When Quinn woke the next morning, still sore in such a wonderful way, she smiled. Rachel wasn't with her because, duh, they weren't going to make things any more awkward with the adults than they already were. She realized, though, that there were two weeks left of vacation and she had yet to really try and get back into that Cheerios uniform still hanging in her closet. She dressed quickly, stretched, and grabbed a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and was getting ready to grab onto the doorknob when a tan hand stopped her.
"Quinn, do you recall what happened last time you attempted to go running?"
"I have to get back into shape before school starts."
"Then I will accompany you. I've been very lax on my exercise routine this summer. And for the record," Rachel slipped her arms around Quinn's waist and nuzzled her neck, "I think you're incredibly stunning. And I know another way to work out if you'd rather do that."
Quinn almost couldn't argue with her girlfriend's logic but the image of that uniform was still swimming in her brain. She kissed Rachel's temple, her cheek, her lips.
"I need to run, sweetie."
"Wait five minutes?"
Quinn nodded and watched Rachel skip back through the house and return exactly five minutes later in the fourth most appetizing outfit Quinn had ever seen her in. The first, of course, being absolutely nothing, the second was the bikini, and the third was the corset Kurt had put her in. At the present moment Rachel was in sinfully short red shorts and a skin tight white tanktop with her hair up in a messy ponytail.
"Like what you see?" Rachel asked as she bent over to stretch.
"Perhaps if you keep up there will be a reward."
Quinn snorted and opened the door to follow Rachel out. "If you short legs can catch up to me first."
That, apparently, was the wrong thing to say. Rachel took off running and Quinn was desperate trying her best to keep up. The view wasn't too bad, though. Rachel's ass in those shorts was pretty tantalizing. The brunette finally slowed down enough to let Quinn catch up and they jogged down to the beach and along the shore of the lake. They stopped on a dock for a bit to catch their breath and watch the sun come up over the horizon. Lake Erie was sparkling and the fishermen were just getting out on the water.
"I'll miss this," Rachel sighed after passing the bottle of water back to Quinn.
"We can go jogging in Lima, Rach. We'll go around the park or something."
"What, afraid to be seen with a Cheerio?" Quinn nudged Rachel's side but didn't get the reaction she hoped for. Instead of a laugh or even a smile she got another sigh. "Come on, Rach. Nothing is going to change. I promise." Quinn brushed a few stray strands of dark hair away from Rachel's face. "I love you, Rachel Berry."
That earned Quinn a smile and a kiss before Rachel chuckled and hopped up off the dock to take off running. Quinn growled playfully and honestly had to run to keep up. Again, they settled into a jog and took the route back to the cabin. Once the house was in sight Quinn picked up the pace a bit. Rachel sped up a little ahead then Quinn moved ahead once more. They continued the game until Rachel took off in a full sprint. Determined not to lose, because Quinn Fabray doesn't lose, she pushed her body to the limit and sprinted as hard and as fast as she could. She literally ran into the cabin when she got there and dropped to the ground on her stomach gasping for air. Rachel fell next to her a few seconds later.
"I…win." Quinn gasped.
"At least…you look…hot."
Quinn reached out with what little energy she had and groped for Rachel's hand. It was sweaty and kind of gross but she didn't care. She held on and continued trying to get her lungs to function. She only looked up when the cabin door opened and Michael stepped out with a cup of coffee and looked down.
"Do I…want to know?"
"We went running," Rachel groaned. "I don't think I can move. Can Daddy come carry us in?"
Michael chuckled. "Fresh berry smoothies sound good for breakfast?"
"Sure," Quinn mumbled, rolling over onto her back. "Just…get a funnel and pour it in my mouth."
Michael laughed and shook his head before retreating back into the cabin. Quinn tried to move but everything still hurt and she whimpered and dropped back to the grass.
"We should shower. We've sweat out several toxins and it's essential to wash thoroughly before they seep back into our skin."
"We could tell our parents we're saving water by showering together."
