Monday was a rude awakening for Rachel. She couldn't stay in Glee club anymore, not with the way she was being treated!
She could handle not being liked, but to have her talent so disrespected . . . No, it wasn't acceptable.
So she left, knowing that having the lead role in the school musical would be much more rewarding and ultimately better for her future plans.
She hardly thought of Quinn all day because of the uproar in her mind, and when she did think of her she could only imagine that Quinn would be secretly thankful not be faced with her presence every afternoon.
Quinn spent Monday purposely avoiding Berry; it was easier than she expected it to be.
She'd seen her at her locker before lunch, but Rachel hadn't even looked up as she walked past. She'd seen her again in Biology, but their desks might as well have been miles apart and the other girl never once tried to make eye-contact.
She was starting to feel like she'd done something wrong.
At least she'd be able to force some interaction with her in Glee club; even if she had to do it under the guise of antagonizing her.
That proved fruitless too because Rachel had left. Rachel had quit Glee! Where was she when that decision had been made?
Quinn heard something about a school musical and how Berry's talents hadn't been appreciated enough but she wasn't really listening. She knew Rachel had quit over her, because of what had happened Friday night, and she was torn between blaming herself and being mad at Rachel for over-reacting. Hadn't she said she was okay about the kiss? Or had Rachel remembered the truth and was angry at Quinn for lying?
Either way, by the end of the session she was pissed, both at Rachel and herself.
Tuesday morning, Berry wasn't in American Literature.
Quinn made several huffy noises and glared at the empty chair next to her too many times to be considered normal, convinced now that the girl was totally avoiding her.
Well, good! Berry should avoid her! Because Quinn hated her and was definitely going to kick her ass the next time they crossed paths – you know, if that ever happened again.
She only found out, in fourth period from Tina, that Rachel had been at a Career's Advisor meeting first period and therefore excused from the lesson.
That didn't mean she wasn't still trying to avoid her though!
"Can I talk to you?"
Surprised, Quinn looked up at her boyfriend wondering why he sounded nervous. "Of course."
Finn shuffled awkwardly from foot to foot, waiting beside her locker until she was done.
When she was he sort of herded her to the nearest alcove and sat down, gesturing for her to do the same.
She did. "What's up?"
"I talked to Miss Pillsbury today."
"Well, she didn't say it, exactly, but she kind of implied that with the baby and all, I need to get a scholarship."
"You told her I'm pregnant?" Quinn snapped, looking around, expecting to see her poking her ginger head through the door.
"No! I haven't told anybody! She just seemed to know, you know? Anyway, she had a point. If I'm going to support us I need to go to college to get a decent job, and as much as I'd like to get a football scholarship, our team sucks! Miss Pillsbury said I might be able to get a music scholarship though," he shrugged endearingly. "If New Directions does okay at Regionals."
"Okay," she said slowly. "So we practice more. We make sure we win."
He looked at his feet. "We can't win without Rachel."
That was true.
"You know that," he added.
"Yeah, well Stubbles left. There's nothing we can do about it."
"What if there is?"
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Like what?"
"Look. Don't be mad, okay? But she likes me, and . . . and I feel bad even suggesting this, but maybe, I don't know, I can, like, use that."
"To get Rachel to join Glee again."
Quinn's stomach was sinking. "What exactly are you suggesting?"
"I thought maybe . . . I could, like, take her out and, I don't know, talk her into coming back."
"You want to ask her out and lead her on, just so she'll come back to Glee?"
"I wouldn't, like, kiss her or anything," Finn said quickly. "Just . . ."
"Show her a good time?" Quinn asked sarcastically.
"It would be for us, for the baby!" he insisted.
"But . . . we need Rachel to win."
Quinn nodded. "Fine. But you are not going on a date with her! I'll find a way to get her back in Glee club."
She licked her lips, mind already racing with possibilities. "Yeah. Leave it to me."
Rachel watched Jacob Ben Israel and Mr. Ryerson walk out and then looked down at her breasts. Could she really show her bra to Jacob just to avoid a bad review on his terrible website? She didn't think so, but . . .
"Are you checking yourself out?"
Startled, she looked up to see Quinn standing just inside the door, smirking at her. "No, I was just . . . Can I help you with something?"
Quinn frowned at her disinterested tone but stepped deeper into the room. "I was just wondering how the musical was going?"
"It's going very well thank you. It's nice to be somewhere where I'm finally appreciated for once."
"You were appreciated in Glee club."
