Title: Someone I've Been Missing (The Better Half of Me)
Pairing: Quinn Fabray/Rachel Berry
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. Just having a little fun.
Summary: AU/Future fic. Quinn, a rising sophomore in college, meets Rachel for the first time just before the school term begins. An argument between them leaves Rachel wanting nothing more than to forget that Quinn even exists. But she soon finds out that she can't get rid of the determined blonde that easily.
A/N: Come Home by One Republic was playing as I was putting the final touches on this chapter and I thought it was oddly fitting. This chapter is longer than any of the others as an apology for taking so long to update. I want to thank everyone for being patient and reading and reviewing while on this little fic journey with me! Especially the LJ people that came to read it over here when LJ was giving me issues. All of you guys are awesome people and I appreciate the love. :)
"You aren't a real director, you know." Kurt pushes a side bang out of his eyes to glare at Mercedes across the room. She sits atop Rachel's bed, a plate of tater tots in her hand and a scowl on her face. "Don't get all up in my grill just because your acting is whack."
"You're hardly a qualified judge of talent."
"Rachel delivered her lines very well."
A proud smile touches Rachel's lips. "Kurt, I'll have to disagree. I think Mercedes has a real knack for judging talent."
"You would." He crosses his arms before walking swiftly towards Rachel's bed, back facing Mercedes as he sits down and delicately crosses his legs. She slides her plate of food in his direction as a peace offering and he begrudgingly accepts, turning around.
"How many more days until your audition, Rachel?" Mercedes asks.
"Approximately five days, eight hours, and twenty-three minutes." Her hands begin to fidget as she walks over to her desk to take a seat. "Thank you both for rehearsing with me." She smiles sheepishly. "I was kind of driving Quinn crazy every time I critiqued her performance when she ran lines with me."
Mercedes' eyes find the floor and Kurt chokes on a tater tot at the blonde's name. "Don't mention it," he croaks.
Rachel eyes them suspiciously. "Is everything alright? You guys were really warming up to Quinn and after the Cheerios' nationals; the three of you were even cordial with each other. Did something happen?"
Mercedes' continues to find interest in the colors of Rachel's bedroom walls as Kurt rolls up his sleeve to glance at his watch. His palm slaps against his cheek. "Well would you look at the time! Mercedes and I are late for a mani-pedi at the spa. Ready to go, Cedes?"
The two quickly hop to their feet, Mercedes disposing the paper plate into the trashcan while they walk to the door.
"Wait just a minute," Rachel calls hotly behind them. "The two of you established freshman year that the only day you would go to the spa for manicures and pedicures would be on Saturdays because not only are Saturdays meant for relaxation but Mercedes would get to show off her new hand and feet artwork in church on Sunday. And today is Wednesday." Her arms cross over her chest in victory as her two friends lose steam and come to a stop. "What is going on between the two of you and Quinn? Because if the two of you have built up a sudden animosity toward her then I am going to have to ask that the two of you either bury it or address it with her so that we can all get past it. All of you are important to me and my life and I cannot have you all fighting o –or wishing any form of ill will toward the other—"
"Rachel!" Kurt yells suddenly. "Please, just…stop."
"We don't hate her," Mercedes supplies. "She's actually not that bad once she drops the whole bitchy, white girl act."
"Then I don't understand." She walks further into the living room where Kurt and Mercedes are. "If you don't hate her then why did you guys act so weirdly when I said her name? And why did you decide you have to leave all of a sudden?"
They both shuffle awkwardly. "We can't tell you."
"It's supposed to be a secret."
Rachel's eyes narrow. "What is the secret?"
Kurt huffs before rolling his eyes. "We can't tell you," he reiterates.
She continues, undeterred. "Well then who told you to keep the secret?"
Kurt nearly pulls his hair out as Mercedes fights to keep her mouth closed. He glances over to find her practically hopping from foot to foot with unease. "Don't do it, girl. You know she said we were supposed to keep it a secret."
"Keep what a secret?" Rachel asks again in irritation.
"We can't tell you!"
"Well, I suggest you do."
Mercedes' hands find her hips as Kurt cocks his to the side. "And if we don't?"
"Then I'll un-invite you to my audition. And I know the two of you want to go to meet my potential future co-star, Jesse St. James. Kurt, because you've had a monster crush on him since I showed you one of his head shots."
