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Never Asked To Feel Your Halo

Chapter Twelve: One Can Stand Alone in the Dark

Quinn didn't stay much longer, her own admission probably scaring her. After another couple of minutes she pulled her hand out of Rachel's and stood up, brushing down the back of her Cheerios skirt and looking anywhere but at her.

For her part, Rachel was feeling just as nervous and was pretending to search for the perfect place to store the handkerchiefs in her bag. Quinn was unsettling at the best of times, but never more so than today. First with her willingness to practice their part in the routine, and then with the fake-fight and then . . . They'd been holding hands for at least three and a half minutes!

"Do you mind if I go first? I want to be out of the parking lot before Glee ends."

"That's fine. I have to wait for my Dad anyway."

"I'll see you tomorrow."

"Goodbye, Quinn. Have a nice evening."

"You too."

Rachel watched her go before standing and pulling her bag onto her shoulder. She walked in the other direction; taking the long way around would kill some time and make sure they weren't spotted coming from the same area of school.

Quinn's car was long gone by the time she sat on the bench by the pick up/drop off point but she was just in time to see the others wandering out the main entrance. Half of them didn't even acknowledge her. Finn gave her a look that she couldn't read and for half a second she thought he was going to stop, but he obviously thought better of it and used his long stride to catch up with Puck and Santana.

Artie rolled up beside her, he was waiting for his Dad too, but he didn't say a word until Tina joined them, taking a seat next to her on the bench.

"A-a-are you o-okay?"

"Yes, thank you, Tina. I'm fine."

Artie bent at the waist, looking around Tina so that he could see her. "What were you thinking, Rachel?"

"I'm sure I don't know what you are talking about."

"You just t-t-tried to commit s-s-suicide!"

She frowned, "Why does everyone liken upsetting Quinn Fabray with attempted suicide?"

"Because that's what they call it when you poke an angry bear with a sharp stick!"

"Quinn's not an angry bear. She's more of a . . . a mountain lion or a lynx. Actually, she's more of a wolf; yes she's a blonde wolf."

It was her eyes, and her smirk, and her aggressively playful attitude this afternoon (fake-fight not included) they all seemed like very wolf-like attributes.

Artie and Tina were looking at her oddly and Rachel cleared her throat. "She's not big enough to be a bear."

"But she c-could still snap you like a t-twig."

"I thought she was going to," Artie agreed.

"I assure you I can handle Quinn Fabray. Psychotic as she appeared this afternoon, I am not afraid of her."

"Oh please, Rachel, we could all practically smell the urine running down your leg."

She turned her head the other way to see Kurt had joined them. She wanted to tell him he was wrong, that she really hadn't been scared, but she'd almost been able to feel it running down her leg.

"I admit, she caught me off guard. I wasn't even aware she was in the room until she was charging at me," she lied.

"Well, clearly," Artie said, "not even you would be stupid enough to flirt with Quinn Fabray's boyfriend in front of her!"

She frowned at the implication that she was stupid in other ways and resisted the urge to tell them that she had in fact flirted with Finn on a couple of occasions in front of his girlfriend and lived to tell the tale.

"Can we just forget about it? It was clearly ill-advised to do as I did and the lesson has been learned, but make no mistake; I have no intention of tip-toeing around Quinn in the future just to evade her wrath. I am not scared of her and I will not bow down to her animalistic jealousy."

"Ooh, I smell a feud." Kurt clapped his hands together.

"How are you going to get back at her?" Artie asked, sounding as excited as Kurt.

Rachel frowned. She didn't have any plan to get back at her, obviously, and she wasn't sure why they thought she would or why they sounded happy about it.

"I thought you all liked Quinn?"

"More than you, yes," Kurt said, "but that doesn't change the fact that she's been a bitch to all of us at some point or another."

"S-s-she's slushied me three t-times this semester. It was b-before she'd joined Glee, b-b-but still."

"She was the one that came up with Foureyes-McWheely the first day of freshman year. Nobody knew my real name for two months. Even the teachers called me Mr. McWheely!"

Wow, she'd known Quinn had always bullied her but she'd never really noticed that she was mean to everyone else as well.

"So, personally, I'm hoping this feud will bring you both down. That way the rest of us might actually get a solo; because right now if you're not singing then Quinn is."

