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hold your tongue and hear me out

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It's Jimmy who tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that her name is Quinn Fabray.

Rachel tilts her head to the side as she admires the blonde from across the stage.

She doesn't really look like a Quinn, Rachel thinks. Maybe an Emily or a Claire or a Kaitlin. But not a Quinn.

+

Jimmy tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn Fabray grew up in Lima, Ohio.

Rachel licks her lips as she watches the blonde roll up her sleeves and clip a frayed wire.

She doesn't really look like a girl from the mid-west, Rachel thinks. Maybe California or Florida or Georgia. But not Ohio.

+

Jimmy tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn Fabray's favorite book is Alice in Wonderland.

Rachel raises an eyebrow as she watches the blonde brush even strokes of blue paint on a backdrop of the sky.

She doesn't really look like a girl who enjoys children's books, Rachel thinks. Maybe Pride and Prejudice or The Great Gatsby or Jane Eyre. But not Alice in Wonderland.

+

Jimmy tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn Fabray's favorite pass time is rock-climbing.

Rachel squints her eyes as she watches Quinn laugh at something Jimmy's saying.

She doesn't really look like a girl who goes rock-climbing, Rachel thinks. Maybe cooking or writing or gardening. But not rock-climbing.

+

"I heard you've been asking about me."

Rachel wonders if it's possible for her heart to get stuck in her throat because that's what happens when she hears that familiar, nasally voice speak up from behind her.

She turns around, calming the features on her face, then says, "Um, pardon?"

It's the first time she's seen Quinn this close up. Her eyes are lighter than Rachel thought; there's green and gold and even flecks of silver swirling around those big irises of hers, and for awhile Rachel gets sucked in until she hears Quinn clear her throat.

"Kurt told Ryan, who told Jamie, who told Paul, who told Jimmy, who then told me, that you've been asking about me," Quinn explains, lifting an eyebrow.

If Rachel had known everyone in the chorus and crew had such big mouths, she wouldn't have even bothered asking about the blonde in the first place. At least she knows now not to ever trust that blasted Jimmy with a secret of hers.

Theatre gossips can't hold water to keep themselves from dehydrating.

To Rachel's surprise, Quinn actually looks slightly amused with her lip curled into a smirk like that, so Rachel takes a deep breath and says, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry. I was just...curious."

Her fathers have always told her that honesty is the key to success. Now, they probably didn't mean in regards to apologizing for not mind her own business, but honesty is honesty is honesty all the same.

Quinn wraps her arms around her stomach, tilts her head back, and lets out a joyous laugh. "It's good to be curious," she says, taking a step forward, right into Rachel's personal bubble. "Healthy, even."

Rachel smiles, because this is blessed news. Quinn's not freaked out by her stalkerish personality or inquisitive nature, so it seems everything is alright in the world.

"I mean," Quinn continues, taking another step forward, her girlish combat boots almost touching Rachel's ballet flats. "You could have just asked me yourself."

Rachel nods as a furious blush inflames her neck. It's always been an unfortunate medical ailment of hers. When her nerves are triggered, her blood pressure rises, which causes a rush of heat to flow through her neck, all the way up to her cheeks.

"I'll remember that for next time," she squeaks, running a hand through her hair. "Thank you."

Quinn smirks and brushes a strand of hair away from her face. Bright blue paint streaks across her forehead, and now Rachel can't look away from it for the life of her.

Quinn doesn't seem to notice, just raises an eyebrow, and says, "You're very welcome, Rachel Berry."

+

It's Jimmy who tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn's been wondering what kind of movies she enjoys most.

(At first, Rachel's taken aback. Hadn't she just spoken to Quinn the other day? Why didn't she just ask then?)

She tells Kurt, who tells Ryan, who tells Jaime, who tells Paul, who tells Jimmy, who then tells Quinn, that her favorite kinds of movies are sci-fi films.

From across the stage, she sees Quinn screw her face up into a look of confusion. Maybe she was expecting something cliché, like dramedies or musicals or chick flicks. But definitely not sci-fi.

Rachel smirks to herself as Kurt helps her stretch out her hamstrings. 

+

Jimmy tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn asked about her former education.

She tells Kurt, who tells Ryan, who tells Jaime, who tells Paul, who tells Jimmy, who then tells Quinn, that she attended New York University's School of Business.

From across the stage, Quinn gapes at Jimmy before splattering him with a sprinkle of red paint. Maybe she was expecting something more realistic for a theatre junkie, like Juilliard or the Manhattan School of Music. But not business.

Rachel smothers her laughter as she ties pre-wrap around her ankle.

+

Jimmy tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn's been wondering about her favorite music artist.

She tells Kurt, who tells Ryan, who tells Jaime, who tells Paul, who tells Jimmy, who then tells Quinn, that her favorite music artist is Paramore.

From across the stage, Rachel watches as Quinn bites her lower lip and crinkles her nose. Maybe she was expecting something less punk, like Celine Dion or Barbra Streisand or Cher. But definitely not an alternative rock band.

Amused, Rachel rolls her eyes as she ties her hair up into a bun.

+

Her back is to the stage as she stuffs her ballet flats into her duffle bag. Rachel's sure she's the last one in the small theatre until she hears faint whistling of the chorus song they've been rehearsing all week.

Turning around, Rachel grins, and then ducks her head to hide it.

"The songs always get stuck in my head," Quinn says, swinging her feet back and forth from where she's sitting on the edge of the stage. "I find whistling helps get rid of the tune faster than ignoring it."

Rachel raises an eyebrow as she sits in a chair in the audience. "You've been asking about me."

"Sure," Quinn responds.

"That wasn't a question," Rachel laughs, cocking her head to the side. "Jimmy told Paul, who told Jaime, who told Ryan, who told Kurt, who then told me."

"Jimmy has a big mouth," she says.

"He does," Rachel agrees, twiddling her thumbs in her lap. "And so does Kurt."

Then, there's silence. It's not exactly awkward, but it is a tad uncomfortable.

If Rachel's been paying attention in social situations, it would now be Quinn's turn to speak, but the blonde doesn't say a word, just narrows her eyes and looks at Rachel with a smirk.

"What?" Rachel giggles, twirling a strand of hair around her finger.

Quinn flinches. "Huh?"

"That look on your face." Rachel points at her and raises an eyebrow expectantly.

Quinn smirks knowingly. "You know what else Jimmy told me?"

