Disclaimer: I, by no means, claim to own anything remotely related to the Glee Universe. No copyright infringement intended.
This Is Your Future
Technically, you're not yet a doctor. You're only a second year medical student, but they see so much promise in you that they let you have (relatively) free reign in the hospital, observing seasoned doctors in action and asking as many questions as you possibly can. Learning has always been something you love doing. It started from a young age, long before your parents got divorced, and even longer before the car accident that altered every path you thought you were planning on paving for yourself.
You're becoming a doctor. Your father wasn't impressed with your decision because he wanted another lawyer in the family - your sister asked no questions, as long as he was paying for college - but you decided against it. It still makes you feel a little sick that Frannie squashed her dreams of being an artist for the money, but, for you, he eventually gave in when his colleagues were impressed when you mentioned your intention to study medicine at a summer barbecue. It still amazes you how focused he is on keeping up appearances, particularly after his scandalous affair.
So, you work, and you learn. You ask questions and immerse yourself in this passion that cultivated one fateful February day when the one thing standing between you and death was a doctor - and God, of course, though you've had a tumultuous relationship with Him for longer than you care to admit.
Coming to New York was never really part of your plan. If you had it your way, you probably would have chosen Boston or Baltimore or even staying in New Haven, but circumstances would have it that New York was the place you ended up. It's not that it's bad. You love New York. It's just that it's particularly lonely. Your fellow medical students are friendly enough, but everyone is always so busy and, when you first arrived, you weren't all that friendly or approachable - you were going through some things you could never talk to a stranger about. It marked you, and now it's difficult to make friends now that the permanent scowl has disappeared from your face. Even just meeting people in New York is difficult enough. You're just looking to have a conversation with someone, anyone.
But, still, you're embracing this life you're living because you are still alive, and you're trying to be happy. So far, it's a work in progress. As long as you keep trying, you believe it'll get better. It has to. The future has to be better than this; it has to be brighter.
It's the last Thursday of March when it happens.
You're working in the free clinic at the university hospital, running around for nurses and doctors and just enjoying being able to interact with patients. You come into the hospital whenever you can, just to help out, fetching test results and delivering samples, doing all that scut work the interns desperately don't want to do. You observe as much as you can - or, rather, as much as the doctors allow you to - and take it all in, learning.
Occasionally, you're allowed to see to patients, just to do the preliminary workup and possibly deliver simple test results about bladder infections and pregnancies. So, when Nurse Jessica - she's one of your favourites - hands you a thin folder and sends you to Room 3 to deliver pregnancy test results, you go without question. You've just come from visiting the Paediatric floor and you're in a disgustingly good mood. Little kids tend to do that to you, sick or not. They're just so spirited and adorable.
You knock once on the door to Room 3 and push it open, revealing a tiny brunette woman, hunched over as she sits on the examination bed. Her head is bowed and she's swinging her legs in a steady, soothing rhythm. The woman - girl, maybe - doesn't look up until you're standing directly in front of her, and the sight of her large, doe-like eyes makes your breath catch. Just that one look expresses so much.
"Hi," you manage to say, annoyed at how breathy your voice comes out. You clear your throat, attempting to recover from the mental slap you've just been given at the obvious and almost painful beauty of… the patient. She's a patient, you remind yourself. "Uh, hello," you try again. "I'm Quinn."
The girl just stares at you as if she isn't seeing you, and you cautiously wave a hand in front of her face. It helps, because she seems to snap to attention and offers you a hasty apology and a tired smile. "I'm terribly sorry," she rushes, looking borderline distraught; "I must have spaced out for a bit there. I have a lot on my mind."
You just nod, understanding. "That's perfectly all right."
She eyes you quizzically. "Who are you?"
You blink, caught off guard by the sudden and urgent flutter in your chest at the intensity of her gaze. This hasn't happened since your junior year of Yale, and it feels so foreign. Dangerous and scary, but so nice. "Uh, my name is Quinn."
Her eyes roam down and then back up your body, taking you in, and you try not to squirm under her scrutiny. "Quinn," she repeats, as if she's testing it out, and it sounds almost musical to you. "Aren't you a little young to be a doctor?"
"I'm not a doctor," you say, and smile at the quirk of her eyebrows. "I'm a medical student."
She frowns at you, clearly confused. "Then, what are you doing here?"
"I work here."
She scrubs her face with her hands and breathes out. You take the opportunity to study her file, suddenly eager to learn her name. Rachel Berry. You can't resist the upturn of the side of your mouth. Rachel Berry. It's a great name, with good consonance. You can't help thinking it's a star's name.
