Quinn snuck her hand beneath the table. She pushed the button on her phone to make the screen light up. Though the screen didn't show she had any notifications, she checked her text message inbox anyway. Only a message from Sam inviting her out for family night at the drive-in on the weekend was there, and a ton of missed call notifications from Santana. She let the phone go and brought up her hand to take up her glass from the table.
Her eyes scanned the two people around her. Her mom was silently cutting through a slab of steak while her dad shook pepper over his potatoes. She'd been waiting for one of them to snap at her for having her phone at the dining table.
"This is family time, Quinnie. Your friends can wait." Was what her mom used to say.
Either they didn't notice, or the immense amount of tension that loomed in the air was so thick that they couldn't be bothered with something petty like cell phone usage during dinner.
Over the edge of her glass, Quinn eyed her dad. He had showed up a couple days back for dinner, then after a few days, he started staying over in the guest room. She had held onto some hope that he was only coming by to keep some sort of connection to the family he had betrayed, but after Quinn heard him telling her mother about the importance of forgiveness and repentance and second chances, she knew he'd weaseled himself back in. And Quinn had no power to keep him away.
It bothered her. It bothered her just as much as the fact Rachel hadn't said anything to her in days. Days upon days. Days of going to school and only seeing Rachel during her one passing period that forced them down the same hall and in glee rehearsal. She had reverted to her reclusive state after the break up with Finn, so Quinn never knew when she'd see her. And maybe it was a good thing. It kept her from becoming a mess and charging her in the hall and demanding Rachel to accept her apology.
It was her last chance and, like she thought, it hadn't done anything. Not a single thing. Rachel didn't look at her, Rachel didn't acknowledge her presence, Rachel didn't do anything to show she had understood Quinn's song or even cared that she had sang it.
"Quinnie," Said Judy. Quinn's hand loosened from around her knife and fork. "You need to hurry and eat your dinner before it gets cold."
Her eyes dropped to her plate still covered in a large portion of food. She kept her nose from turning up in disgust as she stared down at it. She wasn't hungry. She hadn't been hungry. Between her father, who still looked at her like she was the nasty guts of a roach on the floor, and Rachel pretending she didn't exist, she had lost her appetite.
She sat the utensils down. "I'm not hungry," She said softly, her eyes still downcast.
She heard her dad make a nasty sound in the back of his throat. "At least we know you're not pregnant again."
"Russell," Judy flashed warning eyes at him.
Quinn held her jaw tight against her retort. "If you'd excuse me," She dabbed her face with her cloth napkin and sat it on her plate. "I have things to do."
Without waiting for the permission she needed to leave, Quinn got up, pushed in her chair, making sure the legs scrapped across the floor, and fled up to her room. She grabbed her backpack and Cheerio's bag and threw her things inside. She couldn't help but feel like she was packing her bags to leave again. She wished she could leave and run to Rachel's and ask her if she could stay there for a few days, but that wasn't an option.
Taking her cheerleading uniform off the hook on the back of her door, she laid it neatly in her bag and zipped it. Throwing the straps on her shoulder, she exited her room and clomped loudly down the stairs.
"Quinn?" Her mom called from the dining area. Her head followed by her body came around the corner. "Quinn, where are you going?"
"To Santana's," She answered with the first name on her mind. She hadn't been planning on going there, but it started to sound like a good plan.
"You're not allowed to go there." Quinn scoffed at her as she got to the bottom of the steps. "Your dad didn't mean what he said. Put your things back in your room and come to the table so we can talk about it."
"I don't want to talk about it, mom. There's nothing to talk about, and if there were, you don't care what I have to say."
"And what is it that you have to say?"
"I don't want him here," She pointed towards the dining room. "I don't want dad living with us again."
Judy's lips stretched into a fine line and her back straightened. She heard the sound of her dad getting out of his chair before he took place beside his wife. Quinn looked from one of them to the other and the possessive arm that her dad draped over Judy's shoulder. It was final. He was back.
With a mirthless laugh, Quinn hoisted her things higher onto her shoulder and walked for the door.
"Quinn-" Judy stepped towards her.
Her dad held onto her tighter. "Let her go,"
Flinging open the door, Quinn ran down her walkway and jumped in her car. She threw her bags into the backseat and sat back, her fingers running through her hair and her teeth bared in frustration. Leaning her forehead against her steering wheel, she too in a deep breath to calm herself down.