"He's flawless…" Kurt breathes.
"And Mercedes because I know you've been dying to know what hair care products he uses."
"His hair is flawless…" she whispers.
Rachel nods. "And you get to see it—touch it even if you just tell me the secret."
Mercedes lightly runs her fingers through her hair, eyeing the strands between her fingers. She bites her lip. "Okay, I'll tell you."
Kurt whirls around to face her. She grabs her arm. "We need privacy." The two trot over to the other side of the room and Rachel waits on pins and needles as the two turn their backs to her. She clasps her hands tightly behind her back in an attempt to hide her anxiety while her two friends deliberate. Finally, after what feels like forever, they walk back over to join her. "Okay, we'll tell you," Kurt says slowly. "But on one condition."
"You cannot under any circumstances tell Quinn we told you."
Her eyes widen. "Quinn?"
"Oh shit," Mercedes mutters.
"Well she was going to find out anyway!" Kurt heatedly defends.
"Whatever. Just tell her so I can get my fancy hair gel by next week."
"Will someone please just tell me?"
"Easy there, Barbra," he soothes, eyeing her warily. "It's just that…well. Quinn needed us to help her with something. Something important."
"Oh for the love of—she's going to propose to you and wanted us to assist with dinner preparations, arrangements for after dinner—"
"What size your finger is," Kurt chimes in.
"Is that –is that why you promised to buy me a ten karat golden ring at Zales in the mall and then flaked at the last second because you looked in your purse and 'didn't have enough money'?"
"It's a man bag! And yes. I wanted the jeweler to size you so that we could tell Quinn but…"
"But?" she hedges. Really, this whole game was getting really old really fast for her. "But what?"
"You're starting to act like her," Mercedes muses.
She tries to suppress a smile at the thought of her and Quinn spending so much time together that their personalities were starting to rub off on each other. "Forgive me for my outburst."
"Moving on. She recently informed us that there would be no way that she'd be able to pay for an engagement ring. And I told her that she had better try because there's no way in hell Rachel Berry would stand for being engaged to someone without there being a ring."
"Y –you said that to her?"
Kurt takes a step back at the crazed look in her eye. "Yes…?"
Mercedes shakes her head sadly. "Wrong move, girlfriend."
His eyes flit to hers before zeroing in on Rachel as she walks toward him. "How could you do that? Now she'll never propose!"
"I'm sorry! We've all been talking about marriage since we were first years. And we all agreed that as bonafide divas we should never have to settle for rings less than three thousand dollars!"
He backs up into a wall, Rachel standing directly in front of him and managing to look intimidating despite her short stature. Perhaps Quinn was rubbing off on her after all. 'In more ways than one' as the blonde would say.
She shakes her head, remembering how the three of them linked pinkies freshman year then proceeded to sing songs—Mercedes singing a Whitney song, Kurt doing a rendition of Patti Lupone and Rachel, of course, choosing to pay tribute to none other than Barbra Streisand—to solidify their promise to each other.
"While I agree that I did make that promise, that was years ago. I was young and dare I say, foolish. A ring does not and should not matter when dealing with matters of the heart. Love is the only thing that matters and I love Quinn. I don't want her to be discouraged simply because she doesn't have the money to put a ring on my finger."
"Well, she is," Mercedes quips.
Her head lowers as she begins to brainstorm. Her fingers begin to snap rapidly as she walks around the room, her ideas flying to her. "I need pens and paper," she mutters over and over again. She finally gets her hand on a sheet of paper as Kurt tosses a pen in her direction. She quickly writes down an assorted list, tongue poking out between her lips in concentration.
Kurt's eyes find Mercedes' as the two slowly make their way to Rachel's door.
"I've got it!"
She spins on her heel and power walks around a coffee table to stand directly in front of her two friends. They both recognize and fear the crazed look in her eye as she hands them the piece of paper. They read it carefully. "We don't understand, Rach."
"I want you to act like everything is normal. Don't tell Quinn you told me and just for now, go along with any and everything she says. I'll take care of the rest. I'll certainly call the two of you if and when I need assistance."
Both of their mouths open to protest but she quickly snatches the list back and shoves them out of the door before closing it behind them. She slumps against the cool wood before sliding down to the floor, collecting her jumbled thoughts.
