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you're the trouble that i always find

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EXT. TRAILER PARK – NIGHT [COLD OPEN]

RAIN falls down, hard. For a second, it seems like a normal night at a normal trailer park. Then, a FLASH. We think it’s lightning, but a body FALLS from the sky and hits the top of a trailer, glancing off and falling to the muddy gravel. The figure GROANS, raises their glowing watch up to check the time, then STANDS.

GRACE

Where the hell am I now?

GRACE looks left and right, and lightning (normal lightning) STRIKES. It LIGHTS a parked car’s license plates just near her.

GRACE

Ohio. I hate Ohio.

TITLE SCREEN

THE WOLVES

-

“I knew it was a good idea to give you your own series,” Gordon says, slamming the pilot script down so hard that the Giants bobblehead on his desk rattles violently. Quinn doesn’t jump, mostly because violent movements stopped scaring her at some point in high school, thanks to Coach Sylvester. “This is brilliant, Fabray.” 

The studio exec’s propensity towards calling her by her last name only was interesting; she assumed it had something to do with either forcing an impersonal relationship or pretending she wasn’t a woman.

“Thank you, Mr. Belliout,” Quinn says, watching as Gordon starts tapping his fingers on the desk to the beat of the song that’s softly playing in his office. She recognizes it, of course, because it’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” There are too many songs she recognizes and starts counting dance steps too.

“I can’t believe it took this long for my assistant to even hand me this,” he says, standing up and shaking the heavy script as if it was a personification of his assistant. “This is gonna make you and I both rich!”

“Thank you, Mr. Belliout,” Quinn says again, then adds on: “I hope so.”

Gordon Belliout is the proud head of the Sony Entertainment Division. He is already rich, and his mansion in the Palisades has seven bathrooms. Quinn knows because she’s been there, celebrating a Golden Globe win for writing on Divisional Conflicts with the rest of the crew. Quinn has at least a few major awards on her shelf, and is not poor either.

“You get to work casting this girl,” Gordon says, setting the script down again and turning up the music. The classic rock station has rolled over to “Don’t Stop Believin’”, which nearly makes Quinn cringe.

“Jimmy and Lila are already in a casting session right now across the lot,” Quinn says, then starts to stand, because Gordon is now paying more attention to the music than her, his motivation clearly starting to leave him for the moment.

“You get to work casting her, Fabray, because she’s gonna be famous!” he says, then laughs almost maniacally. The awards and framed photos scattered behind him combine with the sound to produce a reminder of the tableau of Coach Sylvester’s office, which is amusing. One master for another.

At least the uniform isn’t so obvious.

The hallways of the executive building aren’t crowded, but as she rides down the elevator, more people start to appear. A few of them seem to recognize her, maybe, and she gives a wan smile at the ones who give her the same. She makes it into the lobby before her phone starts ringing – Sam is calling her.

“This is Quinn,” she says, and Sam starts talking immediately, ignoring the professionalism of introducing oneself.

“Quinn, dude, you won’t believe who I saw today,” he says, then gets waylaid, apparently, by one of his underlings. “No, I want the gold here and here, not here. I like where this one is going, bro!”

“Another Iron Man costume?” she asks, weaving around the film shoot taking place just outside the building from some sitcom.

“Another Iron Man costume,” Sam says, lamentingly. “Anyway, I was just coming back from lunch with Mercedes crosstown down near you, and I saw – whoa, why is there a statue of Darth Vader right in front of my office door? Adam, why is there a statue of Darth Vader - ”

“Sam, you can call me back in a few hours when Darth Vader has moved out of your way,” Quinn says, turning down an alley towards the office building they’re holding auditions at.

“No, Quinn, I’m trying to tell you about - ”

She hangs up, not out of spite, but mostly out of hurry – she gets to the door and pushes through, waving away the receptionist’s attempt to seem interested in anything but Facebook or Twitter. The elevator feels like it takes a millennia, but has enough reception to get a picture of Sam and his Darth Vader statue.

Jimmy is on his phone as well, hovering outside the door to the room, while Lila is staring out the window at the other end of the hall when Quinn gets to the floor.

“Hey, Q,” Jimmy says, slipping his phone into his pocket. Lila jerks around, then gasps excitedly.

“Quinn, we found her,” Lila says, rushing down the hallway to grab ahold of Quinn’s arms – an unnatural showing of physical touch from Lila, who Quinn was certain was a huge germaphobe.

Quinn looks over at Jimmy, who sighs, pushing the door to the audition room open after glancing around a little.

“She is pretty good,” Jimmy says, once the door is closed. The television is frozen on one image, of a girl with one hand on her head and the other glancing down at an invisible watch. It’s silly, but Quinn’s eyes don’t take that long to recognize the posture, the figure on the screen.

Her stomach absolutely hits the floor when Lila excitedly presses play, and the words – Quinn’s words, the ones she had written for her first, very own show – fall from her mouth.

“Ohio. I hate Ohio,” Rachel Berry says.

Dear lord in heaven.

-

“I was trying to tell you,” Sam says, shrugging like it’s really no big deal that Quinn’s had a glancing encounter with Rachel Berry and that her deputy on the writer staff and the producer of her television show are obsessed with her. He probably doesn’t think it’s a big deal; he and Rachel still chatted occasionally, had seen each other in the past three years, hadn’t had an enormously complicated relationship for multiple years.

“You should have tried harder,” Quinn says, throwing the weight ball at the trampoline up against the wall and catching it without rocking backwards.

“How was I supposed to know she’d audition for your television show?” Sam asks, wiping his face with his t-shirt, which was one of those cheesy t-shirts with supposedly majestic imagery of animals. It had fish on it, and had been a Christmas gift from Brittany.

“Because God is still punishing me for having a child at sixteen,” Quinn says, throwing the ball and catching it again. “And because that’s the kind of weird, incestuous glee club thing that would happen.

“Well, I was trying to tell you,” Sam says, simply, then shrugs, picking up the dumbbell on the rack and turning to look at Quinn while he started doing curls. The private gym in Quinn’s condo building was always spotless and lacked any other people interested in physical fitness – she suspected that this was because her building was populated by rich octogenarians. She and Sam sometimes met up for dinner and a workout and a movie on the nights Mercedes went out on the road.

“She looked pretty hot, though, right?” Sam asks, and Quinn pauses in her medicine ball throwing to level him with a stare that he’s probably not been on the receiving end of since high school, though he doesn’t wilt under it like he used to. “Hey, I’m just saying. I saw her for half a second, you saw her whole audition.”

“Even Jimmy liked her,” Quinn says, setting the ball back on the rack and promptly lying down on the mat to stretch out her legs. Sam hovers over her, his arms flexing as he curls up and down, up and down.

“Did you say you know her?” Sam asks, and Quinn sighs, gripping her knee and pulling it across her body to stretch out the tightness in her hamstrings. Her back cracked with the movement, shaking out soreness that tended to gather there after a long day on her feet.

“Everyone knows her, she’s won a Tony Award,” Quinn says, switching legs.

“You know what I mean,” Sam says, dropping his dumbbell back on the rack. “The whole, you know, you were her bully but also her friend and you were on a National Champion glee club team thing.”

“I don’t tell people that I was on a glee club team,” Quinn says, and Sam nods in agreement, swiping Quinn’s water bottle off the bench behind them and dousing himself with water. It’s such a boy thing.

“Well, telling them that to get them off your back for not wanting to cast her is better than saying that you were in love with her in high school,” Sam says, spraying water on Quinn’s face. She glares heavily, sitting up and wiping the water away.

“I wasn’t in love with her,” Quinn says. “Love would imply that I wasn’t an asshole to her every other day of the week.”

“So you were freakishly obsessed with her,” Sam says, sighing and reaching for Quinn’s shoulders, pressing them down from where they’ve crawled up near her ears. “She was freakishly obsessed with you! We were all freakishly obsessed with each other. It’s hard to explain, that’s all I’m saying.”

“It was almost ten years ago,” Quinn says. “It hardly matters now.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, my young padawan,” Sam says, shaking his finger back and forth in front of her face, then wraps her in a hug, picking her straight up off the ground and pulling her in tight enough that her back cracks.

“Thanks,” Quinn says, when he sets her back down. “I gave her a callback.”

“She’s Rachel Berry,” Sam says, smiling very gently, like he’s talking to a child. “Of course you did.”

-

“I’m sorry,” Santana says, tapping the side of her head and staring straight at the screen, while Brittany does some weird interpretative dance in the background of the Skype window. “What did you just say?”

“Rachel auditioned for my show,” Quinn repeats, shuffling papers around on her desk. Santana keeps staring, before reaching over to press pause on the music Brittany is using.

“We’re talking about Rachel,” Santana says, either trying to clarify or rub it in. “Rachel who I, for a whole month of us living together, fed glue by cooking it into her foods. Rachel Berry. A kids-sized shortstack of pancakes at IHOP, Rachel.”

“Santana,” Quinn says, trying to interject on the avalanche of insults Santana is apparently going to spin up today.

“Rachel Barbra Berry, whose wedding almost had you severed in half. Rachel who you erroneously voted prom queen,” Santana says. Brittany ducks forward into the camera’s view, waving at Quinn and frowning with her typical confused face.

“The Rachel you’re in love with?” Brittany asks, and Quinn sighs, settling her papers into a neat pile, wondering why she bothered to call at all.

“I’m not in love with her,” Quinn says. “I hardly know her now.”

“That isn’t true, you’ve seen her naked,” Brittany says, and Quinn tries very hard to control her reaction to the absolute untruth.

“I haven’t seen her naked,” Quinn says. “I was calling to just keep you guys updated on the gossip before Sam told one of you.”

“If you haven’t seen her naked, how did you draw those drawings in high school?” Brittany asks, curious and unfairly incisive. Santana smiles easily her third most evil smile.

“I believe that was all from her gay-ass imagination, Britt,” Santana says, then folds her fingers in front of her face, not bothering to rein in the huge smile. “So, the Berry Virus has come back into your life."

“You should tell her that you’re in love with her,” Brittany says, smiling and giving a thumbs up before dashing away at the sounds of their oven going off. Santana laughs.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Quinn says, shrugging very nonchalantly. “She’s just auditioning. She probably won’t even make it to the final round.”

“Please. You and I both know Rachel Berry doesn’t do anything without committing to it two hundred and sixteen percent or something,” Santana says. “Even if she doesn’t get cast, she’ll somehow find your address and phone number. Her Christmas card this year, by the way, featured her in costume as famous women in history.”

“I saw,” Quinn says, sighing. “Sam and Mercedes got sent one.”

“And once she gets your phone number, she’ll send you these glee club-wide texts where she details her week,” Santana says. “It includes a list of songs she would suggest we each perform to reach our best selves.”

“She hasn’t tried to find my number and address before now,” Quinn says, shrugging. “I doubt that will change.”

“Doesn’t that just break your ice cold heart?” Santana says, then smiles in a way that is her closest version to nice. “You two are fucking weirdos, Q. Some hole opens up in the time-space continuum when you two get near each other, probably because she is, as I suspected, an alien who is slowly reaping humanity’s ears for a nefarious takeover attempt. You don’t call Auntie ‘Tana when it doesn’t mean anything.”

“I’m keeping you informed on my life,” Quinn says, trying to insist. Santana is not helping her initial panic reaction.

“That’s nice,” Santana says. “I can’t wait until your life news gets into Berry’s weekly updates and I can just have it all at once.”

“She doesn’t even know it’s my show,” Quinn says. “You just wait. She’ll go back to New York and the closest we’ll ever get to each other is when she writes ‘happy birthday’ on my Facebook wall.”

“Say it like you mean it, Q,” Santana says, just before Brittany accidentally confuses the power breakers for the lightswitch, again.

-

“I’m so excited for you to see her,” Lila says, drinking coffee at a rate that is honestly irresponsible. Jimmy is flipping through the sides of the script they’ve given for the callbacks, over and over again.

“We’re also seeing eight other actresses today,” Jimmy says, laughing at Lila. Having her on as the producer was an interesting experience for Quinn and Jimmy – both of them were rather levelheaded people, while Lila was near puppy levels of excited about everything. Probably all the coffee. 

“Who cares? She’s the one!” Lila says, tossing out Rachel’s headshot on the table. Quinn picks it up, flipping over the picture and reading the familiar biography and resume. Tony Award winner. An octave range that’s grown since Quinn’s last official knowledge of it. “I can feel it. She was born to play this part.”

Quinn had read through her first few scripts last night, after getting off the Skype call. Grace was a blend of toughness and eagerness, fighting through a complicated and sometimes frightening situation and always loving people, even when the world continuously knocked her down. Quinn had envisioned some of herself in Grace when she had written the character, but rereading had rewarded her with the uncomfortable knowledge that Grace was Rachel Berry when it came to tenacity and fire and an uncontrollable urge to insert themselves in any situation to help others.

It was disheartening to see that she had set out to write a strong female character and had come back with Rachel Berry with a sci-fi bent.

“And she can sing,” Jimmy says. “I listened to her cast album for the show she won the Tony for. She’s great.”

“Yeah,” Quinn agrees, because there’s been no denying that, even since Quinn was thirteen and just finding her way through the social hierarchy of McKinley High School. “She always has been.”

“Oh, are you a fan of hers? You do listen to a lot of Broadway,” Lila says, gulping coffee and glancing over at the clock as if she cannot wait for any more seconds for Rachel Berry to burst through the door.

“I went to high school with her,” Quinn says, sighing. “We were in glee club together.”

“What’s a glee club?” Lila asks, at the same time that Jimmy asks, “You were in a glee club?”

“It’s a like, school choir thing,” Jimmy says, waving away Lila’s apparently dumb question. “It’s pretty nerdy. Oh my God, you were in a glee club with a Tony Award winner? Is there video evidence of this?”

“Where did she go to high school?” Lila asks, flipping open her laptop and navigating straight to YouTube. Quinn frowns, reaching forward to try to knock it the laptop shut.

“Wait, it’s on Rachel’s headshot,” Jimmy says, grabbing the photo from Quinn’s hands and flipping it over. “McKinley High School New Directions. Wow, that name is terrible.”

“I didn’t pick it,” Quinn says, defensively. “Come on, don’t - ”

The sounds of “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” made tinny by the camcorder recording, bursts out of the laptop. Rachel’s voice is practically angelic, and Quinn sighs, sinking back in her chair. It’s hard to not slip back into that moment, being so frustrated and upset with Rachel, only to hear her let loose with this song.

“I’m not in this song,” Quinn says, and Lila promptly clicks on another song.

What have I done, wish I could run from this ship going under,” the new song sings, and Quinn very nearly throws Lila’s coffee at her face. Instead, she tries to very calmly speak.

“Can you please not play that song?” Quinn asks, very politely, but Lila turns it up instead.

“It says she wrote this one on her own!” Lila says, and Jimmy turns the computer so that Quinn can see the performance from a different perspective than she had originally seen it.

“That isn’t true,” Quinn says, clicking indiscriminately on another New Directions clip – who is archiving these? – and letting the somehow even more unhappy strains of “Faithfully” come on. She tries to change it again, but Jimmy grabs the laptop, smiling happily.

“I love Journey!” he says, which is the most excited thing she’s ever heard him say other than we won! on the stage at the Golden Globes. “What do you mean, that isn’t true? Is there like, songwriting doping going on in glee clubs across America?”

“This would make a great show,” Lila says, watching the performance taking place on her laptop screen. Finn and Rachel winding their way around each other, as always.

“I helped her write that song,” Quinn says, watching Jimmy emotionally twirl around the room to the song. “And it would definitely not make a good show. It was a mess. Can you click on any other songs?”

“It’s like you have PTSD,” Jimmy says, then apparently, at random clicks on something else when he twirls his way over to behind Lila’s shoulder. He somehow picks another bad apple out of the bunch. Quinn hears just enough of the song – “Here’s to Us” – to know she is not going to listen to any more of it, and closes the laptop screen shut. Rachel’s voice cuts out in the middle of a line.

“You better not have broken my laptop,” Lila says, sitting back in her chair and regarding Quinn with no small measure of curiosity. She has cultivated an air of professional mysteriousness; of course Rachel Berry is the one who ruins it.

“I will buy you another one,” Quinn says.

“Bad breakup? I don’t know if we can hire someone you awkwardly dated in high school,” Jimmy says, sitting down again and regarding Rachel’s picture. “She is kind of your type.”

“What? I wasn’t even out in high school,” Quinn says. “I dated every single boy on that team, and so did Rachel.”

“So you guys were like, high school enemies?” Jimmy asks. Quinn sighs, trying to settle herself.

“This would be a great show,” Lila says, and Jimmy nods in agreement.

“We were friends,” Quinn says, then frowns. “Kind of. It’s complicated. I was just telling you because – well. You know." 

“Well that was high school,” Jimmy says, patting Quinn very kindly on the thigh, clearly not understanding the awful pull that glee club somehow still exerts on Quinn’s everyday life. In accordance with that unnatural phenomenon, her phone buzzes with a message from Blaine, which says, CALL ME ASAP.

Great. Somehow the news got all the way to New York and Blaine, which means it is only seconds away from reaching Kurt, and then Rachel. This is probably Mike’s fault.

“She probably doesn’t even remember who you are,” Lila says, very nicely. Quinn shakes her head, laughing. She isn’t sure she and Rachel could forget about each other for a hundred years, the way their lives are all twisted up with each other.

