Rachel stared out of the window, watching as the snow fell to the ground. It was her third Christmas alone in New York. This year, she couldn't afford to fly back home, and her parents were too busy at work to fly up to New York. So, she was stuck in her apartment, all alone, because Kurt and Blaine were spending Christmas in Ohio, and Santana was spending the holidays with Brittany and her family.
As she stared out the window, she thought of all of the things she would rather be doing, all the people she'd rather be with at what was supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
At that, her thoughts drifted to the one person (well, two) she would do anything to be spending Christmas with. The one she truly, completely loved, with every ounce of her being, and had done since her Junior year of high school.
Rachel hadn't always loved Quinn. She used to be jealous of her. From the outside, Quinn had everything. Popularity, the boyfriend, looks. That, of course, was before Quinn had her large fall from grace after the whole school found out she was pregnant, and planning on keeping her baby.
Quinn, once the most popular girl in school, had gone from having the whole world at her feet to being slushied daily; all within one hour of that Muckraker article being published.
Of course, the Glee club stood by Quinn through everything, much to Rachel's initial dislike. She came to find that behind all the popularity and that awful Cheerios uniform, Quinn was really sweet. She was thoughtful, caring, put others in front of herself, and overall a beautiful person.
Rachel had always known that Quinn was physically beautiful, after all, she wasn't blind, and had always been rather accepting of her bisexuality. But the internal beauty, that took longer to see.
Slowly, Quinn let her walls come down around Rachel, and the two became friends as Quinn entered her third trimester. The whole glee club became much stronger as a unit without the conflicts between Rachel and Quinn and by extension Rachel and Santana.
It took one month from Rachel and Quinn becoming friends for the former to realise her feelings went beyond just friendship for the latter.
It took two more months for a horrified Rachel to realise that she had fallen in love with the girl she had come to call one of her closest friends, a girl who was constantly between guys, never quite sure if she loved Finn, Sam or Puck.
Naturally, she couldn't say anything. Especially as Quinn was going through one of the craziest times in her life. They were very close, but Rachel was certain it was just friendship.
Seven days after her due date, Quinn went into labour with none other than Rachel by her side. Rachel refused to leave Quinn's side throughout the labour and delivery, a whole nineteen hours, and even after Beth was born. Rachel was there when Quinn chose what to name her baby, and every moment thereafter.
After Beth was born, Quinn felt she could no longer stay with the Jones', and rented a house of her own with money from her parents, both who refused to speak with her.
At this point, Quinn was exhausted. A single, teenage mother, who was still attending high school after only sleeping twenty minutes the previous night. Though Puck occasionally saw Beth, much like the rest of the Glee club, he wasn't Beth's father. Not truly. So, when Rachel offered to do what she could, Quinn burst into tears and collapsed into her arms.
Rachel was there when Beth first crawled, when she said her first words, and when she took her first steps. And at each milestone, she turned her head and saw Quinn smiling with an expression identical to her own. When Beth was 15 months old, she called Rachel 'Auntie' and that was that. Rachel, Quinn and Beth. A weird little family unit all on their own.
Rachel loved Quinn more than ever and loved Beth as though she were her own daughter. But though Quinn could tell that Rachel loved Beth, Rachel never let on to feeling more than sisterly friendship towards Quinn.
There was one night, Quinn was particularly exhausted, and had passed out in bed right before Beth needed to be fed. Beth was screaming her head off, and though Rachel had fed her, burped her, changed her diaper and sung to her, nothing helped. Eventually, the cries turned to whimpers, and Rachel tucked Beth in her spot next to Quinn. The cries intensified and left Rachel with little choice but to lie with the pair and comfort Beth.
An hour later, she was awoken by a soft rustling. She panicked before she opened her eyes and realised that Quinn was just placing a sleeping Beth in her bassinet beside the bed. Rachel instantly started apologising and mumbling about how Beth wasn't settling and she didn't mean to fall asleep.
A still half-asleep Quinn had chuckled, and pushed Rachel back into the bed, pulling the covers over both of them, saying that they needed to sleep. She then looked at Rachel and told her that she would be lost without her, and gave the girl a chaste kiss before snuggling up to her and falling asleep. Rachel stayed awake for over an hour, her heart racing.
