Never Asked To Feel Your Halo


Chapter Twenty-Nine: Here We Go Again

Despite how chilly it was outside, Rachel's bedroom window was open so that she would get a little warning if a car pulled into her drive. She didn't really expect one to, at least not until much later when her dads returned home, but she really wasn't sure what purpose prank-calling her about stopping by would serve for Quinn. This was the only way she could think to prepare for the unlikely event of the head cheerleader actually showing up on her doorstep. And with Cheerios, as with any of life's more trying aspects, any preparation was better than none.

A nervous glance at her clock showed it was quarter to seven when she heard a vehicle slow in the street at least three hours earlier than she expected her fathers back and the familiar bump-bump of tires travelling over the curb into her driveway and then the engine being shut off. It was just over twenty-eight minutes since she had received the phone call. Rachel's heart started racing and her palms were sweating despite the low temperature in the room and, oh, Barbra, what was she doing here? Didn't she at least deserve her home to be a Quinn-free sanctuary?

Setting her pen down carefully, she took a slow walk from her bedroom and down the stairs. She was halfway down when the doorbell rang. She still wasn't sure she even wanted to answer it.

And the way she rushed down the final three steps proved she was a liar. She did pause long enough to straighten her skirt and run a hand through her hair before opening the door though.

"Hello, Quinn."

"Hello."

They stood staring at each other for several seconds.

"It's freezing out here, Berry!"

"Then give me my scarf and you can get back in your warm car."

Quinn's jaw dropped, "Are you kidding me? I just left Finn's to come and see you."

Rachel huffed, but as much as she wanted to say 'And?' she could see Quinn shivering and moved to the side, reluctantly waving her in.

"I didn't ask you to," she said as she closed the door again.

"I know."

They stood awkwardly in the foyer. Quinn seemed even more nervous than her, probably because she was hating every second of being there. That was hardly Rachel's fault though. As she'd said, she hadn't asked the girl to arrive on her doorstep.

"Are your parents home?"

"No. My Dad is meeting a client after work and won't be home until late and my Daddy just left for his night shift. Do not think that means I am unprotected though. I still have my rape whistle and there are panic buttons all over the house."

Quinn smiled. "Really?"

"Perhaps not all over the house," she admitted because the smile didn't seem too threatening.

"Can I see them?"

"It is not good practice to show an intruder where the panic buttons are, Quinn."

"I'm not an intruder, you just let me in."

"That doesn't make you any less of an intruder."

They stared at each other for long enough that Quinn's smile slipped completely away and she stared at the floor. It was uncharacteristically meek of her but Rachel wasn't going to be lulled into sympathy for what could only be a ruse of some kind.

"Do you have my scarf?"

"Sure."

Quinn pulled it out of her bag and handed it over. After checking it thoroughly, Rachel could see no sign that it had ever been slushied and she relented a little.

"Thank you. As a gift from my Daddy this scarf means a lot to me and I truly appreciate the effort you went through to have it cleaned, especially as I was to blame for slushying you."

"It's fine. I didn't pay for it or anything. Just don't tell Coach Sylvester I put it in with the Cheerios uniforms and we're good."

"Well, I still appreciate it."

She was suddenly fixed with piercing hazel eyes. "You wanted a gesture of honesty and trust, right?"

Caught off guard, she just nodded.

"I'm giving my baby to Mrs. Schuester."

"What?"

"Nobody else knows. Not Finn or Mr. Schue or anybody else. Just her, me . . . and now you."

Rachel blinked a few times. "What?"

"She thought she was pregnant but it turns out she isn't and she's convinced Mr. Schue will leave her if he finds out so she's tricking him into thinking she still is and she's going to use my baby to do so."

Rachel scrubbed her palm over her face. "Okay, what?"

"It's like an adoption but without the formalities. She wants a baby and I have one that I can't keep." Quinn's voice was unwavering but there were tears trickling down her cheeks now. "It's not perfect but . . ."

Rachel felt like she'd just walked onto the set of some crazy sitcom and nobody had given her an advanced copy of the script, but before she had time to let it affect her Quinn's voice trailed off and she covered her crumpled face with her hands.