The first thought that comes to mind is 'holy shit!' She mentally chastises herself for the swear before she tries to wrap her mind around an even bigger concept.
Quinn wants to marry her.
It seems like a simple concept, no compound words, it isn't a run on sentence, no dashes or commas that would create necessary pauses for breath; it's just there. But it means so much to Rachel. Her mouth runs dry and she's pretty sure her heart is beating loudly enough to burst an ear drum but the wide smile that threatens to split her face, the fluttering in the pit of her stomach makes it all worth it.
"Quinn wants to marry me," she whispers reverently. She takes another look at the list and hops from the floor, deciding to get to work.
She's been waiting on a phone call of sorts for two weeks now. In her father's words he would 'see what he could do' and Quinn had no choice but to hang on to those words until the threads of the rope snapped and she was dropped back down to reality.
Her head sinks into her hands as thoughts of her future plague her mind. She and Rachel both polish off another year of college while living together. Rachel hopefully balancing a Broadway career as well as her senior year at NYU while Quinn hopefully finishes her summer internship and returns to NYU to complete her junior year, thus becoming a senior. Their engagement serving as the icing on a very delicious cake. Quinn licks her lips, practically tasting how amazing her future can be if everything falls into place.
"And if it doesn't, that's okay too," she whispers to herself. "As long as she's happy and as long as I'm happy."
"It's not good to talk to yourself."
Her heart nearly leaps out of her chest as Santana comes into view. "Stop doing that!" she grits out.
Santana gives her a look. "Chill." She flashes two tickets in front of Quinn's face. "Look at what I have."
She reaches out to take the tickets. "What are these?"
"Oh, don't play dumb. Those are tickets to Florida. It'll be just like last year."
"I can't…pay for these. Unless I ask my father and with everything that's happened this year I don't think—"
"Once again, chill, Q. I got this. My parents paid for you since they like you and because your father's a douche."
She smiles apologetically at Santana's thoughtfulness. "Thank you. And thank your parents for me, but I can't go. I'm doing the internship, remember?"
"Your father wrote you a recommendation?" she asks dubiously.
She falters. "No, but—"
Santana throws her hands up. Why is this even a conversation? "Then come on! You, me, warm weather, hot women."
Quinn arches an eyebrow. "That we're no longer able to do anything with."
She nods. "Besides, even if I don't get the internship, I still want to stay here with Rachel over the summer."
"Pussy whipped," Santana mutters under her breath. "Well this blows. I can't just go to Miami by myself. That's just lame."
Quinn leans back into their living room couch, eyes briefly wandering to the newspaper before finding Santana's again. "Have you ever thought about inviting Brittany? You know, your girlfriend?"
"Stop right there." Santana's eyes glaze over as she thinks of spending three months with the blonde in Florida. Brittany in nothing but a bikini all day, every day. Her pale skin bronzing over with a well formed tan after only a few days. How they could trash the hotel by having sex, order room service, have sex, go to the beach, have sex, eat dinner…then eat each other, go to bed and wake up to do it all over. "I think this is the best idea you have ever had," she whispers faintly.
Quinn snorts a laugh, reaching forward to retrieve the newspaper on the table and pulling out the classified ads. "You're welcome."
"Yeah, yeah. Gotta go. I gotta see if B's down with this." The door shuts behind her, leaving Quinn alone in the apartment.
She sighs quietly before sifting through the classified ads for a job. As much as she wants to have faith in her father, she doesn't. It came as a painful realization that the man that she had grown up with and looked up to as someone that would protect her and provide for her would leave her hanging high and dry. Quinn never likes to delve into her pre-adolescent days but she was very much a daddy's girl back then. Whenever she had scratches and bruises or a broken heart because her crush of the week didn't return her sentiments, her father was always there to kiss it better. But this doesn't seem like one of those times.
Her phone starts to ring and she breaks out of her nostalgia to answer it, 'Defying Gravity' blaring through the quiet apartment.
"Hey, baby," she says conversationally, cradling the phone between the crook of her neck and shoulder as she continues to search the newspaper.
"Hello, Quinn. How is your day going?" Rachel chirps through the phone.
She smiles. "Much better now. How is yours?"
"Busy, but wonderful. What are you doing a week from this Saturday?"
She briefly ponders her schedule, mapping out days to figure out what she's doing on which day. "Nothing. Did you have something in mind?"
