Dinner with Daughters
The next few weeks went by quickly for Rachel—almost too much so. Her previous summers had been filled with singing, classes, singing classes, musicals, and other various attempts to make herself feel busy and involved. This summer she actually was, and she never knew the hot summer months could pass by so quickly.
Some days were spent in the company of one or more of her three parents; usually shopping when it came to Shelby. They were taking it easy on the difficult questions and discussions, which would normally bother Rachel. She liked things to be out in the open, after all, and serious discussions were kind of her forte. But as she explained to Quinn, this relaxed, easy pace she and Shelby were taking with girls' days out and all was a nice change of pace. For now, she was happy to simply enjoy the older version of herself and get to know her.
It also might've helped that she finally had someone in her life who practically salivated at the chance to attend a musical along with her.
Many other days were spent with the glee club, or at least parts of it. Finn had rejoined the group after about a week of avoiding get-togethers where Quinn and Rachel would be (it was really never one or the other, after all), and things weren't quite as awkward as any of them expected. He acknowledged both with a nod when they arrived at Noah's party, and after that the three of them shared an unspoken truce. They were civil, but they stayed away from each other. No one was quite ready to cross the battle lines yet, least of all Finn. Rachel didn't mind waiting for her friend to come around; after all, she had a lovely consolation prize.
Rachel had spent so much time shopping with Shelby that she thought she'd tire of the trips the glee girls and Kurt insisted on taking, but it always turned out to be a blast despite her doubts. And one of her newest favorite activities was roller-skating. Mike had suggested it one day lounging by Kurt's pool at a party, seeing as they all sucked so badly at it, and since then it had become an almost weekly tradition for the glee clubbers to go to the nearest rink and work on their skills. Rachel had to admit that it was helping her with balance, which in turn aided her performance in her ballet classes.
Artie usually made a point of rolling circles around the slower skaters, which prompted Mercedes to threaten to bring a lasso one trip. He laughed until Santana mentioned having one in her possession. No one asked about that, and Artie dropped that particular habit pretty quickly.
The group as a whole spent many days at miniature golf courses and arcades (aka, the only activities all twelve of them could really get into besides singing, dancing, and roller-skating); Rachel wasn't as fond of the latter, but, at the end of the day, the triumphant grin on Quinn's face after she got a particularly high score at skee ball made all the noise and hassle completely worth it. It also helped that Quinn usually used her insane number of tickets to get a gift for her girlfriend. Her new bulldog, Bruno, received the honor of joining Barbra the lamb on Rachel's shelf of stuffed creatures.
Beth had also reaped the benefits of Quinn's unique talent. She now had a small, stuffed frog whose name was…well, it depended on who you asked, really. Noah insisted the frog's name was Bon Jovi, while Mrs. Fabray and Noah's mom called it Kermit. Brittany thought the frog was really a toad and its name was Trevor, and of course Santana indulged her. Quinn and Rachel, however, had decided from the beginning that the frog's name should be Jo. They shared a fondness for Little Women, and felt it was only appropriate that Beth had a Jo. The Shaws agreed wholeheartedly.
Beth, of course, had dubbed the frog 'blahlalala.' No one argued.
On any day that Noah or Mrs. Fabray couldn't visit the Shaws with Quinn, Rachel came along, usually with Beth. Those days were at the same time joyous and heartbreaking. The Shaws were so perfect, so understanding about their situation, so accommodating, and so fun to be with. They were excellent with Beth, and Rachel could see they were falling in love with the little girl already. But the closer they were to the adoption, the harder things got for Quinn.
She'd started caring for her baby girl despite herself, and Rachel could easily see it. Quinn would slip and call her 'Beth' and then for the rest of the day refuse to call her by name. She would hold her daughter while she was sleeping and, when she thought no one was looking, place a kiss on her forehead and sing softly to her, almost in her ear. She'd smile when Mrs. Shaw held Beth, but there was sadness in her eyes, watching another woman be a mother to her baby.
