Disclaimer: I, by no means, claim to own anything remotely related to the Glee Universe. No copyright infringement intended.
AN: It's set roughly in the middle of Season 2. Some things happened and other didn't, and in a jumbled order, probably. It'll make sense, hopefully.
In Your Sleep
Rachel Berry is almost ashamed to admit it, but it probably all starts the first time she witnesses Quinn Fabray fall asleep.
It's such a human thing, and Rachel doesn't even realise it's happening until it just is. Quinn is just lying there, head resting on her rolled up Letterman Jacket, with this clouded look in her eyes, and it takes Rachel a few seconds to realise the Head Cheerleader is exhausted.
And then a few more seconds for her to realise the look isn't anything new. Quinn always looks as if she's fighting a losing battle, and she's finally giving in to it.
The two of them have been working for hours on their original song and, frankly, nothing seems to be working.
They just aren't… clicking.
As Rachel watches Quinn get settled, she's sorely tempted to ask if she's actually being serious, but then the girl lets out this quiet little moan and her eyes scrunch up in this adorable way, and Rachel's breath catches in her throat at the sight.
Quinn doesn't even say anything.
Rachel was in the middle of a very important musical explanation when Quinn just stepped back, shook her head, and then moved to the highest riser in the choir room to find the perfect position for a… nap.
For the longest time, Rachel just stared after her, dumbfounded.
Now, she stares, completely fascinated.
Quinn's blinks slow considerably, and her mouth pouts slightly. Rachel hears her start to hum to herself, and it's a song she doesn't recognise that Quinn's decided to use as her own lullaby. It's probably the most adorable thing about the blonde, and Rachel's heart swells in her chest.
Without giving it much thought, Rachel takes out her phone to record the melody, all the while saying nothing. She just watches, mesmerised by the fact that this temperamental, rollercoaster of a girl can even reach such a peaceful state.
It's almost unheard of, and Rachel can't look away if she tries.
Quinn shifts once more, and then settles. Rachel can tell she's found the perfect position from the way her facial features just… relax. She exhales softly, and she suddenly looks so young that Rachel almost doesn't recognise her.
As difficult as it is to believe, Quinn is so much prettier when her features are softer; when she's not holding onto all that tension and scorn. She starts humming again, and her eyes inch closed, once more.
It's slow, and then it's just not.
Rachel notices the moment she slips into unconsciousness, because her lips part slightly, and her fingers unclench.
Quinn Fabray is asleep.
In front of Rachel Berry.
Rachel thinks it's truly a testament to how far they've come in their… friendship that Quinn feels comfortable enough to do such a thing in her presence. Being asleep is such a vulnerable state, and the mere fact that Quinn is able to do it with Rachel in the same room makes something shift within the brunette's chest.
She's not sure she likes it, if she's being honest.
Trying to ignore whatever those feelings are, Rachel attempts to return to the original song the two of them are supposed to be writing. It isn't that they've been… clashing, per se. It's just that they haven't been able to agree on anything and, while Rachel can accept Quinn must have good ideas, Rachel is the more musically talented.
Sighing heavily, she plays Quinn's humming from her phone, and tries to transpose the melody to notes on a fresh sheet of music. It takes a bit of work, and she has to fill in a few gaps, but the music sounds good, and she just knows the tune is going to be stuck in her head all weekend.
Rachel glances over at Quinn every few minutes, as if she has to make sure the girl is actually still there and she's not just imagining this all. It wouldn't be the first time.
Well, she's definitely not imagining her raging desire to go up and touch the sleeping girl.
Her skin just looks so smooth, and her relaxed face makes Rachel feel calm, settled and comfortable. None of that fear that usually follows one of Quinn's patent glares or arched eyebrows.
Rachel can't seem to get over how different she truly looks, and she finds herself staring for longer and longer periods of time.
Time that flies past without her even realising.
It's a text from her father that brings her back to the present, where she has half a melody, and a sleeping writing partner. She checks the time, eyes widening, and then shoots out of her seat.
She's expected home for dinner, and she imagines Quinn also has some place to be. She doesn't want to be yelled at because she didn't wake her in time or something ridiculous like that.
Is Rachel supposed to wake her?
Rachel doesn't want to die.
But she'll probably die if she doesn't wake her.
This is too much.
As quickly as she can, Rachel packs away her things, leaves them at the piano and then makes her way towards where Quinn is still sleeping. She's barely moved in the almost two hours she's been asleep, save for the slight twitching of her nose and momentary pursing of her lips.
Lips that Rachel finds herself staring at… again.
She blinks to clear her mind, and then opts to sit on the step with Quinn. That way she isn't looming over her when hazel eyes undoubtedly open.
"Quinn," she says, so softly, attempting to rouse her. "Quinn, it's time to wake up."
A little louder, Rachel says, "Quinn, it's time to go home."
Closing her eyes to gather whatever courage she has, Rachel moves a hand to rest on Quinn's shoulder. Her pinkie is touching warm skin, but she's trying not to think about that.
Instead, she gently shakes, and says, "Quinn, please wake up."
And, Quinn does.
Her eyes flutter as she comes to, her mouth automatically curving into the most beautiful smile Rachel has ever seen. Her arms shift as she prepares to stretch, but it all comes to a screeching halt when her eyes focus and she sees Rachel Berry.
Just like that, the peace is gone, and Quinn is scrambling backwards, disorientated and irritated.
"What the hell, Berry?" she snaps angrily, her voice hoarse from lingering sleep. "Why are you touching me?"
Rachel bristles slightly. "I was trying to wake you," she defends.
Quinn's eyes narrow. "You could have done it without touching me," she accuses.
"I tried that," Rachel says, all those confusing feelings disappearing in an instant. A sleeping Quinn Fabray is very different to an awake one. "It's not my fault you sleep like the dead."
Quinn merely growls.
Rachel rolls her eyes as she rises to her feet, exasperated. "Thank you, Rachel," she mutters under breath; "I would have hated to be left here and woken up by myself or, worse, by some creepy janitor." She stomps back towards the piano, still grumbling to herself.
You do something nice, and this is what you get.
It's not as if she's diseased.
Rachel is still muttering to herself as she shoulders her bag and gathers her sheet music. She's frowning heavily, irritated with Quinn and annoyed with herself for expecting anything different.
It's pathetic, really, how naïve she can be sometimes. One would think she learned her lesson by now. It's two steps forward and one step back with that girl, and Rachel should know better. She's supposed to -
A throat clears behind her, and Rachel spins around in surprise, startled by how close to her Quinn is actually standing. "Quinn?" she squeaks.
Quinn arches an eyebrow. "Are you done having your tantrum?" she asks.
Rachel presses her lips together in indignation, but she says nothing.
Quinn sighs. "I'm sorry," she says, and it looks as if it pains her to get out the words. "I'm a bitch when I just wake up," she explains, and then pauses. Slowly, she smiles. "Well, I'm more of a bitch, I guess."
For whatever reason, Rachel doesn't like that Quinn refers to herself that way, but she remains silent.
Quinn runs a hand over her hair, smoothing it down, even though she spent a moment redoing it while Rachel's back was turned. "I didn't mean to sleep for that long," she says, and her expression is an adorable mix of sheepishness and guilt. "It was supposed to be for only a few minutes. Why did you let me sleep for so long?"
Rachel blinks, wondering that herself. She shouldn't have even let the girl manage to fall asleep at all. "You looked as if you needed it," she eventually says.
Quinn frowns slightly, and then her features relax. "I suppose I did," she says, deflating slightly. "With Cheerios and Glee and school and… stuff at home; I guess I was kind of exhausted."
It's more than Rachel expects to hear, and the confession seems to surprise them both.
"Anyway," Quinn says, seemingly catching herself and taking a small step back. "I'm sorry I wasn't very helpful today. Maybe we can meet up over the weekend to work on it?"
Rachel's eyes widen.
When the silence has dragged on for too long, Quinn takes another step back. "You're right," she says into the silence, her expression giving away a hint of hurt at the obvious rejection. "That's probably not a good idea, anyway. We'll just meet on Monday. Whatever. It doesn't bother me, either way."
And, despite herself, Rachel smiles. It's this big, unstoppable thing because, God, Quinn is so cute when she's trying to remain unaffected. Quinn forgets, really, that Rachel has literally watched her fall asleep.
