|The Wanting Comes in Waves
Author: blairdrof PM
Rachel Berry finds herself in a ship built in honor to the hundredth anniversary of the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. Will history repeat itself, or not?Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Quinn F. & Rachel B. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 28,293 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 43 - Follows: 107 - Updated: 04-14-12 - Published: 02-03-12 - id: 7801186
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: The Wanting Comes in Waves
Rating: M (in later chapters)
Summary: Rachel Berry finds herself in a ship built in honor to the hundredth anniversary of the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. Will history repeat itself, or not?
Spoilers: none. This is entirely AU.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, nor am I in any way affiliated to Glee. Everything you'll find here is the product of my imagination. The title is the same as a song by The Decemberists, which I obviously do not own. And I also do not own Titanic (the 1997 movie or otherwise).
A/N: This story is dedicated to Alyssa. Inspiration came from luckypressure's drawing, and this is just my attempt to tell the entire story. All inconsistencies and mistakes are mine, since this is not beta'd.
A/N2: also, if anyone wonders about what Finn gives Rachel, I'll post a link to a picture on my tumblr.
Rachel complied as Finn sat her down on the plush chair before her boudoir, "Stay here, okay?"
She nodded absent-mindedly, fingers idly tracing the back of her hand-held mirror. Now that she wasn't around the blonde any longer, she was starting to feel shaken up about what had happened outside. It was odd, she thought, how despite having almost killed herself she had felt much more at ease around Quinn, and yet now, in the safety of her own room, with the man who would become her husband, she felt nothing but despair. She could only attribute the feelings she had experienced throughout the night to the person she was with on each occasion, and she remembered her own words from earlier.
She hadn't given them much thought at that moment, only focused on trying to frantically get rid of Quinn just so that she could jump and end it all, but now she recalled them clearly, and she knew she had been right without even knowing it. She wasn't suffocating because her life was pointless or anything. No. She was suffocating because she had let other people handle her life and mandate what she would and would not do.
She looked up at her own reflection in the oval mirror -its frame intricately crafted in gold, of course- on the boudoir, examined her features, the emotions behind her own eyes. And she couldn't even see a flicker of the gold star she knew she was meant to be. Instead, all she saw was the wide-eyed gaze of a caged animal desperate to escape its fate.
And Quinn... Quinn had seen through her. She had seen through her every lie and fake smile. She had seen the dim light of her fading spark, whereas everyone else thought it to be as shiny as ever. Quinn had saved her, and Rachel hadn't even noticed until it had already happened.
A small smile lingered on her features as she realized she should thank Kurt -mentally, anyway, since there was no way she would tell him so- for inviting Quinn to their first class dinner the following night, for the idea of being able to spend more time with the blonde without pretense or excuses made her heart rate pick up.
She was pulled out of her thoughts when she spotted Finn returning towards her through the mirror. her smile faltered as he approached, yet he didn't notice, too caught up in whatever he was carrying in his hands. She pulled herself together quickly -letting a tight smile stretch her lips- and looked at him as he kneeled beside her on the carpeted floor. Her eyes scanned his face as he let his gaze drop momentarily -rubbing his palms on his pants- to then lift his hands to clasp around her own, eyes rising to meet hers.
"Rachel, I know our engagement won't be official until we get to New York," he began, eyes now fixated on their joint hands as she stared at him, "but I really love you, and I want you to spend the rest of your life with me. It's okay if you have to travel a lot, I can stay home and take care of your cats while you're working," he continued, flashing a dopey smile, and Rachel wondered if there was anything even remotely positive hidden somewhere in his obviously unplanned speech, "I don't always understand why you try to do everything that everyone else asks you not to do," he went, his brows furrowing. Rachel's expression suddenly mimicked his, her eyebrows pressing tightly together between her eyes. Was he trying to- "Do you mean I'm defiant?" she interrupted, and she took the look of deep confusion on his face as a yes. She gave him a small smile, suppressing a defeated sigh as she encouraged him to go on. God, he probably hadn't even heard the word before.
