|The Silence of Silence
Author: your.kat PM
Quinn and Rachel meet at Haverbrook under unusual circumstances. Why is Rachel silent? And why does Quinn care? "You can hear," Quinn said simply, "but can you speak?"; "Yes," Rachel signed. "I can speak. But silence is a friend who will never betray."Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Quinn F. & Rachel B. - Chapters: 30 - Words: 135,152 - Reviews: 1,914 - Favs: 1,278 - Follows: 1,310 - Updated: 10-02-12 - Published: 03-22-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6841332
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Silence of Silence
Quinn's heels lay abandoned in the middle of her bedroom floor, so she plucked at the material of her slacks, pulling them up a bit so that she wasn't walking on her hems as she made her way to the front door.
"Coming!" she called out, still curious as to whom she would find out in the hallway.
She hadn't locked the door behind her when she got home – a bad habit for which Caleb liked to chastise her – and Quinn didn't even check the peephole before swinging the door inward. Her eyes immediately widened and a smile crossed her lips as she took in the sight of Rachel standing before her.
"Rachel, hi," Quinn said, lamely stepping back and gesturing inside. "Please, come in."
The smile on Quinn's face was mirrored on Rachel's, and it made Quinn happy – it made her feel whole.
"Hi," Rachel returned the greeting, stepping further into the living room and standing almost awkwardly in front of the couch. "Is Mr. Schuester around?"
"No, he's actually gone to visit his parents for the long weekend. He took Emma, I think they might very well be making an engagement announcement soon, if I know Will at all."
"That's exciting," Rachel said, one hand nervously smoothing down the front of her skirt as she fidgeted in place.
Quinn moved around the couch and stood directly in front of her. "Well, I said an engagement announcement, which I could potentially see. Whether the man will ever actually get married, I'm not entirely sure." She reached a hand out and allowed her fingertips to wrap around Rachel's fidgeting hand, smoothing her thumb slowly over the delicate skin she found there. "Rachel," she continued, moving her other hand to pick at something that had caught her eye on the front of Rachel's school sweater, "you've got crumbs all over yourself."
"Oh?" Rachel quickly asked, reaching up and wiping furiously at the crumbs, scattering a few onto the floor. "I was…I was eating a cookie before I left," she explained. "Oatmeal raisin."
Quinn faux-gasped and clutched at her chest. "And you didn't bring one for me?" Rachel's eyes widened momentarily. "I'd kidding, I'm kidding, I promise." With laughter in her voice, Quinn reached forward and cupped Rachel's cheeks in her hand. "Rach, are you okay?"
"Well, I—" Rachel started but then stopped, chewing at the inside of her cheek in a nervous habit. "Yes, if you'd like to know the short version of things, I'm fine in this moment. On the verge of a hysterical breakdown, but that's at least several moments away."
Quinn shifted her eyes to the envelope that Rachel had been clutching to her chest like a safety blanket – or a live grenade, perhaps – since she had arrived. The seal was just sticking out over the crook of Rachel's bent elbow, and even though Quinn could only see a small part of it, she recognized it instantly. The day of Rachel's interview, she had sat outside the audition room for an hour straight staring across at a wall that was minimally decorated with nothing more or less than Juilliard's seal in all of its glory.
And Quinn was willing to bet disproportionate amounts of money that this was the same seal on the safety-blanket-grenade that Rachel was white-knuckle grasping at the moment.
"Juilliard," Quinn breathed out, sliding one of her hands across the skin of Rachel's cheek and down her neck and shoulder and arm to rest tenderly on the hand that was dutifully imprisoning the letter. All Rachel could do in response was lift her eyes, connecting them with Quinn's in what seemed to be a last-ditch effort to maintain her composure. Quinn – inexplicably ever-willing to do whatever it took to provide comfort to the young woman standing in front of her – leaned forward and pressed her lips to Rachel's forehead. "You're not going to fall apart," she whispered against Rachel's warm skin, brushing kisses down the side of the girl's face. "But if you do," she added, stepping closer, wrapping her arms around Rachel's small frame, holding her close and breathing her in as she kissed Rachel's cheek close to her ear, "I'll be here to catch you."