Quinn looks bewildered. "Why on earth are you smiling?"
Rachel ignores her. "What about tomorrow afternoon?"
"We can work on the song tomorrow," she says. "I'm usually free on Saturday afternoons. Does that work for you?"
Quinn waits a beat, and then nods. "Where do you want to meet?"
Rachel bites her bottom lip. "Well, I imagine you don't want me in your house, so we could meet at mine," she says, and then panics. "Or, I mean, if that makes you uncomfortable, I'm sure I could - "
"It's fine, Berry," Quinn interrupts. "Is three o'clock okay?"
Rachel just nods.
"Cool," Quinn says, bending to retrieve her gym bag. "I'll see you tomorrow, then."
Rachel can't stop staring.
Quinn makes to leave, but stops, her sleepy hazel eyes meeting Rachel's. "Thank you, by the way," she says gently, and the action reminds Rachel of a sleeping Quinn Fabray. "I would have hated to be woken by a creepy janitor." Her smile is soft, sweet, even peaceful, and then she's gone.
Rachel just watches her leave, those confusing feelings roaring back to life.
Because, well, maybe the difference between an awake and a sleeping Quinn isn't all that much after all.
Rachel knows she shouldn't expect anything different but, when the clock hits three-twenty and Quinn still hasn't shown up - or even texted - Rachel can't suppress her disappointment.
For whatever reason, she thinks something changed between them the previous day, but she's obviously wrong, and she's irritated with herself for believing so childishly.
Sighing heavily, Rachel drops onto the stool at the family piano and plays Quinn's melody. It's a little more complete now, with Rachel adding in a bridge and fixing up what could be considered a chorus.
She's spent most of the morning trying to pen lyrics, but she's come up with nothing.
She has nothing to say, which is so wildly out of character for her that she doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Sighing again, Rachel plays the piece from the very beginning, humming along and knowing it's going to stick in her head for all of eternity. It's got a surprisingly catchy bridge that's gentle and unassuming. It's almost exactly like Quinn, and that thought actually brings a smile to her face.
Rachel is so lost in the music that she doesn't hear the footsteps on the stairs leading into the basement until it's too late.
It takes the sound of a voice speaking to get her attention, and her fingers slip, pressing down on random keys to create a cacophony of sound.
Quinn winces as she steps off the last step, looking freshly showered and particularly haggard. "What is that?" she asks, repeating her earlier question that Rachel missed. "It sounds familiar."
Rachel just stares at her for the longest time, taking in her slightly damp hair, jeans and - is that a Harry Potter hoodie? "You're late," Rachel eventually says.
Quinn gnaws on her bottom lip. "I know," she says. "Sorry about that. I had a - " she stops, frowning slightly. "I kind of fell asleep when I got home from cheerleading practice, and then I woke up in a panic, and I didn't think to text you between trying not to slip in the shower and throwing on clothes that sort of match." She glances down at herself and smiles sheepishly, silently asking for forgiveness.
Rachel can't not smile, because how can Quinn actually be this adorable? It's not fair at all. "It's okay," Rachel says. "I like your hoodie."
Quinn blushes slightly. "You aren't going to hold the fact that I'm not-so-secretly a gigantic nerd against me, are you?"
"No," Rachel says, her smile still present. "You can come in, you know? Did one of my fathers let you in?"
Quinn closes the distance between them slowly, absently rolling her eyes. "No, I picked the lock," she says sarcastically. "Of course, one of them let me in. I didn't break into your house, Berry."
Rachel eyes her. "You can pick locks?"
Quinn chuckles softly as she slips onto the stool beside Rachel and lets out a tired sigh. "Wouldn't you like to know."
There's slight suggestiveness to her tone, and Rachel finds herself blushing. She needs to change the subject.
"You've been doing a lot of napping lately," Rachel points out. "Is everything okay?"
Quinn shrugs. "It's nothing I can't handle," she says, absently pressing her lips together. "Things are just… a bit hard at the moment."
Rachel wants to ask more questions, but she curbs her own curiosity. She doesn't want their conversation to turn sour, and Quinn looks thankful for the reprieve.
"In my rush," Quinn starts, absently waving over her own body; "I didn't actually manage to grab anything besides my keys and license. So, really, what you see is what you get."
Rachel can't resist.
It's almost as if Quinn has given her permission, so she looks. Her eyes trail the length of Quinn's toned body, down and then back up, and she feels heat rise up her own neck at the feelings the simple action evokes in her.
Quinn doesn't seem to be faring much better, but she recovers first and clears her throat. "So, what was that melody? I swear I've heard it before."
"You probably have," Rachel says. "It's yours."
Quinn frowns. "What?"
"I kind of recorded your humming yesterday," she says, suddenly nervous. "And then transposed it to give us… this. It's actually really good."
"Well, try not to sound so surprised," Quinn mutters.
Rachel giggles softly. "Sorry," she says.
"Play it for me."
Without a word, Rachel does as requested. She keeps her eyes on the music in front of her, even though she doesn't need it anymore, and she does all she can to ignore Quinn's warmth right beside her.
When she's played it once, Quinn reaches for Rachel's pencil. "Mind if I borrow this?"
Quinn eyes the sheet music critically, and then starts humming. After a minute, she asks Rachel to replay a few bars. "Hmm." With careful strokes, she adds in a few notes, and then erases a few others. "Play it again."
After only minimal hesitation, Rachel does as instructed, wondering just how much Quinn has actually changed about the piece. She doesn't expect much, so she's pleasantly surprised when it does sound different.
It sounds… better.
When the piece comes to an end, Rachel stares at Quinn with wide eyes, unconcealed disbelief and… admiration in her gaze. "How…?"
Quinn merely shrugs, and that says more than her words ever will. She's never been one to give away information about herself, and Rachel doubts that's going to change today, or any day.
Particularly not when it comes to Rachel.
Then, with her hands poised over the keys, Quinn asks, "May I?"
Rachel shifts her own hands out of the way, and then proceeds to watch, utterly mesmerised, as Quinn expertly plays the song, adding in runs here and there and pressing down on complementary keys that aren't written on the sheets in front of them.
Rachel barely knows where to look: at Quinn's hands, at her face… at her forearms where she's pushed up her sleeves. She doesn't think she's ever been so fascinated by the muscles in a person's forearms before.
It's all so much, and where did Quinn even learn to play like this?
For some reason, Rachel feels breathless when Quinn is done, and it takes her a few moments to find her voice. "How did I not know you could play?" Rachel eventually asks.
Quinn shrugs again, her posture remaining perfect. She's definitely well trained. "I think you'll find there are a lot of things about me you don't know." If she means the words to be cryptic, she succeeds, and Rachel wouldn't even know how to push for answers.
Choosing not to comment, Rachel asks her to play it again, and the two of them spend the next ninety minutes trying to perfect the music. She didn't think this would be the easier part of the songwriting, but it's proving to be, because neither of them has any ideas for lyrics.
Apparently, Rachel isn't the only one who doesn't have anything to say.
"I wouldn't even know where to start," Quinn admits, stifling a yawn.
Rachel is positively charmed by the cuteness of the action; she doesn't even know what to do with herself. For a terrifying, somewhat suicidal, moment, she wants to reach out and smooth the crease in Quinn's forehead with the pad of her thumb.
Thankfully, Quinn speaks before she can do anything that disastrous. "Maybe we should write a song about getting enough sleep," she suggests through yet another yawn.
Rachel thinks she might cry at how cute it is. "You know, we can continue this upstairs in my bedroom," she finds herself saying.
Quinn's eyes widen at the suggestive words.
Rachel immediately backtracks. "I mean, if you wanted to catch another nap, you can. On my bed. In my bedroom. If you want." She silently prays for the ground to open up and swallow her whole, because, honestly, what is she even saying?
Quinn eventually lets out a soft laugh. "Don't hurt yourself, Berry," she says, rising to her feet and stretching her arms high in the air. "You'd have to take me on a first date before I let you take me to bed."
Now, if Rachel wasn't already struck dumb by the sight of Quinn's skin at her midriff, she would be by the sound of Quinn's words.
Quinn yawns again, so widely that her eyes actually start to water. "I actually could use another nap," she says, and those words snap Rachel into action.
