Rachel's relationship with her fathers gradually progressed back to normal with help from a few therapists and Rachel agreeing to go on anti-depressants. The doctors that told her she'd outgrow most of her allergies had basically given up after she'd turned eighteen. The allergies were only slightly more difficult to trigger than they had been when she was younger but were still abnormally sensitive. Rachel stayed on her plethora of medicine and kept her epi pens close.
Her Dad came home one summer day after she'd turned nineteen smiling like Rachel hadn't seen him smile in years and sat her down in the living room to talk.
"I got you a job, sweetie."
Rachel furrowed her eyebrows.
"It's at the hospital, on the night shift. It's not much but it's something for you to do! You'll be at the information desk in the general care ward. You'll be answering phones and dispatching nurses to rooms if the patients need something."
Rachel shrugged. "Okay."
She found herself at a desk the next night staring at the phone. There was a small air purifier on her desk and the surrounding area and things on the desk had been sanitized with what her fathers gave the cleaning staff. She was on shift from ten at night until five in the morning, her dads arranged their work scheduled around picking her up and dropping her off. The first night there were two calls from patients asking for water. Rachel mostly played solitaire on the workstation computer.
Rachel felt a sense of pride when she got her first paycheck. Her Daddy took it to the bank and opened a checking account and she got her own card. She had no idea what she was going to buy or how she would buy it but it was her money and she could do whatever she wanted with it. Getting out of the house was the main perk. Over the weeks she had her dads buy little things for her at the store just because she had the money. She had a new lamp and some new Bedazzling jewels and a new mirror. She was thinking of buying her own laptop but would have to wait a while to save.
She kept working as the years went by and although the job was boring and mundane she still loved getting to leave the house. It seemed like she blinked again and it was the early summer and she was twenty-four, still sitting at the same desk the same time every night. After winning her sixth game of solitaire for the night Rachel sighed and rolled her chair around the desk a little bit. Her break was in five minutes and she was getting restless. She read over the giant whiteboard on the wall and when she saw it, her heart stopped.
Quinn Fabray. Room 304.
The second her relief nurse showed up at the desk Rachel bolted. She came to a screeching halt in front of room 304 and didn't even hesitate before she stepped into the room. The first bed was empty, Rachel tiptoed to the second and her heart jumped at the sight of a blonde curled up on her side in bed, her body moving up and down with her breathing. Rachel knew better than to touch anything, the cleaners the hospital used elsewhere than her desk were most definitely not organic or safe for her. All she could do was stare. She had no idea why Quinn was there and that in some conditions it was bad to wake the patients…but she had to.
"Mmm." The blonde shifted a little but stayed asleep.
"Quinn, please wake up."
"No more shots," Quinn mumbled.
"Quinn…Quinn, it's Rachel."
Quinn's eyes snapped open and she sat bolt upright in bed then whimpered and clutched onto her lower stomach.
"Quinn, I'm so sorry…"
"Rachel? Rachel, you're really here?"
"What are you doing here?"
"I work here. What are you doing here?"
"Appendicitis. I had it taken out yesterday but there was some complication or something. They wanted to keep me for a few days."
Rachel was quiet, she swallowed hard and fidgeted with the hem of her shirt as she stared into the eyes of her once best friend and the girl she'd loved. The girl she still loved.
"I went to college," Quinn broke the silence. "Well, I'm still going. I'm going for my Doctorate. I was…I was thinking I'd go into allergy research."
"Yeah?" Rachel grinned.
Quinn pushed the button on her bed to make it incline and she lay back and stared up at Rachel. The brunette couldn't see very well, the only light that was coming in was from the hallway and the lights outside. It was enough, though. Enough to see Quinn's slightly matured features and her beautiful eyes and messy blonde hair that was splayed out on the pillow.
"I hoped one day I could cure you."
"My doctors say I'm a hopeless case."
"Your doctors don't care about you like I do."
Rachel squeaked, Quinn tucked her lower lip between her teeth.
"I'm sorry, Rachel…I'm sorry, I shouldn't have assumed. God you've probably met someone else that knows what you're going through, I don't even know why I assumed you'd ever give another thought to me."
"I'm here, aren't I? I saw your name on the patient board…of course I've given thought to you. Every single day, Quinn."
