Friday morning brought little relief for any of them.
Kurt was dumpstered on his way across the parking lot. Mercedes was tripped by Santana, falling flat on her face as around her the student body laughed. Artie's chair was chained to the railings outside of school, the key tauntingly left in the padlock just out of his reach. And Tina was TP'd on her way up the front steps, showing up in first period still pulling white toilet paper from her hair and clothes.
Rachel was the only one of Team-Berry that made it through the doors unscathed, which naturally made her suspicious. So she just laughed when she saw the note taped to her locker.
Do not open.
Seriously? After all of Quinn's big words this was the best she'd been able to think of? It would have been more inventive to glue it shut as they had Mercedes' the day before. Shaking her head in pity, because did Quinn honestly believe that putting a fake janitorial sign on her locker would be enough to make her forgo the books she needed for the day, Rachel twisted the combination lock and pulled the door wide with a confident flourish.
Everything went multi-colored.
She closed her eyes just in time to feel the glitter-bomb paint her entire face in tiny particles and (she was sure) avoid permanent blindness. Gasping in surprise as she staggered back a step, she sucked in an unhealthy amount of the exploding glitter (was any amount healthy?) and as loathe as she was to spit anywhere outside of the dentist chair and the bathroom sink, the pwahhh as she expelled the glitter from her throat was totally unavoidable.
That had her more annoyed than the locker violation itself, until her eyes blinked warily open and she caught sight of her face in the small compact mirror fixed inside the door.
Her face and throat were entirely rainbow colored and she . . . she sparkled!
She looked like an exotic bird, resplendent in multihued plumage.
In short, she looked, awesome!
There must have been some glue mixed in with the glitter because it didn't fall from her face as she moved closer to the mirror, but she didn't lift her finger to check, not wanting to leave an unsightly clean stripe in its place.
Her eye caught the note propped up on her books next.
I did warn you not to open it, Gnome ;)
Laughing, she pushed the note to the back of her locker and gathered the books she needed into her bag and then she took out her phone and snapped a picture of her face. Only then did she decide, reluctantly, that she should probably try and wash it off before class.
She received some strange looks and a lot of laughter on the way to the bathroom but she'd take being glitter-bombed over being tripped, dumpstered, chained to something or TP'd any day of the week.
Besides, it wasn't like she hadn't had a productive morning herself.
It had been a routine for a few weeks now. Every Thursday Quinn left four of the five handkerchiefs in Rachel's locker and Friday morning Rachel would find a way to hand them back, freshly laundered, before first period.
Even for the week or so that they hadn't been talking, the routine had continued. It was one of the few constants in Quinn's life at the moment, and possibly the most important one considering without them her nausea was given free rein to plague every hour of her day.
She wasn't so sure she could count on it this morning. Not after everything that had happened yesterday, and even though she had watched Berry receive her glitter treat (and it had been so much more effective than she'd expected it to be! She had to remember to thank Puck for telling her how to rig it up) and seen her smile about it! she doubted Rachel was in the mood to do her any favors.
So she was pleasantly surprised – and very grateful because her remaining handkerchief was already used up – to walk into first period history and see the box sitting on the edge of Rachel's desk.
She murmured a thanks as she palmed the long box and held it against her thigh. Rachel nodded and Quinn wished she could point out she'd missed some of the glitter under her ear, but that would be helping the enemy and Santana was already sitting at their shared desk at the back.
"Homecoming nominations are today," Santana reminded her once the lesson was underway.
This semester was all about World War Two, which Quinn had zero interest in, so she had no problem focusing on Santana instead of the lesson.
"Yeah. I don't know why they waited this long. Only giving us a week to campaign for votes is insane."
"You sound pretty sure you're going to be nominated."
"Why wouldn't I be?"
Santana shrugged, "Do you have your dress yet? If not, me and Britts are going shopping tomorrow."
"My mom's taking me tomorrow; you know what she's like. If I don't get her input it'll be wrong."
That wasn't completely true, not about her mom needing to choose her dress for her, that was always true. Quinn's dress sense when she was younger had been hit and miss and now she actually had the figure to pull of expensive party gowns, her mom refused to let her screw it up. The lie was that her mom didn't know she was taking her tomorrow because Quinn hadn't mentioned it yet, terrified her body was suddenly going to grow a baby bump over night and it would be impossible to hide from her mom while changing in and out of various dresses.
Even Homecoming itself seemed like more hassle than it was worth right now. She had so much other stuff going on! It wasn't that she didn't want to be Homecoming Queen, of course she did, it was just further down her list of priorities than it would have been a month ago.