Wow, she thought again. "So, basically, what you're saying is, I am the lesser of two evils."


"Go Team-Berry." Artie half-heartedly pumped his fist in the air.

Rachel's Dad pulled into the pick-up point and gave her a cheery wave which ended in a 'Don't hurry, take your time' gesture. He was obviously pleased to see her interacting with her fellow students after school.

She stood anyway and took the first few steps towards the car. "I appreciate your support but . . ."

Actually she had nothing to add. They didn't really support her, they just supported Quinn less and she felt annoyed by that on her new not-friend's behalf, but at the same time, it felt nice to have people on her side for once.

". . . I'll see you tomorrow."

She was buckling herself into the passenger seat when her Dad asked, "Do any of your friends want to come over for pizza? We can order extra."

"No thank you, Dad. They're not really my friends; I'm just in Glee with them."

"Oh." It was a response similar to what he what he was used to hearing. As he pulled away from the curb, he added, "Well let's get extra anyway, just for the three of us."

"That sounds nice."

Quinn was in her bedroom, praying to Jesus.

Actually, she was just talking to him while sitting in her desk chair. It was a drag to get on her knees every time she just wanted a simple conversation with her savior. She saved that ritual for just before bed and church. It was so ingrained in her now that she suspected she would still be kneeling beside her bed for five minutes every night even when she was forty. It had made her a laughing stock her first ever night at Cheerleading camp, but she was Quinn Fabray and they hadn't laughed for long.

"I know it's wrong," she murmured to the painting on her wall. "I just don't really know why I know that anymore."

In her head, Jesus said, Tell me what you do know.

Which was a pretty standard response for him. He was like the best therapist ever.

"I know you don't think girl-on-girl is wrong." She flinched even as the words left her mouth. "Okay, that wasn't an appropriate word choice. It sounded pornographic and I know that's a sin. And sorry for saying the word pornographic. I just mean, two girls liking each other can't be wrong, not really, because how can loving someone, whatever their gender, be wrong? I mean, you're all about love, right? Not that I'm talking about love here! Oh God," she groaned, pressing her knuckles to her mouth as she just tried to think about this without freaking out on herself. "Look, it's not a big deal, it's not anything important, it's just . . ." She sighed softly again, smiling and rolling her eyes simultaneously. "She has these nice, small, soft, completely unmanly hands . . . and, I don't know, it's like holding a puppy's paw or something. It just feels good. Is it wrong if it's just holding hands?"

The voice inside her asked, What happened to 'just looking'?

She lowered her eyes, gaze settling on her knees. Her hands had clasped in her lap at some point without her noticing.

What comes after holding hands?

Blushing, she closed her eyes, blurting, "Nothing! It's not like I want to . . . Jesus! No!"

Really? You know that for sure, do you?

She was saved from answering by a ping coming from her computer and after a quick 'amen' she swivelled her desk chair to face it. There was an email alert telling her a new MySpace video had been posted and she clicked on the link.

When the page loaded there was a box with Rachel Berry standing up straight and poised in her bedroom, paused but ready to go as soon as she clicked 'play'. She shouldn't. She'd only favorited Berry's page and requested the alerts because it made it easier for her and the Cheerios to torture the girl. Half of the time they hadn't even watched the video before posting a nasty comment, but that really wasn't why she wanted to watch it now. Which was what made it wrong, surely.

She stood and paced her room for a few minutes. Not that it would have looked like pacing to an outside observer. She took books from her school bag on one side of the room and carried them to her desk, from her desk she took the folder of homework for History and carried it back to her bag. She straightened first one side of her comforter and then walked around to the other side to straighten it out some more. She took her empty glass of milk from her bedside cabinet to the shelf near the door so she wouldn't forget to take it downstairs and from the shelf she took the bag of chocolate covered raisins and carried it over to her bedside cabinet in case she was hungry in the night. She was pretty sure it was too early for cravings, but she'd been devouring a two-pound bag of them almost every day for the last week; she'd convinced herself it was okay because they were at least half healthy.

Finally, after rearranging some of the knick-knacks on her shelves and tidying the things on her desk to an obsessive degree, she gave in and sat back down.

Rachel sang 'This Could Be Love' by Craig David, and it was so weird Quinn had to watch it again. It was definitely outside of her usual comfort zone but she pulled it off, proving her talented vocal range. Quinn watched it a third time, just because, trying not to focus on the lyrics.