"Possibly." Quinn can hear the smile in her voice. "Just save that particular date."
"Rachel Berry, what do you have planned?"
"Can't I just have a lovely evening with my beautiful girlfriend?"
"You're pushing it." She blushes—as is her habit every time Rachel calls her beautiful.
"Mhm. I'd love to chat more Quinn but I'm a horribly busy woman. Don't forget my rehearsal is—"
"The eighteenth. I remember."
"I love you. Enjoy the rest of your day if I regrettably lack the chance to see you."
"You too. And you better find the time, Berry."
They exchange more goodbyes before Quinn finally hangs up. She basks in warmth in her heart a moment longer before scanning the newspaper again.
Her phone rings again and she growls a little before grabbing it off the table again. "Hello," she says a little tersely. Her eyes widen and she sputters apologies of being tired and worn out as Tom Reynolds greets her professionally.
She bites her lip, fearing the worst as he continues to talk to her. But something in particular catches her attention. "H –he did?" she whispers softly. "What did it say?" Tom lists off how her father sang her praises in the recommendation he wrote for her and Quinn feels her eyes prickle painfully with unshed tears. "Yes…that's all true, sir. I'm perfect for this position."
Gently dapping at her eye, she cradles the phone to her ear, her throat dry. "I get the job?" Her jaw drops. "Thank you, thank you, sir. You won't regret it. I'll start whenever you want me to."
They small chat on what will be expected of her and Tom promises to keep in touch of when he wants her to come in for a few training sessions before ending the call. Quinn doesn't waste any time. Overcome with childish glee for her father that she hasn't felt in a long time, her fingers quickly dial his number, impatiently waiting for him to answer.
His deep voice greets her and her eyes slip shut as a single tear slides down her cheek. "You wrote the recommendation. Thank you." He doesn't respond save for a sharp intake of breath and Quinn quietly hangs up the phone before the conversation has the chance to go sour.
Rachel almost wants to say her eyes are deceiving her. The lights, the cast, the directors, the stage hands. She's on the precipice of something great and she can only hope her amazing talent and wide vocal range, years of intensive training, and sheer determination pays off.
She looks back toward Kurt and Mercedes. Mercedes gives her two thumbs up as Kurt winks and blows her a kiss. She smiles nervously before puffing out her chest and walking forward.
"Hello, I'm Rachel Berry. I'll be auditioning for the role of—"
"Yes, Rachel. You're the one William Schuester referred. I've heard a lot about you. I'm Stephen Kopel." He reaches across the table and extends his hand. It's taken into a firm shake, Rachel maintaining eye contact. "I can assure you that I have prepared day and night for this role. I hope to blow you away with my performance."
"Sounds great. Our Melchior, Jesse St. James, is already on stage. You can go meet and get acquainted with him and we'll begin in just a few short minutes, okay?"
"Yes, thank you." Her eyes float to the stage to find Jesse standing and looking down on her. She slowly walks towards him, on stage until their face to face. "You're Rachel Berry," is all he says.
"Y-yes." His shocking intensity catches her off guard, reminding her of a particular blonde and how blunt and intense she too can be. "And you're Jesse. It's a pleasure to meet you."
His nose lifts into the air as he takes two steps back to land on his mark. "I'll let you know after your performance if I can say the same."
Her eyes widen and she casts an anxious expression in Kurt and Mercedes' direction. Kurt snaps his fingers with a raised eyebrow as Mercedes folds her arms tightly across her chest, eyes narrowed. Their defensive stances are oddly encouraging and Rachel flashes a disarming smile before turning back to Jesse.
"Yes, well, do try to keep up, Jesse."
He blanches. "Are you insinuating that I can't?"
"I'm insinuating that it would be unfortunate for us both if you didn't."
He ruffles the curls in his hair and smiles roguishly down at her, his voice pitched low. "I like you. Do try to keep in touch if you don't get the part, Rachel. I'd love to take you out sometime."
"I have a girlfriend," she says confidently. The door to the theater swings open and her head whips around in time to see blonde hair. "In fact, she's here right now."
She quickly hops from the stage, smiling broadly as she walks up the aisles toward the door in the back of the theater. Brittany bounces in, Santana begrudgingly following behind. Rachel's smile dims, however, as she blinks one, twice, only to realize her eyes aren't deceiving her. Quinn isn't there.