The idea of battling against the likes of Santana for votes . . . their election campaigns wouldn't turn negative, they would start negative, and Quinn had so much more to hide – breaking her celibacy vows, the pregnancy, Puck's involvement in both and that other thing, the . . . the Rachel thing.
If any of the Cheerios running for Homecoming Queen got wind of any of these things, they would be used against her. She just about trusted Santana not to reveal her sexual mistakes for personal gain because despite their rivalry they were friends and even Santana had lines she wouldn't cross. Of course, if she got wind of the fact Puck was the father . . . Quinn couldn't be sure, but it might override their friendship just a little, and as for the . . . the Rachel thing, well, she didn't entirely know how Santana would use knowledge like that. If she had any sense she'd sit on it until something even bigger than homecoming queen was at stake – not that she was going to offer her friend any tips on how to get the better of her.
Anyone else catching on to any such revelations however, especially a Cheerio hungry for power and eager to boost her reputation, wouldn't think twice and it would travel around the school faster than the speed of light.
Quinn was smart, and she knew just enough about politics from watching political talk shows with her daddy to know it was impossible to keep your skeletons in the closet while running for public office – and that went double for ga . . . for certain personal matters that were nobody's business but her own and she'd like to keep it that way forever, thank you very much.
She couldn't not run though, that would create suspicions that could be just as damaging in the long run.
But what was worse?
To not run and have everyone speculating and gossiping about her? To have that creepy Jacob Jewfro conjecturing her absence from the Court on his stupid blog's 'McKinley's Homecoming Week Special!' Read all about it? No, she didn't want everyone reading all about her if she could help it.
Or to run and lose, torn down by a fellow nominee jealous of her likely victory and willing to expose any lies or secrets of Quinn's she came upon – confirmed or not.
And there were so many to choose from!
Just the thought of it was enough to turn her mild nausea into an all out threat and, holding her stomach with one hand, she quickly groped her lap for the box.
"Yeah, well text a photo of your dress before you buy it. We don't want to be up on that stage wearing the same thing."
Like Quinn was going to buy off the rack, but she nodded anyway, too busy trying to fumble a handkerchief out of the box to comment.
"What are you doing?" Santana frowned, seeing her frantic movements between her legs. "There's a time and place, Q."
"What? I have allergies," she bit out as she finally pulled one free.
"That's the first time I've heard it called that."
She had no idea what Santana was talking about but the cotton felt cool and clean in her fingertips, if a little heavier than usual, and she raised it to her nose eagerly, taking a deep, calming sniff.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Santana burst out, shying away from her.
"I told you, I have . . ." she started to repeat through the handkerchief held over her nose.
Santana was being reprimanded for cursing in class and everyone turned around to watch, obviously. What was less obvious was the reason they all seemed to find her more interesting instead.
There was giggling, a few people's faces held the same distressed reaction as Santana's still did. Some girls leaned away as if she was contagious – what? had they never seen anyone blow their nose before? Freaking weirdoes!
The boy directly in front of her was laughing, pulling a face and leaning back away from her and then he asked, "Are those Hudson's?"
Are what . . .? As a feeling of dread overtook her nausea, she sharply pulled the handkerchief away from her nose only to blanch at the realization that she had been sniffing a large pair of yellow cotton boxer shorts.
Quinn threw them away from her in disgust and scrambled in the box for an actual handkerchief. She had a pale blue pair of boxer shorts over her nose in seconds, but only recognized them as such by Santana's sharp,
"Q, what is wrong with you!"
Oh, for God's sake!
"They're mine, okay, and they're clean!" she snapped, face burning.
The third item pulled out of the box between her thighs felt normal but she held it up to inspect it first. Yes, it was a green cotton handkerchief. After just holding it to her nose for a few seconds she faked a blow while the teacher brought everyone else under control with the threat of detention.
At the front of the class, Rachel was the only one who hadn't turned around. Quinn watched as she licked her finger and drew a one in the air.
Yeah, okay, that round definitely went to Berry. Quinn found herself smirking, but it was only because she was already thinking about retaliation.
Team-Berry assembled in the cafeteria at recess and Rachel got straight to the point.
"Safety in numbers isn't working by itself. We have to fight back."
"H-h-how?" Tina's dark clothes still had specks of bright white toilet paper clinging all over.
"Without the physical strength the cheerleaders and football players possess I'm suggesting a carpet bombing of slushies, inconvenience and rumors."
Mercedes leaned in, elbows on the table. "I'm listening."
Recess was almost over but there was still a few minutes until the bell rang. Rachel, Mercedes and Tina were hovering in an alcove; they all held Big Quench slushies.
"Here they come," Rachel murmured. "Are you ready?"
