarantee that I won't be attempting any complicated dance moves around the apartment."
Rachel purses her lips, refusing to be charmed by her wife. "I know you think you're being funny, Quinn, but unless you can also guarantee that you won't trip over the rug in the bathroom or lose your balance reaching for one of your many skillets, then my concerns remain valid."
With a resigned sigh, Quinn lets her hands fall to her sides. "I'm not saying they aren't, Rachel, but you do realize that even if I don't pack up the apartment while you're at the theatre, I'm not going to just laze around in bed for the next three months surrounded by pillows. I really will turn into a whale," she jokes, attempting to pull a smile from Rachel. It might work just a little bit.
"That will never happen," Rachel reassures her again.
Quinn smiles in gratitude, lifting her hand again to tenderly brush the back of her fingers over Rachel's jaw. "In any case, you still manage to leave for your show every day and trust that I'll be here waiting for you…perfectly fine…when you get home."
Rachel guiltily averts her eyes from Quinn's earnest gaze. "Only because I call you at every intermission." Her recently formed habit doesn't completely erase her worry that something might happen to Quinn and their baby while she's otherwise engaged, but it does offer her enough peace of mind to get through the last months of her contract without demanding that Quinn actually accompany her to the theatre everyday so that Rachel can have someone keep an eye on her.
Quinn gently tips up her chin, urging Rachel's gaze back to her. "I know that, Rachel. I realized it a few months ago." Of course she would have, Rachel thinks. Her wife is extremely intelligent—and is also intimately acquainted with every one of Rachel's idiosyncrasies and neuroses. "I think it's kind of sweet," Quinn admits, "because it's you checking up on me without attempting to micromanage my every move."
"It's not your every move," Rachel argues. "Just the potentially strenuous ones."
"And yet you haven't suggested that we stop having sex," Quinn teases, lips curling into a knowing smirk.
An involuntarily bark of laughter slips past Rachel's defenses. "I've learned the hard way not to come between a pregnant woman and her cravings." Not that she really wants to circumvent that particular craving—and in any case, she's already done very thorough research on how to accomplish all of the orgasms that her wife craves in the least exertive way for both Quinn and their baby.
Quinn blushes slightly, no doubt recalling some of her more extreme reactions to being deprived of said cravings, before she rolls her eyes. "Then think of my need to clean and pack as a pregnancy craving. You know, the whole nesting thing," she adds, absently gesturing around the apartment.
Rachel's eyes narrow on her wife. "While I don't dismiss that as something that you are, in fact, experiencing, I'm fully aware that you're only equating it to packing in order to win this particular argument." Quinn dreads all of the work that they still have to do for this move just as much as Rachel does.
"Are we arguing?" Quinn asks innocently. "It really feels like more of a discussion to me."
"Don't try to distract me with semantics," Rachel warns, shaking a finger at Quinn. "I'm perfectly aware that we have a finite amount of time to get ready for this move and I am thereby forced to concede that we won't be able to cram everything that still needs to be done into the few hours that I'm home with you, but I also know that I'll be a basket case at the theatre everyday if I have to think about you here packing things up by yourself."
"So what do you suggest?" Quinn asks, crossing her arms under her breasts and letting that eyebrow of hers inch up in challenge.
"I have two options for you," Rachel informs her, having just had a flash of inspiration for a compromise that might appease them both. "One, and this is my personal preference," she reveals, holding up her index finger. "If you feel there is something you absolutely positively need to accomplish right away and thus can't wait for me to be present, then we get someone to come over to help you pack during my absence, whether it be Santana or Kurt or Josie or Mrs. Hutchinson from down the hall."
"You did not just suggest getting me a babysitter!" Quinn hisses, obviously affronted.
Rachel ignores her outburst, letting a second finger join the first. "Or two, and I'm significantly less enamored with this option," she confesses with a small frown. "I call you before and after every Act in addition to my current call at intermission, and I'll request that Bernie call you every thirty minutes while I'm on stage."
"Rachel," Quinn huffs. "You are not asking your production manager to check up on me. If it will make you feel better, you can call me once or twice from the theatre if you get the chance, and I'll happily tell you that I'm fine. That we're fine," she adds, uncrossing her arms to place her hands on her belly.
