Actions

Work Header

I've Been Trying to Reach You

Chapter Text

By the first week of August, Quinn's lobster tan is finally turning into a real one, which is good, because not only are they gigging outside after Holly arranged for them to put on another fundraiser show but this time as themselves-but the first time she sees Rachel in almost two months, she really doesn't want to be bright pink or peeling everywhere.

Santana flips her aviators onto her forehead when she pulls up to Quinn's house and grins. "Looking good, QFab. Almost like you've got a pulse."

Quinn rolls her eyes. "Where's your guitar?"

"Puck's carrying it in, and Sam is stopping by later with his mom's mini-van to pick up your drums, so we're just off now to go and set up the stage."

They're playing on the front lawn of Lima's ER, which is both insane and kind of awesome, and Puck and Sam have been taking bets all week on whether or not they'll be distracted if "seriously bleeding" people wander by them into the building. Quinn strongly suspects they won't be seeing anything at all, really, what with how bright it'll be for them up on that stage, but gamely slipped in a twenty before noting that she's fine with the sight of blood so she'll keep going regardless.

Two days from now, Rachel's finally back in Lima, and that cramp she has in her right hand from writing letter after letter-mailed out mere minutes after it's done being written-might actually let up before classes start again. She managed to squeeze by a 3.8 last year, which is good, but not good enough, and she's actually gunning to get started again because she's got her eye on an actual prize right now:

At least one New York university has to accept her, right? She's already got brochures from basically all of them in a folder in her desk.

Rachel doesn't know yet, and Quinn figures they have time, to start looking ahead; for now, it's probably best that they just spend a few hours, or days, or weeks, looking at each other, because it's been forever.

She wants the easy stuff, this time around: afternoons spent lazing around her bed, with everyone's parents knowing (even if they don't approve) and no more wondering if this is the last time they'll have the freedom to be together. She can kiss Rachel now, and enjoy it for what it is, and let it build slowly, until they're back to doing-well, maybe what they did on Rachel's date, or maybe even more than that.

Okay, maybe that's jumping the gun a little, for now, but it's been three months since everything with Shelby went down, and Rachel's letters have been full of apologies and self-reflection and yeah, she's ready, to go from really slow to slow with a little more kissing.

It must show on her face, because Santana nudges her and says, "Two days, huh?"

Quinn just sort of smiles and looks out the window, because they all know; she hasn't really shut up about it in the last week, and they're really good friends for letting her ramble on and on about a girl they all... well, they don't hate her anymore, but it's going to take time.

Rachel just has a lot to make up for, but Quinn has made it clear that they need to give her a chance or they can find a new drummer, and not even Santana was willing to push her after that.

"Should be a good show, tonight," she finally just says, and watches as Santana nods.

"Good track listing. Very varied stuff, and pulling Kurt on stage with us will be awesome, I think."

Quinn remembers the look on his face when she and Blaine invited him to join them, over coffee in July, and while he'd demanded some form of artistic veto over what he would sing, swaying him over to Sunny Day Real Estate had been surprisingly easy.

"I'm glad, that we're getting to do this; y'know, before you're off to Berkeley to be a real geek and all that," Quinn says, with a teasing smile.

"Fuck you and fuck off, Fabray. Can't help it that I'm a genius; you should just be happy that when your delinquent ass gets in trouble in the next decade, you'll know a lawyer who loves you," Santana says, pulling into the hospital's visitor parking lot and then killing the engine once they're in a space.

"Are you and Britt talking about this? What you're going to do, next year?" Quinn asks, before Santana can leave the car.

Santana gives her a look, and then a small, almost pitying smile, before she quietly says, "Q, Britt and I have been talking about what's next since the first time we hooked up, okay? We have a plan. I think I'm better off asking you that question."

"It's not the same. Rachel and I haven't been in love for over three years," she says, before glancing out the window. "I mean, we're barely even together now. It's too soon, to start talking about stuff like that, right?"

"Depends. When you think about where you're going to be five years from now-are you with her, or not?"

