Quinn's head was inside her locker, looking for an elusive biology textbook, when she heard a shoulder connect with the locker beside hers. She didn't acknowledge it right away, convinced it would be Berry and in no way ready to deal with her yet.
She was beyond freaked out about last night. She hadn't been; she'd been fine for the rest of the evening, happy that she'd gotten what she wanted and that she'd had a nice time in the process. She'd been completely okay with the warmth created by spending an evening in Rachel's company, she'd even been making half-formed plans about asking her out again sometime – just as friends, but even that was a big step – right up until she'd woken up at five am in a cold sweat over the whole thing.
She hadn't been able to go back to sleep after her nightmare – a nightmare that had only become a nightmare after she'd woken up – and now she was on edge and the thought of seeing Berry made her feel just a little bit sick. The fact that the morning sickness was having a blast today and making her feel a lot sick, and that Berry was fast becoming the only thing in the world that could keep it at bay, was just making the morning way too difficult.
Add to that the fact that Berry shouldn't even be trying to speak to her outside of Glee, and certainly not waiting expectantly at her locker to be acknowledged, was also making her angry. Because now she'd have to shout at her, or put her down in some way so anyone noticing this irregularity in the social order wouldn't think it was welcomed, and however freaked out she was, she didn't want to hurt Rachel. Not after last night.
All of this was racing through her mind, making her oblivious to everything else, and so she physically jumped when Santana's voice floated over her shoulder and into her locker.
"So, how did practice go last night?"
Quinn pulled her head out, confused. "You were there at practice."
"Not Cheerios, your church singing thing. Did your Mom and Dad like it?"
"Oh, uh, yeah, I guess." She'd forgotten about her hastily concocted lie the night before. "Why?"
"Just, you better be good."
Santana was smirking at her and Quinn knew that expression. It made her stomach go cold and she didn't like that she didn't know the reason for her best friend's sudden smugness.
"Why?" she repeated.
"Well, I told Britt about it and now she wants to come and see you sing. It's this Sunday, right?"
What? No! That couldn't happen!
"Um, yeah, but no, you don't want to do that. It'll be boring. I mean, it's just me singing a hymn, it's nothing special."
"Don't put yourself down, Q. Me and Britts are really looking forward to your little performance."
"Please don't. I'm already nervous about standing up there in front of everyone. If I know you and Brittany are there . . ."
"Actually we thought about asking the rest of the Gleeks too. You know, to show our support and stuff. Schue will love it, all that club bonding."
Oh God! If she called Pastor Williams right now would he agree to let her sing for Sunday's congregation?
"I, uh, um, I, uh . . ."
"Wow, Quinn, I really hope for your sake the performance you put on on Sunday is more like the one you gave me last night, because so far this morning's sucks."
Santana leaned in closer, dropping her voice. "You weren't practicing a song for church last night."
"Yes, I was."
"Oh really? So you met Manhands at the bowling alley just to get some pointers on perfect pitch?"
Ohhh, God, "What? What do you mean?"
Had Santana been there too? Had she seen them? Because Rachel might have missed the fact that Quinn nearly kissed her after her strike but Santana could spot that shit from across a dark, crowded room with sunglasses on.
"Brittany was in the mood for Kung Pao Chicken about nine-thirty last night so we took a little trip to the Golden Duck."
"But that's miles from your house."
"You know it's Britt's favorite. She likes the name or whatever. Anyway, you'll never guess what we spied through the window while we were waiting for our take out."
"Santana . . ."
"You two looked real cute holding hands, by the way. Sorry, not cute, I meant disgusting. What the hell, Fabray?"
Bristling, Quinn grabbed her friend's wrist and forcibly dragged her into the nearest empty classroom. Santana shook her off as soon as the door was closed.
"Don't touch me after touching that. I don't know if you've washed your hands yet."
"It's not what you think," she insisted urgently.
"So you and Stubbles weren't on a date?"
"No! Or we were, but it was fake. I needed her to come back to Glee."
"Why? It's way better without her."