Rachel's not sure if she wants to know. Over the last few months, she's told Kurt a lot of things in regard to Quinn; some PG, some PG-13, most R. And whatever she tells Kurt always seems to get out.

A fiery blush graces Rachel's cheeks right on cue, and now she's glad the stage manager dimmed the lights in the theatre before heading home.

Cringing, Rachel asks, "What did you hear?"

"I heard..." Quinn drawls, no doubt trying to raise Rachel's blood pressure. "That you think I'm...cute."

This information is considerably the most tame thing Rachel's said about Quinn. She's still going to murder Kurt the next time she sees him, but at least he didn't tell anyone how she fantasizes about rubbing Quinn's feet after a long day of work.

Or, how she had a wet dream about her the other night. Or, that one time she actually drooled watching Quinn—dressed in those denim, baggy overalls—drill a hole into the stage floorboards.

(It might be a good idea to reconsider how much tells Kurt.)

"Look, I'm really flattered and all," Quinn continues, pursing her lips. "And believe me, I'm so totally flattered..."

Something breaks in Rachel's chest—she's not exactly sure if it's indigestion or heartbreak. She actually hasn't eaten since eight o'clock this morning, so it could be heartburn, but if she's really honest with herself, it's probably heartbreak.

Rachel already knows what's coming. She's been there too many times.

"But..." Rachel prompts, grimacing slightly.

"But I have a boyfriend," Quinn finishes, mirroring Rachel's grimace.

Rachel sighs. Of course she has a boyfriend. Quinn's beautiful and charming and her smile is to die for. She has the most infectious laughter, her eyes are luminously bright, and her hair looks softer than a freakin' cloud. Of course she has a boyfriend.

"Oh," Rachel says, nodding as she stands up from the cushioned seat. "I see."

It's not really embarrassment she feels. It's a known fact Quinn is cute. Kurt is gay and even he thinks Quinn is an attractive girl. Anyone with eyes could see that.

At this moment, as she watches Quinn wring her fingers together, Rachel doesn't feel embarrassed or disappointment—she feels alone.

"Though I have to say," Quinn speaks up, jumping down from off the stage, "It was really fun getting to know you through almost the entire cast and crew." She laughs at her own joke, tilting her head sideways, and Rachel feels another something break in her chest at the sound of Quinn's sweet laughter. "Maybe we can get to know each other through ourselves next time?"

Straight girl crushes have always plagued Rachel's heart. Every time she's been hurt by a straight girl, she'd tell herself never again, but here she is anyway, about to put herself through another heartbreak.

She knows it's not a great idea, but she says, "I think that's a great idea," anyway and pastes on a smile to mask the disappointment she feels within herself.

+

They become fast friends, which Rachel is fine with, really.

She doesn't want to ever meet Quinn's boyfriend, or see a picture of him, or even learn what his name is, but she's fine with being Quinn's friend because Quinn actually cares about what Rachel thinks and says and does.

Not a lot of people ever care about what Rachel cares about, so she's going to keep Quinn as her friend, even if it breaks her heart.

Kurt tells her she's swimming towards the deep end. Rachel doesn't think she's gone that far yet. She can still touch the bottom of the pool, so of course she isn't in the deep end.

Sure, her heart may flutter whenever Quinn winks at her from across the stage. Sure, Rachel can't help but smile like a goof whenever Quinn texts her just for the hell of it, or calls her late at night for opinions on music and books and movies.

Sure, it's only been a month since they've started to consider each other friends and Rachel is already regretting her decision to become friends based on those delectable lips Rachel will never be able to taste.

But that's okay. Rachel can handle it. After all, they're just friends.

+

It's on a Thursday night that Quinn kisses her. It's quick and only a peck, but the kiss is on the lips nonetheless, which no doubt throws Rachel for a loop.

They're at Rachel's apartment, trying out new recipes in this cook book Quinn bought at a nearby bookstore when it happens.

Rachel's at the stove, using a wooden spoon to stir the boiling tomato sauce and humming quietly to the stereo playing quietly from the living room. Then, suddenly, Quinn sneaks up behind her, out of nowhere, puts her hands on Rachel's hips to spin her around, and pecks her lightly on the lips.

It's then that the oven dings. Quinn smiles, bops Rachel on the nose, and then moves aside to fetch the garlic bread.

Neither speaks about it. Neither says a word for the longest time. They eat in absolute silence. To Rachel, the silence is so loud and obnoxious she wants to beat it with a broomstick.

Every time Quinn licks her lips, something breaks in Rachel's chest —maybe its heartburn, she tells herself.

Quinn finally breaks the silence when she compliments the food. "You did a bangin' job seasoning this sauce," she says, peeking up at Rachel from under her eyelashes.

And Rachel thinks it's unfair, so unfair for Quinn to manipulate her like this. But part of her; a very small part of Rachel kind of doesn't really care about unfairness, because nothing in this world is fair. So, why should she get special treatment?

It happens again when Rachel walks Quinn to the door; another quick peck on the lips. It happens so fast and with so much nonchalance that Rachel almost doesn't notice that this is wrong, that Quinn's so totally flattered but has a boyfriend.

As soon as she closes the door behind Quinn, Rachel screams. Then she runs to her room and calls Kurt to tell him what happened, and he screams too.

+

Maybe Kurt was right about swimming in the deep end. If Rachel's being honest with herself, she's actually been wading in the deep end for weeks. But now she's sinking, and she doesn't know what else to do but call out for help.

Kurt says, "I told ya so."

Rachel sighs, "I know."

Kurt tells her that, "You have to distance yourself."

And Rachel mutters, "I know."

And she does know. She's been there before. Too many times.

But Quinn is different.

Quinn cuts out the newspaper clippings of reviews for their off-Broadway show and sneaks them into Rachel's duffle bag. Quinn helps Rachel unwrap and ice her ankle after long hours of rehearsals.

Quinn picks up Rachel's favorite takeout from that hole-in-the-wall Thai place on the other side of town. Quinn calls her and talks to her at all hours of the night, because she knows Rachel feels lonely sometimes.

Rachel's searched her whole life for someone like Quinn. There's no way in hell she's going to give something like that up just because it's breaking her heart.

+

Quinn doesn't kiss Rachel again for a long time after the dinner at her apartment. Rachel wonders if Kurt said something to her; wonders if Kurt told Ryan, who told Jaime, who told Paul, who told Jimmy, who then always tells Quinn.

