Actions

Work Header

you're the trouble that i always find

Chapter Text

“That doesn’t sound too awful,” Sam says, watching Quinn as she does a series of push-ups. He glances up at the television, which is playing a preview from the set. Rachel had claimed something about wanting to Skype watch it with her dads, hence why she had scheduled her weekly workout with Sam during the whole thing.

“She looked like I had hit her with a fish, and now she keeps apologizing to me,” Quinn says, grunting at the strain the push-ups make her feel in her hips, which are still not amazing even years after the accident. 

“Well, hey,” Sam says, pulling her up after she finishes her set. “At least the seed is planted.”

“She keeps staring at me,” Quinn mutters, as Sam drops to the ground to do his set. She crosses to one of the benches and sits, grabbing for her water bottle. He doesn’t look up at her, but she can tell he’s smiling.

“You’re kind of gorgeous, lor menari,” he says, in the middle of his push-ups, not sounding out of breath at all. He’s the worst. Mercedes is way too lucky.

“Thanks, you big nerd, but it’s like…” Quinn says, then sighs, shaking her head. “It feels like something’s different. It feels like she’s looking at me.”

“She’s always looked at you,” Sam says, hopping up from his set with a big jump, stretching to touch one of the pipes running above them.

“No, it feels like she’s not looking at Quinn Fabray, head bitch in charge, prettiest girl in school,” Quinn says.

“She called you that? How are you two not banging right now?”

Quinn glares at him, as he nudges her over towards the bench press. She lies back, pulling the bar from its resting place and letting it drop slowly towards her. His hands rest between hers, ready to catch it if she drops. 

“She always called me that, Sam,” Quinn says, and Sam laughs at her. “It just feels like she’s looking at me. I don’t know how to explain it. When I told Santana, she said she owes Mercedes money now. Why do they keep betting on me?”

“Because it’s an easy way to win money, I guess,” Sam says, shrugging. He tugs lightly on the bar when she has trouble pushing it back up towards the hold on her last rep. They switch places, and she watches as he starts pressing easily.

“Today she asked me what my type was, again,” Quinn says. “And the staring.”

“We’ve gone over the staring,” Sam says. “Maybe she’s trying to tell you that her crush hasn’t gone away.”

“Maybe I need to throw her out of my apartment,” Quinn says, catching the bar when Sam’s grip slips. “She’s been there for two months now.”

“Maybe you should focus on being her friend,” Sam says. “And then you two can bang.”

“What if I don’t want to bang?” Quinn asks, though that’s the dumbest rhetorical question she’s ever asked. Sam laughs at her in accordance with that fact, for ten minutes.

After they say goodbye, and after the door woman sighs longingly after Sam and his cut-off shirt, Quinn opens the door to find Rachel Berry watching television again, thankfully wearing real clothes this time. She sits up excitedly when the door opens, turning to look at Quinn.

“Quinn! Come watch the set visit!” Rachel says, already conjuring up the recording on Quinn’s complicated television set-up. It’s weirdly heartwarming, to see that Rachel’s at home there.

“I was there, Rachel, I don’t really need to see it,” Quinn says, even though she comes over anyway and stands in front of the television. Rachel comes over next to her, and presses play.

It’s a simple enough clip, where they show small cuts of action, interviews with Rachel and Gavin and a small bit of Quinn. Rachel is practically vibrating next to her with excitement, and Quinn almost places a hand on her shoulders to get her to calm down.

At the end of the clip, the two people at the newsdesk turn to each other, and one of them says, “I think this show is Emmy worthy. It’s my top pick of the new season.”

This is the part where Rachel squeals, very very loudly, and throws her arms around Quinn in her exuberance. Quinn has to grab ahold of Rachel just so they don’t fall down, though she gets pushed sideways enough that she hits the wall of her living room with a thump. Rachel is suddenly right there, pressed up against her, and even though her hip hurts a little bit from hitting the wall so suddenly, she smiles down at Rachel anyway.

Rachel smiles back, and doesn’t let go for about five more long seconds.

-

Quinn hears Rachel yell something about there being an enormous spider on their balcony a couple days later, as she’s finishing her lunch. So she wanders out of her office, carrying the bug swatter she keeps around singularly for such occasions, as Rachel stands in terror at the doorway to the balcony.

“It’s the size of Godzilla, Quinn,” Rachel says, once she knows that Quinn’s there. She grabs ahold of Quinn by the waist as she looks around for the spider. It is pretty big, but it sadly is not the biggest she’s seen. Damn Los Angeles and its lack of larger predators. 

“You’re lucky I’m not afraid of these things,” Quinn says, stepping onto the balcony and watching the spider scuttle around for a moment. “Why are you out here, anyway?”

“I figured our neighbors couldn’t complain about my singing if I was technically outside,” Rachel says, clenching Quinn’s t-shirt into her hand as the spider moves again. “I generally don’t have too many fears, but I’m very afraid of all kinds of vermin.”

“I’m afraid of dentists and the dark,” Quinn says, and Rachel laughs, and starts humming the song. The distraction works, and Quinn swings the bug swatter into the spider, who plummets off the balcony’s handrails to its probable death.

“Oh thank God,” Rachel says, dropping her hold on Quinn’s shirt and waist as Quinn turns around to turn back to her office. “You’re my hero.”

“You’re welcome,” Quinn says, shrugging, trying to step out of Rachel’s atmosphere. The shorter girl is looking at her again, watching her face with more closeness than ever before, more sincerity than ever playing across her own.

“You really are one of my heroes, you know,” Rachel says, reaching out to touch Quinn’s arm, down by the wrist. Quinn tries not to let it get to her.

Of course, that’s when Rachel reaches up to kiss her.

-

“Why do you look like you would rather be shot than be on set right now?” Lila asks, leaning over her producer’s chair and into Quinn’s airspace. She’s sitting in video village, balancing a coffee and her shooting script, trying to just live her life in peace. Clearly, it isn’t working.

“I just didn’t sleep that well last night,” Quinn says, shrugging. It’s true. She hadn’t slept, at all. She had sat in bed and started writing script treatments for season two, trying to ignore the buzzing feeling all over her lips, and the way Rachel had kissed her, then made a squeaking noise and disappeared with an apology.

“You can go home, you know,” Lila says. “No offense, but writers aren’t exactly required to be on set at all times. I can hold down the B-Line.”

Gavin and the director are chatting in front of them about the directions for this scene. Rachel is at home, presumably. Quinn hadn’t said goodbye when it had came close enough to the time that she could reasonably leave, so she wasn’t really sure.

“Unless, I mean, you don’t want to go home. Rachel does seem like she could be a bit of a diva,” Lila says, now clearly just talking to hear herself talk. Quinn is only half paying attention. “And she’s pretty loud, too, which…I mean, if she was having visitors over, that could certainly keep you up. I’m sorry, Quinn.”

“What?” Quinn asks, staring up at Lila. “No. She hasn’t…had visitors.”

“Has she been looking for her own apartment? The whole, quirky high school friends story is cute and everything, but I know she’s been getting our episode checks,” Lila says, nudging at Quinn’s shoulder. Quinn shrugs, letting her script close and standing up out of her chair.

“You’re right, I’m too out of it,” Quinn says. “I’ll go home.”

“Okay,” Lila says, looking vaguely confused, but uncertain on whether she should ask more questions. “Well, let me know if you need anything. My husband makes a mean special tea. Knocks me out in five seconds flat.”

Quinn barely makes it to her car, avoiding all manner of crew and slamming the door shut. The minute she gets inside, she sets her head up on the steering wheel, feeling, not for the first time, like a sixteen year-old girl. Rachel had kissed her, and it had been – it had been something. It was brief, but Quinn could close her eyes and feel every single second of it as though it had happened moments ago.

She had sat in her bedroom for hours, and Rachel hadn’t come to try to apologize, or explain herself. She had thought about calling someone and telling them, but – Santana would tell her to go fuck her, and Sam would tell her to talk to her, and Mercedes would laugh.

Well, they would all laugh.

She starts her car and starts driving home, hoping that Rachel is still unwilling to talk, or is just out of the apartment. When she does get home, she pushes the door open quietly, and looks immediately to her left towards the balcony. Where Rachel had kissed her.

“Hello, Quinn,” comes a quiet voice, from down the hall. Quinn turns her head back around, feeling a mass of anxiety bubble up in her stomach. She feels like she may puke.

Rachel is standing there, just outside her bedroom door, her arms wrapped around herself, looking unsure. It’s stupid, of course, but Quinn wants to reach out and touch her, to comfort her. But they’re friends. That would be ridiculous, right?

“Hey,” Quinn says, reaching up to rub the bridge of her nose and letting the door close softly behind her. This seems to prompt something in Rachel, as she steps closer.

“I’m so sorry, Quinn,” Rachel says. “I was just – well, I was overcome with the news that you had been interested in me in high school, and I know those feelings no longer remain, but you’re very alluring, and I was just – I was just - ”

“Rachel, it’s fine,” Quinn says. “We can survive accidentally kissing one time. It’s amazing that we hadn’t up until now, anyway, considering our incestuous glee club.”

It isn’t really fine. Quinn is still very much interested in Rachel Berry, and Rachel Berry is just – curious, about something she missed out on in high school.

“I don’t like to kiss people without permission,” Rachel says. “Especially people who I consider a friend, and maybe my best friend.”

Quinn sighs, then cracks her neck. This is too much for her, honestly.

“I’m okay, Rachel,” Quinn says. “Don’t have a mental breakdown over it.”

“This is just the first time we’ve ever been sort of normal, and I want us to be friends, real friends, and I understand if you’re uncomfortable with my presence now, and if you’d like me to begin moving out, I certainly can,” Rachel says, somehow continuing down a path of neuroses.

“Rachel,” Quinn says, trying to interrupt the spiral that has clearly been occurring all night and day. It doesn’t work, and Rachel keeps talking.

“You’ve been so kind to let me stay here, and I know I’ve overstayed my welcome. I can certainly stop contacting you as well, and I can avoid you as much as possible at work, though I’m unable to let this opportunity pass me by and quit - ”

Quinn stops her mid-rant by doing what is quite possibly the dumbest thing she’s ever done in her entire life. It’s probably predictable, and cliché, but she steps forward, into Rachel’s airspace, and kisses her.

For a second, Rachel doesn’t do anything, except make a surprised noise. Quinn is surprised as well. Even though Rachel Berry is her friend, even though they’ve just agreed that this is in the past, it feels like a dam has been broken. All those times Quinn had wanted to shut Rachel up in the middle of her ridiculously long-winded talks, and she now, finally has the option to do what she always wanted to. Because Rachel did it first.

Rachel kisses her back. The shorter woman’s hands slide up around Quinn’s neck, and she presses closer. Quinn accepts this with some surprise, but the pleasant buzz hovering between them is far too strong to pull back and question this. She keeps kissing Rachel, and Rachel keeps kissing her, until Rachel hits the wall behind them with a soft thump. And her tongue is in Quinn’s mouth for half a second before Quinn realizes she should breathe.

For a second, they just stare at each other.

“Sorry,” Quinn says. “You wouldn’t shut up.”

Rachel reaches up to kiss her again.

-

Quinn Fabray is making out with Rachel Berry on her couch in Los Angeles.

This sentence is only beginning to sound even possible to Quinn Fabray, even though it’s actively happening to her. She’s making out with Rachel Berry on her couch in Los Angeles.

How this has happened is confusing to her. Rachel had been on the couch when Quinn had come home from her workout with Sam. Quinn had sat down and started talking with Rachel about – something. And then they were making out.

Rachel Berry was on top of her on her couch in Los Angeles, and it was sunny and Quinn was warm – very, very warm, because there was another human being on top of her and it was sunny.

There’s a knock on the door and Rachel Berry, who looks thoroughly made out with, sits up in Quinn’s lap with an annoyed look that Quinn is incapable of interpreting as anything other than sexual frustration. She nearly falls off the couch when they both hear Sam’s voice through the door.

“Q, let me in. I have to pee and the Boulevard is bumper-to-bumper over a stupid Kings game,” he says, hitting the door. Rachel scrambles up from her position on the floor making her way to the door, while Quinn tries to gather any sense of propriety she can.

“I thought the Kings were a good team,” Rachel whispers at Quinn, and Quinn groans.

“Don’t say that to him,” she says, sitting up just in time to see Sam come in with a grin. He shoots some finger guns at Rachel and waves at Quinn.

“Thanks,” he says, half-jogging down the hall. “Oh my God, I have to pee so bad.”

The door closes and Quinn sort of lies back down again, rubbing at her face. Which Rachel Berry’s had been very near just moments ago.

“Why are the Kings not a good team?” Rachel asks, and when Quinn opens her eyes again, Rachel is leaning over the couch and looking down at her curiously. She closes her eyes again.

“Because he’s from Nashville and supports a terrible team,” Quinn says, shrugging.

“Who are the good teams in the NFL?” Rachel asks.

“We’re not talking about the NFL,” Quinn says, sitting up and nearly smacking Rachel in the face with her own head. “Are you one of those people who don’t take in any information about sports despite being surrounded by people who talk about them all the time?”

“Don’t go arguing in front of me,” Sam says, having just emerged from the bathroom and holding his hands up.

“We aren’t arguing,” Quinn says, flopping backwards on the couch while Rachel giggles a little.

“Quinn was just telling me about the NFL,” Rachel says, reaching down to pat Quinn lightly on the arm. Quinn smacks away her hand.

“I was telling her about hockey,” Quinn corrects. Sam laughs, coming over closer to them and sitting on Quinn’s couch. He picks up Quinn’s legs and sets them on his lap. “Sam. That was not an invitation to sit and watch hockey.”

“Rachel won’t learn about hockey by watching the Blue Jackets, Q,” Sam says, patting her ankles gently. She tries to kick him in the dick, but he stops her, and all of a sudden the television is on and Rachel is excitedly settling on the floor in front of Quinn.

“Sam, no one can learn about hockey by watching preseason hockey. And don’t you have a Dungeons and Dragons game or something?” Quinn says, trying to prod Sam out the door. Rachel turns and glares at her, their faces very close all of a sudden. It distracts her enough that she doesn’t hear Sam’s real response. She gets the sense that it was something about it being cancelled.

She swallows and tries to sit up a bit, so her face is no longer level with Rachel’s. Sam’s tapped into her season pass and is currently trying to pull up the Predators game.

“Should I order a pizza?” Rachel asks, way too enthusiastically. It sounds just like Rachel Berry from freshman year of high school, thrilled that Quinn was saying something normal like, “can I borrow a pencil?”

It’s so endearing that it just makes Quinn irritated and she glares heavily at the television as Sam successfully navigates to the Predators game. She takes heart in the fact that they’re playing the Blackhawks and will probably lose.

“I want pepperoni and mushrooms,” Sam says tapping at Quinn’s ankle absentmindedly as the Predators zoom around in their own zone, trying to defend against a power play. Quinn glances at Rachel as the girl turns around again, their faces way too close together.

Rachel looks different, and older, and decidedly not fourteen when they’re this close. Quinn can see that, tries to shake irritation out of her head.

“Whatever you guys want,” Quinn says, and throws her head back onto the arm of the couch when Rachel bounces upwards and away, off to claim her computer. She’s singing a song.

-

There’s a knock on her office door. She’s been typing away at the script in front of her for what feels like forever; for some reason, she can’t get the characters to come out with what they need to say. It’s like this because when she had finally gotten out of her bedroom, she had gotten a glimpse of Rachel moving around in the kitchen and had decided to skip her coffee.

It’s juvenile, is what it is. Even when she was a teenager, she could deal with Rachel Berry. Primarily by belittling her, but still: she didn’t hide in her office hoping that the girl would just leave.

“Come in,” Quinn says, turning around to turn down the volume on the record player behind her. It’s been blaring The 1975 for a while now, a subtle warning for Rachel to stay away. Of course, it seems like the warning has run its course.

The door pushes open, and there’s Rachel, wearing her workout gear and smiling sheepishly, bearing a cup of coffee and what looks like a delicious breakfast sandwich.

“Hey,” Rachel says, almost whispers, over the music. Quinn smiles, kind of accidentally.

“Hi,” she says, taking the plate from Rachel and watching her set the mug down on a coaster on her desk. “Thanks.”

“When did you get up?” Rachel asks, sitting down on the couch in Quinn’s office and looking over the room. Her eyes noticeably stick on a picture of Quinn and Finn, somewhere between breakups.

“A while ago,” Quinn says, grabbing for the mug and taking a long drink. “I’ve been writing.”

“Who am I making out with this time?” Rachel asks, and it’s a joke, Quinn knows, but the remembrance of last night, making out on the couch like the hormonal teenager she had never been, brings a shock of tension to the room. The record runs out of room and stops playing, and so Quinn reaches to flip it over.

“No one so far,” Quinn says, and she tries to ignore that her voice sounds a little too tight. Rachel Berry, however, could pick it up from space.