"I agree, but we won't win anything without her. Look, Finn can get a scholarship for music if we do well, so he had this idea of asking her out and-" Quinn shrugged. "-seducing her into coming back."
"Dude, I didn't know Hudson could be so cold."
Neither had she, actually.
"Yeah, well, he isn't, so we both know he'd have messed it up. And I didn't want him spending the evening with her either, not when she's so into him."
Santana's eyes narrowed. "Q, if she was that into him, she wouldn't have agreed to a date with you." There was a pause and then, "Damn, you know she's crushing on you, don't you? That's how you knew you could take advantage of it. Why didn't you tell us? This is awesome."
It would be so much easier if she could just say yes, but if she betrayed Rachel's secret, that left her own open as fair game. Lying was the only way to guarantee her pregnancy wouldn't become common knowledge.
"Actually, I had to force things all night. I don't think she even wanted to be there. I had to lay it on really thick to get her to agree to come back. That's why I was holding her hand in public."
"But she did agree?" Santana was still suspicious.
"Yes. You know what she's like, desperate for attention. She might not have a crush on me but she's not going to pass up any chance to be my friend."
"So you two are friends now?"
"Don't be an idiot. I just have to make her think we are until the musical is over and then when all she has left is Glee, I'm done."
"Okay," Santana said, grinning slyly. "I guess messing with her like this has a certain appeal, namely the chance to see the look on her face when you drop her like a bag of hot crap in front of everyone. Don't expect me to play nice though."
"I never would."
Quinn felt sicker than ever when they finally left the classroom, but satisfied that she had thrown Santana off of what was really going on.
Which was ridiculous because the 'plan' was the only thing that was going on!
It's getting harder to convince yourself of that, huh?
Lying is a sin, Quinn.
'So is liking a girl, isn't it?'
In her mind's eye Jesus was making a fifty-fifty gesture with his hand.
Growling in her throat – gaining her a strange look from Santana – Quinn stormed off to her first class.
Rachel had a library pass for fourth period World Geography because the book she needed for her project on the indigenous species of fauna in Australia was in the encyclopaedia section and couldn't be checked out.
She was nearing the double doors of the large, peaceful room, glad to be able to study away from the non-productive hustle and bustle environment of the classroom for once, when she saw Quinn for the first time all day. She smiled instinctively until she realized that Quinn was running from her own class to the nearest bathroom with a hand over her mouth.
Her smile dropped in sympathy and then, after checking to make sure no one else was around, she made her own way into the bathroom to check on her.
There was only one occupied stall and Rachel waited for a break in the retching before knocking gently on the locked door.
"Quinn, it's me."
"And?" Quinn's voice sounded harsh and choked and raw.
Rachel's eyes dropped to the tiled floor as she tucked some hair nervously behind her ear. She didn't know why she'd expected to be welcomed with open arms, even after last night. She was probably the last person Quinn wanted comforting her if she had a choice.
"I saw you running in here. I just wanted to see if you were okay."
Something no doubt disgusting hit the toilet bowl and it was minute before Quinn answered, her voice weaker than before but still severe. "Do I sound okay to you?"
"Can I get you anything?"
The lock disengaged and Rachel thought she was coming out, but when the door didn't open she pushed it slightly.
Quinn was still on her knees. "Get in here then."
Rachel re-locked the door and got down on the floor. For the next five minutes she silently rubbed Quinn's back while the cheerleader repeatedly emptied her stomach.
"You must be sick of watching me throw up."
"It's okay." It didn't bother her that much, because of her growing crush, she suspected, or perhaps she was just becoming immune to it. "Is it really bad today?"
"Above average. I forgot to pick up a handkerchief this morning." Quinn used some toilet paper to wipe her mouth even though she was still leaning over the toilet. "So when the nausea hit me, it really hit."
"How far along are you?"
Some fine strands of blonde had escaped from her pony-tail and were clinging to the perspiration coating her cheeks. Rachel pulled them gently out of her face and back behind her ear, pleased to note that Quinn didn't flinch at all.