Brittany continues to walk with Santana trailing behind, the shorter girl putting her hand up just as Rachel opens her mouth. "She had to work, Berry. She sends her apologies and also these." She flashes a bouquet of flowers in front of her that Rachel had been too preoccupied before with Quinn's absence to notice.
Rachel gingerly accepts the flowers, grinning from ear to ear as the sweet aroma assaults her senses. "Mercedes and Kurt are on the third row. You can sit beside them if you want." Santana groans and rolls her eyes but Brittany's already tugging her toward a pair of waving hands in the third row.
She walks back toward the stage, trying not to feel hurt. It isn't Quinn's fault that she couldn't make it and had Rachel not been pushing her towards the job, she wouldn't even have it. She wants Quinn to have the job and the experience and if that means that she has to miss the audition to make it happen then Rachel's willing to let it go.
She meets Jesse back on stage, already annoyed with the cocky smirk on his lips. "Where's this mystery girlfriend? Did she give you the flowers and dash? Not very supportive of her."
Rachel gently places the flowers off to the side as she walks toward Jesse. "Not that it's any of your business, but my girlfriend is very supportive, thank you very much. She had to work today, however, if she didn't then she would be sitting directly in the front row with her eyes glued to me."
"Guests can't sit on the front row during an audition," he quips.
She studiously ignores him as the casting director asks her to sing. She confidently belts out a powerful rendition of Defying Gravity, the one song that never fails to impress an audience. Once she's finished, Jesse is left wide eyed, Kurt, Mercedes, and Brittany clapping, Santana offering her a job well done, as the casting director joins in a round of applause.
"That was phenomenal," Jesse whispers from beside her. "I simply must date you. We can be an unstoppable Broadway pair, taking the world of theater by storm."
Rachel smiles a little. "Although, I'd love the idea of taking anything in the entertainment domain by storm, I have a girlfriend. She and I will take the world by storm. Thank you for your offer though."
They quickly move into two scenes of heavy dialogue, Rachel ranging from love to anger to despair within mere minutes. Her last scene finds her in Jesse's arms, a heated stare being exchanged between the two until the director yells cut. Her grip on his forearms slackens as she gently pries herself away. She fixes her slightly disheveled clothes, ignoring his leering eyes as she peers out into the crowd to see a familiar pair of hazel eyes.
Quinn is staring at her intently and Rachel's heart practically leaps out of her chest as she tries to maintain her composure. She smiles brightly at the blonde before hopping off stage.
"Well, Rachel," Stephen begins, "I have to say you have some real talent there. A natural."
"I couldn't agree more," Jesse says calmly, suddenly beside her.
"Unfortunately we have a lot of talented women out there that want the part."
"I want her to have it."
Stephen sends a pointed glare in Jesse's direction before turning to Rachel. "You're talented, great stage presence. And I like you. I can't guarantee the part, but I'll definitely be vying for you, kid. We'll keep in touch."
She nods in understanding, heart in her throat as she walks away and toward her friends. "Hey, wait up."
She turns around to find Jesse jogging up to her. "I think you deserve the part and I'll do everything in my power to get it for you."
Rachel holds the indelicate snort at bay, the idea of Jesse doing everything in 'his power' being ludicrous. "Thank you. It was a pleasure working with you Jesse."
"Same here." He purses his lips as he stares at her. "So I was thinking I'd still like to take you out for coffee."
Rachel opens her mouth, a retort on the tip of her tongue and then…her tongue is suddenly in Quinn's mouth. The blonde quickly spins her around and attaches their lips, her arms encircling Rachel's waist and drawing their bodies together tightly. It can only be described as a lover's embrace and Jesse is caught between a small sense of jealousy and an even bigger sense of arousal.
"Way to stake your claim, Q!" Santana calls proudly.
A tiny squeak dies in the back of Rachel's throat as Quinn's tongue pistons in and out of her mouth, fingers digging into her lower back. She's claiming her. And although Rachel thinks it horribly anti-feminist of her, she's getting weak in the knees, simply giving herself to the blonde as her body falls limp.
"Hi, baby," Quinn whispers against her lips as she pulls back. She sends Jesse a glare over Rachel's shoulder as the brunette comes to her senses. "Who's your friend?"