Quinn had forgotten by the next morning, so it was never mentioned.
As graduation neared, Rachel was growing uneasy at the thought of what was going to happen to the three of them. They pointedly avoiding talking about it until it was far too late. Letters had already been sent and received, with Rachel gaining entry to NYADA, and Quinn heading to Stanford.
When Quinn told Rachel that she was going to LA, Rachel was in utter disbelief. They had argued, Rachel stormed out, and then they discussed the matter more calmly a few days later.
Quinn had thanked her for being such a good friend in the past couple of years and said that they would see each other often and email regularly.
Rachel was devastated. She was going to lose the two people who meant more to her than anyone else, and there was nothing she could do about it.
She went through several stages of emotions. Anger, at Quinn for seeing her as nothing more than a friend. Depression, at the thought she would be losing the love of her life. Guilt, bargaining. The lot.
It didn't make a difference.
Quinn got on a plane to LA and never looked back.
Rachel took the train to New York and couldn't look forward.
For the first six months or so, they did stay in contact regularly. Texting, emails, skype calls. But, inevitably, life got in the way. It was a sorry excuse, but between college and work, and Quinn raising a toddler, the girls were exhausted. Contact became more and more sporadic until emails were monthly at best.
Rachel hadn't received an email from or sent an email to Quinn in over four months.
As she stared at the window, she wondered where Quinn was. If her fiancé, Matt, was with her. If Beth even remembered her.
She wished more than anything that she could see Quinn. See her, hug her, kiss her, and never, ever let go.
She was pulled out her reverie by her phone ringing,
"Hello?" She answered, rubbing her face tiredly,
"Hey, we just wanted to check how you were doing," Her dad, Hiram, responded,
"Oh, hey, dad, I'm fine," She lied,
"Sweetie," He murmured sympathetically,
His kind voice never failed to break her walls,
"Oh, dad," She said shakily, "I can't stop thinking about her," She whispered brokenly, tears starting to fall down her face as she gasped slightly, "About them, dad I miss them so much. I don't know what to do,"
She heard a dad whisper something to her papa, and the phone was passed over to him,
"Honey, everything will be okay," Her papa tried to comfort her, "You just need some time," He attempted,
"It's been three years, papa," She replied as she wiped at her cheeks with the back of her hand,
"I know," He said back softly, "Your father and I will be flying out as soon as things at work die down a bit, okay? Just hold out till then. I know the holidays are especially hard for you,"
She nodded, but realising he couldn't see her, she cleared her throat, "I know, I know, tell Dad I said Merry Christmas," She said, and hung up rather abruptly,
He was right when he said the holidays were especially hard. It just made her more aware of being alone, and seeing everyone with their families bought back memories of Quinn and Beth.
She shook herself slightly and stood up from her spot at the windowsill, determined to scrape together some sort of Christmas meal for herself.
As she looked through the cupboards and the refrigerator she realised that she didn't have any cranberry sauce. The fact may have seemed trivial to many, but Rachel and her fathers never failed to serve cranberry sauce with their Christmas meal (They usually had turkey, and Rachel would have something vegetarian, but recently Rachel had given up on her vegetarian diet).
So, Rachel went to her bedroom and put on as many layers as she could beneath a coat, a hat, gloves, and pulled on her winter boots, determined to go to a store she knew would be open, as it was run by a lovely Chinese family who didn't celebrate Christmas, and pick up some cranberry sauce to go with her turkey for one. She decided to walk. It was around a half hour walk, each way, but she needed the cold air, and luckily it wasn't too cold.
Twenty minutes into her walk, and almost at the convenience store, her phone dinged, notifying her that Quinn had posted on Facebook.
Rachel resisted the urge to look at the photo, which was no doubt of Quinn, Matt and Beth, and just pocketed it. Looking at it was only going to hurt her by reminding her what she didn't... couldn't have.
She arrived at the store fifteen or so minutes later and shook off the snow on her coat before entering. She smiled at the cashier as she entered, and headed straight towards the cranberry sauce. Picking it up and heading to pay,
"Hi," She greeted,
"Hello," The cashier greeted, "Rough holiday?" He asked sympathetically,
"You can tell?" Rachel laughed slightly, pulling at her hat self-consciously,
"It shows in your eyes," He replied knowingly, "Missing someone?"