Rachel mimics the gesture, resting her left hand beneath Quinn's as she searches hazel eyes imploringly. "Will you at least consider option one?"
"I don't need a babysitter," Quinn asserts peevishly.
"I'm thinking more along the lines of an extra set of hands to help you with any necessary tasks who could also get you to the hospital if, God forbid, the need arises while simultaneously making certain that I'm promptly notified. It's a win-win," she boasts, flashing a wide, encouraging smile.
Quinn falls silent at that, catching her lower lip between her teeth as she digests the benefits of Rachel suggestion. Then she shakes her head. "Santana would be more of a hindrance than a help."
"That means you're considering it," Rachel crows, relieved that Quinn is finally seeing reason—and if it means they can get the apartment packed up and sparkling clean faster, that's even better.
"Only barely considering," Quinn cautions with an amusement, shifting her hand to cover Rachel's. "Our friends have lives of their own, Rachel. Even if I would agree to this, which I'm not," she's quick to caution, "I doubt you'd be able to convince someone to show up here every day."
"Oh, that's what you think," Rachel counters easily, turning her palm over to lift Quinn's hand to her lips and press a kiss to the backs of her fingers. "Or have you forgotten that my fathers currently have no life of their own to speak of beyond the anticipation of their first grandchild?"
Quinn's smile slips away as she lets her hand fall back to her side. "Crap."
"This will be perfect, Quinn," Rachel assures her, bouncing up on her toes to peck Quinn's pouting lips. "I'll work out a schedule with our friends and supplement it with Dad and Daddy when the need arises." And she may already have a mental jumpstart on that schedule after having called around to discuss their availability for their moving day. "They get to feel useful, you get to have more help, and I get the peace of mind of knowing that you and our baby are taken care of in my absence."
"I haven't agreed to this," Quinn reminds her stubbornly, crossing her arms again.
"But you will." Rachel dismisses her protest with a wave of her hand.
Quinn's pout intensifies. "I won't."
"You will," Rachel corrects, wrapping her arms around her adorable wife, "because you love me, you know I'm right, and you secretly want the help."
"I do love you," Quinn confirms, relaxing into Rachel's embrace, "but you're only half right, and I'm not about to let you coerce your dads or our friends into babysitting me."
It's Rachel's turn to pout at that. "But Quinn…"
"How about this?" Quinn counters, uncrossing her arms to slip them around Rachel's waist again. "We get as much done together as we can before you leave for your shows, and I agree to not lift anything over ten pounds..."
"Five," Rachel interrupts tenaciously.
"Ten," Quinn repeats firmly, squeezing Rachel's hips in punctuation. "You can keep obsessively calling to check in on me, and our friends and family can help us out on moving day."
Rachel frowns. "But that's basically what we're already doing."
"Exactly," Quinn agrees with a smirk before quickly pecking Rachel's lips. "Except I'm agreeing to be even more careful when you're not here."
It's not what Rachel would prefer, but she understands that this is as far as Quinn is willing to concede tonight. "You can be very stubborn," she complains with a dramatic sigh.
Quinn laughs. "Pot and kettle, sweetheart," she says, kissing Rachel for a second time.
Rachel is already plotting ways to convince their friends and family to stop by for a few unannounced visits over the next week or two—Quinn can hardly object to that—so she supposes she can indulge her wife by letting her believe that she's won this round. "You think you're so cute," she murmurs against Quinn's lips.
"So do you," Quinn flirts shamelessly before putting her mouth to better use.
It's the truth, of course, so Rachel kisses her back without any argument, and soon enough, Quinn's fingers are tightening into the material of Rachel's shirt as she attempts to pull her even closer. An aroused moan vibrates between them, and Rachel has a feeling that she's just sparked one of those familiar pregnancy cravings in her wife. Her suspicions are confirmed when Quinn tears her mouth away, demanding that, "You need to take me to bed. Right now."
"I certainly won't object to getting you off your feet," Rachel teases.
"All I heard is get me off," Quinn purrs, pushing Rachel in the direction of their bedroom.
Laughing, Rachel surrenders to her wife's demands. She's obviously very determined to undertake this particular activity tonight, and it's the one area in which Rachel is confident that she can properly take care of Quinn. She supposes she still has some time (and a plan) to make sure she's up to speed on all the others.