"Well, when you're fully recuperated I would like to invite you to dinner."
"Do you still live…"
"With my dads, yes. However, they can no longer argue that I'm simply a teen and don't understand things. They will have to simply get over it."
Quinn smiled. "I'd love to."
Rachel bounced a little and glanced up at the clock. "I have to get back to the desk."
"When's your next break?"
"In a few hours, you should rest though."
"Maybe." Quinn grinned and nuzzled her pillow. "See you later."
Rachel barely sat down in her chair when the phone rang and the number on the screen flashed 'Room 304'.
"Can I help you?" she answered.
"So," she heard Quinn's voice, "there's this really cute brunette working the desk, I was wondering if you could put me through to her."
"Quinn, you should be sleeping! Rest is essential to a proper recuperation."
"I can sleep later."
"If this gets me fired…"
"Hey, at least it's not phone sex. Unless you want to…"
"What are you wearing?"
Rachel stifled a giggle. "You are highly inappropriate."
"You can't blame me. I may or may not have pushed the pain medicine button right after you left."
"Do you need me to dispatch a nurse to get you anything?"
"If you want to come give me a sponge bath that'd be awesome." Quinn's voice was starting to slur. Rachel rolled her eyes and grinned.
"I will ignore that comment in light of the fact that you're currently suffering from the effects of a high-level pain medication. You should hang up before you fall asleep."
"I'll come check on you in a little while. Goodnight, Quinn."
Rachel chuckled as she hung up the phone. On her next break she ran to Quinn's room, the blonde was snoring softly. Rachel stood by her bed and watched over her, smiling down at the young woman.
"It's creepy to watch people sleep," Quinn mumbled, opening one eye.
"I didn't want to wake you."
"Says the woman who suggested I give her a sponge bath."
"When did I do that?"
"When you called me earlier after our first visit."
"Mmm. Pain medicine."
"Yes. Unfortunately I must get back to my work station. I'll check on you before I leave and see you tomorrow night, alright?"
Quinn smiled. "I'll miss you."
"You had better get some rest between now and then."
"Just for you," Quinn whispered.
Rachel poked her head in the room just as she was leaving her shift. Quinn was sleeping soundly, the brunette didn't want to wake her so she quietly dropped the note she'd written the blonde next to her in bed and tip-toed out to meet her Daddy in the parking lot.
Quinn's stay lasted three days, Rachel spent every break and a few minutes before and after her shifts with the blonde. The night before Quinn was scheduled to go home Rachel brought in a bag of everything she'd need for the dinner they'd scheduled for two days after. Quinn rummaged through the bag first thing and hopped up out of bed to go to the sink. Rachel sighed and scolded her, Quinn just giggled. She washed her hands and face with the provided soap, dried off with the all organic cotton towel and grinned at the small brunette.
"I've wanted to do this again for a really long time," Quinn said, stepping closer to Rachel.
Careful not to touch the brunette with anything but her hands she cupped Rachel's jaw and pulled her in for a kiss. Rachel sighed into it and her hands went to cover Quinn's and then to the blonde's face. The need for air separated them but Rachel dove right back in until she heard her name being called from one of the nurses. She checked the clock and groaned, she was three minutes over on her break.
"I'll see you in a few days," she whispered before pressing one last kiss to Quinn's mouth.
Rachel asked for Friday off and requested that he fathers do the same thing. When preparing dinner she pulled four plates out of the cabinet and her fathers furrowed their eyebrows.
"I've invited someone to dinner," Rachel said. "And I'd very much appreciate it if you gave her a chance. I provided her with the appropriate clothing, soaps, and disinfectants."
Her fathers both sighed and gave a simultaneous, "Okay, Rachel."
Rachel stood staring at the door for five minutes after seven o'clock and with each passing minute her heart sank a little. Just as she turned to go take the fourth plate away from the kitchen table the doorbell rang. Rachel shrieked and jumped toward the door, her fathers' quick footsteps came up behind her as she opened the door. She motioned for Quinn to come inside, the blonde smiled and handed Rachel the bag she'd provided her with. Rachel dropped it on the foyer floor and took Quinn's hand to lead her inside.
"Dad, Daddy, you remember Quinn Fabray."
