A/N: Ah, crap. So…I got a lot of sequel requests for this one, and at first I didn't know exactly where I would go with it. So I really hope it meets expectations, and I have a feeling it's going to be continued…sometime in the near future. *grumble, grumble*

Chapter 2

Finn's fingertips slipped away from Rachel's grasp, and the feeling was met with a melancholy sigh. A part of her didn't want him to leave. It was the same part that had screamed she would never leave him until it got its way and she verbalized it. It was the same part that wouldn't let her dispose of her teddy bear, Amstein, despite one of his glassy eyes going MIA two years ago and his polka-dotted bow tie fading from its once brilliant red and white. Nostalgia.

She closed her eyes to the acidic feeling in her stomach. Finn deserved better. Better than being treated like a ratty, tear-soaked plaything kept out of obligation to sentimentality. Better than being lied to.

She hadn't outright lied to him, of course. She did want to be alone for a while, to gather strength from the hot glow of her spotlight and wallow in the bittersweet emptiness of the auditorium. Remembering how she'd brought an entire crowd to their feet, roaring until it felt as though the walls would crumble around them. The silence was deafening in its own way.

The reason for it—the reason for Rachel's desire to be alone, that is—was what Finn misunderstood. He thought it was to gather courage before she faced the music (metaphorically speaking) and apologized for her actions that had cost New Directions so much. He was wrong.

Apologizing to glee club wasn't new for Rachel. She'd done it many times over the past year; more times than she'd ever thought she would apologize to anyone. And it would be as simple this time as all the others. Her apology would be sincere, heartfelt, and ignored. Because Rachel was just 'being Rachel', but more importantly, New Directions needed her voice.

It gave her a terrifying sort of freedom—and power. She could do whatever she wished, as long as it caused no detriment to her voice, and she would be forgiven. Welcomed back with nothing more than a reproachful smack on the hand from Mr. Schuester and the sheet music for her next solo.

So it was nothing to do with that. It had to do with something Rachel had spent days trying desperately not to think about—of course, the more she tried not to, the more she did. It had to do with the choir room; its lights low, the absence of so many bodies making it feel startlingly open, like high ceilings in a cathedral. It had to do with the crinkle of plastic and the slosh of ice in slowly melting water. It had to do with the gold flecks in a field of green, both nearly encompassed by ever-expanding darkness. And, most of all, it had to do with thirty seconds.

Both the longest and shortest of her life. The openness of the choir room shrank down to nothingness, and all that seemed to matter was the pressure of an ice cold hand on her neck, the contrasting heat of breath on her face, the intensity of the multi-colored gaze across from her, and the lull of a sweet, seductive purr of a voice.

'Relax. I'm not going to touch you.' Rachel had desperately wanted to point out that she was already touching her. And even though it terrified her, that she wanted her to touch her more. But they both knew what she'd meant—she wasn't going to kiss her. They were only playing at it, like a child wearing his father's tool belt.

And Rachel could do that, she'd told herself. For thirty seconds, she could pretend the gap was going to close and she'd be met with lips as sweet as the perfume riding off the other girl in waves. She could pretend the hand rubbing circles on her neck was going to sweep lower and caress her body with a knee-buckling finesse until it reached the place it was needed most. She could even pretend the girl across from her wanted to do those things, wanted Rachel to touch her in the same way.

And when those thirty seconds were up, Rachel could walk away, as in love with Finn as she ever had been, and she could pretend nothing ever happened.

She'd tried; she really had. She separated herself from the scene, counting off the seconds in her head, pretending pink lips would meet hers. 'Pretend' didn't last.

At three seconds, Rachel informed her of the coldness of her hand. At five, she'd already memorized the dips and curves in the perfect pink skin in front of her. At eleven, she knew that she was, beyond a doubt, completely aroused—because of the deep hazel eyes, the now warm, gentle hand, the tantalizingly parted lips. Everything. All the beauty in front of her—literally shoved right in her face, no longer ignorable—and Rachel wanted it.

A million thoughts of how Rachel wanted it, wanted her, raced through her mind at once. How she could tangle her fingers in long blonde locks, combing them out and massaging a scalp aching from the ponytail's binding tightness. How she could sink her body against pale flesh, taste its soft sweetness, feel the pulsing of a vein under her tongue. How she could make this girl moan her name, every syllable stretched to its fullest, every letter rolling off her tongue with increased adulation.