Someone had beaten her to the first comment.

Cheerio69: We wish you were on fire. Maybe we'll make that dream come true tomorrow.

Quinn rolled her eyes at the threat. Santana, smart as she was, never did get the fine line between tormenting someone and risking life imprisonment.

She clicked to leave her own comment but hesitated, not knowing what to say. After a few seconds she remembered about changing her username and spent some time thinking about it before creating a new account and clicking on the reply button again.

Streisandsnose: I like the song; not normal for you though. What made you sing it?

As soon as she sent it she regretted the question, it was far too leading. Rachel made her wait ten minutes for an answer too, which nearly killed her, and she spent all of them tapping her fingers against her desk while refreshing her screen.

RachelBarbraBerry: My Dad was listening to the CD on the way home from school and it stayed in my head.

That hadn't been the answer she was expecting. A moment later another comment appeared under that one.

RachelBarbraBerry: Is that you?

Quinn smiled and thought about saying no just for the hell of it, but that would have been a dead giveaway anyway.

Streisandsnose: Maybe.

RachelBarbraBerry: I appreciate you changing your username, but that's a little weird.

Streisandsnose: I thought you'd like the idea of her commenting on you.

RachelBarbraBerry: I do, but it's still weird. Noses can't type for one.

Quinn smiled again as she tapped out another comment.

Streisandsnose: On the contrary, I'm typing with my nose right now.

RachelBarbraBerry: Sometimes I really don't know how to take you.

Streisandsnose: I don't know how to take me right now either. I'm pretty sure the baby hormones are to blame.

Streisandsnose: Shit, can you delete that?

RachelBarbraBerry: Doing it now.

She waited a few seconds before refreshing the page and sure enough her previous comment was gone.

Streisandsnose: This is completely not private. Delete the rest of it and log on to Facebook.

She did the same and then waited anxiously until a box popped up at the bottom of the screen declaring Rachel Barbra Berry wanted to chat.

Rachel: Hi!

Quinn: Hi.

Rachel: Did you want to talk about earlier?

Quinn shot a glance at Jesus but he just stared back impassively.

Quinn: I don't know.

Rachel: This is really strange, right? It's not just me?

Quinn: Well, you are really strange . . . but no, I'm feeling kind of strange too.

She'd already pretty much admitted it earlier but that didn't stop her from nearly hyperventilating when she hit send.

Rachel: What does it mean?

Quinn: Beats me, Berry.

Rachel: We should talk about it.

Quinn: We are talking about it, and trust me, that doesn't make me happy.

Rachel: Tell me what you're thinking?

Quinn: Why do I have to go first?

Rachel: I was clever enough to ask first.

Quinn sent a frowny smiley while she thought about the question.

Quinn: I've been thinking about this afternoon.

Rachel: That's vague.

She smiled again.

Quinn: It was supposed to be. Your turn.

Rachel: I've been thinking about this afternoon too.

Quinn rolled her eyes.

Quinn: And what did you think about it?

Rachel: A lot, what did you think about it?

This was getting ridiculous. If neither of them had the guts to just . . . whatever, be honest, then there was really no point in putting herself through this hellish conversation in the first place.

Her phone rang and she was so tense that it startled her badly; jerking her little finger down onto the ENTER key by accident. Her half-finished thought appeared on the screen.

Quinn: Ok, let's cut to the chase. Something decidedly troubling is going on here. I don't understand it and I don't I like it much, but lately I've been feeling like maybe

Rachel: You can't stop there!

Rachel: That's evil!

Rachel: Quinn, there is no excuse for this cruelty!

She grinned nervously as the messages appeared one after the other.

Quinn: Chill out! My phone's just ringing. Brb.

Rachel: Ok.

It was Finn and Quinn smiled as she answered it.

"Hey." What he had to say did not please her. "You have got to be kidding me? Why? Can't you like pull rank or something? . . . Of course this is a disaster! . . . Because I don't want her there, that's why!"

She ended the call as soon as she could and, furious, went back to typing.

Quinn: Did Mike just call you?

Rachel: About an hour ago, yes, why?

Quinn: He invited you to the party?

Rachel: Yes

Quinn: And you said yes?