Quinn doesn't say anything if he did, and neither does anyone else, so Rachel lets herself breathe for awhile. She lets her blush fade away and her blood pressure settle.

Instead of sneaking longing glances in Quinn's direction where she's hammering down broken floorboards on the stage, Rachel focuses on memorizing the new choreography for the scene the director added in last week.

She puts all her energy into harmonizing with Kurt, Jaime, and Paul, and she definitely does not think about Quinn or stolen kisses or tomato sauce. She doesn't think about how Quinn's lips tasted like red wine.

And she doesn't wonder what made Quinn kiss her in the first place. No, she definitely doesn't think about that.

+

Two weeks later, Quinn's kissing her again, and this time it's longer, more passionate, and with tongue.

It's late, the streets of New York are busy, and Rachel's walking home alone, because Kurt has a date with the new baritone named Charles, and he has an English accent, so Kurt definitely couldn't miss out on that.

It happens fast and comes out of nowhere, just like the last time. One moment, Rachel's about to turn a corner, then the next, someone is holding her hand. She looks up, and it's Quinn, smiling down at her with this unreadable expression.

Rachel opens her mouth to say something, and that's how they end up using tongue this time. They kiss in the middle of the sidewalk. Quinn clutches a bundle of Rachel's hair into her fist and tilts her head up further.

Quinn kisses her as if she's been waiting to do it all day, just dying to find out what flavor lip gloss Rachel uses. And Rachel kisses her back with the same desire and passion and want.

It's Quinn who pulls away first. She tells Rachel she'll see her tomorrow, and Rachel mumbles something nonsensical back as she watches Quinn walk away.

+

Rachel knows Kurt is out on a date, and she knows it'd be totally rude to just interrupt in the middle of his dinner, but this is a crisis, and she needs her best friend.

"Rachel, I'm on a date," Kurt says as soon as he answers the call.

"I know, I know, and I'm so, so sorry but Quinn kissed me again and I'm freaking out."

Rachel's not lying; she is freaking out. She's pacing back and forth in her room, chewing on the ends of her hair, and licking her lips every time she forgets what Quinn's lip gloss tastes like.

"She kissed you again?" Kurt practically screams. "Wh-what, when did this happen? I thought you were on your way home."

"I was, I was," Rachel responds frantically. "She caught up with me on the sidewalk and just kissed me, then walked away."

"This is getting ridiculous," Kurt says.

"I know."

"I told you to distance yourself."

"I tried," she huffs, plopping down onto her bed face first.

"Well, try harder," Kurt exasperates. "I gotta get back inside. Charles is looking antsy."

"Kurt—"

He hangs up on her.

-----

It spreads like wildfire.

Supposedly it was Kurt who told Charles, who then told Ryan, who told Jaime, who told Paul, who told Jimmy, who told Quinn, that they've been sleeping together.

In Kurt's defense, he only told Charles about Rachel's drama in order to explain the reason he had to step out on their date the other night.

Somehow this information makes its way through almost every cast and crew member and quickly becomes a misconstrued lie, going from them kissing each other to them sleeping together.

Theatre nerds are so damn dramatic, Rachel thinks to herself, as she works on avoiding Quinn for the third day in a row.

"I heard we've been sleeping together," Quinn says, sneaking up behind her.

It seems Rachel's methods of avoidance are neither strategic nor stealth.

Refusing to turn around, Rachel shrugs her shoulders and says, "That's the rumor."

Quinn hums to herself in contemplation. "Okay," she says, and Rachel can finally breathe again once she hears Quinn's footsteps fade away.

+

Their friendship isn't exactly battered, but it's not the same as it was before. Strangely, it's more intense than it was before. Rachel's senses are on fire whenever Quinn is around.

Every touch feels like a burn. Every glance shared between them makes her face hot. Every smile Quinn throws her way gives Rachel heartburn.

They're still friends though; Quinn still sneaks her review clippings, still orders Rachel's favorite takeout, still texts her and calls her at all hours of the night.

They're still friends, and that's what makes Kurt mad, because she's not even trying to distance herself, not even trying to protect her heart.

+

Rachel's on her way home, alone again, because Kurt is out with that damn Charles again. It's cold, so Rachel tugs on the collar of her jacket and holds it tight against her neck.

It's a windy night, and in the back of her head, Rachel thinks she hears someone calling her name. She turns around, and it's Quinn. Of course it's Quinn, jogging up beside her with this tired, lopsided smile.

She takes Rachel's hand and tugs her in the opposite direction of her apartment. Rachel would ask what's going on, but she thinks she already has a pretty good idea of where they're going—where this is going.

Quinn's apartment is big and spacey. It smells like scented candles, wet paint, and shaved wood. "Did you just move?" Rachel asks, eyeing the unopened cardboard boxes in the corner of the loft.

Quinn smiles. "I've lived here for over a year now," she says, sliding Rachel's coat off. Rachel lets her. It's warm in the apartment, so it's not like she really needs it anyway. "Just felt like redecorating lately."

Following Quinn into the kitchen, Rachel says, "Change is good."

"Yeah," Quinn says, hazel eyes sparkling as she nods in agreement. "Change is good."

As Rachel takes in the silver refrigerator, wooden floorboards, and marble countertop, she briefly wonders if Quinn has a second job she's never told her about. This usually isn't the type of living arrangements a stagehand in an off-Broadway play would occupy.

"My parents are very well-off," Quinn explains, seemingly reading Rachel's mind as she pours out two glasses of wine. "And fairly generous."

The last piece of information sounds considerably less genuine, but Rachel doesn't ask about it. Instead, she smiles, allowing her eyes to scope the place out more. "I can see that."

"A tour?" Quinn offers, handing the wine glass to Rachel with a wink.

She's come this far; might as well take a tour as well. Rachel's expecting to see the living room, bathroom, maybe even a dining room if the apartment is big enough to fit one. What she's not expecting is to be lead straight down the hallway and into Quinn's bedroom.

"That's my dresser, my white carpet, my shoe rack..." Quinn trails off, walking over to sit on the side of her mattress. "And this is my very, very comfortable bed."

Seduction 101, Rachel thinks to herself as her face grows hot. Yes, indeed; as of this very moment, she is in the process of being seduced by a straight woman with a straight boyfriend. Together, they are a straight couple who more than likely have straight sex on the very bed Quinn is sitting on.