Rachel had licked her lips thinking of it. And she knew she'd been caught, had turned her head in embarrassment and distracted her, and that's when she'd sunk into the darkness of two bright eyes as they scanned her brunette bangs with something akin to hunger. It was breathtaking.

It had startled Rachel just as much as her when she hit thirty, and the announcement blew out past her lips before she could stop it. When she didn't pull away, Rachel knew—for certain—that she'd forgotten that they were pretending, too. That she'd been just as under the spell of those thirty seconds as the singer had.

But when the ice pack interrupted their moment of connection, reality slapped Rachel in the face like a note in the wrong key. And she remembered something very important—the girl across from her was Quinn Fabray.

Quinn had never slushied Rachel. Not once. She and her Cheerios were always too 'sophisticated' for that low level torment (though they weren't too sophisticated to laugh like hyenas while Rachel cleaned herself off in the bathroom). It was left to the football players and other jocks—or, in other words, the boys—to do such dirty work. No, the Cheerios preferred offensive etchings on bathroom walls, trolling the internet, and issuing provocative nicknames from sharp tongues. They were cowards, but that didn't matter. It still burned.

In fact, it was almost worse. Corn syrup could be washed out. Clothes could be replaced. Towels could regenerate heat in frigid skin. But unadulterated, unprovoked hatred was inescapable. Harsh words would ring out in her mind weeks after they'd been said, and there was no way Rachel could scrub those away.

And if anything could be said for Quinn's part in all that bullying over the years, it was that she was the worst. Half of Rachel's nicknames were her invention. She'd freely admitted to those drawings. And the comment 'If I were your parents, I would sell you back' was never far from Rachel's mind on the rare occasion that she had an argument with her dads. Shelby's brief cameo in her life hadn't exactly discouraged that niggling insecurity.

Yet it was Quinn—Quinn—who was making her feel this way. Inspiring so much heat and wetness, sending such vivid images into her mind as she'd never had about Finn or Jesse, or even Noah. Making her feel incredible.

Of course, Rachel had fled. And she'd been fleeing since that day, trying to burrow into the safety of Finn's friendship, the familiarity of routine. Quinn wasn't making it easy for her. Whenever they were in the same vicinity—the same room, even—Rachel could literally feel her hazel eyes tracking her, and she hated it, because she wanted it. She wanted Quinn to look at her. She wanted Quinn.

Fortunately, any signs of arousal Rachel might have been displaying were smacked away like a hand from the cookie jar when she looked at Quinn. Because her gaze didn't go to hazel irises or blonde hair or pale flesh—it went to red polyester.

While that day in the choir room the color had reminded her of heat and passion, now it made her think of anger and, disturbingly enough, blood. Rachel knew Quinn would never physically hurt her. Not on purpose, anyway. Though she had recently gotten into a catfight with Santana, Rachel had heard that the Latina was the one to strike the first blow, and Quinn was only retaliating.

And the only times Rachel could recall Quinn getting physical with her was once last year, when she'd been a little crazy on pregnancy hormones and grasping desperately to the one shred of her life that might remain intact when her secret was blown—and she hadn't touched her again after that appalled look the brunette hadn't been able to help giving her. And then there was the other day in the choir room, but Quinn hadn't hurt her, nor had she been intending to.

Rachel wasn't actually clear on what she was doing, but she was desperate to know. Quinn had very plainly been irritated with her presence and incessant talking that day—constantly shifting or rolling her eyes—and the only reason Rachel hadn't left was her concern that the blonde might have a mild concussion.

From what she'd heard of the fight at that point, Santana had knocked her headfirst into a locker, and Rachel didn't want Quinn falling asleep and never waking up. Much as she distrusted Quinn, she truly didn't hate her, and she cared for all her teammates on that basic level. Besides, for some reason she couldn't explain, Rachel wanted to be Quinn's friend—even if it only meant she was friends with her like she was friends with Mike.

However, since that day in the choir room, Rachel had realized that even a friendship with Quinn would be precarious, leaving her open to all kinds of emotional cuts to add to the scars the blonde had given her over the years. And actually being attracted to her? She might as well paint a bull's eye over her heart.

So Rachel was pushing those feelings aside—any and all attraction she'd been feeling for girls in general, but especially toward Quinn—and focusing on her relationship with Finn. After all, he was a good guy who loved and respected her, and he deserved better. She would work harder to treat him better, starting after her stop in the auditorium. When she arrived back at the choir room, she would apologize to glee and kiss him and mean it and feel it.

