Started my daily ficlets to make the hiatus pass, then decided to keep going with a 2nd cycle, and then a 3rd, 4th, etc through 78th cycle. Now cycle 79!

"Force of Habit"
In Gen1!World: G1!Rachel, G2!Quinn
Berry-St series
(all series now listed under the communities tab in my profile)

Rachel had been on her way home after her second visit to Kurt in the hospital. She wished she could have told him that it was all over, but after checking in with all the others, Mike, Jesse, Quinn, she'd been left to face the facts. He was the only one who had, for some reason, returned. She wasn't unfamiliar with this turn of events, of course. She herself had been swapped back, long before any of the others had done it. At the time, she'd been so angry about it, having been taken away from the home where her fathers were still together, where they were all happy… Now she knew better. Now she knew that she'd been sent back because she had seen how things could be. And then she'd made it happen. Her fathers were back together, and all was right. So it seemed Kurt had some work to do in that other world.

When her phone chirped, she waited until she'd reached a red light and then she looked at the screen. Quinn wanted to see her. Rachel guessed she might have been curious as to what was happening. She'd only called her before, confirmed she was still that Quinn from the other world, and then she'd let her go. They could say what they wanted about her, but Rachel knew what spending too much time around the blonde could do, and she wasn't going to take any chances.

But now she was being requested, and after debating her options for as long as it took the light to be green again, she cursed under her breath and adjusted her course for the Fabray house instead of her own.

"What's going on?" Quinn asked when she opened the door.

"Hey… Quinn," Rachel frowned, walking in.

"You called, asked me if I was still me, then you hung up…"

"Kurt's in the hospital," Rachel cut her off, and Quinn gasped.

"Is he alright?"

"Well, if you ask his father and the doctor over there, they'll say he fell off a stool and passed out and there might be something wrong with his head," she scoffed, holding up a finger so Quinn would let her finish before she freaked out. "Now, what we know is different. Yes, he fell off that stool, and he was unresponsive for a while, but that's just what happens when someone gets swapped out between worlds. Trust me, I've seen it happen enough times."

"That's… that's why you wanted to know…" Quinn started to understand.

"Yeah, but I checked, and no one else went back except for him," Rachel told her, then after a moment. "Oh, unless anyone got switched for the first time. I mean, the other Quinn, the one from here, she got switched, too, but not at the same time as the rest of us. For all we know, there could be someone out there having a really messed up day… We'll have to keep an eye out for that."

"Yeah, sure," Quinn nodded slowly.

"Hey…" Rachel sighed, tapping her shoulder. "You'll get your turn, you will. We'll get you home," she smiled at her, hoping to reassure her. The other Quinn… she wasn't sure which one anymore… she'd had that same reaction when the Rachels had been returned ahead. "The way I see it, this is exactly what happened last time, so maybe we're on the right track, getting closer. Come on," she sighed, relenting and giving the blonde a tentative hug.

She should have known that was a mistake even before she did it, but then what were her other options. Yes, compared to those other Rachels, she might have been a bit… rougher around the edges… but she was still a human being, and Quinn, one way or the other, was her friend, so she wasn't about to leave her hanging when she was feeling miserable. Only then, they were hugging, and there was something in the other girl's arms like yearning, like tenderness, and Rachel knew she had to get out of the embrace, as casually as possible, before anything…

"Rachel…" Quinn's voice was small and soft, and it gave her chills.

"Yeah?" she coughed. "I mean, yes? Something wrong?" She'd only just managed to wedge a little separation between them, enough to look her in the eye again.

The look she found was one of desperation. She needed something. The next thing Rachel knew, there were lips on hers.

She should have stepped back right away, put an end to it, but something came over her, maybe telling her to be kind, to give Quinn what she needed, that it wasn't really her the blonde was trying to kiss, that it was the other girl with her face, and acting as proxy was the best thing for her to do. So she let herself be kissed, maybe even returned some of it. If Quinn could have seen the way Rachel held herself, she might have understood that it meant nothing to her. But she couldn't, and it wasn't until Rachel felt herself get pulled nearer, felt a tongue seeking her own, that her girlfriend's face flashed furiously in her head, so strong that Rachel wondered if it hadn't carried ahead and yanked her out of the blonde's grasp. The separation had been so sudden that a slip of Quinn's teeth had cut into Rachel's lip, leaving a trace of blood behind.

For a minute, neither of them said a word. They stood in silence, facing each other, panting for breath. Quinn looked as though she finally realized what she'd done, and her hand flew to her mouth. Rachel reached up as well, though in her case it was to touch at the sudden sting. What little blood had pearled up from the cut was on her finger, and she groaned, walking off to the bathroom.

"Rachel, I'm sorry…" Quinn came after her. "Please, let me help."

"I've got it," Rachel insisted, inspecting herself. That was going to leave a mark… How the hell was she supposed to explain that one?

"I slipped, I-I just saw you and…"

"You thought it was the other me, I know," Rachel assured her. "But you can't do that again, ever, do you understand?"

"I won't, I swear," Quinn promised.

"I know she means a lot to you, the other me." She knew at least part of their story, how her counterpart and her fathers had taken Quinn in after she'd been kicked out of her house, how they'd looked after her throughout the pregnancy, how the two of them had gotten closer through that and after… "But I love Santana, and when she finds out about this…"

"You don't have to tell her. I won't say anything," Quinn shook her head.

"Of course I have to tell her," Rachel sighed. She'd done what she could, but there definitely would be a mark there, enough for Santana to ask how it had happened. If she lied to her, that would be the end of it, the end of them.

"Right, no, I get it."

"If you want to do me a favor, keep an eye out for any lost puppies…"

"Lost p…"

"New people switches," Rachel translated. "And hang in there. We're getting closer, we have to be."


A/N: This is a one-shot ficlet, which means that signing up for story alert will not bring you any alerts.
In the event of a sequel, the story will be separate from this one. And as chapter stories go, they are
always clearly indicated as such [ex: "Days 204-210" in the summary] Thank you!