She gets to her feet, grabs the sheet music and her notebook, and then leads the way up the stairs. "Do you want anything to drink? Eat?" she tosses over her shoulder, a little irritated with her own hosting skills for not asking earlier.
"Just a bed," Quinn murmurs sleepily, and Rachel resists the urge to spin around and look at her.
How can anyone resist this girl?
Rachel's fingers twitch, but she keeps walking.
Quinn Fabray is in her house.
And, now, Quinn Fabray is in her bedroom.
In her bed.
Okay, she's on it, and under a TV blanket. But still.
What strikes Rachel the most as she settles against her own headboard and watches Quinn squirm to get comfortable is that there was zero hesitation on the blonde's part. She just saw the bed, slipped off her shoes and then practically dove for it.
Now, Quinn lets out a deep sigh, and then smiles to herself.
"You okay there?" Rachel asks, propping her feet up and bringing her knees up to her chest to balance her notebook.
"I'm perfect," Quinn mumbles, nuzzling Rachel's pillow.
A moment later, the blonde starts to hum, and Rachel feels every part of her insides melting. It should be unpleasant, but it makes her feel warm and lovely and… happy.
"I think it's really cute that you hum yourself to sleep," she says, unable to stop her smile.
Quinn gnaws on her bottom lip for a moment. "Yeah," she murmurs; "I kind of had to learn how to self-soothe from a young age."
Rachel's convinced Quinn is saying something very important with those words, but she doesn't have any time to ask, because then Quinn is humming again and her eyes are slipping closed.
Rachel just watches in silence as she settles once more, the tension bleeding out of her body. Her brow creases for a moment, and then relaxes. Her nose wrinkles for a beat and, dammit, Rachel shouldn't find the action so endearing.
By the slight parting of her lips and unclenching of her fists, Rachel knows Quinn is asleep.
Still, Rachel stares.
She just can't seem to stop.
The entire thing is just so fascinating, and she never would have thought that watching someone fall asleep could be so enchanting.
She feels entranced, hooked, and Quinn isn't even doing anything.
Shaking her head to try to clear it of her wayward thoughts, Rachel looks back down at her notebook. She has a few words written, but none of them make any sense.
Scratching them out, she writes another word.
Rachel can't help feeling a little ridiculous even thinking it, but the mere idea of Quinn Fabray falling asleep in front of her, without even giving it a second thought, has rendered her completely spellbound.
It amazes her, truly, and she has to bite the inside of her cheek to stop herself from reaching out to touch the other girl. Quinn would probably kill her if she woke up, and what business does Rachel even have wanting to touch her?
What is happening to her?
Looking down at her notebook again, Rachel writes down a few more words. She needs to make sense of all of this before she says or does something she won't be able to take back.
Whatever happens from here on out, she knows she'll never be able to look at Quinn the same way.
Something in the air.
The heart wants what it wants.
Slowly, Rachel's eyes start to droop as well, and she abandons her notebook, setting it on the bed between her body and Quinn's - she thinks she needs some kind of subconscious boundary. She shifts into a lying position, curling up on her side and watching Quinn's sleeping face.
"You truly are very beautiful," she whispers into the air between them. Then: "What are you doing to me?" The question is met with silence, obviously, and she sighs. "You've started something, Quinn Fabray. I truly hope you intend to finish it."
When Rachel's eyes drop closed, she keeps them that way.
Behind her eyelids, she can still see Quinn, and she isn't surprised when the blonde follows her into her dreams.
Rachel is, admittedly, disoriented and very confused when she wakes to the feel of fingers in her hair and gentle humming somewhere above her head. She breathes in deeply, and then startles when she hears a chuckle, because, no, she's not dreaming anymore.
Rachel jerks as if she's been electrocuted, and sits up immediately.
Quinn just manages to avoid getting smacked by the back of Rachel's head as Rachel scrambles away like she's been burned.
It takes Rachel a moment to get her bearings, and then another one to remember where she is and why Quinn Fabray is in her bedroom. She blinks three times in quick succession, and then says, "You were touching me."
Quinn's eyes are still a little wide, equally surprised by Rachel's abrupt awakening. "Uh… sorry?"
Rachel relaxes slightly. "Why were you touching me?"
"You were having a nightmare."
Her brow furrows. "I was?"
"I think so," she answers, shrugging slightly. "You were making… distressed sounds, I guess, and I was going to wake you up, but - "
"You calmed when I touched you," she explains, flushing at the sound of her own words. "So, I guess I just kept doing it." She drops her gaze. "I'm a bitch when I wake up, but I have no idea what you are right now, and I can't tell if you're actually mad or not."
"Not mad; just confused," Rachel confesses, shifting to get more comfortable. "How long have you been up?"
"About twenty minutes," she says. "I was, uh, trying to write lyrics." She gestures to Rachel's open notebook in her lap. "Seriously, though, what on earth were you writing?"
Rachel moves closer, having recovered somewhat. "I don't even know," she admits, glancing at the page. From the looks of things, Quinn has written quite a bit, and she feels herself smile, despite herself. This is all too weird, and she's just making such a fool of herself.
"What's wrong?" Quinn asks, eyeing her fading smile.
"Is this really happening?" The question is out of her mouth before she can stop it, and it seems that's been happening quite often when she's in Quinn's presence. She's convinced she's still half-asleep, because there's no other explanation for the question she just asked.
"Is what really happening?"
Rachel waves an arm between them. "This," she says, sounding slightly exasperated. "Quinn, you're in my bed."
"Technically, I'm on it."
"Your fingers were in my hair."
"It's surprisingly soft."
"You can play the piano."
"The guitar, too. Puck taught me."
Rachel huffs, and then sighs. "Do you have any idea how adorable you are when you fall asleep?"
"I have watched you fall asleep twice in the last two days, and I think it has wrecked me."
Quinn looks utterly confused, which is also adorable, and Rachel groans dramatically, throwing herself against her pillows and trying to get herself to focus.
"I'm trying to determine if I've actually done something wrong," Quinn says. "Is this something I should apologise for?"
Quinn recoils slightly, frowning. "I'm trying to be less antagonistic, you know? It's not particularly easy for me, because it goes against every fibre of my being. It's like my default setting or something. But, seriouslt, what did I do now?"
"You - you hum when you're falling asleep," she says, suddenly frustrated. "And - and you purse your ridiculously pouty lips, and you wrinkle your perfectly-shaped brow, and you - you - Quinn."
"Berry," Quinn says, reaching for one of her hands. "Calm down, would you? You're going to hurt yourself."
Rachel does quieten, and her gaze drops down to where Quinn's fingers are still wrapped around hers. "What are you doing to me?" she whispers, asking the question of the space between them.
Quinn still looks utterly bewildered. "I'm not doing anything to you."
Experimentally, Rachel shifts her fingers until they're properly linked with Quinn's, and she quietly marvels at how perfectly they actually fit together.
"Rachel," Quinn says shakily, suddenly sounding nervous, even unsure, because maybe she feels it too, but she hasn't yet caught up to Rachel.
"You called me Rachel."
"It's your name, isn't it?"
Rachel lifts her gaze to meet Quinn's. She holds it for a beat - shit, shit, they're not ready for this - and then drops it to the open page of the notebook. "What have you come up with?"
Quinn regards her for a moment, and then allows the moment to pass. "Well, I kind of caught onto your words here," she explains. "It's kind of... awful, so, don't laugh or anything," she warns.
And, as Quinn proceeds to explain her idea of being enchanted, it's not lost on Rachel that neither of them makes a move to release the other's hand.
It's how Rachel's father finds them.
They're sitting close together, heads bent over the notebook as Rachel writes and Quinn holds the book steady. It's a little awkward, but they're both determined to make it work.
LeRoy startles a little at the sight, but he manages to school his features before either girl notices. "Quinn," he says, delicate and purposeful. "Are you staying for dinner?"
Quinn blinks slowly, and then exchanges a brief look with Rachel, before she replies. "If it's not too much of an imposition, Sir," she says politely. "I wouldn't want to intrude."
LeRoy shakes his head at her wording. "I wouldn't have offered if it was, my dear."
Rachel rolls her eyes at both of them. "Okay," she says; "both of you, stop being weird. Daddy, Quinn's staying for dinner, and then we're going to play our song for you and Dad."
"Okay, Kiddo," he says, smiling. He looks at Quinn, who is looking at Rachel, and even he can't mistake the slight fascination in the girl's eyes.