Giving herself a mental shake, she pulled one of Quinn's hand's gently away from her face and tugged on it. "Let's go to my room."

She was surprised by the quiet, "Thank you."

In her bedroom she ushered Quinn towards the bed and then pulled her desk chair up close before sitting down. As an afterthought she grabbed the box of tissues from her dresser and handed them over.

"Do you need to cry for a minute before we talk about this?"

Quinn gave her a watery smile as she dabbed at her eyes. "No, I'm good."

"Okay." She had no idea where to start after being bombarded by so much unbelievable information. "Mr. and Mrs. Schuester are adopting your baby?"

"Unofficially. And Mr. Schue doesn't know. He's going to think it's his."

"That's . . ."

"Wrong. I know. But can you imagine a dad who will love his baby more than Mr. Schue?"

"I was going to say unexpected, but I agree with both of your points too."

"Oh."

"Although I also think you're underestimating Finn's capabilities to love his child."

She'd expected a snarky comment, not the sudden outpouring of even more noisy tears.

Quinn tried to stem them with fistful of tissues. "I did! I thought I'd be letting him off the hook. That he'd be happy but . . ."

"So you have told him?"

"No, I just c-casually mentioned adoption. I was just trying to broach the subject so that when I did tell him it wouldn't be a major surprise."

"And he didn't take it very well?"

"He said it was my decision but he looked . . ." Quinn held the tissues to her eyes again for a few seconds and Rachel could see her chest heaving as she tried to control her sobs. Okay, less looking at her chest would be helpful now. ". . . heartbroken."

"Maybe it was because he wasn't expecting it. Given time to think he might decide this is what's best for both of you and the baby. Is that what you think?"

Quinn nodded and then shook her head; another wave of sobs overtook her. "I don't want to give away my baby but I know I can't look after it. I'm sixteen! I'm still in high school. Maybe if it was senior year it wouldn't be so bad but . . . My parents are going to disown me when they find out, Finn's Mom can barely keep a decent roof over their heads working two jobs. We're not going to get any financial help from them. I can't even afford my doctors bills now! How are we going to cope when the baby's actually here?"

Quinn sounded like she was shouting at her, like it was all Rachel's fault, but she made herself take a step back and see her rant objectively for what it was. A scared girl reaching out for help, for possibly the first time in her life knowing what she did of Quinn's pride.

"Quinn, calm down. It'll be . . ."

"No!" Her fist pounded the bed. "Finn gets to freak out, why can't I? I have to comfort him . . . who ever wants to do that for me? Nobody! I'm dealing with so much more and I can't cope any more, Rachel!"

She was out of the chair and on the bed in a flash. She sat very close to the crying girl, putting what she hoped was a comforting hand on her arm.

"Can I help?"

Quinn's forehead was pressed against her neck even before Rachel's arms were around her shoulders nose first and she might have been suspicious but she could feel the hot tears falling against her skin. She tightened her hold and scrunched her own eyes closed as she tried to figure out how to deal with this.

"It's going to be okay, Quinn. I'm not sure Mrs. Schuester lying to her husband is exactly healthy." To put it mildly. "But you were right, Mr. Schue will be a great dad, and you and Finn are too young to deal with this. Ultimately you have to think of the baby."

"That's what I said," Quinn sobbed.

"And you were right."

"And I want to keep cheerleading," Quinn croaked.

Rachel rolled her eyes but patted her back. "That's okay too."

"And I don't want Finn to have to quit school."

This was safer ground. "That's very commendable."

"Am I a terrible person?"

Rachel couldn't help herself, "Not because of this."

Quinn pulled her head up and gave her a fierce but watery glare. Rachel grinned at her.

"I know I probably deserve that but could you have picked your timing a little better?"

"I think I timed it pretty well."

The glare lasted for a little longer before Quinn chuckled and sat up straight. She grabbed some more tissues to wipe her face.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome." Rachel tentatively placed her hand over Quinn's and was rewarded when Quinn turned hers over to link their fingers.