“I doubt that,” Quinn says. “I don’t want to throw her off for her audition. I’m going to step out on her turn.”

“Quinn,” Lila says, less nicely and more producer-like. “You’re the head writer on this show. You can’t just step out on your show because of some high school drama that happened ten years ago.”

“I went to high school with Marcus Mariota,” Jimmy says. “He was in my math class, and we sometimes studied together. I don’t stop wishing he would get hit with a truck before we play the Titans.”

“That’s not a really accurate metaphor,” Quinn says, picking up her phone when she gets a text from Kurt. The snake winds closer.

“Who is Marcus Mariota?” Lila asks, frowning and looking back and forth between Quinn and Jimmy.

“He’s a quarterback,” Quinn answers, flipping the messages app open only to see Kurt’s message is practically a death nail. Rachel is really excited to see you! Please tell her that her haircut looks bad when she asks.

So tone deaf and typical for Kurt.

“Are you ready for us to start calling them in, Ms. Fabray?” the receptionist asks, having suddenly, quietly opened the door to the room. Quinn can see, through the doorway, figures hovering about. She doesn’t quite manage to make out Rachel (she is short, as Santana could beautifully paint for anyone who asked), but a cold feeling of doom settles about her throat. It’s awful.

Jimmy looks to Quinn, and Lila takes one look at her before handing her a bottle of water, which Quinn takes with shaking hands. Then, Lila says yes.

-

She pays almost zero attention to the other eight actresses. None of them are Rachel Berry – both in terms of Quinn’s nervousness and her respect for her own character. Lila is right. Rachel is the choice, and Quinn is certain of it seconds into the first girl’s audition.

Seconds after the door closes on the second-to-last girl, Jimmy takes the other girl’s headshots and shoves them unceremoniously into the file box they’ve taken with them. Lila hums in agreement, cracking her knuckles.

“She’s the one, Quinn,” Lila says, eyeing Quinn as she stands and spins her body around to get her back to crack. “God, your back sounds are gross. Remind me to never get t-boned by a car.”

“It was Rachel’s fault,” Quinn says, sitting back down and taking the last remaining gulp of her water bottle. “I was going to her wedding.”

“In high school?” Jimmy asks, looking up from the other headshots in the box for other characters. “Lila, I don’t know if it would make a good show anymore.”

“It wasn’t Rachel’s fault,” Quinn says, sighing. “I was texting. And she cried a lot, too.”

“Blame the groom then,” Jimmy says, laughing. Quinn frowns, tapping her pen on the notes page in front of her, which mysteriously consists of a bunch of lines and boxes she’s drawn in the margins.

“The groom is dead,” Quinn says, and Jimmy stops laughing abruptly.

“Rachel Berry is a widow?” Lila asks, quietly, like they’re standing over Finn’s grave.

“They didn’t get married,” Quinn says, starting to actually write on the pages. “I got hit by a car, and she wanted me at the wedding.”

“This is really confusing,” Jimmy says.

“Can you just do your bat-signal thing and call her in? I just want to get this over with,” Quinn says, trying to step away form Jimmy’s line of inquiry. Lila looks at Quinn, and Quinn stares back, eventually deadening it so much that she’s sure she reaches sub-zero, Head Cheerleader levels.

Lila hits the page button, telling the receptionist to let the last one in.

Quinn holds her breath.

The receptionist pushes the door open, holding it for Rachel Berry, who (it seems to Quinn) attempts to walk as slowly as possible. This isn’t an a problem of anticipation, in Quinn’s mind, but more that Rachel is walking slowly so that she doesn’t come across as eager. The familiar placement of her hands clasped in front of her body, the duck of the head when she says thank you to the receptionist. Those are all things Quinn knows, and thought she had forgotten.

When Rachel picks her head up from watching her feet, her eyes immediately jump to Quinn. It’s a shocking moment, and Quinn doesn’t even know what face she forms to acknowledge Rachel – she assumes it is somewhere on her “emotional lockdown” range of facial expressions (a term coined by Mercedes). Rachel smiles, smiles her beautiful smile, the kind one that followed Quinn around at the worst possible moments.

The very sight of it makes Quinn, probably in some Pavlovian way, want to cry.

“Hello,” she says, sparing two singular glances at Jimmy and Lila. “I’m Rachel Berry, and I will be auditioning for the role of Grace, last name as-yet-undetermined.”

Jimmy looks at Quinn and raises one surreptitious eyebrow. Lila spouts some directions, and Rachel listens intently, nodding along until Lila reads off one of the lines of dialogue.

“Who are you?” she says, her producer voice in full effect. Rachel has already slouched a little, her normally perfect posture drifting away as she settles into the character.

“I’m Grace,” she says. “That doesn’t really matter, though, Seever. I was sent here to help you.”

“I don’t need help,” Lila says, flipping the page. Rachel glances around at whatever invisible room she’s in, in her head, and reaches for one of the spare chairs, slowly pulling it over.

“Why do you have a gun out, Seever?” she asks, so nicely and sweetly and whispery and so near to Quinn that it feels like she’s standing in the bathroom at McKinley High School, crying about something again with Rachel Berry.

“I was going to shoot the person intruding in my house,” Lila says. Quinn doesn’t dare move for a second as Rachel sits in the chair, slowly, right across from Quinn. Her eyes remain focused on Lila.

“You were going to shoot yourself,” Rachel says. “I’ve thought about that before.”

“Get out of my house,” Lila-as-Seever says.

“I can only leave when I’m told,” Rachel says. “What’s wrong? You seem like a good kid, in a nice house. I saw your diploma down the hall. I saw a picture of you and your friends.”

“You don’t know me,” Lila says, emotionless. But Rachel is bringing it, making the dialogue feel real.

“I don’t,” Rachel says. “You’re right. Your parents could be awful, your diploma could be fake, your friends could be people you haven’t seen in years. I do think you shouldn’t shoot yourself though.”

“Why?”

“I work for an organization,” Rachel says. “They send me to help people. I don’t know how they choose who deserves it any given moment. I could be working for God for all I know. But they sent me here. Someone cares to make sure you keep going, Seever.”

Rachel keeps going, leaning forward, reaching a little across the table, her smile drifting back, so kind.

“Let me help you.”

“Cut,” Quinn says, sighing and sitting back in her chair. Jimmy and Lila look at her, Lila with an enormous smile bursting across her face. “I think we’ve seen enough.”

Rachel looks at her curiously, her mouth starting to open to protest.

“Quinn, I have prepared all seven scenes provided to me for this audition, and I have prepared them immensely well. I would appreciate being allowed to finish them before - ” Rachel starts, and Quinn winces at having provoked a lecture.

“Ms. Berry, I think Quinn here is trying to tell you you’re hired,” Lila says, and Rachel’s head jerks over to look at Lila in confusion before jerking back to Quinn. Rachel just stares at her, in an entreating Rachel way, the way that always seems to scream, just talk to me Quinn.

She tilts her head to the left, and gives a half-second smile.

Rachel practically bursts out of her chair, squealing in happiness. Jimmy jumps up too, apparently provoked into excitement by the human sparkplug in front of them. Lila cheers. Quinn stands slowly, as Rachel listens to the compliments Jimmy is spewing at her while he shakes her hand. Lila tells her that they’ll get in touch with her agency about shooting schedules and the like to nail everything down, and Rachel shakes her hand too.

“Thank you,” Rachel says, sticking out her hand for Quinn to shake. It looks very alien, considering they’ve hugged at least twenty times in their lives. But Quinn takes it, because she has managed to not make a scene before this moment, and she doesn’t intend on causing one now.

Rachel’s hand is small and warm. It feels, actually, like it’s made of lead and on fire, but Quinn shakes it anyways.

“Thank you, Rachel,” Quinn says. Within seconds or hours, Rachel is gone from the room with a flounce, and Quinn is just in an air-filled room with Jimmy and Lila, who are happily hugging around her.

“Congrats, Quinn, you’ve got your star,” Lila says, and Quinn cracks her neck in response. It’s pretty annoying, how even the word star tends to provoke an unwelcome cascade of memories.

“And it wasn’t even weird,” Jimmy says, grabbing Quinn in a tight hug that she finally unwinds enough to hug back for.

“She talks a lot,” Lila says. “Did she always talk that much?”

“When she’s nervous,” Quinn says, grabbing her bag after Jimmy lets go of her. He reaches for the file box, happily placing Rachel’s headshot in the front folder. Lila takes her coffee mug and sips at it (how can there still be coffee there?).

“Kind of friends, and you still remember that stuff,” Lila says, then laughs. “I can’t even remember my first high school boyfriend’s name. I think I have memory loss.”

“It has to be all the coffee,” Jimmy says, gently, while pulling open the door. They don’t make it even into the hallway before Quinn actually senses, like Spider-man, Rachel’s presence hovering there. They turn toward the elevator bank, and there she is.

“Oh, awkward,” Lila says, laughing. “We should have waited longer.”

“Hello,” Rachel says, smiling and looking straight through Jimmy and Lila to look at Quinn. Quinn looks over as the number of the elevator rises, getting up to the floor.

“Are you on a timeline?” Quinn asks, which is the second sentence she’s spoken to Rachel in years.

“I leave tomorrow,” Rachel says, smiling even wider, clearly happy Quinn is speaking to her at all. It bothers Quinn how easily she can see that.

The elevator arrives, and Jimmy and Lila shuffle in, carrying the file box and bags. They look at her expectantly. Quinn starts to move forward, but Rachel’s hand lands on her arm, and Quinn shutters to a stop, turning to look at Rachel. She’s looking at Quinn with her big brown eyes, her hair soft and like the way it was when they were sophomores (which is not bad, Kurt). She looks older, obviously, but it doesn’t feel that different.

That’s what she had been trying to tell Jimmy and Lila. It’s been ten years, and she still feels sixteen when Rachel Berry looks at her like that.

“Go ahead,” Quinn says. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

“Gotcha,” Jimmy says, pressing the door close button. After they’re gone, Quinn turns fully to face Rachel.

“Hello, Quinn,” Rachel says, pulling her hand back closer to her body and smiling very gently. Quinn tries to force a smile on her face, but it doesn’t come easily.

“Hi, Rachel,” she says. “How are you?”

“I’m doing rather well,” Rachel says. “I won a Tony Award recently.”

“I sent you flowers,” Quinn says, laughing. “I won a Golden Globe.”

“We’re both rather successful, as I had predicted,” Rachel says. Quinn laughs, remembering all the times Rachel had insisted on that.

“I didn’t believe you,” Quinn says. “But it was nice to hear at the time.”

“Why haven’t you talked to me in four years?” Rachel asks, very suddenly, crossing her arms. Clearly, they’ve crossed some sort of threshold. “Clearly, you are still capable of it. We were friends, Quinn.”

“Kind of friends,” Quinn says, jamming the elevator down button and rolling her eyes. How are they already arguing?

“We were friends,” Rachel insists, shouldering her bag and stepping far too close to Quinn. “I know a lot of hard stuff happened with Finn, and Puck, but I thought that we were going to be something more than I’ll-send-you-flowers-if-you-win-an-award type people. Even Brittany and Santana, who never references me by my actual name, call me every week.”

“Brittany calls you,” Quinn says, tapping at the wall as she taps into the music softly playing overhead. It is, annoyingly, an acoustic version of “Go Your Own Way,” by Fleetwood Mac. This happens way too often – they sang way too many songs in that damn club.

“Brittany calls me, yes,” Rachel says, and Quinn listens without looking as Rachel’s annoyed foot tapping catches to the beat as well. “And so does Tina, Mercedes, and even Noah, when he isn’t too busy slaughtering pigs for fun.”

“He runs a travel company in Hawaii, luaus are a part of their culture,” Quinn says, sighing, annoyed that she’s defending Puck at all. “You could have called me, too, Rachel.”

“You wouldn’t have answered,” Rachel says. “That’s rather clear right now, because you won’t even look at me. We are going to have to work together for the next few years, so you might need to work on that, unless you intend to quit your own television show.”

“I’m considering it,” Quinn mutters, rushing into the elevator when it finally arrives. Rachel follows after her, still lecturing away.

“I know we were never best friends, Quinn,” Rachel says, shuffling a little in the smaller elevator space. “But I thought that we were working towards that, and then, all of a sudden, we weren’t. You dropped off the face of the earth."

“I grew up,” Quinn says. The elevator opens to the floor below them, and a dude takes one look at Quinn before he hesitates on entering. “You can catch the next one.”

She jams the close door button in his face, and Rachel steps straight into her space like Quinn stepping minutely closer to her was in invitation.

“I always thought that when we grew up we could really be friends,” Rachel says, much quieter and in a way that makes Quinn want to hit her head on a wall. She clenches her fist though, ignoring the crinkly, shivery feeling spooling at the base of her spine. Rachel was always like this, always looking at Quinn like she was somehow better and shinier than she was, always making Quinn like –

“I thought that once we got out of Lima, once you got to Yale, you’d find yourself and be happy and not worry so much about being popular and crushing my spirits, and that we could finally have a normal conversation with each other,” Rachel says, now starting to ramble. “And you’d realize we weren’t so different, and that it didn’t have to be so complicated.”

Dear lord, she should have let that man into the elevator. The door dings open again – this time a crowd takes one look and genuinely turns away to keep talking as the door closes slowly in front of them.

“Rachel,” Quinn says, slowly, trying to tamp down the frustration. Rachel just doesn’t understand, hasn’t understood for a while.

“Why won’t you even look at me?” Rachel demands, and Quinn finally looks at her in response, mostly out of an urge to prove Rachel wrong with whatever she’s implying. Rachel looks mad, her usual annoyed-at-Quinn face firmly entrenched across her features. Something about it had always fueled Quinn’s own annoyance even higher. Rachel’s cheeks were flushed, her brow low, a permanent pout on her mouth. She was beautiful, of course.

Quinn certainly wasn’t looking because of hatred, like Rachel seemed to think. It was ridiculous, and it had always been ridiculous.

“Rachel,” Quinn says. “I like your haircut.”

Rachel cocks her head to the side, looking at Quinn with curiosity. Her cheeks get a little redder, and Quinn smiles softly.

“I lost touch,” Quinn says. “That’s my fault. But I didn’t do it for any reason.”

That’s a lie, of course. The way her brain is memorizing Rachel’s familiar features all over again is proof of that. She had thought she was done with all this, for God’s sake. That had been the whole point.

“I forgive you, as always,” Rachel says, uncrossing her arms as they reach the bottom floor of the office building. “I just wanted to air my frustrations before they exploded at an inappropriate juncture in our working relationship.”

“Yes, thanks for not making my show famous for an angry actor YouTube video,” Quinn says, nodding at the receptionist. She throws her sunglasses on as she pushes out into the sunshine, glancing up at the enormous Sony Pictures rainbow stretching over the lot.

“I’m very excited about this show,” Rachel says, following Quinn even though she’s certain Rachel has to go the other way to her car. “When my agent sent me the script sides, I was enthralled. I mean, I obviously thought highly of it considering I left a production of RENT on the table.”

“You wouldn’t win another Tony for playing Maureen,” Quinn says, ignoring her phone’s ringing. Rachel keeps pace with her, as she always has.

“I think this show could win us both Emmys,” Rachel says. “And you’re right, it wouldn’t. I’m surprised you could guess which part I was offered.”

“I did listen to your monologues about which Broadway parts you were best suited for when I had nothing better to do,” Quinn says, reaching her car and unlocking it, throwing her bag in the backseat.

“I’m very proud of you, Quinn,” Rachel says, and Quinn stops, staring over the hood of her car at Rachel, who is smiling very softly. All of a sudden, Quinn really just wants to cry. It feels the way it always did, because God really is punishing her for having a child at sixteen. “I’ve always been very proud of you, of course. You were always so brave, having a child at sixteen, leaving your home, recovering from your accident, leaving Ohio for Yale. Now all this.”

Rachel looks around the studio lot, like it’s Quinn’s own personal playground. Quinn just stares at Rachel, very thankful she’s wearing sunglasses. She should have stuck with those longer in high school.

“You deserve to be this successful,” Rachel says, smiling. “I’m excited to help you reach a new pinnacle.”

It is an unfortunate reflection of Grace’s lines from the pilot, something that doesn’t escape Quinn’s notice. She looks down at the silver of her cartop before looking back up at Rachel, trying to scrounge up a reaction other than tears. It’s always tears with Rachel.

“You’ve always helped,” Quinn says, finally, and Rachel looks at Quinn like she’s just told her that she’s won eighteen Tony Awards all at once. “Listen, I have to go – write, and stuff. But I’ll email you, okay? About things – other than work. We can work on the whole, friends thing.”

“You say it as though it’s a foreign concept,” Rachel says, smiling and stepping away from the car, finally relinquishing space to Quinn after a whole ten minutes of this conversation.

“I’ve never been very good at it,” Quinn says, laughing a little, trying to shake herself out of the heavy feeling around her. Rachel smiles.

“You were good at it when you tried to be,” Rachel says. 

-

“I can’t believe you’re still into the queen of Munchkinland,” Santana says. “God, it was disgusting in high school and now it’s just sad.”

“I’m not,” Quinn says, sighing and taking a drink from the whiskey coke she poured for herself. Mercedes, who’s listening in on the Skype conversation, literally starts howling with laughter, like Quinn has said the funniest possible thing. “Can you – not?”