"Uh, yeah, um, anyway, I don't always get it, because it's much easier to do what you're told, since older people know better," he said -rather excited, actually, if the half smile on his face was anything to go by-, and then squeezed her hands, "the point is that I love you, even if you still won't let me make a barbecue for you," he suggested -smile widening-, and even though she couldn't stop her eyes from widening, Rachel did her best to keep the expression of sheer horror out of her face, "and I thought I'd give you something to show that, since you girls always like jewellery and clothes and other really expensive stuff. So this," he added, letting go of her hands and bringing them down to pick up a rectangular velvet box and present it to her, "is what I got you," he finished, all but pushing the blue box against her chest, with a goofy smile and wide eyes.
Rachel took the box offered to her with nimble fingers, barely pressing her fingertips to the velvet, almost afraid to ruin the delicate material. Once the box was tucked safely in her hands, she risked a glance at Finn's face, only to find that the expression of an incredibly excited five-year-old on Christmas morning was still etched firmly to his features as he stared back at her expectantly. She opened the tiny clasp at the front of the box, and her fingers lingered there for a short moment, hesitating to open it. Deciding to get it over with sooner rather than later, Rachel opened the box, her gaze instantly dropping to its contents and remaining there in shock.
There was no denying that the piece was truly beautiful -enchanting, even-, and yet, it was also incredibly offensive. "Well?" Finn asked her, shifting back and forth on his knees, "Do you like it?" he grinned, and she had to force her own lips to stretch into a fake smile as she looked up at him, "Ye-yes. Yes! I do! It's gorgeous, Finn. Thank you," she replied, and her voice sounded foreign to her own ears.
"It's a rosary," he began explaining, "decorative, I think," he frowned momentarily, "there was something history related that the guy mentioned, but I can't really remember it right now. Anyway, I thought it would be like, really cool, since it's all made of diamonds, and white gold, and it's religious stuff, and I know you like that," he finished with a wide smile, completely oblivious to her utter disappointment.
She drifted back into her own mind as he carefully lifted the rosary from its hold in the box. Was he really that blind? Or, well, deaf, actually. Either way, Rachel had trouble believing that someone their age -and in a social position like his- could be so... daft. Her frown deepened as he circled her neck with the rosary, and she suddenly wondered if he was aware that such an ornament as this was not supposed to be worn as a necklace. As she felt him clasp the jewellery behind her neck, her eyes shifted to rest her gaze on his reflection, an intense dislike for his entire being forming deep in the pit of her stomach. How outrageously rude of him to present her with a gift with such blatant Christian implications!
She exhaled forcefully as she glared at him through the mirror -every fiber of her being suddenly repulsed by the completely innocent gesture of his tongue peeking out in between his lips in concentration as she felt him try to pull her hair to the side without it catching in the crevices of the rosary. No, really -she thought-, was he clinically stupid or something? She was still betting on him being deaf... either that, or she was slowly losing her mind, since she was exceedingly sure that she had mentioned to him -and not precisely in passing, but actually pointedly- that she was Jewish, and that anything related to Jesus Christ -aside from him being considered a prophet-, had absolutely nothing to do with her religion. She mentally scolded herself. Maybe she should have told him that she had no affiliation whatsoever to Virgin Mary, though she realized that Finn Hudson was probably the type of guy that didn't even know what a rosary was used for.
He shifted over back to her side on his knees -something she deemed both incredibly childish and incredibly-well, truth be told, it was simply not something a real gentleman would do. Avoiding his gaze, she observed her own reflection, her fingertips absent-mindedly tracing the polished edges of each rosary bead, feeling the smooth surface of the tiny diamonds.
She felt his large hand curl around her forearm gently to bring it down to rest on her lap, and she turned to find him staring at her like he couldn't contain himself, "Look, Rachel, I love you," he smiled down at her -even on his knees, he was taller than her-, "I have all the money in the world, and I already have lots of special stuff, and I can give you anything you want," he paused, that dopey smile of his returning to claim his features as he rested his chin atop his palm -elbow atop the wooden boudoir-, "all I need is to have my needs taken care of, you know?" he finished with a suggestive wiggle of his eyebrows.
Rachel was truly horrified. Her throat was suddenly so dry that she couldn't even swallow properly without it hurting her deeply. Was he insinuating she was to have sex with him right then? Did he really think that she'd give herself to him after a present as vain as that rosary? A present that she could have afforded herself, and which was offensive to the entirety of her being? She couldn't believe him.