"Still not as good as kissing a girl, hm?"

And that was when Rachel realized she'd been staring after Finn's retreating form for the better part of the last three minutes. She gave herself a good mental shake, turning primly on her heel to face the person she least wanted to see at the moment. And trying desperately to ignore the goose bumps on her arms from hearing that low purr again.

"We didn't kiss," Rachel reminded her.

Quinn's smirk disappeared, replaced with a roll of the eyes. "Fine. Nearly, then."

"Finn's kissing is fi—good. Good," she repeated, firmer. Her throat was dry. She swallowed. "Why aren't you in glee?"

"Why aren't you?" the blonde retorted, and it was Rachel's turn to roll her eyes.

"Has anyone ever told you that your penchant for avoiding questions you don't want to answer is not only impressive, but exasperating?"

"No one's mentioned it lately. Possibly because you're even better at it than I am."

Quinn's lip quirked in one of those annoyingly adorable smirks of hers, and Rachel wondered idly if she was taking some sort of sick pleasure in this uncomfortable exchange. One deeper glance into those hazel eyes gave her answer, and the brunette glanced pointedly down at the Cheerios uniform to quell an answering shudder.

"I sincerely doubt that," she replied evenly, and promptly pushed past her.

Rachel suddenly didn't want to be in the choir room. And especially not with Quinn. She fled for the auditorium and the safety of her spotlight, but she was going to have to fight for her reprieve. The cheerleader was following. She folded her arms protectively around herself, feeling somehow more secure, as if she had a shield to guard her from whatever Quinn was going to throw at her.

"Why are you avoiding me?" Quinn asked, and Rachel imagined her jaw clanging to the floor like in one of those cartoons.

She had never heard Quinn ask such a loaded question point blank like that. Nor had she ever heard her sound so vulnerable and yet…wary, at the same time. Like the sweet girl that had made appearances during her pregnancy was trying to peek out, but the head cheerleader was readying to protect her if need be. Rachel softened despite herself.

"I think you know," she said quietly.

There was a brief pause, but Rachel knew Quinn was still following her. She could feel her gaze, and she wished she'd worn her hair down so she could've at least hid her blushing cheeks from view.

"Are you going to tell Finn?"

The frost in her voice was back, and Rachel tightened her arms reflexively. She tossed a glance at the cheerleader, whose eyes were uncompromisingly on her, and the singer wondered how she was maneuvering the halls without incident this way. A glance at the uniform was all it took to remind her that the quiet pregnant girl wasn't who she was dealing with; people were back to parting like the Red Sea—Quinn didn't need to look where she was going.

"No," Rachel replied stiffly, hoping her icy tone would properly convey the message that it really wasn't any of Quinn's business anyway. The arched blonde eyebrow she received had her adding, "Nothing happened for me to tell him about. And actually, I would appreciate it if maybe you could just…forget the whole thing?" She tried not to sound so uncertain, but the unwavering attention she was receiving from the blonde to her right was muddling her thoughts. "I believe it's best for everyone if—"

"How can I forget it if nothing happened?" Quinn interjected.

The singer wanted to roll her eyes again. She sounded petulant and superior and biting all at once, and Rachel wondered which side of Quinn was responding. The head cheerleader, the pregnant girl…or the woman in the choir room?

"Look, Quinn, I appreciated your help in the matter, however unconventional your method may have been—" the blonde snorted "—but it's resolved now, and we can go on with our lives." She emphasized her words with a nod.

She was positive Quinn would be relieved. However caught up in the moment she may have been, it was as much of a mistake for Quinn as it had been for Rachel. The blonde was straight, after all (the proof was in the pudding—the pudding being Beth, of course). Not to mention, Baptist. Rachel grimaced at the cross, the artificial lighting glinting off of it.

"So what was the verdict?" she asked, and Rachel jumped.

Her gaze bounced back up to Quinn's, and the brunette felt her cheeks warm at the knowing, almost familiar smirk on the blonde's face.

"What?"

"The verdict. You said it was resolved, but you never told me what the result was," she continued nonchalantly.

Rachel narrowed her eyes at the blonde. She was being too casual. As though she knew the answer, but she was trying to force it out of her. The singer didn't know what her game was, but she wasn't playing into the head cheerleader's hands. Maybe if the pregnant girl had asked, or the woman she'd seen a glimpse of in the choir room…but not the head cheerleader. She was dangerous.

