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This, I Promise You

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Disclaimer: I, by no means, claim to own anything remotely related to the Glee Universe. No copyright infringement intended.


i. lately, i've been thinking. i want you to be happier.

 

It starts the night after Quinn Fabray's twenty-third birthday.

Quinn Fabray, who happens to be Rachel Berry's actual, bona fide best friend.

Sometimes, Rachel has to stop and look at her own life to convince herself that her high school tormentor is now the first person on her Speed Dial.

Really.

Rachel tells things to Quinn before she even tells either of her fathers, which is a truth all four of them have come to accept in the years the girls have managed to rebuild a relationship that was never quite given a chance.

They're best friends.

That's what they are.

Rachel wouldn't do anything to change that.

She just doesn't anticipate that Quinn would.

 

So, it's late when Rachel gets home from the theatre on that very specific Saturday night in February, but that's never mattered to Quinn Fabray. It's probably Rachel's favourite part of the day, just being able to come home after performing her heart out on stage to find her best friend waiting for her.

And Quinn is waiting for her.

She might be reading a book, writing a paper for one of her classes or even watching a Netflix documentary, but the truth - whether it's acknowledged or not - is that Quinn waits for her, every night, without fail. Even when Rachel has to attend cast parties, she comes home to find her precious blonde asleep on the couch, looking peaceful and utterly adorable.

They live together in New York now, along with Santana and Brittany. Well, the four of them share a three-bedroom apartment. They decided, when Quinn got accepted at Columbia for her postgraduate studies and Brittany decided she wanted only to dance, that they would all find a place together. Kurt and Blaine also share a two-bedroom apartment with Noah in the same building as the girls. They all wanted to be close to one another, particularly when Santana, Rachel and Kurt spent so many years living together during their undergraduate years, before significant others and best friends took preference.

Tonight, though, when Rachel gets home, she finds Quinn sitting perfectly still on the couch, draped in a light throw blanket, and her gaze focused determinedly forward. She isn't reading or typing or watching television. She's just sitting there, and Rachel feels the first inkling that something is wrong.

Rachel's own apprehension must be clear to see in her features because Quinn manages to smile at her in reassurance.

"Hey, Rach," she says, her voice oddly somber. "How was the show?"

Rachel very carefully hangs her coat up and removes her scarf as she moves to sit beside Quinn on the couch. There's minimal space between them, which isn't anything new, but Rachel doesn't miss the way Quinn tenses when her knee brushes hers.

Furrowing her brow, Rachel asks, "Is something wrong, Quinn?"

Quinn blinks slowly, as if she's unsure what exactly Rachel's asking of her. "Hmm?"

Slowly, Rachel reaches out to touch her, resting her hand on Quinn's forearm. "Are you okay?"

Quinn stares down at Rachel's hand for a moment, swallows audibly, and then manages to nod her head. "I'm okay," she assures her friend. "I just - " she stops, frowning slightly. "Scott and I broke up."

Rachel's surprise manifests in the narrowing of her eyes and the pursing of her lips. "Oh," she says, suddenly unsure what to say or do. They might be the best of friends now, but there's always been a certain 'awkwardness' whenever it comes to either one of them and their respective boys.

Their history with relationships kind of sees to that.

"Are you okay?" Rachel finds herself asking - again. What else is she supposed to say?

Quinn nods again, looking more sure. "I am," she says. "It was time."

"Did - did something happen?" Rachel asks, her hand sliding along Quinn's forearm, trying to offer some kind of comfort, even though it seems Quinn doesn't seem to need it.

Quinn shifts slightly, sitting back against the couch and pulling Rachel with her until the brunette is practically leaning against her, cradled against her side. The two of them have never been shy about physical contact, but Rachel feels something different in this moment.

She can't explain it.

Quinn wants her close, but positioned so she's not looking at her when she speaks.

"I just turned twenty-three," Quinn starts, and it's as if she's talking to herself. "Yesterday, at the birthday dinner, I just looked over at Scott, and I couldn't see my future." She clears her throat. "Does that make sense?"

Rachel bites the inside of her cheek in thought. "I think so," she says. "It didn't feel like it was going to last?"

Quinn nods. "Something like that, yeah," she says. "I think I knew that from the very beginning, though."

"But you two dated for, umm, four months?"

Quinn shrugs, unable or unwilling to explain.

"Why?"

"To pass the time," she offers. "He's nice, and he's hot."

Rachel giggles softly.