Deciding to play dumb -or incredibly proper-, Rachel stood up slowly, all the while looking at him straight in the eyes, "I can't even begin to express just how magnificently grateful I am," liar, "for such a wonderful present, Finn. It truly thaws and warms my heart," liar, liar, liar, she thought, yet she went on, "Truly. However, now I fear I must send you on your way, since Shelby believes it beneficial for my health and my performance to partake in a certain number of hours of proper rest, so I should now be left to my own devices so that I can change into an attire more appropriate for bed duties and start my pre-sleep ritual," lia-well, actually, that was completely true, she finished, stealthily inching them both closer to the door before opening it with a subtle smile.
"Oh," Finn frowned, not quite comprehending how he went from wanting to have sex with Rachel to standing barely out of her room once again, "Okay, um, I'll go get a cheeseburger then, I didn't have a chance to eat with your accident and all, and I'm starving, so," he grinned, happy that he would get to satisfy his growling stomach. Oh, for the love of God, Rachel thought, could he really be any more insensitive? She had never met anyone with such an inexistent grasp of common sense, ever. "And anyway, I don't have any condoms with me," he chuckled, and Rachel couldn't stop the repulsion from being openly displayed on her features, "so, I'll see you around tomorrow," he added and bent down to kiss her cheek, "sleep tight, Rach," he finished, and promptly strode down the hallway with long, brusque steps, anxious to get that cheeseburger that had occupied his thoughts for all of those three minutes he'd been standing outside.
After he rounded the corner, Rachel remained stood against the doorframe, staring at the wall opposite her door, trying to determine whether he was mentally challenged, intricately evil, or just downright idiotic. For the moment, she'd go with downright idiotic. Yeah, that would explain every offensive bit of his obnoxious comments. With a huff, she shot a quick text to Tina to bring her her appointed sleepwear, and retreated to the bathroom to begin her routine, Finn Hudson promptly forgotten, all thoughts now occupied by one Quinn Fabray. The smile on Rachel's lips was genuine for the first time since she had last seen the blonde as she guided her electric toothbrush around the recesses of her mouth.
"I'm-I'm glad I get to see you again before dinner."
Rachel turned to smile at Quinn as they slowly walked down the dock that morning, and her smile widened when she noticed the quickly deepening blush that had claimed the blonde's cheeks following her statement.
"I'm glad I get to see you, too, Miss Fabray," Rachel offered with a slight tilt of her head. Quinn shot her a shy smile before glancing back, her expression becoming almost grim, "So, who is he, again?"
Rachel turned to follow her line of sight, her eyes landing on Noah walking several feet behind them. She noticed that the blonde had stopped walking -they both had-, so she took her momentary distraction to observe her before replying. Her clothing wasn't much different from what it had been the night before, except that her shirt was now baby blue, and she wasn't wearing a tie -actually, Rachel was sure the pants were the exact same she'd had on the previous night. Rachel couldn't exactly put a finger on what it was exactly, but there was something about the blonde's outfits that just-the only way Rachel could possibly explain it was that it made her feel this... pull towards Quinn, as if she wanted to have her always within reach.
She shook her thoughts away as she remembered that the blonde had asked her something. She found Quinn looking at her rather amused -head slightly tilted to one side, one eyebrow barely raised-, and caught sight of Noah farther in the background.
"That's Noah," she replied, "Noah Puckerman. He's-," she paused for a moment to find a way to describe him accurately without giving too much away, "he's my head of security, and my own bodyguard," she explained, yet she couldn't help but blush faintly at how superfluous it seemed, at that moment, that she had a personal bodyguard, while Quinn had probably been through her whole life under the care of only her parents, just like every other average person around the globe.
"Your own bodyguard?" Quinn inquired, her tone almost incredulous as they began walking slowly once again. She cast a glance over to the brunette, eyes twinkling as she promptly slid her hands into the pockets of her pants, "I'd ask if he's more than that, but I've met your... boyfriend."
Rachel couldn't really help the bout of laughter that escaped her at that comment, earning her another raised eyebrow from the blonde. It wasn't that she found the statement funny in the slightest, it was the fact that said boyfriend, as Quinn had so... easily put it, was one of the reasons behind her distress, one of the reasons they had actually met in the first place. Rachel shook her head softly at the thought and set her gaze on Quinn, "Finn is..." she stopped abruptly and frowned, because-well, it downed on her that she had a fiancé she didn't want or care about, a fiancé she never asked for, and who was definitely of the wrong gender. But facts were facts, and she silently promised herself that under no circumstances would she lie to Quinn.
