Summary: To embrace the present, Quinn has to first release her past. But she can't do it alone. QuinnBrittany.
Disclaimer: Glee is not mine, but my mind is.
AN: An AU Futurefic. It toggles between Quinn's present and past a few times but you'll catch when it does. It'll change from T to M once later chapters hit.
Read it, review it, favourite, alert it but most of all, enjoy it.

Of Past and Present

Chapter I

Quinn stood in the wings as she watched the final number of the show go on. Music flared up all around, soaring high into the rigs above. Rachel's voice, clear as a summer's day, lifted along with it. The singing of the chorus underneath helped push it higher and higher.

It gave Quinn chills when she reached her final note. It out lasted the hanging buzz of the trumpet and echoed in the hallowed halls like a scream from a mountaintop. She had heard Rachel's voice for years, listened to her belt out everything from Britney Spears to Kristen Chenoweth. It never failed to amaze Quinn how easily it came from her. Like breathing.

The company fell into their ending poses and the grand drape closed while the few people who were a part of putting the show together applauded in the audience. It soon faded and the director's voice cut in demanding the curtain be lifted.

The actors and dancers relaxed from their poses as it lifted. Jesse St. James yelled for house lights and for the cast to take a seat for notes.

"That means you too, tech," Quinn said into her headset. She heard the technicians in the sound and light booth complaining about having to walk all the way down from their post to listen to Jesse berate a cast that was more then phenomenal.

"Then you have my notes after." Quinn added. She grinned hearing them groan more as she took the headset off.

She hurried out of the wings, motioning for the rest of her tech team to follow her. She found Rachel near the back and she ran up to stand next to her.

"How was it?" Rachel asked without moving her lips. She wouldn't take a chance at getting scolded by the director who also happened to be her boyfriend.

Quinn raised her eyebrows and teetered her head from right to left slightly. "You were a little flat on the last note."

Rachel made a sound in her throat. "I was not!" She hissed through her teeth.

Quinn brought her hand up, scratching her nose to hide her smirk. "You were amazing, Rach. As always."

Rachel looked down at her costume, fingering a button to disguise her grin. "And everything else?"

"Relax," Quinn reached up to rub the nap of her neck but subtly touched Rachel's elbow for reassurance on the way up. "We're more than ready for opening night tomorrow."

They chanced a glance at each other, lips tugging in the corners to show smiles. Just as quick as they looked at each other, their attention was back on Jesse who was now addressing the dancers. Quinn tensed at his choice in words as he expressed his dissatisfaction with one of the numbers.

It pained her to see their pale faces downcast in shame. She had seen what happened and it wasn't their fault. A set piece had been placed off its mark, and before she could snap at someone to fix it, the curtain flew up and the number began. A dancer got confused at the off placement and it got the entire company off for all but three beats but nothing escaped Jesse's keen eyes.

Quinn's eyes flashed over to the choreographer. She frowned to him owning up to her mistake and he nodded in understanding. He wasn't going to rat her out. It had only happened once, and things like that never happened when Quinn was the stage manager. Until now. He gave her a reassuring smile and she echoed it in thanks. Mike Chang was a nice guy. He took Jesse's blow without a bat of a lash.

Jesse's notes were then directed at all of tech and Quinn swallowed everything. Some light cues were a millisecond off and he caught the foot of one of the crew walking off stage when the curtains were opening. She nodded and shook her head and spoke up at the appropriate places. She knew how to speak with Jesse. Being her roommate's boyfriend gave her some insight into him, but that didn't mean she understood him completely. She couldn't even understand why Rachel was with him.

"Out of my theatre!" Was his last statement after he gave them two sentences of good parts in the performance.

Everyone got up from the floor and dispersed to dressing rooms, prop tables, booths, and wings.

Rachel saw Quinn's tight face and touched her shoulder. "He really thinks the show is amazing." Rachel assured her. "He's stressed because tomorrow's opening, that's all."