It also isn't lost on him that Rachel is looking back at her with the exact same expression.
After dinner - during which Quinn spectacularly charms both Berry men with her impeccable manners and envious intellect - the two girls return to the basement to finalise their song. It's a duet, and they have to tinker with the correct key for them both to sing.
It's inevitable that they fight, and the fact that it's over who gets to sing which lines of the song is entirely too predictable. If Quinn weren't so irritated, she might even find it amusing.
"Why is it always a fight with you?"
Without hesitation, Rachel says, "Because nobody would pay attention to me, otherwise." The answer reveals much more than Rachel ever wants, and she half-expects Quinn to laugh or grab onto it with her fangs.
Quinn does neither.
Instead, she sighs sadly, and then says, "I suppose I can understand that." She meets Rachel's gaze. "But you can stop fighting me, you know? I'm not trying to take anything away from you. I just think my voice works better here, so you can take the song into the musical climax."
Rachel regards her carefully. "Okay."
Quinn blinks in surprise. "Okay? Just like that?" She shakes her head. "We've been squabbling for fifteen minutes, and you're just giving in?"
Rachel giggles softly. "You told me to stop fighting you," she points out; "do you wish to retract your - "
"Shut up, Berry," she says, but her tone isn't unkind. It's almost… playful, and her eyes shine with a kind of mirth that forces Rachel to pause and take notice.
She's smart enough to acknowledge that something has definitely changed between them, and it's almost such a cliché that it would be because she's watched Quinn Fabray literally fall asleep.
In what world is that even okay?
Quinn reaches for Rachel's pencil and starts to mark the sheet. "Here, I'll sing these lines, and you'll take that part. We can double up over here and here, and I'll follow you through the bridge. I think it'll sound nice to have an echoing effect." She pauses. "Is that what they call it? An echo? I don't know the terms."
"That works," Rachel says, smiling softly at her. "Should we practice?"
Quinn glances at her wrist for the time, grimaces slightly, and then bites her bottom lip. "Can - do you think I could borrow your phone?" she asks. "Just to let my mother know I'm not, like, dead."
"Sure," Rachel says, jumping up. She rushes up to her room to get her phone, and then skips back down the stairs, already unlocking the device.
Quinn's smile is polite when she takes it. "I promise I'll be quick," she says, and then moves to stand in a corner of the room.
Rachel moves back to the piano and pretends not to listen.
"Hey, Mom," Quinn says. "No, I'm still working on my project. I have, yes. No, I won't stay too long." A pause. "Oh?"
Rachel tenses, because that doesn't sound too good.
"Is - is he going to be there a while?" Quinn asks, and her voice sounds so small. "No, it's fine. I'll just, umm, I'll figure something out. Whatever, Mom. I'll just see you tomorrow or whatever."
Rachel keeps her eyes studiously on her sheet music when Quinn hangs up and walks back towards the piano. She sees Quinn carefully set the device on a piece of paper on the piano, and she resists the urge to smile at the girl's care of the instrument.
Quinn drops onto the bench beside her, and surprises them both when her head falls onto Rachel's shoulder.
Rachel tenses for a beat, and then relaxes. "Is - is everything okay?" she asks, even though she already knows the answer to the question.
"Not really," Quinn answers, her eyes slipping closed. "My, umm, father keeps stopping by the house to speak to my mother about, I guess, maybe getting back together," she says. "I - I - "
"Is that why you haven't been sleeping?"
Quinn sighs, leaning more heavily on Rachel. "Partly," she confesses. "I don't like having him around. It… unsettles me."
Rachel thinks she's missing something, as if merely the tone of Quinn's voice is supposed to clue her into what that is. "Is he over there right now?"
Rachel bites her bottom lip in thought. "You could stay here, if you want," she says. "I mean, you seemed to get some good sleep earlier, and we can continue working without you having to worry about getting home, and we've already slept together, so it's not like it'll be - "
"Berry," Quinn interrupts, lifting her head and smiling amusedly at her. "If I say yes, will you stop trying to convince me to sleep with you?"
Rachel's breath catches, even if there is a teasing tone to Quinn's voice. "Yes." And, wow, that is such a lie.
"Then, yes," Quinn says. She sighs after a moment, resuming her position resting her head against Rachel's shoulder. "Thank you. Really, I appreciate it. I just don't want to deal with any of that today."
"You're always welcome here, Quinn."
Quinn chuckles, almost hauntingly. "You're much too good to me, Rachel."
Rachel rests her head on Quinn's for a beat. "Keep calling me Rachel."
"It is your name," she says, and Rachel wishes she could explain to her just what it means that Quinn uses said name. "I quite like it."
"I'm named after Rachel from Friends, you know?"
Quinn giggles. "Really?"
"My parents are extreme fans of the show."
"It's a good show," Quinn agrees.
The two of them settle into comfortable silence, and Rachel wonders about how so much has changed in just a day. She's not sure what to expect on Monday, or even tomorrow, and there's a large part of her that doesn't want this moment to end.
But, it does.
Quinn clears her throat, and then straightens. "We should sing."
And, sing, they do.
If Hiram and LeRoy Berry were anyone other than Rachel's parents; Quinn would find the applause they receive after they've performed their original song to be a little overboard.
But, alas, these men are raising Rachel, and it all makes so much sense.
"That was amazing," Hiram says, and he sounds as if he truly means it. "Are you two sure you wrote that?" There's a hint of a sneaky smile on his face, and Quinn tries to hide her own, even as Rachel bristles.
"Of course, we wrote it," Rachel says, stomping her foot in a way that all other three occupants of the basement find endearing - surprisingly so, in Quinn's case.
LeRoy places his hand on his husband's forearm. "What I think your dad is asking is we're just surprised by the content of the song."
Rachel frowns. "What about it?"
Quinn shifts uncomfortably, absently picking at the hem of her hooded sweatshirt. If Rachel's fathers are asking questions, who's to say the rest of the Glee Club won't?
They're talking about being enchanted by another person. That's bound to raise some questions and, after the spectacle that was the end of Rachel's relationship with Finn, and hers with Sam… they're bound to draw attention. Whether people will jump to the truth - whatever that really is - remains to be seen, though, because they could very well be talking about their respective ex-boyfriends.
The only good thing to come out of all of that is that Quinn is back on the Cheerios and, well, she's actually enjoying the single life.
Attention, be damned.
Quinn doesn't want to care, so she's not going to.
"I didn't know you had your sights set on anyone," LeRoy says. And then, because he enjoys his daughter's apparent mortification, he asks, "Unless it's Quinn who's been enchanted?"
Quinn blushes immediately, and Rachel chucks her pencil at her father. "Do you like the song or not?" she asks pointedly.
"We love it."
Rachel beams at them, and then smiles at Quinn. "Told you," she says. "Everyone is going to love it."
Quinn can't do anything but return her smile. "Yeah, yeah, you're a musical genius."
"You're okay, as well."
"Wow, don't sing my praises there, Berry."
Rachel's features soften. "I could, you know?"
"Sing your praises," she says quietly. "Somebody should."
Quinn shifts slightly, temporarily forgetting that Rachel's fathers are sitting right there. "Why do you think I need my praises sung at all?"
"Because you obviously think you don't have any worth mentioning," she says. "But, you do."
Quinn blinks. She didn't think anyone actually noticed. "Rachel," she says, but she has no idea how to follow that, so she just clamps her mouth shut and waits.
Rachel just pats her hand, and then looks at her fathers again. "Do you want to hear it again?"
"I think, uh, just some sweatpants should be okay," Quinn says, awkwardly standing in the middle of Rachel's carpeted floor while the other girl bustles about in an attempt to make Quinn more comfortable.
Really, she's just succeeding in making her dizzy.
Rachel eventually digs deep into a drawer and produces a pair of sweatpants that she believes should fit Quinn. The blonde is slightly taller than her, and her hips are a little wider.
Hips that have given birth.
It still fascinates Rachel whenever she allows herself to think about it.
Quinn has borne a child.
"Where can I change?" Quinn asks.
Rachel snaps to attention. "Uh, the bathroom's through there," she says. "I, uh, left a fresh toothbrush out for you, if you need it."
"Thanks," Quinn murmurs, and then disappears into the bathroom.