Rachel: Yes. Is that a problem?

Quinn: I thought you didn't like him like that?

Rachel: Maybe I was too hasty in my judgement.

Quinn: You're leading him on!

Rachel: Quinn, he invited me to a party, I didn't agree to marry him! Why is it a big deal anyway?

Quinn: It's not.

Quinn sat back in her chair and fumed.

Rachel: If you want me to cancel . . .?

Quinn: Why would I care either way?

Quinn: You are really annoying!

Rachel: Why? I don't understand how I've upset you?

Seriously? She didn't get why going on a date with Mike might upset her? Had she already completely forgotten why they were even talking to each other right now?

Quinn: You're insane. Why would you want to go anyway?

Rachel: Do you know how many dates I went on during freshman year?

Quinn: None?

Rachel: Exactly! I am not passing up this chance to actually have a social life.

Quinn: You do realize this isn't the kind of party you're used to, right? There won't be any cake or ice-cream or bouncy castles. This is a high school party.

Rachel: Of course I'm aware of that.

Quinn: And it's not a Glee thing. This party is for the jocks and cheerleaders.

Rachel: Do you have a point?

Quinn: You won't fit in!

Rachel: Mike seems to think I will.

Quinn sat back again, running her hands through her hair in frustration.

Quinn: Fine! But don't expect me to talk to you at the party!

Rachel: I'd be extremely surprised if you did even under normal circumstances.

Quinn: Good.

Rachel: Anyway, I believe we were having a conversation. You were about to tell me how you feel :)

Quinn: I feel nauseated! My skin's been crawling ever since you held my hand. I don't know what I was thinking letting you do that in the first place, but it better not happen again, ok?

Rachel: You're lying.

Quinn: Doubt me Berry and you'll find out just how much I'm not lying. You be Mike's little date tomorrow night if you want to, I don't begrudge him doing something for charity, but if you so much as look at me funny while you're there . . .

A minute went by before she received a reply.

Rachel: You're the one who looks at me funny, remember?

Quinn: Screw you, Stubbles!

Quinn closed the chat box before Rachel could write back and then, with a growl of irritation, she shoved her school books off of her desk. They hit the floor in a series of thuds.

She glared up at Jesus, hands curled into fists and breathing heavy. "What? Like you were any help just then!"

Rachel jerked awake from a dream about Quinn standing close enough that her hands rested naturally on her hips, close enough that Rachel could feel the rise and fall of her chest, close enough that she could smell the lingering scent of Quinn's shower gel on the skin of her shoulder, close enough that she could hear the head cheerleader inexplicably whispering, 'Beep. Beep. Beep.' in her ear over and over again . . . and after a second to get her bearings, reached for her phone on the nightstand, that was also going Beep. Beep. Beep.

It was a new text message and seeing that it wasn't from Quinn, she dropped her phone onto the bed. That dream had been in no way erotic but it had still taken her breath away and she wanted to slip back into her slumber to re-capture it because, who knew, it might get erotic later.

After a few moments though, her guilty conscience won out and she checked the message. It was from Kurt, telling her to wear something hot (or as he'd put it, anything she wouldn't usually wear) for her first day of the feud. She rolled her eyes and sent a quick text back saying that while she appreciated his concern it really wasn't necessary.

That didn't stop her from spending twenty minutes longer than usual choosing what to wear, though.

A little later she stared into her open locker, nervous about meeting McKinley High's collective gaze. She was already regretting her wardrobe choice despite Kurt's once over look ending in a not-unimpressed nod ten minutes before. He'd made her uncomfortable, because it just played further into his absurd idea that she was planning to exact some form of revenge on Quinn, but it was everyone else she was nervous of. She'd already received one wolf-whistle from Azimio Adams and a freshman on the football team had made a very inappropriate comment about her posterior as she'd passed him.

Intellectually she knew her skirts were far more revealing than the tight black jeans and red skinny-rib t-shirt she had chosen for today, but they'd never garnered half as much attention. She was almost scared to move from this spot and find out what everyone else thought of her attire and for the first time was almost hoping to be slushied, thus giving her an excuse to change into something a little more her.

As the bell rang she could put it off no longer and with a deep, courage-building breath she closed her locker and turned to begin the school day. She should have waited another few seconds!