"It does look comfortable," Rachel muses aloud, taking a steady sip of wine. After swallowing, she finally comes to her senses. "But I have an early rehearsal in the morning. And the theatre is closer to my apartment. And I already have my alarm clock set to the appropriate time of my awakening."

With every frantic excuse, Rachel takes an equal step back and towards the door. Quinn looks on, slightly amused. "We're close friends, right, Rach?"

The question catches Rachel off guard, causing her to almost trip on her way out, which definitely wouldn't be good considering she's holding a glass of very red wine over Quinn's very white carpet.

Rachel never answers the question. She can't, because there's really no way of knowing what Quinn means by close in the first place. Like, how close?

Instead, she walks swiftly out of the room, places her glass of wine on the counter, and exits the apartment before Quinn can try anything funny.

Or funnier, considering.

+

Neither one of them talk about it; the kisses, the seduction, the handholding, the bed. It seems everyone in the cast and crew are talking about what's going on between them except for the two people it's actually happening to.

Jimmy smiles at her while she's stretching. She tries to ignore him for as long as possible, but he's hovering, and Rachel hates hovering.

"What do you want, Jimmy?" she sighs.

Jimmy's silent for a moment as he strokes his goatee. "Quinn wants to talk to you," he eventually says, before heading back behind the curtains.

Jimmy's a strange one, Rachel thinks to herself, as she reaches for her toes.

+

"I want to sleep with you," Quinn tells her, chewing on her bottom lip.

It's the first time Rachel has ever seen her nervous. Quinn is always so confident and strong and brave, but right now Quinn is toeing the ground, messing with her hair, flaring her nostrils. Her uneasiness makes Rachel feel uneasy, especially after hearing what Quinn wants from her.

"What?" Rachel says, squinting her eyes, because she must have just heard wrong.

Quinn shrugs. "I mean, everybody already thinks we are, so why not?"

Why not? Why not? Rachel can think of about a million different reasons why not.

But Quinn is looking at her with these goo goo eyes. Damn, her eyes are so bright and clear and hazel, and Rachel really wants to say no to those eyes. She wants to say no to everything about Quinn, but instead what comes out is, "Sure, why not?"

+

It's awkward and fumbling and a bit messy, but overall it's the best sex Rachel has ever had. They do the deed on Quinn's couch, and in Quinn's bed, and on Quinn's counter, and on Quinn's carpet.

It's unconventional and fast and slow and Quinn has a boyfriend. It's so wrong but everything about it feels so right.

It seems Quinn thinks so too, based on the lazy grin spread across her cheeks, based on the sweat forming on her temples, based on the soft whimpers and low grunts and loud screams.

If Kurt found out about this, he'd be absolutely livid, so she keeps it to herself. Like Quinn said, what they do now won't even make a difference considering everyone already thinks they're sleeping together anyway.

+

Rachel doesn't know why, but she kind of thought something would change afterwards; after the sex and the kissing and the naked cuddling. Rachel thought things would change after they had breakfast in the morning and kissed over the counter.

She thought everything would change after Quinn made her a cup of coffee and brought it to her in bed. She thought at least something would change after they joked about Quinn's shaggy, blonde hair sticking up in all directions.

She thought their friendship would change after that.

It doesn't.

Quinn goes back to being her friend. She kisses Rachel every now and then. She buys Rachel cook books and Thai takeout. She sneaks her review clippings and calls Rachel at all hours of the night just to talk.

Everything is the same, and the same is good. But the same is bad too, because nothing changes, and change is good.

They don't talk about it; that's the only thing that doesn't change. It's the only think Rachel needs to change.

+

"You're acting different."

Rachel gives Kurt a look over the table. "What do you mean?"

"You used to talk about Quinn at every given opportunity," he explains, wiping at the corner of his mouth with a napkin. "But you haven't mentioned her in weeks."

Shrugging, Rachel picks up her fork and pushes her food around her plate. To be honest, she really doesn't feel like talking about it anymore. Crushes are fun and everything, until you get crushed.

She's tired of talking about it with people who have nothing to do with it. She's tired of listening to the gossip, speculation, and stupid rumors.

She's just tired.

"You know what I think?" Kurt glances up at her, his blue eyes sincere. "I think the rumors are true. You slept with her, didn't you?"

Rachel throws her napkin on the table and leaves the restaurant without answering his question.

After all, Rachel suspects he already knows he's right.

"Rachel," he calls after her. "Rachel Berry!"

She doesn't turn around. She's lost her appetite.

----

They have sex again, and again, and again, and again, and Rachel thought it would break her heart, but the sex actually makes her feel better.

Even though Quinn has a boyfriend, she makes Rachel feel loved and safe whenever they're having sex. Then afterwards, Quinn always laughs and smiles with her. Quinn fixes them breakfast and coffee. Quinn holds her under the sheets, kisses the back of her neck.

They have a system, and it works, for awhile.

They exchange fleeting glances during rehearsals, they walk back to Quinn's apartment together, Quinn orders Rachel's favorite takeout, they drink wine and listen to music on the couch, and when Quinn finally leans over to kiss her, Rachel puts her glass down on the coffee table and gives herself away to Quinn.

This is their system, and it's worked so far, so why change anything? Why fix what's not broken?

They undress themselves, because it's faster that way. Quinn giggles when Rachel's shirt gets caught on her earring, and then helps her out of it. They chuckle and laugh and squeal as they chase each other down the hallway and into Rachel's bedroom.

Fuck passionate, hot sex. Rachel loves it when Quinn grabs her around the waist with one arm and throws her on the bed, then jumps right on top of her. She loves it when Quinn giggles into her neck and pulls at her belt loops, pinches her ass, noses the underside of her chin like an impatient puppy.

She loves playful, goofy sex, but only with Quinn.

+

They have a system, and it works, but only for awhile, because Rachel's best friend from high school visits a few weeks later.

Kurt tells her that Santana's been planning on coming to New York to see her perform, and Rachel screams and throws her arms around the woman when she opens the door to find Santana on the other side.

They hold onto each other, and jump up and down, and squeal into each other's necks, because it's been months since they've last seen each other.

Schedules and school and work have gotten in the way over the years, but this is the best surprise Rachel's gotten in awhile, having her oldest friend here, finally.

She's excited and giddy, and she feels like she's fifteen all over again. The only thing that scratches the record on this moment is the shuffling feet dragging themselves down the hallway.

Quinn appears not a moment later, in nothing but a bra and a pair of plaid boxer shorts. Her hair is a mess, and she's wiping at her eyes and yawning.