“I’m sorry, Quinn,” Mercedes says, poking her head out of her kitchen and squinting at the Skype screen. “You’re just freaking the hell out over the same girl you’ve been freaking out over forever.”

“I don’t even know who she is anymore,” Quinn says, trying to insist to both Mercedes and Santana, who both look incredulous.

“She isn’t that different,” Mercedes says. “She still thinks the sun shines out of your ass.”

“She doesn’t know who I am anymore either,” Quinn says. “She never really knew who I was.”

“Quinn, listen, my hot wife will be home at any moment from her dance classes, I have zero seconds worth of time for your high school existential angst,” Santana says, clapping at Quinn like it will get her on task or something. “You and Berry should just bang. That’s how we solved our antagonistic relationship!”

“You hit me in the head with a cutting board last Thanksgiving,” Quinn says, while Mercedes makes fake gagging noises at the mention of Quinn and Santana’s night of debauchery. “I have a scar.”

“You insulted Brittany’s cooking,” Santana says, checking her nails. “I’m just saying. Maybe you would get over your weird mental block and stop being Berry’s great lost treasure if you’d just fuck her like you’ve wanted to since you were wearing Cheerio skirts and proclaiming your Virgin Mary pregnancy.”

“I didn’t even know I was gay, Santana,” Quinn says. “And I’m certainly not going to tell her that she was the catalyst for my sexual awakening now!”

“I’m insulted, one,” Santana says, actually physically counting with her fingers. “Two, I’m going to have to insist that you solve your Rachel Berry problem, because you two’s weird, crazy psychodrama is, as it has always been, too much for me, a problemsolver from Lima Heights, to handle.”

“Santana, your parents were doctors,” Quinn says, as Mercedes laughs in the background.

“Girl, she’s right,” Mercedes says. “I get not being able to figure it out in high school, because we were all idiots, and weird and crazy shit went down. But you and Rachel were always on some other level of weird and crazy. Remember when her mom adopted your baby?”

“I had forgot,” Quinn says, deadpan.

“’Cedes here is just saying what I told you a week ago,” Santana says. “The time-space continuum literally cannot handle you and Berry in the same universe.”

“And none of the rest of us can either if you don’t figure it out at some point,” Mercedes says, shrugging. Sam comes in the front door quickly thereafter, toting a binder and wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses.

“Is that the original Trouty Mouth?” Santana asks, and Sam quickly rushes into the camera space to say hello to Santana. “Hey, Trouts, remember when Quinn and Rachel were weird?”

“Which time?” he asks, and Quinn hits him lightly on the back of the head. Mercedes kisses the space to heal it up, Quinn supposes.

There’s a loud crashing noise behind Santana, and then a bunch of barking. They all manage to see Santana’s eyes get incredibly large as she turns around to look at what Quinn imagines is Brittany toting a dog.

“Is that a dog?” Santana asks, very loudly and incredulously. Quinn hangs up.

-

Quinn watches as Rachel settles into her chair, which is inconveniently placed next to Quinn’s own chair. Lila watches too, before she hits Quinn on the arm.

“I googled your glee club some more,” Lila says, and Quinn sighs, looking away from Rachel as she starts talking to her co-star.

“Wonderful,” Quinn says. She can tell already where the discussion is headed.

“You were national champions! That’s pretty crazy, right?” Lila says, and Quinn nods, shuffling from one foot to the other.

“We were really good,” Quinn says, shrugging. “Rachel was really good.”

“You were pretty good, too,” Lila says, nudging at Quinn. “I didn’t know you were such a good dancer.”

“Surprise,” Quinn says, and then glances over again only to find Rachel gone. On the one hand, that’s helpful, considering she doesn’t have to consider how nice Rachel looks in the jeans and cardigan she’s gone for. On the other hand, she’s certain that Rachel is somehow about to upset her life once again.

“I was rewatching your performance where you guys did Journey,” Lila says, and Quinn sighs heavily, realizing Lila is officially entering wow-you-were-very-pregnant territory.

“We did do Journey quite a lot,” Rachel says, suddenly appearing right at Quinn’s left elbow. “Eventually there was a bit of a revolt, actually. Our teacher, Mr. Schuester, was chasing his glory days, and we wanted to forge our own path, you understand. We lost that year because Jesse St. James, a Tony Award winner, was leading a group and performed a very intense version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which is obviously a risky song for a young choir to attempt, but they were very well trained. I could pull up the video for you now, actually, Jesse gave it to me once so that I could remember his one and only victory over me - ”

“Actually, I think Jimmy is waving me over,” Lila says, stopping Rachel from reaching into her pocket. “Maybe some other time.”

Jimmy is not waving Lila over, but he accepts Lila’s presence with ease. Rachel giggles, stepping into the spot opposite Quinn with a sly smile.

“You Berry-ed her on purpose,” Quinn says, and Rachel very seriously shakes her head. 

“I heard a little bit of your conversation,” Rachel says. “I assumed by your expression you were uninterested in discussing Drizzle.”

“Do not,” Quinn says, very seriously. Rachel just keeps smiling.

“It’s a codename,” Rachel says, and Quinn shakes her head.

“I know Shelby actually calls her that sometimes,” Quinn says, and Rachel nods, laughing a little at Quinn’s annoyed expression. “I hope Finn is happy.”

“I’m sure he is,” Rachel says, her expression not straying too far away from pleasantness at the introduction of the often-controversial name. Even Santana, on the wrong day, tends to drop out when she hears Finn’s name, and Santana hadn’t been about to marry the boy at some point. “I saw Beth recently, actually. Shelby came to New York for a visit. She’s very sweet, Quinn.”

“She gets it all from Puck,” Quinn says, and Rachel laughs very loudly this time, drawing the attention of much of the room. She is, of course, magnetic, mellowed out just enough to not seem as overbearing as she used to be.

“While Noah and I are both Jewish and therefore are close genetically, I think you are far more beautiful and certainly sweeter than he is,” Rachel says, and Quinn sincerely considers walking out of the room to take a lap around the floor of the office building. It bothers her, how irritated and altogether disrupted she feels when Rachel unleashes compliments like that.

“We should sit down,” Quinn says, but Rachel is, of course, sitting right next to her at the rehearsal table, so she follows along.

“Do you happen to know any good places to get a rental apartment or home?” Rachel asks, settling in her chair and reaching for the complicated beverage regimen out in front of her of tea, some weird throat thing, water, and gross green drink.

“You shouldn’t rent something,” Lila says, sitting on Quinn’s other side, jumping into the conversation easily, now that the threat of a Rachel Berry performance breakdown doesn’t hover over her. “You’d be better off crashing with a friend until you can get an actual house or condo. I think we’ll be at this for a while.”

She holds up the pilot script quite triumphantly, and Quinn blushes, because, even though Lila has been a huge cheerleader throughout this whole process, it never ceases to amaze her that such a seasoned producer has latched onto her. Rachel smiles, nodding like she agrees.

She probably does agree. God, she should have taken that lap.

“You should get a condo in Quinn’s building,” Jimmy says. “Are we talking real estate?”

“Rachel is scoping out the housing market,” Lila says. “Where are you staying now?”

“Just at a hotel,” Rachel says. Quinn feels the next wave of Rachel Berry-fucking-up-her-life coming over her very suddenly.

“What? Quinn has a super nice extra bedroom, with a balcony and everything,” Jimmy says, reaching around Lila to punch at Quinn’s arm. She fixes him with a glare that freezes his arm mid-extension.

“You should send me some pictures,” Rachel says. “I doubt I’d be able to afford your condo, but perhaps the owners have other high-quality buildings around town.”

“You should stay at my place until you find your own,” Quinn says, casually enough that it arouses no suspicion from any onlooker but Rachel, who is, of course, well-versed in Quinn’s system of communication.

“I don’t think you would much enjoy that,” Rachel says, which is just – well, it’s wrong. It’s wrong, and right, and Quinn interrupts whatever nonsense Rachel was going to spout after that.

“It’s only temporary, right?” Quinn says, looking Rachel in the eye and urging her not to question the situation right now. Rachel slowly closes her mouth, before nodding in acknowledgment and smiling.

“That’s very nice of you, Quinn,” Rachel says, and Quinn laughs a little.

“It’s a new thing that I’m trying,” she says, and then she turns out to face the cast and crew assembled. “Let’s get started, everyone.”

-

Quinn wakes up a week later to the sound of Rachel singing. She knows it’s Rachel even before she remembers that Rachel had just moved in the night before. She recognizes something about the voice, echoing down the long hallway of her condo and filtering through her door. Rachel isn’t belting – she’s gained some manners since living with Santana and Kurt, apparently. It sounds as though she’s just puttering around in the kitchen, singing to herself.

Quinn had never imagined waking up to hear that voice.

She sits up, very slowly, unwillingly opening her eyes. Her room is shining with light – they have a late call time to set, for a night shoot. Her clock tells her it’s around nine, which seems late for Rachel – Quinn had heard plenty about her intense morning routine throughout high school, usually accompanied by a reminder to the club to put more effort into choreography.

Rachel is still singing by the time Quinn makes it into the kitchen. She’s cooking, too – making something that looks vaguely like pancakes.

“What are you making?” Quinn asks, and Rachel jumps, gasping and glaring at Quinn when she spots her. She’s wearing workout clothes, so maybe she had managed to make it to the gym safely despite Quinn’s haphazard tour of the building last night.

“Don’t sneak up on me like that,” Rachel says. “They’re vegan pancakes. Would you like some?”

“I’m fine,” Quinn says, reaching for her Keurig and turning it on so it will start heating up. “If you were cooking some bacon, maybe. Should I even be trusting you with my stove? Didn’t you light something on fire once?”

“That was years ago,” Rachel says breezily, turning away from her pancakes to frown at Quinn and the gently humming Keurig. “Those are very bad for the environment.”

“I don’t use the pods,” Quinn says, moving around Rachel to reach for the jar of ground coffee beans in her fridge. This is all autopilot, though Rachel’s presence is a new factor – her body manages to avoid Rachel’s space, as it always has. “Your pancakes smell weird.”

“More for me,” Rachel says, very happily, flipping one over and pouring a new one in the pan next to it. “Are you excited for our first day?”

“Sure,” Quinn says, pulling a mug down from the cabinet and pressing pour on the machine in front of her. She watches it start to trickle out, then glances over at Rachel.

The sunlight from her kitchen window is backlighting her, and Quinn is quickly distracted by the camera-ready quality of Rachel’s figure in shadow against the bright Los Angeles morning. She feels her hand and heart clench at how easily and distinctly she sees it as Rachel and not just a beautiful figure.

She tunes back in from her reverie to realize Rachel is talking.

“…and I assume this is all old hat for you by now, considering this is your third television show, but I’m actually kind of nervous! That’s probably fine, though, I’ve been nervous almost every time I’ve performed, even in glee club and when I was assuredly the most talented one on the stage,” Rachel says, and Quinn grabs her now full cup of coffee and sitting at the kitchen island, rubbing her eyes while Rachel keeps talking.

“I remember how you used to get nervous before big performances, as well! Especially before nationals,” Rachel says idly, pulling one pancake off the griddle and flipping the other.

“The one where I was having a nervous breakdown or the one where I had been hit by a car two months before?” Quinn asks, suddenly tired at the thought of Rachel noticing her. Maybe she shouldn’t have left her room – plugged her ears up and stayed asleep.

Rachel pauses, and then turns to Quinn.

“I hope you don’t still blame me for that,” Rachel says, softly and sadly. 

“For the nervous breakdown or for the car crash?” Quinn asks, trying to be flippant. Rachel doesn’t quite see her humor (as has been the pattern for years), and frowns even more deeply. “I never blamed you for either of those things. And even if I had, I’ve grown up, and I know better now.”

“You are different,” Rachel says, and Quinn glances up from her coffee to watch Rachel as she steps slightly closer, towards the kitchen island. She resists pulling backwards. “You were always so much more put together than the rest of us, but now you’re - ”

Rachel seems to stop, and survey her. Quinn can’t quite look away.

“ – well, you’re calm. Happier. It suits you,” Rachel says, smiling. Quinn doesn’t feel particularly calm, draining the rest of her coffee before standing abruptly from the island.

“I’m going to go back to sleep,” Quinn says. “Late shoot and all that.”

“Did I say something wrong?” Rachel starts to ask, and Quinn snaps straight back into her usual irritated-by-Rachel self quite suddenly.

“No, you didn’t say anything wrong, Rachel,” Quinn says, realizing her tone should be adjusted quickly so Rachel actually doesn’t think she’s said something wrong. She breathes in.

“Sorry,” Quinn says, rolling her shoulders. “You didn’t say anything wrong. Thanks for the compliment. If I’m not awake by noon, just sing outside my door really loudly.”

Rachel nods slowly, clearly trying to understand Quinn’s rapid movement through moods. Whatever conclusion Rachel will come to eventually is probably near enough to accurate that the conversation regarding this moment will be absurdly like pulling teeth.

By the time Quinn closes her bedroom door and sinks against it, trying to center herself and just chill, like Sam constantly tells her too, Rachel is singing, very softly, again.

-

“Are there any similarities between working on Broadway and working on a TV set?” the reporter asks Rachel, his phone hung out in the space between he and her, while Quinn watches with Jimmy from a bit away.

“No,” Quinn says to Jimmy, half out of exasperation – what kind of ridiculous question is that? The other half is largely because this reporter clearly has no idea who Rachel is other than a half-second Googling.

“Not really, no,” Rachel says, throwing a look over her shoulder at Quinn to indicate that she had heard her own response. Quinn has never cowed under any such looks from anyone, excluding Rachel Berry. So she sidesteps over to the camera bay, watching the dailies they’ve just filmed.

They’ve moved onto their second episode, with Rachel enjoying a quick and seemingly seamless introduction to the world of Los Angeles television. Seamless in the sense that Rachel was as professional as ever, accepting the demands of a major network’s shooting schedule and the complexities of an everchanging script and environment.

What isn’t seamless is Quinn’s anxiety every time she sees Rachel’s shoes tidily placed next to her front door, ducks all lined in a row, near enough to Quinn’s that someone might mistake them as all from one shared collection. The way that Rachel has tried to institute bonding nights that leave Quinn exhausted, trying to ignore the way Rachel Berry makes her feel.

As ever, the mix of feelings is all-consuming. It’s easier to see what’s at the heart of it than it was when she was seventeen – but it isn’t easier to deal with. She had thought she had reckoned with Rachel Berry sometime ago. But it was clear enough that she had simply avoided a stimulus and taken it for a cure.

“You’re a rookie television star working with a rookie showrunner in Quinn Fabray – do you think you two can work together make a great show?” the dude asks, and Quinn doesn’t miss the glance Rachel throws her, of consideration and a little bit of annoyance with this man.

“Well, I think Quinn’s written a great show,” Rachel says, shifting in her seat. She’s still in costume, wearing tight black jeans and a bright white t-shirt. It’s so unlike the vision of Rachel that lives in Quinn’s head, but it works a disturbing amount. “I, of course, have to show up with my end of the deal. But if I do, I think we’re creating something very special here.”

“What convinced you to leave Broadway for this show?” the guy asks, and Rachel tilts her head back and forth, clearly weighing her words and impatience.

“Well, I was interested in expanding my horizons,” Rachel says, sounding like a kid just out of college applying for a job. “I thought the script was wonderful when it was given to me. I didn’t know it had been written by Quinn, actually, but once I found out – I felt it was a project I had to be a part of.”

Quinn tilts her head forward and then backward at the neck to encourage a crack. She hates hearing this kind of nonsense. As nice as it is to be complimented on her scriptwriting, it always sounded like a necessary piece of the PR machine.

“Of course, Quinn and I went to high school together, so I have a unique vantage point on her growth as an artist and such,” Rachel says, smiling and sitting back into her chair, clearly settling into some sort of groove. “I’m very proud of her, and I hope that I can do good enough work that she’d be proud of me too.”

Quinn ignores Jimmy’s fake teary eyes when he pops his head over the screens of the camera bay and hands her a coffee. She takes it, trying to ignore Rachel finishing up her interview, drifting away from topics like herself and toward her thoughts about her character and letting the man understand what show she won a Tony Award for.

“She’s proud of you, Q,” Jimmy whispers, as Rachel is very loudly saying goodbye at the reporter. “That’s beautiful.”

He’s joking of course, but Quinn knows Rachel wasn’t joking. That’s the problem, in the end. Rachel never joked with or about Quinn.

“Can you tell Greg that we’re about to get back into shooting?” Quinn asks, summarily dismissing Jimmy’s presence from the video village. He disappears again, as Quinn stares blankly at the dailies they have so far. She senses Rachel’s arrival far before Rachel announces it.

“I hadn’t realized that television reporters were so vapid,” Rachel says, sitting in the other chair next to Quinn and leaning back only slightly. Her jeans conform tightly to her legs as she settles them on the notch in the chair. “I should reevaluate my favorite interviews.”

“I wish I was shocked that you had favorite interviews,” Quinn says, leaning sideways and making sure her sunglasses were firmly over her eyes as she stared at the dailies replaying in front of them. Rachel is running around, talking on her phone in some of them.

“Ms. Fabray, do you have time for a few questions?”

The reporter has drifted back, apparently directed her way by someone. He seems like a nice boy, even though he’s asked some stupid questions. Quinn nods, tilting her head to look at him. He sets his phone right on the arm of her chair, suspiciously close. She feels but doesn’t see Rachel shifting next to her.