“We should probably talk about things,” Rachel says. Quinn, who is in the middle of dropping a needle on her record, sighs so heavily that she has to pause in her process so she doesn’t scratch it. 

“We are not usually great at talking,” Quinn says, placing the needle carefully and slowly turning back around as the music starts up again. Rachel is looking at her with a little too much intensity for someone in thin, body-conforming clothes.

“We’re adults, Quinn,” Rachel says. “We kissed. A few times.”

“Yes,” Quinn says, deciding to just agree and let Rachel run the conversation.

“I liked kissing you,” Rachel says, and looks at Quinn like she better say something other than yes.

“Rachel,” Quinn starts to say, looking over her computer screen so she doesn’t have to look at Rachel’s expression.

“Quinn, I’m not asking for a relationship or anything,” Rachel says, laughing, and Quinn is shocked out of her avoidance to look up at Rachel. The other woman is looking up at the pictures on the wall again. “It’s not like…we’re not still in high school, with weird high school crushes, you know?”

“You’re proposing friends with benefits,” Quinn says, and just saying the words aloud makes her stomach settle like a rock in her body. The sandwich in front of her looks as far away from appetizing as possible.

“We should probably work on being friends, but the benefits are something I’m definitely open to,” Rachel says, smiling sort of lasvisciously, and Quinn’s stomach does something else that also disconcerts her.

Quinn’s eyes stick to a picture up in the corner, of Quinn at Yale on moving day, her arms flung out wide in her dorm room. Her mom had made her take the picture, insisting that it was important to document a young girl making her first steps toward adulthood. Apparently, having a child was not a step toward adulthood.

If only someone had told that Quinn Fabray what she was stepping toward this moment. Her eighteen year-old self might would have been some mix of devastated and thrilled.

It depresses her that she doesn’t feel so different.

“How cosmopolitan,” Quinn says, trying to stall enough that she can think about this, think beyond the attraction flying around in her system and think down to her logical self.

“Is that a yes?” Rachel asks, and she looks at Quinn like she can read her mind, can see how much the girl inside of her who had always wanted whatever piece of Rachel Berry she could get was still there, scrambling to get out.

“Yes,” she says.

Like there was ever a chance that she was going to say something different.

-

“This line is awful,” Quinn mutters. Jimmy makes a face, while Rachel shuttles back and forth in the tiny area of her trailer. “Jimmy, fix it.”

“Jimmy is not a fixer,” Jimmy says, tapping his pen against his mouth. “I don’t think it’s awful.”

“Rachel can’t say it,” Quinn says. Rachel makes a noise of deep annoyance.

“I can say it. I trained at the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts. I can say it,” Rachel says.

“She can’t say it,” Quinn says. Rachel picks up a pillow and flings it at her head, which Quinn ducks out of the way of. When she picks her head up to glare at Rachel, she’s receiving an equally intense glare, complete with a tense jaw and a reminder of how Rachel would make exactly that face before launching into an angry lecture.

“What if instead of pejorative we just say abusive?” Jimmy says.

“I can say it!” Rachel says. Jimmy raises his hand in deference, gesturing for Rachel to have at it. Quinn crosses her arms, watches as Rachel stops her pacing and stands up.

“You being pejora – pejorative is your prer – fuck!” Rachel yells.

“Change it to defamatory?” Quinn suggests. Rachel glares heavily, dropping onto the couch next to Quinn and grabbing for her bottle of water. “Run it to the director for a double check.”

“You gonna deal with our unruly star?” Jimmy asks. “Do you guys sing songs as therapy? Like if one of you forgets to take out the trash, do you sing about it?”

“I can fire you,” Quinn says idly, shuffling her sides. Jimmy gives a salute before he jogs down the steps of the trailer. When the door slams shut, Rachel slumps further into her seat, glaring unhappily at the script in Quinn’s hand.

“Pejorative is a silly word, anyways,” Rachel says.

“Sure, blame the writer,” Quinn says. “Do you feel better with defamatory?”

“I would feel better if I could give the line as written,” Rachel says. “Maybe I should sing about it.”

“Please don’t start singing,” Quinn mutters, scratching something down on the sides and glancing at Rachel out of the corner of her eye. She’s already been through hair and make-up, so she’s got her hair in a tight ponytail, her makeup already done to perfection.

“You know I think better when I’m singing,” Rachel says, rolling her eyes and taking a sip of her water.

“Well, I definitely do not think better while you’re singing, so please refrain,” Quinn says. “We should head to set so you can get outfitted.”

“Is that why you could never do your choreography right while I was singing in rehearsals? Because my voice distracted you?” Rachel asks. Quinn freezes, halfway off the couch.

“It was more because I was pregnant, and then I was depressed, and then I broke my back. And Brittany came up with a lot of insane choreography,” Quinn mutters. Rachel looks at her as though she very much does not believe her.

“You like my voice,” Rachel says, quite teasingly. Quinn watches as Rachel runs a hand down Quinn’s arm in a way that belies her intention. “It distracts you.”

“Rachel,” Quinn says, even as she tries to fight off the shiver working through her.

“Is this why you watched my videos over and over?”

“I hate you,” Quinn mutters. Rachel presses a kiss to her jaw that makes her nearly melt. But she tries very hard not to.

“I don’t think you do,” Rachel whispers, her fingers turning Quinn’s head just enough to kiss her on the mouth.

-

The poor driver the network had sent to escort Quinn and Rachel to the Dodgers game was doing an admirable job of not noticing Rachel Berry disobeying traffic laws and climbing onto Quinn Fabray’s lap. Rachel Berry had one hand halfway down the jersey the Dodgers had sent over before the game, brushing just under the shirt there.

Quinn, for her part, is gripping one of the belt loops on Rachel’s jeans for dear life, her other hand somewhere on a thigh, trying not to disturb the driver any further by letting out a noise. He’s blasting a song as they sit in traffic, so maybe he isn’t hearing Rachel’s light noises, but Quinn can hear them down to her bones.

“What’s your favorite place in Los Angeles?” Rachel asks, somewhere between kisses on Quinn’s neck, in a tone of voice that could be described as a bit pitchy by a younger Rachel Berry. Adult Rachel Berry doesn’t seem like she gives a shit.

“If you’re going to try to learn about me, you should not,” Quinn whispers, gasping when Rachel bites at her neck. Jesus Christ. “You should not do that.”

“I think it adds an interesting dimension to the friendship building process,” Rachel says, nipping again at the same spot. Quinn nearly has an aneurysm at the classic Rachel Berry phrasing combined with the whole situation.

“Shut up,” Quinn says, grabbing ahold of Rachel by the face, relinquishing the thigh and belt loop and pressing their mouths together maybe a little too forcefully. Rachel doesn’t seem like she cares about the violence of it, moaning so loudly that the driver turns up the music even more. Somehow, this does not shake Quinn from whatever fervor started when Rachel had slid her hand across the seat between them.

“That should not turn me on,” Rachel says, out loud, between a mess of kisses that make noise, that feel like shocks to Quinn’s system. God, her eighteen year-old self had so many wet dreams that never could have even guessed at how she felt right now, stuck somewhere in traffic on the 5.

“I like LACMA,” Quinn says, her head jumping backwards to answer Rachel’s question while her heart thumped along at its own rapid pace. Rachel presses a kiss that sears itself onto Quinn’s lips, a tongue drifting into her mouth. God, this is bad.

“An art museum?” Rachel asks, and Quinn shrugs as much as she can with a girl moving on top of her the way Rachel is.

The car lurches forward suddenly, and Quinn has to catch Rachel to prevent her from bashing her head into the headrest behind her, nearly pulling her jersey off in the process.

“It’s a nice museum,” Quinn says, pulling Rachel back onto her lap mostly, glaring a little at the driver, who is studiously staring out the windshield as traffic shuffles forward.

“Who would have thought that you’d be the nerdy one,” Rachel says, laughing at Quinn. It’s a happy laugh, the kind of unrestrained one Quinn rarely heard in high school. It sounds like the way an adult laughs, not just a girl.

“I have an Emmy Award,” Quinn mutters, shoving at Rachel to try to remove her from Quinn’s lap, as they’re clearly almost into the VIP parking area for the stadium. Rachel isn’t necessarily paying attention, her nose brushing against Quinn’s ear in a way that makes Quinn shiver.

“I have a Tony Award, which is much harder to attain,” Rachel says, her lips arriving on Quinn’s earlobes. She nearly passes out, gripping Rachel by the hips tightly.

“Your ego is so attractive,” Quinn says, rolling her eyes and trying to not roll her hips. 

“Why do you like LACMA then?” Rachel asks, whispering in her ear and licking at it and biting it. Quinn can’t continue in this fashion.

“Rachel,” Quinn says, trying to say something that speaks to how much she doesn’t condone this method of developing a friendship between two former messed-up high schoolers. It sort of slips off into a moan.

“Quinn,” Rachel says, right in her ear. Good lord.

Before anything else can happen, they launch into a tight turn that sends Rachel into the seat next to Quinn, and they’re pulling into the VIP parking area. Quinn has never been more thankful in her entire life to be in a parking lot.

Jimmy is smacking her window excitedly before she can say anything else to Rachel.

-

“What are you wearing to the premiere?” Lila asks, nudging at Quinn as they stand at the bar in their luxury box. Rachel is somewhere in the bowels of the stadium, preparing to sing the national anthem. Apparently, it’s not as glamorous as Yankee Stadium, but it could be worse.

“No idea,” Quinn says, shrugging. She’s mostly been trying to surreptitiously check the various mirrored surfaces in the box to make sure she doesn’t look thoroughly made out with before Sam, Mercedes and Delaney get here.

“The worst part about you saying that is that you’re going to show up looking like a starlet from the twenties,” Lila mutters, then knocks back a chug of her beer. “Do you know what Rachel is wearing?”

“Uh, no,” Quinn says. She thinks for half a second about how Rachel looks wearing nothing. “Kurt will probably suggest something for her.”

“Is Kurt a designer I should know?”

“No, he’s just a guy from high school,” Quinn says, shrugging. “They’re friends.”

“Not her lover, then,” Lila says, and Quinn laughs maybe too loudly.

“No, he’s married to a man named Blaine,” Quinn says, trying to shake out the laughter.

“Hey, I’m just checking! It’s always helpful to know about your star’s romantic status, and it’s even easier when your head writer is roommates with them,” Lila says, knocking at Quinn’s beer with her own. “It’s practically cushy.”

“I don’t think she’s dating anyone,” Quinn says, just before the door to the box opens to reveal Sam Evans, who is practically shouting in excitement, followed by a more subdued Mercedes and Delaney.

“Dude, this is amazing,” Sam says, rushing forward to grab ahold of Quinn. He picks her up off the ground, he’s apparently so jazzed about this experience. “I’m so pumped.”

“He has not stopped saying how pumped he is for hours, Q,” Mercedes says, patting Quinn on the arm. “The word has lost all meaning.”

“I’m so pumped,” Sam says, rushing over to Jimmy and Lila’s husband, who are standing near the railing of the box.

“He’s so pumped,” Delaney says, wrapping Quinn in a tight hug. “Thanks for inviting me.”

“Rachel insisted you get a spot, actually,” Quinn says. “Your Mets jersey is ugly.”

“Where is Rachel, then, so I can thank someone grateful for my presence? Already getting prepped for the anthem?”

“I’m sure the girl rolled into the stadium and immediately went to go badger someone about the sound system being appropriate for her range,” Mercedes says, now with a fresh beer in hand, holding one out for Delaney.

“She’s a dedicated performer,” Delaney says. “It’s not a bad thing!”

“Actually, when she and Quinn got in, she made Q go down and help her do vocal runs,” Lila says, laughing at Quinn. “Apparently Quinn’s alto helps Rachel tune her voice.”

This statement earns two questioning looks from Delaney and Mercedes, who eye Quinn carefully.

“Interesting,” Delaney finally says, sipping at her beer and smiling at Quinn over the rim of the plastic cup.

It is interesting, in the sense that Quinn and Rachel made out for twenty minutes in a dark hallway underneath Dodgers Stadium.

“I thought it was hilarious, considering I’ve never heard Quinn sing a damn thing for years and years, and then all of a sudden she’s a barometer for a Tony Award winner,” Lila says, nudging at Quinn.

“Yeah, well, Rachel’s always been a little crazy about Quinn. I’m just saying, she once rigged a glee competition so Quinn could get a duet,” Mercedes says. “We all know Santana and I were better.”

“One day, you and Santana are going to stop caring about that, right?” Quinn asks, taking a gulp of her beer while Delaney stares her down. Mercedes actually cackles.

“Never, Q. Those breadsticks were ours,” she says, just as the announcer booms that the players are taking the field so the national anthem can begin. Lila and Mercedes make their way down to the bottom of the box, towards their significant others, leaving Quinn with Delaney up top. 

“We going to talk about it?” Delaney asks.

“No,” Quinn says, tapping at the table as Rachel starts her walk out to the little podium they’ve set up over the mound. Her smile is huge, and she’s waving out at the crowd excitedly. She looks sweet, wearing a Dodgers hat and jersey. It makes Quinn smile, unbidden.

“Look at your face, Sailor,” Delaney says, and Quinn glares at her for half a second before turning back to the television in the box.

“We’re friends, Delaney,” Quinn mumbles, quietly enough that hopefully no one else in the box can hear her. 

“Sure,” Delaney says. “You have lip gloss on your white jersey.”

“Jesus Christ,” Quinn mutters, letting Delaney rub the lip gloss off her collar while Rachel waits for the announcer to stop listing her accomplishments. Her smile gets wider when he lists off Tony Award winner.

“So you told her that you’re super into her, then?” Delaney asks. Quinn shakes her head in annoyance, and Delaney laughs at her.

“Don’t tell me you’re doing a friends with benefits thing with your unrequited love from high school,” Delaney says, as Rachel starts singing. Quinn stares steadfastly at the screen. “Oh my God, you’re a mess.”

“Please stop,” Quinn says. Delaney is giggling right next to her.

“Well, you know that this can only turn out terribly, right?” Delaney asks. Quinn listens as Rachel’s voice reaches higher on the key change. It’s perfect, as expected. Delaney takes the silence as a response, apparently. “Well, at least you know that.”

At the end of the anthem, as cheers rain down onto the field and Rachel waves upwards, Quinn claps loud enough that she drowns out Delaney’s continued laughter.

-

“You know, I don’t usually do this,” Rachel says, settled on the couch of her trailer wearing a leather jacket and jeans that fit her legs so spectacularly that Quinn is trying to remember to look at the script in front of her.

“Do what?” Quinn asks, shoving a couple almonds into her mouth as Rachel does something actor-ish with her eyes. Quinn is wearing one of the hats that say The Wolves on it, and a boring Yale sweatshirt, so she looks near slovenly next to Rachel’s fully made-up, in-costume self.

“Stick around,” Rachel says, after a lengthy pause that isn’t marked in Quinn’s script. She likes it enough that she marks it down, scratching something down so she can tell the director to expect it.

“What a rough line,” Quinn mutters. Rachel sighs with more than a little exasperation, slapping her script onto the couch.

“Quinn, your writerly needs are not as important as my acting ones,” she says, and she barely manages to make it sound like a joke. Quinn shrugs, grabbing some more almonds before Rachel smacks at her hand, laughing.

“Sorry, your highness,” Quinn says, chewing on the almonds while Rachel picks up the script again and reads over the rest of the scene. “What’s the best script you ever read?”

“Don’t go fishing for compliments, Quinn,” Rachel says, standing up from the couch and removing the bowl of almonds from Quinn’s reach.

“I’m not, because clearly this is shit,” Quinn says. “Pick something else. You must have got offers from Hollywood before.”

“Not too many,” Rachel says, still reading the script and pacing back and forth in the small trailer.

“Stop looking at the terrible words and talk to me. And give me the almonds,” Quinn says, reaching out for the script in Rachel’s hand to try to take it away from her.

“Someone is feeling petulant today,” Rachel says, even though she does what Quinn asks, dropping the script on the small end table and handing over the almonds. She also sits back on the couch, stripping off the leather jacket and showing off some well-defined arms in a tank top.

“Not petulant. Best script,” Quinn says, eating more almonds as Rachel stretches out her legs across the space between them and drops them on Quinn’s lap.

“Yours really was the best script, Quinn,” Rachel says. Quinn scoffs, and Rachel kicks her in the thigh. “It was! I think you access a range of emotions that are really beautiful with subtlety and rare insight. I like that it’s adventurous and fun and dark and genuine even though it’s a bit sci-fi. It’s certainly better than the scripts I’ve been offered for procedurals, which is, by the way, about as good a production I’ve been offered otherwise.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Quinn says. “You’re way more talented than CSI.”

“Most people don’t think Broadway stars translate well to television,” Rachel says, shrugging.

“I’m going to fix this scene and then one day you can submit it for Emmy consideration,” Quinn says, reaching for the script Rachel’s dropped on the end table. Rachel stops her before she can pick it up, gripping her hand.