She looked at him in disbelief, "Yeah, the woman I love," She said with a shrug,
"Is she what you wish for this Christmas?" He replied,
"More than anything," She said, "I haven't seen her in ages," She added, talking to him as if she would a friend because she needed to say it to someone, "I just wish I could see her, you know? I never told her how I feel,"
He nodded in understanding, "Well, I don't know if you believe in Christmas miracles," He said casually as he scanned the cranberry sauce, "But magical things do tend to happen around this time of year," He shrugged, his eyes twinkling ever so slightly,
She laughed softly, "Maybe you're right,"
He handed her a bag and smiled at her broadly, "You have to believe in miracles for them to happen,"
She nodded, "Thank you."
"Merry Christmas," He replied,
"Merry Christmas," She threw over her shoulder as she left the store,
Maybe a Christmas miracle would happen. After all, the day was not yet over. Stranger things had happened.
Then, as she rounded the corner, she collided with something, sending her crashing down to the cold ground.
"Oh my god, I am so sorry, I should have been looking more carefully," The sweetest voice apologised,
Rachel froze. It couldn't be. She looked up to see she had walked into a pushchair, and the woman pushing it had made her way to help Rachel up.
"Quinn?!" She said incredulously, and the woman froze,
"Rachel," Quinn replied in a shocked tone, reaching her hands out to pull Rachel up,
"What on earth are you doing in New York?" Rachel asked her, looking her up and down to see if she was okay,
"Change of scenery?" Quinn chuckled awkwardly, "I'm at a hotel in the city but I needed food and this place is the only one open for miles,"
"What about Matt?" She asked confusedly,
Quinn shook her head, "I called it off," She replied softly,
"Mommy?" A voice came from the pushchair, bringing tears to Rachel's eyes instantly, though she could easily blame the cold,
"Yes, sweetheart?" Quinn replied softly, sending a quick apologetic glance to Rachel, which the girl instantly waved off,
"I have a drink?" Beth asked hopefully, "Please?"
"Of course, baby," Quinn chuckled, and passed a cup from her bag to Beth under her rain cover,
"I've missed you," Rachel blurted out,
Quinn's eyes snapped back to her,
"I know, I'm so sorry, life has been so crazy and I just..." She trailed off,
"It's not your fault," Rachel replied quickly, "It's both of our faults,"
"Who are you spending Christmas with?" Quinn asked quietly, "Boyfriend? Girlfriend?"
Rachel shook her head slightly, "I'm home alone this year. You?"
"Just me and Beth," Quinn replied with a sad shrug, "Not ideal, but this was so last minute as it was,"
A million things raced through Rachel's head. Miracles, Christmas wishes. Telling Quinn how she truly felt.
"Stay with me," Rachel said strongly, aware of its many meanings, "We'll go to your hotel, grab your stuff and go back to mine," She suggested,
"Oh, you don't have to," Quinn immediately responded,
"No, I want to. Come on!" She teased, "I haven't seen my two favourite ladies in forever, I want you to stay,"
Quinn's eyes twinkled as she considered the offer, "Well-
Two hours later, the three girls were seated at Rachel's table, about to dig into Christmas dinner.
"Wait," Rachel said before Quinn's fork reached her mouth, and the blonde put it down on her plate,
Rachel chuckled nervously, "Okay, well, I just want to say that my one Christmas wish was that I could see you, Quinn. And by whatever miracle, here you are. I couldn't be happier to spend my Christmas with you. Merry Christmas," She raised her glass, and Quinn raised hers back,
"We're happy to be here," Quinn replied honestly, "If we weren't here, we'd be trapped in a cold hotel room with only each other and an old TV for company,"
Rachel smiled at her as she dug into her meal,
"So, how have you been?" Quinn asked conversationally,
Rachel tilted her head ever so slightly in consideration. How had she been?
"Well, school is almost finished," She replied, choosing to stick to the safe topics whilst Beth was still awake,
"Wow, has it really been that long since we finished high school?" Quinn shook her head in disbelief,
Rachel chuckled, "Yeah, apparently we're adults now or something,"
Quinn laughed, her beautiful hazel eyes lighting up as she did, "Something like that," She agreed with a smile,
"Mommy, I don't like this," Beth complained suddenly, poking at a Brussel sprout with a look of distaste,
"Beth, don't be rude," Quinn reprimanded,
"It's alright," Rachel said immediately, before turning to Beth, "They're not my favourite either," She added conspiratorially, to which the girl giggled,
"How about you?" Rachel asked, "What happened with Matt?"