“So is it true that you and Rachel here went to high school together?” he asks, and then he smiles brightly. He’s latched onto the obvious angle; Quinn is not shocked in the least. But she also doesn’t want to talk about this for the next two years. But she does care about her show, so she smiles and tries to answer without answering.

“Yeah, it is,” she says, shrugging. “Though that didn’t really factor into Rachel getting cast.”

“Any stories from back then?”

“Not too many that need to be printed in Entertainment Weekly.

“But you saw her talent even back then? Did you ever think, ‘hey, that girl’s a star?’”

Quinn tries to restrain her sigh, but looks down at the dailies playing in front of them as the scene starts to come together beyond video village. Rachel is about to get called to places.

“Well, everyone did,” Quinn says, and she intends to stop there, really. But she doesn’t.

“She was so crazy talented and – she deserved to get out of our tiny Ohio town more than any of the rest of us. She inspired me to go to Yale and get into theatre and writing. I feel really lucky that I got to pay her back by casting her.”

They call for places, and Quinn watches as Rachel slowly climbs out of the chair, not looking at Quinn. The reporter says his goodbyes, and gets ushered away by one of the PAs.

Fuck.

-

“What you said, earlier today,” is how Rachel starts the conversation, leaning against the metallic interior of the elevator. Quinn carefully reshoulders her bag, checking her phone when it buzzes. Puck has just sent her a photo of another celebrity at one of his luaus.

“Rachel, I’d really rather not go down an emotional foxhole,” Quinn says, tired and also resigned to the fact that she is living in a permanent emotional foxhole.

“You said that I inspired you,” Rachel says, clearly intent on ignoring anything Quinn says.

“You did. I have no idea why that would be surprising.”

The elevator door opens, and Quinn starts walking purposefully towards her apartment door. Rachel follows, because Rachel lives here, with Quinn, right now.

Fuck.

“Well, you always inspired me,” Rachel says, and Quinn can tell that Rachel means this, like she means everything. “You were so smart, and brave.”

“I ordered slushies to be thrown at your face,” Quinn says, pulling out her keys and popping the door open. “I don’t think that counts as bravery.”

“You ordered them?” Rachel asks, now looking confused and sad. Quinn sighs, dropping her keys on her kitchen counter and setting her back there as well.

“This is what I meant when I said emotional foxhole,” Quinn says, kicking off her shoes. Rachel does the same, arranging them neatly by the door. “Of course I ordered them. I was a jerk.”

“You weren’t a jerk,” Rachel says, and Quinn sighs even harder now.

“I was an asshole,” Quinn says. “You don’t need to pretend that I wasn’t.”

“You were sad,” Rachel says. Quinn cracks her neck.

“That isn’t an excuse,” Quinn says.

“It’s an explanation that makes it less awful,” Rachel says, smiling softly, as though she’s enjoying this roundabout discussion. Quinn is not enjoying it.

“Rachel, I practically tortured you. The fact that you were nice to me then was insane, and you really don’t need to be nice about it now,” Quinn says.

“I’m not just being nice,” Rachel says, shrugging. “I forgave you a long time ago. It was all understandable, looking back on it. You were going through a lot, what with your…past, your family. Beth. I didn’t exactly help things.”

An understatement so severe that Quinn nearly rolls her eyes into the back of her head.

“That still isn’t an excuse. And I don’t want to talk about it, either,” Quinn says, brushing past Rachel and moving down her hallway toward her office. Rachel, of course follows her.

“Technically, you brought it up,” Rachel says, trailing after Quinn as she settles into her office chair. Her computer screen springs to life on her background photo of the New York skyline. It had been one of the defaults. “I was just trying to – I was surprised. That’s all.”

“You shouldn’t be,” Quinn says, trying to un-tense her shoulders. She can still see Rachel’s reflection, hovering in the doorway. “I’m pretty sure I told you more than once that you were better than the rest of us.”

“I thought you didn’t want to talk about it,” Rachel says, coming further into the office and sitting down on the sofa in the room. Her hands fold in her lap.

“I don’t,” Quinn says. “You’re right.”

Rachel sits there, a moment longer.

Quinn is playing through all those moments in her head, all the times she tried to tell Rachel. All the ways she tried to show her. God, she was a fucking idiot.

Her phone starts ringing. Her computer shows the name: Judy Fabray. Rachel tries not to react to it, but Quinn can still see her head cock sideways at the computer screen.

Quinn picks up her phone and answers, effectively ending the conversation.

“I’ll let you be,” Rachel says, and she quickly heads out of the office, closing the door.

“Who was that, Quinnie?” her mom asks.

“It was just Rachel,” Quinn says, and her mom actually gasps.

That Rachel?” her mom says, and Quinn sighs, preparing for a long discussion.

-

“Have you told her?” Sam asks as they walk through the hallways of the Marvel Entertainment building, towards their glorious cafeteria. The nerds in the building are bustling around them.

“I’m not going to tell her,” Quinn says, shrugging. Sam laughs at her.

“She’s going to find out somehow,” he says. “Kurt is probably trawling YouTube right now for interviews with you. You know there’s probably one somewhere where you say something vaguely LGBT-friendly, or where one of your exes is staring at you adoringly in the background.”

“Kurt should get a hobby,” Quinn says. “Neither of those things would mean anything on their own.”

“Kurt has a sense,” Sam says, and Quinn laughs this time.

“I’m not going to tell her I’m gay. She’ll just think all of my high school behavior was a result of my closetedness,” Quinn says, following Sam through the doorway to the cafeteria. They enter the line, right behind someone with an enormous Spider-man tattoo on his arm. “Whether it was or not, I don’t need her thinking that.”

“Quinn, have you ever considered that maybe some of her stuff was because of her own latent gayness?” Sam asks and Quinn laughs even harder. It comes off a little bitter. “Don’t laugh! I heard that Broadway people are very flippy-floppy about their sexualities. Plus, I don’t know, it takes two to be as weird and intense as you two were.”

“Everyone was weird and intense in high school,” Quinn says. Sam nudges her.

“True, but Rachel let you treat her like crap on and off for years and still wants to be your best friend,” Sam says. “That’s pretty weird and intense.”

“Thanks for reminding me,” Quinn says. Sam picks up a lunch tray and hands one to her as well. She takes it, flipping it over and over in her hands.

“I’m just saying. Mercedes told me yesterday this whole story about Rachel threatening to break into her house when you were staying with her family if ‘Cedes didn’t let Rachel in to give you this weird belly rub or something. It just reminded me of how crazy Rachel was when it came to you,” Sam says. Quinn sighs at the reminder of that time in her life.

“It was an anti-stretch mark cream,” Quinn says. “She read me the whole list of ingredients to make sure I wasn’t allergic to any of it.”

Sam just stares at her knowingly.

“I’m not going to tell her. If she finds out, I’ll…figure it out as it happens. Okay?”

Sam stares some more, but doesn’t say anything about the subject for the rest of their lunch.

-

“Okay, are you sure you’re comfortable doing this scene?” Lila asks, talking to Rachel, who’s wearing a tight pair of pants and a sweater that vaguely reminds Quinn of high school Rachel. Thankfully, the sweater doesn’t have any animals on it.

Quinn hadn’t remembered that she had written this scene until a week ago. It hadn’t meant too much to her, really, having her main character be bisexual, and she had largely forgotten in the midst of the Rachel-living-with-her-and-bothering-her-day-and-night problem. But she had remembered quite suddenly when she saw the call sheets come through.

Santana had laughed at her for ten minutes when she recounted the event.

The girl they had cast for Rachel to make out with – the scene was literally just Grace and this girl making out in an alley before Grace is stabbed – was very pretty. Her hair was blonde, and she was idly checking her phone while her hair was being adjusted around her face.

Rachel was nodding confidently at Lila, smiling easily.

“I’m an actress,” Rachel says. “And it’s not exactly hard to kiss a beautiful woman.”

Lila laughs, and Quinn stares forward at the camera bank, where the cameras are set up to capture this small, but important, moment for Grace and the show. It feels like she’s swallowed a rock.

“Quinn, are you okay?” Rachel asks, and Quinn nods, trying to seem serene. Rachel seems to want to press the issue, but the director calls for places. Lila settles into the seat next to Quinn and claps excitedly while the director blocks Rachel and the girl for the scene, talking to them quietly.

“This is exciting,” Lila says. “A bisexual character. We’re really lucky to have Rachel do this.”

Quinn nods again, blinking. It probably doesn’t count as a blink considering her eyes are closed for a bit longer than necessary.

“Are you actually okay? You look like you’re about to throw up,” Lila says, patting Quinn on the arm to get her attention. “I’m going to have to ask you to not throw up on the monitors.”

“I’m fine,” Quinn says. In front of them the director cues the rain machine, and it starts pouring in front of them. He calls action, and she can make out that Rachel and the actress are giving lines, just before they begin kissing.

It’s an odd, out-of-body experience. Quinn is watching Rachel Berry kiss a girl, after years of considering kissing her herself. Well, years of pushing away the thought of considering it. Quinn’s kissed girls before. She knows what it’s like.

Rachel Berry has kissed girls before as well. It’s obvious, in what Santana would probably peg as a gaydar way. It’s fantastically obvious, and something about it rocks Quinn to her core. The only reason she doesn’t get up and do a fifteen minute jog around the location is because it would disturb the acting – whatever acting can be gleaned from this makeout. The second the director calls cut and the rain machine shuts off, Quinn is up and away.

She barely makes it ten minutes before Rachel finds her, squirreled away behind the makeup trailer, looking through her Twitter absentmindedly.

Rachel has a towel wrapped around her, and Quinn can see beneath it that she’s shucked off the jacket she was wearing for the scene.

“Hey,” Rachel says, then eyes Quinn as though she isn’t sure exactly how to approach what she’s going to say next. Quinn decides to act preemptively.

“I’m just feeling a little sick,” Quinn says, shrugging. A notification comes through on her phone, from Blaine. He’s just texting to see if his message will go through from a certain spot in the subway. She sets the phone down on the trailer step next to her.

“Do you need me to take you home?” Rachel asks, her foot toeing the line between them very carefully. Quinn tries to pay no attention to it.

“You can’t leave,” Quinn says, gesturing back in the direction of set. “You have to get stabbed now.”

“Quinn, has something made you upset or uncomfortable?”

Rachel’s face is so confused, so unaware of what’s actually happening here that Quinn resolves to never, ever make herself available for days where Rachel is going to have to makeout with someone ever again, until she feels like she’s over this. And she should be over it, right now. Not being over it was a failure of the highest level. No matter what kind of universe-melting bullshit existed between her and Rachel Berry.

“I’m fine,” Quinn says, one more time.

-

“We should talk about what happened on set,” Rachel says, legitimately the next morning, while Quinn is sipping her morning coffee at her desk. They have a week off. It’s been twenty minutes of consciousness and its already not going well.

“I felt sick,” Quinn says. She gulps her coffee, scrolls through her emails. Watches as the second monitor switches to a slideshow. “I don’t know why we have to talk about that.”

“You were uncomfortable with the scene we were filming,” Rachel says, and she takes in a deep breathe, one that usually heralds a long Rachel Berry rant. Quinn isn’t quick enough to intervene.

“In fact, I believe you were uncomfortable with the scene involving me kissing another woman,” Rachel says. Quinn stares at her. “Which is disappointing. I know that you were raised in a conservative household, but I felt that you having written the scene would have indicated your open mindedness. In fact, I had never felt you were homophobic in high school, so this has always been rather surprising. Kurt encouraged me to confront you about your reactions yesterday, and so I am doing so now.”

“Of course he did,” Quinn mutters, looking away from Rachel and to the slideshow on her computer. One of the pictures flipping around is one of her and her ex, Delaney, and she shakes the computer awake.

“What do you have to say for yourself, Quinn?” Rachel asks, crossing her arms in front of herself. Quinn notices for the first time that she’s wearing a t-shirt from glee club.

Quinn stares at her some more, before sighing.

“I have legitimately seen Santana and Brittany make out at least once a day for the past ten years of my life,” Quinn says, and Rachel sighs as well.

“I can see why that would put someone off from LGBTQ people, Quinn, but it shouldn’t - ”

“Rachel, that was an expression of my tolerance,” Quinn says, shaking her head. “I felt sick yesterday. I’m sorry if you thought that meant that I was being a judgmental bitch again, but I’m not.”

“Knowing gay people is not an expression of tolerance,” Rachel says, stomping her foot like an actual child. Quinn blinks a few times. “Ronald Reagan knew gay people.”

“Well, they were mostly closeted,” Quinn mutters, taking a drink from her coffee. She should have stayed in her room. She could have avoided arguing about Ronald Reagan with Rachel fucking Berry.

“Are you saying that you would prefer LGBTQ people to remain closeted?”

“Oh my God,” Quinn says. “Rachel, I work in Hollywood. I talk to the media relations people from GLAAD every day about my own show. I’m not a homophobe. I’ve met your dads!”

“You met my dads once!” Rachel says, then accusingly looks at Quinn. “You said they were gay!”

“They are gay,” Quinn says, standing up from her desk and staring down at Rachel. “I was high on morphine in the hospital after fracturing vertebrae in my spine!”

“Don’t use that as an excuse,” Rachel says, pointing at Quinn. Quinn’s immediate impulse is to knock her hand out of the air, but she doesn’t. She’s trying to be a nice person.

“It isn’t an excuse,” Quinn says. “Rachel, if I hate gay people, I’m clearly doing a good job of hiding it. What do you care if I do hate them?”

“It’s the principle of the thing,” Rachel says, now shouting. Quinn’s neighbors are going to complain about her “shrill” new roommate again. “Kurt told me - ”

“Screw Kurt,” Quinn yells back, and Rachel points at her as if that’s somehow proof of her gay hatred. This time, Quinn does knock Rachel’s hand out of the air, about as gently as she can manage at the current time.

“I’m a bisexual woman, Quinn, and I won’t stand to be friends with a homophobic jerk,” Rachel says, and Quinn, in the midst of feeling like she’s been hit over the head with a mallet, actually laughs.

“Yeah? Well tell Kurt that I’m gay. Quinn Fabray is a lesbian, and that he can get off his damn high horse, for once in his life,” Quinn says, grabbing her cup of coffee and stalking past Rachel, who is standing there in the middle of her office with a face approaching absolute shock.

“Don’t you dare sing a fucking note of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” or “Perfect” or “I Kissed a Girl” at the announcement, by the way,” Quinn says, just before she slams the door to her bedroom.

-

At least eight hours later, after Quinn has talked to Santana, Brittany, Mercedes, Puck, and Blaine, there’s a knock on the door to her bedroom.

The conversations had moved thusly: Santana had laughed. Brittany had smiled, and said something about the alignment arriving soon, which Santana had explained was about astronomy. Mercedes had talked to Quinn much more effectively, claiming that it was good that Quinn had told Rachel and that she would talk to Kurt about his prying. Puck had distracted Quinn by explaining his dating situation, which included at least two mother-daughter pairs. Blaine had called to make sure she was okay.

Quinn opens the door to see Rachel standing there, looking deflated and like she had been crying.

“Quinn, I’m so sorry,” Rachel says, immediately, as though she expects Quinn to slam the door in her face. If she was seventeen, she might have. But somewhere in his commentary on his sexual mistakes, Puck had mentioned that sometimes you had to just accept that shitty things had to happen. He had been referencing pig death for his luaus. But it applied here.

Quinn retreats into her room, sitting on her bed and closing her laptop. Rachel follows after automatically, but seems to take stock of the room around them.

“It’s fine, Rachel,” Quinn says, watching as Rachel seems to narrow in on a picture of the glee club seeing Rachel away at the train station. It’s one of the strangest memories of Quinn’s life, but it had felt important to keep the pictures Mr. Schue had tearfully handed out to them.

“It isn’t fine,” Rachel says, but then becomes even more distracted by another photo on the shelf of Brittany carrying Quinn up a set of stairs. “What is this from?”

“It’s from a drunken night at Yale,” Quinn says, sighing. “I tried to hug a lamppost.”

“That’s…kind of funny,” Rachel says, smiling softly, picking up the photo for a moment before setting it down. “I don’t know you at all, do I?”

Quinn shrugs, looking down at her bed as Rachel moves down the bookshelf where Quinn keeps various knick knacks.

“Did I ever? Did you know you were in high school?” Rachel asks, picking up a different photo, this one of Finn. He’s making a funny face, just about to jump into Quinn’s pool back home. Quinn shifts uncomfortably on the bed, before shrugging again, trying to loosen her shoulders up.

“Towards the end,” Quinn says. “I had…a lot of feelings floating around in my head. It took a while to sort out what they all meant.”

“Kurt was unsurprised by my news,” Rachel says. “I suspect he manipulated me into goading you.”

“Yeah, well,” Quinn says, “he had a hunch. He could have just asked.”

“You kept it from me,” Rachel says, looking at Quinn.

“I don’t go around announcing it to people,” Quinn says. “I didn’t tell Santana until I slept with her. And I only told her after.”

“You…slept with Santana?” Rachel asks, her eyes going wide.

“At Mr. Schue’s wedding,” Quinn says, amazed that Santana somehow managed to keep this a secret for years and years. She should send her a bunch of flowers, or a golf club set or something.

“Oh my God. I knew she was lying when she said that that hickey on her neck was from a suction cup.”