"Finn is my fiancé, actually," she finally stated, and despite her vow to be true to the blonde, she was suddenly overwhelmed by a wave of shame.
"I actually caught onto that last night when he mentioned it," Quinn shrugged nonchalantly, but otherwise kept quiet.
Rachel was struck silent for a moment, feeling a blush creep up her cheeks, but continued anyway, "And Noah is, actually, more than a bodyguard. He's the closest thing to a friend that I've had in years," she added with a genuine smile. It was true, after all, since Kurt had stopped playing such a role in her life when her fame came about. "Anyway," she went on, suddenly apprehensive of her own life and her own choices-for once in her life desperate to guide the spotlight away from herself, "tell me more about the wondrous shenanigans of the heroic Miss Fabray," she prompted with certain flair.
Instead of replying right away, Quinn lowered her head for a second to then lift her gaze towards Rachel rather shyly, a small smile tugging at the corners of her lips as she played with one of the thick ropes of the deck.
"You have quite a poetic way of speaking sometimes, you know that?" she counter-asked playfully, twirling around yet another rope. Upon receiving a humorous bow from the brunette as a response, she stated simply, "My life is not even half as exciting as yours, I'd say."
"Oh, come on, Miss Fabray," Rachel protested, her mood lighter now that the attention was away from herself, "I'm an exceedingly curious person, humour me," she grinned, refraining from poking the blonde's shoulder in encouragement.
"Well," the blonde began, "first of all, you may feel free to call me Quinn, if you so wish," she smiled gently, and then her hands returned to her pockets, "I was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. I actually had a pretty decent life there. You know, the kind of life that unpopular kids believe to be easy," she paused for a moment to cast her gaze straight ahead and away from Rachel's eyes, and spoke softly, "I was captain of the cheerleading squad, I had a straight A average, and my devout Christian parents had my entire life planned out for me. It should have been easy, you know? Following the steps they had carefully laid out for me: graduating as valedictorian and captain of the Cheerios, getting into a good college to study business, marrying a nice, Christian guy, and settle down..." she drifted off, eyes glazed over as she listed off the accomplishments her parents had expected her to achieve.
Rachel observed her silently -something not even she had believed herself capable of accomplishing- and waited for her to go on, all the while letting her eyes rake over every detail of Quinn's face, deeply interested in what she had to say, "But I didn't want any of that," the blonde frowned, and pressed a pink tongue against her lips to moisten them, "so I got a job, saved some money, and waited. I knew that the moment I told them what I actually wanted to do with my life, they'd disown me and kick me out. So, when I graduated, I took the money I had saved, packed my bags, and left. And I never looked back," she explained, and seemed to get immediately lost in her own thoughts.
Her curiosity now piqued, Rachel encouraged her to go on elaborating, "So what did you do then?"
Quinn's head turned to regard the brunette, eyes only slightly widened, as if she had been caught off guard by being comfortable enough around Rachel to open up about her past. She heaved a sigh past her lips, and offered a self-deprecating smile to Rachel, "I ran," she stated simply. "I got a ticket to Italy, and worked my way around Europe from there," she chuckled before launching herself into a more detailed explanation of her resumé, "I started as a photographer for some fashion blogs based in Italy, then backstage at some shows in Milan. From there, I moved to Paris, where I catered backstage at some more shows. There I met my best friends," she smiled widely as she recalled that first encounter, and Rachel found the expression not just utterly adorable, but also surprisingly liberating, since she couldn't remember the last time she'd been able to smile genuinely about someone else without the ulterior motive of having to please someone or kiss someone's ass.
"Back then, Brittany was a model in several of the lesser known shows, and Santana worked as a make-up artist backstage," she laughed in reminiscence before turning to Rachel and shaking her head, "she absolutely hated that job. But she put up with it, since Brittany was there," Rachel smiled at her reassuringly as they reached a part of the wooden deck that was more open, and her smile involuntarily turned into a grin when the gusts of wind tossed Quinn's blonde strands into a state of constant, undulating disarray.