Nonetheless, Rachel circled in front of her, bringing them to a stop near the janitor's closet. She called upon years of acting lessons to train her expression into something remotely resembling detached, even as her body betrayed her with its reaction to their sudden nearness.

"It was nothing," she said coolly. "The reaction I had before must've been a fluke of some sort—probably related to my affection for singing. I've since realized 'looking' at girls merely produces a feeling of indifference, and our thirty second deal helped to confirm it. I'm straight."

Quinn's gaze hadn't wavered from her eyes, and Rachel momentarily felt as though she were a block of wood being drilled into by molten screws. Then her head cocked, ponytail brushing her neck with the motion, and her expression turned curious. And now the brunette felt like a chemical solution that hadn't turned the correct color. She pulled her arms tighter against her chest, until she could feel her ribs.

"You're lying," Quinn said simply, but there was so much fascination in those two words.

Rachel didn't know if the blonde was fascinated because she'd lied, or because she could read it so easily. It was definitely the latter for the singer. She felt her cheeks warm again and wished desperately that she could find some sort of control over that reaction.

"I'm not," she insisted, forcing herself not to shake her head like an ill-behaved child.

"Yes, you are," she retorted, and her voice rose for the first time since they started talking. "Why?"

Those eyes started digging again, rooting through Rachel as if they could reach in and take out whatever they needed. It made the brunette feel vulnerable and open…naked. She ripped her gaze from Quinn's, knowing it would be more telling than anything, but refusing to subject herself to more of that. It took her a few moments to compose herself.

When she felt she finally had it together, Rachel lifted her gaze, but dodged the searching hazel eyes, training her focus on somewhere past Quinn's left ear.

"I'm not lying. I didn't feel anything that day, and if I led you to believe otherwise, then I—"

She yelped in surprise when the cheerleader seized her elbow and tugged, leaving the singer no choice but to trip after her—unless she wanted her arm pulled from her socket. Her grip was tight and unyielding, though Rachel knew that was more to keep her in check than to hurt her. Nonetheless, she was whimpering when Quinn released her and slammed the door to the closet shut, leaving them surrounded by darkness.

"That hurt," Rachel groused, rubbing her stinging skin vigorously.

"Sorry," Quinn breathed from somewhere in front of her.

She squinted. "Where are you? I can't—"

"Hold on."

There was some fumbling to her right and Quinn's breath hitched for a moment, but then light flashed in Rachel's eyes and she squinted several times before she was able to properly take in the grungy grey room she'd been yanked into.

"This is really quite disgusting," she informed the blonde matter-of-factly. "What are we doing in here, anyway? I'm fairly certain students aren't allowed."

Quinn just smirked, and Rachel tried not to gasp when she looked up at the other girl. The yellow light hanging above her head brought out the golden tones of her hair, making her look almost aglow, and the brunette was once again struck by just how gorgeous Quinn was. She averted her gaze, back to the red marks on her arm.

"Here," the blonde murmured, and Rachel felt her hand pried away from her elbow.

Before she could protest, Quinn had her arm in both hands and she was rubbing slow, gentle circles over the offended skin, much the way she had when the brunette issued a complaint about the coldness of her hand. Rachel's breathing quickened without her consent, and she couldn't tear her eyes away from where the blonde was touching her. Her fingers were so soft, long, pale…and the brunette wanted them elsewhere.

She felt her heart pound against her chest, demanding attention, and she wanted so many things at once that all she could do was continue to stare, letting her body betray her mind's commands. She wanted to jerk away and demand explanations. She wanted Quinn to slide her hands up her arm and claim her body, first with her hands and then her lips. She wanted to kiss Quinn until she couldn't breathe. She wanted to escape the dilapidated, dank closet.

"Now tell me you don't feel anything."

Despite the soothing, low tones those words were spoken in, Rachel snapped out of her trance. She found Quinn's eyes in the dim lighting, saw how they'd darkened even since standing in the hallway with her, and ripped her arm out of the blonde's hand in a fit of infantile rage.

"You played me," she accused furiously, pacing to the other side of the closet—which wasn't far—and folding her arms protectively again.

Quinn flipped her ponytail, hands on her hips. "Actually, I didn't mean to hurt you. But it did work in my favor, didn't it?"

Rachel glowered at her. "That didn't prove anything. Except that you would have a very successful career as a masseuse, should you choose to go in that direction."

A smirk played across the blonde's lips, and the brunette intensified her glare.

"Why are you afraid to admit it?" she inquired, and Rachel again imagined that her jaw would've hit the floor with a thud, had she been a cartoon character.