"Am I dreaming?" she whispers, and you look up, expectant. Her eyes are unfocused, looking elsewhere; into some distant place in the future. "Tell me I'm dreaming."
She shakes her head, hopping off the bed and beginning to pace. You step back before she bowls you over and remain silent as she starts with her rant. "This has to be a dream," she says, waving her hands wildly. "I am not a nineteen-year-old, first-year, unmarried student, on the cusp of having all my dreams come true and pregnant," she says. "I mean, I've spent years working for this. Countless hours of rehearsal, daily slushy facials and dealing with prejudice every day. I can't be pregnant. We had sex once. Once. I'm not pregnant. I can't be. I'm dreaming. I have to be, because I didn't just come all the way to Columbia University Medical Centre for confirmation, just to be treated by the prettiest medical student I've ever seen, who's probably silently judging me."
All you can do is stare at her, until she suddenly turns to you, looking horrified.
"Oh, my God," she says, clamping a hand over her mouth. "I am so sorry."
"It's okay," you find yourself saying.
She shakes her head, her eyes pooling with tears. "No, it's not okay. I don't know what's come over me. I'm not usually like this. Well, I mean, I am, but you're just a lovely stranger and you don't deserve to be subjected to my rambling."
You set her file down on the counter and move towards her. Cautiously, you place a hand on the small of her back, guiding her back to the bed and doing your best to ignore the tingling in your palm where you're touching her. "Why don't you sit down," you suggest. "I imagine you're under a lot of stress right now and, believe me, there is absolutely no judgment here."
She laughs humourlessly, but allows you to help her back up onto the bed. She absently reaches for your free hand for leverage and the brief contact is enough to make you question everything you've ever known about life and love. This is different.
"Can I get you some water?" you offer, once she's safely resettled on the examination bed.
She looks at you, taking in your sincerity. "Please," she whispers, and you immediately move. You retrieve a cup from a cabinet and move to the basin, absently glancing over your shoulder at her. She's breathing slowly, calming herself, and it's fascinating. You fill the cup to halfway and turn back to her, surprised to find her staring at you.
"Is something wrong?" you ask, nervously walking back towards her and handing her the cup.
Her head tilts to the side as she sips the cool water. "How old are you?" she asks.
It's not an odd question, and it's definitely not unexpected. You get asked your age several times. You look young, but the shorter hair definitely helps. The children like it, particularly when you're outside with them in the wind, which is a bonus. "I'm twenty-three," you tell her.
She nods thoughtfully, biting her bottom lip. "And you're really a medical student?"
You nod. "I'm in my second year."
"I'm sorry," she says. "I probably shouldn't ask all these questions but, I figure, you know all this stuff about me right now, I should probably ask about you."
You manage a smile, and her eyes widen slightly, making the smile slip from your face. "Is something wrong?"
"No," she hastens to say, vaguely waving her free hand in the air. "I mean, besides the fact that my entire life might be over… everything is perfectly fine."
You step towards her, your body telling you to get closer. "Why do you think your entire life is over?" you ask.
"If I'm pregnant - " she starts, and you immediately interrupt her.
She gasps. "What?"
Slowly, you stretch for the folder behind you and open it, rechecking the blood tests to confirm your eyes weren't deceiving you when you first glanced at the page. "According to these results, you are not pregnant."
She blinks. "I'm not?"
"But - " she halts. "But, the stick said…" she trails off.
"They have been known to produce false positives," you tell her. "It's why they recommend visiting a doctor to be certain."
She breathes out. "I'm really not pregnant?"
"You're really not pregnant," you confirm.
She surprises you by letting out a shriek and launching herself at you, making you stumble backwards from the force of her hug. Her arms wrap around your neck and she squeezes you tightly enough to make you squeak. The sound surprises her because she releases you immediately, looking embarrassed. Her hand is on her chest, over heart. You think you can practically hear it beating; it must be thumping so hard.
"I am so sorry," she says. "I feel as if all I'm doing today is apologising to you. I'm just a total basket-case right now."
You shrug. "I don't think you're a basket-case," you say, trying to be reassuring. "I can't imagine facing the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy can be easy for anyone."
She must pick up on something in your voice because she raises her eyebrows in curiosity. "Why do I get the feeling you're speaking from experience?"
You risk a smile, and her eyes widen again, but you ignore it this time. "When I was sixteen, I thought I was pregnant," you admit to her. "It was a… difficult time for me, so I understand."