Quinn shuffled uncomfortably, "I couldn't marry him," She replied,
"Why not? You guys always seemed so happy..." Rachel trailed off,
"It wouldn't have been fair to him," Quinn explained, "I think I was expecting him to be the answer to my problems when in reality only one person can,"
"What, you?" Rachel asked confusedly,
Quinn frowned, "Yeah, it will have to do,"
Rachel furrowed her brow, "What do you mean?" She asked worriedly,
Quinn huffed slightly, "It's just, we can't always get what we want," She explained,
Rachel sighed, "Yeah, I get that," She agreed, thinking of how she had wanted the same thing for years and it was never going to happen,
"Finn?" Quinn asked sympathetically,
Rachel laughed humourlessly, "Yeah, whatever,"
'Clueless as ever, Fabray," She thought to herself,
"Sorry, I knew you guys had broken up, but I didn't realise you still had such... Strong feelings for him," She apologised,
"Can we drop it?" Rachel asked tiredly, rubbing her temple slightly with one hand,
"Of course, let's just try and enjoy this whilst we're both here," Quinn appeased with a smile, a smile that could make Rachel do practically anything,
"I'm sorry," Rachel apologised, "I know I'm not in a great mood, I just struggle sometimes at Christmas," She admitted, looking Quinn in the eye,
"I know how you feel," Quinn clucked empathetically, "So, how are Kurt and Santana?" She asked, clearly switching to safer grounds, which they both very much needed,
Rachel smiled and they slipped into a relatively easy conversation, one not dissimilar from one they would have had over the dinner table in their senior year in one of the rare moments that Quinn's house
was quiet. Rachel understood now more than ever why she had fallen in love with and was still in love with Quinn.
After they had finished dinner, they heard a small noise at the end of the table and turned to see Beth yawning sleepily.
"Mommy, I go bed now?" She asked in a small voice,
Rachel looked at her in total adoration, and when she looked up she realised Quinn was looking at her questioningly.
"She can sleep in my bed," Rachel said when she realised what Quinn was wondering,
"But-" Quinn started to object,
"No 'buts'," Rachel said instantly, "It's safer than her on the couch," She reasoned, to which Quinn couldn't really argue,
"Okay," She conceded, "Alright young lady, jammies, teeth, then off to bed, okay?" She said to Beth, to which the young girl nodded with the cutest smile,
"Bathroom?" Quinn queried, and Rachel just pointed to opposite her,
She watched as Quinn got Beth's stuff from her suitcase and grabbed her hand, leading her to the bathroom. Her mind drifted back to a time where, on days where she stayed at Quinn's house, the pair would both help get the young girl to bed.
"Alright, babe, it is past your bedtime," Quinn sighed as she looked at the clock, "Aunt Rachie, could you please brush Beth's teeth while I run her a quick bath?" She asked Rachel, batting her eyelashes pleadingly, not knowing that she could say 'roll over' and Rachel would become a world-leading gymnast,
"Of course," Rachel replied, "Alright, up you jump," She said to Beth as she walked over to her spot on the sofa, picking her up and tickling her stomach as she walked her to the bathroom,
Quinn followed and knelt to run the bath as Rachel sat on the edge with Beth on her lap, prying her mouth open to brush her teeth.
Beth did not like that plan. The girl started kicking her legs out and whining as her Rachel tried to brush her teeth.
"Come on babe, you have to brush your teeth so they're nice and clean," Rachel tried, but to little avail, leaving her no choice but to just brush Beth's teeth and put up with the odd kick to her legs,
Quinn looked at the scene with a tired, fond, slightly amused expression,
"Can you handle her while I get changed?" She asked hopefully,
"Hmmm, I don't know about that," Rachel replied teasingly, "What do I get in return?" She asked,
"My undying friendship," Quinn replied back, trying not to smile as she acted unamused, her arms crossed and eyebrow raised,
"Go on," Rachel laughed, and Quinn chuckled as she passed into the bedroom,
Beth reminded Rachel of her presence with a particularly firm kick to her thigh,
"Right young lady, bath now," Rachel said sternly, removing her clothes and placing her in the bubble bath,
Beth tapped at the bubbles with glee, and Rachel just smiled. Being such a big part of Beth's life was hard, but it was more than worth it. She hoped she would never be apart from the girl. Her girls meant everything to her.