"All three of them together, this is a dream come true," Mercedes said.
"No," Rachel insisted, glaring briefly at her. "Quinn doesn't get touched."
"Are you kidding me?"
"Not at all."
"Look, I know you're holding a candle for her or something but . . ."
"I'm not holding anything for her, but she's pregnant, it's wrong to throw icy beverages in her face."
"You slushied her y-y-yesterday!"
"I had a point to make, and now it's made. The other two are fair game though."
Quinn saw them coming and actually panicked, although she doubted it showed on her face. She couldn't be slushied two days in a row! Not only had yesterday's been cold, sticky and time-consuming, it had also been a humiliating experience to receive a slushie facial in the halls from Rachel-freaking-Berry.
The rest of the school didn't have a clue with what was going on with the members of Glee, but that didn't mean they weren't enjoying every second of seeing the club tear each other down and under that kind of scrutiny Quinn could only take so much before she had to really start hitting back.
So she breathed a sigh of relief when she walked by them without incident – sometimes people did buy slushies just to drink them after all – until she heard the dual shrieks behind her.
Spinning on the spot she saw Santana and Brittany wearing one and half Big Quench's each.
"Come here, you fucking . . .!" The only thing that saved Rachel from Santana's furious lunge was her feet slipping in the ice on the floor.
Brittany managed to catch her before she fell and Quinn had to really fight the urge to scream at Rachel to run before it was too late. Luckily, the three girls had never slowed down and were lost in the crowds heading to class before Santana had regained her footing enough to give chase.
"That fugly midget is dead!" her friend snarled
"I have slushie in my hair and on my face and on my uniform but none went in my mouth," Brittany sounded more upset than angry. "And cherry's my favorite too."
"Yeah, but it stains hair," Quinn remembered, being careful not to slip herself as she took their elbows. "So let's go and get you cleaned up."
Truthfully, they didn't need her help and it would make her unnecessarily late for class, but she needed to keep an eye on Santana if she was going to prevent her from making good on her threat.
"That's the first t-t-time I've ever thrown a s-s-slushie!"
"I can see why people do it to us all the time; it felt good."
Rachel nodded as she repeatedly checked over her shoulder to make sure they weren't being followed. Although it wasn't her first – that had been yesterday – and it hadn't felt particularly enjoyable to her; satisfying maybe on a childish level but not pleasant.
"Are Kurt and Artie still on schedule to handle Puck and Matt?"
"They were going to buy the manure right after Glee."
"Good. They have a football game tonight so their cars will be in the school lot all evening. Kurt will be playing, obviously, but the rest of us will assemble as soon as the game commences."
She left them then, still having another phase to put into action before the bell for third period rang.
It wasn't unusual for Mr. Schuester to ask them to meet in the Choir room at lunch. Sometimes he had a new song he wanted to try out on them, sometimes he wanted to run through troublesome choreography, sometimes it was just for a pep talk and once – like today – he apparently had no idea at all what they were all doing there together.
"So, uh, as we're all here, does anyone have their assignment song prepared?"
There were several no's and several I'm hungry's but Rachel, in her usual seat at the front, perked up at the chance of an impromptu performance.
"I have something to share. It's not for the assignment, but I know you'll all enjoy it anyway."
She stood up to stride to the middle of the floor . . .
She tried to stand up and stride to the middle of the floor. It was hampered by the way the chair came with her, forcing her into an unnatural stoop with her knees bent around it.
"What's happening?" She waddled a few steps but her chair stuck fast to her skirt. "What's happening!"
People were laughing but Mike valiantly came down to help her.
"Someone must have glued your chair. Just hold still, Rachel. I'll pull it off."
Oh, he pulled it off alright, and took her whole skirt with it!
With a shriek she dropped onto her butt, covering her underwear as much as she could.
The embarrassment made her cheeks flame red but it didn't stop her noticing Quinn, doubled over mid-laughing fit, lick her finger and draw a one in the air.
Naturally, the Glee session broke up shortly afterwards and Rachel, after Mike had fetched her gym shorts from her locker for her, hurried to the rendezvous point.
"Sorry, I'm late, do you . . .?"
"I want payment up front."
Rachel eyed Jacob Ben Israel like the weasel he was. "I can go as high as twenty dollars."
"I already told you I have no use for money. Either give me what I asked for or the deal's off."
"Your price is too steep!"
"Not where Quinn Fabray is concerned. She could kill me! It's a deal-breaker, Rachel."
Rachel weighed her choices. She could say no and lose her secret weapon, or she could take one for the team, so to speak. Everyone in Glee had been treated to a view of her panties twenty minutes ago . . . for payback this was a small price to pay.