"Eight weeks," Quinn managed to get out before both of her palms slammed onto the toilet seat and she lurched forward to be sick again.
Rachel resumed stroking her back and cheerfully raised her voice over the noise that sounded like a cross between a mating Koala and an over-enthusiastic tennis player.
"Well on the bright side, according to my literature you should only have roughly another month of this to suffer through before your hormones begin to settle down."
Quinn gave a weak, sarcastic chuckle. "Oh, only another four weeks of puking my guts up on an hourly basis? That's okay then." She spat into the bowl. "What literature?"
"Last night, before our . . . outing, I took it upon myself to compile a folder of factual sheets relating to pregnancy, focusing mostly on what a teenage mother-to-be can expect. I think you'll find it covers most of the things you need to know. Obviously it shouldn't be seen as a substitute for regular doctor appointments, but the month by month guideline of what you can anticipate from your changing body is something I am particularly proud of."
It was one of two things she had added after getting home.
"When you dropped me off last night I researched a standard adoption process too, just to give you an idea of how it works."
"So if you did the rest of it before our . . . bowling . . . why didn't you give it to me while we were out?"
"To be honest I was nervous that if I presented it to you in public you would start hitting me with it, like you did the magazine, and I didn't want to spoil the pleasant atmosphere of our . . . the evening."
Quinn wiped her mouth again and flushed the toilet before finally turning her body to face her. "Do you have it with you now?"
"No. I didn't think you'd appreciate me handing you something of that nature in the halls again either. It's in my locker, disguised as a health-science project."
Rachel tensed as Quinn leaned forward and put her arms around her neck, but she quickly realized what was going on.
"You're still feeling nauseous? I can take my sweater off for you if you'd be more comfortable."
Quinn chuckled against her neck. "What makes you think for a second I'd be comfortable with you taking your clothes off in front of me?"
"You know that's not what I was saying!" Rachel felt her cheeks redden at the very idea. "I just thought you would feel more at ease inhaling the scent without having to be so . . . so, um, close to me."
"I'm not feeling nauseous, Berry. This is a thank you hug."
"Oh." Rachel smiled; no one but her dads had ever given her a thank you hug before.
"You can make it a little less one-sided if you like. I feel like an idiot here."
"Oh, of course, sorry."
She put her arms loosely around Quinn, feeling extremely nervous even with just this light embrace. Which was ridiculous really considering Quinn's arms were tight around her neck, the cheerleader's face buried against her shoulder.
A subtle sniff broke the following silence.
"I heard that."
Quinn chuckled again, "Okay, maybe I'm still a little bit nauseous. The thank you hug stands though. If we stay like this for a couple of minutes are you going to get in trouble? Shouldn't you be in class, I mean?"
She'd take a month of detentions if it meant she was able to stay just like this for another few minutes.
"No, I have a library pass. No one will miss me. I can stay like this all period if you need me to."
'Because I'm so self-sacrificing,' she thought with an inward chuckle, risking tightening her arms just a little around Quinn's back.
"Thanks, but I can't. I need to get back to the lesson at some point." Quinn shifted positions slightly, causing her nose to graze the side of Rachel's neck before settling back against her sweater. "I just need a five minute break from it."
Rachel, trying to stop her body from reacting to the accidental nose-to-neck contact, knew she meant the nausea and not the lesson. "Take as long as you need."
Quinn nodded against her and then an oddly comfortable silence fell as they held each other. Rachel shouldn't have let that happen - where was her inability to stop talking when she needed it? - because it lured her in and made her feel too at ease.
Quinn didn't seem to mind when she turned her head slightly, just enough so that her nose was pressing against the loosened blonde hair behind the cheerleader's ear. Her not-as-subtle-as-she-was-aiming-for attempt at slowly breathing in through her nose only made Quinn press more against her, and Rachel felt flooded with warmth as Quinn's nose brushed higher again, pushing into her neck until she could feel nostrils flaring against her suddenly extra-aware skin. Smiling, overcome with fresh, wonderful new feelings, Rachel nuzzled deeper, boldly inhaling the perfect smell of Quinn's hair and . . .