They sat in a comfortable silence, just holding hands, until the last of her sniffles had died away and she didn't need to keep swiping tears from her cheeks with her free hand.

Then it became less comfortable.

Quinn didn't even know where that had come from!

On the drive over she had decided to tell Rachel about Mrs. Schuester as a gesture of honesty or whatever like she'd said but she hadn't meant to break down over it! She hadn't realized just how much she needed to talk to someone about all of this. Or maybe she had that night at the bowling alley and this was just the first opportunity. Thinking about it, ever since that night she hadn't wanted to talk to anyone but Rachel about it but they'd pretty much been fighting ever since.

Still, she felt the need to say, "Sorry for offloading on you like that. I know this isn't close to being your problem."

"I don't mind. We can talk about it some more if you'd like."

"Thanks, but I can't." She couldn't handle any more of this tonight. After everything that had happened with Finn and now her own emotional breakdown, she was exhausted. "Maybe some other time though . . . maybe."

"I'll be here."

Quinn nodded and squeezed her fingers gently. Then she noticed the open books all over the desk. "I'm keeping you from your homework."

"It's only history. I hate history."

"Me too. Well, not all of history. Just the Second World War. It's so depressing!"

"I know! Give me History of Musical Theatre and I'd ace it but gas chambers just make me want to cry."

"I like the history of civil rights. Give me suffragettes over Nazis any day."

They shared a small smile.

"So have you done the questions set today?"

"I was just about to start. I did Math first. And when you willingly do Math first you know there's something wrong. Have you?"

"I tried to start them at Finn's but then we got sidetracked by the baby talk."

Among other things but she wasn't going to share those. In fact, if she was completely honest it was a little embarrassing just to be sat this close to Rachel after the things she'd been thinking earlier.

"Did you want to . . .? I mean if we both have to do it anyway . . ."

Quinn nodded. "I'll just get my bag. I left it downstairs."

"I'll get it." Rachel was already rising from the bed. "Did you want a drink or something too?"

"If that's okay?"

Why did she suddenly feel shy?

"You like Dr Pepper, right?"

"Uh-huh, I guess."

Quinn wasn't sure why Rachel assumed such a thing, but she wasn't wrong and she felt she could use the sugar high right now.

"I'll be right back. Make yourself comfortable."


Rachel had started off back at her desk while Quinn sat primly on the edge of the bed but it soon became clear it was much easier to make fun of each other's answers if they were sat together on the floor, so that's how they'd been for the last half an hour.

"Hitler's right hand man was not called Mr. Assholestien!"

"How can you be so sure?" Quinn challenged, poking her leg with her toe. The unexpected contact made Rachel feel warm inside and out. A feeling that was unfamiliar but unsettlingly enjoyable.

She did her best to ignore it.

"Because it sounds like a Jewish name, so while I can't find the proof right now," she said, flicking furiously through the textbook they were sharing. "I think it's unlikely."

"Fair enough." Quinn shrugged and wrote something else down on her paper.

Rachel leaned towards her to take a look at it. "Mr. Assholeburger?"

Quinn started laughing at her tone. "What? It sounds German."

"It sounds obscene!"

They giggled until Quinn's stomach suddenly let out a loud lengthy gurgle.

"Was that the baby giggling too or are you really hungry?"

Quinn chuckled some more as she sat up, looking a little embarrassed. "The second one. I should probably go home and eat."

Rachel didn't want her to go. "Or you could eat here."

"I don't want to put you out and I'm sure you've already eaten so . . ."

"I haven't. Well, only a snack when I got home from school. Didn't you eat at Finn's?"

"He made me a bacon sandwich." She looked like she remembered it fondly. "But I let him have half because I didn't want to be late coming over here."

"I wouldn't have turned you away if you'd taken another ten minutes to eat."

"You nearly turned me away when I came over here on time."

Rachel looked down at the carpet, fiddling idly with the edge of the textbook. It was true she hadn't wanted to let Quinn in but she was so glad she had. They'd had fun . . . doing history homework of all things! This was a side of Quinn she'd caught glimpses of in the past month but having just spent nearly an hour with her she was even more enamored than ever.