“You’ve always believed in me a little too much,” Rachel says. “Remember when you told me that I needed to turn down Finn’s proposal so I could go and be a star?”

“I think a week before that I was probably telling you that you would amount to nothing,” Quinn says, watching Rachel slowly get up from the couch and lean across the space between them. Her hand is small and warm on Quinn’s.

“Ah, I forgot,” Rachel says, laughing, falling backward onto the couch, letting go of Quinn’s hand in the process. “I never listened as much to those bouts of insanity.”

“Well, clearly, I was wrong,” Quinn says, watching Rachel. “You look like a star to me.”

Rachel’s eyes latch onto Quinn’s quickly enough at that statement, and Quinn immediately forgets about whatever she was going to write down on the script in her hand.

“Come over here,” Rachel says, and Quinn does.

-

The day before the premiere, after Quinn has been subjected to Rachel testing out the five dresses Kurt has sent over to them, Quinn takes Rachel to dinner at some place that apparently has wonderful vegan dinners, and then drives over to Wilshire.

Rachel immediately begins belting “Singin’ in the Rain” when she sees the collection of lampposts that make up “Urban Light.” She rushes right into the maze of them, and a couple of tourists laugh and join in with her.

LACMA is nearly closed, but Quinn is friends with one of the curators – so she’s got some time to entertain Rachel Berry.

“Quinn, take a picture!” Rachel yells, cheerfully dashing away from the lampposts just to hand Quinn her phone, and Quinn lines up the photo dutifully. Rachel looks nearly angelic with the backlighting from the lights and the setting sun behind them.

After Rachel is done reenacting an entire musical number and has taken a satisfactory number of photos, Quinn finally gets them inside.

“If I remember correctly,” Rachel says, nudging at Quinn and sliding her arm through Quinn’s. “This is your favorite place in Los Angeles.”

“I did say that, once,” Quinn says, shrugging. Rachel giggles.

“You take me to dinner and then you take me to your favorite place,” Rachel says. “Is this where you finally exact your revenge and kill me?”

Quinn laughs, pushing at Rachel’s body a little with her arm and enjoying, unfairly, the warmth of her body against Quinn’s. She turns a little, pushing Rachel toward their eventual destination.

“You know, you look so much more relaxed,” Rachel says. “At least, compared to how you were in high school. All those dresses and all that pressure. I mean, you wear glasses sometimes. It’s amazing.”

“I mean, you’re obviously different too,” Quinn says. “Isn’t that the whole point of this friendship while adulting experience?”

“Yes, but I’m just saying,” Rachel says. “It’s nice. You’re so happy.”

Quinn doesn’t have much to say to that, really, but she nods at the security guard outside the installation’s door, and he nods back.

“So, I’m actually taking you here because your life is about to change,” Quinn says. “Not just because of the amazing art and stuff, but because your show is going to air and everyone thinks it will be a big deal - ”

“It is going to be a big deal,” Rachel says, smiling up at Quinn.

“Right. The point is that people are going to know who you are, even more than they did before. And I wanted to show you something that always makes me happy and keeps me calm when things are crazy,” Quinn says, pointing through the door. Rachel tries to crane her neck to look in, but there’s nothing to see.

And it’s true – ever since she had moved here, this is where she had ended up whenever she felt like she was losing her mind. It had taken her a whole lot of stress through high school and some of college to get her to figure out how to do stress relief, but this was one of her favorites.

“Okay,” Rachel says, her face sinking into something more serious. It’s a beautiful look on Rachel Berry’s face, and Quinn has to restrain herself from doing something stupid like kissing her or telling her, god forbid.

And so Quinn steps forward, pulling Rachel along with her, and it begins to rain.

It’s now a pretty famous art installation, but the Rain Room never fails to amaze Quinn when she walks in, and Rachel seems to be feeling similarly: she laughs, out loud, an open and free laugh that echoes around the room amongst the sound of rainfall. She steps forward, and Quinn watches the rain adjust around her so that she isn’t touched.

“This is amazing!” Rachel says, dashing forward into the center of the floor and twirling in a circle. Not a drop hits her.

“I think so, too,” Quinn says, laughing as Rachel begins to dart around the room, trying to catch some rain on her face.

-

“I just read an article saying that your show is going to be the best of the season, Quinnie,” her mom says, voice full of pride. Quinn adjusts her keyboard on her desk, eyeing the display on her computer declaring she’s been on the phone for the last hour.

It’s been one full hour of her mom raving about the show she hasn’t even seen yet, and Quinn’s anxiety in regards to her own show is rising ever higher. It doesn’t help that she’s seen Rachel’s shadow pass outside her office door at least fourteen times in the past thirty minutes.

“Why don’t you wait until you see it, mom?” Quinn asks. Rachel’s shadow passes by again.

“I’m too excited. I was telling Sandy at book club all about how you and Rachel have known each other since you went to high school together, and he was saying something about knowing you both, and he asked if you were still putting whipped cream in her lotion,” Judy asks. Quinn rolls her eyes.

“Why are you in a book club with Sandy Ryerson? He’s insane,” Quinn says. The door pushes open then, revealing Rachel in a t-shirt and jeans, looking sheepish. “Hold on, mom, Rachel looks like she set our kitchen on fire.”

She presses mute on her audio just as her mom starts saying “Rachel? Oh my goodness - ”

“I did not set our kitchen on fire, Quinn,” Rachel says. “Do not defame me to your mother. I’m sure she’s heard enough slanderous statements from you about me to last a lifetime.”

“Even if I had slandered you, she adores you anyway. She keeps asking me for a signed copy of a Playbill or something,” Quinn says. Rachel gasps in excitement, suddenly pushing her way into the room and into Quinn’s space. It’s distracting, but she gets her hands on Rachel’s hips before she crash lands at Quinn’s desk, hitting the unmute button.

“Mrs. Fabray,” Rachel greets. Quinn rolls her eyes as her mom lets out a high-pitched squealing noise. “Hello! I will be happy to send you some signed memorabilia from my career. Quinn’s just informed me that you are a fan.”

“I’m a huge fan, Rachel,” her mom says. Rachel shifts a little in Quinn’s grasp, and Quinn watches as her eyes drift to one of her monitors, where a script is open and has since been abandoned. “I’m so excited for your show! I saw you on Broadway, you know.”

“Should I just go fix the fire and let you two stroke Rachel’s ego?” Quinn asks. Rachel smacks her on the shoulder just as her mom says, “Quinn!” in an affronted tone.

“I can’t get your highly technological entertainment center to put out sound from the television,” Rachel says, and Quinn sighs, climbing up out of her chair and shoving Rachel into it. Rachel grins up at her for a moment, and Quinn can’t help it – she leans down and presses a quick kiss to Rachel’s smile.

“I told her that she didn’t need so many gadgets,” her mom says, and Quinn rolls her eyes again.

“Mom, I’ll be back in five minutes. Can you please not do anything to embarrass me to my coworker and roommate?”

“No promises,” Rachel says, her grin growing ever wider as she settles in Quinn’s office chair, her fingers drifting over the edge of the desk and her eyes soft and warm on Quinn’s face. The sound of her mom’s laughter drifts somewhere into the background, and Quinn decides it might be best to leave the room before she jumps Rachel Berry regardless of interlopers.

-

There are a thousand and a half cameras at the premiere. The network’s gone and rented out a big theatre, with a full-on red carpet, and Rachel works the carpet like a pro. She’s enthusiastic, nice, and engaging. Her smile is perfectly sized to her face.

“I think we’ve got something here,” Lila says, a smile on her face when Quinn touches back with her after a quick interview. She’s been shadowing Quinn down the carpet, keeping her a little bit sane. Quinn’s never loved attention like this. Not like Rachel, to be certain.

“What do you mean?” Quinn asks, taking a sip from the bottle of water an assistant hands her. Lila nods her head over at Rachel, further down the line. She’s gesticulating wildly, and Quinn can’t help but feel something warm in her chest.

“You know. A star and all that,” Lila says.

“She’s always been a star,” Quinn says, shrugging. Lila laughs.

“Yeah, but she’s your star now,” Lila says. “Now it’s on you to take care of it.”

-

In the limo, after the afterparty, Rachel pulls her hair out of the loose bun it’s been in all night, and Quinn is certain, for one very alcohol-influenced second, that she hasn’t been this happy in her whole life. Because Rachel Berry is pulling her hair from a bun, wearing a gorgeous dress, her eyes are done up in smoky eye shadow and she’s looking at Quinn like there isn’t anything else to look at in the world.

And Quinn has a television show that she works hard on and people love – everyone told her how wonderful it was, in varying ways, the whole night – and there’s Rachel Berry, too, the star of the show.

And Rachel is going home with her.

She almost says it, in Rachel’s ear, after the doorman’s eyes leave them and the elevator doors close. She almost says it when she opens the door to the apartment with enough force that it thumps loudly against the wall. She almost says it when Rachel Berry zips out of her dress in the middle of their hallway and stares at Quinn the whole time.

She almost says it when Rachel tugs at the zipper of Quinn’s own dress, in the center of Quinn’s bedroom, and touches the lace of the lingerie the stylist had insisted on when she was sent the dress. Rachel touches it in a way that makes Quinn feel like it isn’t even there, and it sends up goosebumps all over her body. That touch. That dark, dark look on Rachel Berry’s face.

There’s so much she wants to say, as ever, to Rachel Berry. But she doesn’t say them, as ever. She tries to let other things talk for her: her hands, tracing Rachel’s own lingerie, tugging at her body, plucking at the complicated snap on the expensive bra. Her mouth, insistent, on Rachel’s.

It feels nothing like it has ever before, the way this feels. She’s been trying to distill the breadth of human emotion onto paper since she started writing at Yale, and she knows, very certainly, more certainly than she ever has ever felt, that she’s never going to reach this: what it feels like, when Rachel Berry closes her eyes and moans her name.

She almost says it. It’s just there, right there on the tip of her tongue.

She tries to brand it on Rachel’s skin, from the pulse point of her neck to the very center of her, wet and waiting for Quinn. Somewhere in the midst of it, Rachel laughs when their teeth knock together, her voice worn out and her body language wanting and calm at the same time.

“Who’d have thought we’d end up here?” she asks, and Quinn wants to tell her – tries to tell her that she had always hoped she’d end up here, here with Rachel Berry and in love. The desperation of that feeling and the fear at its resurfacing shocks at Quinn, and instead of shaking this whole pretense lose – this friends thing, this nonsense that it has always been for Quinn – she just kisses Rachel Berry into her mattress, and tries to show her. 

It’s the kind of mistake made out of fear that had once ruled Quinn Fabray’s life. But it doesn’t bother her so much when Rachel Berry touches Quinn Fabray like, just maybe, she feels something too.

-

The morning after the premiere, they have sex again. It’s different, obviously, because the sun is shining, and Quinn can no longer blame her decisions in any way on the little vestiges of champagne that had been swirling through her last night. It’s easier to see the lazy smile on Rachel’s face as Quinn kisses her sternum.

When they’ve mostly settled down, sweaty and sort of touching on the bed, Rachel turns on the television in Quinn’s bedroom. The channel it’s tuned to is showing a shitty movie that Rachel begins to critique nearly immediately.

“What a terrible accent,” she says, and though Quinn is inclined to agree, she finds it more funny that Rachel is personally offended. While naked. In her bed.

“Oh, you think you can do better?” Quinn asks, and the look that Rachel returns to her is of pure betrayal. Her mouth opens in shock, and she full-on glares at Quinn. This, of course, sends Quinn into laughter.

“How dare you, Quinn Fabray,” Rachel says, following Quinn across the bed as she rolls onto her back, still laughing. Rachel’s fist jams into Quinn’s side in annoyance and it only makes Quinn laugh more. “Stop laughing! You have insulted me!”

“Rachel, you can’t do a Russian accent,” Quinn says. Rachel hits her again, slapping at her collarbone and heaving half her body onto Quinn’s. Quinn still can’t stop laughing. She thinks she might be losing her mind, just a little bit, as she looks at Rachel’s face in the sunlight.

“I can’t believe you would say this to the star of your television show,” Rachel says, hitting at Quinn’s collarbone again. “Let alone the woman who’s given you multiple orgasms in the course of the last twelve hours!”

Quinn’s body does interesting things at the sounds of that sentence, and she grabs ahold of Rachel’s body on top of hers, settling her hand in the small of Rachel’s back. Rachel is still talking about how hurt she is.

“I can do a wonderful Russian accent,” she’s saying. “I’ll have you know that I attended a wonderful institution of acting, and studied under the tutelage of multiple masters and my accent work has always been lauded.”

“Oh, what institution of acting was that?” Quinn asks, and Rachel’s eyes nearly pop out of her sockets. She launches herself onto Quinn’s body, settling astride Quinn’s hips and glaring down at Quinn with fervor. Quinn is laughing so much that it’s hard to to get past it to the undeniable arousal that stirs up with Rachel, naked and sunned, sitting on top of her.

“It was NYADA, Quinn! Honestly, you’d think that you’d pay some modicum of attention to me - ”

Quinn is laughing so hard that she’s crying, her hands gripping on Rachel’s thighs. She feels just a little bit lighter than air, right now. Rachel quiets down in the middle of her oncoming rant, and looks down at Quinn with something like epiphany.

“You’re making fun of me,” Rachel says, dropping one hand down onto Quinn’s sternum and pressing a little bit. It slows Quinn’s laughter a little bit, but she still smiles.

“A little bit,” Quinn says, sliding her hands up from Rachel’s thighs to her waist and laughing.

“Not many people make fun of me,” Rachel says, tapping at Quinn’s sternum almost absentmindedly.

“Well, we’re friends,” Quinn says, and she sort of hates herself for saying it. Except it provides a sunburst of a smile on Rachel’s face, one that starts small and spreads wide, all teeth and plump pink lips. God, it makes her want to kiss Rachel, and thankfully, it seems to make Rachel want to kiss her.

It’s a slow kiss, unhurried by lust – considering they’ve expended plenty of energy giving into that lust, that’s okay in Quinn’s book. And Rachel’s body presses up against hers in the softest, most spectacular way. The thought bounces back to her: she’s in love with this woman. This woman, the one who is giggling into Quinn’s mouth as she rolls them over to the side.

They kiss for another couple seconds, but Rachel gets distracted by the honking of taxis from the movie. Quinn’s head ends up ducked onto Rachel’s shoulder, and she glances up at the television as Rachel watches with curiosity. The main character nearly gets hit by a taxi while crossing the street and is yelling at the driver with an umbrella in hand.

“This is irresponsibly bad,” Rachel mutters. “That driver would have already hit her. How come no movie ever does New York right?”

Quinn hums, sliding one hand across to Rachel’s hip and curling her hand there. Rachel keeps muttering on and on about the inconsistencies of New York City.

“Do you miss New York?” Quinn asks, poking at Rachel’s hip and making her giggle a little.

“Of course,” Rachel says, glancing down at Quinn like she’s grown two heads and then lingering there, looking at Quinn with her dark brown doe eyes that Santana had always insisted were proof that God was a cartoonist.

“But it isn’t so bad here,” Rachel says. Quinn smiles; Rachel smiles back.

-

They’re on set for episode eight when the reviews and stats start rolling in for the pilot. Quinn’s phone has been a factory for notifications, but Rachel’s has absolutely been buzzing away in Quinn’s pocket all day, near constant – to the point that Rachel had dug through Quinn’s blazer pocket during a short break from filming just to silence the thing from distracting her.

It’s all good. Everyone is thrilled. Lila is practically drunk with happiness, bouncing around the set and congratulating everyone for their hard work beginning to show to the world.

“Our ratings share with 18-49 was twelve, Q,” Lila says, while Rachel stands in front of the camera, chattering to the director with her “exciting” new costars, a nice young blonde man named Dennis and a girl named Helen. While the past few episodes have been about a story of the week style thing to establish Grace as a character, the back of the season is supposed to revolve around this same group. Rachel is thrilled to have permanent costars.

Quinn is thrilled that Rachel is thrilled.

“You listening, Q? A twelve!” Lila says, knocking on the side of Quinn’s head, knocking her sunglasses askew. Quinn reaches up to fix them, looking over at Lila with some concern.

“Have you sat down since you got here?” she asks, flicking through the scripts in her lap while Lila nearly vibrates on the spot next to her.

“I have, thank you very much,” Lila says, bumping Quinn’s chair heavily enough that it almost tips over. “I’m excited! You should be excited, too, Quinn.”

“I am excited,” Quinn says, pushing her sunglasses further up her nose as Rachel laughs loudly. Her eyes go back to her, and Quinn finds herself smiling into the sun at Rachel. Rachel, of course, catches Quinn’s eyes behind the sunglasses and smiles even brighter.

“Quinn,” Lila says, her tone something else, and Quinn glances back up at her to see her looking at Rachel carefully.

“Quinn!” Jimmy yelps, dashing in with perfect timing, carrying a new copy of their sides with adjustments made by some of the writing team. “Did you hear? AV gave us an A!”