"I don't know," Quinn finally admits. "I thought I got all my bad decisions out of my system in high school and Undergrad. I thought I was finally at a point in my life where I was fully accepting of exactly who I am and what I want to be." Her voice cracks, and Rachel turns her head to study her face.

"Quinn?" she whispers, her eyes tracing the blonde's familiar profile. There's something different, though. There's a… distinct lack of tension, as if she's finally breathing.

She looks free, but there's still an undeniable anxiousness in her features.

"I'm not a good person," Quinn says, refusing to look at Rachel, even though she can feel the girl's eyes on her. She can even feel her soft breaths on her skin. "I can be ruthless and selfish, and just plain cruel."

"I know," Rachel tries to joke, but it falls flat.

Quinn looks at her now, and her hazel eyes are darker than Rachel's ever seen. "I'm not a good person, Rachel," she says again, as if she's managed to convince herself of it just be repeating the words. "I want things that I can't have, and I've been fighting with myself not to just take."

Rachel frowns, not quite following what Quinn is trying to tell her. "Is - is this supposed to change what I think about you?" she cautiously asks. "Because, I think I've proven time and time again that I don't care about any of that. I know you, Quinn, and I love you, regardless."

Quinn lets out a puff of air that hits Rachel's face, and they both smile. Tentatively, Quinn reaches out with one hand and tucks a lock of hair behind Rachel's ear. "Do you really mean that?" she whispers, her eyes searching Rachel's face for some truth.

"Of course."

Quinn's fingers linger, and she presses her palm to Rachel's warm cheek. "There's nothing I could do that you wouldn't be able to forgive?"

Rachel unconsciously leans into the touch. "Well, I think murder is a hard sell," she says, trying to lighten the atmosphere.

Quinn just smiles sadly, and then drops her hand.

"Quinn?"

The blonde chuckles darkly. "You're either truly very special, or just alarmingly naive," she says.

Rachel feels the sting, and pouts. "What's going on?"

Quinn sucks in a deep breath, her eyes meeting Rachel's. For a moment, they just stare at each other, and Rachel actually sees the war going on behind Quinn's deep hazel eyes. It goes on for a full minute, and Rachel can't bring herself to look away. They're close enough that she would have to turn fully away to get respite from the penetrating gaze, but she really doesn't want to do that.

"Quinn," Rachel whispers, needing something.

An excuse for this strange behaviour.

The truth.

Just, something.

Rachel reaches for Quinn's hand and holds it between both of her own. "It's okay," she says. "You can tell me. Everything is going to be okay."

Quinn shakes her head. "You can't know that."

"Of course, I do," she counters immediately. "I'm Rachel Berry. Whatever I say is gold. You know that."

Quinn doesn't so much as crack a smile. She doesn't even do that half-smirk thing she does when she's trying not to give in to Rachel's particular brand of humour, and that's enough for Rachel to know this is serious.

"Everything is going to be okay," Rachel repeats, needing to say it as much as Quinn needs to hear it.

Quinn blinks. "Promise?" she asks, her voice tiny.

"I promise."

"You'll forgive me?"

"Yes."

"You'll still love me?"

"Nothing could ever change that," she says. The words are simple and easy, which is nothing like what happens immediately after she says them.

There's just a beat of silence, during which Quinn's hand slides to Rachel's waist and hazel eyes meet chestnut brown, asking a question neither one of them knows the words to. It's just a beat when Rachel's breath catches, and her head tilts upwards slightly.

Which, she realises belatedly, is entirely the wrong thing to do.

Because, then, Quinn is kissing her.

Quinn is actually kissing her, and all Rachel can do is sit there, frozen in shock and what on earth is happening? Her eyes are wide as she just stares at closed, perfect eyelashes and flushed, pale skin. Quinn's lips are soft and warm as they move, slowly, tenderly, hesitantly.

Rachel can't bring herself to do anything.

Until she just does.

"Quinn," she whimpers, closing her eyes in panic as she lifts her hands to Quinn's shoulders and shoves the blonde girl away.

Quinn's back hits the end of the couch, her facial expression a mixture of surprise and confusion.

Three things flash through Rachel's mind in that moment, her eyes trained on Quinn's heaving chest. Her own heart is thumping wildly in her chest, and she just knows it's five seconds away from breaking.

Firstly, Quinn is her best friend.

Secondly, Quinn is not gay.

And, thirdly, Rachel has a boyfriend.

"Quinn," she tries again, her voice strangled. "What - you're not - I have - we're best friends."