Quinn insisted that she was fine with it. After all, it was an open adoption and the Shaws were more than eager to have her visit whenever she could. In fact, much to Mrs. Fabray, Noah, and Rachel's delight, they made it plain that they thought it was only healthy that Beth knew from the start that she was adopted and why. They wanted her to have plenty of contact with her birth parents, to know that she was loved—so much so that she was offered a better life away from the financial burdens of an unprepared teenager.
Quinn said she was 'fine' a lot these days. Rachel wondered if she was the only person who could see that, while Quinn would be okay with the aid of consistent involvement in her daughter's life, it was killing her that she wasn't going to be able to see Beth every day. She wouldn't be the one to teach her the alphabet, or see her first steps, hear her first word. The Shaws promised to videotape every moment Quinn and Noah missed, but it wouldn't be the same, and both Quinn and Rachel knew it. Beth was a part of Quinn's life now, and it was absolutely going to crush her to give her up, even to people she was as fond of as the Shaws.
Of course, Quinn didn't say anything about this to Rachel—or anyone else, for that matter. Whenever it was brought up, she went cold and quiet, insisted that she was fine, and changed the subject. Rachel didn't push it, because she sincerely did not want to be one of the people Quinn became a mute with, like Finn. It was eerie to watch her become impenetrable the way she did, and Rachel thought it might break her heart if her girlfriend ever treated her that way again. So she didn't push, no matter how much it hurt that Quinn wouldn't confide in her.
The closest she came to getting Quinn to open up was one afternoon at her house, when Quinn had gone to retrieve Beth's lunch. While Rachel was waiting, she noticed, not for the first time, that Beth had the same affinity for her hair as Quinn seemed to have. She would not stop playing with it, even when Rachel tried to wrest the locks from her tiny fists—that only elicited a sob of protest. Rachel replied with her best raised eyebrow and an 'oh, really?' before lifting her little shirt and laying relentless raspberries on the suddenly giggling baby's stomach.
Quinn had been watching the exchange from the doorway, and she was wiping her eyes furiously when Rachel noticed her. Rachel had tried to comfort her girlfriend, but Quinn had merely handed her the bottle of milk and disappeared for a good ten minutes before coming back as composed as ever.
This wasn't the only area in which the two weren't communicating, either, but the latter issue was entirely on Rachel. Quinn had mentioned several times that she would like to discuss her return to the Cheerios with her girlfriend, but Rachel was stalling. To be honest, she didn't know how she felt about Quinn going back to that herd of malicious sheep. Now that glee had a second chance, the thought of Quinn returning didn't tear her up quite so badly. After all, they would still have glee to keep them together and remind her girlfriend of the lessons she learned last year.
Then again, the Cheerios was a time-sucking activity. Quinn would be spending nearly all of her time with those girls, not one of whom looked on the glee club, or Rachel, with a friendly eye. Well, except perhaps Santana and Brittany, but two people out of that massive squad wasn't very reassuring. And though Quinn claimed she didn't care what others thought anymore, peer pressure could be a powerful thing, and just being around such a negative atmosphere so much might change Quinn's mind about the brunette she had come to care for and the club she had come to love.
But then, cheerleading also made Quinn happy. Rachel didn't really understand her love for the dangerous sport, other than the power and popularity it guaranteed its members, but she could respect it. And she certainly didn't want to be the only reason Quinn wasn't on the squad. She never wanted to be the reason Quinn was unhappy.
It was all very confusing, which wasn't a surprise to Rachel, since everything that had happened since Regionals seemed to come with some confusion.
This was slightly different, though. There was so much risk involved; Quinn could go back to who she once was, and then glee would lose a strong member, Rachel would lose her girlfriend. On the flip side, Quinn could be miserable watching her team compete from the sidelines yet again, grow to resent Rachel for it, and she could lose her girlfriend anyway. And then there was the third route. Rachel could give Quinn the go-ahead and, as soon as Coach Sylvester and the rest of the school found out about their relationship, she could be off the squad and back at the bottom of the heap faster than you could say 'homo.' And then Rachel could lose her girlfriend, either to resentment or a desire to try to work her way back up again, or both.