Quinn doesn't even have to think about it. "With her. Lugging her bedazzled microphone from one sold out theater to the next while she promises it's not getting to her head, honest."

Santana laughs and then gives her a serious look. "Then you should probably start talking, huh?"

"Well, maybe after we make out a little, I mean, it's been ages," Quinn says, blithely, and then laughs when Santana actually looks a little scandalized. "What? Just because I'm not easy doesn't mean I'm dead inside."

"You are like the puritanical sister I never knew I wanted," Santana says, gravely, and then slaps her on the thigh, hard. "Let's go get set up, it's time for us to kick some ass."

They've spent most of the summer messing around with different styles of music they can play, mostly as a way of expanding on their own song-writing, because since those first three songs they've penned, Sam has beeing saying that their sound was okay but could be more mature. It's hard to leap from never having written a song to writing absolute classics, though, and so they're mostly just working on their instruments for now.

Still, it means that they're swapping between glam pop to 90s emo to 90s alt indie to the more recent stuff they've always played. They've toyed with earlier decades, because Sam and Quinn both love depressing 80s music like the Smiths and the Cure, but it doesn't sound current enough and doesn't let her go wild enough on the drums to really throw back that far.

Thinking about music they liked from those days, though, did eventually lead them to the Killers, who are a pretty solid fit; Blaine is just about theatrical enough to pull of Brandon Flowers, and so the first thing they're knocking out for their sizable crowd on this warm summer evening is Jenny Was a Friend of Mine. Santana's guitar playing has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few months, and even though she jokes that it's only because she's been working on her finger strength in more ways than one, Quinn knows she's spending nearly every free moment she has on online lessons and phone calls to Sam about certain techniques, like how to bend.

He'll always be their lead guitarist, but it won't be long now until they can actually start playing really complex counter-rhythms; she can almost taste Pretty Girls Make Graves on the tip of her tongue, and it's really, really exciting.

Their first song of the night already gets them a good, long round of applause, and then Quinn and Puck look at each other until Sam steps up to his microphone and says, "Here's some pretty recent Death Cab; please remember to donate, because our music isn't going to save children on its own."

Blaine grins, and with a nod from Sam, the three of them start playing. Ben Gibbard has a really, really weird voice that none of them can emulate properly, but Sam, when singing in his softer, higher registers, comes closest; and so they've just amplified the rest of the music a little more to make his take on You Are a Tourist sound as organic as possible. It's a nice, soft number that people can enjoy without feeling like they need to be dancing, and Quinn notes with some satisfaction that a bunch of folks in the audience, including her own dad, head over to the proverbial tip jar to sign a pledge during it.

Sam's guitar work in the song is really delicate, and she drums accordingly, until it sort of feels like they're just working on a wave; and right when they're about to lose the crowd, the song ends and Santana says, "All right, none of you will have ever heard this song, but Quinn is obsessed with it-"

"I am not," she protests, but it's kind of true; she'd been using Pandora to find new or old bands with female vocalists and finally lucked out with this early 90s outfit called Letters to Cleo, who were perfect for Santana and just genuinely fun most of the time-but they have this song called Fast Way, which is about not cheating time to try to get ahead, and yeah. Maybe it kind of has been her internalized summer anthem about Rachel, but it's also just a way for Santana to let loose and show what she can really do with her voice.

The song is fast-paced and harmonic, and if she's honest, the words matter less on a night like tonight, where she's in a pleasant breeze, outside, doing what she loves; and when Puck grins at her as they work through the verse, just on bass and guitar, even as Santana works the crowd, she knows he's thinking the same thing:

It's perfect.

She has dry her hands afterwards, and so it's good that they stage a natural semi-intermission after three songs no matter what else they do; Blaine wanders over to her kit with a bottle of water, and then they're joined by Kurt, who looks a little nervous about his debut.

"They'll love you," Blaine and Quinn say in tandem, before he can even ask for the ninetieth time if they're sure they want to let him do this. It's not really an option at this point; set list is set in stone, they've tuned their spare instruments accordingly, and now that she can drum along to most of the things William Goldsmith has done in his career, she'll be damned if Kurt Hummel takes the opportunity to do Disappear away from her.