"God," she murmurs; "that must have been terrifying."
You drop your gaze. Why are you telling her any of this? It's painfully unprofessional. "So, no, you're not acting in any way that's not expected."
She sighs heavily, and slides back onto the bed. "I was just so… scared, you know?"
You do know, which is why you nod, and she keeps talking.
"I'm - I'm new to New York, and I'm studying, and every day is such a fight, and I can barely afford to live here," she continues, falling into her tale as if you've known each other for years. "I did something stupid. I mean, I've done a litany of stupid things this past year, but the biggest has to be sleeping with my ex-boyfriend when I went home for my teacher's wedding that didn't even end up happening. We were both a little drunk and I do still love him, most of the time, but I don't want to be with him anymore. I'm sure he'd make a good father but we're both so young and the last thing I want is to be tied down by a baby and Finn Hudson right now. I have so many plans that - " she stops suddenly, and looks at you incredulously. "Were you just going to let me keep going?"
"Probably," you say.
"It sounds like you need to talk about it," you offer. Then, bravely, you say: "and plus, I quite like the sound of your voice."
She quirks an eyebrow, and you feel the sudden shift in the air. It's almost charged. "You should hear me sing," she says, and your breath catches. Is that - is she flirting with you? Her eyes are impossibly big when she looks at you, her gaze equal parts critical and appraising. "I'm Rachel Berry, by the way."
"Hello, Rachel Berry," you say, stepping towards her. "It's nice to meet you."
"It probably would have been better under different circumstances."
"I think, as far as meet cutes go, this isn't the worst," you bravely say, absently wondering what's happening right now. Why are you suddenly standing so close to her? The tops of your thighs are practically touching her knees. Abort. Quinn, step back, dammit.
"It's not," she agrees, her gaze never once drifting away from yours. "I mean, you did just give me the best news I could receive today."
You open your mouth to respond, but the sudden opening of the door makes you jump back and a determined girl strides into the room, her eyes on Rachel.
"Jesus, Berry," the girl says, hotly and slightly irritatedly. "I told you to wait for me."
Rachel's eyes widen, and her face morphs into something akin to mortification. And then relief. She slides off the bed and flings her arms around the Latina woman, and your heart constricts in a way it definitely shouldn't. "Oh, Santana," Rachel says, her voice muffled by the other girl's neck. "I'm not pregnant."
Santana, hands on Rachel's hips, pulls back to look at her. "No bun in the oven?"
Rachel giggles, a happy smile on her face. "I'm not pregnant," she repeats.
"Oh, thank God," she says. "I would have killed the demon spawn of Finn Hudson and Rachel Berry, and I think I would have had to get line."
"As much as the thought of you killing any child I bear disturbs me, I am relieved I'm not pregnant."
"You and me both, Hobbit. We've got enough people living in our place anyway."
Rachel laughs fully now, and you melt a little. It's the loveliest sound you've ever heard, full of life and a certain joy that makes you, embarrassingly, believe in miracles. Gosh, you can be pathetic sometimes.
"We should celebrate by getting drunk," Santana says.
"Aren't you exhausted after your shift?" Rachel asks, and the fact that she's still in Santana's embrace makes you burn with something. It's doubtful they're together, but you can never know. Reading people hasn't always been your strongest suit. After all, it's what landed you here in New York, friendless and painfully single.
"For you, I think I can stay up a while," she says. "Come on, let's get out of here."
Rachel hesitates and glances over her shoulder at you, suddenly remembering you're in the room. Santana also looks at you for the first time, and the slow smile that spreads across her strong features is almost predatory.
"Well, hello there, blondie," Santana says, and Rachel slaps her forearm in admonishment. "What?" Santana asks, indignant. "Is she your doctor?"
You resist the urge to bristle at the nickname, and keep your expression blank.
Rachel finally releases Santana and takes a baby step towards you, cautious in her approach. "This is Quinn, Santana," she says. "She's a medical student, and she's the one who gave me the news."
Santana eyes you then, practically leering, and you shift uncomfortably. Women have looked at you before - men too, because how can they know you're not interested? - but Santana's gaze seems dangerous. Like, she would eat you if she could.
"Quinn," Santana says, and your name sounds different from her lips than it does from Rachel's. Rachels voice holds a certain gentleness, reverence when it wraps around you name, but Santana just says it. "I like."
You arch an eyebrow.
"Say, Quinn," Santana continues; "have you ever wondered what it's like to be with a woman?"