“I can’t believe you believed that,” Quinn says, laughing softly. Rachel smiles.

“Quinn,” she says, and then stops, looking at Quinn seriously. It’s not a totally comforting look, but Quinn looks back at Rachel anyways.

“Do you remember when we sang “Here’s to Us”?” Rachel asks, and Quinn stops smiling. This is not a good conversation to get mired in.

“Not really,” Quinn says. “Retrograde memory loss type thing, from the car accident.”

“How did you figure out you liked girls, in high school?” Rachel asks, stepping just slightly closer. Quinn tries to not reflexively recoil. It’s clear that Rachel has gathered a hint, for the first fucking time in their whole lives.

“Well, I was around girls in short skirts for most of it,” Quinn says, which is both true and vague enough that Rachel couldn’t possibly gather real meaning out of it. “Plus, it became pretty obvious after I didn’t particularly enjoy kissing boys.”

Rachel looks like she’s about to keep asking questions, but Quinn’s phone rings. It’s her mother again. Thank God.

“Hey, mom,” Quinn says.

“Quinnie,” her mom says. 

-

“Why are you coming on this flight with me again?” Quinn asks, watching Rachel struggle through the crowded airline clubhouse with her enormous suitcase. “Why did you pack so much stuff for a three day trip?”

“You needed emotional support,” Rachel exclaims, knocking her suitcase into someone’s chair. Quinn finally grabs ahold of the wayward bag so she can steer it properly through the club to an empty spot at the bar.

“My dad died of a heart attack,” Quinn says. “I haven’t talked to him for more than ten years. I’m going to bury him, get drunk in celebration with my mom, and go home.”

“That’s not very…kind,” Rachel says, settling at the bar with Quinn.

“Yeah, sorry, I never reformed the father-hating part of myself,” Quinn says, deadpan. “It got worse."

“I mean, he was awful,” Rachel says, accidentally kicking Quinn in the shins. “But still. I suspect you will feel some psychic pain.”

“Remember how you didn’t know me four hours ago?” Quinn asks, getting the bartender’s attention and ordering a whisky. Rachel orders a sweet-sounding blackberry brandy.

“I decided that I’m going to change that,” Rachel says, shrugging. “Now there are no barriers between us and we will be friends, once and for all.”

Quinn imagines that if Rachel knew how much Quinn liked it when Rachel got the annoying, determined look on her face, that she would prefer some barriers.

“You said you were bisexual,” Quinn says, just as the bartender drops their drinks in front of them. The dude doesn’t even look shocked to hear that. Quinn looks out over the lounge, past Rachel’s shoulder. There’s a girl with enormous headphones bobbing her head, a businesswoman looking at her phone. Nothing that can distract Quinn from this discussion.

“I am,” Rachel says. “Looking back on the high school experience, it’s obvious, but I can’t say I really entertained the idea until my final years at NYADA. I had quite the crush on Santana, I think. And you.”

Quinn takes a too-large gulp of her whisky and almost chokes.

-

“She said she had a crush on me?” Santana asks, her voice crackling across the phone. “That kind of makes me feel shitty.”

“She cried,” Brittany says, and Quinn can imagine that Santana had momentarily loosened her grip on her phone. 

“That is not true,” Santana says.

“I don’t care about that part,” Quinn says, whispering vehemently into her phone. Her mom is watching Real Housewives on television in the other room, and Quinn is just trying to survive in godforsaken Lima, Ohio, hopefully for the last time.

“Yeah, yeah, Berry had a crush on you,” Santana says. “That surprises me less than her having a crush on me. I mean, maybe not. I am a hot Lima Heights badass.”

“Santana,” Quinn says, trying not to start shouting at her best friend. “Rachel Berry.”

“Mike Chang,” Santana says. “Are we just naming people we knew in high school? Q, get over it. She was into you in high school, you were too. Get into her pants or don’t.”

“You are the least helpful person I know,” Quinn mutters, hanging up on Santana before she gives out some new piece of useless wisdom. When she gets back into the living room, her mom is watching the television with some amusement. It’s clear she’s been listening to Quinn’s conversation.

“It’s nice having you around,” her mom says, reaching for Quinn’s hand. Quinn lets her take it. “Reminds me of you wandering around the house whispering into the phone.”

“Well, I was pregnant,” Quinn says, shrugging and sitting down on the couch next to her mom. “It called for a lot of secrecy. Also, there was that phase of Brittany’s where she insisted that people only talked to her at a whisper.”

“Ah, yes,” her mom says, throwing her head back and laughing. “I remember that phase. Your father refused to participate.”

“Santana poisoned him,” Quinn says, laughing as well. “Remember how he got the stomach flu after he yelled at her?”

“I always liked that girl,” her mom says, grabbing Quinn’s hand and slapping it. “I saw Rachel Berry’s Instagram post this morning. You can’t hide it from me, Quinnie.”

“Why do you follow Rachel on Instagram? When did you get an Instagram?” Quinn asks, pulling her hand from her mother’s and rolling her eyes.

“Your sister shares photos on there of your nieces and nephew,” her mom says, looking at her with admonishment. Quinn rolls her eyes again. “That isn’t the point, Quinn. Rachel Berry came with you to Lima.”

“She forced her way with me,” Quinn says. “She was standing right in front of me when you called.”

“Is there anything you want to tell me?” her mom asks, staring at Quinn with her bright blue eyes. Quinn laughs, knocking her head backwards against the couch cushions.

“I’m afraid your one true dream of Rachel Berry being your daughter-in-law is not imminent,” Quinn says. “We’re just friends.”

“Interesting,” her mom says, flipping the channel in front of them to the local news. Apparently, Sue Sylvester is running for mayor again, and claiming that she will stop all pigeon drug-running operations within moments of her election.

-

The next day, Quinn gets a phone call around nine from an exuberant Rachel Berry, who claims that she’s going to take Quinn to the Breadstix Brexfast special, which Santana once called, “the first meal of the day choice of a champion.” Quinn snapchats her a photo of the sign, and is looking at Santana’s swift reply – a photo of her flipping the camera off while the dog licks her hand – when she notices that they’ve driven past the entrance.

“Rachel, where are we going?” Quinn asks, though the existential dread running through her veins is enough to convince her that she knows where they’re going.

“Mr. Schue called me yesterday after he saw my Instagram post,” Rachel begins, and Quinn groans, sinking into the seat of Rachel’s dads’ car, watching as the familiar scenery passes by. Lima has not changed nearly enough.

“Does everyone have an Instagram but me?” Quinn asks, and Rachel nods, very seriously.

“You should consider getting one, Quinn, it’s very important to be engaged on social media,” Rachel says, then continues onto the other, devastating thing. “Anyway. He asked if we would meet with the glee club.”

“He asked if you would talk to the glee club, you mean,” Quinn says, pointedly.

Rachel shakes her head, looking Quinn in the eye.

“He asked for both of us, Quinn. You shouldn’t doubt your own self-worth or how successful you would be to a high schooler,” Rachel says. “I agreed, and now we’re headed there.”

“Why didn’t you ask me?” Quinn asks, glaring out the window.

“You would’ve said no, and I think you could influence some of the students,” Rachel says, shrugging.

“Rachel, me saying no should be the end of the conversation. It’s like, consent 101,” Quinn mutters, picking up her phone and snapchatting a photo of a Lima road sign to Sam, Mercedes, and Brittany. They pull into the parking lot. “This is why we were never friends in high school. Because you’re a bulldozer.”

“I can take you back home if you want,” Rachel says, turning to look at Quinn. Quinn taps her fingers on her phone before sighing, popping the car door open. Sitting in this stupid parking lot reminds her of all the times she cried here.

“Let’s just get this over with,” Quinn says, and Rachel squeals excitedly in response, grabbing Quinn by her coat arm and pulling them towards the doors, as though Quinn has no idea where they’re going. She shakes her arm loose, but Rachel doesn’t seem to mind, launching into a complex breakdown of the resident glee club’s talents and failures.

Quinn mostly doesn’t listen, signing into the guest log just moments before Mr. Schue barrels out to meet them from the principal’s office.

“Rachel! Quinn!” he yells, right in their faces. His enthusiasm is way too much, but Quinn smiles wanly as he takes her by the shoulder and looks both of them over. “Oh my gosh, it’s so good to see two of the stars of my first ever glee club.”

Twelve years ago, Rachel probably would have insisted that she didn’t share stardom with anyone. But at the moment, she just smiles at Quinn so brightly that Quinn frowns in response.

“Come on, let’s go meet the club!” he says, leading them down the hallways. It’s awful, of course – Quinn had intentionally left memories of McKinley behind, only appearing back when it was called for over the years.

“Quinn, I’m so sorry for your loss, by the way,” Mr. Schue says, as they pass by the library entrance. Quinn has an unfortunate memory of Rachel grabbing her hand there flash through her head.

“I’m not particularly sorry, but thanks,” Quinn says, jamming her hands into her coat pockets and watching the hallways pass by with no joy or sense of nostalgia. Rachel, who’s bumping into her occasionally smiles as Mr. Schue laughs uncomfortably. It’s a cute smile, one that Quinn is not interested in having noticed. She looks away just in time to see her old English classroom, where she and Rachel had once got into a heated debate of interpretation over Hamlet.

It had been a tiresome week, to say the least.

“Well, thanks for stopping by all the same,” Mr. Schue says, turning the corner towards the choir room. “The kids were so excited to hear that you guys were coming. They love your old show, Quinn.”

“Hopefully they like the new one, right?” Rachel asks, nudging at Quinn, clearly trying to get her to smile. It’s annoying, and Quinn’s irritation spikes.

“You ready for this?” Mr. Schue asks, and Rachel nods excitedly. Quinn tries to control her annoyance for another three seconds, before he pushes open the door and a group of about twelve kids stops chattering excitedly to stare at them like zoo animals.

“Hello New Directions!” Rachel says, way too exuberantly. Quinn tries not to roll her eyes, filing in after her and Mr. Schue, gravitating towards the piano and looking over the room and the group of people in it.

There’s a plaque with Finn’s face on it tucked away in the corner, next to the wall of trophies – one of the larger ones is, of course, theirs. Seeing Finn’s face in this room that made him so happy is a weird shock, one that Quinn couldn’t have anticipated. But she tries to move on, pulling a half-smile on her face as she looks out on the kids, who don’t look too different from her friends.

There’s five Cheerios in the room, all in various states of fascination with Quinn – one boy, four girls. There’s one girl in a varsity jacket sitting in the front row, holding hands with a boy with glasses. There’s a boy in a varsity jacket who reminds Quinn so seriously of Puck that she tries to recall if he has another half-brother out there. There’s one girl sitting in the corner of the room, holding a book and looking at Rachel curiously, and there’s another girl sitting near her without being next to her, and Quinn finds herself focusing on her. The other three members are clumped up in a circle, looking like they’ve put way too much effort into their clothes for the day.

The whole group choruses back a hello to Rachel, and Mr. Schue takes over.

“As you all know, we’ve got two original founding members of New Directions in the hiz-house,” Mr. Schue says. Quinn winces at his use of the phrase “hiz-house.” It wasn’t cool when he was in his thirties, and it certainly isn’t cool now, ten years later.

“This is Rachel Berry, Tony Award winner and brand new star of a television show called The Wolves,” Mr. Schue says.

“Airing in September,” Rachel says, her smile now at showmanship levels. Quinn knows she can’t keep up with that, just starts tugging her jacket off and setting it on the piano.

“And this is Quinn Fabray,” Mr. Schue starts to say, but is interrupted by one of the Cheerios.

“Two-time national champion cheerleader and captain of the Cheerios, two-time Emmy award winner, Golden Globe winner, and one-time glee club national champion,” one of the girls says, intensely and somewhat creepily. “Allegedly dated a Whiffenpoof.”

“I never dated a Whiffenpoof,” Quinn says, crossing her arms. “Who are you?”

“This is Hannah,” Mr. Schue says, like he’s used to dealing with Hannah being insane but was not prepared for her to be insane in front of others.

“I’m your biggest fan. I’m the captain of the Cheerios,” Hannah says, standing proudly and actually saluting to Quinn. Good lord, why did she agree to this?

“Anyway,” Mr. Schue says, interrupting the moment and looking from Quinn to Rachel to the group. “I thought that maybe you guys would have questions for Quinn and Rachel. Not questions that are creepy, Hannah.”

Hannah sits back down, crossing her arms and glaring at Mr. Schue. Rachel laughs, pulling off her coat to reveal a sweater with a fucking horse print all over it. Quinn considers sticking her head into the piano and letting it fall on her.

“I have a question,” one of the too-well-dressed ones says, raising his hand. He glares over at Hannah, who glares back. “For Rachel. Hello, I’m Aaron Graham Hill. What’s your ideal Broadway role?”

“Probably Evita,” Rachel says. “I’ve always found the passion that Eva Peron approaches her people really reflects my devotion to my audience, and so I’ve often identified with her ambition and the near-universal hatred she experienced.”

“Is it true you both dated Finn Hudson?” the boy in the varsity jacket asks, just before the boy down in front with the glasses turns and glares at him. “What? He sounds like he was a cool dude.”

“He’s dead, Jensen,” the boy says, and Quinn laughs suddenly. Mr. Schue looks at her like she’s lost her mind, but Rachel is smiling as well.

“Yes, we both dated him,” Rachel says. “He was a cool dude.”

“Quinn,” another of the Cheerios starts, stopping with what she’s doing – it seems to be painting her nails – to address Quinn. “Are you single?”

“You’re thirteen years younger than her, Ingram,” one of the dressed-too-nice kids says, glaring heavily at the group of Cheerios. Ingram, for her part, looks like she could give two shits, just stares at Quinn in what Quinn suspects is meant to be seduction.

“Could you sing a song together?” a new voice asks, from the back. It’s the girl with the book in the corner. She’s wearing a bright green shirt, one that probably pushes up against the laws of fashion in high school. The girl next to her is looking at her softly, and now Quinn can see her leg in a cast kicked up on the chair next to her, replete with Cheerios stickers. She’s injured, away from her friends.

High school really does never change, Quinn must imagine. The injured Cheerio is staring at book girl with something approaching adoration.

“That would be awesome!” Mr. Schue says, because he’s always had the observational skills of a toddler. Quinn can already feel where this is going, and there are about ten billion other things she would rather do.

“We could absolutely sing,” Rachel says, and Quinn leans against the piano in exasperation. “I would just need some warm water and five minutes to do a warmup. Quinn?”

“I don’t do warmups,” Quinn says, as Aaron Graham Hill flat runs out of the room, presumably to retrieve some warm water for Rachel. “I haven’t sung in a while, either.”

“Quinn, your lackadaisical approach to singing always hindered your talent,” Rachel says, before launching into the familiar sounding group warm-ups she would lead the glee club in. Quinn does not join in.

Up in the corner, the girl and her Cheerio are watching them.

“What are you going to sing?” the Cheerio asks. Her (Quinn supposes) former teammates turn to look at her as she speaks. She glares at them. Quinn shrugs, looking over at Mr. Schue and Rachel. She already knows what they’re somehow going to end up singing, but she’d like to avoid suggesting it to the room.

“Maybe some Journey?” Mr. Schue asks. The whole room groans.

“Maybe some “Landslide,”” Quinn suggests, largely because it amuses her. Somewhere in the midst of Quinn’s junior year at Yale, Santana had visited while Brittany was on tour somewhere, and had sang the song at karaoke and cried through the entire four minute song.

“That’s more Brittany and Santana,” Rachel says, and one of the other Cheerios nearly falls out of their chair.

“Is the full Unholy Trinity assembled?” she asks. The one named Ingram looks like she could pass out as well.

“What about that one mash-up you guys did, when Rachel broke her nose?” Mr. Schue says, and Quinn sighs, looking at the ground and shuffling her feet. “I should still have the sheet music you guys drew up.”

For once, Rachel looks less than interested in singing something. Quinn watches as she crosses her hands in front of her body, playing with her own fingers.

“While I believe that mash-up was exemplary, it was very...emotional,” Rachel says. Aaron Graham Hill runs back into the room, handing a cup of steaming water to Rachel, who gingerly takes it.

“It was amazing! You guys should have sang more together,” Mr. Schue yells, from somewhere in the closet. Quinn laughs, because where was this sentiment after the fourteen billionth time Rachel and Finn had been chosen to do a special song?

“Rachel, how fluffy is Jesse St. James’s hair?” one of the dressed-too-well’s asks, looking very invested in this knowledge. Quinn laughs again.

“Who cares, Gayson?” one of the Cheerios asks, the one who asked about the Unholy Trinity.

“Erica,” the hurt Cheerio says, in a clearly warning tone. Quinn is enjoying the nostalgia of being in a dramatic glee club room again, trying to ward off her feelings of dread about whatever Mr. Schue is conjuring up in the corner of the room.

“Jesse St. James is an idiot,” Quinn says, answering the kid who probably isn’t named Gayson. He looks shocked.

“He isn’t an idiot,” Rachel starts to say, glancing over at Quinn in amusement.

“He is,” Quinn says, shrugging.

“Found it!” Mr. Schue yelps, pulling out a sheaf of papers and passing some to the band at the edge of the room. Quinn gets handed her own copy, one with notes from her sixteen year-old self, and from a younger Rachel. They had spliced together their own sheet music for the song. Quinn remembers driving Rachel home from the stupid doctor, as “Unpretty” was playing on the radio, and feeling so awful that she suggested that she and Rachel do a song.