Kurt still looks like he's going to vomit when he replaces Santana at the front and center, a good five minutes later, but then closes his eyes and nods for Quinn and Sam to start them off, and as soon as the music starts, he visibly relaxes. His countertenor is beautiful for this, because he doesn't have the same pinch in his falsetto that Jeremy Enigk does on the original, and so it sounds even more ethereal; Puck and Sam back him up beautifully, and Blaine just leans against one of the amps and watches with such a look of adoration on her face that-okay, maybe Quinn's a little touched by the sight of it, but she'd never tell anyone.

The audience seems as enthralled as they figured Kurt would have them, and the song ends almost too quickly; except that the guitar hums out low, and then Santana starts playing the finger-picked introduction to Pictures of Success, alongside Puck, until Sam and Quinn come in over on top of them and Kurt, with a quick kiss to Blaine's cheek, heads off the stage again to some lingering smatterings of applause.

It wasn't Quinn's choice to sing at all, tonight; she figures that the people who really seem to enjoy singing, but when Sam had indicated they needed some sort of anthem and this was the one they'd all agreed would be especially fun to play, she'd not really been given a choice in the matter.

"You're the Jenny Lewis of this outfit," Sam had said, as if it was some kind of pledge, and so this one's on her, even if Blaine chimes in in the later stages of the song.

Some people gasp in surprise when she sings I've had it with you, and Mexico can fucking wait in the second verse, but all in all the song is beautiful and slow; sort of like the final thing to play at a high school prom, when the queen and the king circle around each other, but younger than anything they'd actually play there.

It also builds very well, and she has her eyes closed by the time she sings the coda, which is how she completely misses what happens next.

"All right; this is almost it for us, thank you all for your donations," Santana says, and Quinn blinks her eyes back open before grabbing for her cymbals, quieting them quickly, and... "We have one more guest joining on us on stage; I'm guessing you're all from Lima so she won't need any further introduction."

Quinn blinks at Santana, who was-after days of arguing-slated to sing the Muse ballad that they're going to close with, just to get people in a slightly sentimental mood; Holly had noted that that kind of thing did last-minute boost donations and, well, they're here for more than just their own entertainment.

Santana covers the microphone and grins at her and says, "Thank me later."

Then, a hand touches the back of her neck, and Quinn almost leaps off her stool.

"Surprise," Rachel breathes, quietly, before slipping past her and heading towards the front of the stage.

It's ridiculous, how even now, people applaud just for her, and she laughs a little before turning at Quinn and raising her eyebrows. "Count us off?"

She's of half a mind to just plow right through her drums and tackle Rachel off stage, but-they're here for the kids, and so that's probably not an okay move; and so with a deep breath, not taking her eyes off Rachel, she clangs her sticks together.

She's heard a lot of people sing this song in the last few weeks, and none of them sound like Matt Bellamy; not even Kurt, who gave it a whirl just last week when they were still debating if they should include it at all. Sam had been adamant, however, that it was the perfect song for the night-

-and looking at Rachel right now, turning back to towards the crowd and softly singing, far away, this ship has taken me far away, far away from the memories of the people who care if I live or die, she can't help but agree with him.

Quinn breaks out into a cold sweat when Rachel sings I just wanted to hold you in my arms for the first time, not relying on a break to high voice for the right notes at all. She's just singing it loud, and clear, and pure; like she means every word.

The rest of the song is kind of a blur, and the thunderous applause at the end breaks her out of it; it's only then that she notices that Brittany and Santana have been off to the side of the stage, wrapped in each other's arms, probably dancing together throughout the entire song.

Shit, that looks wonderful, she thinks, and turns her head back to Rachel, who is looking right back at her.

Quinn lowers her sticks carefully, even as Sam and Puck start turning off their amplifiers, and then motions for the area behind the little stage set up for them; where they're basically hidden from view.