"No. I wasn't. Nobody even likes me."
"There's a difference between being liked and being appreciated. Everyone misses your amazing talent."
Rachel smiled at the surprising source of the compliment as much as the compliment itself, but it only lasted a second before she remembered how upset she was with the Glee club in general.
"Then they should have thought about that before they ostracized me. I'm much happier being a solo artist. Being part of an ensemble was just slowing me down."
Rachel nodded and then took a seat at the piano, putting her back to Quinn. She couldn't look at her any more, it was too hard to keep the twin cartoon love hearts from her eyes after a weekend spent obsessing about her.
"Don't you think you're being a little selfish though?"
She shook her head. "No. I think Mr. Schuester was being selfish by giving my solo to Tina. That's why I left."
"I wasn't even there when you made your decision."
Rachel looked down at the black and white keys, hesitating because she didn't know how to take that comment.
"Well, you were never a deciding factor," she said softly.
"Ouch." Rachel tensed when Quinn sat on the piano bench beside her. It wasn't really big enough for two. "I want you to change your mind."
"I. . . I'm invested in the musical now."
"After the musical then."
"I don't know. I don't think so."
"How else are we going to spend time together, Rachel?"
Her eyes snapped to Quinn's. "I wasn't aware we'd ever spent that much time conversing in Glee before. In fact you usually use any interaction we do have to make fun of me in front of your friends."
Quinn ducked her head, "Fine, you're right." Their eyes met again. "Maybe it could be different though, maybe."
"I'm sorry, Quinn, I would like to be your friend, but I'm not betting my future on whether or not you can change."
"I don't need to change," Quinn growled, and Rachel was suddenly very aware their faces were only inches from each other and she'd apparently just poked the wolf with a sharp stick for real this time. "I'm offering an olive branch here, Berry. If you don't want it . . ."
"I do! I just . . ." Rachel shook her head, not knowing how to articulate her feelings.
Quinn suddenly changed the subject. "Do you like bowling?"
"I-I've never been."
"It'll do you good. Me, Santana and Brittany always go bowling before a big Cheer competition. It helps us to loosen up and focus. I think it would really help you too – you're so stressed with everything right now. So do you want to go?"
She grimaced, "With Santana and Brittany?"
"No, just the two of us. We can talk about the musical. I'll even help you practice your lines."
Rachel smiled uncertainly. "There is a lot of dialogue."
"That's settled then. I'll pick you up at seven. It's a date . . . well, not a date . . ."
Was Quinn giving her a flirtatious smile? Rachel really didn't know at this point and before she could question it Mr. Schue was walking into the room with a forty-something blonde in tow.
Rachel nodded politely at all three of them before leaving the room as quickly as possible.
She was going bowling with Quinn Fabray tonight!
How, in Barbra's name, had that happened?
Quinn looked at her fifth outfit in the mirror.
She was only going bowling, choosing what to wear really shouldn't be this hard.
Her cell phone rang and she absently picked it up from the bed and answered it without looking at the screen.
"Hey, what are you doing tonight? Got a free house 'til twelve. Britt's coming over. Wanna go halves on some wine coolers?"
She wanted to do nothing more than forget about going out with Berry and spend the evening with her friends. Even if she couldn't drink, she could pretend to. Maybe she could even tell them the truth. They were her best friends after all.
"Sorry, San. I have plans. Next time though."
"What plans? Come on, Q, blow off Finn for once. We never hang out anymore."
"Not with Finn. I, uh, it's a thing with my parents. A church thing. My parents told Pastor Williams I'd sing on Sunday and they want me to run through it with them tonight."
It was a lie, but it had been a truth in the past so Santana bought it easily enough.
"Damn, you're boring. This weekend though, we're doing something, bitch, whether you like it or not."
"Count me in." Quinn glanced at her clock. She had to pick Berry up in fifteen minutes. "I really have to go though."
"Fine. Later." Santana hung up without waiting for a reply.
Quinn put her phone in her bag and checked her reflection, again, before finally leaving her room.
Rachel was completely and utterly confused and had been ever since she'd left the Choir room that afternoon.
Quinn had asked her out. She had definitely asked her out. But why? It had the flavor of a classic Cheerios prank – build her up high with the promise of acceptance and friendship before knocking her back down as fully and humiliatingly as possible – but the timing was strange. Why would Quinn pull such a stunt now when their animosity was at an all time low?