"Once the fashion season was over, I worked a few gigs in, um-in art, you know... my day job was as a museum guide," Quinn bit on her lip, her cheeks getting a red tint to their skin, "you know, it was nothing fancy like the Louvre or anything, but um, at the Bibliothèque-Musée de l'Opéra National de Paris, and at the Musée de l'Imprimerie, in Lyon, where I worked, for the most part, preserving and restoring old books," she blushed profusely as she finished elucidating and leaned back against a mast, head hanging low as she avoided Rachel's gaze.
Quinn rolled up the sleeves of her button-up up to her elbows, exposing a pair of pale forearms. Rachel couldn't help but watch the skin presented to her eyes with rapt attention, and followed their movement to a delicate wrist as Quinn lifted her hand to pull a cigarette out of the breast pocket of her shirt. Rachel stared as the blonde gingerly set the cigarette between her lips and sheltered it from the wind as she lit it. It was only when Quinn exhaled the smoke from her first drag and met Rachel's eyes that the brunette realized she hadn't said anything in response to what Quinn had told her.
"I think that sounds like a fantastic way to spend your time," Rachel said flatly, mentally berating herself for not being able to come up with something more... well, something nicer, since she thought what the blonde did was actually valuable work. "I mean, working at a museum sounds like something that's both profitable and interesting, a job where you can learn, and give to people, without being some street artist with no future worthy of living bumming around for a few euros a month," she shrugged with a half smirk, clasping her hands behind her back in her most ladylike manner.
Rachel didn't know exactly which part of what she had said had bothered the blonde, but something had clearly upset her, as she suddenly sprung up with a loud scoff -shaking her head, one hand on her hip, the other almost frantically flicking the ash off her cigarette-, "Unbelievable!"
"What-what's wrong? What did I say?" Rachel inquired, genuinely confused. She waited until Quinn stopped pacing and levelled her with a glare that quickly turned into a defeated stare as she blew out some smoke, "Nothing. It's just-" she paused, literally biting on her tongue as she observed Rachel's clueless expression, "That was offensive, you know?"
Rachel remained quiet, still trying to comprehend which part of her statement had had such an effect on the blonde. "Look, I come from a pretty much stuck up family, so I understand what you mean. But you can't just talk like that about people you don't know, because if they're working -no matter how or where-, as long as it's honest, they're just as dignified as you are," Quinn explained patiently. She didn't really know why, but there was something about the ingenuity in Rachel's expression that made her refrain from putting on her best Head-Bitch-in-Charge attitude from her Cheerios days as she replied to the brunette. Deep inside, she knew that, unlike most people in the industry that surrounded Rachel, the brunette was the one person who wouldn't deserve the backlash.
Rachel didn't really know what her response to that should be. She opened and closed her mouth, speechless, feeling the flush wash over her skin as she stared at Quinn. Her skin crawled in discomfort as the blonde raised her gaze to meet her own calmly, and without an ounce of judgment. "I'm sorry," she squeaked, letting her head drop once again, hiding her face as her lower lip quivered.
Rachel suddenly understood the implications of her words. She rebuked herself for slipping into that persona, an exact replica of the media puppets she so much as despised. It was ironic, she thought, how society worked. It was ironic, that people like Quinn were the most harshly judged, simply because they decided to do something with their lives, because they went about the world working justly and without bothering anyone, because they didn't really care for the banalities and the superficiality of people in Rachel's line of work. And yet, the entitled assholes and backstabbing bitches Rachel encountered everyday were the most judgmental of them all, even though -Rachel thought- they were probably the ones who deserved being judged the most.
Quinn wasn't exactly a people person, so she didn't really have an idea of what reaction to expect from Rachel. However, seeing the emotions flash through the brunette's face blatantly, she thought it'd be probably for the best to lift the mood for a while. She exhaled after another drag from her cigarette, and smiled at Rachel warmly, "It's alright, Berry. I can tell you agree; unlike that fiancé of yours, who probably wouldn't even know that the preservation of books is an actual job," Quinn smirked, because-yeah, that Finn dude didn't seem to be the brightest crayon in the box.