The three top Cheerios were coming towards her, Quinn slightly in the lead, striding down the corridor as if they owned it which they pretty much did. She thought they were going to pass her without even a glance but with just feet between them the head cheerleader's eyes flicked to hers. It was over in a flash and Rachel was just breathing a sigh of relief that . . . Okay, the second look was longer, and while it could only have been seconds those provocative hazel eyes felt like honey dribbling leisurely down her body.

Rachel was still wide-eyed as she tried to process the fact that Quinn had just, unmistakeably, checked her out when the taller girl's bicep connected hard with her shoulder, sending her crashing back into the lockers.

The trio didn't even slow down and Rachel stared after them, breathless not from the impact but from the residual feel of Quinn's eyes.

Mike came out of nowhere. "Are you okay?"

She nodded, unable to speak yet, because just as she was about to turn the corner Quinn looked back, meeting her gaze. The blonde sneered and then she was gone.

That was how the morning continued for Rachel. She received a few more wolf-whistles one of which was from Puck, and that somehow meant more than the others because, well, Puck was Puck and he was even more popular than Finn! and one of the Junior boys she was in debate class with had actually asked her name! And Jacob Ben Israel had tried to grab her butt as she passed him on the way to History but that was actually less unusual and still totally gross.

Mike was even more attentive than he had been the last couple of days, which was very nice.

She'd even caught Finn eyeing her breasts in Spanish class which, seeing as he was sitting next to his girlfriend, would probably result in her being killed at some point during the day. She smiled back at him though, because Kurt and Tina were both watching and for some reason it seemed like a good idea to indulge their notion that this was some kind of revenge.

Quinn was a different story, however, and every time their paths crossed there was some kind of repeat of that morning although without the heated look that had made it so worth it earlier.

She'd been publicly ridiculed four times in the hallways over how her outfit proved she had no butt and no boobs, apparently leaving Quinn and Santana (and anyone else in hearing range) with no doubt that she really was a drag queen.

In History alone the back of her chair was kicked continuously, Dr Pepper was accidentally spilled on her textbook, and the back of her head was pelted relentlessly with chocolate covered raisins all through the lesson. And then, as she was leaving the class, someone had forcefully shoved her into the elderly History teacher. It had led to an extremely unflattering photo of her and Mr. Townsend in an explicitly uncompromising position against his desk. Rachel only knew this because Santana had been kind enough to send her (and everyone else in her contacts) a copy via text message. She was almost more concerned that Santana even had her phone number than of the photo itself.

Through it all, Rachel kept her head up high. Obviously Quinn had gone into a meltdown about what had happened between them the day before, innocent as it was, and she could definitely relate. Of course she didn't need to resort to the bully tactics Quinn employed to deal with it but that just proved she was a far better person than the cheerleader. It wasn't something she liked knowing. Even through all of their exceedingly hostile relationship she'd tried to think the best of the other girl, but perhaps it was just time to face the fact that, yesterday notwithstanding, Quinn just really wasn't a very nice person.

It also helped that the blonde's behavior today was fast crushing her developing crush and that could only be a good thing.

So she was more annoyed than worried when she found the note in her locker at lunchtime.

Rachel scrunched it up and threw it to the back. Why should she meet her in the restroom behind the gym? It was only because Quinn either wanted her handkerchiefs or was luring her there to beat her up, probably with Santana and Brittany's help.

She sighed as she took said handkerchiefs from the locker and snuck them into her bag. She would go, but if it was for the latter reason then she was telling Santana and Brittany everything, about the pregnancy and about the hand-holding! Obviously it would make her beat-down worse, but at this point she didn't really care.

Quinn waited anxiously in the restroom behind the gym, wondering if she should have picked a better meeting place. This was the best though, because with the locker rooms having bathrooms of their own, hardly anybody ever came in here. It was why it was her go-to place for throwing up if she had enough advance warning to make it this far.

She hadn't yet since arriving, but if Berry didn't get her ass there soon the nausea was going to turn into actual sickness and then it would be raisin chunks all over again.

She paced from stalls to sinks over and over, her hand occasionally moving from her stomach to cover her mouth, and breathed a sigh of relief when the door was cautiously opened.

"If you plan to physically harm me, I should warn you . . ."

"I'm not. Get in here." When the door was closing behind Berry, she added, "Tell me you have the handkerchiefs?"

