Quinn's head repeatedly lifted off and then slammed back into her white down pillow to a chant of, "Why? Why? Why?"
She was such an idiot!
Why hadn't she just left Berry at the front door? What did she care if the girl stumbled and hit her head on the floor? It wasn't her fault Berry couldn't handle her alcohol and had gotten so drunk; in fact, Quinn had spent a good portion of her evening trying to keep her sober!
See, this is what came from playing nice with Berry! She'd given the girl a chance and . . . and Rachel had abused it! She'd taken advantage of her kindness and . . .
If you can really make yourself believe that for one second, I'll eat my sandals.
As the voice of her conscience spoke up, Quinn stopped banging her head on her pillow and cut her savior a steely glance.
"This is all your fault!"
Excuse me? Am I the one who gave in to temptation?
"No, but you said it was okay and look where it's gotten me!"
I said it was okay to hold her hand, don't try and pin the rest on me.
"This is why you're so big on abstinence, isn't it? Holding hands is a gateway drug to the harder stuff."
Are you sure you're not over-reacting?
"Am I? Maybe I am. It was only a little kiss, barely even that. It was a peck, it was pretty much nothing. Right?"
Did it really feel like nothing at the time?
"I was caught up in the moment, and probably drunk off of her breath, and it was just a thank you anyway. She's been . . . helpful recently, I just wanted to thank her."
'Say it with flowers' is a slogan for a reason, you know?
"Oh Jesus!" She pulled the pillow over her head. "Maybe she won't remember? Maybe I'll get lucky and she was so drunk she's blacked the whole thing out. We can just carry on like normal and pretend it never happened and that way we'll never ever have to talk about it."
Maybe . . . of course, that's kind of unlikely considering . . .
"I know, okay!" Quinn growled into her pillow. "Why? Why? Why? I'm such an idiot!"
Halfway across town Rachel woke up and really wished she hadn't. Her mouth felt like a family of mice had moved in over night and died, probably from her breath. Her head was full of woodpeckers – big, strong, possibly mutant woodpeckers. And her stomach, oh dear, her stomach was spinning slowly, going around and around and around like a sushi turntable . . .
Oh Barbra, don't think about raw fish!
What had happened to her last night?
She remembered going to Puck's party. She remembered drinking her first beer and thinking it was gross but also wonderful. She remembered trying other types of alcohol - some worse, some better - all in that same way wonderful. She hadn't had enough to get drunk though, had she? She couldn't have because she distinctly – well not that distinctly right now – remembered that someone had kept taking her drinks away. Who? Her date? No, she could remember Mike fetching her plenty of drinks at her request, but she couldn't remember him confiscating any of them, so why was she convinced . . .
Quinn! It had been Quinn. Definitely not her date then.
Quinn had been mean all night! Stealing her drinks, kicking her out of chairs and making horrible comments. Rachel knew she should have expected it, Quinn had even told her to expect it, but it hurt now in the harsh light of day. When she was already feeling so physically fragile, it wasn't a big leap to get to emotionally fragile too and she turned on her side, snivelling quietly into her pillow as she tried to piece together what else she could remember.
She had an extremely clear memory of Santana charging at her, intent to do harm in her eyes, but she couldn't remember the reason for it, or how the confrontation had been concluded. She remembered holding Mike's hand and thinking it was nice, but not as nice as some other hands she'd held recently. She could remember . . . Oh, fudge! Had she kissed Kurt? Why? How? What would have possessed her to do such a thing?
No, hopefully that was just the remnants of some crazy drink-fuelled nightmare and hadn't really happened.
What she really couldn't remember was how she'd ended up here, in her own bed. She couldn't recall leaving Puck's, or arriving home, or climbing the stairs to her room, or . . . she wiggled her toes and then took a quick look under her comforter . . . taking off her shoes and cardigan.
She let the bed-cover fall around her shoulders again, deciding she was obviously just a very efficient drunk. She smiled a little, burying her head back into her pillow. If she just lay there, not moving, she didn't feel too bad. Or at least, she felt okay enough to just lay there and not move – so everyone was happy.
She wanted to go back to sleep. It was Saturday – no school, no plans, no vocal coach until that evening, homework could wait until tomorrow, her dads would probably be over the moon that she was sleeping in like a normal teenager for once. And with any luck, when she woke up again this first awakening would feel like nothing but a horrible dream, much like last night did at the moment.
Her mind drifted, on the cusp of sleep but not quite falling over the edge. She was cozy enough, her body as relaxed as it could be when she felt like she was dying, and she was certainly tired, but her mind was betraying her, assailing her with half-formed thoughts centered on a certain hot cheerleader.
