A'N: Thank you to everyone for reading :)
Two years later
She loved it when it rained.
Especially when it rained so hard that you couldn't see out your windows except for when the world was illuminated with flashes of light, when the stream of light music notes streamed onto the roof accompanied by the percussion of thunder. This was nap weather, tea weather, curl up on the bed with a loved one weather.
When she was younger growing up in Cincinnati she had loved to sit out on her back porch and watch the thunderstorms, at least until her dads made her come back inside. And even then she'd run to the windows and watch, marveling at the anger of nature occurring just beyond her doorstep. She had once decided that she was going to be a storm chaser. Then her daddies had staged an intervention, complete with videos, and that was the end of that.
She was still getting used to the sounds of the rain in their new apartment, in the way that it rolled off the glass in the bedroom in tiny rivers, broadening and racing together until it met at the bottom. The thunder sounded three times as magnified here, as if in their apartment on the third floor, they had somehow moved next door to God. It now sounded less like lyrical music notes and more like the harsh marching of an army off to war; Rachel imagined each individual droplet as a soldier in grey, stepping in cadence with his brothers until the battle was over and won.
She was still prone to a bit of silliness, she thought, smiling to herself. Only a squeak at her side brought Rachel out of her reverie, and she reached out until her hand gently touched softness, and she stroked, lightly.
She and Quinn had acquired their apartment only six months ago, a decision that Santana had vehemently objected to. Rachel knew Santana's fears; despite the fact that Rachel had proven herself to Santana over and over in the last two years, Quinn was still her sister, and the protectiveness would always be there. Rachel knew it, respected it, but was also sure to remind Santana that things were different now. Quinn could make her own decisions, and while Santana's input was always welcome, Rachel said, it would be Quinn's input that would matter the most, to both of them.
Still, she knew that just across town, Santana would be worried.
"I should call them."
"They're fine," Brittany said, settling onto the couch with a huge bowl of popcorn.
"I know, but what if she needs me?"
"If she needs you, she'll call."
"And if she—" Santana was effectively silenced by popcorn tossed unceremoniously into her mouth.
"Rachel's got this, San."
Santana took a deep breath. "Yeah," she said, grinning. "Rachel's got this."
There had been a few times when Rachel wasn't sure that she really did have it. Especially when a new personality had surfaced, one called Jesse, an arrogant teenage boy who constantly criticized Rachel on her singing while conversely trying to engage her in duets. Twice she'd called up Santana and made the girl come over so Rachel could escape and breathe for a little while.
Rachel had craved neatness in her younger days, but now their apartment could be classified as an organized mess, with her music sheets and Quinn's schoolbooks, as well as coloring books and books on pregnancy. An odd library, Rachel knew, and one that no one else but a few would understand, but it was okay. It was her life now, and she didn't mind.
Puck was the only other personality that had been the most difficult to deal with, but as with all things, Rachel had persevered. Her first time with Quinn was slow, sweet, slow, magical… and slow. Quinn had been nervous, Rachel had been terrified. But they took their time, Rachel with words of reassurance and Quinn with all the trust she could place in the five foot two singer who pledged love to her with every kiss, every touch in places that made Quinn gasp and press against her. Puck had behaved, and afterward, as she was holding Quinn's naked, sweat-slicked body trembling against her own, Rachel had smiled and nuzzled her face into Quinn's neck.
"I love you," was all she could say. They'd climbed one of the last hurdles, one of Rachel's last "Can I really do this" obstacles, and glancing down at Quinn's fingers entwined with hers, Rachel had known it for sure.
She had this.
Quinn had reduced her schoolwork down to part-time, and was now working at the bookstore on campus. To her surprise, Rachel had been the one that had objected to this, while Santana had thought it was an amazing idea. Quinn had insisted on it, and it was only after she'd agreed to Rachel coming by every day at precisely 12:30 to check on her that Rachel had (reluctantly) conceded that maybe Quinn branching out would be a good idea. So far, Lucy had been the only one to make an appearance at the bookstore, and that personality was near enough to Quinn's to only be a little awkward. The bookstore manager had been informed, and was sympathetic, enough so that any time Quinn felt panicked, she could take a 30-minute break to compose herself and come back.
Rachel, for her part, had switched schools. She wasn't getting anywhere at the university, she realized, and moved to one of the music academies across the way. It made it more difficult to keep an eye on Quinn, but Santana was only a drive away, Brittany even closer, and together the three of them made a close-knit chain of contact so that Quinn would never be left without someone a phone call away.
Rachel's plan was to go to Broadway, a plan that both exhilarated her and scared her half to death. But every time Quinn would poke her and say "Sing, baby, sing," Rachel knew it was what she was born to do.
And every time she'd come home from an audition, a rejection, when Quinn would take Rachel in her arms and hold her close, whispering hope and determination to her, Rachel knew she had also been born to love.
The squeak was louder this time as there was a particularly loud crack of thunder, and Rachel's hand was even firmer in the golden blonde hair. "Sshh," she soothed. "You're all right, I'm here. You're okay."
She turned on her side and smiled down at Quinn, who was lying next to her with her thumb in her mouth on the bed, hazy eyes staring up at her.
"What do you need, Beth?" Rachel asked gently, carefully removing Quinn's thumb.
Beth-as-Quinn considered this, her head tilted and her tongue out against her lips in a way that was adorable, endearing.
"Tell me a story."
Rachel smiled. Beth always wanted stories. She paused, thinking. "Okay. Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away called New York, there lived a princess named Quinn."
Beth pouted a little, and Rachel laughed, still stroking her hair. "You know how this goes," she teased, then went on.
"And in that kingdom, there also lived a peasant girl called Rachel."
"Ray," Quinn said stubbornly.
Rachel rolled her eyes. "Yes, Ray."
Quinn-as-Beth shifted so that she was lying on her back staring at the ceiling, Colley bear clutched in one arm as her other hand reached for Rachel's.
Rachel took it, and squeezed gently.
"And Ray loves Quinn very much?" Beth asked, shivering as the thunder rolled again.
Rachel smiled again and nodded, her thumb running lightly over Quinn's knuckles.
"And Ray loves Quinn, very, very much."