It hadn’t felt less awful after doing the song, and it still didn’t feel great. The sentiment of the original song was all still there, simmering under the surface. It had just grown, mutated, and got lost under the mess that was Quinn’s current life.

Rachel looks over at her for permission, and Quinn glances upwards one more time, where the hurt Cheerio is whispering, just briefly, to the girl who requested the song. Quinn looks back and nods, pulling a stool over and settling down.

The music starts. Quinn sings.

I wish I could tie you up in my shoes, make you feel unpretty too…”

-

“Hey,” a voice says, behind Quinn. She’s standing in the McKinley High School bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror, ignoring the aura of this damn space. Rachel was still in the classroom, chattering with the group. Quinn had excused herself.

When she glances at the new figure in the mirror, it’s the girl in the corner of the room, still holding her book. 

“Hi,” Quinn says, turning to look at her. Her hair is dark, drawn back into a loose ponytail. She’s wearing glasses as well. She’s the picture of a wallflower nerd, the kind of person who’d show up at a party and sit in the back. She’s nervously playing with the book in her hands, as well, and it reminds Quinn quite suddenly of Rachel, when she’s reticent and not an outlandishly confident person.

“Thanks for singing a song for us,” she says, and Quinn tilts her head to the side, cracking her neck. The girl winces.

“That’s bad for you, you know,” she says, and Quinn laughs.

“I got hit by a car when I was eighteen,” Quinn says, shrugging. “Did you like the song?”

“It was…intense,” the girl says, seeming to settle on the word after a little deliberation. “Mr. Schue said he was surprised you guys were visiting together because you fought so often. Ingram says that when Sue Sylvester visits she tells all the Cheerios that glee club and Rachel Berry ruined you.”

Quinn laughs, shaking her head. She should’ve known that Sue Sylvester somehow had her number.

“Intense,” Quinn repeats. “What’s your name?”

“Callie,” she says. “Sorry, that probably wasn’t nice to say.”

“No, it was intense,” Quinn says, sighing. “Glee was intense. I’m sure you know.”

Callie pauses, then nods.

“Everyone is fighting with someone new all the time. Erica keeps calling Grayson gay and Jensen is being a jerk this week about not getting the solo because he thinks Jackson always gets them, which is true. And Wendy and Jackson just got back together after Wendy and Holly broke up, and Aaron and Ingram just broke up too so they’re snippy. And Laura’s leg is broken, and she’s the main female soloist, so everyone’s mad at her.”

Quinn tries not to laugh, but she smiles as Callie lets out a pent-up breath after releasing so much information.

“You aren’t mad at her,” Quinn says, looking pointedly at Callie. “And Rachel – she showed me videos of you guys singing. You’re a good singer.”

“I’m not as good as Laura,” Callie says, looking down at the ground. “Laura’s so - ”

“You should ask her out,” Quinn says, and Callie looks shocked for a second before smiling sadly.

“Is it that obvious?” she asks, then shakes her head. “She’s not interested. Jensen and her have been together on and off since like, middle school.”

“I think she likes you,” Quinn says. “I was a lot like her in high school.”

“What do you mean?” Callie asks, and before Quinn can explain herself, Rachel is stepping into the bathroom, looking for her.

-

Later that night, after the funeral, Quinn finds herself inviting Rachel to Breadstix’s bar. Rachel arrives a mere fifteen minutes after Quinn’s sent the message and Rachel’s agreed, and when she does arrive, she hugs Quinn tightly.

Quinn hugs back, though she doesn’t much enjoy the feeling of Rachel gripping her or the feeling of Rachel’s body in her arms. This whole thing was too stressful – too much like a fever dream. She had only invited Rachel to the bar because she didn’t want to be the loser sitting at Breadstix alone, drinking. Not for any other reason. Not because Rachel was still better at being there for Quinn than almost any other person.

“How was it?” Rachel asks, very kindly. Burying her father hadn’t been nearly as dramatic as Quinn imagined Rachel hoped it would be, but it had certainly been more than Quinn was expecting. What had truly made it worse was leaving the cemetery and seeing Finn’s headstone, tucked next to his dad’s.

She felt like she was sixteen, stuck in this town, all over again. Like she was living in an alternate time zone. But Rachel Berry was sitting there as well, wearing a black jacket that looked far different than sixteen year old Rachel Berry, and that was something, right?

“It reminded me of how little I like Lima,” Quinn says, shrugging away from Rachel’s arms and glancing up to the television, where they’re showing McKinley’s academic bowl. Jackson was on the team, apparently. “It wasn’t fun.”

“I’m sorry, Quinn,” Rachel says, softly and kindly, placing a hand on Quinn’s arm and sitting down in the seat next to her.

“I never thought I was gonna make it out of here, you know,” Quinn says, looking down at the beer in front of her. “In high school – I was pissed at you because you were always trying to steal my boyfriend, yeah, but I was more pissed that – that you seemed like you would be okay if you got stuck here. You deserved better than that.”

“Well, we both got out,” Rachel says, pausing their conversation for just a moment to order a glass of shitty Lima wine. “Are you okay?”

“I’m just experiencing some light PTSD,” Quinn says, shrugging. “It’s fine. Talk about something else.”

“I was reading your script for episode eight,” Rachel says. “Where Grace realizes she’s stuck.”

“This doesn’t seem like a different subject,” Quinn mutters, nudging at her glass.

“It seems like it’s a theme you enjoy writing about,” Rachel says. “I always thought that you felt a lot of pressure from your family and the Cheerios. And now, of course, knowing that you’re a lesbian, I can’t imagine the mix of emotions.”

“Thanks, Freud,” Quinn says. Rachel sighs.

“I just want to say I understand,” Rachel says, and Quinn interrupts her, because her stupid sympathetic eyes latched onto Quinn’s face are driving her insane.

“You don’t, Rachel,” Quinn says. “You didn’t. I get that you think we had some sort of special connection, or whatever, but you never knew me and you don’t now.”

“You didn’t tell me anything,” Rachel says, taking her wine from the bartender and looking at Quinn confrontationally. Quinn can feel her spine squaring up for a fight. “How could I have known you?”

“I didn’t want you to know me,” Quinn says. “Don’t get pissed at me for that.”

“You don’t want me to know you now,” Rachel says, jamming her finger into the bartop in a way that almost looks painful. Quinn has an immediate reaction to tell Rachel to not do that, but she reins the urge back in.

“Rachel, you flew with me to this godforsaken town because my father died,” Quinn says. Rachel glares at her.

“I forced my way,” Rachel says. “The minute you hired me, you looked like you regretted it. You let me into your apartment because Jimmy suggested it for you. And you won’t hang out with me in your own house.”

“Rachel,” Quinn starts to say, but Rachel cuts her off again.

“You told me when we left McKinley that you would come to see me and that I would come to see you,” Rachel says. “You told me over and over in school that we were kind of friends. Why were we never friends? Why aren’t we friends now?”

“I don’t think anyone would say that I’m a friend who’s worth this much effort,” Quinn mutters, and Rachel stares at her.

“Of course you are,” Rachel says. Quinn stares at her. Rachel stares back. Quinn drops a twenty on the bartop, and walks out.

Rachel, of course, follows her. She keeps trying to talk to Quinn, as she winds her way through the tiny main street of Lima. Eventually, Quinn stops, right on the edge of the center part of town, where the train station is.

“Quinn?” Rachel asks. Quinn is, at this point, aware that she’s not acting like a normal person. But Rachel Berry never prompted her to act like a normal person, either.

“Remember when Finn sent you off to New York and you two sang that song?” Quinn asks, looking back at Rachel, who’s pulling her jacket tighter around herself in the chilly May air. Rachel nods.

“I wrote that song,” Quinn says, shrugging. Rachel startles, clearly surprised. “I was so happy for you, that you were finally going to where you needed to be.”

“You wrote that song,” Rachel repeats. Quinn tilts her head to the side, before turning back to look at the train station. It’s brightly lit, and she can see various people waiting around for an arriving train.

“I wanted to be your friend,” Quinn says, shaking her head. “I was a mess, though.”

“During our junior prom,” Rachel says, then pauses as Quinn turns to look at her. “The one Finn got thrown out of, I mean. I told Finn to get you your gardenia. I thought you would like it.”

Quinn stares at Rachel. That prom had been about ten shades of awful, but the gardenia that Finn had brought for her had been one of her favorite parts. She still had a photo her mom took of it, sitting somewhere in her desk at home. Damn it. Damn it, Rachel Berry.

“I won prom queen, senior year,” Quinn says. Rachel looks confused. “I won by one vote, over Santana.”

“I won prom queen,” Rachel says, then seems to understand what Quinn is saying. “You gave me prom queen?”

Quinn nods, then laughs.

“Don’t tell Santana I told you,” Quinn says. “We swore never to tell anyone. I’m pretty sure Sue would still revoke your crown if she ever figured out we jobbed the votes.”

“Why are you telling me then?” Rachel asks, stepping slightly closer. Quinn watches her traverse the distance between them, and decides this is close enough.

“I always wanted to be friends,” Quinn says, shrugging. “Maybe it was a non-starter back then. But we can get to know each other now.”

“And maybe do nice things for each other to each other’s faces,” Rachel says, laughing. Quinn smiles back. She wants to tell Rachel that she’s always been interested in being more than just friends. She wants to say that the reason she did those things was because she had been in love with Rachel.

“Maybe,” Quinn says, and Rachel smiles.

-

The first day back from Lima, Quinn goes into the kitchen to eat breakfast with Rachel. She still cooks in her workout clothes, and it’s still distracting, but Quinn feels more at home with the uncomfortable feeling than she ever has before. She’s going to count it as a victory.

“Good morning, Quinn,” Rachel says, very clearly trying to reign in a lot of pent-up enthusiasm. Quinn smiles at the other woman, as Rachel starts brewing some coffee for Quinn. “I was thinking as I was pursuing my training regimen this morning – we should host a soiree, for the cast and crew of the show, and invite Sam and Mercedes as well.”

Quinn tilts her head, as Rachel moves around the kitchen fluidly.

“Why?” Quinn asks. She’s not opposed to it, but she chafes at the thought of hosting a joint party with Rachel Berry. Santana would laugh for fifteen minutes. Mercedes would look at her with pity.

“Well, it’s nice of us, right?” Rachel asks, shrugging and plopping a cup of coffee in front of Quinn. She grasps it too quickly, before Rachel has let it go. Their hands brush briefly.

“I have friends besides Sam and Mercedes and Jimmy and Lila, you know,” Quinn says, drumming her fingers on the top of her kitchen island. Rachel laughs, like this is shocking and unprecedented.

“You could invite them, obviously,” Rachel says, turning and sitting at the island with her own tea and something that looks like a gross quinoa creation in a bowl. “What are their names?”

“You want me to list my friends?” Quinn asks, taking a sip of her coffee. It’s still too hot, and she winces. Rachel smiles sympathetically.

“No, I just…I’m trying to learn about the mysterious Quinn Fabray,” Rachel says. Quinn looks at Rachel for a second too long before deciding to take another too-hot sip to distract her.

“Well, my ex-girlfriend Delaney and I are still friends,” Quinn says, shrugging. “I mean, to the extent that exes can be friends. And I have a friend from Sony Music who I play tennis with.”

“Delaney. That’s an interesting name,” Rachel says, and Quinn watches as Rachel narrows her eyes.

“Delaney Simonsen? You’ve probably heard of her, she sings and stuff,” Quinn says. Rachel blinks.

“Delaney Simonsen?”

“Yeah,” Quinn says, shrugging half-heartedly and taking another sip of coffee. “I mean, don’t tell anyone. She’s not out or anything. But yeah.”

“Delaney Simonsen, who starred in the Los Angeles incubation production of current Broadway blockbuster The Breakfast Club?”

“Have you met her?” Quinn asks, praying to all forms of heavenly bodies that Rachel Berry and Delaney Simonsen haven’t met. Rachel shakes her head, taking a small bite of her quinoa.

“I was offered her role,” Rachel says, shrugging. “After she had bowed out of the process, of course. Not because I’m better than her or anything. Though I am a Tony Award winner, obviously, so – well, I mean, she’s won many regional awards as well - ”

Quinn laughs, watching as Rachel tries to be both polite and arrogant at the same time. The girl splutters, before stopping and breathing in deeply.

“I turned it down in favor of coming out here for pilot season,” Rachel says.

“Turned out okay,” Quinn says, shrugging. Rachel smiles, and Quinn smiles back. The hot, sticky feeling of interest and adoration of that smile bursts from whatever dam Quinn had managed to build, and Quinn has to take an extended drink from her coffee to distract her.

-

“Listen, dude, I’m not saying that you don’t know how to live your life, but having your ex meet your like, lifelong love is not really fun,” Sam says, jogging next to Quinn on the treadmill. Quinn glares at him. He throws his arms up as if to say, who, me?

“Delaney and I are friends,” Quinn says, panting in the middle of her sprint portion. “It’s normal.”

“I know you and Delly are friends,” Sam says, glancing towards the door of the workout room, clearly checking if Rachel is somehow going to walk through at any moment, even though she’s on set right now. “But you and Rachel…”

“Are also friends,” Quinn says, slowing down the treadmill to a light jog.

“Yeah, friends who had huge crushes on each other in high school and who live together now and probably see each other in towels, like all the time,” Sam says. Quinn stares at him as she powers down to just a plain old walk.

“I haven’t seen her in a towel,” Quinn says, and Sam shrugs, stepping off the treadmill and doing a stretch.

“Well, now you’re imagining it, and you don’t hate it,” Sam says, shrugging his shoulders upwards and downwards repeatedly. “Proof.”

“That isn’t proof,” Quinn says, jabbing her fist into Sam’s chest. He groans, rubbing the muscle there. “This is only proof that you work in the comics industry, because your logic makes no sense.”

“I get that you’re lashing out,” Sam says, grabbing ahold of Quinn by the shoulders. “I just want you to be careful, Q. I want you and Rachel to be friends, but it’s not like anyone’s seen it happen or anything.”

“Delaney laughed at me for ten minutes when I invited her,” Quinn mutters, crossing her arms. Sam laughs, grabbing Quinn and pulling her into a hug.

“I’ll be there, and Mercedes will be too if she isn’t working,” he says, kissing the top of her head. “And if she is working, she’ll probably get out of it just to see Delly and Rachel talk to each other.”

“Okay, you can leave my apartment building now,” Quinn says, withdrawing from his hug and grabbing her water bottle. He laughs, grabbing his own, following her as she walks out of the room.

“Love you, Q,” Sam says, hugging her one more time in the lobby of the building. Her door lady smiles softly at them, because she is creepily obsessed with them. She had once asked if they had ever considered having blonde children together.

“Love you too, Sammy,” Quinn says, hugging him back before he leaves the building to get home so he can watch his dumb superhero bloc of television shows. The door lady gives a dreamy sigh after his retreating form, which Quinn ignores, calling for the elevator and settling in. 

When she makes it into her apartment, Rachel Berry is sitting on the couch, watching what seems to be a talent show of some kind, wearing a towel. For God’s sake.

“Hello, Quinn,” Rachel says, smiling broadly.

“Why are you wearing a towel?” Quinn asks, feeling like an idiot. Rachel has clearly just showered, which means she’s naked and that’s something Quinn has avoided thinking about for years, after that time Quinn had to take a midnight train to New York City to convince the other girl not to do a nude scene.

“I had fake blood all over me,” Rachel says, shrugging and adjusting the towel. Quinn tries not to stare at all the skin that’s being teased at. Quinn tries not to look at all, to be honest. It seems better that way. “You are in a similar state of undress.”

Quinn looks down at herself, realizing belatedly that she’s wearing a sports bra and running shorts that don’t leave much to the imagination. Rachel is looking at her funny, by the time Quinn looks back up.

“Sorry,” Quinn says, unsure of what to do now that they’re in this place. “I was going to shower and change.”

“You’re very beautiful, Quinn,” Rachel says, leaning backwards into the couch. The front of her towel shifts so that her cleavage becomes something verging on scandalous. Good lord, Quinn is moving a little closer, leaning against the archway leading into her living room.

“I have stretch marks,” Quinn says, and Rachel picks her head up to glare at Quinn.

“And they’re beautiful,” Rachel says. The side of her towel drops down just enough that Quinn can see what looks like a black mark on the side of her chest, at the top of her rib cage. Before she has enough sense to back out of the situation, she asks a question.

“Do you have a tattoo?” Quinn asks, coming closer. Rachel looks up at Quinn in confusion, then looks down again, seeing where Quinn’s eyes are focused. She looks up again, sheepishly, before dropping the towel a little lower to reveal the thing. It looks like jumbled nonsense to Quinn, a series of letters and numbers that trail across the smooth, tan skin of Rachel’s ribs.

She almost reaches out to touch them, and that’s when she realizes how close she’s gotten.

“They’re the coordinates to the star Finn named after me,” Rachel says, looking at Quinn carefully. It’s the first time they’ve talked about Finn in a remotely serious way, and Quinn has to try to draw herself up for it. Talking about Finn, and Finn and Rachel, is exhausting. It reminds her, always, of that time when she had nearly told Rachel, nearly taken the plunge.

Thankfully, she could pretend she didn’t remember that time because she got hit by a car three hours later.