Rachel uses the opportunity to change into her own pyjamas. She's suddenly nervous, even though she and Quinn have spent the last almost eight hours together… without actually killing each other.
There's just something about this Quinn Fabray.
Rachel finds she's actually looking forward to watching Quinn fall asleep again. She's going to pay closer attention this time, and try to commit it to memory.
Why, she doesn't know, but she's going to.
It goes as she expects, for the most part. Quinn doesn't even question where she's going to be sleeping, easily sliding into bed beside Rachel when the time comes and lying on her side, facing the brunette.
"Hi," Rachel says.
Quinn smiles this lazy, sleepy smile, and Rachel has to stop herself from reaching out to touch the girl's lips. "Hey," Quinn whispers, and then immediately yawns, her breath minty fresh as it washes over Rachel's skin.
"For what?" Quinn questions, her brow slightly furrowed.
"I don't know," she says. "Lots of things. Nothing."
Quinn wrinkles her nose. "You're not making any sense," she murmurs. "But, that could just be because I'm exhausted."
Rachel smiles knowingly. "Get some sleep, Quinn," she says. "We'll talk more in the morning."
Quinn hums softly, her eyes slipping closed.
Her eyes flutter open. "Hmm?"
"You mentioned something earlier, about self-soothing by humming yourself to sleep," she starts; "and, um, I was wondering if it would be okay for me to sing you a, um, lullaby."
Quinn just stares at her for a moment, and then she shifts closer, almost curling into Rachel. "I don't deserve your kindness," she whispers.
This time, Rachel does reach out, her fingers lifting to trail along Quinn's jaw. "You deserve the world, Quinn Fabray," her mouth says before she can stop it.
Quinn continues to stare, her expression giving nothing away.
"Sorry," Rachel immediately says.
Rachel ducks her head slightly, and her forehead almost rests against Quinn's chin. When the girl breathes in, their bodies touch, and Rachel feels her heart rate rise dangerously.
"Rachel," Quinn says; "what are you sorry for?"
Rachel sucks in a breath, almost steeling herself for what's to come as she lifts her head again, and then says, "This."
Quinn has just enough time for her eyes to widen, before Rachel is closing the gap between them and pressing her lips against Quinn's.
For a moment, nothing happens, and Rachel starts to panic, her eyes shut tight. Her heart starts to thump, because this is terrifying. She's going to have to face the consequences eventually - whatever they may be - and she starts to pull away.
Quinn starts kissing her back, hesitant and careful.
And then the fireworks explode behind Rachel's eyes.
Rachel breathes out through her nose, and then leans in closer, in an attempt to deepen the kiss.
Which, sweet Jesus, Quinn actually allows.
Rachel doesn't even know how they got to this point, and she almost doesn't believe it. She's kissing Quinn Fabray, and it's… everything.
Quinn pulls away with a gasp, her eyes shut so tight that it looks like it must hurt.
"Quinn," Rachel whispers, her voice cracking.
"Ssh," Quinn says. "Just, ssh."
Rachel counts to twelve in her head, and then she says, "Quinn, open your eyes." She's not prepared for what she sees in hazel eyes when they finally open: the anguish and wonder and confusion and fear and -
"Quinn, it's okay, I promise," she says, her voice suddenly sure. "It's okay."
It's all Quinn needs, really, because then she's the one closing the gap, and Rachel doesn't know if she's coming or going. All she knows is it's very different kissing a Quinn who is now in control of her kiss; who has given in.
Rachel gasps at the first touch of Quinn's tongue to her bottom lip, and her own lips part enough to allow Quinn to slip her tongue inside. The moan Rachel releases at the contact is almost inhuman, and Quinn's mouth curls into a smile that sends a shiver down Rachel's body.
"Quinn," she whispers around a warm tongue, her breathing laboured. She's not entirely sure what she's trying to say, but Quinn must hear something because she slows the kiss, bringing it to a tender stop.
Quinn breathes out slowly, and Rachel waits, watching. "It's okay?" Quinn asks, her voice shaky.
"It's okay," Rachel confirms, pressing a kiss to the corner of Quinn's mouth. "It's very okay. You're okay. We're okay."
"What is happening?" she asks, her voice small. "What are you doing to me?"
Rachel almost smiles. "You hum yourself to sleep," she says, as if it explains everything. "You honestly cannot expect me not to kiss you when you do things like that."
Quinn blushes, and then smiles lazily. "I thought you were going to sing for me."
Rachel presses a chaste kiss to pouty lips, and then they get comfortable. She settles in close to Quinn, snuggling into the other girl's body. She's close enough to feel the heat of her, but far enough still to witness the wonder that is Quinn Fabray falling asleep.
It happens much more quickly than the other two times. Rachel barely gets through her second chorus before Quinn's features slacken and her lips part on a soft, happy sigh.
She's absolutely stunning, and Rachel just stares at her face for the longest time. She takes in the sharp lines and soft edges of the pale skin right in front of her, trying to commit every nuance to memory. She really wants to touch, but she's content just to look.
They still have a lot to talk about, and she's a little worried about what's to come. Quinn seemed panicked after their first kiss and, while her eyes didn't scream her anxiety after their second, there was still hesitancy.
They're going to have a lot to talk about in the morning.
Only, when Rachel wakes eight hours later, she's alone in her bed, and the crushing disappointment in enough to overwhelm her.
She surprises herself by not crying, but she does allow herself a few minutes to mourn the end of a relationship that didn't even have a beginning.
She can't say she wasn't expecting it - Quinn seems like the type to run from this kind of thing - but that doesn't stop it from hurting. It's probably just going to be extremely awkward now, and how are they supposed to sing their song without it being weird?
Eventually, Rachel rolls out of bed and goes about getting ready to face this day that she's now certain she doesn't want to. She suspects her fathers are going to ask her about Quinn, and she really doesn't know what she's supposed to say.
Rachel is certain she likes the girl - she wouldn't have kissed her if she didn't - and she knows that this revelation wouldn't have come about if -
If, well, Quinn didn't need to catch a nap.
Rachel almost laughs at how ridiculous that sounds. She watched Quinn Fabray fall asleep and now she's hooked. She doesn't know how she's supposed to survive school now that she knows how it feels to kiss Quinn Fabray.
What if Quinn goes back to treating her the way she did before the pregnancy? What if it's even worse, because now Rachel knows this thing about her?
These are all the thoughts running through her mind as she finally makes her way downstairs for a breakfast she's not even sure she's going to be able to eat. She's not hungry, and her heart aches a little with the crushing disappointment that it's unlikely she'll get to see Quinn fall asleep again.
But, then, she hears it.
It's soft, barely there, and Rachel strains to hear it again.
A quiet giggle.
Rachel's heart jolts, and then she's sprinting into the kitchen, practically bowling over the first person she comes into contact with.
"Whoa, there," LeRoy says, catching her before they both take a tumble. "Where's the fire?"
Rachel isn't even looking at him, her eyes seeking and finding Quinn, who is looking at her with a shy, little, amused smile on her face. She's wearing an apron over one of Rachel's band camp t-shirts that she must have swiped from her closet, and there's a bit of flour on her cheek.
She looks stunning, even with her slightly ruffled hair and adorable socked feet.
"Hi," Rachel whispers.
Quinn grins at her. "Mornin'," she says. "We're making pancakes."
Rachel blinks once, twice, and then closes the space between them to wrap her arms around the girl's neck, forcing a surprised squeak from her.
"What are you doing?" Quinn asks hesitantly, her own arms dangling at her sides for a moment.
Rachel doesn't let go. "You're here," she whispers next to the blonde's ear.
Quinn tenses for a beat. "Uh, yes," she says. "Rachel, you're really confusing me right now."
"Join the club," Hiram quips from somewhere to the girls' right, and Rachel immediately releases Quinn, blushing brightly.
Quinn reads the distress on her face, so she gently nudges the other girl to head out of the kitchen to talk in private. Whatever is happening isn't for Rachel's fathers' ears.
Not yet, at least.
Rachel fists the fabric of Quinn's t-shirt in her left hand as they walk out, holding onto her as her heart continues to beat unsteadily. She thought Quinn wasn't here, but -
But, she is.
"Rachel," Quinn says once they're safely in the hallway, still looking adorably confused. "What's wrong?"