She grabs the sides from him, looking over the adjustments and checking off on them.

“Someone tweeted it at me, I think,” Quinn says, reading over new lines and ignoring Lila’s eyes and Jimmy’s enthusiasm.

“Is she not excited?” Jimmy asks, looking at Lila in confusion. This, thankfully, seems to distract Lila enough.

“Doesn’t seem like it,” she says. She grabs ahold of Quinn by the shoulders, sweeping in front of her and looking at her sunglasses. Quinn pulls backward into her chair, unsure of where this is going. 

“Quinn Fabray,” she says, poking at Quinn’s forehead. “You wrote a television show that’s already very successful.”

“I’ve heard,” Quinn says, then glances behind Lila. “Rach, come get your sides!”

“You need to appreciate the moment,” Lila says, pushing up Quinn’s sunglasses onto her forehead. Her eyes do not adjust particularly well, and she blinks heavily as Jimmy crowds in front of her, bumping Lila to the side.

“I’m appreciating the moment,” Quinn says. It’s true enough: she appreciated her success with Rachel Berry’s tongue trailing across her body. Anything less than that is barely a celebratory moment.

Rachel arrives at Quinn’s side, and grabs the papers from Quinn’s hands easily enough. She can tell Rachel hesitates for a moment, but her hand grabs onto Quinn’s on the arm of her chair and she also crowds into Quinn’s eyes.

“What’s happening?” Rachel asks, looking over at Jimmy and Lila.

“Q is not appreciating her moment,” Jimmy says. “We’re intervening.”

“Oh,” Rachel says, then taps on Quinn’s fingers a little. It brings a measure of happiness to Quinn’s chest.

“We’re going to take you dancing,” Lila says. “To celebrate. AV Club gave you an A-grade. A twelve, Quinn. A twelve, and you sit there, unaffected, as though your professional dreams are not coming true.” 

“A twelve on a pilot doesn’t mean the rest of the show is flawless,” Quinn says, reaching up with the hand not being held down by Rachel’s to try to push her sunglasses back down. “Look, I’m excited, but I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket. I’d rather keep working.”

“Oh my God, I’m gonna dance really awkwardly with you, Q,” Jimmy says. “It’s gonna be great. And then I’ll wingman for you.”

“I don’t need a wingman,” Quinn says, groaning a little. Jimmy’s dancing is terrible.

“I’ll dance with you, Quinn,” Rachel says, and her fingers do something intricate and distracting on Quinn’s hand. No one needs to know, but this is when Quinn’s mind tends to not mind as much about being forced into enjoying herself.

“That settles it then, right?” Lila says, and she looks at Quinn right through her sunglasses. “Invite all your friends.”

Quinn sighs, and everyone disperses suddenly as the director trudges onto set with his coffee. Rachel’s hand lingers for half a second on Quinn’s, but then she’s gone.

-

“That dress is way too long for the club,” Santana says. “You know that, right? You need to get chicas on you, and you go for one of your high school chastity club specials?”

“I don’t need any women crawling all over me,” Quinn says, pushing her glasses up her face and glaring at Santana.

“Yeah, because the one you want crawling on you thinks your chastity club specials are hot,” Santana says, grinning a bit wolfishly. Quinn sighs, pushing her hands through her hair. She considers, for maybe the fortieth time, telling Santana about she and Rachel’s arrangement.

She tells herself not to, because the intensity of the rant that waits on the other side of the admission is too frightening. And to think she was once the head bitch in charge.

“Santana, please,” Quinn says, leaning over to check her phone, where Sam is texting pictures of his clubbing outfit. It includes an Iron Man t-shirt.

“Let’s be real about it, Q,” Santana says, and Quinn just glares at her while Santana laughs a lot, and a puppy bounds into the room, barking.

While Santana deals with the dog for a second, Quinn looks up and into the hallway, where Rachel Berry is walking, her heels clacking on the wooden floors, and her dress very short. She’s singing what Quinn thinks is a Jason DeRulo song, and when she catches Quinn’s eyes tracking her, she stops, and comes into the office with an interesting look on her face. It’s distracting.

“That dog is a menace,” Santana says, collapsing back into her own office chair. Rachel, who’s just past the couch, on her way to Quinn’s side of the desk, stops for a second and cocks her head curiously. “I hope you’re excited for when we visit.”

“The dog is not allowed in my apartment,” Quinn says. Rachel begins moving again, coming around Quinn’s desk and leaning down to look into the camera.

“Oh my God, Quinn, I think there’s a giant fly in your office,” Santana says, though her insult doesn’t carry too much weight. Rachel even laughs.

“Hello to you too, Santana,” Rachel says, her hand reaching down towards the arm of Quinn’s office chair for balance. Quinn’s thankful that it’s out of Santana’s view, because Rachel’s fingers grip onto Quinn’s wrist a little too easily.

“Hello, munchkin,” Santana says. “Good lord, how is your dress containing your fun buns?”

Quinn has been trying to ignore the said fun buns, but Santana’s question is somewhat fair: Rachel’s dress has the kind of plunging neckline that would be called provocative by just about anyone. And it’s plunging well enough as she leans down toward Quinn to get into view of the camera.

“Costume tape,” Rachel says cheerfully. She promptly sits on Quinn’s lap, and Quinn’s eyes widen perfectly in time with Santana’s. “Why are you not answering the weekly emails?”

“I delete them,” Santana says. It’s a straight answer brought on by shock, because she’s watching the display with her mouth dropped open.

“They share important information, Santana! Did you even watch our television show premiere?” Rachel asks, and her exuberance causes her to bounce a little on Quinn’s lap. Quinn tries to look like Rachel sitting on her lap is not a common occurrence, but also not like she’s having an internal crisis about it. Striking the balance is tough. She ends up fiddling with her glasses.

“I did,” Santana says, then shrugs. “You made out with a chick and got stabbed. Sounds like a regular old glee club meeting, Q. Lazy writing on your part.”

“Real life inspiration makes the best art,” Quinn says, shrugging. Below the camera, her hands slip up onto Rachel’s revealed thighs. How could they not?

“I can only assume that’s why little Berry here looked like she was used to groping girls,” Santana says, smirking. Quinn rolls her eyes, and Rachel leans in further to narrow hers at the tiny camera.

“I will have you know, Santana Lopez - ” Rachel says, pointing her finger at the camera. Whatever she’s about to say is interrupted by the doorbell, and suddenly, Rachel’s off of her lap, warmth leaving Quinn’s body as quickly as it came. Down the hall, Quinn hears the sounds of an excited Sam, Mercedes, and Delaney.

“You know, I know you’ve had a baby and been thrown out of your house and shit,” Santana says, laughing a little. “But I’ve never actually felt bad for you before I saw Bilbo Baggins sit on your lap.”

“Fuck off,” Quinn says, and Santana bursts into very loud laughter, which Quinn promptly cuts off by hanging up.

-

Of course, Lila corners her twenty minutes after Rachel does three shots with Sam and practically mounts Quinn on the dancefloor.

“We should probably talk about what’s happening with you and the star of your show,” Lila says, looking out pointedly as Rachel and Mercedes do a complicated looking dance that ends with Mercedes nearly faceplanting.

“Nothing’s happening,” Quinn says back, loudly, because it’s way too loud in the club. And hot. And distracting, with the way the lights bounce off of Rachel’s sweat-glistened skin.

“Quinn, I swear I’m not going to be a shitty person about it, but if something is happening – and it seems like there might be – I need to know. So I know how to deal with it for the sake of our show,” Lila says, and for half a second, Quinn thinks about spilling it all out for her producer-mentor. She thinks about it.

“It’s nothing,” Quinn says, then shrugs helplessly. Lila looks at her and looks at her some more. “Nothing that means anything.”

This changes Lila’s look to something else entirely, but thankfully, the conversation is interrupted by Delaney grabbing ahold of Quinn by the shoulders, wrapping her long arms around Quinn’s upper body and hooking her head over her shoulders.

“What’s up? What are we talking about so seriously?” Delaney asks, teasingly. Quinn’s not drunk enough to not notice the note of concern in Delaney’s voice.

“Apparently nothing,” Lila says, then leans a little closer to Quinn. “You know you can talk to me no matter what, right?”

Quinn almost cries, but holds off, reaching up to grab Delaney’s arm to keep herself steady. She nods, and Lila disappears off into the crowd, back towards the booth the group of them have taken up residence in.

“She asking about how you and Rachel can’t stop staring at each other?” Delaney asks. Quinn sighs, tilting her head to the side and cracking her neck. Delaney loosens up to accommodate the movement.

“I would rather not talk about it,” Quinn says, turning around in Delaney’s grip to look away from the dancefloor and Rachel. Always Rachel.

“You should talk about your problems, Sailor,” Delaney says, dropping her arms and looking at Quinn carefully. “I can only assume you’ve realized the depth of your predicament.”

“Don’t you think it’s a bit weird to talk to you about this?” Quinn asks, reaching up to pull at the ponytail on her head, tightening it up out of habit. Delaney shrugs, grinning.

“I mean, hey. If anyone would understand your relationship neuroses, it’d be me, right?” Delaney says. “You’re in love with her.”

Quinn tilts her head the opposite direction as before and cracks her back again.

“She’s in love with you.”

Delaney’s eyes are as blue as ever underneath the flashing lights of the club, as Quinn stares at her for a full thirty seconds, until she shakes her head vehemently.

“We’re just friends,” Quinn says, and Delaney laughs.

“Sailor, I’m going to say something that you will probably find painful to hear,” Delaney says, grabbing for Quinn’s shoulders again and looking her square in the eye. “Every time you talked about Rachel Berry, I swear I prayed she’d never break through whatever barriers you put up to keep her out of your life.”

“Del…” Quinn says. Pleads, really. She does feel bad, now.

“And that’s fine,” Delaney says. “But don’t play games and pretend that you were ever or are now just friends. Don’t tell me you’ve lived with her for four months and you aren’t more in love with her than you ever were when you were in high school.”

Quinn stares at Delaney, and shakes her head again, really trying not to cry again in the middle of an extremely popular Los Angeles club. That would be a little too embarrassing for her to put up with.

“Okay,” Quinn says, and then shrugs, trying to relax her tense shoulders. Delaney’s hands squeeze at them. “Fine. Yes, I am.”

“She’s in love with you too. You should tell her,” Delaney says, nicely. She leans close enough that she doesn’t have to speak so loudly, and Quinn tilts her head downward, looking at their shoes on the grimy floor of the club. God, she should have just never cast Rachel Berry. Then she wouldn’t be here, desperately trying not to cry in the middle of a crowded club with only her ex-girlfriend to comfort her.

“I don’t think she is,” Quinn says, shrugging. “She wanted us to be friends. She seems perfectly happy with our arrangement.”

Delaney is now practically on top of her so that they can communicate without shouting, and it’s probably their closeness that drives the tone with which Rachel interrupts them.

“Hello, ladies,” Rachel says, throwing one arm around Quinn in a fashion which could be called possessive. Delaney keeps ahold of one of Quinn’s shoulders, though, and looks at Rachel carefully.

“Hello, Rachel,” Delaney says, then looks at Quinn. Quinn nods her head, and Delaney melts away easily enough, following Lila’s former path back to their booth. The minute her back is turned, Rachel is sliding her arms around Quinn’s waist, pressing close.

“It figures you’d want to date such a pretty girl as Delaney Simonsen,” Rachel says, and Quinn blinks rapidly, before she wraps her own arms around Rachel.

“You’re gorgeous, Rachel,” Quinn says, and she means it, and not just in a placating way.

“No, you’re gorgeous,” Rachel says, and she giggles too. Quinn sighs, looking down at the ground past Rachel’s body again. Something about this seems to gather Rachel’s attention away from compliments.

“You okay?” Rachel asks, and Quinn nods easily enough. Of course, if there was ever a person in the world who could see right through Quinn Fabray, it was Rachel Berry. Immediately, she looks much more sober than she had seconds before, and she’s straightening up to appraise Quinn in total, looking her up and down before looking closely at her eyes.

“We’re friends, Quinn. You can talk to me,” Rachel says, rubbing her hands up and down Quinn’s arms. Quinn blinks again, then looks around.

“Let’s go home,” Quinn says, dropping her voice to a low enough octave that Rachel’s eyes darken quickly.

“Okay,” Rachel says. “Okay!”

Rachel’s off like a shot, back toward the booth, grabbing their jackets and purses, saying goodbye so quickly and efficiently that no one has a chance to rebuke their leaving early. Quinn’s making her way toward the door by the time Rachel catches up with her, grabbing her by the hand and lacing their fingers together.

And so Quinn pulls them outside, past the few flashes of cameras that greet them out there, and towards her car somewhere down the street. Rachel doesn’t try to talk to her, really, but she sings along to some stupid love song in the car, and Quinn tries not to listen.

And when they get home, Quinn kisses Rachel with desperation, trying to stop thinking about the meaning of the word friends. She almost forgets it, somewhere in bed, somewhere with Rachel Berry underneath her and crying out.

-

It’s Rachel’s idea to go to New York for a weekend trip. Quinn tries to ignore how couple-ish the whole thing feels, packing up a shared checked bag and booking plane tickets together. Rachel writing it on her desktop calendar.

Quinn isn’t sure how Rachel comes up with it, but she does, and Quinn ends up sitting in another airport bar with Rachel Berry, under different circumstances. She’s all messed up again, sure, but at least no one’s died this time. Their flight’s already been called, but Rachel insists that waiting to board, considering they’re in first class, is far more fun than sitting there while everyone else boards.

“And I’ve got us tickets to see a couple shows,” Rachel says, pulling out what looks like an honest-to-god itinerary and showing it off to Quinn.

“Shocking,” Quinn says, taking a sip of her gin and tonic. Rachel glares at her a little. 

“And we’ll obviously see Kurt and Blaine,” Rachel continues, flipping to another page of her itinerary. There’s a photo of Kurt and Blaine, probably there just in case Quinn forgets what they look like.

“Obviously,” Quinn says, grinning when Rachel huffs at her.

“You could have the grace to look excited about it, Quinn,” Rachel says, folding up her itinerary primly and placing it back into her purse where it came from. Quinn laughs now, leaning closer to Rachel and nudging their knees together.

“I am excited,” Quinn says. “I don’t go to New York that often, so it’s nice.”

Rachel smiles a little then, responding well to Quinn’s touch. She leans forward quickly and drops a quick kiss on Quinn’s lips, then tugs down on the Blue Jackets hat Quinn had loaned her for their trip through security. There had been a shocking amount of paparazzi for such a new show star, which had been nice and exciting in its own way.

“Well, I’m excited to show you around,” Rachel says. “Especially considering I haven’t been there with you since you convinced me not to do nudity in a student film.”

“I saved a lot of people from a terror that day,” Quinn says, raising a glass to herself and giggling as Rachel gasps at her angrily.

“This coming from you, a woman who insists on being around my nude body so often that I’m shocked I ever wear clothes at all,” Rachel says, whispering and glaring. Quinn is laughing again, grabbing at Rachel’s thigh.

“Would you do nudity for my show?” Quinn asks, and Rachel crosses her arms, looking in as many other places as possible while Quinn laughs some more. She spares a glance at Quinn.

“I’m not speaking to you until you are reasonable,” Rachel says, and she picks up her wine and sips it in the most snippy way possible under the circumstances. Quinn laughs some more, but leans a little closer, into Rachel’s atmosphere.

“Is me being reasonable admitting that you have a gorgeous body? That I’d kiss you all over?” Quinn asks, whispering in Rachel’s ear. Rachel almost drops her wine glass, she turns so fast to glare at Quinn some more.

“You being reasonable does not include trying to seduce me into joining the Mile High Club,” Rachel whispers back, and Quinn tries not to laugh again at the indignation Rachel is displaying.

“I didn’t realize me talking about wanting to suck on your clit until you came was a seduction,” Quinn whispers, her lips brushing Rachel’s ear. Rachel sets the wine glass down with very little grace, and grips at the counter of the bar so tightly that her knuckles turn white.

“I’m definitely not talking to you now,” Rachel says, and promptly gathers her things, walking towards their gate with a near perfect swing to her hips that Quinn watches perhaps too obviously. The bartender laughs at her once she turns back around to pay for their drinks, pulling out her wallet.

“How long have you two been together?” he asks, nodding at Rachel’s retreating form. Quinn nearly says that they aren’t, but she realizes she has an opportunity to dream for half a second. 

So instead she says, “for years and years.”

When she finally gets to the plane, Rachel is already settled in her seat on the window, an eyemask in place and a neck roll wrapped around her shoulders. She is also wearing a sweatshirt of Quinn’s from Yale, one Quinn was certain she had somehow misplaced.

When Quinn settles into her seat, buckling in, Rachel doesn’t exactly acknowledge her – it’s clear enough that Rachel is going to dramatically keep up her anger for at least a little while longer. But her hand does grab blindly for Quinn’s after a second, and Quinn grips back.