So Rachel was taking a very simple approach to the discussion: don't think or talk about it. Ever. It wasn't the most productive way to deal with it, she admitted, but at the moment it was the best solution she had, because she honestly couldn't bear the thought of losing what she had with Quinn.
Other than those (rather large) elephants in the room, their relationship was going splendidly. Quinn referring to her girlfriend as 'baby' had become a semi-regular occurrence, and though she was still formulating her own perfect pet name for Quinn, Rachel enjoyed hearing it come from pink lips wholeheartedly. It made her stomach flutter with butterflies every time.
Rachel was working harder at being herself around her girlfriend, worrying less about her reaction to what was commonly referred to as her 'crazy.' Quinn, in turn, proved herself trustworthy, only smiling in amusement at Rachel's rants and lectures, but not in the mocking way she once had. And when Rachel approached her tentatively with a silver bracelet with half a heart for the charm, Quinn merely slipped it on and kissed her.
Rachel figured out pretty quickly that Quinn orchestrated certain dates for specific advantages. For instance, for dates at Breadstix, Rachel was guaranteed to dress up, and Quinn was not only able to open all her doors and pull out her chair, but also to show off in public that she had Rachel Berry on her arm. Rachel wasn't entirely convinced this was something Quinn should be so proud of. Quinn was.
Dates to the movies guaranteed handholding and sharing of the popcorn bucket, plus a cuddling bonus if the movie was too terrifying for Rachel to handle. They went to see Predators at least six times before it 'lost its charm.' Which was code for 'you learned all the scary parts of the movie and stopped jumping into my lap.' Rachel was of the opinion that Quinn's transparent excuses were downright adorable. Quinn, of course, had no idea what she was talking about.
The rare picnic meant feeding each other grapes, which always started out with endless giggles at how cliché it was and somehow ended with both of them clearing their throats and trying not to molest each other in the middle of the park. It also guaranteed sky gazing, as Rachel could not resist trying to guess the shapes of the clouds, and the perk there was that they always ended up cuddling on the blanket.
And, of course, when Quinn took her to see West Side Story at the community theater, it got her a dressed up, glowing, very touchy Rachel with plenty of handholding and surprise kisses. Quinn spent the entire play smiling at her girlfriend, yet swore up and down when they went to get ice cream (and sherbet) afterward that she loved the play. She also not so subtly mentioned that she'd have to keep her eye out for more productions. Rachel wasn't complaining.
Then there was the ever-popular 'night in' date, which meant nothing but making out for hours, until their lips were so red and swollen they looked as though they'd had five gallons of fruit punch, and they were so out of breath they sounded like they'd run a 10K marathon. These dates only took place when Mrs. Fabray or Noah was able to watch Beth while Rachel's dads were out, but the wait was completely worth it to both of them every single time.
Rachel feared for some time that Quinn would soon tire of kissing her, but somehow she only seemed more enthusiastic every week, as though each time her appreciation for her girlfriend's lips increased. Rachel, again, wasn't complaining, because she couldn't get enough of Quinn, either.
The first time she got to second base with Quinn was entirely by accident. It had been another night in, and after two hazy, steamy hours of being pinned beneath Quinn and re-memorizing every inch of the skin of her neck, ears, and jaw (and Quinn returning the favor), Rachel was feeling foggy-headed, and the usually focused movements of her hands over her girlfriend's increasingly muscular back and sides had become sloppy and, well, unfocused. It was only when Quinn peeled away from her lips with a raspy moan (that somehow turned Rachel on even more) that she realized where her right hand had slid to.
Her cheeks had gone from flushed to on fire and she found herself paralyzed with uncertainty. Finn had confided to her once that Quinn used to make him pray during makeout sessions, particularly when he did something out of line (like this definitely was), and while at the time she was biting her cheek in order to keep from laughing…. Well, with her hand where it was, Rachel was just worried. So much so that she couldn't bring herself to appreciate the feeling of her girlfriend's more than adequate breasts under her hands.
"I-is this okay?" she had managed to stammer, hoping to save face, because Quinn probably wouldn't believe her if she said it was an accident. Really, it wasn't like Rachel hadn't thought about it before. With those breasts, who wouldn't?