The moment was like glass, waiting to be shattered into a million tiny shards which would then be perfectly poised, waiting to plunge precariously into the soles of their feet as they tried to escape the mess around them. But Rachel wasn't willing to fall apart, even if Quinn was there to catch her.
"You're something else," Rachel whispered on the air of an almost disbelieving laugh against the crook of Quinn's neck. Her letter-holding hand was squished between them, but her free hand was wrapped around the taller girl, grasping tightly at the material residing over the small of her back. Quinn smelled faintly of her choice perfume and she felt warm and safe and like comfort and hope and a cool spring afternoon and a winter evening by the fireplace all rolled into one – and, for a brief second, Rachel closed her eyes and fell into Quinn. She leaned her weight against the rock of a woman embracing her, and she let go – but she didn't fall apart. Because all of the things that Quinn felt like culminated into Rachel's ideal of home and love and peacefulness, and that was a place she could justify losing it in. But not breaking; Rachel wasn't willing to break.
The moment, it passed as Quinn chuckled lightly into Rachel's hair in response to her statement; but the feeling blissfully remained intact as Rachel pulled back, looking up into Quinn's eyes. "No, seriously," she reiterated. "I'm a lot of things, and one of them is certain. Especially about this. You're wonderful, Quinn."
To emphasize her point, Rachel leaned up on her toes and embraced Quinn's lips with her own. It was slow – almost painfully so – but it was delicious and freeing and hot. Their mouths slid against each other, Rachel's tongue darting out to explore the edges of Quinn's lips. It wasn't until Rachel tasted the soft moan that was escaping from Quinn's mouth that she pulled back the slightest bit, placing a peck on wet lips and leaning to rest her head on Quinn's shoulder. She kissed Quinn's pulse point once, lingering, before relinquishing her grip at the small of Quinn's back.
"Wow, I probably wrinkled your shirt so much just now."
The laughter that left Quinn's lips was angelic, and her grip lowered and tightened around Rachel's waist, swaying them together playfully in place. Rachel couldn't help but laugh in return, letting herself give in once more completely to everything that was the woman whose embrace lightened her heart effortlessly.
"You are something else, Rachel. And that's exactly why you're going to open that letter right now and—"
"We need to talk," Rachel said, abruptly cutting off Quinn's sentence.
Several things happened at once.
Quinn's movements stopped entirely; Rachel even felt the rise and fall of Quinn's chest cease. A gust of wind came in through the still-open window, blowing the curtains up into the air. A car door slammed outside. Rachel leaned back, withdrawing herself from Quinn's previously tight embrace to look up into swimming, hazel eyes. Quinn opened her mouth to speak.
"About prom!" Rachel nearly shouted, quickly realizing what she had said, how it had sounded. "About prom," she repeated, a notch or two quieter, easing her hand up and down Quinn's goosebump-covered arm.
With a stunned look still on her face, Quinn nodded once, her lips forming an 'oh' shape. "Oh, okay. Let's. I'm just going to sit down over here." Quinn extracted herself from Rachel, leveling a gentle kiss to her lips before plopping herself unceremoniously down on the couch – a contradictory action to the professionalism of the clothes she was still wearing. She passed a hand over her face and sighed before crossing her legs and smiling up at Rachel. "What about prom, Rach? And why are we talking about prom instead of Juilliard?"
Rachel had remained standing, Juilliard letter still cupped closely to her heart. But while the letter signified something about her future, Rachel had realized on the drive to Quinn's that she needed to sort some things out concerning her present first and foremost. And that included discussing prom – which she had somehow managed to avoid entirely.
The letter would still say whatever the hell it said after she was done discussing prom. And Patrick.