"That's-" Rachel frowned and pursed her lips. She almost blurted out that it was true (yes, she agreed with Quinn), but for better or worse, Finn was her fiancé, "That's incredibly rude!" Rachel expected the blonde to chuckle, maybe even laugh out loud at her reaction; but she didn't. Instead, Quinn simply took one last drag from her cigarette, slowly released the smoke, and flicked the cigarette butt off the confines of the ship... and all Rachel could do in the meantime was fold her arms across her chest and bite back her words as she waited for the blonde to speak again.
"Rude would be the way he treated you last night," Quinn started, at once getting up in Rachel's space. The brunette stared up into hazel eyes, daring herself to refute the blonde's words, but she couldn't, "rude would be to do anything, to comply to his every whim just to keep him happy, to let him tell you what to do, order you about as if you were his maid rather than his equal," Quinn went on, her palms and fingers curling around the railing behind Rachel, trapping her against it, "that is disrespectful to you," she continued, voice barely above a low growl, "not just on his behalf, but on yours, too, Berry, because you're the one letting him do it," she finished, practically breathing the same air as Rachel.
Rachel had trouble swallowing past the sudden lump in her throat, even if on the outside she was the poster child for cool and collected. She tightened her grip on the steel bar behind her, her knuckles turning white as she squared her jaw and searched Quinn's eyes for any sign that she may not believe what she had just said. She found none. God, she had known the blonde for barely over twelve hours, and yet she was capable of reading her like an open book accurately. No, scratch that, she could read her as easily as an English professor could read a children's book. And she was absolutely right. Every single one of her words had hit the nail on the head.
"Do you love him?"
Rachel blinked a few times before the words registered in her hazy brain, "Excuse me?" she asked incredulously, as if Quinn's question were the most ridiculous occurrence.
"Do you love him?" Quinn inquired again, this time much more tenderly, and Rachel saw her expression soften considerably. The brunette lowered her gaze, finding herself unable to both voice her true feelings aloud and outright lie to Quinn's face. Instead, she settled for verbally avoiding an answer, "That's a highly inappropriate thing of you to ask, Miss Fabray. I don't believe it is your place to question the existence... or depth," she added as an afterthought as she realized that she should be confirming her love for Finn instead of making its existence more dubious, "of my feelings towards Finn," she finished, still not daring to meet Quinn's smoldering stare.
Just as she began to feel trapped, however, she saw -out of the corner of her eyes- the blonde's fingers loosen their grip around the metal railing as Quinn pulled herself away from her, "I don't need to question them," she stated firmly, voice not wavering in the slightest, and Rachel's head snapped upwards of its own volition to meet Quinn's eyes, "Your silence was all the answer I needed, Berry," she said with a certain finality as she straightened up.
"Look, obviously, I don't know you," Quinn began when a few minutes of silence had passed between them -neither of them having shifted from their positions-, "but whatever has been going on in your life led you to what happened last night. And the opinion of a commoner like me probably doesn't even appear on your radar, but I think you shouldn't let other people make choices for you and ruin your life, because you are a star, Rachel, and you have too much to live for to let it go to waste," she whispered and finally tore her gaze away from brown eyes, "I'll see you tonight at dinner," she added, voice almost cracking, and turned around to walk away.
Rachel frowned, torn. One part of her was baffled that this blonde she had barely met could be so in synch with her thoughts and feelings and just-and her entire being. And the other part of her simply soared as the realization hit her that all Quinn was doing was pushing her-pushing her to be who she was supposed to be, rather than a shell of what everyone else perceived, pushing her to live, rather than simply be alive.
She surged forward in a heartbeat, "Wait!" she exclaimed -her arms rested limply to either side of her frame, yet her fists were curled tightly.
Quinn turned around swiftly, eyes wide as she waited for Rachel to catch up with her, and wrapped her arms around her middle, folder clutched against her chest. Rachel stopped before her, eyes alight with newfound purpose, and she offered the blonde a beaming Rachel Berry grin -one she hadn't actually felt on her own features since she had graduated high school. Before she could even get another word out, Rachel noticed the folder held protectively in Quinn's arms -really, how hadn't she noticed that before?- and took Quinn's hand in hers, "Thank you," she said softly, and the blonde smile at the sincerity in her tone.
They stayed like that for a moment, silent, until Rachel tucked a strand of hair behind her ear -pursing her lips nervously-, and asked, pointing to the folder, "What is that?"