If it wasn't a prank – and she really wasn't ruling that out – then what other reason was there? It wasn't like they were friends. Okay, they'd had a few shared moments recently and Friday night had been . . . well, it was still pretty hazy but according to the letter Quinn had enjoyed her company, but enough to ask her to go bowling?
As Rachel sat in her bedroom, having already eaten and showered, she tried to distract herself with homework so that she that didn't bounce around the room in excitement and/or fret constantly.
Maybe Quinn just needed someone to talk to. After all, she was the only person besides Finn, and Puck, who knew about the baby and perhaps Quinn just wanted to discuss her situation with another girl. That was perfectly understandable and a role – one of many – Rachel felt she had been born to play.
Abandoning her Math homework, she turned to her computer instead. She didn't know the first thing about pregnancy and it was too late to take a trip to the Planned Parenthood center to interview any of the staff there, but Google would do in a pinch.
By the time six-thirty came around and it was time to get dressed, she had a number of print outs neatly fastened into a pale yellow folder.
Now, what did one wear to go bowling?
More importantly, what did one wear to go bowling with Quinn Fabray?
Quinn was ridiculously nervous as she drove – much slower than usual – to the Berry residence. She hadn't been this nervous before her first date with Finn! Not that this was a date, no way, but she had to make it look like one if she was going to achieve her goal.
She needed to send Berry's crush into overdrive if she was going to override the girl's stubbornness about returning to Glee club and get her to do what she wanted.
Passing a gas station, she thought about buying some flowers. Finn hadn't bought her any on their first date – or any other time as far as she could remember – but it was something she would have appreciated, and Berry was a girl so surely she would too.
Oh, God, she was going on a date with a girl! And the very idea of turning up with flowers made her palms sweat against the steering wheel, so she didn't stop.
Her mind was warring right now, battling over the need to make this as much like a date as possible and the fear of making it too much like one. She was okay with the idea of leading Berry on; it was just something she had to do, and better her than Finn. She wasn't so okay with the tiny little voice in her head that was jumping up and down in excitement over it. She'd been trying to quash that voice all afternoon, but the closer the 'date' came the louder it squealed. It was unsettling and she didn't like it in the least.
She didn't like Berry like that! She knew she didn't. She couldn't. She really didn't want to. She didn't know why on earth she might.
Tonight was a means to an end, that was all. She was playing to her strengths to get what she wanted and right now one of her strengths just happened to be an ability to make Berry swoon. Not that the girl had actually swooned or anything, but she was definitely in the pre-swoon stage.
Quinn most definitely was not. She didn't swoon for girls, especially not girls like Rachel-freaking-Berry. As long as she could remember that all night, this 'date' would go smoothly and Finn would get his scholarship. Hell, maybe even she'd get a scholarship out of it.
Despite forgoing the flowers, her hands were still sweating when she pulled into the Berry driveway.
Rachel had been hovering by the front door anxiously and as soon as she heard a car slow down in the road she pressed her eye to the peep hole.
She hadn't wanted to be seen waiting eagerly by any of the windows in case this was a prank and Quinn, Santana and Brittany were all sitting across the road laughing at her with a camera ready to catch her vulnerable excitement.
Seeing a red blur pull into her drive – Quinn's car – she stepped back to straighten her skirt and then, with a deep breath to calm her nerves – it didn't work – she opened the door and stepped out.
Quinn was already halfway up the walk when she looked up and apparently the sight of Rachel right in front of her was startling.
"Oh, I was going to knock."
"I saw you coming."
Quinn smiled, but it looked forced. It added another point in the 'prank' column.
"I thought your parents might want to say hello or something before we left."
Rachel panicked at the idea of her Dads meeting Quinn. They were polite people but this was Quinn Fabray. "Why?"
Quinn seemed to suddenly share her panic. "Oh, no reason, I just thought . . . So are you ready?"
"Yes." The panic heightened as she wondered what Quinn could mean. After all, she was halfway to her car, why wouldn't she be ready? "I mean, I think I am. Do I look okay? I wasn't sure what people wore to go bowling. I don't want to embarrass you."
Quinn gave her short blue skirt and white patterned T-shirt a once over. "You look fine. Great even." With a half smile she returned the question. "Do I look okay?"
This was possibly the first time she'd seen Quinn out of her Cheerios uniform since middle school – Glee performances aside – and she certainly looked okay. Dressed in pale blue jeans and a vibrant coral t-shirt, her blonde hair loose around her shoulders for once, she looked . . . what was the correct term for a hot cheerleader not in their cheerleading uniform? Oh yeah, just . . . hot!