To her relief, Quinn had simply met her eyes with a smoldering gaze, purred, "It's more than okay," and pressed a rough kiss to her lips. Suffice it to say, second base with Quinn was spectacular, particularly when Quinn grew brave enough to return the favor. Rachel had never been more convinced than in those moments that she was completely gay, at least for one Quinn Fabray.
And this was definitely one of those moments. Her fathers were having their monthly date night, which meant an empty house at least until midnight (her fathers' dates tended to get a little…extravagant), and Mrs. Fabray had offered to spend the evening in with her granddaughter. Nobody brought up the fact that this was likely because it would be one of her last nights with Beth, though Rachel was certain everyone involved knew.
She felt a little selfish about it, but she didn't press when Quinn quickly changed the subject (i.e. occupied Rachel's tongue and started backing her to the couch), because…well, it had been so long since they'd had a night like this and she hadn't seen her girlfriend in such a good mood in about a week. She didn't want to ruin it.
So here she was, trapped beneath a gorgeous blonde and sucking eagerly at her earlobe while said blonde practically purred into her neck and bit down lightly. Rachel eased one hand beneath her shirt, caressing up her back and marveling again at the smoothness of her girlfriend's skin, while the other occupied itself gently massaging her breast. A moan of delight vibrated against her throat and Rachel felt a smile curl her lips, like it always did when she realized that she was the one making Quinn feel this way, making her make those noises and—
Her brow abruptly furrowed when Quinn pulled back, uncertainty written all across her face, and Rachel immediately internally panicked. Just as she had started replaying her actions of the last sixty seconds in her head to be sure she hadn't done anything wrong, Quinn spoke.
"I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you," she said, grimacing. "…Mom wants you to come over for dinner."
To cover up the fact that those words almost gave her a heart attack, Rachel removed her hands from her girlfriend and slipped out from beneath her, sitting up abruptly. Her hands instantly went to pet down her hair and readjust her clothing as she managed to get out in a semi-even tone, "It's good to know what you think about while we're doing that. Perhaps I won't have to take a shower after you leave today."
"You take showers after I leave?" Quinn asked from behind her, sounding far too delighted by this for Rachel's taste.
Did she not realize the gravity of the situation here? Rachel leveled a glare at Quinn, who had sat up as well, legs curled under her as she peered eagerly at her girlfriend.
"Quinn. Focus," she said sternly, and Quinn nodded.
"Right. Sorry." She cleared her throat. "And that's not what I think about."
When Rachel offered her a disbelieving look, Quinn smirked and shifted forward, massaging her shoulders lightly before resting her chin where a hand had been. Her arms snaked sneakily around Rachel's waist.
"Let me explain my thought process to you," she purred, and Rachel mentally cursed her for using that tone.
Quinn knew she couldn't resist that; and, as if to prove it, she found herself nodding weakly.
"I was just thinking, 'God, that feels so good,'" she began, right against her ear, and Rachel personally thought making her voice sound that orgasmic was just plain unnecessary and cruel. "'It's a good thing we're not at my house; I think my mom would need therapy for life if she heard us…doing things.'" She emphasized her words with a kiss to her shoulder.
Rachel glanced over at Quinn, who was smiling impishly, looking so pleased with herself Rachel was tempted to poke her nose just to see if she would change expression. She fought the urge to smile, flipping it into a severe frown, which only made that smug smirk grow.
"You're evil," Rachel informed her flatly.
Quinn shrugged and kissed her briefly. "You love me anyway."
Before Rachel had a chance to respond to that bold comment, Quinn snuggled herself closer to her girlfriend and queried expectantly, "So? Will you come for dinner, or am I going to have to suffer through my mother's pout for the next week or so?"
Rachel hesitated. The reason for this being, of course, that she was trying not to hyperventilate, throw up, have a heart attack or nervous breakdown, or all of the above. Go to dinner with Quinn's mother? Quinn wanted her Jewish girlfriend to attend a meal with her Christian mother who watched her get kicked out for being pregnant? Mrs. Fabray may have known about their relationship, but Rachel literally hadn't seen her since that night at Quinn's house in June, at which point the woman probably thought she only had friendly feelings for her daughter. There was no danger in that. Who knew how her opinion had changed since then?