"Does this mean rounds of stressful, angry sex for you tonight?" Quinn teased to release the tension. She did like Jesse, she had to like him for Rachel's sake, but he rubbed her the wrong way when he opened his critical mouth sometimes.

Rachel smacked her shoulder playfully. "It wouldn't make a difference."

"It's worth a try," Quinn turned away from her to see Mike across the way waiting for her attention.

"If you can handle being alone in your apartment without me for a night, I will try and take care of Jesse's stress for your and the cast's sake."

"I was alone in the apartment for half a year before you came in claiming half of it as yours."

"You missed me," Rachel smiled.

Quinn bit her lip, blinking away. "More and more everyday."

They shared a moment of nostalgia. High school days and days in the Berry's, heartache, heart breaks and short spats of love and love lost. They shared a past that made them more than friends or roommates but more like sisters. That half of year without Rachel left Quinn aching. It sounded selfish of her to be glad that New York hadn't worked out for her because she was back with her. But without Rachel was like life without her other half.

"Ugh," Rachel lifted her costume from her body. "I'm going to change. Do you want to come with me and Jesse for drinks tonight so you won't have to spend the entire night by yourself?"

Quinn shook her head. "You go on ahead. I'll see you at the theatre tomorrow." Rachel hugged her neck and walked away.

Quinn watched her retreating form sadly. It was only a matter of time before St. James would sweep her off her feet and asked her to marry him. It would be a bittersweet moment for Quinn.

With Rachel gone, Mike came up to her and she groaned. "Mike," He bit his lip, head shaking. "I'm sorry to get your dancers in trouble. It's my fault for not getting there in time."

He squeezed her shoulder tenderly. "Don't worry about it." He assured her again. "Are you going to be here a while? Some of the dancers wanna stay back and practice a bit. I know it's late but-"

"To make up for getting yelled out, I'd be glad to stay. I need to make sure everything is spiked right and all the props are back in their places anyway so it's fine." He raised an eyebrow questioning if she was serious. "It's my apology to you."

"Thanks Quinn. I'd stay but I've got to get to Tina's."

"Go on and be with your wife, Mike." She grinned giving him a pat on the back.

She had known Mike all of three months during the preparation for the show and she had grown close to him. She knew many things about him and his life and how he became a choreographer. She had met his new wife, Tina, one night when he invited her and Rachel out. They were a beautiful couple at both heart and physique. It made their marriage all the more sweet knowing they were high school sweethearts.

"Thanks again,"

She gave him a terse nod and turned back to the set. She walked over to where the spike tape was for the piece that had been out of place. There was the problem. The tape had been scuffed off.

Digging into her pocket, she pulled out a roll of yellow tape and bent over to put the marks down again. She knew whose fault it had been but she wouldn't punish him for it. Sam Evans was already nervous enough being new to the tech business fresh out of high school. He was a sweet boy, a little dopey at times, but sweet and hated making a mistake. She'd let this one slide since it hadn't happened before.

Once she was done, she ordered her team to reset the stage for the opening act. It took them no time to shuffle pieces off into the wings and pull others on. She helped them broom off the dust from the stage and wipe up the sweat.

When they were done, a handful of dancers came out onto the stage to run through numbers while the pianist played their set. Quinn stood back, her arms over her chest watching them.

The musical was modern with tons of dancing of various styles and rhythms for the dancers and the acting cast as well. She had stage-managed many shows, but this one was the most energetic and kept every team on its toes. Luckily, having Jesse as the director, everyone a part of it was quality. He wanted the best of the best and nothing less.

When Rachel told her that Jesse wanted her help on set design and to be his stage manager, she had flipped. She didn't think she was that good at coming up with sets, but obviously Jesse did and she jumped to it. It built her credibility, got her name out there. It also got Rachel's name out there and maybe they'd be able to shoot out to Broadway together.