"What friend?" Rachel mutters as she slowly pulls back a little so she can think. Her mind clears slightly from her Quinn induced haze as the words register. "Oh, this is Jesse St. James. If I get the part then I'll be starring opposite him."
"When she gets the part," Jesse says confidently as he sticks his hand out.
Quinn arches an eyebrow. "That's something we can agree on." She shakes his hand firmly before pulling back. They stare each other down, Rachel twiddling her thumbs awkwardly between them.
"Yes, well, we should get going. I'll see you around, Jesse." She grabs the blonde's hand tightly. "Let's go, Quinn," she says quietly, knowing that if she doesn't diffuse the tension soon, Quinn hackles would easily rise.
They all walk down the aisle toward the exit. "Should I be jealous?" Quinn murmurs into her ear. Rachel shivers slightly at the blonde's low tone of voice and the implications of Quinn's jealous side.
She swallows thickly. "While I do find your jealously ironically arousing, it is unwarranted. Jesse is simply a potential co-worker."
"And what am I?" she asks, borderline cocky.
Rachel smiles sweetly. "You're my beautiful girlfriend."
"Sweet talker," she scoffs.
Rachel carefully lights the remaining candle on the table before blowing out the match. She walks past Mercedes and Kurt to dispose of it, her two friends placing two plates and sets of utensils on the table.
"You cooked her steak," Kurt realizes with a tilt of his head as the smell of beef hits his nostrils.
Rachel shudders, her nose twisting up. "And a slice of bacon," she grumbles. "That's just a testament to my love for that woman."
"So mushy," he gags as he and Mercedes finish tidying up.
"Anything else we can do?" Mercedes asks.
Rachel finishes with the last of the food before turning to face them. "Tell me to calm down," she whispers. "Tell me there's nothing to worry about. That she'll say yes. That we'll get married and that she'll always love me."
"I don't know." He smiles. "You're already crazy and I hear women only get crazier with menopause. You'll drive her crazy!"
"You're not helping!"
"Kurt, you remember when I told you you're not good at consoling people?" Mercedes, ever the mediator, calmly chimes in.
"I should shut up?"
"And go stand in a corner."
He huffs quietly, leaving the two alone to go sit in the living room. Rachel looks to Mercedes with a miserable expression. "Am I crazy?"
Mercedes bites her lip as she approaches Rachel. "Let's not talk about that. The real issue is your confidence, girl! You've had Quinn wrapped around your finger since day one. Nothing's changed." Rachel smiles at the idea of anyone having a controlling and domineering Quinn Fabray wrapped around their finger.
"She loves you. She was going to propose to you which means she's pretty much figured out what she wants. There's no reason for her to tell you no."
Rachel wraps Mercedes in a tight hug, silently thanking her. She walks her out into the living and to the door as the three of them exchange goodbyes. "You've got this in the bag, Rach. Or should I say you have a hot, blonde cheerleader in the bag," Kurt tells her, chuckling at her small blush before leaving.
She takes a deep breath as she leans back against the door, nervously biting her lip. She gives her apartment a once over to make sure everything is in place before walking back to her room to change. She shimmies slowly into a tight black dress—a dress that she wants to go on the record as saying it was so not her choice. Kurt and Mercedes made her sit on a bench outside a store in the mall as they scampered inside to pick out the perfect dress and shoes for her.
Her feet slide easily into a pair of stilettos. She wipes her sweaty palms on her dress, walking towards her mirror. She combs her fingers through her hair to add volume before swiping a thin coat of lip gloss across her lips. A knock at the door startles her and she drops the tube of lip gloss in her surprise. "I –I'll be out in just a minute!"
She rushes to the door, taking a minute to smooth down her hair and dress before opening it. Quinn stands on the other side, hands clasped almost demurely in front of her. Her hair is freshly curled, traveling in waves down her back and shoulders. She has on a yellow dress that stops just above the knee, wedged heels adorning her feet. "You look gorgeous," Rachel breathes, always in awe that the beautiful woman in front of her is all hers.
"And you," Quinn says as she walks into Rachel's apartment, "are stunning." Rachel's arms quickly wrap around Quinn's waist as the blonde steps into her personal space. Quinn runs her hand tentatively down Rachel's right cheek. "What is this all about?" she whispers, her eyes flitting around the dimly lit apartment. "Are you trying to seduce me?"