Her fathers nodded, stunned.
Dinner was quiet until Rachel heard Quinn growl and start talking.
"I'm going to med school," the blonde said, her voice laced with malice from an eight-year-old grudge. "I'm studying allergy research. After I had my baby and gave her up for adoption I got my life back together and graduated valedictorian. I have one more year of school before I get my Masters and then I want to get my Doctorate and find a cure for Rachel. How have you been, Mr. and Mr. Berry?"
Rachel reached over and took the blonde's hand as her fathers chewing slowed to a halt and they both swallowed. The brunette looked expectantly at her fathers as they exchanged glances.
"Dad, Daddy, Quinn asked you a question."
"We heard her," her Daddy said. "We're doing well, Quinn."
"Glad to hear that," Quinn said with a nod. "I have an apartment in Columbus, I don't know if Rachel told you. I'd like for her to come visit."
"I don't think that would be a good idea."
"I'm twenty-four, Daddy," Rachel said. "I think I can make that decision on my own. I'd love to visit."
"You'd get sick, Rachel. There's a lot to do to prepare..."
"It's a small space," Quinn said. "There isn't much in it and I clean with organic products. I have air purifiers going all the time." There was silence as the blonde took a few more bites of her all-organic lasagna. "I like to be green and when I looked for organic cleaners I recognized one of the names as the one on a bottle of body wash Rachel gave me - you remember when. So I order everything from them."
"I am firm in my belief that Quinn is more than prepared to receive me as a guest when she returns to Columbus based on the information that has been provided. Until then I wish to continue seeing her here and I request privacy when asked."
Rachel's father, mouths agape, both nodded a little. Rachel squeaked happily and squeezed Quinn's hand. The blonde gave a small smile and a nod to Rachel's fathers.
After dinner Rachel went to the linen closet and retrieved a sheet (the familiar one from years ago had long since been thrown out due to it becoming threadbare) and she and the blonde ventured out into the Berry's back yard. Rachel lit the lanterns and they splayed out the sheet on the ground and lay back. Rachel snuggled up to Quinn's side, draped an arm over the blonde's waist, and settled her head on Quinn's shoulder.
"It's going to take a really long time for them to not hate me, isn't it?" Quinn sighed as the pair looked up at the twinkling stars.
"They're over-protective, Quinn. I've been sick since the day I was born, they don't know how else to act."
"I could take care of you," Quinn whispered.
"You want to take care of me?"
"I think we should establish a courtship before we begin thinking about who should be taking care of whom."
"No one uses that word, Rachel."
"My knowledge of dating and relationships comes entirely from films and romance novels."
"In the twenty-first century we call it dating," Quinn said. Rachel could hear the smile in the blonde's voice. The brunette playfully swatted at her friend's chest. Quinn giggled. Rachel stretched up and let her lips brush against the underside of the blonde's jaw and propped herself up on her elbow to hover over Quinn. She grinned before dropping her head and connecting her lips with the woman underneath her. Quinn's fingers threaded through her hair and pulled her closer until she was straddling the blonde's hips and exploring every inch of Quinn's neck with her lips, tongue, and teeth.
"I swear to God if your dads interrupt us this time I won't be responsible for my actions," Quinn mumbled.
Rachel giggled against pale skin and settled one hand on Quinn's ribcage and the other keeping herself propped up just a little. Lips connected again and Rachel moaned into Quinn's mouth. The pair kissed until they were breathless and desperate for air.
"Are you okay?" Quinn asked.
"If you're concerned about my state of flushed cheeks and breathlessness I can assure you that the cause is not one of an allergic reaction."
Quinn shook her head and giggled. "I almost forgot how much you liked to ramble."
"I do not ramble! I thoroughly explain."
"Whatever you say, Rach."
Rachel responded by sinking her teeth into Quinn's neck. Quinn gasped and gripped tight onto Rachel's waist.
Quinn was at the Berry household nearly every day while finishing her summer vacation. Rachel finally convinced her dads to let her leave at night with Quinn to go out and after extensive instruction to Quinn on how to administer Rachel's epinephrine, the men consented. The pair went to the park usually, taking a blanket with them to sit out by the pond.
"I wish we could come during the day," Rachel sighed one night. "I've heard that feeding the ducks is quite entertaining."