Sure Quinn was hot, but Rachel had never referred to her like that before, not even in her head as far as she could remember, so why couldn't she get that particular descriptor out of her head all of a sudden? She squirmed on the bed a little, annoyed at her relentless and obviously perverted brain. And other parts of her! Why couldn't she stop thinking about Quinn's abs? More importantly, why couldn't she stop thinking about touching them? Why was she torturing herself like this? She was never going to get within a foot of Quinn Fabray's abs, they had a no touching rule for goodness sake, she wasn't even allowed to touch her hand unless permission had been expressed first. Thoughts of this nature were completely counter-productive. In fact, her mind was being just plain cruel!
Huffing at herself, she rolled over onto her front, arms coming up to hug her pillow and something sharp sliced into her thumb.
She pulled her hand out, inspecting the tiny paper cut across her thumb knuckle. Confused, she sucked at the thin line of blood and scrambled her other hand around under the pillow to find whatever had attacked her.
She pulled out a sheet of her blank music paper. It was folded into four and when she opened it she recognized the handwriting immediately.
"You have to wake up, Rachel. You can't sleep down here." Quinn tried shaking her shoulder. "What are your dads going to think when they get home to find you passed out in the foyer?"
Her only reply was a sweet little mumbled giggle.
No, it wasn't sweet, it was freaking annoying! She couldn't leave her here but why had she ever let this become her problem?
Oh yeah, Quinn smiled, biting her lip gently. They were still tingling from the feel of Rachel's. She shouldn't have done that, it had been a mistake. She'd thought, maybe, by just doing it she could prove it was no big deal, that it would feel like nothing, like the time she'd kissed Brittany in a game of truth or dare, and then this big thing she'd talked it up to be in her head would just be gone, like it never existed. She'd be . . . cured or whatever.
That was not the case.
It had felt like . . . soaring off of the top of the pyramid..
Scary, but the really good kind of scary.
Like a roller coaster or the first time she'd been behind the wheel of a car on the open road. Not that those two things were synonymous; she was a good driver. Okay, so she occasionally put her foot down but still . . .
She was sitting in the Berry's foyer at nearly one in the morning, a passed out Rachel leaning against her; was this really a good time to mentally critique her own driving skills?
Rachel had said her parents would be home between one and two, so she either had to leave Rachel here to fend for herself, or she had to act now.
"I hope you realize I'm not supposed to lift things in my condition."
Sliding her arms under Rachel's knees and shoulders, Quinn moved into a crouching position and then lifted with her knees. It was easier than she expected.
"So it's just as well you actually weigh about as much as a gnome too."
She made it up the stairs – stopping for a breather only once at the small square landing between floors – and carried Rachel to her room; thankful that they'd left the door open earlier. After carrying her all that way, Quinn felt like throwing her onto the bed, but she did her best to be gentle, even managing to push the covers back with her elbow before setting the shorter girl down on the mattress.
"Okay, you good?"
Rachel mumbled something and stretched out on her back.
"You should sleep on your side."
Sighing, Quinn stopped trying to bolt from the room as fast as possible and went back to the bed.
"You're a terrible date, you know that," she chuckled.
Rachel murmured, "Not a date."
"Not a date? Hmm, let me see . . . I picked you up, looked after you all night, spent every second thinking about you, held your hand, gave you a ride home, kissed you on the doorstep . . . okay, just inside the door, but still . . . I think I was more of a date than either of our actual dates have been tonight."
"No' a da' . . . wan' dinn' n' m'vie."
"I just had to carry you up the stairs and put you to bed; you're not exactly in a position to be dictating the details of any dates. If a boy got this drunk on our first date he wouldn't even last until the end of it, let alone get to choose the second."
"W'sn a date!" Rachel mumbled resolutely.
"I know! I mean, I know," she repeated, trying to sound calmer than Rachel made her feel. "I'm just teasing."
"Shouldn't tease me," Rachel slurred and hiccuped her way through her reply but Quinn understood enough of it. "I might not let you take me on a second date."
Her pulse picked up at the very idea of a second date. Not that they could have a second date when they hadn't even had a first. And the whole idea was ridiculous anyway; she couldn't date Rachel Berry!
"I thought this wasn't a date?"
"This was my first ever date; Mike I mean, not you, did you know that?"
"You might have mentioned it." Rachel started giggling. "What?"
"You!" Rachel tried to lift her hand to either point or poke but found it too much effort and let it drop back to the mattress instead. "You ruined it and made it perfect. How do you do that, Quinn? How do you ruin every day and make them perfect too?" She rolled onto her back and threw a heavy arm over her eyes. "You make me dizzy with things I don't understand."
"Yeah," Quinn breathed out, "I get that."
She stopped trying to have a conversation with the drunken girl then because she clearly couldn't be trusted to keep herself in check tonight. Like she hadn't already proved that! Instead, she moved to the end of the bed to take off Berry's shoes.