Eventually she picks her head up and sees Rachel and Santana hugging by the doorway. Hazel eyes bounce back and forth between them suspiciously. "Rach?" she murmurs, placing a hand on her hip. "Who's this?"

If it's possible, Santana holds onto her even tighter. Rachel has to use both hands to push her away, which just makes Quinn look even more peeved.

Kurt's never been able to keep his mouth shut, so she doubts he did when it came to telling Santana about her new friendship with Quinn.

"Who am I?" Santana scoffs, stepping in front of Rachel. "You're the one-night stand. We should be wondering what your name is."

"Santana," Rachel scolds.

The Latina throws her hands up in exasperation. "What?"

"Quinn's not a one-night stand," she explains, in which Quinn smirks and folds her arms over her chest.

Santana doesn't move a muscle. "Who's Quinn?" she asks flatly, and when Rachel gives her a look, Santana just shrugs her shoulders.

Typical Santana—always overly protective, always unnecessarily rude.  

"This is Quinn," Rachel exasperates, gesturing to the blonde. "My friend."

"Your friend?" Santana scoffs.

Furrowing her eyebrows, Quinn lowers her head and growls, "Her friend."

"Oh, sure, I bet you were doing some very friendly activities back there in Rachel's bedroom."

"Santana."

"What?" Santana huffs, eyes wide in irritation. "Look, let's drop the act. We all know what's going on here. Kurt's tuned me into the recent drama."

"You have no idea what's going on between Rachel and I," Quinn speaks up.

Santana cuts her with a look. "Was I even talking to you, Lolita?" she sneers, eyeing Quinn up and down before facing Rachel again as she cools her features. "Rach, listen, I get the friends with the bennies situation. Believe me, I've been there."

"Santana," Rachel tries one more time, but Santana cuts her off.

"Just let me finish," Santana says, exasperated. "I'll give it to you, hobbit, okay? Your friend is fucking hot, I know, but is she really worth all the shit you'll feel later?"

Quinn's still standing there in nothing but her underwear, arms wrapped around her torso protectively. She doesn't say anything, just watches Rachel closely and lets her make her own decision.

Rachel wants to tell Santana to back off, to mind her own business, to stop picking on Quinn, but she knows Santana's right. She knows Santana's just looking out for her, because Santana's been there before too.

Both Quinn and Santana are looking at her. Quinn, with these vulnerable puppy dog eyes, and Santana, with this heavy, penetrating stare.

Rachel doesn't want to choose sides. Santana's her oldest friend, but Rachel's pretty sure she could be in love with Quinn.

Unsure of what to do, she glances between them both, lost and confused. Every second that ticks by without a word on her part has Quinn frowning deeper and deeper.

She doesn't know what to say, so she says nothing. Eventually Quinn must get the hint—after getting dressed, she leaves all on her own, Santana smirking to herself the entire time.

As soon as the door slams shut, Santana holds Rachel in her arms and tells her she did the right thing, but all Rachel can do is cry into Santana's neck, feeling as if she just made a huge mistake.

+

The cast and crew all go out after the show Saturday night. Santana's there to congratulate her with a bouquet of red roses.

Rachel kisses her on the cheek and brings her into a hug, because Santana's just the sweetest thing.

It's not until the end of the night, when Rachel hasn't seen Santana for over an hour that Jimmy tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that both Santana and Quinn got kicked out of the club for getting into a slap fight.

+

"She was giving me these nasty looks all night," is Santana's argument as she holds an ice pack against her red cheek.

Rachel rolls her eyes as she leans over the counter. "Santana, I know you're just trying to look out for me," she begins, sighing deeply, "but Quinn and I, we're...she's just—"

"Different?"

"Yeah," Rachel sighs, smiling to herself.

"Yeah, she's different alright," Santana mutters, hefting herself up onto countertop. "Sure she's not a man? That was some right hook she hit me with."

"Oh, I'm very sure she's not a man," Rachel giggles, biting her tongue, and it's the first time she's genuinely laughed in awhile when Santana mockingly gags and punches her in the shoulder.

It's a lot funnier than it should be, and Santana laughs so hard she almost falls off the side of the counter.

+

"Rachel," Santana says, after their laughing fit dies down. She sounds serious all of a sudden, so Rachel gives Santana her full attention. "I have to tell you something."

"What is it?" Rachel asks, concerned.

Santana puts down the ice pack and lets out a sigh. "Quinn's been lying to you. I overheard her talking to Jimmy," she says, reaching for Rachel's hand. "She doesn't have a boyfriend. That's the real reason I slapped her."

It doesn't make sense. Rachel's first reaction is to scoff, because why would Quinn lie about something like that? But then Rachel takes a moment to really think about it, and why would Santana—her oldest, dearest friend—lie to her either?

"But," Rachel stutters, clutching onto Santana's hand tighter. "Why would Quinn lie about that?"

Santana snorts. "She's insecure, self-conscious, hopeless, tiresome, ridicul—"

"Santana."

"What?"

"The real reason..." Rachel prompts, giving Santana a look.

Santana sighs. "Quinn has walls, Rachel, and well...her imaginary boyfriend is just one of them—a fake one," she emphasizes, hopping off of the counter to stand in front of Rachel. "And with a wall, Quinn never has to commit. She just eats your food, talks your ear off, screws you for fun, you have some good laughs, good times, and then she moves on to the next girl."

She doesn't even have to ask Santana how she knows this. Santana's been around the block once or twice. She's been there, and Rachel knows it, so she accepts it and keeps on moving.

+

Rachel sneaks up on Quinn this time, which may not be a good idea, exactly, considering Quinn's holding a hammer when Rachel taps her lightly on the shoulder.

Santana's flown back to Chicago, and Kurt's meeting Charles' parents somewhere down south, so Rachel figures there's no better time than now to talk to Quinn.

"Santana went home," Rachel says.

"Good for Santana," Quinn mumbles, turning back around to hammer a few crooked nails into a wooden board.

"I know you're jealous, Quinn." Rachel follows after Quinn as she heads backstage. "But there's no reason to be. Santana's just my friend."

Quinn pauses, breathes in, and then swivels sideways to face Rachel for the first in weeks. "Like, the way we were friends?"

Rachel can feel her heartburn acting up. "No..." she says, unsure of how to answer the question.

Quinn mumbles something under her breath as she crouches onto the floor. Rachel stands behind her, arms folded over her chest as she watches Quinn rifle through her toolbox.