Rachel just pulls her into another hug, which the blonde actually returns this time. Rachel holds her closely, inhaling deeply and trying not to react this strongly. She can't help it, though.
"Rachel?" Quinn questions. "Is everything okay? Did you have a bad dream or something?"
Rachel lets out an amused breath as she pulls back to look at Quinn's face. "You were gone," she manages to say. "I woke up, and you weren't there. I thought - "
Quinn's face twists into a pained expression when she realises what Rachel thought. "You thought I left," she finishes.
"But, you didn't," Rachel says, slight wonder in her voice. "I was sure you were going to freak out about what happened last night."
Rachel freezes. "What?"
Quinn looks away for a moment. "I woke up early," she starts. "I had my arms around you, and I was so happy and content, and I started to panic, because it's not supposed to feel so good. It's supposed to be wrong." She closes her eyes, and Rachel feels her heart twist painfully.
Quinn shakes her head as if clearing it. "So, I freaked out and came downstairs," she continues. "I just needed a moment, I guess, to breathe or think or something, and I kind of fell asleep on the couch, and I was still there when LeRoy came down. We ended up talking for a while."
Rachel blinks slowly. "You talked to my Daddy… about… this?"
Quinn winces. "I hope that's okay," she says. "I wouldn't really know who else to talk to."
"It's okay," Rachel assures her. "I'm just glad you're still here. Are you okay? Are you still freaking out? Did he help? Is there something I can do? I don't want you to feel - mmph - "
Quinn reasons, instead of interrupting Rachel with words, she can just kiss her, which is what she does. It's a very effective way to get the brunette to stop talking, and it's mutually pleasurable.
If Rachel's soft moan is anything to go by, that is.
Quinn deepens it immediately, stepping forward as Rachel is forced to move, her back hitting the wall behind her. Rachel's fingers work their way into Quinn's hair, and she doesn't think she'll ever grow tired of kissing Quinn Fabray.
"Girls," LeRoy calls out, and they immediately break apart, both of them blushing furiously with kiss-swollen lips, even though the voice is coming from the kitchen. "Breakfast is ready."
They spend another moment composing themselves, and then Rachel holds out her hand for Quinn to take.
"You're okay?" Quinn asks hesitantly, slipping her hand into Rachel's.
"I'm perfect," Rachel says truthfully, starting to lead them back towards the kitchen. "You?"
Quinn squeezes her fingers. "I'm okay," she confesses quietly, and Rachel honestly believes her.
It's a surprise and also not that Quinn wants to catch a nap after they've eaten breakfast… that is really brunch.
Rachel also really just wants to get her alone, so they can talk about what all of this even means. That's what she tells herself, anyway, because, the second they're behind Rachel's closed door… Quinn actually climbs back into bed without a single qualm.
Rachel just stares at her, slightly dumbfounded.
Quinn peeks at her from beneath the covers. "Are you coming or what?"
Rachel just continues to stare. "You're not actually going back to sleep, are you?"
Quinn blinks, and then slowly sits up. "Uh…"
"I thought we could talk."
"About what?" Quinn asks, and she suddenly sounds unsure, adorably vulnerable in that way that makes Rachel want to wrap her arms around Quinn and just hold her.
So, she does.
It feels entirely too natural to climb into bed beside Quinn and slide her arms around her body, drawing her close and soaking up her warmth. She inhales deeply, surprised by how much Quinn actually smells like her.
It's the clothing, she thinks, but something oddly primal in her rather enjoys the idea that she's marked Quinn as hers. It's completely ridiculous, and Rachel almost expects to wake from this dream of a weekend and realise she's actually the one who fell asleep on Friday in the choir room and not Quinn.
"I think we should talk about… what's happening… with us."
"Okay," Quinn whispers, and Rachel feels her breath against her neck. "What are we talking about?"
"Are you… okay?" The question is asked hesitantly, because she's suddenly afraid of Quinn's response. She's not sure what she's going to do if Quinn's answer is in the negative. They've both had a bit of time to think about things since this morning, and Quinn might be feeling different now.
Quinn hums softly. "Well, right now, the biggest thing on my mind is that I think I ate way too much, but I get the feeling that's not really what you want to hear in this moment."
Rachel closes her eyes for a moment, just enjoying this closeness. "Not exactly," she agrees. "I just - I mean - are you still freaking out?"
She opens her eyes and lifts her head to be able to look at Quinn's face. "You can't be serious."
"I already told you I had my moment," Quinn says. "I had it, big time, and then I talked to your father, and I - I'm okay."
"But, how?" Rachel asks, disbelief slipping into her tone. "Are you seriously telling me you're suddenly okay with kissing girls?"
"No," she says, and there's a severity to the word. It's obviously the truth. "I'm not okay with that, and I'm not yet comfortable even considering what my actual sexuality is."
Rachel just waits.
"What I am okay with is kissing you and, right now, that's all I have to offer, okay?" She sighs. "I'm sorry if it's not what you want to hear, but it's all I have."
There's a heavy beat of silence, and then Rachel says, "You like me."
Rachel smiles all too knowingly. "You like me."
Quinn rolls her eyes. "Can we stop talking about this now?" she asks. "I really want to sleep, and, don't let this go to your head or anything, but I seem to get my best sleep when I'm in your presence."
Rachel can't control her grin, and it prompts Quinn to attempt to kiss it right off her face. She giggles against Quinn's lips, feeling a certain giddiness threaten to take over her entire body.
The kiss slows to something soft and lingering, and Rachel wants nothing more than to soak up everything about this moment. Quinn presses a last kiss to her lips, and then shifts to get more comfortable as they lie down, burying her face in the crook of Rachel's neck.
Rachel releases a shaky breath, forcing herself to relax.
It really doesn't help when Quinn nuzzles her skin and says, "I do like you."
Rachel sucks in a sharp breath, her right hand trailing along Quinn's back. "Oh?"
"I'm terrified and I have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow or the day after that, but I like you, Rachel." She sighs. "I want to do this, but I'm going to need you to be patient."
"I can do that," she finds herself saying.
"Can you?" Quinn asks, and Rachel can feel her lips move against her. "Can you really?"
She's definitely going to try, which seems to be all Quinn needs to hear, because she slips into slumber before Rachel can even offer to sing her another lullaby.
Rachel doesn't anticipate catching a nap of her own but, the next thing she knows, it's already three o'clock in the afternoon and she's alone in bed. It's not as devastating as it was this morning, but she still wishes Quinn were here. She wants to be able to experience waking up with Quinn, and not freak out about it.
But, Quinn is gone.
As in, left the house, gone, which is what she discovers when she eventually ventures downstairs. She hasn't really had time to discuss any of this with her fathers, and they both offer her kind smiles when she finds them in the living room, sporting some other kind of bed hair.
"She had to go home," LeRoy tells Rachel when she goes to sit beside him, practically tucking herself into his side. "She said to tell you, um, do you know that you sing in your sleep?"
Rachel's eyes widen. "Do I?" she asks, almost shrieking.
LeRoy chuckles. "I wouldn't know, Sweetheart," he says, and then waggles his eyebrows. "I'm not the one you're sleeping with these days, you know?"
And, Rachel blushes so hard, she even gets a headache. She ducks her head, trying to hide her face, because he seems so okay with all of this. He's even teasing her about it, and she's forced to acknowledge just how lucky she is.
She lifts her head and meets his gaze. "I do not sing in my sleep," she says.
He chuckles. "Whatever you say, Honey."
If Rachel is being honest, she's not entirely sure what to expect on Monday morning. She knows they didn't really talk about it, and it's not as if she expects Quinn to kiss her in the corridors or openly declare her off limits as her girlfriend, but she can't stop herself from hoping for something.
Which actually comes in the form of a Quinn Fabray waiting for her at her locker, casually leaning against the metal, with two cups of coffee in a tray in her one hand.
"It's actually hot chocolate," Quinn says when all Rachel does is stare at her. "The vegan kind, obviously. Yours. I'm sorry, but I love milk too much for that life."
And, then, Quinn does the thing and reaches for Rachel's hand with her free one, lifting it up to her mouth and pressing a barely-there kiss to tanned knuckles that could easily be missed, but Rachel feels it. She definitely feels it.
Quinn then places the drink in the same hand, and finally relinquishes it back to Rachel, smiling gently.
"You okay?" Quinn asks.