"That's as far as I'm undressing you, for obvious reasons."
Rachel gave another sleepy chuckle and a mumble of "Chicken," as her feet dug at the mattress, trying to slide under the covers.
Sighing, with more affection than frustration, Quinn encouraged her onto her side, putting her in a loose form of the recovery position – just in case – and then covered her with the light pink comforter, tucking it around her shoulders.
She was about to make another bid for freedom when she envisaged the girl's hangover. It wasn't going to be pretty in the morning. Going into the adjoining bathroom, she rinsed out the glass Rachel had brought in to her earlier when she'd been sick and poured fresh water into it. The medicine cabinet held aspirin – not to mention a wealth of throat soothing tonics and muscle rub – and she popped two from the bottle. Carrying it all through to the bedroom, she placed it on Berry's bedside cabinet.
Rachel was dead to the world now, snoring softly. Quinn watched her for a few minutes to make sure she was okay. And then a few more minutes because there was no one here to catch her looking at Rachel with anything less than loathing for once. Although how anyone could loathe this girl with her party-tangled hair all over the place, arms curled around the corner of her comforter like a teddy bear and a happy-drunk smile still curving her lips as gentle snores breezed between them was a mystery.
Then again, she wasn't always asleep.
It took realizing she'd been watching Berry sleep for nearly ten minutes like a total creeper that finally snapped her out of it.
"You're killing me here, Berry!" she grumbled; but she wasn't able to feel half as annoyed about it as she wanted to. It was kind of hard to hate something that gave her this compelling sense of urgency and stirred a kind of energy within her that she'd never felt before.
The alarm clock said it was 12:55 AM and a quick look out of the window showed the driveway and street were still empty of cars and headlights. She had a little longer. Sitting down at the desk she pulled a blank sheet of music paper out of a tray and turned it over as she picked up one of Rachel's many bedazzled pens.
She planned to write a short note, reminding Berry that she had better keep her mouth shut about their kiss.
She was still writing ten minutes later.
Why had she left a note? Quinn's head was back out from under her pillow but she had her hands over her face. It wasn't even a note, it was a letter. She'd written less to her Romanian pen pal when she'd been in middle school! And the letters she'd written to Chalakia had been nothing like the one last night.
She couldn't believe she'd been stupid enough to write Berry a love letter! Where had her brain been? The kiss hadn't been that good!
Yes it was.
Maybe she could get over to the Berry's right now, sneak up to Rachel's room and steal the note back before the girl even woke up.
And what do you say if she wakes up while you're there?
"Nothing. I just punch her in the head repeatedly until she passes out again."
Do I even know you?
You used to be so sweet.
"I used to be a loser."
So you and Rachel are kindred spirits.
Rachel squinted at the piece of paper, all thoughts of sickness gone. Her name wasn't at the top and it wasn't signed, but she knew who it was from. Seeing as Quinn hadn't had the time or opportunity to leave anything under her pillow before they'd left for the party, at least this cleared up who had brought her home.
And who had partially undressed her.
Okay, so her shoes and cardigan being removed really weren't grounds for blushing.
Why couldn't she get that thought out of her head?
She read the first paragraph.
I hope you don't feel too bad this morning, although considering you just made me carry you up all those stairs, you kind of deserve a killer hangover!
Quinn had carried her upstairs? Rachel felt her stomach flip pleasantly but at the same time felt incredibly guilty. Quinn shouldn't be carrying anything in her condition! What if she'd hurt herself? What if she'd fallen? What if she'd fallen and hurt her?
But Quinn had carried her upstairs! Rachel smiled and read on.
If you haven't found it yet I placed a glass of water and some aspirin beside your bed. I've never been half as drunk as you are right now, so I can't vouch, but it's supposed to help so take the pills and drink the water like a good little gnome.
Rachel turned over in bed to see the water and aspirin in front of her. She felt like she should be insulted at being called a gnome but for some reason the new nickname just made roll her eyes with a smile.
Suddenly realizing how thirsty she was, she gulped the water down in one long series of swallows, completely forgetting the pills until she was done. It didn't matter; she'd get another glass to take them with a minute. She wanted to keep reading for now.
Thanks for your help in the bathroom tonight. I know it ended . . . shall we say . . . awkwardly . . .
Rachel closed her eyes, racking her brain. Bathroom? What had happened in the bathroom? Oh! Morning sickness! Morning sickness was awesome! It was coming back to her slowly. Wait, how had it ended awkwardly?
. . . but I appreciated you being there. I appreciate everything you've done recently . . .
She felt a flood of warm happiness flow through her. Quinn had been hot and cold for weeks, mostly cold, but somehow this made it all better. Quinn appreciated her. It made it all worth it.
. . . and I really shouldn't say this, but throwing up aside that forty-five minutes in the bathroom was probably the highlight of the party for me.