"Okay." She looked to the door of the classroom and then turned her back on the small window before closing her eyes and raising her sweater over her breasts for less than half a second. Pulling it back down and feeling dirtier than she ever had in her life, she said, "Okay, now you have to do it or I will actually kill you and stuff your body in your locker for the janitors to find when you start to decompose."
"I already have my boom box programmed," he grinned sleazily.
Ugh, who called it a boom box anymore? Other than her dad, she conceded, as she followed Jacob and his portable stereo out of the classroom and towards the cafeteria.
"Just remember," she hissed in his ear as they reached the doors. "No matter what she says, don't stop."
Rachel let him have a ten second head start before going though the doors herself and taking a seat at the Team-Berry table. People may or may not have acknowledged her, she had no idea, she was too busy waiting for the show to start.
Quinn was sitting at her usual lunch table. It was the top table, full of cheerleaders and football players. Usually she was in the middle of it, exactly where the most popular girl should be, but she was sat at the end today for two reasons.
One, news of her boxer-sniffing had gotten around. The ribbing she was taking was good-natured, mostly because nobody at this table really dared put a foot wrong in case she came down on them hard, but it was still enough to make her want to blend into the background a little more than usual.
Two, she was still busy laughing with Santana and Brittany about her chair prank on Berry. Again it had been better than she'd expected. She'd thought Rachel would waddle around a little, look like an idiot and that would be the end of it. But Mike pulling her entire skirt off with one tug! That was freaking priceless!
A shadow fell over her and she looked up irritably, her lip curling in distaste when she realized it was Jewfro.
"What do you want?"
"I have a message from a secret admirer," he said nervously and placed a large stereo on the table next to her tray.
A secret admirer? Her brain ping-ponged between Puck and Berry, but she had no idea what to think beyond that.
"What is it?"
A note was thrust into her hand: ENJOY, LOVER! ;)
Santana snatched it away before Quinn could stop her, just as Jewfro hit play and some nasty over-sexed hip hop track started playing.
"Who's it from?"
It was written in block capitals and if it hadn't been for the wink Quinn would have been just as clueless as her shrug made out.
Catcalls rose up around her and, after a quick glance down the table at her friends, she snapped her attention in the same direction as theirs.
Jewfro was wriggling his shirt over his pudding belly towards his pigeon chest in a series of body movements that might, on his home planet, be considered sexy (but never on Earth!).
"What are you doing?"
"This is all for you, Quinn Fabray," he promised, before dropping his shirt back down and then ripping it open and jiggling his bare chest towards her.
"Go away!" Her face was about to melt, be it from embarrassment or anger.
He didn't. "You know you want it, baby," he yelped. "Everyone knows you want me!"
Of course nobody thought that, but this was how rumors got started at McKinley. The dozens of people watching this loser make a spectacle of her would tell their friends, who would tell their friends, and it became a game of Chinese Whispers. By Monday morning you'd be able to find fifty kids who hadn't seen a thing but could tell you in great detail all about how Jacob Whathisface had outed his torrid love affair with Quinn Fabray via a sexy dance in the cafeteria – and at least a third of those would swear they heard Quinn had instigated it.
As appalled as she was, she knew she had to just laugh it off, if she laughed it off everyone would know it was a joke. She was still working to get the laughter to come out of her mortified throat when he ripped his Velcro-seamed (what the hell!) pants off with a loud grunt and rolled his hips into her face.
"Take it, Quinn Fabray, you know you want it."
Confronted by a Y-pant covered groin thrust inches from her face her fist reacted on instinct.
A second later the pervert was writhing around the cafeteria floor and being pelted by fries from all sides and Quinn was out of her seat.
"Yowser!" the loser mumbled, rolling around with tears in his eyes as he clutched both hands between his legs. "Did you see that? You all saw that right? Quinn Fabray touched my junk!"
He held his hand up for a high five and Brittany leant down to give him one before Santana pulled her back, nose wrinkling in distaste.
"Score!" Puck congratulated him sarcastically and then the three of them ignored him as they watched Quinn stride angrily towards the geek table at the back.
Rachel startled as she realized Quinn wasn't rushing out of the cafeteria to hide her blushes but was, in fact, coming straight for her. She fumbled the lid from her lunch box and a sandwich into her mouth, trying to look nonchalant, but failing because she couldn't stop her eyes widening with every step of Quinn's approach.