"Someday," Quinn said with a smile. She tightened her grip on Rachel's shoulders and sighed.
The next thing Rachel was aware of was her face buried in Quinn's neck an extremely warm sensation on the back of her neck and the inability to open her eyes without pain shooting through her head. She panicked when she realized what was happening. They'd fallen asleep and the sun was coming up.
"Quinn," Rachel whimpered, "Quinn, wake up."
Quinn groaned and opened her eyes. Rachel started shaking. Once she saw realization hit Quinn's face there was a flurry of activity as Quinn grabbed the blanket and threw it over Rachel and pulled her to the car. Rachel trembled at the burning sensation on her arms and legs and knew that within hours she'd be covered in painful blisters. She'd woken with her face covered which hopefully meant no blisters.
"Do you want to go home or the hospital?" Quinn asked, her voice panicked.
"Hospital," Rachel murmured. She knew her Dad would just be starting his shift in the ER. She also knew she'd been in the sun for at least half an hour and it was going to spell disaster.
Quinn visibly cringed.
Rachel cried out when Quinn brushed against her arm as she helped her into the ER and cringed again. She murmured repeated apologies to Rachel and tried desperately not to look at the diva's quickly blistering arms and legs. The nurse at the desk went wide eyed when Rachel stepped into the ER and ran to the back, returning with Rachel's Dad. His eyes flickered back and forth between the pair before he pulled his daughter away from Quinn.
"Mr. Berry, I…"
"Go home," he growled.
"Dad, please, it's not her fault."
Quinn narrowed her eyes and dropped to a seat in the ER waiting room.
Rachel did her best to keep the pained tears from escaping as she was immediately taken upstairs and a nurse helped her into a cool bath while her Dad dealt with housekeeping and getting the sheets he kept stored onto the bed and the area cleaned. Rachel took deep breaths to fight off the nausea but lost and the nurse was there to soothe her as she emptied her stomach. Rachel cried from the pain, from the nausea, and thinking how she desperately wished Quinn was there.
After a cool bath the nurse started an IV and Rachel waited for her Dad to come back with her dermatologist. Dr. Wynn gave a soft smile when she saw Rachel in bed and checked over her skin, her smile dropping at the blisters.
"How long were you out, Rachel?"
"Half an hour at the most," Rachel said with a grimace as Dr. Wynn gently examined her skin.
"I fell asleep." Rachel's eyes darted up to her Dad standing nearby. "It was no one's fault but my own. I should've set an alarm."
"I'm going to start you on some steroids," Dr. Wynn said. "And I want to keep a close eye on these blisters, if any of them open up they could get infected. If everything goes alright you should be able to go home in a few days and back to normal in a couple of weeks or so."
Rachel nodded. Dr. Wynn made a few notes on her chart and nodded to Rachel's dad on her way out.
"Rachel," the man said sternly, "this is serious."
"If you think for one moment about blaming Quinn for this, Dad, I can assure you that I'll remain extremely angry at you for quite an extensive amount of time. I should've set an alarm as per normal but it slipped my mind. Now, if you don't mind, I would appreciate it if you call her and inform her of my whereabouts as she is probably still sitting in the emergency room."
"Any one of these blisters could get infected and easily cause a lot of damage."
"And I know that you, an excellent physician, won't allow that to happen."
"Stop trying to butter me up." The corners of his mouth twitched and he crossed his arms over his chest.
Rachel stuck her lower lip out in a pout. "So you mean you won't be caring for me?"
"Rachel," he chuckled, "you know I'll take care of you, sweetie. But you need to understand-"
"I do understand, Dad. I understand the seriousness of the situation but unfortunately I'm only human and humans make mistakes. Now, will you please inform Quinn of my location?"
Rachel smiled as her Dad pulled his phone from his pocket and she recited Quinn's number to him. In a matter of minutes there was a blonde standing in her hospital room doorway wringing her hands nervously.
"Hey," Quinn spoke softly.
"It's alright, Quinn," Rachel assured her. "Dad knows this wasn't your fault. You're not angry with her, are you Dad?"
Rachel's Dad shook his head. "Not at all, Quinn."
Quinn nodded. "How are you feeling?"