Oh, Barbra, what did that mean? Why couldn't she remember everything that had happened in the bathroom? She normally had such a good memory. She could almost remember winning her first singing competition at eight months old, but she couldn't remember what had happened in the bathroom last night!
So I'm sorry for screwing it up. I hope your chin hasn't bruised.
Just like that it all came back. Quinn had punched her! Quinn had punched her because Rachel had tried to kiss her!
The genial tone of the note was forgotten. All she could focus on right now was the mortification she felt from trying to kiss Quinn Fabray in Noah Puckerman's bathroom. What had she been thinking? No wonder Quinn had been mean to her all night; she'd crossed a line – a big line!
She read the last line again.
I hope your chin hasn't bruised.
More like, hope there's a massive bruise on your chin so everyone at school on Monday can see what you tried to do!
She leapt from her bed to race to the mirror . . . and, oh there was that hangover. She doubled over as soon as she reached the bathroom and spent ten minutes hugging the toilet, mildly concerned that she had somehow contracted Quinn's pregnancy and was now experiencing her morning sickness.
Once finished she looked in the mirror above the sink. There was the faintest of small purple-brown smudges on the left side of her chin. It could have been caused by Quinn's fist, but she'd had bigger bruises from missing her step on her elliptical machine.
After drinking a gallon of water straight from the faucet she half crawled, half staggered back to bed, picking up the letter once more once she was snuggled down.
And this probably goes without saying, but you can't mention last night to anyone. At all. Don't even tell your diary. In fact, as soon as you've finished reading this letter you have to rip it into little pieces and eat it. I'm serious, Berry!
That seemed odd. Why would Quinn want to keep the secret that she'd punched her? Surely it was in her best interests for everyone to know how she'd reacted to Rachel's advances. Plus, much to her chagrin, Rachel knew punching her in the face only added popularity points to a person's status.
Unless she was referring to the pregnancy. Again she felt a flash of hurt that Quinn couldn't trust her with her secret without constantly feeling the need to issue a string of threats. It wasn't like there was anything in it for her anyway even if she did tell everyone. If she ever opened her mouth about it, Quinn would tell everyone about her crush and then she'd be even more of a loser than usual. They wouldn't even be wrong this time, only a loser would be pathetic enough to start crushing on their straight, popular nemesis.
She went back to the paper.
See you Monday. X
Was she signing her name with an X? Because that would be weird. Or was it a big kiss? Because that was even weirder.
P.S. You were right. I would have made fun of you if you'd kissed me when we were playing Spin the Bottle.
They'd played Spin the Bottle? Oh, yes! That's why she'd kissed Kurt! And why she . . . why she . . . she hadn't kissed Quinn? That seemed like a wasted opportunity.
I'd have had to, like you said, but you seriously wouldn't have made it easy for me Berry!
What? She read the paragraph again as a whole. What?
I'm glad we waited.
What did that mean? What did they wait for? A kiss? No, no, no, that could not be what she meant. What else could it be? Rachel thought as hard as she could but her brain was already impaired with the hangover and now reading this letter had just turned it completely to mush. Why would Quinn be waiting to kiss her? Did that mean she was planning to kiss her at some point? The idea was implausible but Rachel read and re-read the sentence over and over and what the heck else could it mean?
She searched for her cell phone on her bedside cabinet but it wasn't there, so she half fell of the bed to search her floor. She found it in her bag by the door and quickly scrolled through to find Quinn's number. She just couldn't leave a mystery like this unsolved. Quinn would probably tell her it had nothing to do with what she was thinking, but she had to know for sure.
It took a minute of scrolling through her contacts list – which really wasn't that long – first one way and then the other to realize she didn't even have Quinn's number.
Sighing in frustration, she sat back against the side of the bed and reached up to grab the letter again. She might as well read the rest of it.
P.P.S. You don't really have to eat this. Just burn it. x
The cross at the end of that sentence was unmistakably a kiss. Rachel felt light-headed and hot inside and not because of her hangover.
She sat there for several minutes, knowing she had no intention of burning this letter, but having no clue what to do with its information either. She needed to speak to Quinn as soon as possible because obviously only she could fill in the missing blanks, but she didn't have her number and she didn't know exactly where she lived either.
She had to get hold of her somehow though.
Quinn was still buried beneath her pillow, beating her hands on the top of it for good measure, when there was a knock at her door.
She pulled her head out before shouting, "Yes?"
"We're leaving in an hour, Quinnie. Come and have some breakfast."
Shit, in all her internal drama she'd forgotten about their trip to Cleveland to visit her sister.
"I'll be down in ten minutes," she called to her Mom, and then pulled the pillow back over her face.
"Why? Why? Why?"