As always the crowd parted for the head cheerleader and by the time Rachel thought perhaps retreat might have been the better part of valor in this circumstance, she was trapped. Quinn leaned down into her personal space, one hand on the back of her chair and one on the table, giving her nowhere to go but further back in her seat as those glinting hazel eyes bore into her own without reprieve. The sandwich was left dangling from her mouth as she freed her hands – just in case she needed them to protect her nose.
Quinn simply continued to stare her down, however; her face unfriendly but her eyes projecting more fire than ice. It was . . . interesting. Without thinking Rachel reached up and pulled the neck of her sweater out a few times, in a cooling fashion. The feeling was genuine but the gesture theatrical and entirely subconscious (she might've even fanned herself with a hand too if the sandwich wasn't hanging in the way).
It broke the tension a little as Quinn's eyes dipped to the movement and then her lips treated Rachel to the tiniest of secret smirks.
Across the room the trio were still watching with growing interest as Quinn and Berry remained locked in a hostile staring match.
"Think they're really doing it?" Puck asked around a mouthful of fries.
"Totally," Santana murmured, voice filled with conviction and awe. "Is it Christmas? It feels like it should be Christmas."
Brittany stopped watching the pair long enough to look worriedly at her best friend. "It's not is it? I haven't even started my letter to Santa yet!"
Santana patted her hand, absently reassuring her as Puck asked, "Why d'you say that?"
"Because what you see over there is Q wrapping me up the best gift ever." She offered Puck a fist bump, which he accepted because Puck didn't turn down fist bumps even if he didn't understand what the hell it was all about. When she pulled her hand away she laughed, "Look at me, I'm so excited I'm shaking. This is the best day of my life."
They watched as Quinn got bored of staring Berry into submission, pushed off of the chair and table and stalked out of the lunch room. Now the show was over Puck thought about asking Santana to explain why she was so excited. Her and Q were friends but he knew that look and it spelled trouble and Quinn was carrying his kid, so that, like, automatically meant he worried about her and shit, sometimes.
Brittany was making stick figures out of his fries. Santana was still grinning like a maniac – it was kinda hot.
Screw it, Q had made it clear a bunch of times she didn't give a crap about him.
"Wanna go make out in the alcove?" he asked his ex as he stood up, dusting the fry residue off of his hands.
"Sure." Santana and Brittany said at the same time, both rising to their feet.
There was a moment of shared awkward looks between the three of them – well, Brittany was on the receiving end of two but just shrugged to say she didn't understand. After a beat the other two shrugged as well and the three of them left the table, stepping over a still whimpering Jewfro together.
Rachel was pleased she had suggested that Glee be a safe, feud free space and that Quinn had backed her up. Santana's murderous eyes never left her once but she made it through the session unharmed.
The same couldn't be said for her Glee folder of notes, original lyrics and sheet music however – not to mention her World Geography project that she'd carelessly left in there too.
She could have only taken her eyes off of it for a minute but that was all that was needed and it was only Mike's quick reaction with the fire extinguisher – dousing the trash can with smelly, off-white foam – that saved the Lima Fire Department a trip to the school.
Mr. Schuester had demanded to know who had been smoking in the Choir room and even Santana's smirk-ridden comment of, "It must have been Berry, it was her stuff after all" didn't clue him in on the real culprit.
Quinn didn't look at her once the entire two hours, not even when Rachel was ranting, well screaming really, about two months of hard work going up in flames.
She hated that she was more upset about that than the bonfire itself.
They didn't put the manure in the car or the truck obviously. Rachel didn't want to be guilty of or charged with breaking and entering or criminal damage, but Team-Berry (minus Kurt) – wearing the thick gloves and disposable see-through raincoats Rachel had bought that afternoon – liberally spread both vehicles with the foul-smelling sludge.
"Are we doing Quinn's car too?" Artie asked, seeing it sitting only a dozen spaces away.
"Sure." Mercedes was already dragging one of the twenty pound bags over there.
It was very tempting, so tempting Mercedes already had a hand in the bag before Rachel found the strength to speak up.
"Sure we can." Artie rolled over to join Mercedes. "No one's around to see us."
"We can't spread a mixture of horse feces and rotting vegetation on a pregnant girl's car. Not only will the smell of it no doubt elevate her morning sickness to a degree where hospitalization is necessary, think about what health risks we'll be exposing the baby to."
"It'll be fine!" Mercedes rolled her eyes. "It's organic."
"Pardon my language, but yes, organic shit!"
"I-I'm actually with R-r-Rachel on this one."
"Thank you, Tina. Now if . . ."
"Considering she's the one who started this little vendetta in the first place, you seem really keen to keep Blondie safe. Are you sure you don't have a thing for her?"