"As you know, I'm a senior this year," Rachel unnecessarily began, "and it is customary for Haverbrook to throw a formal prom every spring. The prom is open to all classes since our school is quite small and since it's such a big deal for everyone who attends to actually get the experience of a dance – the administration and prom committee actually go to great lengths to make sure that things are perfect for everyone who is hearing-impaired, it's quite wonderful and—"
"Oh, yes," Rachel looked up, catching the twinkle in Quinn's eyes. She focused her thoughts and continued, having to bypass the momentary shock at herself for actually talking so much – something she hadn't really done at all since...well, in a very long time. "I've never gone before, not in my whole time at Haverbrook. And from what I've been told, they always make prom very special for the seniors. I…I received an invitation this year. From Patrick," she added, already seeing the question forming on Quinn's lips. In response, Rachel watched Quinn nod sagely but remain poised and unreadable. Rachel nearly squinted her eyes at Quinn's nonchalance but carried on anyway. "Initially, I told him that I didn't think it would be a good idea, and I believe that he may have inferred that there is…someone else." Aha! That statement had gotten an eyebrow arch out of the other woman. "But I convinced him that I was willing to go with him if it was strictly in a friendship capacity."
Silence descended on the room as Rachel stared down at her knees, arms crossed over her chest, and Quinn stared at Rachel without saying a word.
Finally, Rachel lifted her eyes to level her gaze at Quinn; she blew a puff of air upwards to move her bangs out of the way as she did so. Quinn's expression was still blank, and just as Rachel was about to open her mouth to speak again, Quinn shifted. She smiled and tilted her head backwards and silently seemed to chuckle, and Rachel bit her cheek roughly because she suddenly wanted very much to pounce and wrap her lips around Quinn's pulse again.
"Patrick is a wonderful student, and I'm sure he'll be an absolute gentleman as your date on prom night." Rachel's mouth fell minutely open and her eyes did squint as she tried to process Quinn's statement – which was hard with the veil of lust that had fallen over her head. "And if he's not, I'll flunk him," she added, waving her hand dismissively.
And then Rachel was smiling and her feet were no longer glued to the floor. She nearly leaped across the distance separating them, landing half on the couch and half on Quinn. The other girl barely had time to uncross her legs and catch the airborne projectile known as Rachel with a laugh, eagerly receiving her with open arms.
"So you're not mad?" Rachel asked, her body pressing up against Quinn's side.
"Mad?" Quinn questioned. The word left her throat in a strangled exhalation seeing as Rachel's lips had attached to her neck upon landing. And with Rachel halfway in her lap, Quinn was more aware than ever of the school-approved skirt that Rachel was wearing and how it was allowing so much of her bare skin to press against Quinn's inner thigh. "Why on earth would I be mad, R-Rach?"
The stutter might've been embarrassing if Rachel hadn't just begun lightly teasing Quinn's earlobe with the tip of her tongue. But just as quickly as the moment had heated up, Rachel's movements were stilling. Her warm breath continued to puff in even intervals against the now-moist skin of Quinn's ear, but she was as motionless as a statue. "I'm sorry," she breathed, and Quinn shivered. "We're waiting, I know we're waiting. I know why we're waiting, but that doesn't make you any less beautiful. It doesn't make you any less desirable to me. Everything about you, Quinn, everything…"
She trailed off into silence but still didn't move except to pull back ever so slightly, just enough to see Quinn's face; Quinn's cheeks were red and her eyes were closed and she was breathing heavily through her nose. Her hand that wasn't pinned beneath Rachel's side was open, hovering in the air as if it couldn't quite decide where to land.
"Quinn?" Rachel breathed.
"That word," Quinn finally spoke, seemingly regaining enough semblance of self-control to allow her eyelids to flutter open. She turned to press her forehead against Rachel's. "Everything. You, Rachel, are a magnificent example of everything – kindness and talent and beauty. God, Rach, you are so beautiful. But it's not just your beauty – it's not just your exquisitely rare smile or the sound of your laughter or the softness of your skin when I'm brave enough to reach out and touch you. It's everything about the person you are that I love. I don't…I don't just love you, Rachel. I'm in love with you."
There was a pause, and Rachel rushed forward to fill the silence with the sound of something, anything. Her heart just couldn't stand the stillness in that moment – as if Quinn's words had been too much, too beautiful to remain unaccompanied. "Quinn, I—"
"It's okay," Quinn said. Her voice, quiet yet strong, was all Rachel needed. Another moment of quietness passed between them – and Rachel let it – before Quinn was softly speaking again. "Forty more days, Rach, baby. Forty days. Then you'll be starting a new chapter in your life—" here, Quinn reached out and lightly touched the envelope that was sticking out from between them "—but before that, we have to do things right."