"I'm not afraid," she retorted peevishly. "There's nothing to admit."

The eyebrow went up again. "You know, I think this is the first time you've ever lied to me."

For some reason, that stung worse than hearing 'Man Hands' chanted at her the first time she was slushied. Rachel hated being called a liar. It was almost worse than having her singing criticized, because it was the opposite of everything she strived to be. She suddenly felt sick inside; as though she'd been infected with something she couldn't get off.

She closed her eyes, taking a bracing breath. "Look…Quinn, do you have any idea what this would do to me if it came out? My life would go from 'Annie' levels of torment to 'The Phantom of the Opera' in a heartbeat, and I don't need that extra stress on my way to becoming a Broadway star. The material I have for my 'bullying years' biography chapter is already extensive enough, thank you very much, and so I would much rather stay in the proverbial closet until a time where I don't have to fear being thrown in the dumpster every day before school."

Rachel was practically panting by the end of this little speech, but if the puzzled expression on the blonde's face was any indication, she'd wasted her breath. The singer rolled her eyes.

"What?" she snipped.

Quinn's frown twisted. "I'm just trying to remember the plot of 'The Phantom of the Opera.'"

The brunette really didn't see why this was important, but her intrinsic need to explain everything overrode her confusion, and she blurted, "A disfigured but profoundly talented man living in the Paris Opera House falls in love with a beautiful young ingénue named Christine and—"

"Right, right. I remember," she cut in, waving a dismissive hand.

The silence settled between them for an uncomfortable moment before Rachel's curiosity won over again.

"Why is that important?"

Quinn smiled wryly, and it made the brunette's cheeks warm again. "Because you don't use a musical reference without some deep, meaningful connection to it."

Her cheeks were burning. "Oh."

"So why are you afraid to be attracted to me?" she asked, slipping closer.

Rachel's eyes widened, then narrowed on the cheerleader. She would only have to take a few more steps, and they would be pressed together. She willed herself not to want that, but it was to no avail. The hazel eyes were trained on her again, dark and searching—reminding her of the heat they'd carried in the choir room.

"I'm not. A-attracted to you, that is," she stammered, mentally cursing herself and Quinn's ability to jumble her thoughts with a simple look.

"Really?" she challenged, brow and lip quirked. She took another step.

Rachel bobbed her head. Another step. "Yes."

She could feel the heat of Quinn's breaths again, coming from a different angle now that they weren't seated. She fought the chills running up and down her spine, the goose bumps coating her arms and sending her hair on end, the almost pleasant knotting in her lower abdomen—but even seeing the Cheerios uniform up close and personal wasn't doing anything to calm her. Not with Quinn so close; not when she could feel her breaths and her heat and see the gold flecks in her hazel eyes. Not when she was thinking of what was under the Cheerios uniform.

"Then I'm sorry for this," she purred, and Rachel's eyes fluttered at the sensation of those soft syllables rolling over her skin.

And then she focused on the lips closing in on hers, and the closet was gone, and it was just her and Quinn again. Quinn making her feel incredible again. And all the thoughts of how badly she could hurt her and how badly she had already hurt her were gone, replaced by thoughts of how she would look wrapped in Rachel's sheets and how she was simply going to fall to pieces if she didn't get to kiss Quinn.

It happened. Rachel almost didn't realize their lips had touched, because the blonde was being so gentle, so careful. But then she pressed more firmly and the brunette's eyes slid shut and she kissed back, and meant it, and felt it. Felt it more than she ever had with anyone before. Her soul was on fire, her heart was singing, and it felt as though all the pieces had fallen—only into place, because this felt right. So right, like the last piece of the puzzle, or the final note to a song. Perfection.

Quinn's hands had found their way to her waist, and Rachel found herself returning the gesture, offering to anchor the blonde as she slid her arm up over her shoulder and hooked it around her neck. She simultaneously tugged her further down, more to her level, wanting to feel and taste more of this delicious sweetness she'd been deprived of for the past seventeen years.

The move brought their bodies together, eliciting a gasp—Rachel wasn't sure from who, but it hit the air moments after they felt one another, and the brunette realized that unlike with Finn or Jesse or Noah, her body sort of fit with Quinn's, like it was made to rest there. That was the only comparison she was capable of drawing between kissing a boy and kissing Quinn. This was something else entirely.

Quinn was magnificent. Quinn was gorgeous. Quinn was perfect.