Mrs. Fabray might have thought Quinn was just going through a phase when she told her, and decided not to tear up her family all over again because of a silly infatuation. And now that Quinn was definitely (Rachel hoped) not going through a phase or experimenting, her opinion might be a little different, and she might think it was all because of the girl who was on the other side of the relationship.
Did she think Rachel was a Satan worshipper who had lured her daughter to the ways of sin? Was this some sort of test? Or, worse, a trap in which Mrs. Fabray planned to tie her to her dinner chair and then exorcise her? Should she wear a waterproof watch in case the Holy Water got on it? Should she be worried about the origins of the phrase 'bible-thumping' and prepare her fathers for her likely concussion?
Just as Rachel was having a particularly frightening vision of Mrs. Fabray throwing salt over her shoulder and yelling, 'The power of Christ compels you!', Quinn squeezed her arms around her waist and kissed the side of her head, distracting her.
"Baby, breathe," she coached—she'd gotten pretty good at noticing when her girlfriend was about to have a meltdown over the past few weeks, which Rachel could not have been more grateful for. She rather disliked hyperventilating. "I can practically hear the wheels turning in there. What are you thinking?"
"Suicide!" Rachel exclaimed, and Quinn gaped at her in alarm until she elaborated, "That's exactly what it's like! Suicide. I may as well be stepping into the lion's den, sailing down the river Styx, passing the point of no return, diving headfirst into the Chamber of Secrets, walking into Mordor, letting the Nothing swallow me who—"
"Okay, whoa, whoa, Rachel," Quinn intervened, half-amused, half-bewildered. "Too many pop culture references, okay? Slow down." She squeezed her hand comfortingly, the other going to stroke through her hair. "What makes you think it's like suicide?"
"You do remember your parents, don't you?" Rachel replied, eyebrows shooting up. "Half the reason I thought I had no chance with you was because you're the Super Christian Cheerleader, and you didn't exactly become that way by means of divine intervention."
Quinn arched an eyebrow at the nickname, but let it go in favor of replying, "That was my father's influence. My mom is a lot more open-minded; she's been really supportive of me, and us. And I already told you she likes you."
"That was before I was dating you," Rachel retorted anxiously. "Now she probably thinks you being this way is all my fault and that I'm…violating you or something!"
She smirked. "Violating me?"
A glare was leveled her way and the brunette folded her arms. "It's not funny, Quinn."
She snorted and, upon receiving a huff of epic proportions, tightened her arms around her girlfriend to keep her from escaping.
"I'm sorry, but it is to me. I mean, if anyone's been doing any violating, it's me," she teased, pressing a kiss beneath her ear as if to prove her point. Rachel tried her hardest not to melt. "And Mom…she doesn't think you're some insane Satan worshipper that's seducing me to the dark side or whatever." At Rachel's wide-eyed stare, she prompted, "What?"
"Are you a mind reader or something?" she asked seriously.
Quinn grinned, kissing her frown away. "As I've told you before, I just know you. So listen to me, I'm very smart."
Rachel rolled her eyes at her cheeky grin, but leaned back into her embrace anyway, closing her eyes to the feel of Quinn's fingers running through her hair.
"Mom and I have had this discussion before, and she told me flat out that she once thought what we're doing was wrong." Rachel stiffened. "But, then my father cheated on her. She started re-analyzing everything she thought she had figured out, and yes, at first, she was a little uncomfortable with us. And then she saw how happy I am every time I come home from seeing you or talking to you on the phone and…she told me anything that makes me that happy can't be a sin."
Rachel tilted her head back farther onto Quinn's shoulder, meeting her smiling face and sparkling eyes, and said softly, "Really?"
A small nod was all she received in confirmation, and Rachel stretched her neck up to give her a lingering kiss. The hand in her hair cupped the back of her head, holding her in place for a moment longer before they parted and scooted farther back into the couch, Quinn still running her fingers through silky brown locks.