"Santana!" Rachel gasps, her eyes turning to you. "Oh, my God, Quinn, please just ignore her," she says hurriedly. "She literally has no filter or self-control. She's always been this way, and I've tried, believe me, but she's hopeless."
You smile at her because you can't help it, and you notice her eyes widen again. She does it every time you smile. You didn't think your teeth were that blinding. "It's okay," you tell Rachel, before turning your attention to Santana. You meet her gaze, unflinching. "And, in answer to your question, Santana," you say; "No."
"No?" she questions.
"I don't have to wonder what it's like," you clarify.
Her face splits into a grin after a beat as realisation dawns. "Well, well, well."
Rachel's eyes are on you, and your eyes are on her. You don't dare look away. How can you? She's one of the most beautiful girls you've ever seen, and you need her to know that, if she was flirting earlier, you're definitely not against it. In fact, you welcome it; crave it.
It's Santana who speaks again. "You should come celebrate with us," she says. "Right now."
Rachel comes to your rescue, sensing the sudden shift in your posture. "I'm sure she's working, Santana."
Santana's eyes are still on me. "Are you working, Quinn?"
Technically, you're not. You don't have to be here at all. You're here because you want to be, which really means you can leave whenever you want, and you want to leave with Rachel. You start to think you would go just about anywhere with her, if only she were to ask. "I am working," you say anyway, and you don't miss the way Rachel's shoulders sag. You almost smile, and hide it by glancing at your wristwatch. "But, if you give me twenty minutes, I'm sure I could weasel my way out of here."
Rachel visibly brightens and Santana nods in approval. You flash them both a smile, and usher them out of the room and into the waiting room. You fill out Rachel's file and return it to Nurse Jessica with a smile. She moves to hand you another one but you politely decline.
"I think I'm going to take off," you tell her.
"Hot date?" she asks.
Despite yourself, you blush as Rachel's face flashes in your mind.
She catches it and leans forward, expectant. "Ooh, tell me more."
You laugh lightly. "There's nothing to tell," you say, and it's the truth. "It's just drinks. I'm trying to make friends."
There's a moment when she looks sympathetic, but it's gone as soon as it appears. "Good for you, Quinn," she says, because she knows. She knows how you've struggled with exactly that since you moved to New York; since you discovered things about the person you loved that you sometimes wished you didn't but knew you had to.
"See you tomorrow," you say to her, spin on your heel and head towards the locker rooms to change and pick up your bag. There's a certain attire you're required to wear in the hospital but you wouldn't be caught wearing professional blouses and slacks outside these four walls. Sometimes, you just wear the pale scrubs, which is probably one of the best parts of this 'job,' besides the patients and the pride.
Today, you change into a pair of skinny jeans, a dark green blouse that you tuck into your waistband and your favourite black boots. You spend a few minutes in front of the mirror fluffing your hair and fixing your makeup. One of the interns you sometimes work with, Celeste, comes into the locker room and eyes you approvingly. You look hot.
You do look hot, and both Rachel and Santana's reactions when you finally emerge are enough to make sure you know it. The way they stare makes you feel slightly uncomfortable, but Rachel snaps out of it quickly. "You look great," she says, smiling at you in a way that makes your heart skip a beat. She's glorious, and you could probably stare at her for the rest of your life.
"Thanks," you say, ducking your head to hide your blush.
"I didn't know those scrubs were hiding such a smokin' hot body," Santana says, and you blush that bit more.
Rachel steps towards you, that steady smile on her face, and it just reaffirms the truth that you'd probably follow her into oblivion if she were to request it. "Come on," she says, and you immediately start moving. As you walk, and then catch the subway, she talks to you about the strangest things, ranging from superstar that is Barbra Streisand all the way to how best to make sure you have the complete Super Bowl experience. Santana remains suspiciously quiet, and you listen to Rachel as best you can.
Apparently, you're all going to their apartment to drink. You're forced to remember they're actually underage, and you offer to pick up the booze. As a future healthcare professional, you try not to think about the implications of encouraging their drinking but you reason they would find a way to do it with or without you, so what's the harm?
"There's a liquor store nearby," Santana tells you, and you make a stop there, flashing your ID. Lucy Quinn Fabray, Rachel sees, and smiles at you.
"Dr Fabray," she teases, her pupils slightly dilated, and you've never wanted to kiss anyone as much as you want to kiss her. There's a large part of you that's wary of it - you've been burned before - but you vowed to try. "Why don't you call yourself Lucy?" she asks.