"No, Mercedes, I don't have a thing for her. How psychologically damaged do you think I am?" Rachel threw her hands in the air. "She's been nothing but horrible to me since the day I met her. But that doesn't mean I want to declare biological warfare on an unborn child."
Artie shrugged, "So we do something else to her car."
"We could just shove manure in the tail-pipe."
"I don't know. There's an abundance of methane in manure. What if the tail pipe gets really hot because of the blockage?"
Artie explained for her, "So, I think Rachel's trying to say that blowing Quinn and her unborn baby up might be just as bad as exposing her to horse crap diseases."
"Oh. I guess."
"What else is t-there?"
Rachel turned to Tina as she spoke and it came to her. With a devious smirk, she said, "Tina, Mercedes, go to the nearest restrooms and bring back all of the rolls of toilet paper you can carry!"
As soon as Quinn's bright red car looked like it had been carefully gift-wrapped in white and the smell from Puck's truck and Matt's car was starting to nauseate them all, Team-Berry said their goodbyes and went their separate ways.
Rachel stayed at the school for a while longer, drifting out on to the packed bleachers bordering the football field just as the third quarter started. The games had always drawn a crowd – because people came to see the award-winning Cheerios squad – but now that the football team had started to win a few games occasionally there were even more people watching and cheering – and booing – than ever.
She could appreciate the school spirit, but somehow just being a part of this crowd made her feel more alone than ever.
She was only planning to stay a few minutes to give Kurt the agreed upon signal so that he would know to forgo changing after the game. Her plan fell apart however as soon as she caught sight of Quinn on the sidelines, cheering louder and harder than the rest of her squad combined – she wasn't just head cheerleader because she was the prettiest girl in school, after all – and looking so alive and happy and, well, pretty.
Rachel watched, captivated, as they performed their famous pyramid routine to the delight of the spectators. She felt a thread of concern as Quinn was flipped up to the top and marvelled at the way she balanced up there, arms held high and proud, for what felt like hours not minutes, before doing a somersault into a male cheerleader's arms.
She was spectacular and Rachel couldn't tear her eyes away.
"Oh, this is good." Quinn could hardly hear Santana's gleeful comment over the noise of the crowd behind them. "Manhands is up there and all alone."
She stiffened and faltered, passing it off as needing to stretch her back out a little before thrusting her pompoms into the air again.
What the hell was Berry doing here? Was she stupid? If Santana got hold of her . . .
'Is she here to watch me?'
It wasn't even her ego that asked the question; truthfully she didn't know what had prompted her to go there. They were fighting and Rachel had made it plainly clear that she was not Quinn's biggest fan right now. So why would she come out on a Friday night just to see her cheer?
It wasn't totally far-fetched though, was it? She couldn't remember Berry ever being at a football game in the past – not even when she was pursuing Finn – so obviously tonight's attendance had to be due to some recent change in taste.
And that meant her . . . didn't it?
She didn't want to know why the idea of Rachel coming out to watch her cheer was so thrilling. It was better to ignore it. Ignore it while at the same time continuing to let herself enjoy it, obviously. Right now she was planted squarely on the halfway line between denial and acceptance. It was a good spot; she was happy there.
Extra careful these days to not show weakness or tiredness or any other sign of her pregnancy in front of Coach Sylvester, Quinn was already way on top of her game tonight, but knowing Berry was out there put even more pep in her step. Quinn felt like an energizer bunny on vitamin D as she danced about on the sidelines leading cheer after cheer.
Until she saw Mike Chang make a flying leap into the air to receive the ball and dance away down the field with it. Okay, he didn't really dance, he ran and dodged and ducked his way down the field fast, but in her mind he was prancing towards the touchdown line like a hippo ballerina.
What if Rachel was there to watch Mike instead?
It would make more sense. Quinn didn't think the two had had another date since Puck's party but they were still friendly in school and Mike sat beside Rachel in Glee sometimes. Mike was also the only Glee guy – other than Finn – that was refusing to pick a side in the current feud – in fact he had been the one to save her twice today.
Of course she was there to watch Mike.
Quinn deflated, pompoms falling to her thighs as she watched Mike race for the end zone. He was going to make the touchdown. He was going to score because Rachel was there to watch him. And then, after the game he was probably going to score with Rachel because she was watching him gain the Titan's first points of the game and people in positions of power and popularity got Rachel-freaking-Berry hot.
Behind her the crowd was just one big, roaring cheer of encouragement which switched abruptly to a collective "Oooooooh" as the skinny boy was tackled with the force of a freight train by an opposing Line-Backer just yards from the line.
"Yes!" Quinn jumped high, feet tucking behind her knees, right pompom thrusting into the air and her left out to the side as she performed a perfect one-woman cheer.