It was the last thing she wanted to do but she should probably speak to Berry. Damage control. Make her realize that the letter had been an anomaly and not something she should grow used to.
She picked her phone off of the table beside her bed and called up the contacts list. She pressed B.
She pressed R.
She pressed M. Maybe she'd saved it under Manhands.
Pain in the ass?
Well that was fitting, but not helpful.
She didn't have Rachel's number. She'd sort of known that but somehow had expected it to turn up on her phone anyway. Kind of like how Rachel had just turned up important after years of thinking she couldn't be less so.
She dragged herself from the bed and switched her computer on before going to take a quick shower.
Rachel stared at her computer. It was her only way of communicating with Quinn but was it feasible? She couldn't exactly leave her a message on her Facebook page after all and what were the chances of catching her online this early on a Saturday?
She decided to go and take a shower before she made any decisions, but her hand still reached out to jiggle her mouse as she walked past.
The screen flashed into life behind her.
Wrapped in a towel, hair still dripping down her back, Quinn called up Rachel's MySpace page.
There wasn't a video from yesterday. Hardly a surprise since they'd been on a date . . . No, since they'd both been on dates, separate dates! Very separate dates that had just happened to coincide.
She clicked 'Prev' and the video from Thursday loaded slowly. She watched as Rachel sang the Craig David song again – enjoying it even more this time – and then clicked to leave a comment.
Streisandsnose: Hi. Are you there? Just checking to make sure you didn't die in the night or something. Not that I'd care, obviously, but if it turns out I was the last person to see you alive we both know I'm going down for your murder ;)
She waited a few minutes but there was no reply. It was nine on a Saturday morning, why did she think Berry would be waiting at the computer for her?
Streisandsnose: Ok, obviously I'd care, a little, and I guess it's also obvious I don't know what to say to you right now. We should though. Don't you think? Talk, I mean, before Monday. Just so things aren't completely awkward. Or even more completely awkward than they have been recently. Not that talking isn't going to be completely awkward on its own.
She forced herself to stop rambling and send the comment, only to have an after-thought hit her.
Streisandsnose: Unless, you don't want to talk. If you don't that's fine. It might be best if we don't, like, ever. I mean it's not like it's a big deal, I'm already over it, but I just wanted to make sure you felt the same. About it not being a big deal. Or if you think it's something we need to talk about. Do you?
She sat back and narrowed her eyes at her column of comments. She really should have left it at 'I don't know what to say'. This was a bad idea. She should be coming up with ways to torture or bribe Rachel into silence, not trying to connect with her!
Streisandsnose: Answer me, Manhands!
Oh, because that would help. She'd spent, what, three minutes making nice before resorting to bitchery! Rachel was probably still asleep, completely unaware of her internal freak out.
"Quinnie," her Mom called through the door. "We're leaving in thirty minutes."
She sighed in frustration. "I'll be ready!"
'Where are you, Berry?'
Rachel dried herself meticulously and then dressed in sweat pants and a loose t-shirt. She still wasn't feeling great and comfort clothes were a must.
She slid into her computer chair, and in a bid not to hound Quinn on Facebook checked her MySpace page instead. She hadn't uploaded a video yesterday, but she could check to see if there were any comments from the day before.
Her eyes went wide as she read them; noting that they were all extremely recent too.
She replied to the last of them.
RachelBarbraBerry: Don't call me Manhands. You know my hands are extremely feminine.
Streisandsnose: Delete that and meet me on Facebook.
Rachel responded to both requests.
Quinn: How are you feeling?
Rachel: Like I was sucked up by a combine harvester and spat out the other end.
Quinn: Did you take the aspirin?
Rachel: Yes, after I got your letter.
Quinn: I wasn't really thinking straight when I wrote that. Don't read too much into it.
Rachel: I have no idea what to read into it. Most of last night is a blank.
Quinn: Good! :)
Rachel: Not in my opinion.
Quinn: What do you remember?
Rachel chuckled nervously but told the truth.
Rachel: Something about your abs, maybe?
Quinn: Oh, God, I'd hoped you'd forget that part!
Rachel: I have! Why are your abs on my brain?
Quinn: No reason.
Rachel: Tell me!
Quinn: You might have touched them maybe.
Rachel's brain went blank . . . aside from a sudden onslaught of memories of Quinn's smooth, toned stomach under her hand.
Quinn: Oh, you remember, or oh, wtf am I talking about?
Rachel: The first one.
Quinn: Do you need to lie down :)
Rachel: Lol. Maybe.
Quinn: Do you remember anything else?
Rachel: It's in pieces. What did you mean by 'Glad we waited?'
Quinn: Stupid letter!
Rachel: Are you laughing or crying right now?
Quinn: Both. Look if you can't remember, that's a good thing.
Rachel: How can it be?
Quinn: It just
Rachel: No! Come back!