"I have them."

She held her hand out. "Then give them to me."

"I don't think so."


"You've been verbally, emotionally and physically abusive to me all day, Quinn. Why should I want to do anything nice for you?"

She didn't have an answer for that and she felt a moment of shame for the way she'd been acting, but only a moment. "If you don't give them to me I'll take them."

"Or you could simply apologize to me."

"I'm not apologizing to you, Manhands. Give them to me!"

"Why do you call me Manhands? Does it make you feel better about wanting to hold them?"

Rachel squeaked in surprise as Quinn rushed her, knocking her back into the door and keeping her there with a forearm held across her collarbone.

"Don't test me, Dwarf!"

She ripped the bag from Berry's shoulder and passed it to the hand keeping her against the door so that she could unzip it and look inside. She found what she wanted immediately and then dropped the bag, kicking it so that the contents spilled out haphazardly across the floor.

Handkerchiefs in hand, she made the mistake of looking up. Berry's eyes were wide and dark with a mix of fear and thrill and it was hard to look away. The girl was having difficulty breathing too and, suddenly worried that she was pressing too hard on her lungs or her trachea or something, Quinn removed her arm and braced her hand on the door instead. Rachel's breathing didn't improve and the fact that something was now squeezing her lungs was probably a good sign to move the hell away.

Now that Berry was finally free to move, Quinn waited to be pushed back, but instead hands settled timidly just above her hips, subtly encouraging her closer. Confused, her eyes studied Rachel's before dropping to breathless lips that seemed to be waiting for something. Waiting for . . .? It was feeling herself yield to those hands - coming a half-step closer, head naturally tilting to keep eye contact - that cleared up her confusion. Oh!

Panic shot through her like a taser zap.

"Don't touch me!" She pushed away from the door, slapping spitefully at Berry's arm at the same time. "And get out of here."

"Quinn . . ."

"Go . . . now!"

She needed her to for as much Rachel's sake as her own; any more of this and she was going to lash out in a big way.

Rachel nodded, collected her belongings from the floor as quickly as she could and then left much more meekly than she had arrived.

Quinn ripped open the box of handkerchiefs and held two to her nose at the same time. It killed the nausea almost completely but the scent just reminded her of the girl who'd been in her arms in a manner of speaking just moments before so it was really a win-lose situation.

"Dude, I need a favor."

Finn looked up as Mike dropped onto the locker room bench beside him. "Sure, what do you need?"

"My alternator is dying and the car has to be in the shop until Monday but I don't wanna look like a total lame-o making my date walk a mile to a party. Any chance we can catch a ride with you?"

"Oh sure, no problem," Finn grinned easily. "Quinn's driving but she won't mind."

"Thanks, dude, I owe you one." Mike smacked Finn's shoulder with his palm and then ran out of the locker room.

Finn continued to grin as he rubbed a towel over his hair. He was really looking forward to this party, mostly because it would be the first time he'd seen Quinn out of school all week. Who knew getting someone pregnant would get him even less attention than before? And then he remembered something and his grin fell faster than he did when getting sacked on the field.

"But no . . . Rachel's your date!"

Quinn was going to kill him!

"You have to be joking!" Quinn hissed.

She couldn't believe him! Of all the stupid freaking things to agree to! She'd always known Finn was too nice for his own good but this was taking it to a whole new level.

"I forgot, okay!"

"No, Finn, really not okay. I am not riding with her to the party."

She glanced over at Berry, sitting on the other side of the Choir room. She just couldn't do it and it was unfair of him to ever expect her to. If Rachel only looked half as . . . not entirely unhot as she did right now . . . at the party, Quinn already knew she was going to be in a terrible mood all night. And, dammit, despite her earlier doubts, she'd been looking forward to this party. She needed this chance to unwind. Knowing Rachel was going hadn't fazed her too much okay it had fazed her a lot but she'd made peace with it but picking her up, driving her there, it sort of made it look like they were friends or something.

Not to mention it makes it feel almost like a date.

'Okay, Jesus, not helping right now!'

Of course I am, pointing out your innermost insecurities so you can learn to deal with them is how I work.

Quinn thought about that. 'No, really not helping. If you want to help, make it feel like it's not almost a date.'