She'd just cheered for the wrong team and several Cheerios, the players on the bench and half the crowd had noticed. Coach Tanaka especially was giving her a wounded look. She shot them all the same 'Don't fuck with me' look and brushed the embarrassment off.
"Cover for me," Santana was suddenly saying in her ear. "I'm gonna go get Frodo now before the Hobbit disappears back into her hole."
Quinn darted in front of her, waving her pompoms around as a lame distraction. "We can't cover for you. And Coach will shoot you if she sees you gone. Just leave it for now. We'll catch up with Berry in the parking lot after the game."
Santana switched her glare from somewhere up in the bleachers, to Quinn to back to the bleachers before standing down. "Fine, can do more damage without witnesses anyways."
Santana's teeth bared viciously and Quinn assumed she'd caught Rachel's eye. As soon as her friend lost interest and moved away to talk to Brittany and Kassie, Quinn spun around to try and catch a glimpse of the girl herself. It wasn't difficult; she hadn't even taken a seat and was just standing on the steps as if she'd frozen in place halfway up, transfixed by something. And judging by her position it wasn't something out on the field.
She so wasn't there to watch Mike.
Confirmation came immediately as, noticing her attention, Rachel's eyes flicked to hers and burned like they weren't surrounded by a hundred other people. It wasn't the friendliest of staring contests but it went on and on and the look in those dark eyes – somehow angry and smug and nervous and adoring all at the same time – was enough to steal the breath from her lungs and make her gulp at the strong reaction it caused in her chest and her knees. The unexpected rush of feelings turned the cool smirk she was going for into a bashful smile.
She only swallowed harder when Rachel shyly returned it.
Before she could think to stop herself she was raising her hand to wave, forgetting for a second that she was holding a pompom. She ended up just shaking it lightly in Berry's direction and even from here she could see the way it made Rachel chuckle and duck her eyes to her toes. It was just for a second and then she was meeting Quinn's gaze again with a smile so coy it should have been illegal.
So, this was a weird moment, she was practically having cheer-sex with Rachel-freaking-Berry. It . . . it was like cheer-foreplay!
This just . . . wasn't okay!
So she did the only thing she could think of to make it stop and turned away to face the field. She jumped up and down a few times, trying to shake the weirdness away, but it wasn't happening, not when she was sure that she could still feel those dark brown eyes sliding up and down her back.
She looked sharply back over her shoulder and, yep, sure enough. She made a show of rolling her eyes but there was no disguising the size of the smile on her face now. Fine, Berry wanted to watch? Might as well give her something worth watching.
"Okay, guys," she called out. "The Titans are showing their usual levels of suckitude out there so, as always, it's down to us to give the crowd their money's worth. Let's show them Cheer Seven!"
"Sure that's wise in your condition?" Santana muttered, her expression caught somewhere between sarcasm and concern.
"Just shut up and do it."
A few minutes into the energetic routine, Quinn was revelling in the feel of the air rushing past her as between them Ricky and Brittany sent her high enough into the sky to perform a somersault before swan-diving back down into their waiting arms and being swung back into a standing position.
The spectators went wild – as they always did for Cheer Seven – but as she turned to face them again with the rest of the squad, pompoms pumping into the air, there was only one person's admiration she was seeking. And judging by the awed smile and dazed eyes that met hers as soon as she gave them a chance, she'd earned it fair and square. It was almost embarrassing; if Berry didn't shut her mouth soon her tongue was going to flop out like a panting dog.
Quinn shot her a wink before turning back around and cheering on the lackluster Titans game like it was the Super Bowl.
Well, that had been an interesting twenty minutes.
After realizing she had been spotted, not only spotted but caught staring directly at the cheerleaders by Santana, she'd been overtaken by a moment of sheer terror. While rationally she knew there were at least a hundred people in close proximity that could defend her if things turned violent, it didn't reassure her in the slightest. The look in Santana's eyes could only be described as deadly and the manic baring of her teeth didn't help either.
Rachel had been preparing herself to run, but then Quinn had turned around and she knew the cheerleader was deliberately seeking her out because their eyes met instantly. She had expected an equally murderous look to be on her face – after all, feud aside, she was breaking the 'rules' just by being up here when Quinn was down there – but Rachel couldn't have been more wrong.
As for the breathtaking display that had followed . . . well if she hadn't thought it was for her benefit before, Quinn's wink left her in little doubt now.
Quinn had been showing off for her. Rachel didn't understand why, she didn't even care why at this point – that was something she could let trouble her in bed later – but Quinn was happy she was watching. Quinn wanted her to watch her and was going to extremes to make it happen.