Quinn didn't reply and Rachel sat there, fiddling with her mouse mat and her clothes and the papers on her desk.
Where was she? Why had she left so abruptly? Was the answer to that question so horrible that she couldn't even bear to type it?
Quinn: Sorry, I have to go. Family thing. See you Monday.
Rachel: Quinn, PLEASE, tell me first.
A full minute passed and Rachel was sure Quinn had gone and she wasn't going to get an answer.
Quinn: You kissed me when I was helping you into your house. Don't worry; I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. But it can't happen again obviously and don't tell anyone.
Rachel's fingers felt numb as they tapped on the keyboard.
Rachel: I kissed you? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to.
Quinn: Like I said, Berry, it's okay. You were drunk, it happened, I'm over it. As long as we don't let it happen again it's fine.
Rachel: Okay. Sorry though.
Quinn: Yeah. Bye.
Rachel: Goodbye, Quinn.
Rachel sat back in her desk chair, feeling completely embarrassed. She'd kissed Quinn after all! She was lucky to only wake up with a tiny little bruise in her chin.
She just wished she could remember it.
Quinn dressed quickly; she only had about seven minutes now to be ready.
Her lie was for the best, she didn't doubt that. Rachel not knowing the truth was a good thing, but that didn't make her feel better about needing to lie. She'd had to do it though and at least she'd been gentle. She could have made the girl feel like crap, threatened her with bodily harm and public humiliation, and left her in no doubt that the kiss had been entirely one-sided and that she, Quinn, was totally disgusted by it, but she'd resisted. She'd let her down easy. So really her lie wasn't all that bad.
Plus, she'd gotten the urge to kiss Berry totally out of her system now . . .
No, you haven't.
. . . so things could go back to normal. She could forget all about this strange little interlude she'd been living for the past couple of weeks, put it behind her and move on. It wasn't like she didn't have bigger things to deal with after all. Berry had been a blip, for sure, but Quinn had had no interest in the other girl before their shower encounter and it was going to be good to get back to that.
You talk a good game.
"I'm not like that," she murmured as she hastily applied her make-up. "If Berry is, good for her, but I'm not. I'm in love with Finn – a boy, okay? So I know I'm not . . . you know or whatever."
She paused, eyeliner pencil held near her eye, waiting for Jesus to argue with her.
She felt slightly disappointed when He didn't.
Rachel rummaged through the bottom drawer of her dresser for last year's Thunderclap. She didn't look at it very often, even though she was in a lot of the club photos, because it was depressing.
She'd carried it around all of the last week of freshman year, holding it proudly against her chest, in full sight, waiting for someone to ask to sign it . . . and no one had. No one had offered theirs to Rachel either so on the last days of the year, when everyone else was gushing about all of the 'Gonna miss you so much! Have a great summer! XOXO!' messages they'd received, Rachel had hidden hers away in her bag and avoided all eye contact. An extremely easy task to accomplish considering no one had wanted to make eye contact with her anyway.
She'd like to say things were different now and that when the new yearbooks came out she'd be fighting off people trying to write in hers, but while she had tried her best to make friends with everyone in Glee she knew her efforts hadn't yet paid off.
With the exception of Finn and Mike and perhaps – and she still couldn't believe this even with the letter open right by her knee – Quinn.
The last person she would ever have expected to be able to call a friend despite all of her wishful thinking, and okay, she knew it was still too soon to presume anything like that and . . . and she knew 'friend' wasn't really what she thought when she thought about Quinn right now, but as the thing she did think wasn't ever going to happen . . . maybe they could be friends.
It was Quinn she was thinking of now as she flicked quickly through the copy of the 2008-2009 Thunderclap.
She found what she was looking for in the center. She'd looked at these photos before, but only in a slightly envious and angry way. Now she studied the seven page Cheerios spread like it was the official companion booklet to Wicked!
Quinn hadn't been head cheerleader yet when these pictures were taken – a senior named Wendy had been – but the blonde had still been pretty and popular enough to get half a page to herself. The top half. Santana had the bottom half but Rachel tried not to look at her picture while she gazed at Quinn's.
She really was perfect . . . to look at, at least. Rachel knew, even with her crush, that Quinn had plenty of imperfections in the personality department, but to just look at . . .
She smiled as she traced a fingertip down photo-Quinn's cheek and then her arm, wishing she could do it for real. Then she pressed her fingertip lightly to Quinn's stomach, flushing red as she remembered running her hand over that smooth skin, feeling the muscles twitch beneath her palm. She still couldn't remember what had led to Quinn allowing her such intimate contact, but it was irrelevant. She had; what else did Rachel need to know?
When Quinn had told her about that, the memory had come flooding back instantly, but Quinn had also said that Rachel had kissed her, and try as she might that memory just wasn't coming back! It was probably a good thing, because she was mortified enough with just the outsider knowledge, but if she was going to be mortified anyway, what could it hurt to remember how it felt?