It's perhaps, maybe, the wrong thing - is there really a right thing in this situation? - to say in this moment because Quinn absolutely just… shatters.

Right before her eyes.

The surprise and confusion give way to complete and utter devastation that she's too slow to cover up. It explodes behind her eyes, and Rachel actually flinches. The mask takes too long to slip on, and Rachel sees it. She sees it, and she just knows it's a look that's going to haunt her for the rest of her life.

"I thought - " Quinn starts to say, and stops. "You said - " For a moment, all words fail her, and then the abject horror and sheer mortification of what's happening sink in. "Oh, God," she cries, a hand covering her mouth as tears pool in her eyes.

"Quinn," Rachel rushes, needing to say… something. "I - " and that's about all she gets out because the mask is now fully in place and Quinn Fabray, her lovely adoring best friend who waits up for her every night without fail, is gone.

Quinn just shakes her head, freezing time, as she rises to her feet.

Rachel knows she has to say something.

She has to.

She has to reach out and stop her.

She has to do something before this is irreparable.

There's no coming back from this if Rachel doesn't do something now.

But she can't bring herself to move, and all she does is watch Quinn leave the room. There's no elegance in her usually-graceful footsteps. It's as if she's trying not to rush, when all she wants is to flee.

Soon enough, Quinn is out of sight, and Rachel is left staring at nothing, just knowing she's not only broken Quinn's heart, but her own as well.


ii. my body is aching tonight. your heart is breaking inside.

 

Rachel feels it when she wakes the next morning. She suffered through a painful, restless sleep, her nightmares fuelled by that pained look in Quinn's eyes. She's seen Quinn go through many, many things, but that look is something new, and Rachel hates herself for putting it there.

But she also hates Quinn a little bit, too.

None of this would be happening if Quinn hadn't kissed her.

Quinn kissed her.

What was the blonde thinking?

Where does she get off thinking she can just go around just kissing people?

In a distant part of her mind, Rachel is forced to acknowledge that Quinn did ask the silent question. It was just a moment, and Rachel remembers the question but not her answer.

So, Rachel wakes the next morning and feels it so acutely that she can barely breathe. When she lumbers out of bed, irritable and aching, she goes straight to Quinn's bedroom. It's part of their morning routine. Whoever wakes first goes to make sure the other is up - which, these days, is usually Quinn. It's just one of many things they do for each other on a daily basis.

Rachel comes to a stop in front of Quinn's bedroom door and, before she can even think to lift her hand and knock - she usually just bursts inside - her stance falters. She can't just go in there. Not after what happened the previous night, and definitely not dressed like -

Rachel looks down at herself, visibly grimacing at the sight before her. She takes an involuntary step back, jerking slightly.

This is all so wrong.

Everything is just wrong.

"You just missed her," a voice says, and Rachel's head snaps to the side to see Santana standing in front of the closed door of the bedroom she shares with Brittany. "Q left about ten minutes ago."

Rachel blinks; whether in surprise or in confusion, neither brunette knows. "Oh."

"Said something about a paper or a meeting or something," Santana explains with a casual wave of her hand and a large yawn. "Fuck if I was listening."

Rachel just about manages a smile, but it doesn't quite reach her eyes.

Despite the early hour, Santana catches onto her melancholy, and her brow furrows. "You okay?"

Rachel finds herself nodding. "Of course," she lies. "Just a little tired. I didn't sleep well."

Santana glances over her shoulder at the clock on the wall in their living room. "Well, by my stellar calculations, you still have several hours before you have to be at the theatre. Sort your face out, Berry. You look like shit."

Rachel feels like shit, which is just made worse by the truth that Quinn is avoiding her. It's not as if she blames the blonde for that, but it still hurts. They obviously need to talk about this, and she's determined to do it as soon as possible.

 

Rachel just doesn't anticipate Quinn being so good at this whole avoidance thing. They live together, for goodness' sake. It shouldn't be that hard to get her alone long enough to talk.

Because they have to.

They really, really need to.

Rachel is a complete and utter mess without Quinn. As soon as the blonde removes herself from Rachel's everyday life, the brunette is forced to acknowledge just how interlinked the two of them actually are. Without Quinn blowing up her phone - because Quinn is the one who always sends the first text, which is usually a reminder to eat breakfast - Rachel finds her fingers twitching. Without Quinn waiting up for her with vegan ice cream or a cup of tea, Rachel comes home to a quiet apartment.