She knew it was dangerous; she would end up getting hurt again and this period of closeness would just make it hurt all the more, but maybe that was just all the more reason to not let it go yet. She'd already dug the hole. She might as well enjoy playing in it for a while before she was buried alive.

She looked back to see Quinn watching her intently, like she was assessing her in some way, and it made her frown. Seeing this, Quinn jerked her eyes away, clearing her throat like she'd been caught out doing something she shouldn't. It made Rachel nervous, because she didn't know why the cheerleader was even here in the first place hanging out in her room like they were actually friends but she knew there had to be a reason, and judging by past experience it probably wasn't one she would like.

Quinn's behavior towards her recently had been so baffling. She felt, due to the last few weeks, she should be getting used to the revolving door of Quinn's many faces but each about-turn just made her that much more concerned about her ultimate motives.

It was hardly surprising when one minute Quinn was threatening her in a broom closet and the next protecting her from Santana. Or going from cruelly propositioning her in the afternoon to crying in her arms in the evening. There had to be some deeper meaning behind it all but Rachel was at a loss to know what it could be.

Was this what true friendship was really like? She'd always thought it would be more straightforward. In plays and movies and books you had your friends and you had your enemies, Your friends had your back no matter the odds and your enemies, well the those you worked with your friends to crush into tiny pieces of regret and self-loathing. The current Berry-Fabray Glee war was a good example of that, except . . . except Berry and Fabray were currently sharing her personal floor space in what could only be described as an amicable fashion.

So what did that make them? Was Quinn Fabray friend or foe? How was Rachel supposed to know?

She felt, with all of this uncertainty, that if she was ever going to get what she really wanted (well not what she really wanted, but if they were ever going to be true friends) she had to figure out what was going on in Quinn's head. Then, if the blonde turned really nasty again once she realized that Rachel really was done pandering to her every need, when she was receiving nothing but false offerings in return, maybe Rachel could prepare herself for it.

So, Operation: Bright New Outlook was shifting its parameters out of necessity for survival. No looking, no talking, no touching was about to be turned on its head. One way or another she was sure she could get Quinn to come clean about her true intentions.

And when better to start than right now?

"We could order a pizza," she offered brightly.

Quinn hesitated before eventually saying, "Okay."

Rachel hopped up to fetch her phone from her desk.

"What toppings would you like?"

"You have the pizza place number on your cell phone?"

She grinned as she scrolled for it. "We take take-out very seriously around here. I also have Thai, Japanese and the Burger Shack at the touch of a button. Not that I eat burgers but they do make a fairly nice rocket salad."

"I picked last time so it's your turn."

"Are you sure?" Rachel's thumb hovered over the call button. "I usually get the Veggie Supreme."

Quinn's nose wrinkled in distaste and Rachel decided it was adorable when her clothes weren't the cause of it. "Just vegetables?"

She chuckled, "They have a half and half option. I won't force you to eat healthily if you don't want to."

"I do eat healthily, but . . . it's pizza. Healthy isn't really on the menu to start with so why ruin a good chance to pig out by loading it with veg?"

"I'm ordering now." She pointedly held the phone to her ear. "So you can continue to mock me and be forced to eat ruined pizza or you can tell me what toppings you want on your half."

"I wasn't mocking you," Quinn began quietly before realizing, as Rachel greeted the person on the other end of the line, that her time was almost up. "Uh, meat. Lots of meat. Anything meaty."

"One second, Paulo." Rachel pulled the phone from her ear. "Could you be a little more specific, please Quinn?"

Quinn shrugged, grinning slightly, and Rachel felt good for causing it, even if it didn't help her order.

She put the phone back to her ear. "Hi. On the other half can we have . . . I don't know, is there like an exact opposite of the Veggie Supreme? Like a Meat Supreme? . . . Oh, there is? Right, that's what we'll have then. . . . Large. . . . Thank you, Paulo. How long? That will be fine. Thank you!"

While she cancelled the call, Quinn said, "It's called a Meat-feast Deluxe."

"Yes, Paulo just told me."

"You're on first name terms with the pizza guy?"

"Not all of them. Just Paulo. And Ricardo. . . . And Pip."