Hey, I know I've performed my fair share of miracles but even I have my limitations.

Quinn snorted. "Amen."

Finn was smiling at her, "Were you just praying?"

"Yes, I was praying for the strength to get me through your complete fuck up!"

"Okay guys, let's head to the auditorium to practice the routine. Something tells me today is the day.

Groaning, Quinn started to pray again.

"Okay, Midget, I'mma gives you a heads-up." Rachel looked up as Santana approached her; it was actually a welcome change from trying to sneak looks at Quinn. "You mess up this routine even once today and I will hold you down and shave your lumpy head, okay?"

She nodded, "I don't think I will pose a problem today, Santana."

At least she hoped not. Things might have been doubly strange between her and Quinn but surely the cheerleader wouldn't let all of their hard work the day before go to waste.

She glanced at Quinn again but the other girl didn't look back. If she'd noticed her friend was threatening her then she obviously didn't care.

The music started and after going swimmingly for a few minutes there was a hiccup, it could in no way be blamed on her though.

As soon as Quinn took her hand she pulled it back to cover a (quite possibly fake) sneeze. "Sorry, allergies."

She covered her nose with a lilac handkerchief. Rachel kept her eye roll and her concern to herself and walked back to her starting position.

"Since when do you have allergies?" Santana asked.

"I don't know, it's probably Stubbles' rank perfume." Rachel allowed herself an eye roll this time, because really, Quinn had just drawn more attention to them. "Maybe I shouldn't get that close to her."

"I'm not wearing perfume!"

"Then it must just be you!"

"Let's just try it again," Mr. Schue said, trying to be ever-patient.

"Can I have a word with Quinn please?" Rachel was speaking up before she'd realized that she wanted to, but she went with it. "In private. I believe this has something to do with out altercation yesterday and I would like to attempt to clear the air."

"No." Quinn said without looking at her.

"Actually I think that's a good idea." Rachel had never loved Mr. Schuester so much. "Why don't we take five? You guys can go in the wings to talk."

They might all have been in Glee willingly but it didn't take any of them a second to choose to slack off. Rachel despaired of them, she really did, as they all left the stage in search of snacks and sodas. Kurt shot her an expectant smirk as they all left.

"What did you do that for?" Quinn hissed.

"For the very reason I just explained."

"Fine, come on then."

"Everyone has left, we don't really need to go into the . . ."

"Come on!"

Rachel followed her to the side of the stage and when Quinn looked around, so did she. They were completely alone.


Rachel straightened her shoulders. "I know things are very strange between us at the moment."

"No, they're not."

She ignored that. "But we need to get through this routine. We've practiced it; we know we can do it. So let's. I'll keep my eyes on your shoulder, you choose a point somewhere above my head and we'll be absolutely fine."

"Did you know Mike asked Finn if he could give you two a ride to the party tonight?"

"No, I didn't."

"I'll be picking you up at eight."

"Okay, maybe not absolutely fine."

Quinn smirked, "I can get through this if you can."

It took Rachel a moment to answer, but, "I can."

They could practice this routine a thousand times before Sectionals and their performance would never be better than it was today.

So they still hadn't practiced with the boy's lifts, so Mercedes was half a beat out and Santana was half a beat ahead, so Tina got so dizzy after Brittany had twirled her a little too enthusiastically she staggered all over the place before taking Matt's hand . . . none of it matter because Quinn and Rachel stole the show.

Their initial twirl was sublime, the unshakable eye-contact as they turned in each others arms was captivating and the final twirl that sent Rachel to Finn's waiting hand was performed with such ridiculously comfortable ease they could have been professional ballroom dancers.

Everyone had their own part to play in the routine but many of them forgot what it was after watching Quinn and Rachel. Kurt stalled, completely missing his cue to stride between Puck and Quinn and throw his hands in the air. Artie, who was supposed to come through the line after Mercedes moved from Brittany to Matt, was just spinning his wheels, literally. Santana was glaring at Quinn like she'd lost her mind, while Finn was staring at them like all of his Christmases had come at once. Puck was too, but with more of a leer.

Rachel and Quinn both hated all of them right now.

"Okay, guys, that was almost perfect. But let's try and run through the whole thing now, what do you say? Let's take our positions again."

Rachel and Quinn both groaned.

Chapter Thirteen

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