And, it isn't as if Rachel hasn't tried.

Between warring with herself over whether to push for communication or allow the avoidance - there's a small part of her that finds comfort in not dealing with the fact her best friend kissed her - Rachel constantly knocks on Quinn's door and sends her endless messages.

Quinn, predictably, doesn't respond to texts or answer the phone. She also doesn't open her bedroom door, even when Rachel is sure she's inside. The mere fact that Rachel wants to keep their 'situation' quiet is the only reason she doesn't break down the door in a diva tantrum.

They're broken, and Rachel doesn't know how to fix them.

 

The days pass slowly, and Rachel is sufficiently distracted by her shows and her boyfriend. She tries to give him her full attention during their Valentine's Day dinner - which is really three days after the actual day, because of scheduling conflicts - but it's obvious that Jesse St James notices she's not fully present. She's not acting like herself, and she hates that she can't pretend enough for him not to notice.

She's supposed to be a better actress than this.

"Something on your mind?" Jesse asks, sitting across from her in a rather fancy restaurant, with a curious expression on his face. The last few days have been… strange between them. He doesn't put too much stock into it, but the two of them haven't had sex in ten days, and that's… odd for them. He knows their relationship isn't only physical, but it's the kind of intimacy they're the best at.

It's the only time she surrenders to him.

Breathing a sigh, Rachel sips at her wine, contemplating what she can say. It isn't as if she can just tell him Quinn kissed her. She can still hardly believe it herself, and she's not about to voice it aloud to her boyfriend.

Rachel and Jesse are in the midst of trying an actual relationship again, and there's a sense of 'destiny' attached to their relationship. An almost… inevitability. They're 'almost high school sweethearts,' and she's holding onto that notion very firmly.

She can look across the table at him and see her future.

It's a future she wants.

It's a future she's always wanted.

Jesse is good for her.

He's good to her.

He's grown from his… younger self, and it seems that Rachel is constantly being kissed by reformed tormentors.

All she needs is for Santana and Dave Karofsky to get in line, and she'll have an entire set.

"Rachel?" Jesse prompts, shooting her a look that's a mixture of concern and annoyance. "You're not here with me, are you?"

Rachel has the decency to look guilty. "Sorry," she says, and she means it. "I just - " she stops, unsure what she's supposed to say. "It's just, well, Quinn and I had a fight."

Jesse frowns. "You're… sulking because of Fabray?"

Rachel scowls at him.

She knows Jesse doesn't really like her friendship with Quinn, and Quinn doesn't like him - though, that makes a lot more sense now, she supposes - but she hates it when he says Quinn's name with that tone of voice. Quinn is her best friend. She's the most important person in her life, and he would do well to remember that.

"We had a fight, Jesse," she says tensely.

"But you two fight all the time," he counters, still annoyed.

"This time is different," she says, and that's the understatement of the century. "It was a big one. She hasn't spoken to me in a week, and I don't know what to do."

Jesse sighs in exasperation. "This is absolutely the last thing I want to be talking about," he says petulantly, and then rolls his eyes. "But you obviously need to, so have at it. Talk to Dr St James, and maybe we can diagnose this non-problem and then get back to what is supposed to be a very lovely, romantic date in Manhattan."

Rachel should feel guilty, but she's more irritated at his assumption that she should be feeling it. "If you're going to be like that about it, I'm just going to go home," she says, huffing. "I'm not asking you to do me any favours."

He sighs again, mumbles something under his breath, and then leans forward. "I'm sorry," he says, slightly contrite. "You're right. Seriously. You know you can talk to me."

Rachel doesn't actually know that. The person she usually talks to about these things is Quinn, and she doesn't really know how to open up to other people the same way she does with her blonde best friend.

That says something, she's sure, but she's not going to study that too closely. There's already more than enough through which to work.

"It was a big fight, Jesse," she says again.

He runs a hand through his hair. "Okay," he says. "I mean, you two do fight a lot. Don't throw something at me. I'm just saying that the two of you have already been through so much already, right? Some truly difficult stuff."

Rachel appreciates that he doesn't actually mention the bullying or the boyfriend stealing or Shelby or Beth or the cheating or the non-wedding or the wheelchair or Finn -

They've definitely been through a lot.

Jesse nods his head slowly. "So, I think it remains within reason that whatever you're 'fighting' about right now might not even be that big," he offers. "If you've managed to work through all of that, then you should be able to work through whatever this is. You just have to find a way to talk to her."