"It's a long story," you say; "I'll tell you one day." It's a promise; one for the future, and her eyes brighten at your declaration. She really has some of the most expressive eyes and, if you're not careful, they'll draw you in until she's under your skin.
From the liquor story, Rachel links her arm with yours as Santana walks in front of you both, talking to someone on the phone. The Latina is pouting, her features softer than you've seen in the short time you've known her. Rachel explains it all with a slightly wistful expression on her face. "Her girlfriend is back home," she says. "They're on a break until she can follow us to New York after she graduates, and Brittany - that's her name - is dating one of the boys from our Glee Club."
You raise your eyebrows. "Glee Club?"
She blushes. "It probably sounds lame but we were actually rather good."
"I'm inclined to believe you."
"I'll confirm it for you when you hear me sing," she says, and she must be flirting with you. It's the only explanation. She's being too nice, or is she just a friendly person? The fact she's been with a boy recently enough to be worried about being pregnant shouldn't mean anything. Bisexuality is a thing, though the practice of it can be confusing to you. It's like religion, you think, fighting an amused smile.
"Rachel," you say, even as she slows her steps as you approach a building. It's an ugly thing, and the neighbourhood isn't that great, but she's beaming at you because this is her home that she built, and you school your features.
"Yes, Quinn," she says.
"I'm not your doctor," you tell her, causing her brow to furrow. "Which means I fully expect to be kissed by the end of this evening."
Her eyes widen, almost comically, and then she breathes out. "By me?" she asks, and there's a certain glint in her eye that tells you that you're definitely in for it with this one. There's a mixture of trepidation and fierceness, and you don't miss her nervous flick Santana's way.
"Only you," you assure here, and you're unafraid to go for it. You've found that making your intentions clear from the very beginning helps in the long run. You try not to think about those times you've read a girl wrong and ended up… disappointed. "Santana may be hot, but she's not the one who's grabbed my attention," you say, serious and unwavering. "I'm interested in you."
Rachel seems to skip a step at the sound of your words, and it's only the grip on your arm that stops her from tumbling onto the concrete. Maybe she's not used to people being so direct with her. "Okay," she eventually says, and that's that about that, apparently.
You get to their place shortly after and you try not to show how nervous you are. They have another roommate: Kurt, who gushes at your coat and compliments your hair. He's obviously gay, and you wonder if having a fluid sexual orientation is a requirement to be able to live here.
"Quinn bought us booze," Santana declares, and Kurt shoots you a grateful look. "We're celebrating!"
"We are?" he questions. "What are we celebrating?"
"Berry's not pregnant!"
His head whips to the side, eyes on Rachel. "What is she talking about?" he asks, accusingly. "Pregnant? You could have been pregnant? Rachel?"
The brunette tenses at your side, and you resist the urge to put an arm around her; to protect her in some way. "It was just a scare," she says. "Quinn has assured me I am not with child."
Kurt looks at you. "I'm so confused?"
"I work at the hospital," you say, and he nods in understanding.
Kurt's eyes are back on Rachel. "Brody's?" he asks, and she shakes her head. "Finn's?"
"Good God, Rachel," he says, before he lets out a long-suffering sigh. "No wonder we need to drink. The two of you are the last people who need to be bringing poor, unsuspecting children into the world right now." He huffs in annoyance. "I mean, I thought we were focusing on girls now."
Rachel risks a glance at you, nibbling on her bottom lip. "We are," she says, and your heart starts to beat double-time.
Kurt almost does a spit-take. "Oh?"
Rachel nods once, fully turns to look at you and smiles. "Would you like a tour?"
Of course, you nod, and she slips her hand into yours, pulling you further into the open space. It's actually warehouse space and each room is sectioned off with fabric rather than walls, save for the bathroom. That's a relief, you suppose. You heat up when she drags you into her bedroom.
"I'm sorry it's such a mess right now," she says, nervously chewing on her bottom lip. "I haven't really been focused on much else."
You smile at her, enjoying the shiftiness in her eyes, as if she's doing a mental calculation of just how messy her room is. You really don't care because you aren't even looking at her room. You're looking at her, and you're liking what you're seeing. She seems to notice you haven't looked away from her, and she blushes.
"Quinn," she says, and you close your eyes at the sound of your name slipping past her perfect, pouty lips. You want to know what those lips feel like against yours, or against other parts of your body. "I still don't know as much about you as you know about me."
"Rachel," you say, and you love the way it feels to say her name. "We should probably rectify that."