"Pip?"

"Philippe."

"Wow, you really get around."

Something about Quinn's tone irked her. No, everything about her tone actually.

"What is that supposed to mean? Just because I take the time to learn someone's name something I've noted you have trouble with incidentally I must be . . . be putting myself about with every Italian in town?"

Surprisingly, Quinn looked chastised. "No, I just . . . look, I didn't mean anything by it! Jeez, why are you always so defensive around me?"

"Hmm, I wonder?"

It was sarcastic and she fully expected Quinn to lash back at her, possibly before gathering her things and storming out, and it did look like that was going to happen for a few seconds, but then Quinn relaxed with difficulty, from the looks of it and shook her head.

"I get it."

That was all she said, but it was enough to make Rachel back down. "The pizza will be here in forty-five minutes. Apparently they're really busy tonight."

"That's fine. It'll hopefully give us just enough time to finish this." Quinn gestured at the homework spread around them. "Trying to do it after will probably just give me indigestion."

Rachel smiled and sat back down on the floor, pulling her History notebook closer to her as Quinn read out the next question

It didn't take long to see that things were suddenly uncomfortable between them again.

Not completely, they both still came up with silly answers and chuckled over them, but it felt forced now in a way it hadn't been before. Rachel kicked herself for ruining the atmosphere, even though she still felt that taking Quinn's comment at face value had been the right thing to do. The way she'd said it . . . it hadn't just been a joke, there had been something in her tone that had implied she was disapproving of Rachel knowing the names of the men that ran the nearest pizza parlor. Which was ridiculous, obviously, especially now, which was why it had struck a nerve.

It was just another oddity in a long line of Quinn behaving oddly around her.

Obviously it all led to the fact that she couldn't wait for Quinn to come to her although Quinn had come to her tonight, another oddity if she was going to get to the bottom of this. She had to be proactive. She was a firm believer in the phrase 'You can't move forward by standing still.'

"Can I ask you something?"

They'd been quiet for nearly ten minutes, Quinn searching through the textbook for the next answer while Rachel had been doodling in her margins while thinking, so it was a little surprising when Quinn simply rolled to her side, propping her head on a hand, like she'd been waiting all night for this question that Rachel had only just thought of.

"You're going to ask why I left Finn's to come over here."

That was uncanny. "Yes."

"And you're probably scared to leave me alone in case I suddenly run out of the house with a basket of your clean laundry."

She hadn't been thinking that but she probably should have been. "Maybe a little."

Quinn smirked, which didn't really put her at ease but she liked it anyway darn, she had it so bad now!

"I don't know what to tell you, except that I had no agenda when I came over here. I just wanted to give you your scarf back, and on the way over I decided to tell you about . . . what I told you about."

"Why? I mean, why did you decide to tell me?"

"I thought if I shared something personal with you, you would stop thinking I'm playing you."

"But why?"

"I want you to feel like you can trust me."

"Why?"

Quinn smiled, "You use that word far too often!"

"I'm sorry. Why though?"

She laughed quietly this time. "No, no more why's. If you want to ask another question you have to do it without a 'why'."

Rachel grinned. "Why?"

Quinn just shook her head.

What could she ask that didn't include a 'why'? All she had was 'why's'! Why was Quinn here? Why were things so easy one minute and then strange the next between them? Why did she have a crush on the girl who enjoyed making her life hell? Why did Quinn seem to like encouraging it? Was it just for sport, or was there a bigger reason there?

The last question was stupid, because she knew the answer. Quinn only acted like that when she wanted something.

She couldn't ask: 'What do you want?' though because that would definitely kill the mood between them. She thought hard for an alternative.

"So what made you leave Finn's when you did?"

"I told you."

"But you could have dropped my scarf off later. It wasn't as if I was expecting you before you called."

"I don't know. I guess our evening had run its course already. I was bored."

"You get bored of Finn?"

Quinn's eyes narrowed. "Can you make your crush on my boyfriend a little less obvious when I'm around please?"

Quinn still thought she had a crush on Finn? Where had she been the last few weeks?