Rachel nods, calling out a quick and final, "Thank you all for your attention and donations" to the crowd-and it's so professional and trained that Quinn almost laughs-before following her to the back of the stage.

Quinn's already down there, and realizes that Rachel's in heels and a dress and probably shouldn't leap off anything, and so before Rachel can voice any thoughts to accompany her frown, Quinn reaches for Rachel's hips and lifts her down.

Rachel gasps into her ear, but then clings on, her toes not even really touching the ground, and just like that, she's getting what she's wanted desperately for almost two months now: the only girl that matters, right there in her arms.

The hug turns into more of an embrace after a few moments, until Rachel pulls back and says, "I wanted to tell you, but after talking to Santana-"

"You've been talking to Santana?" Quinn asks, because that's a pleasant surprise.

"I've been talking to... a lot of people," Rachel says, a little more quietly, before reaching out and gingerly touching Quinn's face. "God, you're so tanned. I almost didn't-well, no, that's a lie. I would recognize you anywhere."

"You look good, too," Quinn says, glancing down at the white summer dress and Rachel's olive tan and-there's just something freer about her. "How come you're back early?"

"I'm done with bible camp," Rachel says, with a small sigh, before tugging on a strand of Quinn's hair and slowly pushing it behind her ear. Quinn shivers, at the feeling of it, and has to remind herself that words matter; even now, they're important. They need to really be saying the right ones to each other, to make this work. "I want my faith, but I want it on better terms than I've had it. I'm going to try to talk to my mother about maybe attending your church from now on, I think."

"Any progress since your last letter?" Quinn asks, her hands still gripping Rachel's sides, and Rachel looks away and smiles a little sadly.

"It's … not really. We're talking, about everything to do with me, except this one thing. And maybe it will stay that way all year. I don't know. I've tried to talk to her about it, but I don't think she's ready, and..."

Quinn presses a finger to her lips and says, "I understand. And I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Rachel says, her eyes scanning Quinn's face again, and that hand on Quinn's cheek drifts until a thumb is rubbing at the corner of her mouth. "I can't believe how much I've missed you."

"I can," Quinn says, and then clears her throat. "I'm... okay. You know how we've been taking it slow, and have been getting to know each other and... all of that?"

Rachel nods, a little warily, and Quinn can't help but break into a wide smile.

"Yeah, I think we've been you know, super slow long enough now. I'd really-are you... I mean, I know there are people around but we're pretty shielded here and-mmmphhh."

This isn't like any other kiss they've shared; it's one that Rachel starts, but it's one that slowly changes until no one is really leading it at all, and it's like a hello and welcome back all at once. With one small suck to Quinn's lower lip, Rachel pulls back after what must've been minutes, and then smiles a little wryly.

"I wasn't entirely honest about... leaving bible camp early."

Quinn tries not to react, but the frown is automatic, as is the slight tensing. "What did you do?"

Rachel sort of sighs and smiles at the same time. "Don't worry, I didn't... it wasn't another Rachel Berry scheme. But... I might've gotten kicked out for, um, standing up in the middle of a sermon and yelling at the priest that love of all shapes and sizes is beautiful and that he should really work on being less judgmental or God might not let him into heaven."

Quinn blinks at her, and then feels her lips twitch at the incredibly embarrassed blush on Rachel's cheeks, and then finally starts laughing. "You did not."

Rachel just bites her lip and looks down and say, "I couldn't help it, okay? I'd just read that letter about how your dream vacation involves lounging around naked in a cabin by a lake of some kind and-"

"I'm pretty sure I didn't say naked," Quinn says, raising her eyebrow.

"Okay, maybe that was my amendment to make your scenario even more appealing," Rachel concedes, rolling her eyes.

"I accept the terms of your improvement, in due course," Quinn says, as seriously as she can, and then Rachel chuckles a little and presses another kiss to her lips.

"I really love you, you know," she then says, before dropping her eyes again. "I know I've screwed things up horribly, but I've also been writing to Father Kevin, and he's been helping me realize that I … I sometimes do these things just because even though they're awful, at least I'm in-"

"Control of them," Quinn says, with a small, wry smile. "Yeah. I know what that's like."