Her hand snaked around to start up the car but she didn't move. She just sat there in front of her house forcing herself not to cry. She had cried too much over stupid things.
Quinn nearly jumped out of her skin when someone wrapped at her window. She pressed a hand over her heart to calm it down, her eyes taking in a smirking Santana. Pushing the window button, she let it roll down.
"What're you doing here?" She panted.
Santana looked down into Quinn's lap where her cell phone was cradled on her thighs. "You weren't returning my calls."
Her hand made its way through the window to press the lock button. Striding to the other side of the car, Santana dropped inside, closing the door hard. "Lets go," She tapped on the dashboard.
Quinn choked out a confused laugh. "I'm sorry?"
"Yes, you are sorry, now drive." Picking up Quinn's hand, Santana placed it over the gearshift.
Batting the hand away, Quinn cranked her car into drive and pulled away from the curb. "Where am I driving us to?" She asked as they rolled up to s stop sign.
"Never mind that, and take a left up there." She instructed. Quinn pulled the car out onto the main road. "Papa Fabray is back." Santana pointed for her to go left again.
She sighed, letting her elbow rest on the window and propped her head on her hand as she drove. "So it would seem."
"Sucks," Quinn shrugged. "You can crash at my place for a while if you want."
She nodded, easing the car into a right turn. "I sort of already packed my bags."
"You're running away?" Santana laughed lightly. "Didn't know you had it in you, Q."
"No, I'm not running away. I wasn't planning on that. I just needed to get away."
"Uh huh," Quinn leered over at the girl beside her who was smirking.
Honestly, running away didn't sound like a bad idea after Santana suggested it. But when she thought about how she had jumped from house to house to house when she was with child, none of it sounded flattering anymore.
Quinn smirked as Santana pointed her last direction. She pulled up into the parking lot of an ice cream parlor and shut off the car. Getting out, she stared up at the sign, her mind reeling back to all the times she, Santana and Brittany had gone to get ice cream after football games, bad days, and late nights when none of them could sleep.
She walked up to the counter placing her order after Santana, who paid for both of them, grabbed a spoon and found a booth near the rear of the place.
She shoveled a huge spoon of butter pecan ice cream from the cup into her mouth. "Is this supposed to cheer me up?"
Santana shook her head and stirred the ice cream, whipped cream and walnuts of her sundae all together. "I was craving something sweet and Britt was at motocross practice so I couldn't bring her along."
"Oh," Quinn rolled her eyes.
"So," Santana snatched Quinn's cell phone off the table. She raised an eyebrow at Quinn's outstretched arm for it back but she dropped it and let her take it. "Still nothing from Berry?"
She let out a low whistle, fingers pressing buttons. "Maybe you really did screw up."
"Thank you, S," She sneered sarcastically. "Just a while ago you were trying to keep me positive about it. And stop reading my messages." She lunged across for her phone but Santana was too quick for her.
She shrugged with a smirk at something she was reading. "I'm still positive. You didn't let me finish."
"Oh, please do finish," She sucked ice cream off her spoon. It went down her throat cold and burning.
"Maybe you really did screw up and," Her eyes flickered up to Quinn for a moment just to ruffle her patience. "Berry's making you suffer before she comes to your doorstep and takes you right there."
"Up until the ending, maybe, but I don't care." Santana cocked an eyebrow at her. "Okay, I do care. But if nothing happens in the next couple days then I'm done. I won't try and fight for her anymore."
Santana brought the sundae up to her mouth to drink the melted ice cream out like soup. "She never gave up you and you put her through hell." She said wiping off her lip.
"I told her a long time ago to leave if she wanted."
"But," The word popped with a smack of her lips. "She didn't,"
"Then what?" Quinn huffed out a breath as she sat back hard against the booth chair. "What do you want me to do?"
She shrugged, holding the phone in her hand so she could read over another message. "Go to her house tonight at seven o'clock sharp."
"What?" Quinn rolled her eyes.
Santana dropped Quinn's phone on the table and slid it over to her. She picked it up and read the message from Rachel on her screen. Her jaw dropped and her hands shook as she gripped onto her phone tighter, eyes going over the message over and over again.
Her eyes rose back up to Santana. "Guess you won't be staying at my place."
"No, I'm still staying at your house." Quinn bit the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. "We don't know what she's going to say."