She closes the gap between the two of you, her intentions clear, but Santana's shout from the living area startles you both. "Oi, you two, stop getting your mack on, we're trying to drink here!"
Rachel giggles, reaches for both your hands and presses her lips to your cheek. You try not to die. "We should get out there," she murmurs; "before, you know, she comes in here." She tugs on your hands, and you're so tempted to hold her back and just kiss her, but you don't. This girl is special. How, or in what way, you still don't know, but you just know she's going to change your life. So, there's no rush. You can take your time. You both can. Which is why you let her lead you back out of the bedroom.
Kurt has retrieved glasses from the kitchen, and the four of you settle on the mismatched furniture as Santana pours the wine.
"We'll do shots later," she declares, handing you a glass and winking roguishly. "Why do I get the feeling you'd be a handsy drunk?"
Rachel shifts closer to you, almost subconsciously, and you smile to yourself before you respond. "I'm more of a philosophical drunk," you inform her.
She rolls her eyes. "Boring."
Once everyone has a drink, Kurt turns to you. "Quinn," he says, rolling the name off his tongue. "It's a cool name."
"Thank you," you say, and wait for Rachel to mention it's actually your middle name, but she's silent as she slowly sips at her wine.
"Are you a nurse?"
You blink. "Umm, no."
"Sorry," he says, noting your surprise. "It's just, you said you work at the hospital, and you're obviously too young to be a doctor, so I just assumed..."
"Medical student," you tell him. "I volunteer in the ER and free clinic when I'm not buried in books and trying to get into the OR."
He nods approvingly.
"What do you three do?" you ask, almost desperate to get the attention off you.
Kurt answers for all of them. "Well, Rachel and I study at NYADA," he says, and you look at Rachel, smiling widely. That's why she wants you to hear her sing. "And this one here is a freeloader."
"Hey," Santana complains, gulping at her wine. "I work hard to pay my share of the rent."
Kurt shakes his head, absently rolling his eyes. "We're all performers," he says. "We were in Glee Club in high school together, and now we're here trying to make it happen, right from the backward town of Lima, Ohio."
Your eyes widen. "You're from Ohio?"
Kurt laughs. "We are," he says. "You too?"
You nod. "We lived in Bellevue until we moved to Columbus before my freshman year of high school. Did you say Lima?"
You laugh. "That's amazing," you say. "When my father first received his transfer orders, that was our initial destination," you explain. "But then he landed a big client just before we were scheduled to move and they took him to the big city instead." You shake your head in disbelief. "I mean, I'm older than you but we could have all met before today."
"It's fate," Rachel says, though her eyes remain locked on the glass in her hand.
You think it is fate because, really, if your day had gone the way you'd originally planned, you wouldn't have even been at the clinic today, and you never would have met Rachel Berry. You normally have a study group meeting on Thursday evenings and, if Jason hadn't texted to cancel, citing a poetry reading they all wanted to go to... You're also relieved you declined the offer to join them. You know it would have been awkward for everyone if you decided to go. But now you're here, with Rachel, and fate has finally decided to play a role in determining your future.
"So, Quinn, where do you live?" Kurt asks, his eyes curious. He's the one asking all the questions of you, and you think Rachel appreciates the opportunity to learn about you without having to be the one who pries. She's sitting really close to you now, practically leaning on you. She's warm and present and she smells like strawberries, and you're having to physically restrain yourself from leaning towards her and burying your face in her hair.
"Bloomingdale," you tell them.
"Wow," Kurt says. "Is the rent as ridiculous as I think it is?"
Rachel throws a cushion at him. "Kurt!"
You chuckle. "It probably is," you say, vowing to tell the truth. "But I don't rent."
His eyes widen. "Oh?"
You nod. "It's amazing what you can have guilty parents do for you," you say, and that's an entire can of worms you do not want to open right now. "They're divorced," is all you offer, because it's the easiest explanation. There's no point mentioning that they're trying to bribe you back to heterosexuality.
"Ah," Kurt says with a slight nod. "Sorry."
You shrug, and Rachel reaches for your hand, squeezing it gently. She doesn't let go. That's a beat of silence before Santana breaks it. "I think we should go to Q's place," she says, hiccupping. "Right now."
Rachel rolls her eyes. "We're not doing that," she says, and then turns to look at you. "She's just restless. She's horny and she probably thinks you have a roommate."
"I don't have a roommate," you tell her, unable to keep the bitterness out of you voice. Rachel seems to be the only one who's noticed. "She ended up staying back in New Haven."