"I'm working on it," Rachel says, tugging on the collar of Quinn's shirt subconsciously, and looking at her with such naked regret that Quinn closes her eyes and pulls her into another kiss.

"You can work on it as long as you have to," she finally says, pulling away with a wet pop. "I'm not going anywhere."

Rachel hugs her tightly again, and Quinn closes her eyes and lets herself breathe in home, for the first time in months.

It smells better than ever.

Two days later, they go for coffee with Kurt and Blaine.

Blaine and Rachel are a match made in heaven, and Quinn just sort of stares at Kurt with a helpless look on her face as they ramble on and on about fantastic classical male romances, and then break out into Don't You Want Me in the middle of the Lima Bean.

It would be mortifying, if not for the fact that Kurt's facial expression is so horrified that Quinn starts laughing after the first chorus and doesn't stop until they're done.

Rachel and Blaine look like Stepford Twins when they get up off the table and bow to their reluctantly clapping audience afterwards, and Kurt hisses, "We're never coming here again" at her before also politely clapping and then asking Blaine to get him another mocha.

Quinn herself loses any and all ability to be mortified when Rachel turns to her, beaming, and says, "Thank you for setting this up. Blaine is delightful and-"

"Hey, anytime," Quinn says, even as Kurt makes a dramatic whipping noise across the table.

He might be right, but this? Having coffee in a place half their school goes to, together?

It's never been an option before. Now, she sees Artie and his mother three tables down, and just sticks up a hand at him.

He gives her two thumbs up, and she chuckles before putting a hand on Rachel's thigh; just for a moment, because you never know when a VA sponsor happens to be in town, but still.

That's a moment she gets to keep forever, now, and that totally makes it worth it.

Santana shows up on Friday with Brittany and a bag full of "gifts".

"What the hell is this?" Quinn asks, holding up a sheet of plastic.

"A dental dam," Brittany says, fishing it out of her hands. "Here's what you do with it. Okay, so-say Santana is Rachel, and-"

"Oh my God, please stop," Quinn says, covering her face with her hands.

Santana starts laughing. "What, are you not into safe sex?"

"We're essentially both virgins, what could possibly not be safe? Also, we're not having sex," Quinn complains, and then glares at them both. "And I'm not talking to you about this."

Brittany is quiet for a moment and then reaches for one of Quinn's hands, examining it from all sides, before looking at Santana with a sigh. "I don't think she needs our help, San. Look at how long her fingers are; I don't think she could miss Rachel's g-spot if she tried."

"Out. Both of you, out, right now," Quinn snaps, even as Santana starts laughing hysterically.

"But-Rachel wanted to know these things, so I thought it would only be fair if I told you as well," Brittany says, sounding a little concerned, before leveling Quinn with a serious look. "I mean, don't you want to be as good as she is?"

"Rachel asked-" Quinn says, her voice locking completely, and to complete her thought she just fishes up the discarded, unused dental dam again. "She … this?"

"No, silly; she knew about the safe stuff. That dam's hers. I just borrowed it to talk to you."

Quinn feels her mouth drop open slightly and Santana, still laughing, just wraps her arms around Brittany and says, "We should probably go; I mean, if this is how she responds to protection, God knows what she's going to do when she sees the strap-on."

"The what?" Quinn manages, and just about manages to glare at an evilly-smirking Santana, who then pats Brittany on the ass and says, "Later, Q. Call us if you have questions about anything else in that bag."

"Yeah, I won't," Quinn mumbles, and waits for them to leave before picking up her phone and calling Rachel.

"Hi."

"Hi back. So. Um. I think we just got gifted a bunch of sex toys, but I'm afraid to look," Quinn says, lifting a corner of the bag and then lowering it again before she can actually see anything. "Can you maybe-"

"I'll be right there," Rachel says, hanging up immediately; no more than ten minutes later, there's a knock at her door, and Rachel confidently walks into the room and opens the bag Quinn is pointing at.