"I'm just…I'm nervous," Rachel confided at length. "I've never done the 'meet the parents' thing. I-I mean, I have once. Noah and I weren't together long enough for that to be necessary, and Jesse's parents weren't even around at the time we were together. I've only met Finn's mother, and she seemed to like me well enough, but I've noticed that parents don't tend to think the worst of their son's girlfriends. It's usually the daughter's boyfriend who is pegged as, to quote Daddy, 'the little jerk defiling my precious baby girl.'"
She felt Quinn stop breathing for a moment and glanced up to find her girlfriend looking downright horrified. She tried and failed to stifle a giggle.
"Do you see what I mean? You and I are officially in the same situation as a boyfriend would be," she explained, and Quinn nodded, still looking ghostly pale and not quite into the conversation anymore. "Sweetheart?"
Quinn jerked beneath her and met her gaze sharply, and Rachel smiled, pleased with herself.
"I think I just found my pet name," she said happily, pulling Quinn's arms tighter around herself.
She felt her chuckle. "You've been waiting to try that since I got here, haven't you?"
"Maybe," she replied coyly. "But as to the matter of my fathers and their opinion of you, well…I don't think you have to worry. Daddy told me if I ever considered going back to Finn, he would likely disown me, and Dad almost dies laughing every time you come over. They adore you."
"Oh," she said, and Rachel could hear the grin in her voice.
After she felt they'd had sufficient time to soak in the pleasant moment, Rachel grumbled, "I, on the other hand, have only met your mother once, and our interaction was limited to about two minutes."
"After which she absolutely loved you," Quinn reminded her. "And you're the one who's always saying the first impression is the most important part. It can only go uphill from here."
Rachel sighed, frowning. "I don't know."
Quinn kissed the side of her head and rubbed her thumb in soothing circles over the back of her hand.
"I do know. You're going to be just fine, okay? Trust me."
Quinn's house was way bigger than Rachel remembered it being. Had it grown since Tuesday? Was there such a thing as steroids for houses?
Rachel shook her head to clear it of her irrational thought pattern and swiped a sweaty palm on the skirt of the navy blue dress she'd—or, rather, Kurt had—chosen for the occasion. She had called him in a panic about two hours before she would have to leave for dinner, and it took her at least twenty minutes to get him to accept her apology for going back to 'grandler' clothing. Then she couldn't get him to shut up.
First he was chattering about wearing something conservative enough for meeting the parents, but provocative enough to tease her girlfriend. Once he finally settled on a knee-length dress with a modest cut and preferably a light cardigan of some sort, he took his sweet time deciding on the proper color. Apparently Rachel looked absolutely stunning in yellow, but it wouldn't be appropriate for an inside dinner. She was also smashing in red, but it was too evocative a color for a parent meeting. And so on and so forth until she threatened to drive to his house to smash every single one of his Diana Ross albums. He decided navy blue was the perfect color on the spot, along with a black cardigan.
Rachel sighed heavily, gulping at the yellow button that would seal her doom for the evening. She was pretty sure she was sweating, which was going to ruin her makeup. Well, better sooner than later, in that case. She rang the doorbell and resisted the urge to bolt back down the sidewalk and speed all the way back home before shooting off a text to her girlfriend that she just wasn't feeling well.
Why was she putting herself through this torture again? Oh, yes. Stupid Quinn Fabray, and her (stupid) charming smiles, and her (stupid) pretty words, and her (stupid) delicious kisses.
And her stupid—
Rachel grinned as her girlfriend appeared in the doorway, the Dazzler coming out with ease, as it always seemed to around Rachel. Did she just—yes, Ms. Berry, the sight of one Quinn Fabray did, indeed, pull you up mid-tirade. You are, as they say, whipped.
She groaned internally, but was yet again distracted when Quinn darted forward to steal a kiss from her, which Rachel swiftly dodged.
"Quinn! What if your mom sees?" she hissed, and Quinn promptly rolled her eyes.
"I think she's aware that her teenage daughter kisses her girlfriend sometimes," was the sarcastic reply.
"Still, we shouldn't waltz around advertising—"
"Rachel Berry, if I don't get my hello kiss, you're not getting in this house," Quinn interrupted, eyebrow arching and inner-HBIC peeking out so strongly Rachel was tempted to dart behind the nearest obstacle to avoid any oncoming slushies.