"You look very nice."
"Thanks." Quinn's smile looked slightly more natural now.
At the car Quinn opened the passenger door for her, waited until she was seated and then closed it gently. By the time she'd slipped into the drivers' seat Rachel's questioning eyebrows had already gone back down.
Rachel watched her as Quinn twisted in her seat to pull back out on to the road, wondering whether or not to voice her concerns. In the end, as always, she did.
"I don't want to sound discourteous or anything, but . . . I really need to know."
Quinn gave her a glance before setting her eyes back on the road. "What?"
"Do they have slushies at the bowling alley?"
"Yeah, I think so. Why?"
"I'm just wondering how many might end up on my head tonight."
"Why would any end up on your head?"
"Quinn, I'm not stupid. You've already let slip that this is a favorite rendezvous point of yours and Santana's and Brittany's. Do you really expect me to not assume I am being lured there for some nefarious reason?"
Quinn's laugh sounded hurt but she kept her gaze on the road so Rachel couldn't tell whether it reached her eyes.
"I'm not luring you there to do anything other than bowl and have fun."
Did Quinn's hands just tighten on the steering wheel?
"Okay. I trust you."
They definitely tightened that time.
"I just wanted to spend some time with you, Rachel, but if you're scared I can turn around and take you home."
"No," she said, too quickly. "I want to spend time with you too."
Quinn nodded and relaxed her grip on the wheel.
So this was going well. Quinn subtly rolled her eyes as she drove towards Lima's only bowling alley.
She'd been counting on Berry's usually unstoppable chatter to counter the weirdness she was feeling, but the girl was being uncharacteristically silent. It was making her even more on edge and she didn't understand it. She was normally so confident on dates and, true, she wasn't normally the one initiating them but she hadn't expected her composure to fall apart completely.
"So, uh, did you bring your script? We could run some of the lines."
"While you're driving? That doesn't sound very safe."
Quinn chuckled, "No, I meant when we got there."
"I thought we were going bowling."
"Oh. I did actually. I carry it everywhere at the moment, just in case I get a minute to practice. There really is a lot of dialogue and I want to be ready when we start full rehearsals."
Quinn slowed at the intersection behind a line of cars; signalled to turn left and gave Rachel her full attention for as long as she could. "When's that?"
"Thursday after school, I think."
"Well, I'll help tonight. In-between bowling."
"Thank you, Quinn. Is bowling hard?"
She laughed, "No, Berry, you just pick up the ball and roll it. Even you can do it."
"Are you any good? I don't want to embarrass myself in front of a professional."
Quinn shrugged modestly. "I'm okay. Brittany's the real pro though. She gets a strike eleven times out of ten. Santana and I don't even count her score anymore, we just compete between ourselves."
"The three of you have never struck me as the type to frequent bowling alleys."
"We don't much anymore. Just before competitions, really. Fall semester of freshman year we were here every other night."
Quinn pulled into the large parking lot only to find there were no available spaces near the bowling alley. She drove slowly up one aisle, rounded the bend and came back the other way; both she and Rachel looking out for a gap between cars.
"Ooh, there!" Quinn put her foot down a little as Rachel pointed but it turned out to not be a space but a ridiculously compact hybrid car parked between two sensibly sized Fords. "Sorry, false alarm. So why did you stop?"
She was forced to park all the way at the far end near the closed outlet mall and the Golden Duck Chinese take out in the end. She'd never realized Lima had such a thriving Tuesday night night-life before.
"None of us had the status we do now back then. Bowling's fun, but it doesn't really fit with the Cheerios reputation, you know? Unless you're just here to hang off your boyfriend's arm and talk about how ugly the shoes are and not eat the bowl of Nachos you ordered even though all that disgusting calorie infested cheese smells freaking delicious and . . ." As she turned off the ignition and pulled her keys free she knew by the look on Rachel's face that she'd said more than she meant to. "I guess I just miss going bowling to actually bowl."
The girl nodded, looking surprised and happy to be confided in, even with something as small and stupid as this.
"Anyway," Quinn opened her door. "Let's see if your natural talents extend to rolling a ball at a set of pins."
Quinn had been downplaying her skills. She knocked down eight of the white pins with her first ball and had then taken out the remaining two with her second.
Rachel looked nervously at the bright pink ball Quinn was holding out to her. "I don't know if I can."