"That sounds like an incredibly appetizing idea but I'm not sure it will work. My dads will never fall for it and, although I do find you very irresistible right now, I won't be able to move properly until after a very long shower."
"We should get up."
Quinn watched out of the corner of her eye as Rachel struggled to get to her feet and then took the offered hand to get up. She groaned with each step and stretched a little more before a wonderfully hot shower to soothe her aching muscles. There was a fresh strawberry smoothie waiting for her on the kitchen island; she thanked her mother and took it to the couch in front of the unlit fireplace and sank down into the cushions to relax. Rachel literally bounced in from her shower to get her smoothie and joined the blonde.
"How are you not in pain?"
"The shower was quite rejuvenating. I have a set of shower gels that are specifically geared toward relieving sore muscles."
Rachel bounced up off the couch and before Quinn could inquire where she was going there were two hands on her right calf and fingertips were pressing just right into the tissue. Quinn had to bite her tongue to keep from moaning inappropriately as Rachel's fingers pressed deep into her muscles and massaged out the soreness and knots.
"If I didn't love you before I really do now." Quinn smiled and wrapped her arm around Rachel's shoulders when the brunette returned to the couch and snuggled into her side. Quinn dropped her head to brush her lips against the shell of Rachel's ear. "You have magic fingers."
"So I've been told. Loudly. And I must say," Rachel lifted Quinn's hand to her mouth and pressed a kiss to her knuckles, "I believe yours have some magical properties as well."
"Who's up for Monopoly?" Michael practically yelled from the kitchen. "I'm up for it!"
"Of course," Rachel mumbled.
Quinn just smiled and kissed Rachel's temple.
Over the game of Monopoly a schedule for the last two weeks of vacation was hashed out. There were a few days that the adults scheduled for family time and although Quinn would rather have spent them with Rachel, she agreed. The relationship with her mother was starting out great but she understood it needed a little more work before they returned to Lima.
"Are you really okay with this?" Quinn asked over lunch one afternoon. They were at a café down by the lake, just her and her mother, while Rachel and her dads were doing their own thing. While her mother had been more than accepting, it was still floating in Quinn's brain what she'd been taught all of her life in her Bible study sessions and sermons at church. Things her father had told her that she'd obviously ignored. Her mother never said much on the subject which is what worried the blonde the most.
"I told you, Quinnie, I'm happy if you're happy."
"If you're not…"
"Your father won't be, if he finds out. I'm not your father. I lived with him and his close-mindedness for so long that I lost who I was, Quinn. In college I was very…I…I was different, we'll just say that. I met your father and I fell in love with him and he had this way of saying things that made me believe anything. You're not the only one trying to figure out who she is, sweetie."
Quinn nodded. "Someone really smart told me she only ever wanted me to be who I wanted to be."
"You love her?"
"That's all that matters to me. And, for the record, I'm a little more perceptive than you give me credit for. I just think you're smart enough to handle yourself and there are some things a mother just wants to…not think about."
Quinn felt the heat rise to her cheeks and she bit back a smile and nodded. "Sorry."
"I was sixteen once. Granted, you've gone through a little bit more at sixteen than most."
Quinn ducked her head at that until she felt her mother's hand clasp her own.
"I'm so proud of you, sweetheart. You handled yourself and you got through it. You're one of the strongest young women I know."
"I guess I get it from you." Quinn couldn't help but notice the unsure look on her mother's face. She'd seen that look staring back at her in the mirror more often than not over the last year. "We'll be okay, Mom."
Her mother's look was a little surer as she smiled and nodded and turned the conversation in a lighter direction. They talked about redecorating the house and Quinn urged her mother to get back into the workforce and put her marketing and real estate degrees to good use. The conversation flowed easily; Quinn didn't hold back, and even though it was only the beginning it was a hell of a long way from where they'd started the summer.