"New Haven?" Kurt asks.
"Oh, I did my Undergrad at Yale."
"Jesus," Santana says, pouring herself more wine. "Berry, where did you find this freaking unicorn?"
Rachel giggles, and snuggles into your side. Is she a clingy drunk? I mean, she's barely had a glass of wine. She can't be drunk yet. Not that you're complaining. It feels as if she's touching you everywhere, even though your highly logical brain knows that's impossible. Well, it hasn't been proven yet. You're definitely willing to test that theory, if she felt so inclined.
Kurt asks questions about Yale, and you answer as best you can, carefully avoiding your brief fling with a professor your freshman year and the resounding disaster that was your roommate. Santana seems to pick up on it and, as if she were sent from Hell itself, she asks the question.
"Okay, what's the story with you and the roommate?" she asks, and you stiffen.
Rachel notices, and runs a soothing hand over the exposed skin of your forearm. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to," she assures you, her words and her warmth practically embracing you. She's lovely; she truly is.
"No, it's okay," you say, because it is. If these people are going to be your friends, then it's okay if they know. "I was late to the gay party," you admit. "Startlingly late. Junior year of college to be exact, and I panicked."
They nod in sympathy.
"My roommate, Julia, she was my first... everything. With a girl, at least. My entire life, I've been raised to think one way, and then everything just changed. I'm a religious person, which made my own acceptance even more frightening, but I eventually worked through it. I - I don't exactly see eye to eye about it with my parents. They believe it's temporary, and I'm going to end up returning home, opening a private practice, and getting married to my high school sweetheart and having his many babies." You sigh heavily. "Anyway, Jules - Julia - and I made plans for after graduation. I don't know if it's a conscious trait of mine or not, but I'm supposedly very cold, closed-off and unfeeling. I'm an emotionless robot and not worth telling that you don't intend to follow through with those plans until the night before we're supposed to leave."
Rachel's grip tightens on my hand, and Kurt shakes his head in mild disgust. Santana clicks her tongue. "What a bitch."
"I try not to blame her," you say, your voice annoyingly small. "I must have done something."
"It's no excuse," Rachel says hotly, her voice almost cracking. "If she didn't want to be with you, she could have just told you. Why did she wait so long? She just derailed everything."
You smile at her, grateful. "I wouldn't call it a derailment, exactly," you say, your gaze meeting hers in a significant way. "I'm here, am I not?"
She blushes madly, but refuses to look away.
Santana makes a gagging sound, and then shouts: "We're doing shots! Tequila!"
You may be the oldest, but you're definitely not the best at holding your liquor. In fact, Santana is, and she's a hilarious drunk... when she's not crying about Brittany. You try not to indulge too much because you want to make a good impression on Rachel, and you're going to have to go home eventually. You have to remember that these are strangers, after all. Even so, you can't shake the feeling that you were meant to be here. Some day, somehow, you were going to meet them. You were going to cross paths with Rachel, and you were going to stay.
When Kurt and Santana start up a debate about whether or not someone named Mr Shoe (Hmm?) and Miss Pillsbury will have children with butt chins if they finally get it together and get married, Rachel turns to you with glassy, somewhat glazed eyes. "Do you want to go to my room?" she asks. "I believe you have things to tell me."
"So do you," you say, swallowing your nerves.
Her eyes track the movement of your throat, and they flare with something. It's enough to prompt you to rise to your feet and help her to hers. The two of you are ignored by the other two occupants, and you stumble to her bedroom, hands clasped. Her fingers are warm in yours, gentle and unassuming. You've never felt like this about anybody. Not even Jules. Especially not Jules. It never felt as easy as this with her, and that could have been your youth and inexperience, but you allow yourself to accept that you probably just weren't that compatible.
Rachel pulls you onto her bed with her, and you lie on your sides, facing each other. It offers you the chance to look at her face, unobstructed, and just bask in her light. It amazes you that this strange and beautiful creature even exists. She starts speaking first, telling you things about her childhood, her two gay fathers, her mother, her life in high school and a boy by the name of Finn Hudson... who she admits to almost marrying. At your wide eyes, she giggles and shifts closer to you, smiling knowingly.
"Don't worry," she says; "I came to my senses eventually."
There's more story there, you're sure, but you don't ask. She tells you.
"It's around the same time I started viewing... girls differently," she admits, and you nod in understanding. "I just couldn't go through with it after that."