So Rachel did, for far too long, and Quinn didn't disappoint.
It was only as the last few minutes were running down on the clock that Rachel realized she needed to go and tear the toilet paper from Quinn's car. She couldn't let her have to deal with that now, not after . . . whatever the last half an hour had been. She'd know it was Rachel's doing and Rachel just wanted this war between them to be over now. She was done, Quinn was forgiven for manipulating her, there was still a chance for things to be okay between them.
Quinn was down there cheering her heart out for her attention so maybe they'd be even better than okay.
But it was too late!
The final whistle was blowing, Santana was already turning to seek her out once more, and all Rachel could do was run away.
Accidentally, but fortuitously considering she'd stayed much longer than was wise, she bumped into Kurt as she was fleeing the bleachers. He, in turn, was fleeing the football field.
"So you did it?" he asked breathlessly.
"Mission accomplished. And we TP'd Quinn's car."
He didn't seem to notice the wince and frown as she admitted that. "Excellent. Now we just need to try and escape school grounds with our lives."
"I actually need to find somewhere to hide. I forgot to call my Dads in time and Santana knows I'm here. I can't wait in plain sight."
"My Dad's picking me up. We'll give you a ride."
Rachel beamed. She knew all of this sabotage and subterfuge together would result in real friendships. "Thank you, Kurt!"
"You'll have to slouch down in the back though, so that no one sees us leaving together. No offence, but my stock prices are too low around here already."
Rachel sighed; she'd been so close. "Those are acceptable terms for saving my life, I suppose."
Quinn was still riding the adrenaline high as she walked to the parking lot with several of the Cheerios and members of the football team.
She was trailing at the back with Santana and Brittany because a) she was giving them both a ride home and b) she knew Santana was looking for Berry and she might have to either distract her or tackle her to stop her from attacking the other girl. She really hoped the first one would be enough because she had no idea how she would explain the second one.
So she jumped a little when Puck suddenly shouted at the top of his voice. "What the hell is this shit?"
"Uh, judging by the smell," Finn began. "Shit, maybe?"
"It's all over mine too!" Matt sounded distraught.
Quinn surged through the other kids, with Santana and Brittany flanking her, to see what they were complaining about.
Seeing the lumpy, gooey mess that covered both vehicles she had to take a quick step back, hand going over her nose and mouth. Mostly it was to block out the smell, but it had the added benefit of covering her giggle too.
"Who the hell did this?" Puck demanded.
"You got Team-Berry'd," Brittany deadpanned.
Quinn cut her a surprised look because, yeah it was pretty obvious Rachel's user losers had been behind this, but Team-Berry? Seriously? That was so lame.
"You need to wash it off before it ruins the paint," Mike said, after checking his car was manure-free.
"How am I supposed to go wash it when I can't even stand to get near it?" Puck asked, holding his sleeve over his nose.
Quinn was having serious trouble keeping her chuckles in check. Normally she wouldn't try and stop herself but because it had been Berry, well, they were supposed to hate each other and showing mirth over her prank would look bad.
The urge to laugh only left when Brittany asked, "Quinn, how come it only snowed on your car and nowhere else?"
Quinn darted around Puck's truck to see what she meant and groaned. Her car had been thoroughly TP'd, not even a glimpse of red paint or black tire was visible. It must have taken them ages.
Her fists clenched at her sides, her good Berry-induced mood was completely destroyed by her now bad Berry-induced mood. "I'm going to kill her!"
Calm down, it's not like she covered it in horse poop.
'Fine, no killing, just some maiming.'
I suppose that could count as moderation . . . sort of.
'I can't just let her get away with this!'
You know this is just retaliation. She didn't start it.
'You suck sometimes.'
. . .
'I didn't mean that.'
I'm omnipotent, I know you didn't.
Quinn rubbed a tired hand over her forehead as she, and several snickering Cheerios, stared at her toilet-paper coated car. She was feeling doubly annoyed because, for a while there this evening, she'd been seriously thinking about calling this whole feud thing off.
She liked Rachel. She didn't want to and she didn't know why, but it was obvious that she did, and maybe they'd never even be decent friends after everything she'd done but she enjoyed swapping notes with her in American Lit. and she liked how the girl was always there to help when her morning sickness was really bad, and she smelled really good - like really good – and . . . and she just didn't want to fight with her anymore.
Now Rachel had made Quinn being the one to back down impossible. She could have done it before and saved face, but not now when everyone at the top of McKinley's social ladder had witnessed this blatant disregard of her superior position.
Rachel had to be dead to her now, at least until everyone forgot about this.
"Finn! Help me get this crap off my car!"
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