Two weeks. Fourteen days. Rachel willed for the days to go slow but with each morning run she knew it wasn't going to happen. They would run the same route every morning and sit on the dock to watch the sun come up and each morning was a little more solemn than the one before. The days were spent doing last minute shopping and finding as many moments alone with Quinn as humanly possible before they had to leave their bubble. A few days were spent with their respective parents. Quinn always came back from days with her mother with a smile on her face. Rachel's days with her fathers were just as good. They talked plenty about the future, not only Rachel's but that of the family. Rachel had decided not to keep in contact with Shelby unless it was because of Quinn and Beth and upon revealing this to her dads they looked concerned but said it was her decision and if she was happy with it then that's what was important.
The Berrys were in the middle of a heated game of Texas Hold 'Em where Rachel had just won her third round in a row just as her phone buzzed on the table.
I kno its lame but I miss u :-P -Q
"Rachel," her Daddy said, his tone serious, "family time."
"Sorry." Rachel tucked her phone in her pocket and smiled. "It was Quinn."
"You spend every moment of every day together; you can survive for a few hours to spend with the old men."
"I know, Daddy."
"So…Quinn and you," Michael said with his brow furrowed.
Rachel nodded at her dad.
"We haven't really had a chance to talk about that."
Rachel shook her head. "We haven't."
"I'm surprised you don't have a speech prepared," Bruce chuckled.
"I love her. That's what matters, correct?"
The response wasn't exactly encouraging. Both men nodded slowly and exchanged glances before Michael spoke again.
"Sweetheart, we just want to make sure you understand that we do live in Lima, Ohio. Things aren't going to be this great when you get back to school."
"I'm well aware of that; I've been dealing with tormenters since elementary school."
"We just don't want you getting hurt. You have to be careful."
"I promise, I will be."
Rachel gave her best confident smile and she meant it. She was confident. She knew it wouldn't be easy, she'd watched her dads get berated for years and she herself had been picked on because of them, but she wasn't about to give up Quinn because of it. She could only hope that Quinn felt the same. The Berrys went out for lunch after another round of poker, they decided on a restaurant near the berry patch because Rachel insisted she needed to go back. She found what she was looking for in the gift shop and grinned as she tucked it away in her dresser just as Quinn and Judy got back from their afternoon out.
The last few days of vacation were spent cleaning the cabin and finalizing travel arrangements. Rachel was thoroughly disappointed that Quinn and Judy couldn't get out of their flight arrangements. It meant a few days without her girlfriend, one of which was Quinn's seventeenth birthday, but her fathers assured her that she would survive. The Berrys were leaving Friday afternoon and splitting the drive into two parts; they were scheduled to arrive back in Lima on Saturday evening. Rachel begged them to push the travel schedule back a day because the Fabrays' flight didn't leave until Sunday but Michael and Bruce refused, citing that they both had to work Monday morning.
As Rachel finished packing her things Thursday night to ensure she was ready to leave Friday morning her fingers brushed over the box in her dresser she was saving for Saturday if she had been able to convince her dads to push the drive back. She packed her last item and had to sit on her suitcase to get it to zip up and then grabbed the box and headed to the common room.
"All packed?" Michael asked from the kitchen island.
Rachel nodded as she crossed the floor to the couch in front of the fireplace where Quinn was curled up with her iPod. The blonde smiled as Rachel dropped to the couch and she tugged out her earbuds. Rachel was greeted with a kiss and an attempt at Quinn taking her hands but she pulled away.
"Since I won't get to see you on the date of your actual birthday I thought I would give you your gift now." Rachel held out the box and Quinn cautiously inspected it before picking it up.
"This isn't like…a ring, right? I mean…I-I love you but that's a little much."
"It's not a ring. I'm well aware that we're not ready for that level of commitment yet. And I love you, too."
Quinn nodded and opened the box; Rachel jumped and squeaked a little as Quinn picked up the gold necklace in the box with the small strawberry pendant dangling from it.
"Do you like it?"
Rachel took Quinn tackling her backward and crushing their lips together as an affirmative.
"Girls, once again, mothers don't want to see some things."
"Neither do fathers."
"You two are lucky, trust me."
Rachel pushed Quinn up and was rewarded with peck on the cheek as Quinn fastened the necklace and centered the red and green pendant on her chest.