"Right, right whatever."
They let the conversation drop. Quinn finished her ice cream and sat back still holding her phone and reading over the message.
Come to my house at seven o'clock sharp.
That was all. Nothing else but a summon of her presence. It churned Quinn stomach violently. She tried reading between the lines, tried to decipher the hidden meaning of the cryptic request, tried to weigh Rachel's mood in her words but she couldn't and it made her nervous.
She fidgeted in the backseat of her own car while Santana drove with Brittany in the passenger seat after they picked her up from motocross practice. Brittany turned around to her, touching her knee, and assuring her only good things could come out of speaking to Rachel. It didn't help. None of Brittany's kind words, or Santana's dirty ideas on what Rachel was going to do to her helped.
She stood on Santana's back porch with her eyes glued to Rachel's dark window. Her legs were shaking like they would when she'd had to cheer solo for her captain audition. All of her limbs felt heavy like lead but also flimsy and wiggly like jell-o.
A hand pressed to the middle of her back and she jumped. Santana came up on her left side while Brittany took place on her right, her arm wrapped around Quinn's. She put her head on her shoulder.
"It'll be okay, Q," Said Brittany kissing her hair. "She loves you and you love her."
"Because love solves everything." Santana snorted on her other side. Quinn felt her fingers massage the knots out of her back. She smiled.
"Oh, San," Brittany laughed.
Quinn brought up her phone, clicking it on to see the time. It was already seven, it was actually ten minutes past seven, but she couldn't get herself off the porch and through the lot. She didn't even think she could unlatch the gate and walked across the alley. She was almost certain she wouldn't be able to ring the Berry's doorbell, but she didn't have to.
Santana pushed her off her porch and Brittany guided her to the gate and into the Berry's back yard. The two girls watched her closely as she sped through the backyard and opened the door at the front of the gate.
"I will hold a knife to your back if you don't hurry the hell up, Fabray." Hissed Santana. Brittany laughed at her and kissed her cheek.
Quinn sucked in a breath and walked out of the back and into the font yard. She padded through the grass and hit the path up to the Berry's door. She stopped in the middle of the porch, staring at the dark brown door.
Her arm lifted from her side and she could see her hand shaking on its way to the doorbell. Her finger hovered over the button and she squinted her eyes shut hearing the chime go off in the house.
Rachel heard the front door open.
She sat frozen at the piano listening to her dad speak to Quinn telling her where she was. The front door clicked shut and footsteps echoed through the entryway. When she knew Quinn was just around the corner, she began to play.
She let her eyes close, seeing notes float behind her eyelids and let her mind reply the melody she used to hear hummed outside her bathroom door. She listened to the beat of her own heart in her chest and brought up her other hand to mix her own song with Quinn's.
It wasn't the same as she played it in the choir room. There was much more meaning in the tune she was letting out. It began sweet with just Quinn's melody then dipped into something dark. Rachel felt her chest twist at the melancholy tone of the song. It told of all the pain she had gone through and all the lonely nights she spent crying.
Tears sprang to her eyes as she let out her hurt at being rejected, her anguish at being left alone to make a bed that had once held two people but one side was left cold in the morning. Her shoulders shook as she expressed her need for Quinn in her life, and how much she loved her, wanted to take care of her, wanted to make her happy.
She brought the notes out of their dark timbre into a key of something promising. A promise that she would never leave Quinn, a promise that all she had wanted the entire time was to be that shoulder for Quinn to cry on and the pair of arms to hold her together when the world came crashing down around her.
Rachel pressed her fingers down in the last chord. The notes resonated throughout the house and the hallow cavity of her chest. Silence started to grow as the ringing diminished until nothing but the tick of the clock mounted on the wall filled it.
She drew her hands away from the piano and sat them in her lap, head tilted down and eyes still shut. She felt a tear fall on her hand but didn't move to wipe it off.
Her chest expanded as she took in a breath and licked her dry lips. She could feel Quinn's eyes burning into her from where she was still standing in the doorway.
"I would never leave you, Quinn," She said as evenly as she could. "I'm sorry I couldn't show you that any better. I never had intentions on walking out on you. I could never do that. I only did it because you were pushing me away." She breathed slowly. She heard Quinn take a step forward. "It hurt too much to keep trying."
"I know you wouldn't, Rachel," Quinn's voice was soft and thick in the air. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what I did to you."