However, after calming herself and carefully considering Quinn's offer, Rachel shrugged instead and, smiling playfully, turned to step back down the walk with a bright, "Okay!"
Quinn's hand grasped Rachel's elbow before she could even get two steps away, and tugged her abruptly but gently back into Quinn's embrace. Rachel went to protest, but Quinn pulled yet another one of her fantastically dizzying mid-breath ninja kisses and Rachel promptly forgot that they were in her Christian girlfriend's house with her mother home. That is, until said mother cleared her throat.
The two peeled apart hastily, but while Rachel tried to backpedal straight out the door, Quinn was having none of it and only smiled at their interruption, holding her tight to her chest. Rachel felt like her cheeks were going to catch on fire.
Mrs. Fabray smiled gently, a hand over little Beth's eyes, much to the baby's displeasure. The little fists fought at her grandmother's fingers, and Rachel couldn't help a small smile at the sight of her girlfriend's daughter.
"Is it safe to uncover Beth's eyes now, dear?" Mrs. Fabray asked, voice riddled with amusement, and Rachel died a little inside.
"Mom, she's like two months old. She has no clue what we're doing," Quinn retorted with a smirk.
The oldest Fabray in the room rolled her eyes playfully, but uncovered Beth's eyes. She blinked baby blues in amazement at the world that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
"Hello, Rachel," Mrs. Fabray said kindly, though Rachel still jumped. "It's nice to see you again."
"Y-you, too, Mrs. Fabray. You look well. Did you get a new haircut?" she asked hopefully, ignoring the muffled snicker coming from Quinn, attached to her hip.
She smiled, almost mischievously. "Oh, yes, I did, in fact. How sweet of you to notice. If you girls will excuse me just a moment, I seem to have forgotten my limited edition thumping Bible in the kitchen."
Rachel's jaw dropped.
Until Quinn burst into gales of laughter, covering her mouth in a vain attempt to stifle it as her eyes danced with amusement. Beth seemed to perk up at the sound of her mother's laughter, giggling as well, and Mrs. Fabray smirked at her daughter's girlfriend as she passed the baby over to Quinn. And Rachel felt sufficiently mocked by the Fabray family. She elbowed Quinn in the ribs as Mrs. Fabray winked at her and retreated to the kitchen—presumably not to get her Bible.
"Well, you two certainly seem to have mended your relationship since the damage it was dealt over this past year," Rachel bit out, glowering at Quinn with folded arms.
Quinn grinned, toying with Beth's fists. "Oh, come on, that was funny."
"Oh, yes. I'm just dying." Her countenance took on a rapid switch as she smiled down at the baby. "Why, hello, baby Beth. How are you doing?" she asked, bending to kiss her forehead, which, of course, led to Beth hooking her fingers in her hair.
She glanced up at her girlfriend, who wore a pained smile, and shrugged as they headed toward the dining room, Rachel half-bending so as not to have her hair torn out. This night was turning out just lovely.
Despite the joke at her expense, the evening actually did progress rather nicely. Mrs. Fabray asked endless questions about glee club and Rachel's various stage experiences and classes, though it wasn't out of a desire to interrogate. Rather, Rachel felt like the woman was just interested in her, much like Shelby. It was a chance to get to know each other, and Rachel was finding she rather enjoyed Mrs. Fabray's company. Quinn's encouraging smiles and gentle squeezes beneath the table aided her courage, and Rachel didn't feel quite so awkward when their relationship was brought up.
"My fathers have always raised me to be very open-minded," she explained after the oldest Fabray inquired politely about her seeming overnight transition in partners, "and as a result, I've grown up with the idea that love is the only thing that matters, not ethnicity, religion, gender." She shot a smile at Quinn. "Though I've never thought myself particularly drawn to my own gender, things changed when I realized my feelings for Quinn, and I've found our relationship more than satisfactory in every way. I must emphasize that that has nothing to do with the fact that she is female, and everything to do with the unparalleled happiness she gives me, just as she is. Something my male partners were never capable of succeeding in. Not even Finn."