"You're so cheesy, Berry."
"Yes but I happen to know that you love me."
Quinn shrugged. "I can't argue with that."
Rachel snuggled deeper into Quinn's side and the blonde handed her one ear bud and although her first choice to fall asleep to was almost always the Les Mis sound track, she could get used to...Rachel grabbed Quinn's iPod and looked at the screen to figure out exactly what she was listening to.
Quinn chuckled. "Mercedes got me into it. It's not bad. Hey, listen to Empire State of Mind, it's really good."
Rachel listened for a while and had to admit that the song was really, very good. It was well constructed and even something that could be adapted to glee club. The songs played on and Rachel was vaguely aware of switching positions and resting her head on Quinn's chest. She thought she heard a whispered, "just leave them be," but she wasn't sure.
When Rachel woke, there was just a little bit of light coming in from the windows. She was still on top of Quinn, the iPod earbud had fallen out, and Quinn's arms were holding her tight. Rachel looked up at Quinn's peaceful face and reached up to gently trace her fingertips over the blonde's mouth.
"Staring is creepy, baby," Quinn mumbled. She kissed Rachel's fingertips and blinked a few times before opening her eyes and smiling.
"You up for a run?"
Quinn shook her head. "I just want to hold you."
The next thing Rachel was aware of was her daddy's hand on her shoulder and a soft smile on his face as he whispered, "you need to get ready, sweetie. We're leaving in an hour."
Rachel gently disentangled herself from Quinn and got dressed. By the time she was finished, Quinn was awake and there was more cuddling until Michael announced that it was officially departure time. Silently, Quinn helped Rachel load her bags into the back of the SUV and stood with her arms around Rachel's waist and a sleepy smile on her face.
"I'll see you on Sunday," Quinn whispered before pressing a kiss to Rachel's forehead. "Call me when you can."
"I will, promise."
"Let's go Rachel."
Rachel nodded toward her daddy and then looked back to Quinn and up into hazel eyes with a smile. She reached up to bring their lips together in a soft kiss and brushed Quinn's cheek with her thumb and traced her fingertips down the gold chain to the strawberry pendant resting on her chest, just above the gold cross.
"Love you, Rach."
"Love you, too."
Rachel broke the embrace and slowly made her way to the SUV. She looked back as her Daddy drove away and waved at her girlfriend until the cabin was out of sight.
Thanks to splitting the drive into two days, Rachel wasn't nearly as exhausted as she thought she'd be when they finally returned home. She immediately set to doing her laundry while her dads picked up the mail from the post office before it closed. Rachel found Quinn's shirt she'd picked up at the campsite and smiled. When she pulled it out of the dryer she took it upstairs with the rest of her laundry and tucked it under her pillow. It was a little creepy, yeah, but she was pretty sure Quinn still had her shirt from the first-aid kit. It all evened out.
The Berrys found the refrigerator stocked with food with a note from their neighbors across the street and the set of keys they'd left with them. Rachel checked her MySpace and Facebook pages and wrote a quick note on both telling of her safe arrival home before calling Quinn. They talked until Rachel couldn't keep her eyes open and Quinn promised to call before her flight left the next day.
In the beginning of the summer Quinn would've laughed if someone had said that by the end of it she would be able to spend a weekend with her mother by themselves and not have it be awkward or silent. They cooked meals together and talked more about redecorating. Quinn didn't argue when her mother said she wanted to practically throw everything out of the house and start new. They picked out a color scheme for each room, all of them bright and inviting rather than museum-like. While packing, Quinn found Rachel's shirt that had been in the first-aid kit she'd dragged with her into the woods to be Quinn's knight in shining armor. Quinn smiled at it and picked at a couple of loose threads before tucking it safely in her bag with absolutely no intention of returning it.
The flight back was much better than the flight there, mostly due to the fact that they took a small plane to Buffalo and then a larger plane with a competent pilot into Columbus. Quinn spent most of the shuttle ride back to Lima asleep after sending a text to Rachel that they'd landed safely and would be home in a few hours. As expected, when the driver pulled up in the Fabray driveway, there was a short brunette sitting on the front doorstep.