"Of course you can. Just stick your fingers in the holes . . ." Her nose wrinkled at that idea. ". . . and throw the ball."
"Is it hygienic?"
"Not really, but you can wash your hands before we eat."
"Okay." Rachel gingerly stuck her fingers and thumb in the provided holes and took the ball from her. It was heavier than she expected. "Wait, we're eating?"
"They have really good pizza here. Now concentrate." Quinn gestured her towards the lane.
Rachel stepped up to the line and gave it her best shot. The ball thumped heavily to the floor before rolling straight into the gutter.
"Okay, when I said 'throw it' I didn't mean literally."
"It's harder than you make it look!"
"It's really not. Here." Quinn held out another pink ball and waited for her to take it. "Let me show you."
Quinn turned her to face the lane and then slid smoothly up behind her. As one hand curled around her left hip, Rachel's heart beat a little faster. Quinn was pressed against her back. Not terribly firmly or anything, it wasn't as if she could feel Quinn's breasts smooshed against her but the very fact that Quinn's breasts were on her mind proved that they were also on her back – more so as the cheerleader leaned to take her right wrist and hold it steady in her hand.
"Think of it like dancing. Step, step, step . . ." Quinn was speaking almost directly into her ear and Rachel couldn't help the shiver that ran through her as she was propelled slowly forwards. "Now curtsey." Quinn bent with her, pulling her right arm back as she did before pushing it forwards and releasing her wrist. "And just let go."
Rachel sent the ball flying down the lane. It traveled at an angle but . . . She knocked down two pins!
"Yes!" She pumped an arm in the air, finding the closeness of Quinn and her bowling triumph combined totally exhilarating.
Behind her, Quinn laughed and moved away. "See, you're a natural."
Rachel spun around excitedly. "Can I have another go?"
"No, it's my turn." She pouted and Quinn rolled her eyes. "Not gonna work on me, Berry. I like bowling even more than I like you."
Rachel's eyes went wide, immediately followed by Quinn's as she realized what had slipped out of her mouth. She didn't make a thing out of it though, just selected a purple ball and quickly bowled it down the lane. Too quickly. It hit the gutter inches shy of knocking down a pin.
Rachel smiled impishly. "Do you need me to show you how to do it?"
She heard a noise almost like a growl come from the back of Quinn's throat as she picked up another purple ball. Her bowl was just as fast but far more controlled and the sound of all ten pins crashing down was loud.
"What do you think?"
Rachel just smiled.
Quinn waited until their pizza was set down in front of them before moving onto phase two of making Berry swoon. Well, it was phase three now, she supposed, considering phase two had accidentally become rub up against Berry under the pretense of teaching her how to roll a damn ball down a lane.
Shaking her head, she could only hope she wasn't blushing as hard as she felt she was at her method of tutelage. Pastor Marnce certainly hadn't taught her that way on her first Sunday school bowling trip. It had been a very date-like thing to do though, so she could at least claim points for that even if her 'plan' had been the furthest thing from her mind at the time.
"So get the script out."
Rachel smiled. "I don't think I want to run lines tonight."
"Oh." Did she sound disappointed?
If she did it was only because she'd been looking forward to Rachel needing her for something for a change. It would balance them out a little. Also there was the worry that now they weren't actively engaged in bowling the awkwardness would come back. And awkwardness wouldn't help her goal.
"I just meant I'd rather talk, if that's okay," Rachel sounded nervous.
"Sure." Quinn shrugged. "Did you want to talk about bowling, because I really only have two words to say about that – you suck!"
Rachel laughed. "I do not! I'm only fifty points behind you."
"Yeah . . . that's a lot."
"Not for a beginner. But I had another topic of conversation in mind anyway."
Quinn nodded slowly, "Okay. What?"
"Well, it stemmed from me wondering why you asked me out tonight. I now believe you were sincere in telling me it wasn't a prank but I'm still confused as to why."
"I can't just ask you out . . . as friends?"
She hadn't meant to add that last part.
"Of course you can, but I find it a little unusual, seeing as you're the one who keeps insisting we can't be friends. So I assume there is an ulterior motive."
"This isn't an actual date, Rachel." Why was she admitting that? "I'm sorry if it feels like I'm leading you on."
"I never for a second thought it was, Quinn." Rachel sounded like she was telling the truth, and why did that hurt? "In fact I don't know why you're so insistent on assuming that I even want a date with you."
Quinn's lips curled into a smirk. "Fine. I mean, I'm the one who has perfect clarity about last Friday night, but fine, if you insist."