Rachel chuckles drily. "She's a ghost, J," she says. "I've literally spent hours camped out in front of her bedroom door."

He smiles at her, shaking his head at her stubbornness. "Look, I know I haven't exactly warmed up to the 'Pregnant Cheerleader,' but I know how important she is to you, okay? She's your best friend, and it pains me to accept it, but I doubt that's ever going to change. You've both worked hard to get to this point, and I'm sure she's as unwilling to let it go as you are."

Rachel just nods, equal parts grateful and guilty. He's being so kind, and she's not even telling him the entire truth. She knows he would freak out if she were to tell him the real reason she and Quinn aren't talking is because said blonde decided to kiss her.

She's still freaking out.

"Thank you," Rachel says, smiling softly at him.

"Of course," he says, before he gestures at her wine glass. "Top up?"

 

It's expected that she spend the night with Jesse, so she does. They go to his place, and she just about manages to forget her own turmoil and guilt.

She's with Jesse.

She loves Jesse, and he loves her.

It's as simple as that.

Nothing more, and nothing less.

 

Rachel can't quite figure out what she's feeling in the morning, but she knows she needs to escape Jesse's bed before he wakes up and sees the conflict in her eyes. It's not really anything to do with him, and she's unsure how she would explain that to him and actually have him believe her.

So, it's a rather dishevelled Rachel Berry who makes her way home, her mind spinning and her stomach churning. She knows she has to talk to Quinn. She has to, in order for these whirling emotions inside her to settle.

They feel as if they're gnawing at her insides, and it's deeply unpleasant.

Rachel isn't sure what she expects to find when she steps through the front door, but she's hit by the strong smell of freshly-brewed coffee and the sound of soft laughter coming from the kitchen.

Going to investigate, Rachel almost forgets that there are four people who live in this apartment, and her entire body freezes when she sees Quinn sitting at the kitchen table. She's dressed in grey sweatpants, a Yale sweatshirt and thick socks. Her hair is in a messy ponytail and she's wearing her glasses. She has one knee bent with her foot on her chair, and her fingers are curled around a cup of coffee as she holds it to her lips.

She looks so painfully beautiful that it actually hurts to look at her.

"Rach!" Brittany suddenly says, getting Rachel's attention. "You're home." She makes her way towards Rachel and hugs her tightly.

Santana, who's standing at the stove frying something, chuckles at the display. "What's up, Berry?" she says. "You just getting in?"

Rachel can't bring herself to respond, because it's rather obvious what she's been up to just from her appearance, and Quinn is sitting right there.

"Wanky," Santana comments.

Rachel risks a look at the seated blonde, and Quinn is staring blankly into her cup. Rachel's own heart twists at the sight, and she just wants to make it better.

"Tell us all about your date," Brittany says, taking hold of her hand and dragging her further into the kitchen.

"I'd rather not," Rachel hurries to say. "I think I'm just going to grab a shower and then - "

"No, no," Santana interrupts. "You're with us today, Berry. We're calling dibs."

Rachel looks at her questioningly. "Why? What's going on?"

"We want to do something all together because Q is sad," Brittany declares, and Rachel's gaze snaps towards Quinn, who is determinedly not looking at any of them. "But she keeps saying she's fine."

"We're thinking the breakup is hitting her harder than she's letting on," Santana says.

"I'm sitting right here," Quinn says, and her tone is layered in too many emotions for any one of them to decipher, but there's definitely anger.

"Oh, is that you, Q?" Santana prods. "You've been moping in your room for the past week, I almost forgot what you look like."

Quinn reacts by slamming her cup down on the kitchen table and dragging her chair back to get to her feet. "I told you I'm fine," she says, her tone curt. "Do us all a favour and listen." With that, she walks out of the kitchen.

Rachel tries to stop her, reaching out to close her fingers around her thin wrist, but Quinn avoids the contact easily, throwing her a look that Rachel doesn't recognise, but it hurts all the same.

Once they hear Quinn's door slam shut, Santana scoffs. "Oh, yeah, she's totally fine."

Brittany pouts. "She's always so busy. I feel like we never see her."

Rachel just presses her lips together, unsure what to make of this… interaction. It's the first time she's spent any significant minutes in the same room as Quinn since the kiss and, of course, it has to be the morning she's doing her own version of a 'walk of shame.'

Rachel gets that Quinn is hurting, but so is she. They need to talk, so they can work on fixing this. By doing this, they're not getting anywhere, and it's just going to continue to get worse until it's toxic and gangrene and needs amputation.