It took Rachel a moment to register that they weren't kissing anymore, only leaning hot foreheads together, breathing the same air and just being. And it was perfection. The way Quinn kept rubbing slow, wide circles over her waist, as though she was trying to soothe her. The way her skin felt under Rachel's hands—so smooth and warm. She let her fingers trail up into the silky curls at the base of her neck, smiling a little when Quinn shuddered.

"Tickles," she mumbled, and Rachel thought she might melt into a puddle if Quinn continued being that adorable.

The singer broke it first. She dipped under, capturing the soft lips in what she hoped was as gentle a manner as Quinn had taken hers. The enthusiastic response she garnered rapidly convinced her it didn't matter one way or the other. The blonde made the first bold move again, sliding her tongue along the seam of Rachel's lips, and she parted them eagerly—Quinn matched her move-for-move, and at the first meeting of their tongues, the kiss instantly became more urgent, less leisurely.

Quinn couldn't seem to keep her hands in one place. One moment they were flexing over Rachel's back; the next they were cupping her face, thumbs stroking along the line of her cheekbone; and the next they were massaging her hip. Rachel, for her part, could not get enough of Quinn's mouth. It was ironic, really. She was automatically addicted to the part of Quinn that had done her the most damage. She let her hands travel in a less frenzied path, sweeping over the back of her neck and scooping under her arms to memorize that pleasantly toned back.

The brunette was torn between her desire to keep feeling those lips and tongue and her imminent need for oxygen, though the blonde took the choice away from her in short order, evidently in need herself. But she didn't take the lips away—she trailed them down Rachel's jaw, lining it with brief, insistent kisses that had the singer's knees wobbling.

"Quinn," she murmured, and she was shocked at how different her voice sounded. It was so low and husky and it was practically making the blonde attached to her earlobe purr. "Wh-what are we doing?"

"Exploring," was her one-word answer, and then another kiss was pressed to the shell of her ear.

Rachel snapped out of her haze immediately. 'Exploring'? That wasn't how she would describe this at all. This was more than just preference for girls, more than attraction. Or that's what she'd thought or felt or…. But of course Quinn wouldn't feel the same way. How could she, after all those years of torturing?

The brunette ceased her special treatment of Quinn's shoulder blades, eliciting a whine from the girl, and ignored the screaming between her legs, instead snatching the blonde's shoulders and pushing them apart. She tried to suppress her satisfaction when Quinn gave a similar yelp of surprise to the one she'd made earlier.

"Exploring?" she echoed flatly, and the cheerleader's expression darkened instantly. "That's what this is to you? You just piqued your interest a couple days ago and now you're fulfilling your curiosity?" she spat.

"It's not like that," Quinn retorted defensively, though now she was the one folding her arms, shielding herself.

Rachel didn't back down. "Oh, it isn't? Then what is it like? Are you reinstating yourself as the queen of McKinley with a pathetic prank on the freak? Is Jacob Ben Israel paying you? What?"

"I would never do that to you," she snarled, bristling with anger now.

"Then what are you doing to me? Using me? Trying to figure out whether you really swing that way, or if it was just a passing fancy?"

Her eyes flashed. "You did the same to me."

"Because you practically drafted me into it!" She watched the cheerleader back down, looking chastised, before she went on. "You volunteered yourself. I didn't ask you to kiss me."

She nodded minutely. "I know."

"Do you even like me?" Rachel whimpered, and she realized with a start that she was on the verge of tears.

Quinn's mouth opened and closed a few times, but no answer was forthcoming. She was taken aback and unequipped to handle this question, and Rachel tried her hardest not to cry.

"I'm not taking this. Not from you," she murmured, and headed for the silver doorknob and the release it would offer.

A hand caught her arm, though more gently than before, and Quinn abruptly blocked her path.

"No, Rachel, I…." She fought for words, searching for them on the unforgiving grey walls. "I care about you."

Rachel scoffed, folding her arms. "Really?" she challenged, and Quinn nodded. "Then tell me. What was your first thought when you found out Ms. Corcoran is my mother?"

There was another jaw-flapping, wide-eyed moment.

"Or what about when I was egged? Or even the time I came to you girls for advice about sex?" The brunette swallowed her tears, gathering herself for the final blow. "If that's how you care about people…then I feel sorry for Mercedes and Brittany."

And before Rachel could see Quinn's reaction and lose all willpower, she forced her way to the door and fled for her most cherished friend: her spotlight.