Rachel blushed and looked panicked for a second but shook it off.
"I was actually going to ask about your . . . situation."
"What do you mean, my 'situation'?" Quinn's eyes darted around nervously, because she knew exactly what situation Rachel was referring to and on what planet was Rachel under the illusion that it was okay to talk about it – in public no less!
"Well, I know, obviously, but we haven't talked about it. I thought you might want to."
"Are you going to keep it?"
Quinn's eyes darted around again. "Shut up."
Rachel ignored her again. "You can't be that far along yet so abortion is still an option, if you wanted . . ."
"Don't even say that word!" Quinn hissed, feeling coldness in the pit of her stomach. "It's a sin!"
"No it isn't. And at our age it's a perfectly sensible option if you feel . . ."
"No! I can't do that!"
In a purely objective way she was pro-choice. Her religion notwithstanding, there was some circumstances where . . . that . . . obviously was a sensible option but hers wasn't one of them. She'd made a grave error in judgement and it was something she had to live with and the innocent baby inside her shouldn't be . . . dismissed . . . just because she was a reckless idiot.
"Okay." Rachel picked up a slice of pizza. "So you're keeping it?"
"I don't know. I mean, yes, I'm not going to get rid of it, but I . . . don't know about after yet. My options are kind of limited."
That was an understatement. She could keep it and remain stuck here, a Lima loser forever, or she could take Mrs. Schuester up on her offer, a woman she was half sure was completely loco.
Rachel nodded, and her voice was sympathetic as she said, "You must be scared. I know I would be."
Quinn nodded and picked up her own slice. "I've never done anything wrong before. At least, not wrong like this."
"You didn't do anything wrong. You just had some bad luck."
While Rachel delicately picked the pepperoni off of her slice – Quinn hadn't actually asked her what she wanted, just ordered her own favorite, maybe she wasn't a better date than Finn – she merely held hers in her hand, staring at it like a foreign object she didn't know what to do with.
"Have you been to see a doctor yet?"
Quinn nodded, still looking at her slice. "I drove out to the free clinic to get it confirmed. I have my first ultrasound in a few weeks."
She looked up. "Really?"
"Yes. Correct prenatal care is essential for a healthy mother and baby."
She looked away. "I guess."
"So you're thinking about adoption?"
"My dads discussed adoption."
Quinn looked back at her, surprised. "They weren't going to keep you?"
Rachel laughed, "No, I mean before they found a surrogate. They actually looked into adoption first. There are so many children in the world that need a good home already . . . but as I'm sure you can imagine being two gay men didn't make that process very easy – especially seventeen years ago. That's why they went with surrogacy in the end."
"If there are so many babies already needing homes, how's mine going to fare?" She hated that her voice caught at least twice in the sentence.
Rachel reached over and gently covered her hand. "Your baby is going to do just fine. Better than fine. Wherever it ends up it's going to have the best life. How could it not? It's the child of Quinn Fabray and Finn Hudson, it's going to be perfect," she added with a soft smile.
A tear rolled down Quinn's cheek and she had to stop this before more fell.
She shook Rachel's hand away from her own under the pretext of reaching for a napkin. "Thanks, but can we talk about something else?"
"Of course, but please know that I'm always here if you ever do want to talk about it."
Quinn nodded, feeling like she was actually a little bit in love with Rachel-freaking-Berry right now. She couldn't stand the idea of it and forced herself back on mission.
"Let's talk about you coming back to Glee."
"I'm not coming back to Glee."
"Yes you are."
Rachel smiled at Quinn's dogged persistence. "No I'm not."
Quinn sighed, and took a conversational step back. It wouldn't do to push so hard that Rachel became suspicious because then the tenacious girl would just dig her heels in even further.
"So what do you think of bowling so far?"
"If this is the part where we talk about how ugly the shoes are I'm going to have to disappoint you." Rachel straightened one leg out to the side of the table so they could both look down at the blue and red footwear. "I rather like the bold pattern. And the colors go with my outfit."
Quinn looked from the shoe up to Rachel's face which held an expression of the most earnest appreciation of footwear anywhere. Quinn couldn't even tell if she was making fun of the shoe or herself or if she really genuinely liked them, but as she started laughing, she realized she didn't care – either way it was awesome.