Confusion flashed behind Quinn's eyes, until she saw that Rachel was pointing at her chest, and her own eyes landed on her folder. She blushed and shot a shy half-smile to Rachel before walking over to a bench farther within the open deck, "It's-uh-it's a collection," she offered as they took a seat side by side under the midday sun. Upon receiving no more information than that, Rachel raised her eyebrows suggestively and glanced at the worn leather of the folder.
With a nervous sigh, Quinn released her lower lip from its hold between her teeth, and tentatively offered the folder to the brunette. Rachel took it gratefully, and promptly opened it to examine its contents. To say she was pleasantly surprised was an understatement. She certainly had not expected a bunch of such detailed sketches and portraits, least of all-well, she definitely had not expected the nudes.
Mentally willing her cheeks to cool down -and probably also return to their usual tone-, Rachel commented proudly, "These are actually really good, Quinn."
Her eyes weren't on the blonde at that moment, but she could feel her every moment and reaction in her own being, so she didn't miss the warm grin that settled over Quinn's features, "Thank you."
"Where did you draw these?" Rachel inquired absent-mindedly, too engulfed by awe to do more than breathe the words out.
"Paris," Quinn replied, leaning forward as she set her elbows on her thighs and rested her chin atop her open palm, "You could say I'm a bit of a street artist."
That caught Rachel's attention, and she lifted her gaze to stare at Quinn with wide eyes, resolutely speechless, only to find the blonde smirking at her playfully. Well, that certainly explained why her comment had upset her before. A smile curled her lips upwards and she suddenly didn't care about whether she was showing too much interest, "What about the naked girls? Did you draw them on the street, too?" she inquired with a raised eyebrow before she let her eyes drop to the drawings once again, admiring the details of every feature, and mark, and crevice in the bodies exposed in graphite before her eyes.
"No," Quinn chuckled good-naturedly before pointing to one of the girls, "that is actually Brittany," she explained, and then pressed her fingertip to paper again when Rachel turned the page over, "and that is actually Santana," she pointed out casually, "I made these for them, as a present to show my deep appreciation for their friendship. I will give these to them for their birthdays once they settle down in New York," she smiled, and Rachel couldn't help but feel like it was contagious, because she found herself smiling as well, because God, those drawings were the most thought out presents she had ever heard of anyone giving to anyone else.
The breath caught in her throat when she looked up only to find Quinn's face mere inches away from her own, eyes pointedly focused on the drawings on Rachel's lap, and she had to force the words out of her mouth with supreme effort, "What about the other naked girls?"
Quinn pulled back, relaxed, and rolled her eyes mischievously, "I don't really remember their names," she then frowned, and continued with a shrug, "but they are all French models I ran into while I worked backstage with Brittany and Santana," she said with a sigh, to then elaborate, "they offered some money for the drawings, because it was the easiest way for them to take images of themselves to the agencies that could possibly scout them, and getting photographs taken would be more expensive."
"That's-" Rachel started with a serious tone, but then her expression evolved into a bright smile, "that's incredibly generous of you, Quinn."
The blonde returned her smile as Rachel handed the folder back to her, "I have to admit, Miss Fabray, that you are incredibly talented with graphite and paper."
Quinn blushed, not really used to taking compliments, and shook her head before risking a shy glance at Rachel and speaking timidly, "Actually, I've always wanted to be a writer," she confessed, her blush deepening.
Rachel was about to reply animatedly that she should go for it, when she spotted a group of people other than Noah several feet away from where she and Quinn were, "Oh no!"
At the abrupt change in mood, Quinn's brows furrowed tightly across her forehead, and she tilted her head upwards when Rachel stood up so quickly that it seemed indelicate. Yet as she followed Rachel's fearful gaze, her eyes landed upon a much older woman who held a rather scary resemblance to the young brunette she had spent her morning with, and another two women trailing right behind her. Deeming it polite to introduce herself, she rose to her feet next to Rachel and kept quiet as she waited for the shorter brunette to speak.
"Shelby, what are you doing here?" Rachel inquired, eyelashes fluttering quickly, and, even though Quinn was looking at her, she could feel the other woman's eyes shift back and forth between Rachel and herself almost accusingly.
"I could ask you the same thing. Miss Cohen-Chang and I have been looking for you everywhere!" Shelby countered harshly before setting her intimidating glare on Quinn, "And who might you be, sweetheart?"