The other girl jerked away from her.
She'd just kissed Quinn Fabray's ear!
"Sorry! I'm so sorry!"
"It's okay." Quinn was somehow already standing while Rachel was now sprawled against the door, panting in fear amongst other things. "It's okay. Just . . . move!"
Rachel shot unsteadily to her feet, almost landing in the toilet, so that Quinn could unlock the door and rush out of the stall.
She followed, wringing her hands in panic. "I can't believe I did that; I'm so sorry, Quinn."
"I said it's okay."
She was leaning over a sink, looking like she was about to be sick again.
Rachel kept her distance but asked, "Do you need me to rub your back?"
"Okay. I'm really sorry."
Quinn chuckled even as she leaned lower over the sinks. Her cheeks were flushed and she was breathing erratically but thankfully nothing came up this time.
"I hope you know you've really screwed me over here, Berry."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, sniffing you is obviously out until you've taken a cold shower and I still don't have any handkerchiefs."
Her major faux pas was being taken surprisingly well. As soon as she'd realized what she'd done Rachel had expected to leave the bathroom with at least one black eye, but Quinn was just teasing her about it. She would have preferred the black eye if she was honest because this leniency was just making her fall faster.
"Did you . . . I mean, you can borrow my sweater if you like. I'll go along with any lie about forcing me to give it to you that you want to make up."
She was cut a neutral look in the mirror. "Well, I should think so . . . you just had my earlobe in your mouth."
"It wasn't that bad!"
Quinn smirked, "Another few seconds and it would have been."
She wanted to retort that if Quinn had waited another few seconds then surely it was because she wanted her earlobe in Rachel's mouth, but thought better of it because Quinn hadn't waited and she still couldn't rule out a punch in the near future.
"Anyway, thanks but no. Wearing your clothes once I can get away with, twice and even I won't be able to squash the rumors."
"Well, is there any way I can . . . Oh, wait, I know!"
Rachel delved into her bag and pulled out her scarf. It was cream cashmere that her Daddy had brought her so even Quinn couldn't find fault with it.
"You can wear this. I've only had it a couple of weeks and I haven't worn it in school yet because if it becomes the victim of a slushie it will be ruined. So no one will know it's mine."
Quinn turned from the sinks and took it from her, smiling when she felt how soft it was. "If it's new, have you washed it yet?"
Rachel nodded, "Just yesterday. I have to walk home today because Dad has a work-meeting and the weather-girl on WOHN last night said it was going to turn colder this afternoon and it seemed like the ideal time for its inaugural showcase."
Quinn gave it an experimental sniff and smiled again, but then reluctantly tried to hand it back. "Well, if you need it . . ."
"No, it's fine."
"I'm not going to leave you to freeze, Rachel."
"It's not going to be that cold. Just take it, please. You need it more than me and, anyway . . ." she stared guiltily down at the tiles. ". . . it will make me feel better for grievously molesting your ear."
Quinn sighed, went to speak and then apparently thought better of it. "Okay, thank you."
She wrapped the scarf around her neck, loosening it at the front so that she could tuck her nose into the wool just by dipping her head. Turning back to the mirrors she re-tied her pony-tail.
"I'll give you a ride home."
Rachel looked up in surprise. "What?"
"I'll take you home. That way I won't have to feel guilty about you freezing to death when you walk and . . ." she shrugged. ". . . you can give me your fact folder in private too."
"Okay." Meeting her eyes in the mirror, Rachel smiled. "Thank you. But aren't you worried someone might see me getting into your car?"
Quinn was putting on fresh lip gloss and didn't reply until she was done. "No, I've got that base covered already." She put the tube back in her bag, gave her reflection one last thorough check and then walked to the door. "See you in Glee, Rachel."
She watched the door swing closed behind the cheerleader.
What did she mean; she had 'that base covered'?
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