Rachel splashed Beth playfully and the girl giggled and tried to splash back, but only succeeded in getting herself wetter.
"Better," Quinn sighed contentedly as she walked back into the room, "Don't feel like quite as much of a zombie now," She muttered, sitting on the edge of the bath, grabbing a sponge with some soap and gently washing Beth,
"You don't look quite as tired as you did last week," Rachel noted, "Those extra two hours are doing you good,"
"I feel exhausted," Quinn shook her head, "I've been exhausted since she was born and I think I'll be exhausted until she moves out of home," She laughed,
"You're doing an amazing job, you know," Rachel said softly, as she splashed some water on Beth to rinse her off as the girl played with a duck,
"I couldn't do it without you," Quinn countered, "Seriously, I have no idea what I did to deserve you," She shook her head,
"I'm happy to be here," Rachel replied sincerely.
"All done, she's all tucked in," Quinn interrupted her thought process as she walked back into the dining area, making Rachel aware of the fact she hadn't moved in at least ten minutes,
"Wine?" Rachel offered,
"Gladly," Quinn accepted, "I'll stick to one glass though,"
"Sit down and I'll bring it over," Rachel said, going into the kitchen and grabbing a bottle of white and two glasses,
She turned to the empty kitchen and took a couple of calming breaths. Would it be wrong to tell Quinn how she felt about her? Or, would it be more unfair to leave the girl in the dark?
It was an ethical dilemma that Rachel would happily go without.
She shook herself slightly, and walked to find Quinn, who had settled herself in one of two chairs in front of a big window,
"Here," She said, and set down the glasses on the coffee table, pouring a generous amount into her own, and pouring Quinn's slowly until the woman raised her hand to stop her,
"Thank you," Quinn said softly, tucking her legs beneath her and curling up on the chair, looking out the window at the snow,
Rachel mimicked the action, and the pair sat in a semi-comfortable silence for several minutes.
"What's happening with Finn?" Quinn asked curiously all of a sudden, leaving Rachel momentarily confused,
"Huh?" She replied,
"You know, earlier, how you were saying about Finn?" Quinn reminded, taking a sip of her wine and wrinkling her nose slightly,
Rachel barked out a laugh, "I don't like Finn," She denied, "Barely ever did,"
Quinn looked confused, "But, who were you talking about?"
Rachel shuffled in her seat, "It doesn't matter," She replied,
"Don't give me that," Quinn replied, "Come on, we used to tell each other everything!"
"No," Rachel replied,
"Well, obviously it's bothering you so come on," Quinn coaxed,
"No," Rachel said more firmly, "I've been in love with one girl for years and I don't think you want to know who it is," She warned,
Now Quinn was really confused,
"Well, someone from school?" She pressed, "Santana? She's super hot,"
Rachel's eyes flashed with slight jealousy overhearing Quinn describe Santana as hot, not that she had any right to be jealous,
"Oh, is it Santana?" Quinn asked again, clearly noting the change in expression,
"Don't," She warned,
Rachel stood up,
"Rach, please just-"
"Quinn, please for the love of god be quiet!" She shouted, "It's you, Quinn, it always has been," She admitted defeatedly, sitting back down on her chair,
Quinn didn't show any sign that she had even heard Rachel apart from staying quiet and shaking her head.
"Say something," Rachel sighed,
"You're lying," Quinn replied, "There's no way you're telling the truth right now,"
"Sorry, Quinn, I'm not joking," Rachel said, "Come on, you must have known,"
The blonde shook her head,
"Not even in Senior year? No part of you ever thought 'hmm, maybe she's in love with me'?" She pushed,
"If I had I would have said something," Quinn muttered, "How come you didn't tell me?" She asked, a flash of hurt in her eyes as she stood up from where she was sitting, "You really think it was fair to keep something like that from me?" She challenged, raising her voice,
Rachel stood up as well, "Look, I knew you weren't homophobic, I didn't think you'd react like this, so for both our sake's I didn't say anything,"
Quinn huffed, "This has nothing to do with sexual preference but the fact that my closest friend was keeping that from me!"