"And as I've come to understand," Rachel continues, picking up from where she left off. "There's no need for me to be jealous either."

Quinn huffs but doesn't turn around. "Rachel, what are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about the fact that you don't have a boyfriend."

Slowly lifting her head, Quinn stares off at a far wall on the other side of the stage. "Where'd you hear that?"

"A little birdie told me," Rachel responds.

"Is this birdie's name Santana?"

Rachel shrugs. "Maybe."

"Well, that birdie should shut her beak."

"Quinn—"

She walks away before Rachel can say another word, and Rachel doesn't follow her this time around.

+

Quinn shows up at Rachel's house at one in the morning. Rachel is bleary eyed, exhausted, and practically hallucinating when Quinn kisses her in the doorway.

They kiss for a long time, all lips and tongue, and Rachel's so tired that she first thinks this is all a dream. Maybe she never woke up in the first place. Maybe she's still in bed, eyes closed, body tucked comfortably under her sheets.

It's not until Quinn pushes her inside and closes the door behind them that she realizes this is real. It isn't until they're in Rachel's bedroom, frantically pulling off each other’s clothes that Rachel realizes Quinn is actually in her room, half naked, planning to have sex with her after ignoring her for two weeks straight.

Rachel knows her heart can't handle this. Sure, Quinn doesn't have a boyfriend—never had one at all, but this fact somehow just makes things even more complicated.

There's nothing or nobody holding Quinn back but herself. There's nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. Nothing but Rachel.

Ignoring that little voice inside of her head telling her not to do this, Rachel lets Quinn in, in more ways than one, and they fall into bed together.

+

Quinn's not at the theatre the next day, or the day after that, or the day after that.

It's Jimmy who tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn Fabray quit her job as a stagehand for their off-Broadway production.

It doesn't fully hit Rachel that Quinn left until Santana calls her hours later to find out how she's taking it.

"Kurt has a big mouth," she mumbles, sniffling as she plops down on the couch.

"He's just looking out for you," Santana says.

"I know."

"Quinn doesn't know what she's missing out on."

"I know."

"She never deserved you, Rach," Santana continues, urgency in her tone, because she's always been the protective best friend—ever since junior high. "She had a fake boyfriend. What kind of moron pretends to have a boyfriend in order to sleep with a lesbian?"

Now that Santana puts it that way, it does sound pretty convoluted. For the first time in weeks, Rachel genuinely laughs, and Santana laughs with her, and when they add Kurt into the conversation on three-way, he laughs with them too, just for the damn heck of it.

+

Three weeks later, Jimmy tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn Fabray's sorry for everything she put Rachel through.

"Tell her to tell me herself," Rachel says, winking in Kurt's direction.

Kurt winks back and gives her a thumbs up. "And tell her Rachel's pregnant," he adds, laughing at the befuddled look on Rachel's face. "You know, just to give her a hemorrhage."

+

The members of the cast and crew do not know how to mind their own business. She hears chatter about where Quinn is now, what she's working on, who she's sleeping with, and Rachel just doesn't want to hear any of it.

Of course she cares about Quinn and misses Quinn, but there's really no point in torturing herself by indulging in the unnecessary gossip of it all.

She tells Kurt to stop telling her every bit of news he hears about Quinn. In order for her heart to heal, she has to cut off all ties with the blonde.

She washes her sheets three times until the scent of Quinn's body wash has diminished. She throws out all of the Thai takeout menus Quinn's gathered over the last few months.

And after almost an hour of contemplating and berating and self-loathing, Rachel finally deletes Quinn's number out of her cell phone.

It's possibly the hardest thing she's ever done—harder than that time she gave up Thai food for a month as a challenge from Santana. Rachel still has Quinn's number memorized, but once she can't remember those blasted ten digits is when she'll know she's absolutely over Quinn.

That time hasn't exactly come yet, but she's on the road to recovery, and it sure is a bumpy one.

+

Kurt leans against the windowsill, arms crossed tightly. "You're taking this rather well."

"I prepared myself," Rachel responds, standing next to him. She watches as the chorus members stretch out their stiff limbs and prepare for rehearsal. They're in the dance studio today, learning choreography for a new play the theatre production wants to put on next year.

Rachel will never admit it aloud, but she kind of misses looking across the stage and seeing Quinn on the other side. She misses the flirtatious glances, the secret rendezvous in the supply closet, the random kisses and handholding. She doesn't want to—God, she doesn't want to miss Quinn—but it happens anyway, every time she thinks about her.

"You shouldn't have to, you know," Kurt tells her.

Rachel's distractedly looking out the window; that's where all of life's answers are, after all. "Shouldn't what?" she murmurs.

Kurt nudges her in the shoulder to catch her attention. "I said you shouldn't have to prepare yourself for heartbreak every time you meet someone new," he explains, gazing out the window. Rachel wonders if he's searching for the meaning to life too. "Love is supposed to be sporadic and impulsive. You can't prepare yourself for spontaneity, Rachel. It's impossible."

+

She wills herself not to think about it for seven days straight, and it actually works. She forgets Quinn's number. She forgets her scent, the sound of her voice and laughter, the softness of her skin and hair.

Rachel forgets all about it, for awhile.

Things die down at the theatre. The gossip stops—the ones about her, anyway. There's no more chatter backstage about who told who told who told who. There's no speculation, drama, or rumors about where Quinn is, what Quinn's doing, who Quinn's doing, as far as Rachel knows, and it's kind of relieving in a way.

She can finally breathe again; her blood pressure can come down from its high, and life will finally get back to normal. Her heart will slowly mend itself, and Rachel will be free of everything Quinn Fabray.

Sigh. It feels so good to be free.

+

Quinn comes back into her life on a Tuesday night; quite unwillingly, Rachel might add. One moment Rachel's standing in front of the microwave, waiting for her leftover Thai to warm up, and then the next moment there's knock on the door.

Rachel checks her wrist watch—she wasn't expecting anyone at this late hour, but she goes to answer the door anyway.

Quinn's standing on the other side.

Everything comes rushing back to Rachel all at once; Quinn's honey suckle scent, the sound of her voice and laughter, the delicious softness of her silky smooth skin and hair, her fucking phone number.

It's so unfair. She was so close to forgetting everything. It's been three months of no crying or hoping or wishing Quinn would come back into her life, and now here she is, back in Rachel's home—life—whether she likes it or not.