Obviously she could still see the handsome leading man appeal of him but she hadn't really thought about him as a potential romantic interest since she'd discovered her feelings for his girlfriend.

"Oh, no, I didn't mean that I could never be bored of him. It's just . . . he's your boyfriend, aren't you supposed to be infatuated with every little thing he does?"

"Am I?"

Rachel didn't know how to take the non-committal answer or the suddenly trapped look in Quinn's eyes. She thought it might be time to change the subject but Quinn started speaking again.

"I am, to a point, but there's only so much infatuation I can take in one day. It's not like we were on a date or anything, we were just hanging out after school."

"Oh." Rachel was sure her next question was going to sound stupid but it had suddenly brought up something she had been thinking about since earlier, before Quinn had called and stolen all of her thoughts. "Can I ask . . . what's the difference between hanging out with him and being on a date with him?"

Quinn struggled for an answer, probably because it was a weird thing to ask, before blurting out, "I don't know, less pleasantries, more making out?"

"Oh." She'd been scared of that. Well, not scared, concerned perhaps.

Quinn seemed to read it on her face and looked embarrassed. "He's my boyfriend, of course I'm going to make out with him occasionally!"

The almost angry tone surprised her. She'd only said 'oh'.

"I know that."

"Look, I'm sorry if you have a problem with it, but I don't have to defend myself to you."

"I never asked you to! Why would I care what you're doing with Finn?" she asked, confused by the sudden mild but inexplicable attack. "It's none of my business."

"Sure, you don't care." Quinn rolled her eyes. "Look, if we're going to be doing . . ." Again lost for the right word, she waved her finger back and forth between them and the room and the homework spread out around them. ". . . this. You can't start . . ."

"Can't start what?" It was clear they were on two different wave-lengths but right now she was more interested in what Quinn was getting at than sorting it out.

"Getting jealous!" Quinn snapped, and then looked guilty for snapping and lowered her eyes to the carpet. "It's not fair."

Rachel started laughing because, well of course she was jealous but considering what she'd been trying to say it was pretty amusing. Quinn didn't look at all happy with her reaction so she hurried to explain.

"I'm not jealous of Finn. I fully understand he is your boyfriend, Quinn, and that you want to be intimate with him. I was just wondering, if he wasn't and you were single and someone, say a friend, who you sort of knew liked you, asked you to hang out would it be rational to assume it was because they wanted to make out with you?"

Quinn pushed herself up into a sitting position, braced on one arm, back pressed hard to the side the bed, looking like a cornered animal. "That's not why I came over here!"

"I'm sorry?"

"And you asked me to hang out. I was just bringing the scarf over."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"I'm not . . . I can't . . . You can't expect to just . . . This isn't . . . I was just trying to . . . God, this just isn't going to . . . to . . ."

Rachel silently watched the meltdown in front of her, sure that any second now Quinn was going to burst into tears again, and she had no idea what she had just said to cause it.

"You just can't do subtle can you? You can't just ask that kind of thing, Rachel! Not to me anyway. This is hard enough for me, don't you get that? Just trying to be your friend is hard, without you actually asking me if . . ."

At least she was getting full sentences now, and when she'd had time to digest them they really helped. The reason for Quinn's sudden verbal frenzy clicked into place and Rachel blushed red and put a hand over her mouth as she realized what she had insinuated.

"You couldn't at least just pull some kind of lame guy move first instead of putting me on the spot like that. Like I don't know, do the fake stretch thing or something before. . . "

"Quinn, calm down, I wasn't making a pass at you," she swiftly interrupted, scared that the cheerleader's shock would soon turn to anger if left uncorrected. "Mike Chang called me after school."

". . . putting your arm around me and . . . Wait, Mike called you?"

She nodded frantically. "About an hour before you did. And he asked me if I wanted to hang out tomorrow night."

Quinn leaned closer. "And what did you say?"

"I said yes, but then after we hung up I started wondering what he meant by 'hang out'. Did he mean a date or a friend thing?" Rachel picked at the carpet beside her knee, feeling silly that she'd brought it up at all. "I suppose I should have called him back to clarify but I felt . . ." she shrugged helplessly. "Can you tell me, is this something I'm just supposed to know, Quinn? Like a boy-deciphering code that's passed down from generation to generation that every girl just instinctively acquires by the time they reach tenth grade. . . every girl except me, that is."