"What you did," She looked up at the empty music stand in front of her. She saw Quinn in her peripheral leaning against the wall. "It hurt me. It hurt a lot, Quinn, but I knew in the back of my mind that you were hurting too."
"All the time," She admitted.
"What changed your mind now?"
"I stopped comparing you to my family," Rachel turned to finally look at her. Quinn had her head angled up at the ceiling, her hands wrapped around her protectively. "To Finn and to Puck and to anyone else who came into my life to take something away from me and then left."
"I'm not them,"
"I've known nothing else but that." Her chest deflated as she let out a breath. Rachel saw her shoulders sag. "I didn't think you could be different." Her head came down slowly to look at her. "I didn't think that I'd start feeling this way about you, and the more I did the more afraid I got and tried to distance myself."
"When I said I needed you, I meant it. Rachel, you," Quinn let out a soft laugh, her lip caught between her teeth. "You've given me everything I needed and you tried fighting for me to realize that. I was too stupid and too stuck in my past to realize it sooner. And I'm sorry for that."
"I forgive you, Quinn,"
Quinn eyes flicked to her, the arms around herself tightening. "What?"
"I forgive you," Rachel let a soft smile spread on her lips. "When I said those things to you in the hall, I meant them. I didn't want to hear your apology because I knew you'd just be doing it because you felt bad for hurting me, but I didn't think you were finished with your denial."
"I understand if you don't want to be my friend anymore. I deserve your words and that for what I've done."
"Quinn, I haven't wanted to be your friend since the first night you kissed me." Quinn's face fell. Rachel shook her head as she continued. "If the song I just played said anything, it was that I want you as more than that, but," She tapped her fingers on the keys. "Neither of us are in a well enough place to do that. That is, if you want to."
"I want to…" Quinn took a deep breath to calm her uneasy nerves. "I want to start over and do everything right."
"That would be the ideal thing to do, wouldn't it?"
"It would," Quinn smiled.
Rachel motioned for her to come and sit down beside her. Once she made it to the bench, she wrapped her arms around Quinn's neck hugging her tight. The feeling of Quinn's arms around her waist warmed her from head to toe.
"I was so worried," Quinn said into her neck. Rachel could feel the dampness of her tears on her skin. "I was so worried that you didn't understand."
"I'm sorry for keeping you waiting." Rachel dragged a hand down Quinn's back, fingers massaging over her spine. "I needed to think. I needed to give myself time and you needed time, too."
"I guess you're right." Leaning back, Quinn wiped her face. "If anything it made me realize how much you really meant to me." She dropped her head. "It made me realize that I love you,"
Rachel sucked in a breath. Her nerves exploded and her stomach twisted and batted harder than she had ever felt. Bringing up her hands, she cupped Quinn's face making her look at her.
"You," Rachel's voice shook as she tried to say the words. "Say it again."
Quinn smiled shakily. "I love you, Rachel."
Rachel threw her arms around Quinn's neck, her mouth instantly falling onto hers. Everything she had missed came rushing in with that kiss. It was electric, blazing, breath taking to the point she felt dizzy.
Her mouth opened, allowing Quinn in letting her back up her words, her confession, her love for her. It was squeezed her heart and lit her up like lights.
"I love you, Quinn," The words fell out of Rachel's mouth before she even knew it. "I always have."
Quinn rested her forehead on hers. "Yeah?" She panted, fingers dusting off a tear that fell from Rachel's eye.
Quinn kissed her lightly on the corner of her mouth. "Will you play it again?" Asked Quinn pulling away. Rachel grinned and nodded.
She started to play again but let Quinn hum her part while Rachel added hers on the piano. Her head rested on Rachel's shoulder as she played on. The notes surrounded them, pressing them tighter together and bringing every moment from the beginning of summer to where they were now to a close.
Quinn sat up off her shoulder and looked into her eyes. A finger hooked beneath her chin, pulling her forwards until their lips met. Rachel melted into the kiss, her fingers threading into Quinn's hair to hold her in place.
"If I fell in love with you," She felt Quinn say against her lips.
Rachel leaned her forehead on Quinn's, a faint smile playing on her lips.
"I promise to be true."
AN: I thank all of you for reading, reviewing, adding to your favs and adding me to your author alerts and favs. I love reading all your reviews and comments. Thank you.