Twenty minutes later the tension that had been there between them from the start of the evening was as good as gone. They hadn't talked about Glee or her pregnancy any more, but the conversation about the shoes had led to a discussion on the bowling shirts many of the patrons wore (Rachel wasn't such a fan of those so Quinn was pleased she'd left hers hanging in her closet instead of wearing it tonight.) She did mention it though, because jeez, Berry was hardly one to talk about fashion choices.
"It's kind of a shiny pink. Not this pink," she added, pulling at the front of her t-shirt. "Pale pink, like um . . ." She thought for a second, looking around to find a close comparison somewhere on the lanes. Then it came to her, "Oh, I know, it's the same pink as that polo shirt you sometimes wear to school; you know, the cute one with the short sleeves?"
Rachel nodded mutely, eyes big and round again for whatever reason.
"And it has my name stitched here," she ran a finger over her left breast. "In silver-blue."
She didn't know how to feel about Rachel's eyes keenly following the path of her fingertip before guiltily dropping away like she was embarrassed. She definitely felt something, but she couldn't name it, or maybe she just didn't dare to.
"And on the back, it says . . ."
"Pink Ladies?" Rachel guessed eagerly and Quinn chuckled around a delicate bite of pizza.
"No, Fabray, but you obviously get the idea."
That led to a discussion on Grease and Grease II which surprisingly, considering her company, was mostly centred around whether motorbikes were cooler than cars rather than which had the better quality of music or plot. By the time they'd agreed to disagree (and Quinn was past the point of being able to endlessly point out that safety shouldn't factor into which was coolest, not in a hypothetical discussion anyway!) the pizza was finished and Quinn had polished off all of the discarded pepperoni from Rachel's half.
It wasn't as hard to have a real conversation with the girl when she was sober as Quinn had expected, if anything it was too easy. It seemed like a good reason to move things along before either of them became too comfortable.
Quinn used a napkin to wipe away any remains of pizza sauce from her lips as she stood up.
"Okay, last ball. Show me what you got, Berry."
Against all odds she was really enjoying her evening – the short talk about her pregnancy not included, but even then it had been nice to have someone care, and ask the questions she'd been battling with inside her own mind.
She wished she could have opened up a little more, actually talked about it, but she still wasn't comfortable enough to do that. She still hadn't had a lengthy discussion about it with Finn (or Puck), always shutting him down quickly when he brought up the baby. It was just too hard to think about, let alone have a conversation about.
Rachel had grabbed a pink ball eagerly and was now putting her fingers in the holes. "I want to make my last ball really count. Do you think you could help me again?"
Quinn knew exactly what she was asking. "I think you've got the technique down now."
"But it would really be useful and . . . and it might help me think more objectively about returning to Glee if I don't have to worry about how terrible I am at bowling."
Okay, who was playing who now?
"Fine." She stepped up behind Rachel, but kept a little distance between them this time for the sake of sanity. She cupped her left hip and reached forward to take her right wrist. "Ready?"
Rachel's head bobbed and she pushed up on her toes a few times excitedly. "Yes."
"Okay, then, step . . . step . . . step . . ."
She didn't add anything else, just directed Rachel with her hands and the dip of her knees. She'd pretty much forgotten what they were doing anyway as soon as the lemony scent of Rachel's t-shirt mixed with the subtle flowery smell of her shampoo was close enough to assault her senses. When Quinn had to press forward her nose accidentally brushed Rachel's hair above her ear and her grip tightened around the slim wrist she was pulling back for a moment before remembering to release it so that Rachel could bowl the ball.
Either her slip went unnoticed or it gave Rachel the edge to find her inner-bowler. The ball rocketed straight down the lane, sending the ten pins flying in all directions as their perfect formation was smashed by the strike.
"I did it!"
Rachel threw both hands in the air this time and Quinn was just standing there smiling and she didn't think to move back and that was stupid because now the girl was turning and there were arms tightly wrapping around her neck and Rachel was still bouncing up and down and grinning up at her. . .
"Thank you, Quinn!"
The thunder of the balls, the clatter of the pins, the talking, the music, the air in the room, it all went away as she stared down into Rachel's bright, surprised, overjoyed eyes.
'Don't you fucking dare!'
It scared her that she was screaming it at herself and not Rachel. It scared her even more that she didn't seem to be listening.
And then Rachel was moving and she was moving, except Rachel was moving away and she wasn't. Her brain registered this before she could do anything too monumentally stupid and she stopped herself from leaning in any further but also kept Rachel right where she was by squeezing her around the waist – when had she even put her arms around her?