All Rachel can do is nod, almost numbly, because Quinn is kissing her skin in public, and how is she meant to survive anything else?
Rachel blinks once, twice, and then smiles. "You got me hot chocolate?"
"I did," Quinn says. "Is that all right?"
"Of course," Rachel says. "Just surprised me. Thank you."
Quinn audibly swallows. "I know I didn't really give you the answers you were looking for yesterday, but I'm not… running. I'm - I'm as enchanted by you as the song says, and, while I might not be able to show you the way a traditional couple might be able to, I want you to know that I really do like you, and I'm - "
Rachel launches herself at Quinn, wrapping her arms around the blonde's neck, remembering at the last second not to spill her drink.
"Oomph," Quinn sounds, thoroughly caught off guard by the display of affection.
"I'm enchanted by you, too," Rachel whispers. "Entranced. Mesmerised. Captivated."
Quinn lets out a breath, her left arm wrapping around Rachel's waist. "We're really doing this, huh?"
"I know I am," Rachel says.
"Me, too," Quinn murmurs, and then moves to release Rachel, starting to feel slightly self-conscious at the length of the hug. One thing at a time. She'll get there. "So."
"We're performing our song today."
For a moment, though she's loathe to admit, Rachel almost forgets about the song. She's been so focused on, well, her potential relationship with Quinn to worry about the fact that the two of them may or may not actually be outing themselves to their entire Glee Club by the end of the day.
"We are," Rachel finally says. "How are you feeling about it?"
"It's a song," Quinn says, attempting a shrug that doesn't come off nearly as casual as she intends. "We wrote a song about love and longing and being so enamoured by another person, and now I have to sing it with you, and I may or may not be freaking out about how I'm supposed to act as if it doesn't apply to me."
Rachel's breath gets caught in her throat, because, God, Quinn just says it so casually. Let it not be said that Quinn Fabray does anything halfway.
She's in it.
She's really doing this, and she's unafraid to show it to Rachel.
To say it.
"But, then again," Quinn continues, still so calm, as if they're merely discussing the weather; "I'm pretty good at pretending."
Rachel steps closer to her, right into her space. "Quinn?" she murmurs, hearing something else in Quinn's voice.
"He was there when I got home," she whispers, and it's the first time Rachel truly notices how exhausted and uncertain Quinn looks. This is a moment when she's not pretending, and it's only for Rachel. "I guess he spent the night or something, and my mom made us have some kind of family dinner. It was… uncomfortable."
"Why didn't you call me?" she asks, trying to catch Quinn's gaze.
"I - I didn't want to bother you," she says. "I mean, I basically monopolised your time for like a hundred hours, and I guess I'm - I'm so used to dealing with it myself, you know?"
And, Rachel supposes she does. She can see it, in Quinn's guardedness and obvious independence. It's a conversation she thinks they'll be having for a while, but now isn't the time to get into it. "Did you get any sleep?" she asks instead, shelving the topic for when they're alone. Quinn needs to know she can call her at any time. This is what they are to each other now.
Quinn blinks. "Some, yeah."
"Not enough, though?"
"I did catch a nap with the most gorgeous girl, so I can't really complain, now can I?"
Rachel sighs dreamily, and then forces herself to step back before she does something ridiculous like kiss Quinn in the middle of the school corridor. People are already looking at them. They're staring, really, because why is the Head Cheerleader even associating with someone like Rachel Berry?
Rachel notices the moment Quinn notices that she's aware of the stares.
"Hey," Quinn whispers, reaching out to catch the fingers of her right hand. "It's okay. Believe me when I say it's okay. We're going to figure it all out, okay?"
And, from the steely look in Quinn's eye, Rachel is inclined to believe her.
The belief manages to last all through her lessons, carefully drowning out the sound of people whispering behind her. It's something she's used to, obviously, but this is about Quinn now, and that's really not okay with her.
She has these moments when she wants to snap at them to mind their own business, but she knows that'll just make things worse. Why should it even be news that they're now… friends?
God, if only they knew that Rachel now knows what Quinn tastes.
Glee arrives all too quickly and not fast enough, and Rachel is both surprised and mildly horrified when Quinn immediately waves her over to a seat she's saved for her, and everyone in the room falls completely silent, seemingly as shocked as Rachel is.
Quinn rolls her eyes in exasperation. "Jesus," she says, just a little too loud. "We're working on a song together. Kindly direct your staring elsewhere."
There's another beat of silence, and then everyone seems to avert their gazes. Quinn smiles at Rachel, cautiously letting her know everything is okay. It's safe to approach, so Rachel does.
They end up sitting unnecessarily close to each other, both their heads bent over their song that they really don't need to go over again. All Rachel knows is that Quinn's arm is pressed against hers, and their knees are touching.
"This is a bad idea, isn't it?" Rachel whispers, feeling her own heart rate pick up the moment Mr Schuester arrives and begins the lesson by asking who's ready to perform their prepared song.
"We're definitely not going first," is all Quinn says.
They end up going third, after Puck and Artie, and after Mike and Brittany. Rachel makes sure not to look at Quinn while they set up, handing Brad and the rest of the band their sheets of music.
Well, then, Quinn places a hand on her shoulder and shifts her into position, and then the music starts, and Rachel forgets how to breathe. Quinn's voice sounds so much better today, as if the time she's had to settle into their new reality has allowed her voice to accept the words she's singing.
Quinn is enchanted.
It's really a relief to hear she's not the only one.
It's a brilliant song, which is what Mr Schuester says once the song is done and everyone else is silent in their surprise and obvious confusion. Rachel is breathless and her heart is beating wildly, almost threatening to burst right of her chest and land in Quinn's safe hands.
She's dangerously aware she's blushing like a mad person, but she doesn't care. Quinn doesn't seem to care, either, because her smile is so wide, even if the blonde isn't looking at her.
Mr Schuester claps them off the floor and they resume their seats, knees touching once more. There are voices around them, but Rachel isn't paying attention to anything or anyone other than Quinn.
Her eyes are still on Quinn when she says, "Come over today." It's not really a question or even a suggestion. There's a slight demand behind it, and Quinn smiles in response.
"Sure thing, Berry," Quinn says, and Rachel doesn't miss the relief in her gaze. She can't be sure if it's because of her or because Quinn doesn't want to be at her own house, but she's not going to think too hard about that. There are other places Quinn could go if she wanted an escape.
Quinn just continues to smile at her, her shoulders relaxed, right until the moment she turns around when Santana repeatedly calls her name.
Rachel doesn't hear the words they exchange, because her gaze drifts to the expanse of Quinn's gorgeous neck, suitably distracted by the pale skin so deliciously on display. How she didn't know how much she was attracted to girls before just defeats her. Quinn is stunning.
"So?" Quinn suddenly says, snapping slightly and bringing Rachel abruptly to the present. "I can do whatever I damn well please, Santana." She sounds tense, angry in a way that's new to all of them. "And, really, if that song ends up winning us Regionals, I want to hear nothing more about it. Got it?"
There's an edge to her voice, a warning of some sort, and they all know to drop it. Quinn and Rachel aren't naïve enough to think this will be the end of the enquiries, but they're friends now, to the public eye, and everyone is just going to have to get used to it.
Finn and Tina sing next, and Finn spends an obscene amount of time with his eyes on Rachel. Or Quinn. Neither girl can actually be sure.
But, it is awkward, and Sam's subsequent hearteyes don't help either.
It's almost a relief when Mr Schuester calls an end to the lesson, with nobody else having finished their songs, and Rachel and Quinn don't hang around to be accosted by their fellow club members. Santana probably, definitely, has something to say, but Quinn isn't planning on giving her the time of day.
"Do you have to go home first?" Rachel asks Quinn as they approach the brunette's locker.
"No," Quinn says. "I have a few things from practice this morning, so I can change out of this uniform when we get to your house."
Rachel grins at her. "I don't suppose you're going to show off any more Harry Potter paraphernalia, are you?"
"You should be so lucky."
Rachel hides her blush, her features softening, by turning her attention to her locker. "I would," she quietly agrees.
Quinn touches her elbow, her fingers featherlight. "I have to stop by Coach Sylvester's office to get the new routine pack for our own Regionals," she says. "I can just meet you at your house when I'm - "
"I can wait," Rachel rushes to say.