Quinn was met with a kiss and a bear hug from Rachel, as if they hadn't spent the entire summer together.
"I've arranged for a party tomorrow afternoon," Rachel said as she helped Quinn drag her bags upstairs to her room. "For some reason, the fellow glee clubbers were incredibly enthusiastic about it."
Quinn shrugged and tossed her bags on the bedroom floor then pulled Rachel to the bed to curl up next to her. "Are we going to tell them?" Quinn asked as she ran her fingers through Rachel's hair.
"Finn knows which means Noah probably knows."
"Santana knows and she tells Brittany everything."
"And Brittany tells everyone else everything."
"I say we worry about it later."
Quinn grinned when Rachel nodded and closed the distance between their faces to kiss her.
Per Rachel's instructions, Quinn was at the Berry house at exactly 1:45 the next afternoon to help set up for the party at 2. The other glee club members (minus Finn) arrived all practically together and they all looked like they'd been drinking Mountain Dew for hours.
"I'm very glad you all agreed to participate in this gathering today," Rachel started. "It really is a pleasure…"
"Save it, Rachel," Kurt said. "We only want to know how long you and Quinn were planning on keeping your," he gestured back and forth between them, "whatever it is from us."
Quinn, followed by everyone else, immediately looked at Brittany. Rachel slowly made her way to sit on the arm of the chair Quinn had settled herself in.
"I didn't do it."
"She really didn't," Artie piped up. "Finn…"
"Finn got drunk and spouted off to Jacob Ben Israel," Mercedes growled. "Then he posted it on his blog."
"We threatened him with daily swirlies and dumpster tosses until he took it down," Puck said, high fiving Matt and Mike.
"Like I said," Kurt continued, "we're the only ones allowed to humiliate our teammates."
"In other words, we got your backs. No one will mess with you guys this year."
Quinn reached over to slip her hand into Rachel's. "Thanks Mercedes."
"And, uh, Finn's been told to kind of back off for a while," Tina said quietly.
"Actually," Puck growled, "I told him he was a punk and he better not screw up again or I'd let him get his ass knocked out in every football game we have this year."
"So…I take it you're all okay with this?" Rachel asked quietly. Quinn squeezed her hand as they waited for the response.
Kurt smiled. "I won a lot of money off of it. You two have been breaking my gaydar forever."
"I'm surprised you don't break your own gaydar."
Kurt rolled his eyes in Santana's direction. "Those two may break it but you and Britt? Whatever's left, you shatter the pieces."
"We like boys, too."
"You're not helping, B."
"Can we please stop talking about this?"
"Oh come on, Mercedes," Puck chuckled. "I totally want to hear about this."
"You would, sex shark."
"You know it."
As Quinn listened to her friends argue back and forth she pulled Rachel into her lap and hugged her arms around the smaller girl and drew themselves into their own little bubble. Rachel leaned down to touch her forehead to Quinn's and smiled.
"I love you."
"I love you, too, Rach."
"Ew, no one wants to see that!"
"Shut up, Santana! Don't be such a frickin' twat swat!"
"You shut it, Puck!"
It prompted another fight and Quinn shook her head and held Rachel a little tighter when the brunette nuzzled her neck.
The summer might have been over and there was most definitely a long year ahead but this moment? With the most unexpected person in her arms, her friends, and a mother out at Lima Lumber looking at paint colors that they decided on? This moment was perfect. Quinn never thought she'd be thankful for things like freak booking accidents, summer cabins, sprained knees, and berry farms, but she was.
"You think we could get that cabin next summer?" Quinn asked as Rachel traced her fingers up and down the blonde's arm.
"As long as we're sans our parents, I don't really care where we go."
The noise finally settled down a little and the glee kids, one at a time, started telling stories of their summer and Quinn smiled at Rachel, knowing their story had just started, and a cabin by the lake was their "once upon a time".