Rachel's hands rested lightly on Quinn's shoulders and she looked up with a quizzical smile. "Are you okay?"
"Come back to Glee," she whispered.
"I . . . I don't know." Rachel looked torn, sad even, her eyes tender and shiny at Quinn's softly-spoken request. "I'd have to quit the musical."
Quinn just couldn't push her anymore, not when she looked so distressed. She started to step back. "I understand . . ."
"No." Rachel urgently pressed forward, removing the gap between them again. "I'll do it! I'll come back tomorrow."
"Thank you," Quinn smiled down at her and drew Rachel into a tight hug.
Mission accomplished. So what if Finn's scholarship had been the furthest thing from her mind for most of the evening. To quote Coach Sylvester: It didn't matter how you played the game . . . as long as you won!
Their moment of physical closeness was over almost as soon as Rachel had agreed to change her mind about Glee. Quinn stepped back, looking around embarrassed in case anyone had noticed her hugging Rachel Berry, but she was still smiling so Rachel didn't feel particularly hurt by it.
In fact hurt was definitely not close to any of the things she was feeling right now. Topping the list was: wonderful. Amazing came a close second and On-top-of-the-world was hot on its heels in third place. Getting the lead in the school musical hadn't felt this good. That was all she needed, to know she'd made the right decision.
The intensity of her feelings actually scared her. She'd never felt this strongly for anyone before. It was overwhelming and she was almost pleased when Quinn said it was time for them to leave.
They finished their sodas in silence and then changed their bowling shoes for their regular ones at the booth.
"I had fun tonight. Thank you so much for teaching me to bowl, Quinn."
Quinn smirked at her innocent enthusiasm as she tied her sneakers. "You're welcome. I enjoyed it too."
"Do you know how to play pool?"
"Of course. Why?"
Shoes on, they grabbed their bags and headed for the exit.
"I don't. Perhaps you can teach me that too sometime."
She'd picked pool because there were three tables near the booth. She would have suggested motorcycle racing if her eyes had landed on one of them first – simply eager for another opportunity to spend an evening with Quinn.
Quinn took it differently. "I'm not bending you over a table, Berry."
"What?" She blushed. "No, I just meant . . ." Quinn was laughing at her. "You know what? Just forget I said anything."
It was a little chilly outside now but, even though she didn't have a coat with her, Rachel was glad of it. It helped cool her burning cheeks down as she stormed to the car at the far end of the lot. Why was she always embarrassing herself in front of Quinn?
"Hey, slow down, I'm sorry." When she didn't, Quinn hurried to catch up – her longer stride making it easy – and caught her wrist, stopping her completely. "I was just joking. I can teach you to play pool sometime if you want me to."
"I don't. Not if it means you bending me over a table."
"Like you wouldn't love that," Quinn teased.
"You have no idea what I'd love." She'd meant that to come out angry, somehow it had changed in her mouth and had come out flirty instead.
Flirty enough that Quinn cocked an eyebrow, her lips curling in a half smile as she licked her lips. She didn't say anything though, didn't add to their banter, and after a few seconds of smiling at her like that in the middle of the parking lot she looked away, leaving Rachel feeling vulnerable for unintentionally putting herself out there.
The warmth of Quinn's palm sliding down her wrist to silently take her hand made up for it.
"Come on. It's cold."
As she was tugged to the car it caused half a memory to resurface. "Did we hold hands Friday night?"
Quinn smirked. "Once or twice."
Rachel smiled. "Did I really kiss you?"
A shrug this time. "Once or twice." Quinn seemed to think about that and looked like she wanted to laugh again. "Or just once actually."
"I'm sorry. Thank you for not hitting me again."
"No problem. You were so drunk it would have been like hitting a clueless Labrador puppy anyway."
"I was like a puppy?" Rachel was horrified because it could mean only one thing. "Oh no, did I slobber all over you? I'm so sorry, Quinn, I haven't had much experience as you know and the lack of practice . . ."
"Berry, relax! There was no slobber." When they reached the car Quinn opened the passenger door for her. "You kiss just fine."
Rachel slid into her seat. "Really?" Quinn nodded and she looked up with a hopeful smile. "Did you kiss me back?"
The passenger door thunked closed and she had to wait until Quinn was sliding into the drivers' seat for a reply.
"Of course not. But if I was interested in girls like that, who knows, I might've." She started the engine. "Pick a CD, they're in the . . ."
"Glove compartment," Rachel finished, although she couldn't remember how she knew that.
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