Then, she starts laughing, and finally produces a teddy bear.

call us when you're ready for the adult stuff, loser, Santana's jagged handwriting says on the note pinned to the teddy's stomach.

"I hate her," Quinn sulks, falling onto her bed.

"I know you do, baby, but they're only teasing you because they-hey, is this my dental dam?" Rachel asks, before brightly holding it up between them. "Oh, excellent. I didn't quite know how to raise sexual safety with you when, well, we're not anywhere near ready to go that far, but then it's never too early to be prepared, so..."

Quinn snorts laughter and pulls Rachel down on top of her. "I love you."

The dental dam falls to the side of the bed forgotten, because no, they don't need it yet; but if the way Rachel's hips press up against hers tightly after half an hour of making out, she knows that there will come a point in time when she better be sure what the hell to do with a dental dam.

The thing sounds kind of unpleasant, and so she stops thinking about it altogether when Rachel sits up again, straddling her hips, and grips the edges of her tank-top. "I'm not trying to rush us into anything, but-Quinn, I've missed you, and things are better, aren't they?"

"Yeah, things are great," Quinn says, and almost instantly, Rachel whips off her tank-top.

Quinn blinks twice, and then gives up; she lets her eyes track down from Rachel's collarbones, to her breasts, and finally that lightly rounded stomach that she's been obsessed with touching for almost nine months now, give or take a few.

The thing is, things are great, and that's only about five percent hormones talking right now; the rest of it is a box full of letters with every hope, fear, and regret Rachel has ever had penned out to her, and if that's not enough to bring them close enough for certainty...

When Rachel falls apart fifteen minutes later, once again soaking Quinn's fingers through a pair of panties that Quinn is dying to get a glimpse of-not that she needs it, she's wet and shaky just thinking about them-it's with Quinn's forehead pressed against her chest, right next to her heart, still softly sucking on one of her nipples.

"The things you do to me," Rachel exhales, nudging Quinn's head away, still trembling slightly.

"If you can't find the words, perhaps you can demonstrate by example," Quinn says, pressing a kiss to Rachel's sternum, and then smiling up at her. "You know; on me, for instance."

Rachel chuckles weakly, and her eyes start to flutter closed a little, and just like that, Quinn's hormones take a back seat again; all that's left is this overwhelming need to be close to Rachel, and she gives into it.

That space on her shoulder has been empty for too long, now, but with its rightful inhabitant back in place, Quinn feels like there's not a thing in the world she can't conquer right now.

It's that feeling that has her pulling up outside of Rachel's house a few days later, on their last weekend before school starts again. The same feeling propels her out of her car, and onto the front steps to Rachel's house, and before her nerves can get the better of her, she presses down on the doorbell.

Shelby opens, after a few moments, and looks at her with an unreadable expression.

"Hi, Mrs. Corcoran. I'm here to collect Rachel," she says, trying not to shift under Shelby's stare. "If that's... okay. We're, um, … well, I'll have her back by dinner time, and if traffic is terrible on the way back I'll be sure she lets you know."

Shelby smiles faintly after a moment. "I see you've spent the summer learning some manners."

Quinn bites back a bitchy retort and then just clears her throat and says, "I've always had those, but this is more about... okay, I don't think we'll ever get along; I know you won't ever like me, because I'm not what you want for Rachel, but I think we can at least try to be civil. I don't like her being miserable because of us; do you?"

At Shelby's deep sigh, Quinn looks up at her again and suddenly notices how exhausted the woman in front of her looks. There's not much left of the shark she met at the start of the school year, ready to conquer and devour; instead, she just looks older than she ever has, and like she hasn't had a good night of sleep since-

Well, Quinn doesn't need to guess. She can put an exact date on when Shelby Corcoran started suffering from insomnia, and when no response is forthcoming, she glances away and says, "I can wait in the car, if you'll just-"

"Quinn," Shelby says, before she can walk away, and she turns hesitantly. "Anyone … involved with my daughter normally comes over for dinner so I can gauge their intentions and find out... what they stand for."