It's your turn now, so you start when you were young. You were brought up painfully Catholic, and you wanted to be just like your older sister. You were Lucy for so long, and you were ridiculed for it. She hugs you then, wrapping her arms around you and burying her face in the crook of your neck. It's as if she knows what it's like and, based on her stories about high school, you imagine she does. You tell her about deciding to become Quinn when you moved to Columbus, and she presses a soothing kiss against your pulse point.
You sigh, absently wondering why this girl is managing to do this to you. You've never done this before: been so open and true.
"You are so beautiful," she whispers against your skin.
You hug her tightly, breathing her in. She really smells like strawberries and it washes over you in the most glorious way. You tell her about your high school experience, guiltily admitting to being a selfish bitch. She tenses when you mention being at the top of the social hierarchy as head cheerleader, but you can tell she doesn't hold it against you. You managed to get out. You managed to escape that person you forced yourself to be, and she understands that.
You tell her about the car accident that changed your life. You tell her about learning to walk again and seeing the healthcare system work, which inspired you in a way you didn't even know you could be inspired. In silence, she goes looking for your scars, lifting your blouse and trailing her fingers over the lines over your ribs. She kisses the scar from your chest tube, and you shiver.
You tell her about Yale; about finding yourself and how you learned to love your roommate in one of those dangerous, all-consuming ways. Jules is to you what Finn is to her, and you just know that you've both left those anchors behind. Right now, in this moment, you're starting something, and this is a girl you're going to grow with.
You don't tell her about your parents, or your trust fund or how terrified you've been about putting yourself out there since Jules. You don't mention that you'll probably never be able to take her home to meet your parents, and you don't tell her that your career is your number one priority right now. All of that can come later. You have time. You're sure of it.
Maybe Rachel realises that too, because she trails her lips along your jaw, paving the way to your lips, and eventually kisses you. It's a perfect kiss, slow and steady, and your eyes close and you breathe her in. She's smiling when you pull back, looking particularly dazed. It's just the beginning.
"I am so glad you aren't pregnant," you murmur, returning her smile.
You kiss her again, and she kisses you back, and some distant part of brain tells you that this is truly it. You've finally found what you've been waiting for; what you've been searching for.
You've finally found your future.
The next time Rachel Berry comes to you for a pregnancy test, you're not students anymore and you're both happily married - you have been for a few years now. This pregnancy scare is planned and expected, and you've never been more excited for a confirmation of blood results in your entire life.
A young intern delivers the results and you sit behind your desk with Rachel in your lap, her arms around your neck and her fingers threading through your habitually short hair. As a paediatric fellow, you've learned that your patients absolutely love it this way, especially when you've just come in from the wind.
"Why are we doing this again?" you ask, suddenly nervous as you hold her waist in a loose grip.
"Home-Pregnancy tests have been known to produce false positives," she teases, echoing your words from the first time you met. It feels like a lifetime ago, both of you just starting out even if you were in such different points in your life. Somehow, you've made it work. She's stuck with you through all the crazy hospital hours and the horror of losing your patients, and you've powered through her many shows and the ups and downs of having a diva for a girlfriend... and eventual wife. "It's why they recommend visiting a doctor to be certain," she says.
You roll your eyes. "If I recall correctly, you do have a gynaecologist," you say.
She bristles. "Quinn, I don't want to find out from anyone other than you whether we're pregnant," she says. "I want you to give me the best news in the entire world. So, can you stop stalling and just check if our lives are about to change for the better already? I'm an impatient woman, and I suddenly really need to pee. Also, I'm pretty sure I'm crazy horny, and I need you - "
Her mouth snaps shut.
Slowly, you lift the test results from your desk and open them. Both of you stare at the page, and you sit in silence.
"Quinn, what does it say?" she questions. "Quinn, what does it say? Are we pregnant? Are we having a baby?" She turns to look at you, incredulous. "I don't understand what the page is saying, Dr Fabray," she hisses, taking your face in her hands. "Tell me what the results are, or I swear I'm withholding sex until I'm pregnant."
You arch an eyebrow. "Well, if that's the case, you should probably get naked pretty fast, and do me right here, right now."
Her mouth opens on a gasp, and her eyes widen in surprise. "We're pregnant?"
"We're pregnant," you confirm.
She kisses you, hard and bruising, and you momentarily forget your own name. And hers. And the name of the puppy you begrudgingly agreed to adopt three years ago.
"I am so glad you are pregnant," you murmur against her lips.
You kiss her again, and she kisses you back, and some distant part of brain tells you that you're finally living it.
This is your future.