-

Seconds after Rachel and Quinn make it out of security, complete with an argument over who has to roll their bag – Rachel ends up with it, somehow – Rachel is absolutely decked by an overeager, spry gay man. Quinn manages to hold Kurt and Rachel up, thanks to the kind of reflexes only gifted to her by the gods of cheerleading. They’re both squealing, which is loud and honestly not something Quinn had wanted to hear after getting off a loud plane.

Blaine steps up in Kurt’s wake, offering a hug to Quinn that she gingerly takes. It doesn’t last nearly as long as the stranglehold that Kurt and Rachel have each other in. Some passing children look scared.

“Babe,” Blaine finally says, patting Kurt on the shoulder and trying to draw their attention away from each other.

Kurt unlatches from Rachel for one half of a second, enough time to turn and look at Quinn, eyeing her from head to toe. She’s wearing sweatpants and an old Louisville sweatshirt that Santana had sent her once, so she can only assume she’s the picture of elegance in Kurt’s mind.

“Hello, Quinn Fabray, lesbian,” Kurt says, reaching for a much gentler hug that Quinn returns with a roll of her eyes. Blaine rolls his own eyes, grabbing Rachel in a hug of their own.

“Hello to you too, Kurt,” Quinn says. Kurt giggles ferociously in her ear, enough to make Quinn feel slightly uneasy about what’s going to take place this weekend. Kurt had always had the kind of gossipy mind that had driven Quinn into an emotional bottleneck, and she could feel that urge to clam up suddenly driving through her.

Rachel grabs her by the arm, distracting her enough that she forgets the urge. And then she starts getting pulled towards the ground traffic level. Kurt and Blaine seem content to let Rachel lead, following after them.

“Watch me hail a cab!” Rachel says, stepping up to the curb and raising one insistent hand. It reminds Quinn of sitting next to her in English class, wanting to murder little know-it-all Rachel Berry.

“Why would I need to watch you hail a cab?” Quinn asks, grabbing the suitcase they packed before Rachel nearly drops it. “Why would I need to watch her hail a cab?”

Blaine shrugs, but smiles idly. Kurt is watching her.

“She has ideal taxi hailing form, Quinn,” Kurt says, smirking a little. “You should watch it.”

The challenge there disturbs Quinn once more. She turns back to watch as Rachel reaches so high into the air that her sweatshirt – Quinn’s sweatshirt – rides up, revealing her stomach. Quinn’s touched that stomach, kissed it. On nights when they fall into bed together, kissing frantically, it’s one of Quinn’s favorite places to touch.

Rachel smiles at Quinn while she does it, like this is exactly what Quinn was meant to see. So Quinn glares a little, pushing her sunglasses down over her eyes and blinking, looking around the corner as a taxi finally attunes to Rachel’s needs, one big enough for the four of them. Kurt climbs daintily into the front seat, making conversation with the driver about traffic and whatnot. Blaine is small enough that the backseat really isn’t crowded, but Rachel crowds into Quinn’s space anyway, and her fingers hook onto the corner of Quinn’s pocket underneath Qunn’s backpack and Rachel’s purse.

-

Later, after a wine-drenched lunch, Rachel lunges up the steps to a smallish looking brownstone somewhere on the west side, pulling out a set of keys Quinn has never, ever seen thrown on her kitchen counter, and then pushes the door open.

“Come in,” Rachel says, giggling and gesturing into the doorway. Quinn laughs, hoisting their suitcase up the steps and into the little entryway.

The brownstone is confined and narrow, but Quinn knows enough about New York real estate to know it cost more than a little bit. There’s a photo of Barbra Streisand right on the wall of the entryway, signed. Right next to it is a photo from glee club’s welcome party after Nationals. When she turns left, into what looks to be some sort of living room, there’s a Tony Award sitting up on the mantle, along with a large television and a comfy looking, small couch.

More pictures, too. There’s one of Finn and one of Rachel’s dads. One with Kurt and Santana in their terrifying loft apartment that Quinn had been scared to set foot in. It’s so Rachel Berry, so familiar to her – now that Rachel’s been invading Quinn’s space for months. It feels like, somehow, her home is a little bit here, too.

When Quinn stops looking around the living room and looks at Rachel, Rachel is watching her steadily, her eyes warm and so brown and soft. It’s a look unlike any other look that Quinn’s ever received from Rachel, somewhere deeper and more grown-up than the ones in the bathroom, or the ones in the hallway at McKinley.

She has to sit down.

Rachel follows after her, dropping the suitcase by the door and setting her purse down next to it. Quinn is staring at the wall, at the picture of Finn, when Rachel sits on her lap, wrapping her arms around Quinn’s neck and pressing a light kiss to Quinn’s jawbone. It’s comfortable and quiet – Quinn’s hands settle easily, one on the small of Rachel’s back and another on her knee.

“So this is your house,” Quinn says, then looks up at Rachel. Rachel smiles, kissing again at Quinn’s jaw.

“Yes,” Rachel says, giggling when Quinn noses upwards, onto Rachel’s neck. “You haven’t even seen the bedroom.”

“Oh, is there something I should see there?” Quinn asks, kissing Rachel’s neck and nipping at the skin there. Rachel’s legs shift under Quinn’s hand, just a little.

“Well, I invested a lot of money in my bed because I believe in luxurious resting,” Rachel says, and Quinn laughs, settling her mouth at the base of Rachel’s neck and kissing there, over and over. “It’s better for my voice.”

“Of course,” Quinn says, tapping on Rachel’s knee and sliding one hand underneath Rachel’s – Quinn’s – sweatshirt, feeling out the warm skin there.

“Quinn Fabray,” Rachel says, gripping suddenly at the back of Quinn’s neck and gathering up her attention. Quinn looks up into Rachel’s eyes, and for a second, it seems like Rachel forgets what she’s meaning to say with such ferocity. Her fingers play upwards, into the hair at the nape of Quinn’s neck.

“You have such pretty eyes,” Rachel says, and Quinn smiles, blinks heavily at the calming feeling of Rachel’s fingers playing with her hair. Rachel looks down at her, smiling so softly that it feels like Quinn could brush her hands across Rachel’s lips and break it. “Take me to bed.”

Quinn takes Rachel Berry to bed.

-

“So, Quinn, anyone special in your life?” Blaine asks, not unkindly, while they’re out at dinner before she and Rachel go off to see some show. He’s wearing a bow tie, an undying custom that apparently will live in Blaine’s heart forever. Kurt looks over at Quinn over the top of his wine glass.

“No one besides the all-consuming job of running a television show,” Quinn says, picking up her scotch and sipping it. Rachel had tried it when the waiter had brought it over and had nearly spit it all out, claiming that Quinn was drinking rubbing alcohol.

“You are particularly close to your ex, though,” Rachel interjects. Quinn looks at her in confusion, but stabs down at the pasta in front of her without too much trepidation.

“Well, sure,” Quinn says. “But we’re friends.”

Rachel’s face does something strange, but Quinn is distracted from it by Kurt speaking extremely carefully and with the kind of machination that she’s used to from Kurt Hummel.

“Are you looking at all? I know a few people in Los Angeles who I could set you up with,” he says, and Blaine nods along, clearly not noticing his husband’s calculated words. Quinn looks at Rachel again, who is looking down at her food with intent.

“Not really, no,” Quinn says. “I’m happy as is.”

Rachel’s hand very briefly brushes past Quinn’s thigh, and Quinn’s fingers reach out to grab ahold for half a second.

“You must be so busy all the time, anyway,” Blaine says, shoving a breadstick in his mouth and getting crumbs all over his cardigan. “Don’t pick on her love life, babe. not everyone gets married when they’re twenty-one.”

“When did you come out, Quinn?” Kurt asks, and Quinn sighs. Rachel’s hand comes back, settling on Quinn’s knee and holding there. It sucks up some of the irritation she’s feeling with Kurt’s needling.

“When I was in college,” Quinn says. “Look, Kurt, I’m excited that we’re all on the same team here, but I don’t think we have to bond based on our mutual gayness.”

“I was just so shocked when Rachel told me!” Kurt says, and Rachel has enough sense to look a little apologetic. “I’m sorry. It’s the little part of me that still thinks of you as head cheerleader that’s being like this.”

“I’m glad I can never leave that behind,” Quinn mutters, taking a much more solid sip of her scotch than previous. Rachel’s hand rubs circles on Quinn’s knee, now.

“How are Brittany and Santana? Whenever I try to text one of them, Santana sends back a link to Dalton’s performance of “Candles.” So I really have no idea,” Blaine says. Quinn laughs, because of course Santana would do something like that.

“They’re good,” Quinn says. “They got a puppy. Or, Brittany got a puppy. They’re coming to visit us in two weeks.”

“Oh, yeah, how is living together?” Kurt asks, looking between the two of them with a deep, uncomfortable interest. “I know Rachel can be very high maintenance as a roommate. I can’t imagine you think it’s very fun.”

“She’s a good roommate,” Quinn says, glaring a little at Kurt.

Rachel smiles at her so brightly that she can’t help but smile back, and when she glances back to Kurt and Blaine, Kurt is grinning as well.

-

“Does Kurt know about us?” Quinn asks, peeling the label off her beer and pushing at her sunglasses. Rachel looks at her curiously from underneath Quinn’s cap, sipping a glass of wine.

“What do you mean?” Rachel asks. She nudges gently at Quinn’s legs, tapping on them in a rhythm that Quinn finds hard to follow.

“Does he know about…the arrangement?” Quinn asks, again, looking outside at the various airplanes moving around the tarmac. Their trip was quick and filled with paranoia over Kurt’s maniacal smiles and laughter when it came to the two of them. Rachel blinks a little, looking down at her fingers on Quinn’s thigh and moves them away. 

“No,” Rachel says. “I haven’t told anyone. Have you?”

“No,” Quinn says. She sighs, turning her body a little in the booth they’re sitting in to look at Rachel. Somehow, even through the sunglasses, it feels like Rachel is able to catch her eyes. “You don’t really tell people about friends-with-benefits, do you? I didn’t think you did.”

“I guess not,” Rachel says, softly. She reaches out again to tap on Quinn’s thigh. “Did you want to?”

Quinn cocks her head, unsure of what that means, really. So she doesn’t really answer, just places her hand on top of Rachel’s, stopping the tapping. Rachel doesn’t pull her hand away, just sighs.

“I was looking at apartments a couple days ago,” Rachel says. Quinn looks at her, maybe too sharply, because Rachel’s face is apprehensive and a little bit high school. She tries to soften up, but it’s hard – it’s hard to pretend that it doesn’t bother her. Rachel looks down at their hands.

“I’ve been there a while, you know?” Rachel says. “And I can afford it. I’m sure I’m imposing.”

“You aren’t,” Quinn says, picking at the label again on her beer with her unoccupied hand and struggling to remain largely impassive. Rachel’s face is moving rapidly through all sorts of emotions. 

“We’re friends,” Rachel says, and she says it almost angrily, like she’s trying to start a fight. Quinn looks out the windows again. “I’m sure you’d like to have your own place to yourself. And I know you’ve been shortchanging me on the rent.”

“You are my friend, so you aren’t imposing,” Quinn says. Rachel frowns, withdrawing her hand out from under Quinn’s and looking at her closely. “You aren’t!” 

“I’m an adult, Quinn,” Rachel says. “I should get my own place.”

“You don’t have to,” Quinn says. “I don’t understand, why are we talking about this?”

“You are clearly concerned that people are figuring out about our situation,” Rachel says, then looks down at her drink. “I don’t want to ruin your reputation by hanging around your apartment.”

“Ruin my reputation?” Quinn asks, looking at Rachel in confusion. “I just wanted to know if you had told Kurt, Rach. Every time he looked at me, it felt like he did. But now I know he doesn’t, so it’s fine.”

“Your secret’s safe with me,” Rachel says, so bitterly that Quinn’s jaw drops open. Before she can come up with a response, something like – well, she isn’t even sure, Rachel shrugs and continues on with this moving nonsense.

“I was looking at a little house in Burbank, actually, near Sam and Mercedes. And anyways, we’re almost finishing the season. I was thinking about coming back here for a little while before we prep season two.”

“To New York?” Quinn says, and something heavy and dark settles in her stomach. It had never occurred to her that Rachel might just want to come home when she had the chance, that she would want to leave Quinn in Los Angeles for the summers between seasons. Rachel blinks at her, Quinn’s hat drooping low over her eyes.

“What about - ” Quinn starts to say, and Rachel looks at her. All of a sudden she can’t finish, can’t think beyond how tight her chest feels in this moment. So she stands up, out of the booth, and looks around the busy airport, trying to calm down. Rachel tries to grab for her hand with a look of concern, but Quinn shakes her off, muttering something about going to the restroom and dropping a twenty on the table in front of them to cover their drinks.

When she eventually gets to the plane, Rachel is already there, headphones in and looking out the windows. She doesn’t look at Quinn when she sits down.

-

Rachel doesn’t come to Quinn’s bedroom that night. She heads straight to her own room, shuts the door, and doesn’t come out even to make food. Quinn is pretty sure she does not mistake the sounds of the entire soundtrack to Next to Normal followed closely by the full recording of The Last Five Years.

Quinn sits in her bedroom and tries to think. Think through her feelings of irritation with Kurt and Blaine and then about the thought of Rachel leaving here, not getting to hear her belt songs.

She knocks on Rachel’s door at eleven. The music stops abruptly, but the door does not open. Quinn leans against the door, sighs.

“Rach, we should talk,” Quinn says. Her stomach has wrapped itself into absolute knots. “I mean, I guess I can talk through the door. If that’s better for you.”

There’s no response. But the music doesn’t start again.

“Look, I’m sorry I got weird about the - whole thing,” Quinn says. “About Kurt and Blaine. But also about you moving - I don’t really want you to move out, but I get it.”

The door doesn’t open. It feels sort of like staring at the heavy lid of a coffin.

“I know that you’re upset,” Quinn says. “I mean, I’m upset, too - ”

She nearly falls into Rachel’s room when the door flies open, complete with a red-eyed and arms-crossed edition of Rachel Berry on the other side.

“Why would you be upset, Quinn?” Rachel asks. She states in a way that makes Quinn’s insides freeze up. Like she knows the answer, or thinks she does. And Quinn just - can’t handle the idea of that, now, after going warp speed through the entire emotional spectrum. Can’t handle telling Rachel after all this time.

“It’s just been upsetting, right?” Quinn says, backing up into the hallway. “Things have been weird all day. And I want things to be alright. Because we’re friends. And for the show.”

“For the show,” Rachel repeats, and then she flicks her hair over her shoulder and Quinn stares suddenly at the exposed collarbone left by Rachel’s tank top. “Well, Quinn. Rest assured, things are alright. For the show.”

The empty space left by lack of reassurance over the fate of their friendship might as well be an anvil.

“Rachel - ” Quinn starts, starting to move back toward the other woman.

“I don’t feel comfortable continuing on with this arrangement,” Rachel says, putting her hand up and leaving her other arm wrapped around her stomach in a gesture that reads as protective. “Being around Kurt and Blaine reminded me of how treacherous it might be for the fledgling nature of our friendship. You’ve never been one to do things that don’t simply conform. I’d rather not stress you that way.”

“That don’t - conform?” Quinn asks, feeling anger rise up her spine fast. “You think I won’t want to fuck you one day because it might be hard to explain?”

Rachel winces, and Quinn winces, and then they’re just looking at each other for a few moments. Rachel takes a deep breath.

“Yes,” Rachel says, calm bleeding on her tone so unnaturally that it might as well be another person.

“That’s absurd,” Quinn says. “Do you really think so little of me?”

“I know you, Quinn Fabray,” Rachel says. “I always have. I’ve made my decision in light of the fact that I value our relationship and would rather not endanger it with something so volatile as our coupling. Feel free to respect my decision.”

“Are you kidding?” Quinn asks. Rachel clucks her tongue.

“Have I kidded with you often, Quinn?” Rachel asks. Quinn blinks, thinks - tell her tell her tell her but instead she just stares at her.

Rachel sighs.

“I’ve resolved to postpone my search for a new place of living until the summer,” Rachel says. “To at least finish out my engagements here. Have a good night’s sleep, Quinn.”

And then she shuts the door in Quinn’s face.

-

Santana and Brittany come visit like clockwork, two weeks later. Rachel and Quinn have barely talked, but have managed to stay afloat at work through the grace of God and a lot of buffering by Lila, who seems to feel sorry for Quinn.

It’s a regression that feels appropriate for them.

It takes Santana less than two minutes to shove Quinn into her bedroom and slam the door behind them.

“What the fuck, Q?” Santana whispers, as Quinn sits down on her bed and looks at Santana wearily. She had been prepared for this conversation, sort of, but hadn’t really been expecting it within seconds of their arrival.

“What, Santana?” Quinn asks, picking at her bedspread.

“What the fuck, Q? You fucked her,” Santana says, pointing at Quinn accusingly. Quinn frowns, fiddling with her glasses. “You fucked her and you’re in love with her.”