It was a sentiment Quinn had expressed before, and she meant it now more than ever – with Rachel almost straddling her waist and her supple thigh resting precariously close to Quinn's center, it took every spare ounce of Quinn's self-control to push the words out from deep within her chest. And when her eyes connected once more with Rachel's, she was pleased to see a charming grin on Rachel's face. "You are such a gentleman yourself, aren't you?" Rachel teasingly asked.
"I try to be," Quinn said, laughing in spite of the seriousness of the things that had been said between them. Unhurriedly, Quinn lowered her still hovering hand to rest on top of Rachel's knee. She heard the other girl practically purr at the touch, and she bit her lip, shaking her head just once as her index finger drew leisurely circles. "Now, let's talk about this letter that you've been holding onto since your arrival."
"Oh yes," Rachel said, looking down at the letter in her hand as if she actually had forgotten about it. "Well, this came in the mail today."
"I assumed that was the case," Quinn laughed, "or else you'd probably have been here yesterday."
Rachel almost blushed – almost – before slipping off of Quinn's lap and sitting on the couch next to her. An arm rested gently across her shoulders, and Rachel was glad that she had chosen to come to Quinn. "The problem is, you see, that I seem to have forgotten how to actually open it."
"What are you saying?" Quinn asked. "You don't remember how to tear an envelope?"
Turning pleading eyes on her couch mate and with her bottom lip protruding most spectacularly, Rachel asked, "Quinn? Would you mind…opening it for me?"
Immediately, Quinn's expression shifted from almost-playful to somewhat-serious. "Rachel, I can't take that experience away from you. This is your news to hear – before anyone else."
"Well…" Rachel gulped and ran one finger along the seal of the letter. "Maybe you could just get things rolling."
With a smile on her face, Quinn leaned forward and kissed the side of Rachel's head. She reached down and grabbed a corner of the envelope, preparing to extract it from Rachel's grasp and open it for the other girl; but Rachel's grip was unwilling to relinquish its hold. "Rachel…" Quinn slowly drawled.
"Oh! Oh, yes. I'm sorry, please – by all means." She practically threw the letter at Quinn in her haste.
Carefully, Quinn tore one short side of the envelope completely away. Inside, there was a single sheet of paper. "Here you go."
She handed it back to Rachel – who seemed completely and utterly paralyzed.
"There is only one sheet of paper."
"Yes," Quinn acknowledged, "there is only one sheet of paper."
Eyes full of anticipatory tears turned frantically to Quinn. "But one piece of paper is bad! One piece of paper means that they hardly even cared to use up more resources! One piece of paper means rejection!"
"Rachel, listen to yourself. Somewhere along the way, the girl I know gained the confidence and the will to succeed. Coupled with the talent you and I both know abounds from within you, and there's no reason that you should be afraid of the contents of this letter – even if it is a single page."
Rachel's expression steeled – she blinked away her tears and nodded once in resolution. Then she took the open envelope, and she stood, moving a few feet away from Quinn.
The rustling of paper filled the quiet air. A bird sang beyond the window as the sun began to sink towards the horizon, casting sparse shadows across the living room.
Quinn watched Rachel's back as she unfolded the single piece of paper, and a few seconds passed as Quinn held her breath, waiting for Rachel to speak again.
God, it felt like Quinn had been holding her breath, waiting for Rachel to speak from day one.
Finally, Rachel turned around. Her eyes were bright and glistening once more, and Quinn literally could not decipher what emotions were playing across Rachel's face as they were tumultuous and changing at the speed of light.
"There's only one piece of paper," Rachel began, taking a step closer to Quinn, "because they'll be sending my welcome packet in the coming weeks."
Quinn gripped the edge of the couch and pushed herself up, forcing her shaky legs to carry her closer to Rachel. "You're saying what I think you're saying, right?"
Laughter – sweet, child-like laughter – poured from Rachel's lips. "They want me!" she nearly shouted, and the tears that had been shimmering in her eyes for several long minutes began to pour down her cheeks unimpeded by now-useless emotional dams. Her eyes broke from Quinn's, darting frantically over the paper in her hands again. "They want me to be part of their vocal program with an interdisciplinary focus on drama. Oh my gosh, Quinn, they want me!"