She waited patiently and with an open mind for any words of female wisdom Quinn cared to bestow on her.

"You said yes?"

That was pretty redundant considering the rest of her long-winded explanation. "Yes."

"Why?"

Um. "Why wouldn't I? I don't have any other plans."

"Won't you have homework to do?"

"Obviously, but I don't envisage that taking up my entire evening."

"But you did tonight?"

Rachel didn't understand the turn this conversation had taken or the hostility Quinn was displaying. "I'm not sure I understand your point."

"It's a pretty simple one, Berry. You were too busy with homework to hang out with Finn and I tonight but you have all the free time in the world to hang out with Chang tomorrow."

"Mike was considerate enough to give me prior notice about wishing to spend time with me. Meaning I can plan the rest of my evenings activities around it. He didn't just call and expect me to drop everything for him."

Quinn scoffed, "Well sorry for being too spontaneous for you."

"You weren't being spontaneous," she argued, "you were being demanding and as I've made clear numerous times now, you don't get to demand things of me anymore."

"Oh, we'll see about that."

"What is that supposed to mean?" she asked, not at all happy about the pleasurable tingle that travelled up her spine with Quinn's authoritative tone.

Quinn gave her a too-sweet smile. "It means you're not hanging out with Mike tomorrow. You don't even like him and I'm not going to let you lead him on just because you can't have what you really want."

She pulled the textbook onto her lap and started to read the page that was open which was not the one they needed but Rachel was too busy spluttering with indignation to realize it was just to wind her up.

"You don't get to make that decision," she finally managed. "And I do like him so how can you say that that's not what I really want?"

Quinn turned a page. "Fine."

The swift change of direction made her splutter some more. "What? You were just . . ."

"You're right. It's not my place to tell you who you can spend time with. Hang out with him. Have fun. Oh, and to answer your question: Yes. He's been salivating over you for weeks now for some reason so hanging out means the two of you in his bedroom making out. Or more, you know, seeing as he really likes you."

She felt pale. "Really?"

Quinn flicked the page over again. "Of course. He's a teenage boy. An experienced teenage boy. What else is he going to expect."

Paler. "He is?"

"He's on the football team, what do you think?"

"I, um, I've never . . ."

She stopped because she couldn't ask Quinn for tips on how to make out with someone. Maybe if they'd been getting along like they had been earlier but not now when Quinn was being so cold.

"What's the problem? You've made out with guys before, right?" Quinn looked up at her, just long enough for Rachel to see her smirk. "Oh right, you haven't. You've only kissed Finn one little time."

"And you, apparently," she shot back, reacting to the smirk without thinking.

Quinn looked up again, eyes narrowed. "Yes, well we definitely didn't make out that night."

No, she hadn't thought they had, what with 'making out' presumably requiring two willing partners. Her linked fingers wrestled nervously in her lap. Maybe she should cancel her plans with Mike. It wasn't that she had been lying about liking him, she just still wasn't sure if she liked him like that. Enough, anyway, to spend a few hours in his bedroom doing things she didn't have the first clue about.

Besides Quinn was right, she probably was just leading him on if it wasn't his name that first sprung to mind when she pictured rolling around on someone's bed in a romantic, passionate clinch.

And it really wasn't.

Her eyes strayed furtively back to Quinn but the cheerleader seemed fully absorbed in the textbook and didn't notice.

Somewhere far away the doorbell rang, lost in her awkward thoughts Rachel barely noticed it.

"That's probably the pizza," Quinn murmured without looking up.

"Oh. Right. Yes."

Weary of Operation: Bright New Outlook 2.0 already, and with her appetite completely gone, Rachel dragged herself to her feet anyway, fetched her purse from the desk and went to answer the door.

She was starting to think that when it came to the two of them, the question of whether they were really friends or foes was, perhaps, too straightforward to cover all of their options.


Chapter Thirty

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