It's probably the most artificial invitation of all time, given that Jesse most certainly did not have to come over for dinner, and there hasn't been anyone else to invite over, and-some part of her wants to laugh and say, "I'd rather eat glass", but...

Rachel bounds down the stairs behind her mother, freezing when she sees Quinn in the front door, and Quinn takes a deep breath and reaches for Shelby's hand. "It'd be my pleasure, Mrs. Corcoran. If you could let Rachel know what a good time would be, I will be there."

Shelby sort of scoffs, but shakes the hand she's offered, and then steps aside to let Rachel pass.

Rachel looks at Quinn with a small smile and then turns to her mother, putting a hand on her arm for a moment. "This doesn't mean that I don't-"

"I know," Shelby says, stiffly, but then she sort of grimaces and pulls Rachel into a hug, and Quinn turns away from them just to give them a moment, because-maybe she's an idiot, but she's hopeful that one day, they'll get past this, and they'll have a real relationship that isn't just built on Rachel's New York-oriented aspirations.

The door closes behind Shelby after a minute or so, and then Rachel's hand is on the small of Quinn's back, pressing down gently.

"Thank you for trying," she says, quietly.

"Not just doing it for you, babe," Quinn says, pressing a kiss to Rachel's forehead. "You ready for this?"

Rachel laughs shakily. "Not even a little. You?"

"No," Quinn says, also smiling, before reaching for Rachel's free hand and pulling on it gently. "But I think it's time anyway. Right?"

The interstate towards Cleveland is damn near empty on a Sunday afternoon, and they're maing amazing time; but even so, Quinn can tell that she's getting more and more nervous and that it's rubbing off on Rachel, who is now compulsively pulling on the hem of her dress.

It's time to at least try to distract each other, and so Quinn nods at the dashboard, about ten minutes until her phone says they're ready to hit up the city proper. "There's a CD on the top shelf-can you-"

Without letting go of Quinn's hand, Rachel pops the glove box and pulls out a CD that's just entitled Sam and Quinn's Summer Experiment.

"Experimenting with a boy? Why, Quinn Fabray," Rachel murmurs, and Quinn chuckles before saying, "Go on, put it in."

"What is this?" Rachel asks, when the CD is loading, and Quinn watches as it cues the first track before switching to the third one.

"We've been working on … different styles, all summer, and I've been working on making my drumming more... mathematical, and crisp, I guess; this isn't the kind of music that Untitled Band will ever play, but Sam likes Bloc Party as much as I do, and so we just sort of ended up doing this with the two of us."

Rachel looks intrigued, and Quinn smiles before squeezing her hand.

"Just listen."

They'd spent hours on mixing together all the instruments needed to do This Modern Love justice, and had worked late into the night to really make sure that all the riffs gelled together well, before finally arriving-with some help from Artie-at the end product, which...

Well, it might be the best thing she's done with her kit, to date, because nothing else's she's really ever done has put the feeling of being in love down on paper quite in this way.

She and Sam had overlapped their vocals, and while she'll never be overly fond of her own voice, she can see what it's doing to Rachel, whose fingers are tightening on her all the while, until the song gently peters out with just Sam's guitar work and Quinn's voice, softly singing them out on the coda.

"Kind of how I feel about you," Quinn says, when the car falls silent afterwards.

"Kind how I feel about you, too," Rachel finally says, and pulls her knees up on the seat, until she can lean her head on Quinn's shoulder and press a kiss against her neck. "Always remember that, please."

Quinn smiles and kisses Rachel's forehead, and then takes a deep breath when the exit sign looms on their right.

And yeah, she'll never be ready for this, but suddenly she feels like she can handle meeting some of the most important people she'll ever have in her life, as long as Rachel is with her to do it-

-and when Rachel sucks in an equally deep breath and straightens, still holding onto her hand tightly, she knows it goes both ways.

...

Do you want to come over and kill some time?
Do you want to come over and kill some time?
Do you want to come over and kill some time?

Throw your arms around me.