"Sore," Rachel said. "I should be getting something for the pain soon so my coherent state won't last much longer. I'd very much like a kiss or two before I begin drooling all over myself."
"I'm going to uh, go call your Daddy," Rachel's Dad mumbled as he scurried out of the room. Quinn crossed the floor and carefully brushed Rachel's hair out of her face. Rachel smiled, glad that at least one part of her body could have Quinn's touch.
"I'm so sorry," Quinn said. "I'm so, so sorry Rachel."
"This isn't your fault."
"Are you gonna be okay?"
"I'll be just fine. The immediate concern is the blisters but with care they should be gone shortly. I'll be back to full health, as healthy as I can be anyways, in a few weeks."
Quinn leaned down and brushed her lips against Rachel's. "I wish that could save you from all of this," Quinn mumbled when she pulled away.
Rachel smiled up at her girlfriend with her brightest smile. "You saved me the first time you ever spoke to me, Quinn. You gave me something to look forward to, something to live for," Rachel said. Quinn's eyes welled up and Rachel wished she could reach up and wipe away the streaming tears but every time she moved it was painful and so she watched, broken hearted, as Quinn wiped away her own tears and then kissed Rachel's forehead.
"I'll take care of you, okay? Nothing will keep me away from you anymore. Not fences or going back to Columbus or anything. I'll figure it out."
"Quinn, I assure you I'll be fi-" Rachel was cut off by soft lips on hers and she just couldn't continue the argument. Especially not when Quinn's tongue touched hers.
"I'll take care of you," Quinn murmured again, this time with more insistence.
Rachel smiled. "Okay, Quinn."
Quinn finally smiled and pressed her lips to Rachel's once more and Rachel sighed contentedly. It wouldn't be easy, she knew. There would be a lot of adjusting and change from what she'd been used to for her life but her life had overcome barriers (most literally in the form of a fence) and she had survived those and she was sure that she could overcome anything.
"Hey Guinea Pig," Quinn greeted her wife with a bounce in her step.
Rachel chuckled and carefully stood and placed their eighteen month old sleeping son into his playpen. Quinn held up a paper bag and shook it, a grin plastered on her face.
The pair had married just before Quinn started working toward her Doctorate. A year after she graduated with honors she gave birth to their son, Nathan. Quinn was working at an allergy clinic in Lima with a team to treat patients and find a cure for Rachel. So far there had been two failed trials (one of which while Quinn was in med school) but the series of injections that they were currently testing that had shown promising results on the lab rats. Rachel had been taking the injections for two months and had noticed a significant improvement but they hadn't done official tests.
The injections wouldn't do anything for the sun allergy; that was dermatological and although the reaction had gradually become less severe, there wasn't much research being done locally to significantly decrease the severity of the reaction. The other allergies, however, could quite possibly be almost eradicated with the new drugs that Rachel had been on.
Rachel took a deep breath and held out her arm. In the paper bag Quinn was carrying were the test supplies to check for reaction. Rachel's epi pen was on the coffee table, ready just in case. Quinn quickly set up and started the scratch test. Her hands shook a little as she waited for Rachel to start wheezing and gasping and breaking out in hives.
When five minutes went by and Rachel's skin remained clear, Quinn checked the allergen bottles to make sure she'd grabbed the correct ones. She read them all over and over and kept checking Rachel's arm. A few tiny red bumps showed up on some of the pollen allergens and grass but other than that the tests were clear.
"How do you feel?" Quinn asked in her "doctor to patient" tone.
"So far so good."
Quinn pulled her stethoscope off of the coffee table and listened to Rachel's lungs. Her breath sounds were strong and healthy, not even a slight trace of wheezing.
"What's the prognosis, doctor?" Rachel tucked her lower lip between her teeth and held back the excitement that was threatening to burst out of her. With the previous trial it had been disastrous and had taken an epi pen and a Benadryl injection to get her allergies under control.
"We can't look too far ahead but…"
"But there's hardly a reaction," Rachel finished. Her lips broke into a grin and she pulled her wife to her, their lips crashing together.
"I told you," Quinn mumbled, "I told you I'd save you."
"You know you already did, sweetheart." Rachel threaded her fingers through Quinn's hair and smiled. "A long time ago."