“I did not,” Quinn says, and Santana promptly grabs for a pillow and smacks her with it. “We just…are friends.”

“Don’t tell me you did friends with benefits,” Santana whispers. Then sighs. “You did. You numbskull. You absolute fuckface.”

“Thanks,” Quinn mutters.

“Yeah, you’re welcome, you dumbass,” Santana says, reaching out to punch Quinn in the knee, which hurts. “You’re in love with a girl and you think the solution to the problem is sleeping with her and pretending you don’t give a shit? Too bad you don’t have any friends who have done that exact same shit, or anything.”

Quinn blinks, then sits up suddenly, almost headbutting Santana when she comes back up.

“Oh my God,” Quinn says, dropping her head in her hands.

“Yeah, you’re a seventeen year-old Santana Lopez,” Santana says. “Congratulations on always being ten steps behind me.”

“What a mess,” Quinn whispers, then drops backwards. Santana groans, climbing up onto the bed after Quinn, halfway sitting on her lap and glaring down at her.

“You have to fucking tell her, Quinn,” Santana says. “Listen to me, right now. You have to tell her."

“I don’t,” Quinn says, shoving at Santana, who sits down even more firmly on Quinn’s hip. 

“You do. I don’t want you to ever repeat this, because if you do, I will rip out every strand of hair on your pretty little head,” Santana says, yanking at Quinn’s hair and provoking a yelp. “I find that girl the most tolerable when she’s with you. And these past few months, you’ve looked happier than I’ve ever seen you. I now see why, of course, because you were getting some, but…”

“Santana,” Quinn says, trying to interject and shoving again at Santana’s ass.

“I care about you, you stupid bitch,” Santana says, leaning down right over Quinn’s face and poking her in the nose. “Man up.”

A curious Brittany, who walks in and sees Santana on top of Quinn and promptly decides that joining the pile will help, thankfully interrupts this very strange attempt at an intervention. Quinn groans at the weight of her two best friends on top of her, laughing all the same, and manages to see Rachel’s face in her bedroom doorway, looking like her head is miles and miles away.

-

After they finish episode thirteen, they throw a Christmas party. It’s crazy, fun, and packed - Quinn drives her and Rachel there in mostly silence. Every time she looks over at Rachel, she can feel Santana in her head, telling her to man up, or else. Rachel spends most of her time avoiding Quinn, and does the same on the way and once they’re finally there.

“We have an exciting video to show you guys of Rachel Berry, courtesy of Quinn Fabray,” Jimmy says. The whole room begins clapping, laughter ringing out as Jimmy nearly falls off the stage. From across the room, Quinn can see Rachel look around and then lock eyes with her, confused. Quinn’s buzzed enough that she has to think about what this is, but when she realizes, she groans. She had given this to Jimmy months ago, and now it's going to be a mess.

The video begins playing, and Quinn watches as Rachel goes straight as a board, watching the screen with intensity. It had been a joke devised months ago, when Quinn could have explained it away with kisses and orgasms, but now – now it probably isn’t going to play so well. “Run Joey Run” starts playing loud in the room, people cheering and clapping.

Quinn isn’t listening, because Rachel is up and out of her seat as everyone laughs over the ridiculous video, making her way out of the large soundstage they’ve borrowed for the party. Quinn gets up suddenly as well, trying to catch up with her, to say sorry –

“Don’t follow me, Quinn,” Rachel yells, as she takes a sharp left turn into another soundstage. It’s a bathroom set, for some other show on the lot, and it gives Quinn a shock of nostalgia and pain. There’s nowhere for her to go, of course, so Rachel turns around with her arms crossed to glare at Quinn, who has followed her.

“Rachel, I - ”

“How did you even get that video?"

She’s crying. Rachel’s crying. Quinn tries to reach out, but Rachel moves away with a huff, rubbing at her eyes.

“I didn’t – Santana had a copy, and I thought – it’s funny, Rachel,” Quinn says, dropping her hand to her side and gripping the edge of the fake sink next to her. She takes one glance at the mirror to her right and she sees two wildly different people than she once had in a McKinley High bathroom. But the situation is the same, somehow.

“Is it funny, or are you just – humiliating me all over again? Like we’re high schoolers?” Rachel yells. The tiles ring with the noise of it, and Quinn grips even harder at the sink. She tries to talk, but Rachel seems to have unleashed something.

“I thought we were at least friends, Quinn,” Rachel whispers, looking down at the ground in between them. “And somehow we end up back here. All because you – you wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t even look at me, like you disgust me - ”

“You don’t disgust me! That’s insane, Rachel,” Quinn says, letting go of the sink and reaching out again. Rachel backs up, hitting the far wall of the set. The plywood making it up rattles behind her.

“Is it insane? You haven’t said a word to me since New York, since you thought Kurt knew about us. Like you were terrified that he could ever find out that Quinn Fabray was sleeping with Rachel Berry!”

“Rachel,” Quinn says, as placating as she can manage.

“There it is,” Rachel says, looking at Quinn accusingly.

“No, that is not what happened,” Quinn says, shaking her head and stepping closer to Rachel. Rachel’s makeup is running, and it’s sad to Quinn how beautiful she thinks she is.

“Then what happened, Quinn?” Rachel asks, looking up at Quinn with her big brown eyes, begging for an explanation. Quinn stares back at her, her hands shaking, feeling her own tears in her eyes. She turns around, looks around this stupid bathroom set, feeling like a fucking idiot. 

When she turns back, she almost tells her; almost lets loose with what she feels like she’s been holding in for years. Instead, she presses Rachel into the tiles and kisses her. Rachel sinks into it, her hands coming up around Quinn’s neck. And it’s nice, wonderful, perfect, even though Quinn’s head feels like it might pop open it’s so full. But Rachel pushes at her shoulders after a few moments.

“You don’t get to do this to me, Quinn Fabray,” Rachel says, and the tears in her eyes are down her face. “You don’t get to act like a jerk and then kiss me. That isn’t what friends do.”

“I’m not - I’m not trying to be a jerk,” Quinn says. “I am your friend. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Rachel.”

There’s a small pause, and Rachel asks, very carefully, “Which thing are you sorry for?”

“You know, the...” Quinn says, then sighs. “The awkwardness. I’m sorry for being an ass. I’m not ashamed of you, I’m just a total idiot. I’m proud that we’re friends. You’re my best friend. Please don’t tell Santana I said that. I’m sorry for the last month of barely talking.”

Rachel makes a humming noise, reaching up to wipe away a loose tear on her face. She’s nodding, thinking.

“The video - I love that video, you know. I love - I wasn’t trying to make fun of you. I’m sorry,” Quinn says, her voice low and scratchy and her eyes hot.

Rachel sighs, glancing again at the walls of the room around them.

“You’re my best friend too,” Rachel says, slowly. “And it’s okay, Quinn. I don’t know why, but we just have to do things in the most dramatic, complicated way possible. It’s really – rather appealing, honestly. My biographer will enjoy writing the chapter about you.”

“I get a whole chapter?” Quinn asks, and Rachel – Rachel laughs, really laughs, her big, loud laugh that takes up a whole room. And Quinn smiles. She loves her.

“Of course, Quinn Fabray,” Rachel says. “Maybe even two.”

-

They get better at being friends. Without the sleeping together part. Rachel leaves out coffee for Quinn and Quinn figures out how to actually cook quinoa. Rachel drives them to set and Quinn drives them back. They watch hockey. They don’t kiss.

It’s killing Quinn a little bit. Especially with the repeated texts from Santana including links to various violent crime stories and commentary like, if you don’t tell her, they’ll never find your missing boob.

She works on starting small.

“So, you like, slept with her a bunch of times,” Sam says, his eyes nearly crossing while Quinn does lunges across the floor of the workout room. His arms are crossed, and he’s half watching the episode of the show playing on the television, but mostly, he just seems confused.

“Yes,” Quinn says, grabbing a kettlebell and starting to swing it under her legs as she lunges.

“And now you guys are…friends again?” Sam asks, pulling Quinn back on balance when she nearly falls over on a lunge. She drops the kettle bell on the ground and huffs, standing up straight and looking at Sam’s shirtless, non-sweating body.

“Can you like, do something athletic please so I don’t feel like I’m in the Spanish Inquisition?” Quinn asks, and Sam obliges, smiling sheepishly and grabbing the kettle bell. “We never stopped being friends.”

“I mean, it’s hard to be normal friends anyways for you guys,” Sam says. “Right? So sleeping together…and falling in love…”

“We’re friends,” Quinn insists, grabbing for her water bottle and phone. Rachel’s just sent her a text about a line in the script for episode fourteen that she apparently super loves.

“Okay, let’s, um, cut the bull,” Sam says, stopping in the middle of a lunge and looking over at Quinn with a frown. “She’s Rachel Berry! I’ve dated you and your favorite topic is Rachel Berry. It still is your favorite topic. It’s like – she’s your Leia! You’re Han! Even when you hate her, you can’t shut up about her!”

“Don’t compare my life to a space opera,” Quinn says, dropping her water bottle back down on the bench in the room and grabbing for a medicine ball which she promptly pulls over her head and slams into the ground, catching it as it bounces back up. It’s a nice little frustration grinder.

“Stop acting like your life is not a space opera!” Sam almost yells. Quinn stares at him. He stares back. “This is so dumb, Quinn. I can’t like – this is like, New 52 dumb.”

“Sam, I don’t know what the New 52 is,” Quinn says.

“Why – do you not listen to me, or something? It doesn’t matter now, everything is like, fine with the universe on that end,” Sam says, shaking out his shoulders and setting the kettle bell back on the rack. “Stop doing this to yourself! You love her! She loves you! She’s always going to be your Leia!”

“She doesn’t love me,” Quinn says, shaking her head.

“For someone who went to Yale, you’re being really stupid,” Sam says. “I mean, Han had to be frozen in carbonite before he figured out, really, that Leia loved him. Don’t be Han, Quinn.”

“This extended Star Wars metaphor is really, really not working for me,” Quinn mutters, dropping the medicine ball on the ground and shrugging her shoulders. Sam doesn’t laugh.

“I’m not joking, Quinn,” Sam says. “I think – for real, I really, really do – that if you don’t do something about Rachel Berry now, you’re gonna regret it for the rest of your life. I mean, what’s stopping you? Are you just – are you afraid to be happy?”

“Sam…” Quinn says, shaking her head and grabbing for a towel, wiping at her face. It feels too hot.

“I mean, I bet she’s really good in bed, and that probably helped, but you were so happy when she was living with you,” Sam says, reaching for Quinn’s shoulders and squeezing them, trying to get them to relax.

“What if I don’t want my life to just – spin back around to Rachel Berry? What if she’s just – what if she’s just, Lana Lang? And I really need Lois Lane?”

“Don’t joke about Rachel Berry not being Lois Lane,” Sam says, then smiles, so nicely that Quinn feels tears prick her eyes. “She’s always been where you were supposed to go. Can I be your Lana Lang though? That would be supes cool.”

“She’s just,” Quinn says, rubbing at her eyes and ducking her head. “I don’t believe you, about her loving me. But even if she…did. I have never thought anyone was good enough for her. She is better than every single one of us. What if I just end up holding her down?”

“You could never hold someone down when you think like that,” Sam says, pulling Quinn into a tight hug as she starts crying in earnest now. “And honestly – Lois Lane and Leia Organa would never let anyone hold them down.”

“You can be my Lana Lang,” Quinn mutters, right into Sam’s chest as she cries into it. He laughs a little, but she can definitely hear him whisper a small, joyous yes.

-

Rachel is pacing the length of her trailer, reciting dialogue with Quinn, who’s adjusting the delivery and script as she goes. Writing nine episodes of television in such a short amount of time required a lot more ongoing maintenance, and often ended with Quinn lying on Rachel’s couch, watching her pace around in a tank top. It wasn’t so bad.

“Weston, I know that you’re just trying to help,” Rachel says, waving her hands around to jog her memory through the line.

“Urgency,” Quinn says, writing the direction on the script.

“Weston, I know that you’re just trying to help,” Rachel repeats, saying it much faster and with more intensity.

“I need to tell you something, Grace,” Quinn says. “Please, just listen.”

“What a sweet line,” Rachel says. “You sure you don’t want to act?”

“You’re too kind,” Quinn says. “Please, just listen.”

“I don’t have time for this,” Rachel says, tapping at the watch on her wrist. “The clock is almost at twelve. I’m going to disappear, and we’re never going to see each other again.”

“So dramatic,” Quinn mutters, scratching some words out and adding new ones. “Maybe just, “Weston, no. The clock is almost at twelve. We’re never going to see each other again.””

“Yes, okay,” Rachel says, stopping and looking down at Quinn as she writes on the script. “That sounds better. Economy of language.”

“Something you’re so familiar with?” Quinn says. Rachel reaches over and smacks Quinn with a pillow, prompting a giggle that moves through her whole body.

“Next line, please, boss,” Rachel says, smiling and resuming her pacing.

“I love you,” Quinn says. The script calls for it, but it bleeds out of her so suddenly and sweetly that she’s shocked Rachel doesn’t immediately drop the acting and stare at Quinn. She doesn’t though, and Quinn sits up a little to watch Rachel pace in the tiny space of her trailer.

“Weston, please, let me go,” Rachel says, sounding agitated and altogether perfect with an innate understanding of the character that a younger Rachel Berry would have never had. She looked beautiful, wearing Grace’s favored tank top, her watch prop looking altogether attractive on her wrist. So Quinn says it again.

“I love you,” Quinn says, much softer, no longer looking at her script. Rachel cocks her head to the side, looking down at the ground, nodding.

“I like that line delivery more,” Rachel says. “Make sure you tell Dennis about it.”

“I love you,” Quinn says, one more time. And Rachel looks up at her in confusion, and her face does something extraordinary, something that starts with a frown and turns to something that could be realization, but gets covered up too quickly for Quinn to revel in it.

“Quinn,” Rachel says, gesturing at the script.

“Rachel, I love you,” Quinn says, and Rachel blinks, her shoulders drooping and her face opening up into shock.

“What?” Rachel whispers. “No, you don’t.”

Quinn laughs, standing up and dropping her script on the couch. Even if Rachel throws her out the door in the next five seconds, the freedom of letting – letting this free is wonderful.

“I definitely do,” Quinn says, looking at Rachel so carefully. Rachel looks back at her, her brown eyes wide and her script dangling from her hands. It feels like it takes a millenia for Rachel to gather a response. But in the end, the full weight of a script she’s written hits her smack in the face.

“Quinn Fabray, if you think you can jerk me around like some sort of - jerk person - you have another thing coming,” Rachel all but yells. Quinn is pretty sure her brain is leaking out her ears.

“Rachel - ”

“No, absolutely not,” Rachel says, her finger arriving just in front of Quinn’s eyes until Quinn has to take a step back. “I am not a toy.”

“I am aware that you aren’t a toy,” Quinn says. “I’m trying to tell you - ”

“I am aware of what you’re trying to tell me!” Rachel says. “I have perfect hearing. I can hear dog whistles, Quinn. You know this.”

“I - do know that,” Quinn says, a strange mixture of affection and annoyance drifting through her. If that ain’t the way.

“You ignored me for years,” Rachel says. “And I forgive you for that. And then I show up here and you treat me like crap, then you sleep with me, then you ignore me again, and now you’re telling me that you love me? Are you on crack? Is this crack, Quinn?”

“Okay, I get it,” Quinn says, hands up, ego somewhere near the floor. “Maybe not the right thing to say.”

“Oh, shut up,” Rachel says. “Of course I love you, too. But you know what our problem is?”

“This is a really crazy conversation,” Quinn mutters, unsure of how she’s even still standing.

“It’s timing,” Rachel says. “We’ve got all the right words, all the right passion. But we can’t figure out the timing. This is song two of the second act, Quinn. This isn’t finale time.”

“I don’t do metaphors,” Quinn says. Rachel eyes her, and it feels like she’s looking down at a younger woman, one who can see right through her. But there’s another part of her that knows she’s looking at something better, stronger. More wonderful.

“Just because we’re in love with each other doesn’t mean that you get to confess your love and solve all our problems,” Rachel says. “Sing the rest of this act, and then you can have your finale.”

With that, Rachel pushes past her, walking toward the door of her trailer.

“I’m not singing anything,” Quinn says. “Rachel - that better be a metaphor!”

The door slams shut. Somewhere in the ensuing silence, Quinn becomes aware of a buzzing sensation in her face. It could very well be the space time continuum warping around her.

-

“So...are we going to pretend today didn’t happen?” Quinn asks, largely at Rachel’s back as she enters their apartment ahead of Quinn. She’s halfway down the hallway, but Rachel turns to look at Quinn with an appraising eye.

“Of course it happened,” Rachel says. “That’s the point.”

“So, I told you I loved you, and you told me you loved me and we’re just...not doing anything about that,” Quinn says. “To clarify.”