Rachel giggles quietly, leaning up to lightly kiss her on the lips. "Can't I just have a lovely evening with my beautiful girlfriend?" she asks, echoing her words from the week prior.
Quinn arches a powerful eyebrow. "You're plotting something."
"I wouldn't be the only one."
"What do you mean?"
Rachel pulls away, tugging Quinn's hand as she ventures toward the kitchen. "I mean that I've prepared a lovely dinner for you and we're going to enjoy it."
Quinn licks her lips. "I smell meat."
Rachel grimaces. "You smell steak. And bacon."
They walk into the kitchen and Quinn walks toward the counter, a slap of steak and a slice of bacon set out for her. "Rachel." She turns toward her, pulling her into a tight hug. "Thank you. You didn't have to that for me. Although I'm glad you did."
Rachel quickly learned that if it was one thing Quinn didn't play with—although there are many things she didn't play with—it was her food. She took it very seriously, Rachel even being willing to go as far as to say that she has an unhealthy obsession with bacon.
Quinn leans over the food. "Can I eat now?"
She swats the blonde's hand away, kissing the pout off her face. "I'll fix your plate. You go sit."
She watches Quinn's jaw work, knowing it's taking everything the blonde has to follow instructions without some type of retort. Finally, she walks away to the table and Rachel smiles secretively as she turns around.
A plate of steak and a sliver of bacon are sat directly in front of Quinn. Rachel cringes as the blonde licks her lips. "Thanks, Rach, really."
She beams down at her girlfriend. "Anything for you, sweetheart."
They eat silently, Quinn immersed in her food. If she had taken a second to actually breathe and look up she would have noticed Rachel's anxious expression. But she didn't. Rachel's getting nervous. She slows her eating to stall the inevitable, suddenly not ready to propose to Quinn, the goddess among all that she has in her kitchen. She feels so…high school. The awkward teenager that was always dateless on Friday nights sharing a meal with Quinn Fabray who she's sure not only had dates but options.
She snaps out of her thoughts at Quinn's soft voice. She isn't in high school anymore. There's no such thing as a 'popular kid' and a 'loser' in the real world and certainly not in her apartment. She's just Rachel, having dinner with Quinn. Proposing to Quinn. "F –fine," she stammers out. She takes a deep breath, leans down to pick up a small box by her chair leg she had put there to hide from Quinn and rises out of her seat, smoothing out her dress where it had ridden up.
Quinn continues to stare, bewildered. "Rachel?" She looks a little lost, a little confused and Rachel smiles nervously as she walks over to the blonde. She smoothes the back of her dress and sits in Quinn's lap, the blonde's arms instinctively circling her waist. "Are you okay?" she asks as if she's talking to a small child.
"No," Rachel admits. She bites her bottom lip. "I'm nervous."
"Why would you be…" she trails off, her eyes had been searching Rachel's entire body for any sign as to what could be wrong. They finally land on the small black box Rachel's grasping tightly in her hands. "Oh…" She swallows thickly. "Is –is that—"
Quinn's breathing picks up as her arms unconsciously wrap tighter around Rachel. "And you're—"
She nods again.
"But I was going to—"
"I know," Rachel says softly. They lock eyes, finally. Tears sting Rachel's eyes as she watches the way Quinn's lips tremble, the only indication that she's being affected by their conversation. Rachel leans forward to press their lips together, Quinn's quivering lips parting to accept the slippery invitation of Rachel's tongue.
They pull back, a single tear dripping down Rachel's face and Quinn doesn't move to wipe it away, marveling at how beautiful she looks.
Rachel looks down at the box in her hand, feeling emboldened by the fact that Quinn knows what's about to happen and isn't pushing her off or running away. She feels silly and a bit ashamed for even thinking so considering it was Quinn that was going to propose in the first place.
She opens the box, retrieving two small bands from inside. They're simple, golden bands without fancy engravings or stones littering them but Quinn gasps in astonishment anyway and Rachel smiles a little before clasping her fingers around both of them tightly, looking back up to meet hazel eyes.
"My fathers dated all throughout high school before college pulled them in different directions," she says slowly. "They snuck out to meet each other one summer night and daddy gave this to dad. It's a promise ring. And it may seem silly and we may seem too old now for such things but...I want to give this to you on the basis that I will uphold all of my promises to you today, tomorrow, when we get married and well beyond that."