That thought was short lived when Quinn remembered how tied to Jesse that Rachel was. She tried not to think of it, but in the back of her mind, the time ticked away.

Music blared from a boom box on the stage and the dancers changed to the hip-hop number. Quinn didn't pay much attention to them when they performed during the show. Her eyes were usually on Rachel serving as her critic, and when her roommate wasn't on stage, they were chatting in the wings.

So she watched.

Mike had not done an amateur job at choreographing. Saying that was an insult. He had been the best one Quinn had seen in all the shows she worked with. But did she expect anything less coming from St. James? Watching the flawless dancing in front of her made her feel guilty all over again for having them yelled at. She'd stay as long as they needed her to say for it.

"See ya, Quinn!" Shouted one of her stagehand. She waved to him as he went. Others bid their farewells and invited her out for the night and asked if there was anything more that they needed to do.

She waved her hand and let them all go. They knew what Jesse had yelled about had been their fault but she was letting them off. There wasn't a need to start screaming at them the night before the show when they were already so beat.

She pulled away from watching the ensemble and went farther back stage. Two by Fours and planks and boards and paint and tools were scattered from having to rebuild a set piece that had broken that morning. Fortunately, they got it back together and good before rehearsal.

Bending over, Quinn lifted a large slab of wood and propped it up against the wall. She blew off the sawdust getting it all on her face and in her hair. Grabbing a couple buckets of paint and some brushes, she stared at the blank wood for a moment then began to paint to the beat of the music in the background.

If anyone knew Quinn in high school and saw her now, they'd be baffled at what her profession was. Quinn Fabray had not an artistic bone in her body that didn't have to do with cheering, but there she was building sets and painting free hand. It was something Rachel had gotten her into, believe it or not, and it had served the very purpose Rachel wanted it to. A release.

It was sophomore year and Quinn had just moved into the Berry household. She was a complete wreck. Her family had forced her out of home and she had lived in a shelter for a few weeks until Rachel found out and told her to live with her. It was nice. Rachel's dads were more parents than her own, but she was still troubled with what had happened and the child that was growing in her stomach.

Rachel told her she needed a way to vent because Quinn hardly spoke. Her entire pregnancy, she would barley speak a few sentences. The guilt and the shame and the pressure and the worthlessness that her parents had left her with feeling for her mistake rendered her near mute.

One evening, Rachel came back late from her ballet lesson and handed Quinn a box of paints and a giant sketchbook.

"You need to get all if it out, Quinn, or one day it's going to explode at the most inconvenient time and you won't feel any better because you just let it stew and never dealt with it. So here." She opened each paint and propped up the book against her wall and sat Quinn on the floor in front of it. "Paint what you feel."

"That's stupid, Rach," She said dryly.

"Just try," Rachel placed a paintbrush in her hand. "Please, Quinn? Just try."

They sat on her floor for an hour and Quinn had only splattered random colors onto the paper. Rachel left to help her dads make dinner and Quinn let her frustration with not being able to put anything on the paper out. She threw colors at it, stabbed her paintbrushes at it. She dropped her brushes and smeared it around with her fingers.

When Rachel came in to get her for dinner, Quinn's hands were messy with paint and her face was speckled with color. Rachel looked away from Quinn's embarrassed face and looked at the canvas of untamed strokes and dripping colors and smiled.

"It's a start,"

And it was.

Quinn was in her own world. She dragged the thick paintbrush across the board, spreading orange against the brown wood. She didn't know what she was painting just like she didn't know what she was doing the first time she had wielded a brush. She just went by heart. She put her sorry for Mike's dancers on the board and her anxiety about opening night. She sketched in her sadness for Rachel's pending leave and her happiness that her best friend was pursing a good life.

Other things came to mind as she switched colors. Bills she needed to pay and other projects she needed to get done. Forgetful Sam and loud-mouthed Jesse. How lonely and quiet her apartment would be without Rachel's voice to fill it up and that it would be like that soon for as long as Quinn had no one else to fill it up again.