“Do you have any?” Rachel asks, drawing Quinn from her reverie. Quinn nods, pulling the band of her sports bra up enough that the date becomes visible. It’s Beth’s birthday, and Rachel does reach out to touch it, and Quinn almost shudders through the light caress.

“Your coordinates,” Quinn starts to say, swallowing to clear her throat. “They’re nice. Finn was good to you.”

“Why didn’t you come to his funeral?” Rachel asks, and she asks it like she’s been waiting to ask it for seven years. Which she most likely has. Quinn sighs, dropping her hand from her bra and looking at the television briefly.

“I just couldn’t,” Quinn finally says, shrugging. “I had a ticket. Puck was going to pick me up at the airport.”

Rachel doesn’t say anything, so Quinn shakes her head and clears her throat, trying to keep the tears out of her eyes. She doesn’t like to think about this. Santana hadn’t talked to her for a month.

“I just…you know, Finn, he was my first boyfriend,” Quinn says, looking over at Rachel, who is staring at her. “And even though we both were terrible to each other at various points in our lives, I loved him. And I…loved all of you guys. I just couldn’t deal with the thought of showing up for three days having been apart from everyone and watching everyone cry the whole time.”

The thought of Rachel had stopped her, while she was standing in the airport bathroom, staring at herself while a five year-old girl washed her little hands next to Quinn. She had thought about Rachel, crying, and wanting to do something about it.

She had made up some excuse to Puck. He had been fine with it, and then he had joined the Air Force and disappeared, off to Hawaii.

“It’s okay,” Rachel whispers, grabbing Quinn by the hand and pulling her focus sideways. Rachel’s towel has slipped, but Quinn just stares at Rachel’s face, where tears is sitting. “I never blamed you or anything. I just never knew.”

“I never told anyone,” Quinn says, shrugging and trying to blink away the tears in her eyes.

“Kurt has his letterman jacket, you know,” Rachel says, laughing. “It was like, the only thing he wanted from all of his stuff.”

“He was always way too into that thing,” Quinn mutters, trying to laugh too. “Both Kurt and Finn.”

“Very true,” Rachel says, letting out a cackle of laughter that sounds so distinctly adult, so distinctly this Rachel Berry, that Quinn’s struck by it.

“You know,” Quinn says, watching as Rachel grips her hand between them. “You grew up pretty good. I sometimes thought you’d get bowled over by big city life and get thrown back to Lima.”

“Well, my first semi-serious relationship in New York was with a male escort,” Rachel says. “And my second was with one of my professors. I learned a lot about tough city life.”

“I have no comment on any of that,” Quinn says, smiling and settling back on the couch, looking over at Rachel. Rachel is smiling, softly and sweetly, looking for all the world like she and her towel-clad self belong in the tableau of Quinn’s life. And that’s a new feeling, one that Quinn is uncomfortable with. But she pushes even further, maybe the furthest she’s pushed since that stupid regionals competition, since she got hit by that stupid fucking car.

“You can have my old Letterman, you know. I sort of hate it,” Quinn says, shrugging. It sounds so high school that she almost laughs. The only thing that prevents her from doing so is the ecstatic look on Rachel’s face. “I had way more patches then Finn anyway. One of them is a dove, from the Celibacy Club.”

“The Celibacy Club had patches? No one ever gave me one,” Rachel says, as Quinn rises up from the couch to head to her bedroom. Rachel seems to be following her, considering the light steps behind her.

“You never had a Letterman,” Quinn says, turning into her closet and flipping the light on. The jacket is easy to spot, still bright red and in a dry cleaning plastic wrap, one she hasn’t ripped open since she moved to college years ago. She grabs it, pulling it off as she goes.

By the time she turns around, Rachel has ditched her towel for a white t-shirt and a short pair of shorts. Her hair is almost dry, coming down in soft waves around her way-too-excited face. When Quinn starts to pull the jacket off the hanger, Rachel actually claps excitedly.

“Okay, I’m not letting you have this if you’re going to be weird,” Quinn says, rolling her eyes as Rachel takes the jacket and starts to put her arms through the sleeves.

“I promise not to be weird,” Rachel says, laughing as she pulls her hair out from under the back. She twirls around in the space in Quinn’s closet, smiling brightly. “How do I look?”

Quinn doesn’t answer for a half-second, watching as Rachel steps out into Quinn’s bathroom to look at herself in the mirror with the jacket on.

“You look good,” is what she finally settles on.

-

“You can’t reach the top shelf,” Quinn says, stopping the grocery cart she’s been tasked with as she watches Rachel struggle to reach the specific kind of almond milk she wants. It’s stashed at the very top of the fridge.

“Don’t call me a midget,” Rachel says, very crossly. Quinn laughs, as Rachel starts to try to climb up onto the bottom of the door.

“I don’t think I ever called you a midget,” Quinn says, grabbing Rachel by the back of her shirt and tugging her out of the fridge. Rachel huffs as she retreats back to the cart. Quinn grabs the milk and sets it on top of a stack of different kinds of crackers.

“You did once, sometime freshman year,” Rachel mutters, crossing the milk off the enormous grocery list that Quinn had thought seemed a little long. Rachel had stressed that they were providing provisions for a party. These provisions mysteriously included a whole case of rosé.

“It was one of your comments on my videos,” Rachel says, continuing without actually paying attention. Quinn sighs, pulling the cart forward to the cheeses, where Rachel immediately begins selecting an assortment.

“Sorry about that,” Quinn says. Rachel glances at her and smiles.

“You were fourteen,” Rachel says. “You really drove up the view count on my videos, anyway.”

Quinn doesn’t really know what to say to that, so she looks down at the grocery list again, eyeing Rachel’s too-perfect handwriting. Of course a stupid fourteen year-old version of herself had watched Rachel’s stupid videos so many times that it looked like hundreds had watched them.

“Don’t brood,” Rachel continues, dropping a load of what looks like cheddars into the cart. Quinn crosses them off the list.

“I’m not brooding,” Quinn says, sighing. “I avoid thinking about high school and how terrible I was to you.”

“That’s interesting,” Rachel says, picking up another batch of cheese and depositing it in the cart. “Is that why you avoided talking to me for years? Because you talked to everyone else.”

“I don’t talk to Artie or Tina,” Quinn says, which isn’t really a good defense.

“That is not a good defense. They live in Japan,” Rachel says, shrugging. “It has to be me, right? It’s always been me, specifically.”

Rachel no longer seems too nonchalant, as she’s just staring at the cheeses spread out in front of her. Quinn is staring at her, watching her posture as she waits for Quinn to say something.

“You just,” Quinn says, then clears her throat. “I don’t know, Rachel. You get under my skin.”

“You get under mine, too,” Rachel says, settling on a block of parmesan and moving the cart forward again, pulling it while Quinn guides it. “What’s your favorite color?”

“I – what?” Quinn asks, laughing a little. Rachel smiles, looking up at her.

“I’m tired of focusing on the past,” Rachel says, grabbing for an enormous bag of salad mix. “Let’s just learn about each other right now.”

“It’s green,” Quinn says, accepting the bag when Rachel hands it to her. “What’s yours?”

“Red,” Rachel says. “Why’d you switch from acting to writing?”

“I knew I wasn’t that good,” Quinn says, laughing. Rachel looks at her sharply, clearly preparing to launch into a cry-worthy speech on Quinn’s worth. “Not in a bad way. I realized I had been acting for so much of my life anyway. Plus, I knew you. I wasn’t ever going to beat you out for Streetcar, you know? And I like writing.”

“I should hope you like it,” Rachel says. “Were people jealous that you knew me, at Yale?"

“I didn’t really tell people,” Quinn says. “And even if I had, I wouldn’t tell you now, you egotistic short person.” 

Rachel gasps, placing her hand over her heart as if she’s been mortally wounded. Quinn giggles.

“You have to ask me a question now,” Rachel says, making her way through the maze of fruits and vegetables. Quinn thinks for a moment, then comes up with something.

“Tell me a secret you’ve never told anyone,” Quinn says. Rachel smiles at her, dropping a bag of two onions in the cart.

“I stole a light bulb from my first dressing room on Broadway,” Rachel says, stopping the cart with a light touch as an older couple shuffles past them, bickering away.

“I’m calling the Richard Rodgers Theatre right now,” Quinn says, laughing. Rachel smiles even wider.

“Oh, please,” Rachel says, waving her finger at Quinn’s face. “At least I didn’t defile my dressing room like my two co-stars did.”

Quinn tries to keep her smile on her face, even though she’s had a sudden emergent image of Rachel and Quinn defiling Rachel’s dressing room.

“Why’d you audition for my show?” Quinn asks, proceeding into the aisle after they are safely clear of running over any old people. Rachel grabs a fruit tray and drops it on their crazy pile of party food.

“I liked the writing,” Rachel says, shrugging. “It was beautiful.”

Rachel looks up at her, with her wide brown eyes, all sincere and kind, and Quinn smiles.

-

“Where’s Rach?” Jimmy asks, chowing down on the chips he’s added to his plate. He’s sitting on one of the stools they’ve assembled at the kitchen island, next to Sam, who’s talking exuberantly to another of the writers about the newest sci-fi wunderkind television show.

“She’s getting ready,” Quinn says. Mercedes laughs, and Sam kind of does too. Jimmy looks confused.

Around the room, there’s a random assortment of Rachel and Quinn’s agreed upon people – a smattering of people working on the show, some of Quinn’s other writer friends, a small band of local theatre people who are hovering in the corner of the room and waiting for Rachel to finish doing whatever she’s doing. Delaney isn’t here yet, but Quinn feels like she’s dying, very slowly.

“You should go check on her,” Mercedes says. “I have a bet with Santana and I need you to win me fifty bucks.”

“I don’t even want to know,” Quinn says, dropping her glass on the counter next to Mercedes and moving away, through a chunk of crewsters who are laughing about something.

“You don’t!” Mercedes says, loudly, before laughing some more. Quinn winds her way through the apartment to Rachel’s door, knocking.

“It’s me,” Quinn says, right into the wood of the door. “Are you like, okay in there?”

The door opens quite ceremoniously, to a Rachel Berry still wearing a towel.

“Jesus Christ, can you just wear clothes?” Quinn asks, looking up at the ceiling as Rachel pulls her into the room. Thankfully no one is back in this part of the apartment, so no one has witnessed this bullshit thing that keeps happening to her.

“I’m getting dressed,” Rachel says. Quinn is still looking at the ceiling when she hears the thump of the towel hitting the floor. She leans against the door for strength. “It’s good that you arrived when you did, as I needed help zipping my dress anyway.”

Great. She’s going to have to zip a dress.

“Practically everyone is here,” Quinn says, squeezing her eyes shut and crossing her arms.

“Is Delaney here? I’m very excited to meet her, as I’m interested to see what she’s like,” Rachel says, then laughs. “I’ve always wondered what exactly your type is. I assumed that we dated the same people in high school was really a matter of limited choice, at least on your end. No offense to Noah, but you were certainly far above him.”

“She isn’t here yet, no,” Quinn says.

“You can open your eyes,” Rachel says. “I’m no longer nude.”

Quinn sighs, opening her eyes up slowly. Rachel is right, she is no longer nude. She’s wearing a blue dress that is classy but sexy, the kind of dress that Quinn’s seen on her Facebook all these years and tried not to think about. The neckline isn’t scandalous, but Quinn very suddenly feels heat thrumming through her body.

“Good,” Quinn says, clearing her throat. Rachel looks at her curiously.

“Are you not feeling well?” Rachel asks. “I can tell everyone to leave.”

“No, just…” Quinn says, then decides she has no real reason for her dry mouth. “Let’s just, get out there and party.”

“What does your ideal girl look like, anyway?” Rachel asks, turning her back on Quinn and pointing her finger at the open back of the dress. Rachel’s back is tan, smooth, and Quinn’s voice doesn’t improve as she takes hesitant steps forward to grip the zipper.

“She…well,” Quinn says, then has to clear her throat again. Rachel doesn’t comment this time, as Quinn places one hand on Rachel’s shoulder for leverage as she pulls the zipper upward, covering up her skin. “I like smart girls. But kind of nerdy, and sweet, and able to put up with me.”

She feels way too close to Rachel Berry right now, trapped in this room with the lights of Los Angeles out the window and the relative silence provided by being isolated from the party. She finishes zipping the dress up after what feels like an eternity, releasing Rachel quickly.

“Yeah, but what does she look like?” Rachel asks, laughing, because she has no fucking idea what she’s doing to Quinn. Like always.

Quinn doesn’t answer, just opens the door and makes a beeline for the kitchen, because she needs a drink. Of course, standing there in the entryway, with a perfect line of sight down the hallway, is Delaney Simonsen. She smirks at Quinn as she can feel Rachel step out of the bedroom after her.

“Hello, sailor,” Delaney says, reaching out her arms for Quinn, who comes up to her dutifully and wraps her arms around her. Delaney is giggling right in Quinn’s ear, and Quinn glares at her quite heavily as they release each other.

“So, how’s the new roommate sitch going?” Delaney whispers, just before Rachel arrives at Quinn’s side, sticking out a hand for Delaney to shake.

“Rachel, this is Delaney, Delaney, Rachel,” Quinn says, now glaring over top of Rachel’s head at Sam, who has his phone at an angle that seems to indicate he’s filming this meeting. He doesn’t stop, just waves.

“It’s so lovely to meet you,” Rachel says, drawing in a deep breath. “I have seen a good deal of your work, and I’m very impressed with it, and I would be interested in singing a duet with you tonight – I have taken the liberty of setting up a small stage - ”

Quinn looks over into the living room in confusion, for the first time spotting the sound equipment shoved into the corner. By the time she turns back around, Rachel is onto something completely different.

“ – I understand that you and Quinn have broken up and are good friends, but I have to admit that you two do make a handsome couple, even though you are much shorter than I had imagined - ”

“Rachel,” Quinn says, interrupting the girl in the middle of her talk. She takes a deep breath, clearly unaware that she hasn’t stopped talking at a high pace for a good few seconds. “Mercedes just waved for your help with your tofu or whatever.”

“Mercedes!” Rachel yells, abandoning the conversation so that she can go deal with the tofu situation that Quinn has just manufactured. Delaney leans around the corner to watch Rachel disappear into the kitchen before she turns back and looks at Quinn with a smirk.

“So that’s the girl that turned you gay,” she says, laughing uproariously now that she can. Quinn glares at her. Once she cools down, she keeps talking, which is unfortunately a trait she shares with Rachel Berry. 

“I mean, my goodness,” Delaney says, poking at Quinn’s shoulder. “The look on your face when you walked out of the bedroom. One might think that you’re still pretty into her.”

“Can you…just chill?” Quinn asks, sighing.

“I mean, you looked like a teenage boy who had just been blue balled to hell and back,” Delaney continues, not chilling in the least. “How are you dealing with that?”

“I’m not dealing with anything,” Quinn says, trying to shrug and only managing a gentle flopping of her shoulder. She hears the distant peal of Rachel’s laughter.

“Sure, sailor,” Delaney says, nudging her in the arm. “Try telling that to someone who didn’t date you for a year.”

“We’re friends,” Quinn says, then sighs again. “We’re trying to be friends.” 

“Operative word,” Delaney says. “Is she into you too?”

“No,” Quinn says. Delaney frowns at her, grabbing for her arm and holding onto it. It’s comforting, ish.

“Let me figure that out for you, okay?” she says, smiling at Quinn until Quinn smiles back. 

“Quinn, we need you to open a jar of pickles, as Samuel claims he hurt his hand, which I think – oh, I’m sorry for interrupting,” Rachel says, stopping short just in front of the two of them. Delaney drops her arm immediately, muttering something that even Quinn can’t make out, crossing too close to her to walk into the living room and greet some of the theatre people Rachel had invited.

Of course, it makes sense when she watches Delaney go with confusion and receives a wink – and then turns back to see a mysterious look on Rachel’s face.

“You two have a good deal of chemistry,” Rachel says, crossing her arms.

“We’re friends,” Quinn says, grabbing ahold of Rachel by the shoulders and pushing her back into the kitchen, toward the jar of pickles. Rachel jostles a little bit at being manhandled, but laughs after a moment.

“Remember when you and Finn got mono?” Rachel asks. Sam, who seems to be trying to open the jar of pickles despite his “injured” hand, looks up as she arrives to save him, having heard the comment.

“Yeah, ‘cause you cheated on me? Remember that, Q?” he asks, acting mock affronted. 

“Wait, the Wonder Twins dated?” Jimmy asks, looking at them in shock. “Quinn! Why don’t you tell us things about your high school experience? I told you about the time that I peed my pants in middle school.”

“Well, now you’ve told everyone,” Lila says, arriving next to Jimmy and plucking a chip from his plate.

“Remember how you then started dating Santana, another lesbian?” Quinn asks, holding out her hand so Sam can hand the jar of pickles over. He does, smiling. Of course, then he picks up Rachel, who squeals at being twirled around.

“Put me down right now, Samuel, or I will start singing “Trouty Mouth”,” Rachel says, giggling. Sam practically drops her to the ground, and she clings to Quinn’s arm for a moment for balance, as Quinn is trying to open the jar. It comes free with a pop, just as Rachel leans a little bit into her.

It’s warm, and Quinn feels entirely too happy.

-

“Hello, honored guests,” Rachel says, waving to the partygoers. After rounds and rounds of singing, varying from professional level (Mercedes) to serviceable (Sam) to abysmal (Jimmy and Lila, on a duet performance of “Single Ladies”), Rachel has finally pulled Delaney onto the stage to a huge amount of applause.