Joyous laughter rang throughout the apartment as Quinn rushed forward, firmly wrapping her arms around Rachel's waist. She lifted her, spinning them around in circles. Rachel's arms were around her neck, and her laugh echoed perfectly against Quinn's eardrum. "You should win an award for being the only person in Ohio who could possibly be surprised by this news!"
They stopped spinning and Rachel planted her feet on the ground; then both of her hands grasped the sides of Quinn's face, pulling her closer and crashing their lips together.
"I'm going to New York," she whispered between frantic kisses.
Quinn's hands were gripping Rachel's hips, and she was doing her damnedest not to lose herself in the moment. "You're going to New York," she reaffirmed.
"I want this moment to never end. I want this feeling to be a part of me forever."
Nodding her head, Quinn continued to kiss Rachel with all of the passion that had been building inside of her since the first day they had met – since before she even knew what the hell kind of mess she was getting herself into. But she knew what Rachel meant, about not letting the emotions of the moment dissipate into nothingness.
If the moment they were experiencing could, perhaps, continue on for the next forty days, time would fly by as if it was nothing at all.
Their kisses were not slowing, and the heat between them wasn't losing momentum, it was gaining it. Finally, Quinn placed one final, firm kiss on Rachel's lips before detaching herself entirely and stepping back towards the couch. "My darling girl, my self-control has been put to the test for a long time now, but there's only so much…"
"I'm sorry," Rachel said. She was breathing heavily – though her breath control was quite stunning – and she looked like she was ready to jump Quinn's bones again at any second. "No wait, I'm not sorry."
Quinn laughed around her own shortness of breath but nevertheless moved to put the couch between them. Even with the distance separating them, Rachel could see – and feel – the love radiating from the other woman for her. "I'm so proud of you, Rachel."
Rachel's head tilted to the side, and a smile of absolute adoration spread across her lips. "I did it," she whispered.
It took all of Quinn's will power and discipline to keep herself from vaulting over the couch and taking Rachel into her arms – if not directly down onto the floor itself.
"Stay for dinner?" she asked, shaking her head to clear the mental image of herself and Rachel on the floor doing –
Rachel's reply was immediate and sincere, and it gave Quinn something to think about other than –
"What are we having?" Rachel asked, moving around the couch, closer to Quinn.
Sidestepping backwards to the kitchen, nearly desperate now to put the kitchen island between them, Quinn scrambled to think of what she had in her cabinets. "Anything," she said, "anything at all that you want." Anything at all, like going back into the living room and dropping down on the couch, losing all clothing and –
"Anything?" Rachel questioned, now leisurely making her way around the island, constantly closing the distance that Quinn thought she had been rather successfully putting between them.
"Wait, no," Quinn corrected in a rush. "Not anything. Uhh…we'll check the cupboards!" But now Rachel was entirely between Quinn and said cupboards. "You can check the cupboards," Quinn corrected. But what she really wanted to do was take Rachel right up against those damn cupboards and –
Quinn slapped a hand over her face. Hard.
With a teasing smirk on her lips, Rachel turned on her heel and began perusing the cupboards and the refrigerator for ingredients. "Don't worry, Quinn," she said after a minute or two, "I want to wait." She turned and threw a look over her shoulder that had Quinn melting completely into a puddle-like mess on the kitchen floor. "Forty more days," she said. "I'm saving myself for you until then."
With a gulp, Quinn took back every single thought that had ever crossed her mind – all the way back from day ninety-nine to the last five minutes – about it being easy or cake or that they could do it together concerning making it these last forty days until graduation.
As Quinn watched Rachel Berry scoot herself around the kitchen as if it was hers, she realized that it was going to be harder than she had ever before considered to make it through – for a whole new myriad of reasons.
And the salacious wink that Rachel had just leveled in her direction was Reason Number One.
A/N: To address a couple of questions that come up quite often – Rachel is 18, Quinn is 24-25; also, there are probably 5-6 chapters left after this one, I'm not entirely sure. Hope you enjoyed!