She came off the high and stepped back to observe her work. So many colors so many directions. There was no real picture but that didn't matter to Quinn. It spoke her heart and her mind so, to her, it was a masterpiece.

Her admiration at her own artwork was interrupted when there was a crash from the stage. Tossing down her brushes, Quinn trotted up through the wings and to downstage where she found a lone dancer hurrying to pick up a cluster of chairs that she had knocked over.

She caught sight of Quinn and her eyes widened in apology. "I'm sorry," She said in an airy voice as she picked up the last two. Quinn rushed over to make sure none of the paint had been chipped. Maybe the audience wouldn't see it, but Jesse would.

"They usually aren't here in the number I was practicing." She laughed nervously at Quinn's back. "I got carried away."

Wiping her paint stained hands on her jeans, Quinn ran her fingers along the backs of each chair to find the smallest mistake. They seemed fine except for one that was scuffed along the leg. It was a quick fix. She marked the chair with a sharpie to remember to do it the next day.

"Sorry," The dancer said again.

Quinn finally turned to look at her. She was standing only a few feet away from her, her tall height noticeable even at their distance. She had bright blue eyes and corn silk hair that was matted to her forehead and her neck. She was only in a sports bra and sweatpants so that the sweat glistening skin of her arms, chest, and stomach was exposed. Quinn's eyes flashed over her entirety before returning to her face. She knew this dancer. She knew her name. Mike had said something about her before but…

"It's fine," She waved a hand in the air. The girl still looked concerned so Quinn smiled and it was echoed. Quinn looked around them noticing for the first time that they were the only two left in the theatre. "You're by yourself?"

"Yeah," Her voice was so breathy and easy. "I like to dance." Quinn nodded.

The blonde's eyes did a sweep of her from head to toe then back up. It made her self-conscious because she knew she didn't look at all good. Paint was under her nails, in her hair, on her face, and on her clothes. She hadn't cared to dress in anything but a pair of jeans and a tank top. The cloth was sticking to her damp skin having worked up a sweat running back and forth backstage a few times.

Once, she had to bolt to Rachel's dressing room to grab a prop right before she stepped back on stage. It was a thrilling night, but it left her looking worse in the end. Not that she had anyone to impress.

No one to impress. That weighed on her heavier than it should.

"You're all dirty," The dancer stated after a beat of silence. The music playing from the boom box had ended just seconds before she spoke.

"Paint's dirty," Quinn shrugged.

The girl's head titled to the side slightly. "What were you painting?"

"I was, uh," She scratched the base of her neck in nervous habit. She felt paint get smudge on the skin there. Her shower would be a long and thorough one when she got home. "Nothing really,"

The blonde seemed to sense her apprehension and smirked. "Your sets are really nice." Quinn watched the dancer turn from her to look at what was on stage.

It was a cityscape. She had constructed the heart of a city with buildings that could be entered, light posts that could be turned on and off and much more. Rachel had pointed out to her once that Quinn had a sense of realism in her sets. Instead of a nice looking, wash building; Quinn faded some of the bricks to give it age. Instead of shining lamppost, she sandpapered the poles to make them look weathered and added a touch of rust.

"It really looks like a city." The dancer moved to a building, a coffee shop that had a window to see in. Behind it were real tables and chairs. "Like you picked the buildings off the street and put them in here."

"It would be easier than rebuilding them." She laughed breathlessly.

She watched the dancer closely. She watched her touch the set and marvel at it. It made Quinn uneasy but not as uneasy as she felt when she and the dancer were standing in front of the board she had just scribbled on. She was just walking away to leave the blonde checking out her set, but once she walked away, she was on her heels. Quinn didn't have the heart to ask what she was doing and to not follow her.

No one but Rachel had seen her paintings like the one she had just done. It made her fell raw and open, like this girl was getting a glimpse into her soul and into her mind. Quinn shuddered at the thought of the dancer prancing around in her mind like a museum and analyzing her life. It made her stomach churn imagining her taking a turn on the restricted area of her mind and staring at the parts that she had locked away.