“Yes,” Rachel says. “In the totality of our time knowing each other, Quinn, we have lived our relationship doing one rash thing after another to each other. Just because I love you doesn’t mean that pattern is something I want.”

“If you love me, and I love you, then we should be together,” Quinn says. It’s about as bold as she can ever remember being, and Rachel looks at her a little bit softer, like she knows.

“I’m not saying never,” Rachel says. “But we have work to do before I can say yes.”

“This is ridiculous, Rachel,” Quinn says, irritation edging up through her. Her stomach feels slicked with oil, her chest tight, and she sort of feels like she might cry. Rachel crosses her arms and looks affronted, and it only makes Quinn feel more angry. “What do you want from me here? Do you want me to grovel at your feet? Do you want me to tell you I’m sorry every day?”

“I want you to treat me like you love me,” Rachel snaps. “In a rational, adult, mature way. And I want to make sure I can treat you the same way too. We’ve never exactly done it before now.”

Quinn feels the fight leak from her just as soon as it had arrived, watching Rachel squared up in the middle of their hallway. She looks annoyed, in the same way that Quinn had always loved seeing her. Now it settles just the slightest bit odd.

“Okay,” Quinn says. “Okay, I can do that.”

Rachel pauses and deflates, her arms unwinding, before a small smile climbs her lips.

“We’ll see.”

-

“Sam invited us to a hockey game with him and Mercedes,” Quinn says. Rachel is doing some sort of yoga thing on the patio, one of the ones where it looks like she might fall on her face if she tips too far forward. It’s been a weird few days since the unconfession. Rachel looks at her and Quinn feels her whole tongue go dry and then Rachel shakes her head and walks away. It’s a deeply unsatisfactory cycle.

“Who’s playing?” Rachel asks. “It’s not the Predators, is it? I do not admire their style of play.”

“Blue Jackets, hence the invite,” Quinn says. “They’re glass seats. One of his nerd friends and his husband bailed.”

“You want to go to a hockey game with me,” Rachel says, coming up out of her pose and looking at Quinn as though she’s gone and said something insane. Like I love you wasn’t even that crazy.

“I find your commentary illuminating,” Quinn says, smiling. Rachel looks beautiful up against the morning sun. There’s a distinct urge in Quinn to kiss her, and it makes her grip her coffee cup tighter.

“I still don’t know how icing works,” Rachel says. Quinn shrugs.

“We’ll work on it,” Quinn says. “Are you in?”

It takes a second, but Rachel nods slowly. Quinn turns away, already reaching for her phone and starting to type a reply when Rachel stops her with a small Quinn. When Quinn turns back to look at her, Rachel’s arms are crossed.

“What’s wrong?” Quinn asks. Rachel sighs, burrowing further into her own arms.

“Does Sam know?” Rachel asks.

“Know what?” Quinn asks.

“About us. About...things,” Rachel says.

“Yeah,” Quinn says, shrugging. “So does Santana. And Brittany. And Delaney. And Lila has asked about it.”

Rachel blinks at her, her arms unspooling the slightest bit.

“Alright,” Rachel says. “So it’s alright that I told Kurt and Blaine?”

It makes Quinn feel like her stomach is being put through a meat grinder to imagine Kurt’s triumphant face after hearing such news, but she tries to smile through the pain. Rachel, of course, frowns in response, perfectly aware that something has upended Quinn.

“Why is it alright for you to tell them and not for me to tell Kurt?” Rachel asks. Quinn sighs, dropping her phone in the pocket of her cardigan and looking at the ceiling for help in this matter. Her initial urge is to start snapping, but she tries to reign it in. This is song three, or whatever.

“This may shock you, but I’m a bit of a control freak,” Quinn says. Rachel freezes for a second, before a small laugh leaks out. “I don’t like people knowing things about me. At all. And I especially don’t like people knowing who or what I care about.”

“Kurt cares about you,” Rachel says. “And so does Blaine, you know. They aren’t going to tell the world that you and I had sex.”

“Oddly enough, once something like that happens to you once, it’s hard to let go of it,” Quinn says, raising one shoulder up in a half-hearted shrug. “I’m sorry. I can work on that.”

“Oh, you’re working on things now,” Rachel says, a small smile on her face. “That’s cute.”

“I’m not going to therapy, just so you know,” Quinn says, backing away slowly. If she stays in this atmosphere, she will kiss Rachel, and she gets the feeling that that course of action only ends in getting hit with something.

“Oh, of course not,” Rachel says, laughter seeping out from her as Quinn sends confirmation to Sam and heads back to her office. “That’d be insane!”

-

“Quinn!”

Quinn turns, coffee mug and bag in one hand and script in the other, to find her producer barrelling down on her. She’s literally standing in the parking lot, two feet from her car.

“Uh, Lila?” Quinn asks, juggling her hands around to get her car key and lock her car.

“Get your girlfriend out of her trailer right now or I swear I’ll fire her,” Lila nearly shouts. It sends an endless round of cold up and down Quinn’s spine, but she tries to school her face into something impassive.

“Um,” Quinn starts, really unsure where to begin unpacking the statement. Rachel had had an earlier call time this morning, had left a smoothie in the fridge for Quinn with a smiley face post-it note.

“Don’t you dare start on the she’s not my girlfriend nonsense,” Lila says. Her finger is in Quinn’s face now. “She’s throwing a tantrum.”

“Yeah, I’m not great at handling Rachel in a tantrum,” Quinn says, even though Lila has gripped ahold of her arm and has started pulling her toward the trailer lot. “Why is she throwing a tantrum?”

“Honestly, I have no idea,” Lila says, showing her badge to the guard stationed at the entrance to the lot, then fishing around in Quinn’s bag for hers. “She’s barricaded herself in.”

“Look, Lila, I really don’t think that - ” Quinn starts, as they push past a crowd of interns and assistants hovering a good fifteen yards away from Rachel’s trailer.

“Stars are like children, Quinn,” Lila says. “You have to find whatever it is that appeases them and give them that constantly. Mysteriously, that seems to be you. Fix it.”

“Okay, but - ”

Quinn is pushed up the stairs to the trailer seconds after Lila opens the door, and is promptly thrown inside. She nearly drops her coffee.

When she rights herself, Rachel is staring at her.

“Get out of my trailer,” Rachel says, quite promptly. Quinn sighs.

“Okay, so, before you throw me out of your trailer, can I finish my coffee?” Quinn asks. Rachel actually physically stomps her foot, like a bull ready to charge. “I swear I won’t look at you or breathe or anything.”

“This is my space, Quinn,” Rachel says. “I know that must be confusing for you, considering we share a living space and have, at times, crossed personal boundaries. But you don’t get to walk in and own it.”

“Right,” Quinn says, looking down at her poor, poor, cooling coffee. “Okay, sit down.”

“I will not sit down,” Rachel says. “You are not the boss of me.”

“I am,” Quinn says, as plaintively as she can. “I could fire you right now.”

“My contract guarantees seven years,” Rachel spits back.

“I can make sure you carry out that contract in Vancouver on another show,” Quinn says. “Sit down.”

“Or else what, Quinn? You’ll throw your coffee in my face?” Rachel asks. “You’ll send me to the wilds of Vancouver? You’ll make me do my own stunts so that I have a horrific accident?”

“Rachel. What the hell is happening?” Quinn asks, dropping her bag on the floor and watching as Rachel starts pacing up and down the length of her trailer.

“Joke’s on you, Quinn! I could get cast as a disfigured villainess on Riverdale! The people would love me! They surely must have musical episodes every season!”

“I think you’re trying to pick a fight, but I honestly don’t even know how to argue with this,” Quinn says. “Look, I’m going to set. If you aren’t there in fifteen, I’ll call the shoot, and you can explain to the crew why they didn’t get a full day’s pay. Get over yourself.”

Rachel has no response for that, besides a stuttering sound, and so Quinn picks up her bag and pushes out the door. The crowd of interns and assistants do their best to look uninterested, flicking through their phones and chatting at each other. Lila is leant up against the trailer across from Rachel’s, sunglasses perched on her face. It only takes a few seconds until the door Quinn’s just slammed shut pops open again. 

Quinn doesn’t even bother turning around. Rachel gets surrounded by the assistants, shepherding her off to hair and makeup and talking about script changes all the way.

“That was impressive,” Lila says, pushing off from the wall. “Did I hear mention of Vancouver?”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” Quinn mutters, taking a sip of her blessed coffee. “But if she were, would that be allowed?”

“Only if you win me an Emmy,” Lila says airily. “Also, yes. I’m sure ethics and PR would have a field day coordinating it. You’ll wish you had sent her to Vancouver.”

Quinn groans, Lila laughs. Her coffee isn’t as hot as it should be.

-

“Vancouver?” Sam asks, his face suspended between terror and laughter.

“Vancouver,” Quinn says, leaning down to pick up the kettlebell at her feet and eyeing her stance in the mirror as she sinks into a squat.

“You threatened your girlfriend with Vancouver,” Sam says, as though the information is still downloading into his brain. Quinn swings up with the kettlebell, feeling the burn in her hamstrings, thinking a little of Rachel’s face in her first scene back. Her jaw had been tight, perfect for the shots.

“She isn’t my girlfriend,” Quinn says, dropping back into a squat. Sam is leaning against the treadmill, a smile on his face. “And she was being childish.”

“Well, yeah,” Sam says. “This is like when ‘Cedes’s rider demanded a certain brand of spring water and Perrier. I get it.”

Quinn rolls her eyes; why three of the closest people in her life are absurd divas is beyond her. Does she just attract drama?

“They’re both divas,” Quinn grunts, swinging the kettlebell up. The door to the workout room opens to reveal Rachel, and then Quinn nearly falls over backwards in the middle of her swing up.

“Hello,” Rachel says. She has her hands behind her back, her eyes warm and her chin tilted down. She’s also wearing a t-shirt that Quinn had thought she lost somewhere in the depths of her closet. Quinn has to unceremoniously drop the kettlebell on the ground to maintain balance.

“Hey, Rach,” Sam says. “Heard you almost moved to Vancouver today.”

Rachel rolls her eyes, stepping further into the room.

“Thank you for reminding me,” Rachel says. She reaches out slowly until her hand contacts Quinn’s bare bicep, her fingers light. “I was thinking of ordering food for dinner and was wondering if you wanted something. And if you’d like to stay, too, of course, Sam.”

Something about Rachel’s posture is soft, deferential even. It’s achingly, terribly familiar to Quinn, and she finds herself reaching up to grab at Rachel’s hand for a second, heedless of Sam’s presence. Rachel takes in a breath, smiling slowly.

“I’m good on the dinner,” Sam says. “I’m supposed to be proofing right now anyway.”

“Right,” Rachel says, glancing back to Quinn. “Are you good with the usual from Pancho?”

“Yeah,” Quinn says, slipping her fingers through Rachel’s again as Rachel steps away a little. “I’ll be up in a little bit.”

“Okay,” Rachel says. And she’s out the door with a little wave and a soft goodbye to Sam. He waits mere nanoseconds before he’s rounding on Quinn.

“You two are the most whack people I know,” Sam says, reaching for the kettlebell at Quinn’s feet and handing it back to her. “I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone.”

Quinn crouches down again, letting her back straighten up and adjusting her grip on the kettlebell. She thinks for a second of Rachel upstairs, eyes soft, waiting for her. And she swings up again with a grin on her face.

-

Quinn wakes up on April seventeenth and it feels like there’s lead in her bones. She’s not expected on set today, doesn’t expect anything more than a few phone calls and the relative silence of her bedroom. It’s probably stupid to care this much about a day that should mean nothing to her, but she does. It is what it is.

It’s eleven in the morning when Rachel knocks on her door. And it figures that she doesn’t even wait for a response before she starts talking.

“Quinn, I’ve cooked you some bacon,” Rachel says. “And some pancakes as well. And I’ve made you a coffee. And admittedly, I am holding this all on a tray and your bedroom door is locked…”

Quinn opens the door slower than is really kind, but she does all the same. Rachel is smiling in a soft way, a breakfast tray clenched in her hands. There’s a sudden urge to just duck down, knock it out of Rachel’s hands, and hug her. But there’s also the twin urge to yell and slam the door in her face.

She settles in the middle ground, eyeing Rachel before taking a deep breath.

“Rach, thank you, but I’m not really - ” Quinn says. Rachel physically bodies past Quinn before she even finishes her sentence. The tray is suddenly on Quinn’s bedside table, next to a succulent that Sam had claimed was unkillable. Rachel is standing there with her hands on her hips, looking Quinn up and down. “What?”

“Nothing,” Rachel says. “Anyway, I’m not due in today, so I’m around if you need anything. I have several offers for summer engagements on Broadway that are in need of review, but I think I’ll work from the porch so as not to disturb you.”

“You’re the star of the show,” Quinn says, at a loss. Rachel is standing still, glancing around the room as though she’s looking for something.

“Thank you very much for saying so,” Rachel says, a smile on her face.

“No, I mean - why aren’t you on the call sheet today?”

“I got some things moved around,” Rachel says. She shrugs so dramatically that Quinn can physically feel her eyes narrow in suspicion. Rachel’s smile lessens up as she starts to leave the room. “Like I said, if you need anything I’m around.”

“You got some things moved around,” Quinn repeats, watching as Rachel brushes past her again on her way out the door. It’s stupid sunny today, Quinn’s bedroom lit up by the light. Rachel’s hair shines in it.

“I had worked eight in a row, so,” Rachel says, reaching for the door handle. Quinn makes a noise.

“You know what day it is,” Quinn says. It comes out more accusatory than Quinn means for it to be, but Rachel stops anyway. When she glances back, she looks like she’s sorry more than anything.

“I know what day it is,” Rachel says softly. “Just let me know if you need anything.”

And she disappears out the door.

-

Quinn finds her hours later when the sun is setting, working at a laptop on the porch.

“Hey,” Rachel says. “Did you talk to Shelby? She just called me.”

“I did,” Quinn says. There was an instinct for the last thirty minutes to not go outside and see Rachel, even though she wanted to - there was a halting fear in her to show the redness of her eyes or the gravel in her voice. But Rachel doesn’t look pitying or curious. She just looks at Quinn, simply, in that same way that Quinn had always felt like x-ray vision. “I’m pouring myself a shot. Do you want any?”

“Seems like a healthy coping mechanism,” Rachel says, laughing. “Sure.”

“Me and Puck do a shot every year on her birthday,” Quinn says. She pulls down the dusty bottle of Johnnie Walker from a high-up shelf that Rachel probably didn’t even realize had something on it, then grabs two shot glasses. “The first year we did it, he said it’s a birthday, so you have to do shots.

“Very logical,” Rachel says, suddenly right behind Quinn when she turns around with shot glasses in hand. Quinn almost bowls her over and splashes some of the drink on her hands, but manages to stop herself. Rachel is looking up at her softly. “This day always makes me think of how Vocal Adrenaline did “Bohemian Rhapsody” and absolutely annihilated us at regionals.”

“I wish those were the memories I had associated with it,” Quinn says, a laugh bubbling up in her. It’s almost shocking. Rachel reaches out until her fingers brush just slightly against the baggy t-shirt Quinn has on.

“Can we hug?” Rachel says. Quinn nods before she can think better of it, and then Rachel is wrapping around her, not unlike a koala. It’s so nice, and warm, and so unexpected and so wanted that Quinn feels the tears spring back up to her eyes. “I’m sorry. I can’t imagine what today is like for you.”

It’s that strange mix of relief and pain at being known, being seen. But it’s Rachel, through and through. Quinn presses her hands, laden with shot glasses, as hard into Rachel’s shoulders as she can without spilling.

“Thank you for being here,” Quinn says, mostly into Rachel’s hair. And she means it.

-

At the season wrap party, Quinn has the misfortune of sitting at the front and center table when Jimmy stands climbs onto the makeshift stage. He’s wearing an eyepatch, which seems to be his only attempt at the costume theming of the party, and he’s grinning so wide it makes him look like a clown.

“Folks, I’ve got a huge surprise for you,” he says. Rachel looks altogether weary, glancing over at Quinn with a raised eyebrow. Quinn shrugs - she had decided against any mischief in the interest of keeping their fragile forward progress on its legs. It’s been a strange past month, with them circling around each other in their apartment. Quinn starts the coffee machine and Rachel makes them eggless omelettes and they go to work and come home, and Quinn thinks constantly about telling Rachel that she’s gorgeous and spends an inordinate time trying to avoid kissing her.

At the moment, Rachel is sat next to her at the front table, her chair scrunched close to accommodate the number of people smashed into the seating and her bare legs are brushing Quinn’s jeans. And Jimmy is laughing altogether maniacally.

“As you are all well aware, our star Rachel was in a glee club in high school,” Jimmy says, to absolutely raucous applause. Quinn frowns, again shrugging when Rachel looks at her in further confusion.

“I didn’t do anything,” Quinn says, and Rachel’s response is interrupted when Jimmy holds up his hand to calm the applause.