Well, Rachel doesn't like it, and no matter what her heart is screaming at her to do, she's going to ignore it for the time being.

Quinn stands up straight, wipes at the tears flooding her eyes, and says, "Rach—"

Rachel slams the door in her face.

+

She's trapped in her own apartment.

Quinn won't leave without getting a chance to apologize, but Rachel doesn't even want to ever see her stupidly angel-like crafted face again, so she refuses to answer the door, thus trapping herself inside.

She calls Kurt.

"Quinn's outside my door," Rachel whispers, eyes frantically jumping towards her foyer. "And she won't go away."

"Quinn Fabray?" Kurt asks, and Rachel rolls her eyes and sighs obnoxiously loud. "Oh—right. Well, what is she doing back from California?"

This is news to Rachel. "She was in California?"

"You told me not to tell you anything I heard about her," he explains guiltily.

There's knocking on her door again. It happens at least every ten minutes, and Rachel curses under her breath, because if there's one thing she can say about Quinn, it's that the woman is definitely stubborn.

"She's not going home anytime soon." Rachel bites down on her thumbnail as she sags into the couch cushions. "Kurt, what do I do?"

"You talk to her."

Yeah, that sounds like a bad idea. "Plan B?" she tries.

"No Plan B, Rachel," he tells her firmly. "Whatever she has to say must be pretty damn important if she won't leave your front door. Just hear her out, and if it sounds like complete bullshit, just slam the door in her face again, and harder this time."

Rachel still wishes there was a Plan B.

--------

She takes a deep breath to control her heart rate, and then she opens the door.

Quinn's still standing there, just like she was two hours ago. Her shoulder is against the doorframe, her eyes are almost bloodshot red, and she doesn't look too good.

"Are you drunk?" Rachel asks, eyeing Quinn's posture suspiciously.

"No," Quinn murmurs, bright hazel eyes practically boring into deep brown. "I've just been crying a lot lately."

"I see," Rachel murmurs—only because she can't come up with anything better to say.

(What is one suppose to say to the woman who dropped off the face of the earth after making love to you like you're a fucking goddess?)

"I don't have a boyfriend," Quinn says, after the silence has stretched on for way too long to be considered comfortable.

Rachel huffs. "I already know tha—"

"Please, Rachel, let me finish," Quinn interrupts, wiping at a stray tear on her cheek. "I neither have a real nor fake boyfriend. I never had a real boyfriend, and I've recently dumped my fake boyfriend, so now there's no one. No one but you."

It's a very nice speech, and once Quinn's done, she stands there, hazel eyes bright with tears, and she waits. Unsure of what to do with herself, Rachel shuffles her feet and looks down at the ground.

Here's Quinn, saying everything she's ever dreamed of hearing. Here's Quinn, at her fucking door, expressing every feeling she's ever failed to express in the past. Here's Quinn, making herself vulnerable, making herself open and basically naked for proper examination—all for Rachel.

But all Rachel can do is stare at the ground, because now she doesn't know what to say. And Rachel always has something to say, unless it's in regard to Quinn.

"I was a bitch," Quinn whispers, after neither of them has said anything in over two minutes. She runs a hand through her hair, sniffles slightly, and pinches her lips together. "I was horrible to treat you like a piece of property. As much as I hate to admit it, Santana was right."

Quinn grimaces—it must have been really hard to get that out.

"Look, I'm not asking for a second chance. I'm not looking to immediately get back into your good graces, because I want to deserve you. You're worth something, Rachel." Quinn tilts her chin up, looking unafraid for the first time since they've met. "I wish I could have seen that three months ago, but I'm working on it. Know that I'm working on it, Rach."

Rachel opens her mouth to reply, but nothing comes out. She doesn't know what to say or do or what the fucking hell. She wasn't expecting any of this. She'd stopped preparing herself before time months ago.

But Quinn is impulsive and spontaneous and sporadic, and Rachel understands that if they want to make this work she has to meet Quinn halfway.

"I have Thai," Rachel says, jerking her thumb over her shoulder. It's probably the stupidest thing to say in this type of situation, but it seems to work either way.

Smiling sweetly, Quinn laughs and says, "I like Thai."

"Me too."

They stand in the doorway, silent for a few seconds, just smiling at each other. Rachel's heart has never beaten this hard before, and she wonders if Quinn is nervous also, or if it's only herself who feels like she's about to puke.

"Want to..." she trails off, rubbing the side of her arm. "Come in?"

Quinn looks shy when she nods, which definitely isn't something Rachel is used to seeing a lot of the time. She thinks she likes it—this new Quinn that's come back from California.

Rachel moves out of the way as Quinn slips inside.

It feels different than before, having Quinn here again, and Rachel hopes that's a good sign.

+

Things between them don't immediately go back to normal, and Rachel supposes that's to be expected.

Quinn gave her heartburn, rose her blood pressure, almost made her puke—Quinn was technically killing her, so they take things slow, for awhile.

Surprisingly it's Quinn who takes the extra initiative. Quinn's the one who keeps her distance. Quinn's the one who withholds from any intimate contact. Quinn's the one who gives her all the space she needs, because Quinn knows what she did really hurt Rachel.

It's the first time Rachel's ever seen understanding in those fiery eyes of Quinn's. It's the first time she's seen unguarded kindness and something that looks a lot like love.

+

"You wanna see X-Men: First Class?"

Rachel shifts her phone between her ear and shoulder as she scans the contents in her fridge for something to eat. "Hmm?" she murmurs, distracted. "What was that?"

"I mean," Quinn starts to backtrack. "Your favorite kinds of movies are sci-fi, so I just figured we could check it out or something. But if you don't wanna go, that's cool too."

Rachel stares at a half empty liter of orange juice. "You remember that?"

There's silence, and then, "Remember what?"

"It was over a year ago when I told you that," Rachel points out, smiling to herself as she leans against the refrigerator door. "And you actually remembered."

"Of course I remembered," Quinn says sweetly. "I remember everything you tell me."

Rachel's skeptical. "Is that so?"

Chuckling, Quinn says, "Yes, Rachel, it's so."

"Then prove it."

Sucking up a breath of air, Quinn takes her up on that challenge. "You've been a vegan since you were thirteen. You can't sleep after the sun has risen, and it's nearly impossible for you to stay up after midnight. When you taste something for the first time, you smell it first and pick at it with your fingers with this adorable thinking face you use whenever you're trying to make a difficult decision, and I know this because it was the same look you used before you decided to forgive me."