"Uh," Quinn said quickly to distract her, but her eyes were still looking at it. She had her head titled like she was trying to gather the meaning but the colors were making her confused. "I've go to lock up the theatre."

"I'll help you," She offered so Quinn let her. Well, she let her follow her while she shut and locked dressing rooms and hit out all the lights.

Coming back through the theatre, she grabbed up her satchel before turning off the house lights and left locking the main theatre doors.

They were standing outside on a sticky, early summer night. It made Quinn feel dirtier and like the paint was melting and oozing down her skin. She pushed her hair from her forehead. More paint on her skin.

She turned to the dancer who was bent down rolling up her sweatpants leg. Quinn studied the way the hard bones in her spine poked from her skin and her muscles tensed and unclenched beneath it. Her eyes drifted down catching blue ones and she turned away flushing at being caught. She didn't seem to mind and only grinned.

"Your name's Quinn, right?" She asked, eyebrow arching. Quinn nodded. "I'm Brittany,"

Brittany. Everything came back to her. Mike had pointed her out to her one rehearsal and bragged about her on their night out. She and Mike had been roommates, inseparable since the day they were put together as dance partners in the first grade. The way he talked about her was she would talk about Rachel. Like their bond was more than simply friends. They were siblings nearly.

When she asked why Brittany hadn't joined them, he told her she was out dancing. That she was always dancing. Whether it was practicing for the show or out at a club gyrating to the beat, Quinn didn't know. All she knew was that Brittany always danced.

"Hi Brittany," Quinn holding out her hand. "Nice to meet you."

Brittany laughed lightly, it just as breathy as her voice. "You too, Quinn," Brittany slipped her hand into hers and Quinn was surprised to find them cold despite the heat.

She shook it a couple times looking up at Brittany while her gaze was on their hands clasped between them. The handshake was getting too long but Quinn saw Brittany's brow begin to furrow like she had just been struck with something odd or disheartening. Quinn loosened her grip and Brittany did too, feeling a strange disconnect when their hands parted.

She felt her expression fall to match the same one that Brittany had on her face moments ago. Now Brittany was smiling at her, an all too knowing smile like she had just gotten a memory of Quinn from long ago and was dying to remind her of it.

"I'll see you tomorrow," Quinn put her hand in her pocket. It felt odd and tingly and cold.

Brittany's smile turned crooked and her eyes batted and softened more than they already were. "Goodnight, Quinn,"

Quinn sucked in a breath when Brittany spoke her name in the airlessness that was her voice. She walked away from her feeling slightly off put but not in a bad way but in a way that would make her night one filled with more splattering paint and dirty jeans.

-/-/-/-

The apartment was dark and still when Quinn got home. She flicked on the light illuminating the short entrance way. Directly across was a large window draped with curtains that Rachel thought would look nice against the pale yellow walls. Beneath it was a dining booth for four. To her right was the threshold to the small kitchen and to the left was a small sitting area with couch and a TV. Their rooms were on the other side of the kitchen along with the bathroom.

Quinn remembered when she first walked into the apartment right out of high school. It was so drab and boring and she hated the pale purple walls. She asked the landlord if she could paint them and told them she was a phenomenal painter, but they said no. She had painted one wall white anyway just to have some sort of accent.

When Rachel showed up half a year later, she spruced the place up. She teased Quinn for being the creative person she was and not being able to make the apartment look any better than it was. Quinn reasoned with her that if the landlord had let her paint, it would've come together.

They spent Rachel's first few days getting décor, curtains and a new couch and TV. Rachel made her bedroom into an acceptable living quarters and the bathroom a place that didn't give someone the feeling like they were bathing in a quarantine chamber.