Quinn gives her a questioning look. "I told you I'm not backing out of this, Rachel," she says, noting a hint of panic in Rachel's voice. "I'm going to come over. I need sleep, remember?"
Rachel rolls her eyes. "Oh, I see how it is."
"Go on," Quinn says. "I don't know how long I'll be, and I don't want you wasting your time just waiting for me." Her smile turns sly. "And, you should probably get started on your homework, because I intend to keep you distracted when I arrive."
Rachel flushes, red spreading across her skin in the worst way. "Quinn."
Quinn grins. "I'll see you in a bit, okay?" she says. "Go home." The corridor is quiet, practically empty, so Quinn decides to risk it. She glances over her shoulder for a beat, and then she presses a chaste kiss to Rachel's cheek. "See you later."
Rachel really shouldn't feel as if she's floating on Cloud Nine, but she does.
God. Is this what being in a relationship is really supposed to feel like? Because she felt nothing like this with Finn, or even with Jesse, and she was convinced she was in love with them.
Maybe it's because this particular relationship is a secret.
It's because it's Quinn.
"Drive safely," Quinn murmurs, and then she spins and practically swaggers down the corridor, fully aware that Rachel is watching her every move.
Rachel looks away only when Quinn has disappeared from sight, and she releases a dreamy sigh. She truly is enchanted, isn't she? Lost, completely.
It's really the only reason she doesn't notice Finn's approach until he's standing right behind her.
"Don't tell me you two are actually friends now?"
Rachel startles, and then flushes. From his tone, he obviously didn't see the kiss, but his presence still unsettles her as she turns around to face him. "We are," she says, sounding much calmer than she feels. She forces herself not to smile too widely at the confirmation of part of her relationship with Quinn.
They're friends, but they're so much more.
Finn's look of confusion isn't anything new, and Rachel turns away from him again, her attention on gathering her things from her locker. She can't quite tell what the problem is. There's a hint of something in his voice, and it's been there since the infamous football game. She's pretty sure he doesn't want her back - he's the one who broke up with her, and she's not inclined to forget that - so it has to be something else.
His popularity has risen in spades, and she can't help but wonder what he's doing talking to her, anyway, even if there's nobody around. She's never been good for his image, and he was never afraid to let her know. Does he think the song was about him? God, is he here to let her down gently or something?
It takes her far too long to realise this is really about Quinn, and she suddenly grows tense. He's the most popular boy in school at the moment, and Quinn is the most popular girl. Quinn's friendship with her would undoubtedly hinder that popularity, and it's probably playing against whatever Finn has planned.
Rachel doesn't really care. At all. She's the one Quinn kisses, and the rest of this horrible, superficial, stereotypical high school be damned.
Rachel finishes gathering her things and then slams her locker much harder than necessary. They both flinch, but Rachel's features have settled into something hard when she looks at Finn again.
"We are friends," she says. "I don't see that changing any time soon, so you should probably rethink whatever ridiculous idea you have planned."
Finn blinks, his frown deepening. "I don't - "
"If you'll excuse me," Rachel forces out, and then pushes past him. Her steps are purposeful, but she feels oddly emboldened by what's just happened. Truly, she would face Finn rather than Santana, any day, and it's such a relief to make it to her car relatively unscathed.
She's aware there's always tomorrow, but she survived this day, so she's sure she can survive every other one. She has Quinn, after all.
Every day is going to be better because of it.
"I think your fathers are trying to fatten me up," Quinn groans as she crawls into Rachel's bed after their late dinner, clearly with the intention of going to sleep. It's not as if Rachel or Rachel's fathers are against it, but it is a school night, and now Quinn looks adorably sleepy.
Rachel doesn't know if she'll be able to let her go now, so she's not going to.
"I can barely move," Quinn complains, groaning again. "I feel like I'm dying."
If Rachel wasn't convinced Quinn was right - her Daddy actually mentioned that Quinn was looking a little thin the previous night - she would probably have something to say about it.
But, right now, she's standing on her bedroom's carpet and watching Quinn stretch out like a cat, and there's a part of her that knows she's going to fall in love. The girl is practically purring…
Rachel doesn't stand a chance, and it's taken her far too long to realise she never did.
"I think I have a food baby," Quinn drawls, rolling onto her back. "It feels marginally worse than actually being pregnant, to be honest."
Rachel hesitates for only a moment before she moves to get into bed with Quinn, trying not to overthink anything. Her heart is beating a little too fast, because this is a bit different to how it was on Saturday night. They're so much more than they were two nights ago, and she's a little nervous.
Okay, she's suddenly a lot nervous.
But, apparently, Quinn isn't, because she reaches for Rachel immediately and whispers into her hair, "Would it be really weird to ask you to rub my belly?"
Rachel just giggles, but does comply, resting her palm on Quinn's abdomen over her t-shirt and then carefully moving it in a gentle circle. Quinn hums in appreciation, her left arm wrapping around Rachel's shoulders and drawing her closer.
"I think I'm going to keep you," Quinn murmurs, and Rachel can hear how content she sounds. "Like, for forever."
"Because I'm rubbing your belly, you little kitten?"
Quinn presses a kiss to the top of her head. "No," she says; "because you actually care about me."
"That's what I said," Rachel murmurs, suddenly feeling very sleepy. She curls further into Quinn, absently breathing her in, because this is her life now.
"That's what you said," Quinn echoes, sighing happily. "You're perfect."
Rachel wants to contradict her, but Quinn very suddenly kisses her mouth, rolling them slightly with the intention of deepening the contact. It works, if Rachel's breathless sigh is anything to go by, and what more reassurance does she need?
Quinn shifts again, her right hand resting on Rachel's hip, her fingers slipping under the hem of her t-shirt and trailing along her soft skin.
"I thought you could barely move," Rachel almost gasps when Quinn's lips trail along her jaw and down her neck.
"I would move for you," Quinn murmurs, and then suddenly grows very still.
Rachel tenses, too, but she doesn't quite know why. "What's wrong?" she asks, her voice calm as her left hand smoothes over the top of Quinn's head. "Quinn, what is it?"
Quinn lifts her head to meet her gaze. "I would move for you," she repeats, careful and a little apprehensive about the words she's saying. She almost sounds scared of what she's saying.
"It just struck me now that I would…" she trails off, sucks in a breath, and then finishes, "…do anything for you, at this point."
"Oh," Quinn confirms, and then kisses her again.
Because this is going to be their lives now, no matter what happens from this point forward.
Rachel's heart rate skyrockets when Quinn's entire hand slips under her t-shirt and splays across the skin of her abdomen. It's too much and not enough all at once, and Quinn must sense it, because she slows their kiss to three gentle pecks, and then moves away just far enough to meet her gaze.
"Sleep?" Quinn asks, her voice a little raspy.
"I don't even know how I'm supposed to do that now," Rachel confesses, still breathless and a little irritated because of it. "It's like you've just sent electricity through me, and now you expect me to power down. That's - that's not fair."
Quinn sits up, putting some more space between them as she moves to turn off the lamp on the nightstand. "Just try," she instructs gently. "Close your eyes and go to sleep."
"As if it's just that easy," she murmurs, burying her face in her pillow. "Also, am I not supposed to be singing you to sleep?"
"No," Quinn says, and she sounds almost petulant about it. "I want you to fall asleep before me."
And then Quinn grins with such mischief that Rachel immediately knows she's not going to like the next words to come out of her mouth.
"Don't you dare," Rachel starts, and then she's throwing herself at Quinn, practically climbing over her.
Quinn laughs gloriously, falling back against the pillows. She looks genuinely happy to have Rachel pinning her to the mattress, as if there's nowhere else in the world she would rather be. "Do you know you - "
Rachel covers Quinn mouth with her own, interrupting her predicted question.
Quinn allows the kiss for several moments, before she pushes on Rachel's shoulders and smiles at the disgruntled sound she gets in response.
"Quinn," Rachel says, teasing and warning in her tone. "Please, just shut up and kiss me."
Quinn's grin widens. "In a minute," she says. "I just wanted to know if you knew you - "
"Quinn, no, please stop," she almost whines, attempting to kiss her again.
She laughs, this breathy sound, just as Rachel finally successfully leans in for the kiss she's determined is now never going to end. Her last words are muffled, but she doesn't even care. They both already know what she's going to say... " - sing in your sleep?"