Quinn almost sputtered at the viciousness with which the term of endearment was directed at her, but she didn't want Rachel to take the brunt of what could possibly be a stern talk to, so she kept her mouth shut and settled for lifting a delicately sculpted eyebrow challengingly before replying steadily, "Quinn Fabray, ma'am," she offered her hand to the woman before her, "and I offer you my most sincere apology for the inconvenience, but Miss Berry was in my company for most of today," she commented casually as Shelby took her hand, and she shook it firmly -actually, she hoped her grip would cause at least the slightest of pain in the other woman's hand, since she was certain that Shelby had a role in whatever was making Rachel feel so unworthy of living.
Rachel's eyes shifted over and over again among the woman around her: from Quinn to Shelby, from Mercedes to Tina, to then jump back to Quinn and finally settle on Shelby's face with a seething glare. She ground her teeth as she watched Shelby shake Quinn's hand, her immediate distaste for the blonde apparent in her features to Rachel's trained eye. Yet, despite Shelby's attitude, Quinn was undeterred, "I was merely telling Miss Berry that the Bibliothèque-Musée de l'Opéra National de Paris," she rambled on, even in French, "would be an absolutely wonderful place to see her legacy displayed at at some point during her career, wouldn't you agree?" she inquired almost smugly -and certainly rhetorically-, before adding sweetly, "I would most certainly be delighted to assist Miss Berry to achieve such a thing!"
Both Rachel and Mercedes had to bite back a chuckle at the derisive tone with which the blonde delivered her lines -Tina would have laughed, too, yet she was even scared to admit that Shelby Corcoran terrified the steady syllables of the English language out of her-, yet Shelby, relentless, held her head even higher and eyed Quinn up and down with a deprecating smirk, "Miss Berry won't be going anywhere before dinner tonight," she then waited for Rachel's expression to shift to hopelessness as she stood beside Shelby silently, and continued condescendingly, "and she will specifically avoid all kinds of association to anything related to gender ambiguity, considering her upcoming engagement party," she finished -and, Quinn thought, she definitely seemed to be satisfied with herself-, and walked away, arm wrapped like chains around Rachel's shoulders as she guided her back inside.
As Shelby cast one last disapproving look at Quinn over her shoulder, the blonde lost any remnant of respect she could have had for the woman -she had never had any to begin with-, and raised her hands in the air mockingly, completely aware of what Shelby had meant by gender ambiguity. She wasn't stupid -actually, if there was anything that everyone she had ever met would agree on, that'd be that she was astoundingly smart-, so she knew that dinner that night wouldn't be an easy slope to get over, but something more akin to the Himalayas.
As she shoved her hands back into the pockets of her pants and watched Rachel disappear inside with Shelby, Quinn realized that the other two women were still standing before her. She eyed them both up and down, and offered them a genuine lopsided smile.
Mercedes took a step forward first, grinning up at the blonde as she slid her sunglasses up to rest atop her head, "Sweetheart, if you want to impress Monster Corcoran at dinner tonight, you're gonna need to wear something a li'l more feminine, y'know?"
Quinn frowned and looked down at her own attire, finding absolutely nothing wrong with it, yet completely dreading the idea of going back to the baby doll dresses she used to don back in her high school days, "Well, Miss..." she paused, realizing that she didn't know the other girl's name.
"Oh, Jones. It's Mercedes Jones. But just call me 'Cedes, dear," Mercedes beamed at her, clutching a tiny purse in her hand and beckoning the other girl towards them with the other, "and this is Tina Cohen-Chang, Rachel's assistant," she added, and Quinn tilted her head as Tina shook a blue strand of hair away from her face and replied, "H-h-h-hi."
"Alright, 'Cedes," Quinn started, testing the name on her tongue before folding her arms across her chest, "what is your plan?"
Mercedes grinned conspiratorially, "Well, I'd offer you one of my own dresses, but we could probably fit more than one of you in them," she tilted her head as her eyes examined Quinn's body, "and they'd definitely be way too short for those legs of yours," she straightened her head again and smirked, "Tina here has some pretty rad wardrobe, though," she finished with a wiggle of her eyebrows, and Quinn couldn't help the smile that spread across her lips with a scoff when Tina shyly waved her approval at her.