It was home. It was their home. The best part about it, though, wasn't Rachel's decorating, but Rachel's scent filling the place up. It was something that brought Quinn so much comfort and peace. When she wrapped her arms around Rachel the day she showed up, all anxiety about getting a job to pay rent and what to do about college floated away.

That was three and a half years ago and Quinn still found herself standing in their dining area, eyes closed and breathing in. Rachel's floral scent mixed in perfectly with Quinn's vanilla one. She was at peace.

She tossed her bag onto the dining table and went to her room. She had gotten rid of her bed frame, against Rachel's request, and only had a mattress shoved in the corner. It took a month to convince her roommate that it left her more room for her art supplies and multiple canvases. A bed frame wasn't needed anyway. She had a desk and a dresser and TV stand void of a TV but topped with papers to make up for it.

Not wasting time, Quinn slid off her jeans and tossed her shirt into the dirty pile by her door. She needed to do laundry. Finding a new change of clothes in her drawer, she skipped off to the shower.

When she found herself standing in her room at four in the morning splattered with paints once again, she wondered why she had even taken the shower. She had given herself the benefit of the doubt and thought she'd be able to sleep through the night alone. And she usually could

Something about the night had made her restless and wishing Rachel was there so she could discuss it with her. Quinn couldn't calm her racing mind and her body was tense. There were knots in her stomach as she started to think about the show and everything that needed to get done before the curtain opened.

Quinn ended up painting her woes until she couldn't any longer and she fell asleep surrounded by wet brushes and paint fumes.

-/-/-/-

"Quinn," Someone called out to her from the outer realm of her dreams. "Quinnie, it's time to wake up." Something cold and wet was touching her face. She opened her eyes. "Get up. Are you planning on sleeping the entire day?"

Quinn sat up slowly, her hand coming up to run across her face. She dragged her fingers slick across her cheek. "Rachel!" She scolded when she realized that it was paint cold and wet on her face.

Rachel waved the brush teasingly in front of her. "You're already covered in it." She tossed it aside to join the rest.

Her eyes looked over the room now a mess. Quinn saw her purse her lips when she saw the paint on the walls. She'd be scrubbing for days.

"Did something happen last night or were you feeling exceptionally creative and destructive? Quinn, look at the wall."

"I'll clean it," She rolled her eyes. "Nothing happened last night."

"Is that so?"

Quinn followed Rachel's gaze to her canvas. It had four colors on it: Pink, brown, yellow and pale blue. The pink and brown were swirled with one another and tracing it was the yellow. The pale blue wasn't touching any of the other colors, but was strewn across the canvas at random like its purpose there was unknown.

Quinn watched Rachel as she picked out the colors she knew. Pink had become Rachel's color since it was her favorite and Quinn had picked brown for Jesse because, for one, Rachel hated it because it reminded her of dirty things but also because brown seemed to go with him. Yellow was Quinn but it hadn't always been. If she had to reach back into her past, she had been every color, and some, on the color wheel. This bright yellow she had Rachel to thank for.

Pale blue was left.

Rachel's finger lifted to the random marks of the color. "Who's that?" She asked.

"No one," Quinn answered quickly.

She honestly didn't remember at the moment but as her mind started to wake completely, her thoughts from the night started to ease back into her head. She scratched the nap of her neck. The action didn't go unnoticed by Rachel.

"No one important," She corrected.

"Important enough to be on a board with me, you and Jesse." Her eyes narrowed at Quinn and her mouth pulled back in a devilish grin that she didn't like. "Did you meet someone last night and you're not telling me? That is far from fair, Quinn. I want to know who he is."

"What? No. I didn't meet anyone last night." Another scratch and Rachel's grin deepened. Got'ya. "No one new," she sighed and pushed backwards on the floor to sit on her mattress. Rachel stayed sitting where she was. "One of the dancer's stayed back late last night and we talked."

"Oh," Rachel's expression faltered.