"I'm sorry, but I couldn't face it," She apologised sincerely,
"If I'd have known," Quinn shook her head,
"What? You'd have changed your phone number and email address? Moved to England or fucking Hawaii?" Rachel laughed, "Just because I love you doesn't mean I'd stalk you,"
"Say it again," Quinn muttered,
"What?" Rachel asked,
"Say it again," Quinn repeated,
"I love you," Rachel said, in a moment of bravery looking Quinn straight in the eye, "I have since before you even gave birth to Beth and I won't apologise for it," She said firmly, turning around to go back into the kitchen, tears welling in her eyes despite her best attempts to stop them,
A hand clasped her wrist gently,
"Please," Rachel whispered, 'Don't make this harder' She thought to herself as Quinn pulled her closer and turned her around,
"Say it again," Quinn pleaded, their bodies mere inches away from each other,
"I love-" She started, but was silenced by Quinn moving up to her and pressing her mouth against her own,
Rachel gasped as she felt Quinn's hands move around her waist, holding her close.
Quinn pulled back slightly and leaned her forehead against Rachel's,
"I love you too," She whispered back, "I always have,"
"Don't say that if you don't mean it," Rachel murmured,
"I would never have moved to LA if I'd have known, I moved because I thought you didn't want this; want us," She swore,
"How could you never say anything?" Rachel asked in disbelief, taking a step back, "It's not like you didn't know I was bi, so you knew I liked girls! I always thought you were straight!"
"You were with Finn, and when you weren't I was convinced you were still in love with him," Quinn explained, "And I don't know what I am," She shrugged, "You're the only girl I've ever had feelings of any sort for,"
"I was devastated when you left," Rachel told her,
"I was devastated to leave," Quinn replied, "You don't know how long it took for me to get back to some kind of normal," She laughed humourlessly, "I cried myself to sleep for months afterwards. Still do sometimes,"
Rachel's heart broke at what Quinn was saying,
"You were my Christmas wish," Rachel whispered, "All I wanted for Christmas was to see you, tell you how I felt, and then around the corner; there you were,"
"Fate," Quinn said with a smile, walking back over to Rachel, "Do you believe in Christmas Miracles?"
Rachel remembered what the man had told her earlier, "You have to believe in them for them to happen," She said softly, "And more than anything I believe in you," She said, and she leaned in for a kiss,
At that point, there was really nothing Rachel wanted than to rip off Quinn's clothes and do it right on her couch, but she remembered that Beth was sleeping in the other 'room' and that they hadn't even been on a date yet.
"Go out with me," Rachel asked, well, told?
"Is that a question?" Quinn teased with a soft smirk,
"Quinn, would you please go out on a date with me?" She rephrased,
"I'd be honoured," Quinn replied with a slight curtsey,
"Don't go back to LA just yet, okay? Stay a week or two?" Rachel asked hopefully,
"I wouldn't dream of leaving," Quinn told her, and Rachel smiled shyly at her,
Quinn stifled a yawn, "Gosh, what's the time?" She asked, making Rachel glance at her watch,
"1 o'clock," Rachel giggled slightly, "We should probably get to bed, you sleep in my bed and I'll take the couch," She proposed,
Quinn shook her head firmly, "No way am I kicking you out of your bed, I'll take the couch,"
"I'm not going to sleep in my bed with Beth, she'd be worried when she woke up that you weren't around," She insisted,
"Fine, we'll all sleep in your bed," Quinn compromised, "It's plenty big and it's not like we haven't had any sleepovers before," She said with a slight twinkle in her eye,
"No funny business, no trying to cop a feel and you have yourself a deal," Rachel replied with a smirk,
"Swear on Christmas," She promised.
Once they were settled in bed, Rachel on one side of Beth and Quinn on the other, the girls felt more content than they had in a long time.
"Merry Christmas, Quinn," Rachel whispered, closing her eyes and thanking whatever deity had arranged this,
"Merry Christmas, Rach," Quinn replied.