It's driving Rachel crazy.

"I'm going to catch that shower," she says, and then escapes the kitchen before they can protest. She goes past Quinn's bedroom and stops at the door. She does nothing for a moment, and then she lays her palm against the wood. She holds it there for a long while, saying nothing, and then she goes to her own bedroom.

Rachel intends to save whatever is left of their relationship. Jesse is right about that much, at least; they've been through far too much just to throw in the towel now.

 

It's three days of complete silence and lockout later when Rachel wakes up in tears for reasons other than the fact that her best friend hasn't said any actual words to her in ten days.

Ten long days.

But it's today, the five-year anniversary of Quinn's car accident, that Rachel can't stand it anymore. She's exhausted because she hasn't had any sleep and she hasn't eaten anything in hours - or days, she's not really sure - and all she wants is to see Quinn.

She needs to see Quinn.

She practically falls out of bed, stumbling over her blankets as she makes her way towards Quinn's bedroom. She doesn't know or care what time it is. All she knows is she needs to see the life in Quinn's eyes to chase away the lifeless image she just witnessed in her nightmares.

Rachel comes to a stop at Quinn's door, already just knowing it's locked. Everything about the blonde has been shut away, and it hurts. It physically hurts, and Rachel needs her. She needs her to open the door and just make everything better.

"Quinn," she calls out, her voice already catching. She rests her palm against the wood, this stupid physical barrier between them. "Please," she whispers. "Please just open the door. I know you're hurting, and I'm sorry, okay? I - I didn't react well, and I shouldn't have shoved you away like that, but we need to talk about this." She squeezes her eyes tightly shut. "You just surprised me, and - " she stops, sighing. "Look, I'm hurting too, Quinn. Hiding from this isn't going to help with anything, and I know you're smart enough to know that.

"Quinn, please," she says. "Just open the door. Please let me see you. I - I just want to see you." The tears in her eyes are blurring her vision. "I miss you, okay? I miss you, and I can just feel myself losing you, and you won't even talk to me, and I just want to know why. What happened? I just want to be able to understand, and then we can find a way to make this better. I'm going to need you to meet me halfway, Quinn. I can't do it alone, and we've been through far too much for this to be it. We have to work together to get past this, so I need you to open this door. Please."

Her pleas are met with silence, and it - it angers her.

"Quinn, you're supposed to be my best friend," she says, her voice breaking. "You're supposed to be there for everything. Even this. Especially this. You - you're better than this. You're supposed to have changed." Rachel closes her eyes, hating herself for her next words. "You owe me, Quinn. You owe me for all the slushies and the drawings and the insults, okay? You owe me, so you have to open the door. Open the door, Quinn. Just open the fucking door!"

She drops her head down to lean her forehead against the wood, her breathing rapid and her tears flowing. "That's how desperate I am to talk to you; to see you. I don't want to play that card, but you're giving me no choice, and you owe me! Jesus, Quinn, can you just be the grownup you're trying to be and open the fucking door? God, I am so fucking mad at you right now!"

Silence.

There's just silence.

Rachel's anger reaches a boiling point, flaming white and hot. She hasn't slept and her emotions are all over the place and all she wants to do is break through this stupid, fucking door to get to Quinn to make sure she's alive, and that all leads to her slamming her fist hard against said door.

Once.

Twice

The skin is off her knuckles, and the sounds of her fist and her whimpers echo in the passageway.

Three times.

Four.

"Fuck!" she yells, finally pulling back against the pain in her hand. She cradles it against her chest as she pants. "What is happening?" she asks the empty space around her. "What am I doing?" She's sobbing now, her hand and her heart hurting enough to cause her entire body to shake. "What the hell am I doing?"

Rachel hears something behind the door; it's so soft, and she can't tell what it is.

"I'm sorry," Rachel chokes out. "Quinn, I'm so sorry," she says. "I just punched your door." She stares at her own hand in wonder, the red of her blood making her feel slightly woozy. "I - I can't - I can't believe I just brought up the slushies. I'm sorry. God, I don't think - I wouldn't - I'm sorry."

There's a moment when Rachel knows she has to run, and she stumbles backwards, jerking away from the door as if it's reached out and scorched her. "I have to - I'm - "

She has to get away.

Her back hits the wall behind her, and it's as far as she gets as she crumples to the floor in a mess of blood and tears. The last thing she hears is the sound of a door, a gasp and her breathless name.