Quinn is sitting on her couch, practically on top of Sam, as everyone has settled into their seats for the biggest performance of the night. She’s more than a little buzzed, after a lot of wine and laughter. Her neighbors have only complained twice.

“What’s up,” Delaney says, after dashing away from the karaoke machine after apparently made a selection. “Rachel’s going in blind.”

“It’s not something odd, is it?” Rachel asks, though she smiles when she hears the strains of music over Quinn’s sound system. She takes a deep breath, looking upwards as though she’s on a stage at the very moment. At Quinn’s side, Mercedes is filming the performance, along with a few others.

Nothing is so good it lasts eternally,” Rachel sings, looking into some middle distance spot that is probably meant to emulate a horizon. “Perfect situations must go wrong…

“Doesn’t get old, does it?” Sam asks, in Quinn’s ear. And even though she’s heard Rachel Berry sing a million and a half times by now, from glee club to Broadway, to in her own apartment, it’s true. It doesn’t get old. Delaney is watching her with some amazement, but Quinn doesn’t have a chance to watch her too long.

Wasn’t it good? Wasn’t he fine? Isn’t it madness,” Rachel sings, just before Quinn hears Delaney’s also-distinctive voice add onto the last line. “he can’t be mine?”

Delaney takes over the lead as their voices mix and build together until Rachel reaches for the high note on, “I know him so well.”

It’s a relatively short song, but Rachel makes it feel like an eternity. Quinn stares at her the whole time, watching every second as she backs up Delaney’s voice. It’s always amazing, watching Rachel perform – she looks like she believes every moment, even though she’s had no preparation at all for this song except for avoiding the stupid amount of cheeses she’s bought for tonight.

Once they finish off the high note at the end of the song and Rachel finishes staring off into the horizon, the room bursts into applause, and Quinn finds herself boosted off of Sam’s lap and right into Delaney’s path. Rachel is intercepted by her newfound theatre best friends, and an absolutely drunk Jimmy, who hugs her.

“Interesting choice,” Quinn says, grabbing ahold of Delaney and hugging her briefly.

“You’ve got it bad,” Delaney says, as Rachel crashes over from the theatre people and into Quinn’s side, wrapping her arms around her in a hug. Quinn is thankfully tipsy enough that the immediate hot feeling that spreads through her can be explained by alcohol. Delaney is watching her with amusement.

“That was amazing,” Rachel says, setting her hand on Delaney’s arm and smiling exuberantly. “I have had many duet partners in my life, of course, but that was wonderful. Quinn, you could certainly do worse for a mate.”

“A mate?” Quinn asks, looking down at Rachel’s face, which is absurdly close to hers.

“That ship sailed,” Delaney says, laughing as Rachel and Quinn stare at each other. “Why don’t you two close out the night with a song?”

“No,” Quinn says, just as Rachel gives an emphatic, “Yes!”

“I don’t sing,” Quinn says, turning again to look down at Rachel, who’s still hanging onto her. It reminds Quinn briefly of Finn’s stupid, sexist drunk girl categories.

“You just sang with me a week ago,” Rachel says, looking extremely put out that Quinn would deny her anything.

“Yeah, and that song is awful,” Quinn says. 

“It isn’t awful! It’s just…messy,” Rachel says, looking affronted. Quinn sighs, wrapping an arm around Rachel’s back to try to reassure her.

“Why don’t you sing a different song?” Delaney asks, looking between them. Jimmy crashes right into Quinn’s other side as if he’s been a part of the conversation the whole time.

“Yeah, sing that one song,” he says, snapping his fingers in the space between all of them. ““Faithfully”! Like in your videos!”

Quinn glares at him, while Rachel gives a very hesitant, “No.”

“Everyone likes Journey,” Jimmy says, insisting now. Quinn glares at him some more, as Rachel’s face grows sad.

“Let’s sing something newer,” Quinn suggests, and Delaney raises her eyebrows at her, which is just annoying.

“Frank Ocean?” Delaney asks, and Quinn now glares at her, as Rachel starts to clap excitedly, drawn out of her sadness at the thought of singing a preeminent bisexual artist’s music with Quinn. “What? You love Frank Ocean.”

“Fine,” Quinn says. Rachel squeals in excitement, dashing over to the karaoke machine. Quinn steps to the front of the room, ignoring Delaney’s quiet aside about being whipped, which is honestly just stupid.

“Hey there, everyone,” Quinn says, waving her hand awkwardly at everyone. “I’ve been coerced into doing a duet with Rachel.”

“Yes!” Mercedes screams, and immediately whips out her phone again to film. She tries to glare at her, but it doesn’t work amazingly well.

“Okay, you take accents and then higher part,” Rachel says, arriving at her side with aplomb. Quinn sadly understands those terse instructions, and nods as Rachel puts on her very own show face and Quinn takes a deep breath.

A tornado flew around my room before you came, excuse the mess it made it usually doesn’t rain in Southern California,” Rachel begins. Quinn follows her through the mess.

-

“You know, Quinn,” Jimmy says, pushing his sunglasses further up his nose a week later, as they stroll through the set. Rachel is in makeup somewhere, along with her official new co-star. “We did okay. With the writing and stuff.”

“You mean, we’re running our own television show?” Quinn asks, laughing. “Yeah, it’s nice.”

“You run your own television show,” he says. “I’m just your hype man. And we’ve got a great lead. Did you get here in time to see her with Gavin?”

“I saw the dailies,” Quinn says, shrugging.

“Two girls from smalltown Ohio, taking over the world,” Jimmy says, spreading his arms across the air between them in a rainbow shape. “Sounds like my television show right there.”

“What’s your television show?” Rachel asks, suddenly right next to them, sipping on a bottle of water with a straw. Gavin, the new dude, is right next to her, his scruff immaculate.

“Just you and Quinn’s life story,” he says, and Rachel laughs.

“Oh yeah, I read an article saying that you guys went to high school together and were in show choir or something,” Gavin says. “Though, my girlfriend told me show choir was super nerdy.”

“It was considered very nerdy,” Rachel says, turning and gesturing to him. He looks immediately interested in what she’s saying. He had been cast well as her new techy sidekick who was sort of infatuated with her. “Quinn was a cheerleader, which was the most important export of the school.”

“A cheerleader?” Jimmy asks, laughing. Quinn glares at him.

“She was head cheerleader, in fact,” Rachel says. “And I was the star of the glee club. There were natural tensions.”

Quinn blinks and looks out towards the horizon, trying not to betray exactly what kind of tensions existed on Quinn’s side of things.

“The preferred method of bullying at our high school was slushying, which was kind of an odd choice, but it was very effective. I kept a secondary set of clothes at all times,” Rachel says, shrugging. “I also wore a lot of animal sweaters, so maybe I deserved the slushies.”

“You didn’t deserve them,” Quinn says, sighing and looking at Rachel. Rachel’s face goes soft, and she reaches out to touch Quinn’s arm briefly, but thankfully before she can say anything, Jimmy gasps.

“Oh my gosh, I’ve got it. Two female rivals in high school fall in love across social and heteronormative lines. There’s singing, dancing, and I get written up for being cool and progressive,” Jimmy says, doing a little camera rectangle right in Quinn’s face. She smacks his hand out of the way, very nervously.

“Oh, you don’t understand,” Rachel says, laughing. “Quinn was the most beautiful girl in school. It’s very unrealistic that any girl even loosely based on her would fall for one even loosely based on me.”

“I don’t know, man, it’s possible,” Jimmy says, shrugging. “Two girls in a cowtown, one’s a cheerleader, one’s a nerd…some Romeo and Juliet vibes…plus, think of my GLAAD Awards!” 

Gavin laughs, and Quinn looks just over Rachel’s head as Rachel pauses, and seems to think for a moment. Quinn is going to fire Jimmy any second now.

“Places!” the director calls, looking over at his two actors. Quinn steps out of the way as Gavin eagerly jogs over to the set. Rachel seems to still be lost in thought. Quinn would honestly like to fling herself off a cliff.

“Rachel!” the director yells, shocking Rachel out of her own head. The girl jumps, and her eyes connect immediately with Quinn’s. Rachel laughs a little, then hands over her water bottle to Quinn, who takes it gingerly.

She walks towards the set.

“So, you were a cheerleader,” Jimmy says, nudging at Quinn. “I’m sure the wrap party would love to see photos of you in uniform.”

She hits him in the shoulder, and tries not to worry about whatever is happening inside Rachel’s head.

-

“What the hell, Q?” Santana asks, yawning heavily into the phone once she picks up. Quinn is pacing back and forth in her office, with the door locked, even though she knows Rachel is going late on a night shoot and she has four more hours to figure out her life before her roommate busts down the door.

“Jimmy fucking guessed that I was into Rachel in high school and Rachel didn’t even believe him, but I know she’s thinking about it now,” Quinn says, all in a rush. “And she’s going to figure it out.”

“Dear lord,” Santana says, sighing. “Why the fuck did you not just make out with her in high school when I told you to?”

“You never told me to do that,” Quinn says, kind of stupidly.

“I should have, or I could have saved years of my life from you complaining about her,” Santana mutters. “Okay. Are you like, barricaded in a safe space?”

“I’m in my office,” Quinn says.

“Well, sit the fuck down, because Auntie ‘Tana is pissed that you woke her up at one in the morning and is going to drop some advice.”

Quinn sits down, and puts her head in her hands.

“Rachel fucking Berry thinks the sun shines out your goddamn ass, which I would not put past you, because you have an enormous ass. She had a crush on you in high school. You sang the gayest ass song in glee club, and now she might think you were into her,” Santana says. “Did I recap that correctly?”

“I don’t think our song was the gayest,” Quinn says.

“Do not even say the name of the song you’re thinking of, or I’m hanging up on you,” Santana says. “You know what that does to me.”

“You picked the song, Santana,” Quinn says. She’s overruled by a loud noise of protest.

“Listen to me, Q-Tip: if Rachel Berry truly comes home and busts down your door to ask you if you were into her in high school, you have to promise me that you’ll say yes, because I will murder you if you drag this stupid drama on any longer,” Santana says. “Think of the space-time continuum. Brittany’s parents study that shit for a living. If you fuck it up anymore, they’ll be out of jobs. Think about Brittany being sad.”

Quinn does think about Brittany being sad.

“What am I going to do after that?” Quinn asks, sighing. “Do I just…say I moved on?”

“I’m not a licensed therapist or anything, but I think you should fuck her within an inch of her life,” Santana says.

“Thank God you aren’t a therapist,” Quinn says, watching her computer screen change backgrounds to a recent photo of Beth.

“Just think, Q,” Santana says, laughing. “Maybe you’ll boost her ego into the stratosphere.”

-

The next morning, Quinn rolls out of bed and walks to the kitchen, where Rachel is making breakfast for the two of them, like she has since they came back from Lima. There’s bacon, and a cup of coffee is waiting for her.

“Good morning, Quinn,” Rachel says cheerily, depositing a plate of food in front of her. There’s the aforementioned bacon, eggs, and a slice of toast.

“Morning,” Quinn says, taking a sip of her coffee. “How was the shoot?”

“It was good,” Rachel says, then laughs. “Jimmy kept joking about his new television show. ”

“His GLAAD Awards bait?” Quinn asks, smiling as Rachel giggles some more.

“I told him that I didn’t need him competing with our show,” Rachel says. The way she says our show hits Quinn in a place she didn’t expect, drawing a deep breath.

“What’s your favorite song?” Quinn asks, and Rachel laughs even more, settling across from Quinn at the kitchen island and pulling over a gross bran cereal of some kind.

“You’d have to narrow that one down,” Rachel says, smiling beautifully. The sun is in full force behind her, lighting up her face better than any tech could do on set.

“What was your favorite song from glee?” Quinn asks, and Rachel kind of frowns, looking down at her cereal. Quinn frowns too, and realizes that perhaps Rachel is just as put off by thinking about some of their songs. “I mean, unless it’s like, a painful experience…”

“No, uh,” Rachel says, then sighs. “No. It’s “Keep Holding On,” probably,” Rachel says. “My second favorite is “Faithfully,” which I suppose is unsurprising. I usually just say that one.”

Quinn pauses, stopping in her eating and looking at Rachel carefully.

“I think “Keep Holding On” was one of the first times we ever really united as a group, and I always enjoyed those numbers so much,” Rachel says. “Admittedly, I had to bully everyone into performing it. But it turned out well.”

“You were so nice to me,” Quinn says, shaking her head and laughing slightly.

“It’s over, Quinn,” Rachel says, reaching out to grab Quinn’s hand and smiling. “Don’t go into your brooding space about it.”

“I don’t have a brooding space,” Quinn says, sighing as Rachel giggles.

“You do a little bit,” Rachel says, pointing at Quinn’s face with her spoon. “Your face goes like this, and you just kind of dead eye people. You’ve done that forever.”

“Oh, great,” Quinn says. She shoves a strip of bacon in her mouth as she rolls her eyes at Rachel’s impression of her.

“What was your favorite glee song?” Rachel asks, then. Quinn has a million answers roll through her head, but she finally lands on a semi-safe sounding one.

“Probably when Santana and Brittany did “Landslide” with Ms. Holliday,” Quinn says, shrugging. “I had to buy Santana a vat of ice cream afterwards and listen to her cry and talk in Spanish for hours.”

“Was that the first time Santana showed her feelings?” Rachel asks.

Quinn nods, as she chews her bacon, and so Rachel keeps talking.

“Seems a bit silly,” Rachel says. Quinn looks at her curiously. “I mean, it was pretty clear that they were in love, even back then. I don’t know why Santana felt she had to keep it a secret.”

“Because she was gay,” Quinn says. “I mean, I get that. She was scared. It didn’t help that Finn outed her like, ten minutes later.”

“That was not one of his finest moments,” Rachel says, tilting her head in agreement. “Did you have any girls in Lima you had your eyes on? Looking back on it, I imagine you were interested in Santana.”

“That’s disgusting,” Quinn says, around a mouthful of her eggs, which she is studiously watching on her plate.

“You slept with her,” Rachel reminds Quinn, laughing. Quinn swallows and glares at Rachel, who doesn’t seem that bothered.

“Years later, and out of loneliness and sadness,” Quinn says. Rachel seems to consider this, looking upwards and thinking. It’s adorable, as a small smile plays across her face. Quinn grips her fork tighter as she tries not to stare.

“Brittany, then? Or Mercedes? That would be awkward, considering you lived together,” Rachel says. Quinn laughs.

“Yeah, if I had had one impure thought about Brittany, Santana would have shot me,” Quinn says. “And no on Mercedes.” 

“Well, how many other girls did you associate with? Maybe another Cheerio? I never bothered to learn their names,” Rachel says. “One of the Skanks?”

“Don’t remind me of the Skanks,” Quinn says, laughing. “God, my hair was pink, Rachel.”

“It didn’t look so bad,” Rachel says, laughing as well. “It was edgy, and I would venture to say it was sexy.”

“I liked you, Rachel,” Quinn says, and it falls out of her mouth so quickly that she doesn’t even think it over before it does. Rachel’s face practically concaves, she looks so shocked. Her mouth drops open, and she drops her spoon.

“You…what?” Rachel asks, blinking rapidly and staring at Quinn. Quinn sighs, glancing around the room before looking Rachel in the eye again, trying to steel up her spine and just, say it. The space time continuum; Brittany being sad.

“I liked you,” Quinn says, sighing. “I mean, I drew naked photos of you. I tried to break you up with your boyfriends like seven times.”

“What?” Rachel says, and Quinn suspects for a second that she’s broken, except for the way Rachel’s eyes are moving back and forth between Quinn’s pulling it all together

“I just…you know,” Quinn says, sighing. “It was a high school crush, but I admired you a lot and I was a mess, and I pulled your pigtails, as it were.” 

“Quinn Fabray liked me,” Rachel says, kind of wondrously, which is scary. Quinn gives a shaky laugh, looking down at her eggs. “The prettiest girl in school liked me.”

“You shouldn’t - ” Quinn says, then cracks her neck to get the tension out. “You were and are very pretty, Rachel. I hated when you called me that.”

Rachel just stares at her, looking gobsmacked and ridiculously happy at the same time. Quinn stares back, trying to reel in her feelings of wanting to reach out and touch Rachel. To make her feel it, like she had tried to do after “Here’s to Us.” Rachel seems to snap out of her stupor briefly, sitting up very straight.

“Oh my God, I tried to make you go to my wedding when you had feelings for me,” Rachel says, covering her mouth up. “And then you got hit by a car! And…your…oh my God, your face, when we talked in the hallway, and when I asked you to ask Finn out, and - ” 

“Hey,” Quinn says, clearing her throat and stopping Rachel’s ramble. “It’s over. Don’t brood about it.”

“I’m so sorry, Quinn,” Rachel says, like she might fucking cry about hurting Quinn’s feelings even though Quinn had tortured her for years. “I can’t believe this. You liked me, and I liked you.”

“And we still dated the same three boys anyways,” Quinn says, laughing. 

“We could have dated in high school,” Rachel says. “Can you imagine?”

Rachel is smiling, joking about it. But Quinn had imagined it plenty in her life. She tries to keep a smile on her face, tries to laugh too. Rachel, thankfully, doesn’t seem to notice.

“The space-time continuum probably would have exploded.”

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