She wanted that memory back more than anything, even if it included Quinn pushing her away and telling her off – and, really, she couldn't imagine it ending any way but like that.
Glancing at her door to make sure it was still closed and then at her computer screen to make sure Quinn's disembodied head wasn't somehow watching her through it, Rachel gave into temptation and held the book up level with face. She was surprised she could keep it so still with the way her hands were shaking, but she did and slowly leaned in until her lips were pressed against photo-Quinn's wide smile.
She was absolutely sure it felt nothing like the real thing but it still made her feel hot and tingly and she dropped the book back to the floor with a shy chuckle. She couldn't believe she'd just kissed a photo of Quinn! There was no denying her crush now, was there?
Not looking at the photo again she folded the letter, pressed it to the page and closed the book. She stroked the cover lovingly once and then shoved it back where it had been, making sure it was covered beneath a couple of family photo albums before closing the drawer.
She had a feeling it wouldn't be the last time this weekend she saw that book.
Cleveland hadn't been too unbearable so far. She spent the drive there reading ahead in the assigned book for American Lit. It was a good idea because sitting next to Berry was already distracting enough and she could only imagine that would be even worse come this Tuesday morning.
Almost as soon as they'd arrived, Quinn's Mom and Dad had left Frannie's small suburban home to go into the city. Their Dad apologized for interrupting family day to meet with clients, but . . . whatever. Quinn wasn't much into family days right now anyway, what with all the secrets she was keeping from them.
She'd been left at the house and it was a little awkward, because this was her sister, who'd she'd grown up with, but other than the occasional phone call and holiday meals they'd barely seen each other in the two years since Frannie had been married.
"You look peaky."
"Yeah, well you look fat!" Quinn snapped back.
They were having brunch on the back porch and Frannie looked up from scraping a modicum of butter onto her scone.
"I'm pregnant," she said with a smile. "I'm supposed to get fat."
'Yeah, well so am I! And I'm supposed to get morning sick.'
Despite the age difference there had always been plenty of sibling rivalry growing up – Frannie had always been perfect in their parent's eyes and Quinn had always been . . . not. It wasn't that she thought they loved her any less – or if they did they hid it well – but why did Frannie have to get the perfect damn nose and the sunshine blonde hair naturally? For the entire time they'd both been teenagers, albeit at different ends of the spectrum, Quinn had strived to be better than her sister and her sister had, metaphorically, placed her hand on Quinn's forehead to mockingly keep her wild swings at bay.
But since she'd married, Frannie seemed to have mellowed a whole lot.
That didn't mean Quinn trusted her with her secret. It was one thing to be pregnant at twenty-two when you were married to a man your Daddy adored; a completely different thing to be pregnant at sixteen by a Jew who wasn't even your boyfriend.
"Sorry," she muttered, going back to her own scone.
"Having problems, kid?"
Frannie hadn't taken naturally to the transition from Lucy to Quinn like their mom and dad had. Quinn knew her sister thought she was kind of stupid for wanting to change herself so entirely, but then that was easy to say when you were practically born pretty and popular. It had caused more than a few arguments when Frannie was still living at home – 'kid' was the compromise they'd come to, even if Quinn liked it only marginally more than Lucy.
"Boy trouble?" Frannie asked with a knowing smile.
'If only you knew', she thought before shaking her head. "I'm still dating Finn."
"Oh, I met him over the summer, right? Nice boy, a little slow?"
"He is not slow."
"He ate a plateful of shrimp without taking the shells off."
"He didn't know you were supposed to," Quinn defended him.
Frannie shrugged, letting it go. "So you two are still going strong?"
Frannie watched her for a moment before taking a bite of her scone. Quinn didn't like the scrutiny and tried to toughen her face to withstand it. She had a feeling she'd failed.
"Do yourself a favor, kid. Don't get tied down to early. You have too much potential for that."
Quinn gulped before she could stop herself, wondering what her sister had guessed. "You got married at twenty-one."
"To a guy I met in college, not high school. And as much as I love the idiot, it hasn't all been smooth sailing even at our age." She looked down at her distended stomach. "And I know for a fact this baby is going to cause some choppy water."
"Are you not happy about being pregnant?" Quinn asked, voice wavery, because maybe if her sister admitted that then she would find the strength to admit her own fears.
Frannie smiled, "Of course we are. It wasn't expected, my life plan didn't include children for at least five more years, but obviously God had a different plan and I respect his judgment."
Life plans made her think of Rachel Berry and she had to shake her head to clear the thought.
"So you don't think I should stay with Finn? You think I should play the field?" She'd already done that with disastrous results.