“And some of you know that are esteemed head writer was in that same glee club,” Jimmy says. Quinn feels every single cell in her body go numb as Jimmy directs his eyes at her. Lila, who was seated at Quinn’s other side, is now standing up and screaming. “Now, Quinn isn’t in a lot of the publicly available videos on YouTube of this club’s performances. But, I pulled some strings.”

“I’m going to fire him,” Quinn mutters, adjusting in her seat so she can sit back and cross her arms. Rachel laughs, loudly, turning to look at her with joy on her face.

“We’ve got a classic on tap for you guys,” Jimmy says. “Let’s roll the tape!”

It becomes apparent what the song is mere seconds into the footage. Quinn can’t help but roll her eyes as Rachel nudges at her ribs. Lila lets out an earthshaking scream when Sam enters into view of the camera.

“Did you do this?” Quinn asks, glancing down at Rachel and trying to smack her hand away from poking at Quinn’s side. Rachel is giggling, shaking her head.

“Of course not,” Rachel says. “As if I would ever give out tape of anyone but me on lead.”

“Right,” Quinn says, wincing when her own voice comes trebling out over the video. “So it was Sam.”

“Probably Sam,” Rachel says, nodding in agreement. It’s hard not to be aware of every miniscule shift of Rachel’s body up against hers, but it’s especially noticeable when Rachel finally stops poking at Quinn and slips her fingers down Quinn’s arm. “I always liked this duet. You and Sam were a very handsome couple.”

“Do you want me to add to my public humiliation by throwing up?” Quinn asks, feeling Rachel’s fingers thread between her own. She locks their hands together even amongst the irritation roiling through her - Lila is still screaming, Jimmy is dancing vigorously on the stage in front of the projection, several of the crew behind her are singing along. It’s stupid, and dumb, but their palms sliding together and their fingers clasping makes her feel alright.

“I’m sorry that I thought you and your beard were cute,” Rachel says. Quinn huffs, shifting in her seat. The version of her and Sam on the screen have just now made it to the stage. There’s so much singing and dancing. She hasn’t ever wanted to watch any of these performances back. Rachel had always distributed copies after all their performances, happily handing them out in bright red cases along with notes on how they could improve. More often than not, they had ended up in the trunk of her car never to see the light of day.

“He and I decided that he’s my Lana Lang, actually,” Quinn says. Rachel nods very seriously. “You don’t know what that is.”

“I don’t know what that is,” Rachel agrees, an appeasing smile on her face. “It sounds very nice, though.”

Quinn sighs, adjusting her grip on Rachel’s fingers until her shoulder is pressing more tightly to Rachel’s side. The entire room around them is screaming the lyrics to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” and yet, the most absurd thing happening to Quinn Fabray in this moment is Rachel Berry smiling up at her and holding her hand.

“Do you remember we ended this week with “Dog Days are Over”?” Quinn asks. Rachel pauses, blinking, and the nods slowly, her eyes tracing over Quinn’s face. God, she wants to kiss her. “We held hands.”

“Yes,” Rachel says. “You should have told me you were desperately in love with me then. I was single at the time.”

Quinn rolls her eyes, glaring at Lila when she reaches down and jostles Quinn. Onstage, Jimmy is lifting a crew member’s young daughter up into the air in an approximation of the iconic lift.

“I hate all of this,” Quinn says. “And you.”

“I completely believe you,” Rachel says, nodding as solemnly as Quinn can imagine before she rests her head on Quinn’s shoulder. It’s stupid how easily Quinn can forget her irritation then.

-

“Quinn Fabray, I must speak to you,” Rachel says, appearing abruptly in the doorway to Quinn’s office. Quinn almost falls off her couch, and definitely drops her book. “I apologize for startling you.”

“It’s fine,” Quinn mutters, reaching down to grab her book and dropping it on her stomach. “What’s wrong? Did you burn something?”

“I am a perfectly serviceable cook, Quinn,” Rachel says, irritation leaking over her voice and a glare in her eyes. “Wouldn’t you be able to smell smoke, anyway? Exercise some logic.”

“Sure,” Quinn says, sitting up further and watching Rachel’s tense body language. “What’s wrong?”

“As you might have anticipated, I’ve received several offers to spend the summer months in New York on various Broadway engagements,” Rachel says. Quinn nods slowly. There’s a little bit of a sinking feeling in her gut, but she tries to work through it. “Many of them are superfluous and altogether boring.”

“Right,” Quinn says. Rachel draws herself up to her absolute full height, like a steel rod got inserted down her spine.

“And I certainly wanted to weigh against what kind of work I’m doing on our show,” Rachel says.

“Okay,” Quinn says.

“I rejected King Kong out of hand, because the thought of being outperformed by a giant ape puppet every night sounds like my very own personal torture,” Rachel says, clearly now on a tangent away from where she had been previously heading.

“So you picked Spongebob,” Quinn says. The look of rage that subsumes Rachel’s face at that moment nearly wipes away the awful unease in Quinn’s stomach. 

“How dare - Spongebob? Do you think I’m some sort of - don’t you dare laugh,” Rachel says, dropping out of her stance and pointing angrily at Quinn. “Stop laughing!”

Influencers, then. Right?” Quinn says. “Or wait. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing?

“Who would I even play in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing?” Rachel practically screeches. Quinn is having trouble breathing.

“Maybe the mother?”

Rachel stares at her in total silence for a solid thirty seconds while Quinn tries to reign in her laughter.

“Quinn Fabray, if you ever again suggest that I play a mother character in a Broadway musical and that mother is not Kim in Miss Saigon, I can assure you that I will never, ever, let you touch me ever again,” Rachel says. “And when my authorized biography is published forty years from now, I will make sure to note that you were the worst creative partner I ever had.”

“Right,” Quinn wheezes, wiping tears from her eyes. “Right. No motherhood. Gotcha.”

“Furthermore, I was coming to tell you that I had accepted a role as Eurydice in Hadestown, and that, if you wanted, you were welcome to stay with me in my home over the summer,” Rachel says. “In addition, I was going to invite you to be my guest at the Tony Awards next month. Instead, I think I’ll be inviting my dear friend Jesse.”

Quinn freezes in her movements, as Rachel makes a hmph noise and turns on a dramatic heel.

“Rach,” Quinn says, springing up from her seat on the couch and turning out the doorway to chase Rachel down. She’s turning into her bedroom, about to slam the door when Quinn gets a hand in the door jam.

“You are very frustrating,” Rachel huffs, leaving the door open for Quinn to follow her in. “The mother!”

“I was joking,” Quinn says, getting in Rachel’s path before she makes it to the chair she most assuredly wants to flop dramatically into. She reaches out for a second to place her hands on Rachel’s shoulders and then stops just before contact. “You know that.”

“Of course I know that!” Rachel yelps, her foot stamping on the ground. “First Vancouver, and now the mother.

“Oh my God,” Quinn says. “You just can’t handle being teased, then.”

“Has it taken you twelve years to understand that?” Rachel spits, practically acidic. She crosses her arms and glares out the window of her room.

“You know I’d go to Vancouver with you,” Quinn says. Rachel directs her heavy glare to Quinn’s face momentarily. “I tease you because I like you.”

“This is not kindergarten,” Rachel says. “That excuse may have tricked me in high school, but I am also no longer convinced that Edward Cullen was romantic.”

“Is throwing a slushie in your face and calling you a gnome the same as suggesting that you might have a supporting role on Broadway as an integral character in a popular musical?” Quinn asks. Rachel huffs.

“Don’t try to play up the character with fancy words,” Rachel says. “She has one solo, and it’s about cleaning up her children’s mess.”

“Do you remember how I told you I loved you?” Quinn says. She almost chokes on the words a little bit, but she gets them out. A smile blooms on Rachel’s face in response, her feet shifting.

“I suppose,” Rachel says.

“Well, I do,” Quinn says. “And I think you’re very cute when you’re annoyed. I always have. When I was seventeen it made me so mad that I was just mean to you.”

“I wish you had been this good at apologies when you were seventeen,” Rachel mutters, leaning forward the slightest until Quinn’s hovering hands bump into Rachel’s collarbones.

“I’m not apologizing,” Quinn says, rubbing at the muscles of Rachel’s shoulders. “Just saying that, you know, it’s a love language of mine. But if it ever really bothers you, can you just - tell me, instead of being as dramatic as possible?”

“Drama is in my DNA, Quinn,” Rachel says. “I was bred for it.”

“You weren’t created in a lab,” Quinn says. “This isn’t Jurassic Park.

“Tell that to my fathers,” Rachel mutters. “I will consider being less reactive to being teased in accordance with the knowledge that you are not truly saying anything hurtful.”

“Good,” Quinn says, pulling at Rachel’s shoulders until the other woman is ducking her head into Quinn’s shoulder. It’s warm, the closest they’ve been in a long time, and it’s so nice that Quinn feels like she could just stand here hugging for at least three hours, give or take. “Also, I will go with you to New York for the summer. All I have to do is write, anyway.”

“You think you’re still invited?” Rachel says, mostly into Quinn’s collarbone.

“I also agree to be your date to the Tony Awards,” Quinn says. “Though I think I’ll have to talk to HR first.”

“I never expressly stated that you would be my date,” Rachel says. “And, in fact, I already informed you that Jesse St. James was coming with me instead.”

“Yeah, but would he look as good as I do in a dress?” Quinn asks.

“I think you might be underestimating him,” Rachel says. They keep hugging, for at least two more minutes. It’s so nice.

-

“Quinn Fabray, as I live and breathe,” comes the smarmy voice of Jesse St. James. Quinn is standing in the doorway of Rachel’s brownstone in shorts and a tank top, having been woken up at eight in the morning by the man in front of her hitting the doorbell sixteen times in a row.

“Rachel isn’t here,” Quinn says, glaring. Jesse is dressed in an all-black, Johnny Cash-style ensemble, despite the fact that it’s already eighty degrees in May.

“I am aware,” Jesse says. “She said that it would be fine if I arrived early to our meeting as you would be here to let me in. I think she forgets that I have a spare key in case of her sudden death.”

“Did you forget that you had a spare key?” Quinn asks.

“Would you blame me if I ignored that fact so that I could see you sooner?” Jesse says, his voice all simper. Quinn rolls her eyes, walking away from the door and leaving it open for him to enter. “I missed you, too.”

“I can’t even express how much I did not miss you,” Quinn says, stalking into the kitchen. There’s a note mentioning how Jesse is coming over and Rachel is grabbing them all coffee and bagels.

“That’s not a nice way to talk to your girlfriend’s close friend and once-and-future costar,” he says, sliding into the seat across the small breakfast bar.

“I’m going to go back to sleep,” Quinn mutters, grabbing a cup and filling it with water from the Brita in the fridge. “You two have fun.”

“You don’t deny it,” Jesse says, all gleeful. Quinn thinks about flipping him off. “I’m glad you’ve broken from your heteronormative shell. Rachel was understandably confused at all times by your behavior, but it was always so familiar to me.”

“Tell Rachel good morning for me,” Quinn says, starting to shuffle up the stairs, attempting to restrain herself from turning around and pitching her cup of water at his head. “I hope you get vocal strain!”

“Nice to see you again as well, Quinn Fabray,” Jesse says, waving her away. She barely makes it to the landing before she hears his full-throated vocal runs. God. What had she signed up for.

-

“Why am I here?” Santana asks, her arms crossed as she regards the stage before her.

“Rachel is performing in this show,” Brittany responds, pointing at the cover of the Playbill, where Rachel (and sadly, Jesse) are pictured.

“And I care why?” Santana asks.

“She’s like our sister-in-law,” Brittany says, absentmindedly, flipping through the Playbill and gasping when she sees an ad for Influencers. She’s already leaning away from Santana to show it to Blaine on her other side.

“What the fuck?” Santana whispers to herself. “Did she just say that?”

Sam, who’s on Quinn’s other side, adjusts his tie with Captain America shields all over it and tries not to smile too much when he nods at Santana.

“I’m going to have to invite her to my Thanksgiving,” Santana says, despair seeping into her tone. “I’m going to have to figure out how to make vegan stuffing.”

“Well, the good thing is that you can’t cook anyway,” Mercedes says, reaching across Sam and Quinn’s laps to pat Santana with her Playbill. Santana smacks it away. Sam is giggling behind his hand.

“I’m going to burn the theater down,” Santana says, leaning around her wife and Blaine to look at Kurt. “Hey, Kurtsy, give me your shitty pink drink.”

“Get your own alcohol,” Kurt says back, clutching tightly to his drink. “I’ve just realized I have to outfit Quinn for cocktail parties for the next thirty years and I need this.”

“I know how to dress for a cocktail party,” Quinn interjects, rolling her Playbill in her hand and glancing continually at her watch.

“No, you don’t,” Kurt and Santana both say, in chorus. Quinn rolls her eyes.

The house lights flicker on and off, thankfully, and Quinn is distracted from further thoughts about her idiot friends by the quieting of the crowd as everyone finds their seats in the space below them.

Rachel appears soon enough, singing and dancing and acting and Quinn is so in love, so stupidly in love. When Rachel’s first solo transitions away, Santana smacks her in the head with her Playbill.

“Pull yourself together, Fabray,” Santana whispers, even though she’s wiping tears out of her eyes. Quinn doesn’t even care.

-

Rachel finds her around lunchtime one day, lying on the couch in Rachel’s living room, the window open and birds singing. New York in the summer is a stupid sort of humid-hot that makes Quinn miss Los Angeles, but it’s still nice. Rachel blearily stands there and looks at her.

“I left you some bagels for breakfast,” Quinn says, pointing into the kitchen. She’s reading a book, wasting away her morning and enjoying it. She has a phone call scheduled with the writers on script progresses later today, and then she’ll go pick Rachel up after her show and have a late dinner, and she’ll start the day over again. 

It’s funny. To see that this is her life, in a way she had never thought she’d have it.

“What’s your song for me?” Rachel asks, with no provocation. Quinn looks over the top of her book at her. Rachel is smiling, leaned up against the doorway, glasses on.

“What?” Quinn asks, suddenly very confused just by the beauty of Rachel’s presence.

“You know. Your song for me. Like, is it “Tiny Dancer”?” Rachel asks.

“Why would it be “Tiny Dancer”?” Quinn asks, setting her book down on the coffee table and looking at Rachel in confusion. “Like, hold me closer tiny dancer, count the headlights on the highway?

“Yes, that one,” Rachel says, rolling her eyes. “I was just wondering. People have songs for each other. Perhaps you might choose "And I Will Always Love You" or maybe "Don't Dream It's Over"."

"Why would I choose "Don't Dream It's Over"? I'm not a fifty year-old man," Quinn says, frowning.

"People like Crowded House," Rachel says defensively. 

"Not that much," Quinn says. Rachel huffs.

"What's your song for me?" Rachel asks.

“I’ve never had a song for you,” Quinn says. Rachel frowns, her arms crossing.

“Why not?” Rachel asks. Quinn frowns in return, before she flops back on the couch, picking up her book.

“You sing enough of them that I don’t have to think of one for you,” Quinn says, finding her place again in the book and content to wait through Rachel’s annoyance over Quinn’s lack of musical connections to Rachel’s presence. “You are the song.”

There’s a small moment of silence that seems altogether preserved in gold - sunlight filtering into the dusty front room of Rachel’s brownstone. And then Quinn’s book is being ripped from her hands - “Hey!” - and Rachel is leaning down to kiss Quinn.

She forgets all about her book for thirty seconds, and then some. By the time they draw away from each other, Rachel is sitting on her lap, smiling quite mischievously.

“I think you should really consider “Tiny Dancer”,” Rachel whispers, and Quinn rolls her eyes just once before she’s pulling Rachel down to kiss her again.

-

“Thank God,” Santana says, when Quinn calls her later. “The space time continuum is saved. I had zero confidence in you, but Brittany said the alignment was here, or something. Can you tell Berry that I will murder her if she breaks up with you?”

“Why don’t you tell her yourself?” Quinn asks, watching Rachel with her headphones on as she does yoga in the living room.

“You know I don’t talk to her,” Santana says. “I’m not even going to talk to her if you two get married.”

“A week ago you were complaining you were going to have to invite her to Thanksgiving,” Quinn says.

“You think I have to talk to her even if she’s sleeping in my house?” Santana asks.

“You are the worst,” Quinn says, smiling and waving when Rachel turns around and waves at her. She’s mouthing the words to the song, somewhat respectful of the early morning no-singing policy, but it’s almost like Quinn can hear her voice anyway.

“I’m the best,” Santana says. “Go make love or something gay with your little hobbitess.”

Santana hangs up just in time for Rachel to apparently reach her quotient of silent singing, as she starts belting Sunset Boulevard at the top of her lungs, coming up out of a yoga pose and stepping closer.

“Hey,” Rachel says, her hands reaching for Quinn’s. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Quinn says, and then there’s kissing, and the kind of happiness that she had only ever guessed at.

-

the end