Suddenly she's not so skeptical anymore. "So, you wanna go to the movies," she reiterates, raising an eyebrow.

"Only if you do," Quinn says.

"And this would be like...a date?"

Quinn chuckles. "I mean, that's what I was hoping, but if you're not ready—"

"I am!" Rachel shouts, probably a little louder than necessary. Blushing a bright red, she clears her throat and adds, "I mean, yes, I'd love to accompany you to the movies as your date, Quinn."

"Great, great. Pick you up at six?" Quinn offers, and Rachel smiles when she hears the excitement in Quinn's voice.

"Yes, six is fine."

"Okay, cool."

"Yeah."

"Well, I'll see you then."

"Okay, Quinn."

"Yeah, alright."

Rachel can't help but giggle. "Bye, Quinn."

"Um," Quinn murmurs. "Bye, Rach."

+

It's a month later when Jimmy tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn Fabray is going to ask her out.

Rachel laughs at the rumor.

The gossip mill at the theatre seems to be getting dry considering she and Quinn have already been dating for two weeks now.

+

Santana calls her on a Saturday morning. The sun has just barely risen, Quinn's arm is draped over her bare stomach, and Rachel really doesn't feel like moving right now, especially after all the energy she used up last night screaming Quinn's name.

But once Rachel wipes the sleep out of her eyes and sees Santana's name on the caller ID, she answers it anyway, because if it's one thing Santana hates, it's being ignored.

As soon as Rachel puts the phone to her ear, she regrets it. Santana's peeved, because apparently Kurt can't keep a secret to save his life.

"She's just going to hurt you again, Rachel," she warns her, and Rachel knows Santana's serious about this—her oldest friend never uses her full name unless she's being dead serious.

She understands where Santana's coming from. She understands that Santana's just looking out for her and that she wants the best for her friend.

They've known each other since junior high, and Santana's always been there to protect her and save her and shield her from heartbreak. But now Rachel's a grown woman, and she and Santana live states away from each other.

She can't depend on Santana to chase away the no-good whores—Santana's words, not hers—anymore, so Rachel has to learn how to make her own judgment calls.

She has to look out for herself now, so she tells Santana that, "I appreciate your concern, and I know that Quinn's done some unsavory things in the past, but I'm in love with her. I love her, Santana, and if being with her means risking everything I have, then so be it."

She hangs up after Santana expresses her understanding. Sure, Santana's a bit pissed off, but Rachel figures she'll get over it sooner or later. Santana always gets over shit once she's had a nice nap.

Quinn shifts next to her in bed, and Rachel knows she's awake—has been awake for a long while now.

"Quinn?" she whispers, turning over in bed. "Quinn, I know you're awake."

Stuffing her head into a pillow, Quinn groans and mutters something unintelligible.

Laughing softly, Rachel trails a finger down her exposed back. "Quinn," she singsongs.

Scooting over in bed, Quinn wraps an arm around Rachel's body and stifles a yawn. "Yeah, I love you too, baby," she murmurs, kissing the back of Rachel's neck. "Now go back to sleep."

Rachel sleeps like a baby after that.

+

It's seven months later when Jimmy tells Paul, who tells Jaime, who tells Ryan, who tells Kurt, who then tells Rachel, that Quinn Fabray bought her a ring.

For a second she hyperventilates, because is she even ready for marriage? Is she actually ready to take that next step with Quinn at her side?

Rachel can barely remember to lock her door in the morning, or to pay her bills on time, or to take out the trash before it stinks up the whole apartment.

Quinn can barely remember to replace the spoiled milk in the refrigerator, or to call Rachel when she gets home late from work, or to feed the fish they bought together at that fair last weekend.

They've never even lived together, but Quinn wants to marry her? They've never even talked about the future or weddings or kids, but Quinn wants to marry her?

It's just barely been eight months since Quinn came back into her life, but Quinn wants to marry her?

Well, according to most of the cast and crew, Quinn wants to marry her. Oh, right, it's just a rumor—one that's probably not even true.

Sure, Quinn's impulsive and spontaneous, but she's not that impulsive and spontaneous.

+

The rumor is true, and by the end of the week, Quinn is on one knee in the middle of her apartment.

The lights are dimmed, and there are scented candles scattered all over the place, and Quinn is in a black dress, barefoot on the carpet in the living room as she stares up at Rachel with this sparkle in her eye.

Quinn says some things about fate and second chances and love and hope and a bunch of other stuff Rachel doesn't quite hear because the loud beating of her heart is kind of overpowering everything else in the world.

All she manages to hear is, "Rachel Berry, will you marry me?"

+

Santana's her grumpy maid of honor. She's argumentative, difficult, and huffy, but at least she throws Rachel the wildest bachelorette party ever, along with strippers and tequila and even lampshades.

It's so wild that Rachel can't even remember what happened the night before. All she knows is that Santana's fast asleep beside her in bed, drooling on her pillow, Kurt is draped sideways over the both of them, and another one of her good friends from high school is knocked out somewhere on the floor.

They've all overslept, and by the time someone realizes it, they only have two hours to get to the rehearsal dinner. Sure, Santana's a horrible maid of honor, she mocks Quinn and makes rude jokes about her commitment issues, and when the morning of the wedding comes Santana even tries to convince Rachel not to go through with it, but she is Rachel's best friend, and she gets Rachel down the aisle in time to marry the girl of her dreams, so—Rachel figures—that's all that really matters.

+

The first time Rachel saw Quinn's apartment, she noticed something very important. There were unpacked boxes and opened buckets of paint scattered all over the carpetless floor in her loft.

Most of the walls were white. There was not one lamp, or television set, or flower vase. It was not a home, just a piece of property to keep Quinn occupied for awhile until she decided to move on.

Rachel never understood it before, but now it makes all the sense in the world. Quinn has problems settling down. She's impulsive and antsy, and it's hard for her to stay in one place at one time. She's afraid of commitment and holding on and settling down, but she's putting everything on the line for Rachel.

She's smiling at Rachel, saying I do to Rachel, and kissing Rachel in front of over one-hundred witnesses.

She's dancing with Rachel, whispering I love you into Rachel's ear, dipping Rachel backwards in the middle of the dance floor, and she's tearing up at her own words as she holds up a flute of champagne and makes a toast to love, Thai food, newspaper clippings, and no more heartburn.