"I think if Finn's the one, you'll know it, but you're sixteen and you've been on edge all morning. If it's not working for you, look for something that does."
"You think I'm on edge because of Finn?"
Frannie shrugged, "How are your grades then?"
"I'm third in my class." Six above Berry but why that was important to think about she didn't know. How did she even know that anyway?
"And the 'rents are treating you okay?"
"Stifling but loving as ever."
"Your social life everything you dreamed it would be?"
"I'm head cheerleader, what do you think?"
Her sister smiled. "Then that just leaves your love life. I had a dozen boyfriends in the time you've been dating Finn."
"Yeah but I'm not a slut." She regretted the words as soon as she'd said them but Frannie just laughed again.
"Neither was I. President of the Celibacy Club, remember? Just like you. But you can kiss as many boys as you want and still stay a virgin."
Quinn ducked her head, feeling ashamed, her secret feeling like a hot, nasty, twisty thing in her stomach. A few seconds later the next bout of nausea hit her. She thought of the handkerchief in her pocket, the one that didn't smell like she needed it too any longer and found herself blurting,
"I might like someone else."
"Oh, who?" Frannie leaned forward in excitement. Life in suburbia must be really boring. "What's his name?"
"Uh." Quinn's brain shut down, stopping the name from finding its way from her mind to her mouth. "Uh, Puck, it's Puck. I mean Noah."
"Noah?" Frannie's cute, all-natural nose wrinkled, "That doesn't sound promising."
Quinn sighed, it sounded a lot more promising than Rachel.
Pro: I think she likes me. As a friend at least, and that's a start.
Con: But she's made it quite clear she'd prefer it if I didn't like her as anything at all.
Rachel sucked on the end of her pen as she stared down at her list.
Pro: She admitted she likes holding my hand.
Con: She didn't admit it, she just didn't deny it.
Rachel frowned; was that the same thing? Not denying something was almost like an admission of liking it.
Pro: She let me touch her abs!
Con: I have no proof I had her permission to do that.
Pro: I kissed her!
Con: She made it clear it wasn't appreciated.
Pro: I really like her!
She flopped onto her back to lay stretched out on her carpet, her list sliding off of her knees.
Why did she like Quinn Fabray? Everything inside her screamed she shouldn't, that it was ludicrous, but she still did. Why?
There was a soft knock at her door. Rachel's hand reached for the list and turned it upside down.
Her daddy poked his head around the door. "Are you okay, baby girl? We haven't seen you all morning."
She twisted her head around to see her alarm clock and was surprised to see it was almost noon. She'd been obsessing about this for three hours!
"I'm fine, Daddy. I've just had some things to think about."
"Anything I can help you with?"
"I don't know." She normally told her parents everything, but she didn't know if she could talk about this.
He came further into the room, taking a seat on the edge of the bed so that he could look down into her troubled face.
"How do you know the difference between a crush and actually liking someone?"
"Well, a crush is normally the first sign that you actually like someone."
"I guess that makes sense. Do you think it's possible to get liking someone as a friend confused with liking someone romantically?"
Hiram Berry was quiet for a moment. "I do, but I don't think it's possible to confuse them for very long."
"Can you explain?"
"Well, I think that you can tell the difference as soon as you know whether you want to kiss that person or not. If you don't want to kiss them then you're probably just friends, if you do . . . maybe it's something more."
"Did you want to kiss Dad as soon as you met him?"
Her Daddy chuckled, "I wanted to strangle your Dad as soon as I met him. He was infuriating, and – don't ever tell him I told you this, but – he was a capital D-I-V-A when the troupe first came together. Of course, if you ask him he'll say my capitals were more like B-I-T-C . . . well, you get the idea."
Rachel laughed but then groaned. That didn't really help. "So it wasn't love at first sight?"
"No, it was. It just took us both a while to realize it. What's this about, baby girl? Have you met someone? Is it that boy from Glee you were talking about?"
"No, it's not Finn. I am in Glee with them though."
"Who is it then?"
Rachel hesitated; she'd told her Dads too many stories about Quinn's previous attitude to be comfortable divulging without giving it some thought.
"I'd rather not say yet."
"Okay. Well, you know where we are if you change your mind." Her daddy stood from the bed. "It's salad for lunch so just come down when you're ready. And you're Dad was talking about having a movie night tonight, after your vocal lesson. Care to join us?"
"Thanks, Daddy." She knew her Dad had suggested no such thing, because movie nights were Sunday, but her daddy would make it happen if it would cheer her up. "I'd like that."
"We'll stop by Blockbuster on the way home from your session." He blew her a kiss and then left her alone.
Rachel curled up on her side, dragging her list closer to her.
Pro: Capital B-I-T-C-H or not, I know Quinn would make an admirable and stimulating love interest/significant other.
Con: She'll never feel the same about me.
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