She wasn't on all of the dancer's good sides because Rachel had a problem with keeping her mouth shut and not voicing her opinions. She got into a heated argument with a few of them about their technique in a ballet number once and Quinn had to apologize to them and Mike for it. Surprisingly, that was the same day he had invited them out.

"Name?"

"The one Mike was talking about that one night. Brittany," Speaking her name brought her face to Quinn's mind. She wasn't one Rachel had gotten hot with.

"Brittany?" She chewed on her lip. "Oh! The tall blonde one. She is walking talent. Did you know she teaches dance down at that studio a couple blocks away from the theatre by the coffee shop we liked to go and get frappacino's at sometimes after class? Yeah," Rachel didn't even wait for her to reply. "I was passing by coming from shopping and saw her. She's got enough talent to open her own studio if she wanted to."

"Probably," Quinn shrugged, leaning back against the wall. Her eyes traveled back to her canvas as she thought about the girl. She hadn't paid attention to her during the show. Maybe a few times, but not enough to see how good she was.

"So," Rachel flicked her foot with a finger. "Why pale blue?"

She shrugged. "It's what I felt,"

"What did you talk about?"

"Nothing," It was an honest answer. Apologies and saying that they liked to do the things it was obvious they liked doing was not truly talking.

Rachel furrowed her brow confused. "Then why did you paint her?"

"I don't know," She shrugged again. She concentrated hard to not succumb to the habit that would give away how uneasy she was starting to feel. "She was the last thing on my mind, I guess. She gave me this weird vibe."

"A baby blue vibe?"

"Apparently," Quinn deadpanned at her roommate's sarcasm.

"And me and Jesse?"

"The same," Silence fell between them like it always did when the subject came up.

Before, when they joked about Rachel getting engaged and having tons of kids, it left them laughing. When Rachel told Quinn that Jesse was starting to show signs and talking about things like their future and their dreams, it changed the dynamic. It was hard for Rachel too and because it was it made it even harder for Quinn.

When had she become so emotionally dependent on her best friend? It was almost sickening to know she was. She was twenty-two years old. She was big enough to be alone and take care of herself.

"Jesse only lives twenty minutes away."

"He doesn't want to stay here, Rach," Quinn felt the atmosphere shift. She didn't want to put a damper on the day so early on. "The first call he gets from New York, he's out of here and you'll be going with him."

"We don't know that for sure," Rachel tried. "And you're probably going to go, too. Broadway would be spectacular with your sets on their stages."

Quinn offered her a weak smile not wanting to say anything more that would put them both in unsettled moods, especially on opening night. Her cheeks relaxed and she felt the harden tug of paint on her cheek and she groaned. She loved taking showers but another one so soon was a bit much.

She caught Rachel staring at her painting again. Why was Rachel home? "Why are you home?"

"Quinn, it's nearly two in the afternoon," Rachel nodded over to the clock. "Jesse had things to do before the show and I had to come and make sure you weren't curled up in my bed, clinging onto my pillow because you can't be without me for two minutes without freaking out."

"Don't flatter yourself," Quinn scoffed but her insides had constricted and her heart had lifted into her throat.

"Oh, I'm not," Rachel stood up from the floor, smoothing out the bottom of her skirt. "That's what my fans are for. Now, get your butt out of bed, take a shower, and treat me to lunch to celebrate my first, big roll in three years."

Quinn rolled her eyes. "As long as you pay for my dessert."

"What kind of date are you?" Rachel extended her hand down to her.

"One you love enough to give at least that much because she has worked just as hard on the show as you."

"When you put it that way," Her fingers wrapped around Quinn's hand. "I suppose I can this once. But first," Rachel yanked her up to stand. "You need to clean all of this up."

"Right away, mother," Quinn quipped as Rachel skipped out of her room.

As she scrubbed at a large glob of paint on the wall, Quinn wondered if Rachel, with all of her teasing, really knew how much she leaned on her. If so, maybe it was her way of trying to show Quinn how much she needed so stand on her own because, someday, she would be gone.

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