Mrs. Fabray considered her for a long moment after this speech, and just as Rachel was starting to feel like a bug under a microscope, a warm hand squeezing her knee distracted her. Her gaze traveled to sparkling hazel eyes, and she found herself smiling tenderly at her obviously touched girlfriend. Quinn closed the gap between them to place a gentle kiss on her cheek, and Rachel couldn't help her beam when she pulled away, sweeping her thumb across her cheekbone.
Mrs. Fabray cleared her throat. "Well, who's up for dessert?"
"Yes, please," Rachel cut in, smiling. "Everything has been delicious, Mrs. Fabray."
"Yeah, thanks, Mom."
"Would you care to help me, Rachel?" she asked as she stood, and Rachel faltered, glancing at Quinn.
Quinn just smiled encouragingly.
"Sure, of course."
She hurried after the older woman, glancing back to spy Quinn sneaking over to the cradle Beth was resting in before her attention went back to Mrs. Fabray, who was pulling the apple pie carefully out from the oven. She wrung her hands uncertainly.
"Should I retrieve some plates?" she asked uncertainly, and Mrs. Fabray smiled.
"Relax, Rachel. I've asked you in here to discuss the real reason I wanted you to come for dinner," she said gently, and Rachel's stomach started doing flip-flops, "not to do chores. You're a guest, after all." She began slicing the pie into even pieces. "Now, don't misunderstand me. I did want a chance to get to know you better, but tonight I have an ulterior motive."
"I'm sure you're well aware that the adoption is in a week," she began softly, and Rachel's heart dropped.
She nodded solemnly. "Yes."
"And a week after that is Quinn's birthday," Mrs. Fabray continued, setting her knife down to face her daughter's girlfriend head on. "I'll be the first to admit that Russell and I were lacking in the celebration department, and I know this year is going to be especially rough on Quinn, considering how close it is to the adoption and, well, everything that has happened over this past year." She sighed, looking shame-faced.
Rachel nodded, venturing curiously, "Go on."
"Do you like whipped cream with your apple pie?"
"Oh, no, thank you. I don't eat animal products."
Mrs. Fabray's lips quirked in a smile. "Oh, yes, that's right." She cleared her throat as she began shoveling slices onto separate plates. "I know you care about my daughter. If you haven't proved that over this summer, tonight alone was enough to convince me of that."
Rachel nodded emphatically. "Very much. I would never hurt her."
Another smile. "I know. So, I thought that as the two women in her life who care the most about her—" here she winked "—we could plan a surprise birthday party for her together."
Rachel almost squeaked. "Really? Oh, gosh, I—that would be fantastic! I would love to do that!"
Mrs. Fabray nearly showed teeth this time. "I thought you might enjoy that idea. Now, I didn't want Quinn to think I was snooping and steal your number from her phone, so if you wouldn't mind giving it to me later, it'll be much easier to brainstorm if she's unaware that we're talking."
For the second time that evening, Rachel felt her jaw drop—this time in awe of Mrs. Fabray's sneaky thinking. A smirk slowly took place of the shock, and she asked playfully, "Are all the Fabray women this devious?"
She was answered with a smirk. "Just wait until Beth can talk. She'll have a finger for each and every one of us to wrap around."
Rachel grinned, but she was cut off from replying when Quinn announced, "It is getting really lonely out there. What's taking so long with the pie?"
She leaned her unoccupied shoulder against Rachel, and Rachel reached to let Beth hold her hand as she rested in the nest of her mother's arms. She smiled fondly at the baby, who giggled at her and started flapping her index finger all over the place.
"Almost done," Mrs. Fabray answered, spraying whipped cream onto hers and Quinn's slices.
Quinn wasn't listening. Instead, she was looking on her girlfriend with a half-smile filled with both adoration and pain that she wouldn't voice, practically bouncing in her eagerness. When Rachel took note of her anxiousness, she glanced up from the game she was playing with Beth to voice her concern, but Quinn beat her to it. She smiled, and then whipped her head around to face her mother.
"Can we tell her now?"