Quinn's eyes mist over and she attempts to bury her face in Rachel's shoulder to hide it. Rachel smiles a little, kisses the side of Quinn's head and shrugs her shoulder a little. "Hey," she says softly. "Look at me." Quinn pulls back, mouth slightly parted to take in shuddery breaths as Rachel smiles down at her.
"I promised my fathers that I will be true to myself as well as true to you. No more secrets. I promised your mother that I would be here for you to love you and protect you from yourself," Quinn laughs a little at that, "for as long as you'll have me. And I promise you, Quinn, I swear to always love you unconditionally."
She leans forward to kiss away Quinn's tears, ignoring her own. Quinn's hands span the length of her back, crushing their bodies together with bruising force. "I love you," she whispers into Rachel's neck.
"And I love you. So much." She opens her hand to place a ring in Quinn's right hand. She grabs her left one, palm down and brings it closer, leaning forward to rest their foreheads against each other.
Rachel's quiet for a moment, listening to Quinn's uneven breathing and occasional hiccupping breaths as if it were a song. She positions the band by Quinn's ring finger before gently sliding it on. "I promise to love you forever," she whispers. Quinn leans forward, kissing her hard before pulling back.
Her hand shakes as she grasps Rachel's softly. She slides the ring onto her finger. "I promise to love you forever," she whispers back just as fiercely before kissing her again. The box drops from Rachel's lap as her arms wrap around Quinn's neck to place them breast to breast, heart to heart. They pull back after long minutes, just needing to hold each other. They take one look at each other and giggle quietly.
"We're a mess," Rachel concedes.
"Yeah, well you make me a mess," Quinn grumbles.
Rachel smiles. "I can live with that."
Quinn looks down at the golden band on her finger, a million thoughts and emotions flowing through her. She never thought she'd get married. "Thank you, Rachel. I –I was going to propose to you later on next week. This is crazy."
Rachel fidgets in her lap. "About that..."
Quinn quirks an eyebrow, remembering their conversation a few minutes prior and how Rachel said she knew she was going to propose. "You knew? I could kill Kurt and Mercedes right now. Your friends suck at keeping a secret."
"Quinn, you know how I feel about murder," Rachel says distractedly. "Besides, it doesn't matter, these are just promise rings for now because I want to get you an even bigger ring. Although," she ducks her head a little to lock eyes with the blonde, "I do want to marry you someday, Quinn. And when that time does come, I'll propose."
"I want to propose," Quinn grumbles.
"I'll propose," Rachel reiterates. The only way she can ensure that her proposal and marriage are romantic enough to be worthy of her Broadway stardom is if she gets to plan and coordinate the whole thing. "But for now I want you to wear this promise ring."
Quinn barely hears her, engrossed in the ring on her finger. "You got these resized?" she asks absentmindedly, not even listening to Rachel's answer. "Your father has great taste."
Rachel blushes a little. "I'm sorry it couldn't be more extravagant but you see when I officially propose—"
"Don't you dare apologize," Quinn says sharply. "I love this and I'll wear it proudly."
Her heart leaps out of her chest. She's practically drunk off her love for Quinn. Just the thought of Quinn wearing the ring she gave her, the very ring being a warning for all women and men to back off.
Mine, she thinks deliriously as she leans forward to kiss Quinn for the hundredth time. "I'm going to be such a good wife!" she gushes when she pulls back.
Quinn rolls her eyes, pinching Rachel in the side. "Only you would compliment yourself and not the person you're marrying."
Rachel looks down at her with a sheepish smile. "Sorry, baby. You're going to be a phenomenal wife. You're already so domestic."
"Suck up." Her telling blush belies her comment.
Rachel doesn't respond and things quiet between them. Quinn grips the back of Rachel's dress harder as Rachel's eyes fall to Quinn's lips. "You're mine now," Quinn says softly.
"Was I not yours the day we bumped into each other?" Rachel asks quietly.
Quinn smirks. "You didn't want to be. But you were."
The air between them becomes thick with tension as Quinn's eyes slowly begin to dilate. Rachel licks her lips as she rises from Quinn's lap. She grabs both of their dishes from the table, swaying her hips as saunters to the kitchen sink. "I hear animals in the wild like to claim their mates."
Quinn stands from her seat. "You calling me an animal, Berry?"
A small smile touches her lips as she bypasses the blonde, walking toward her bedroom. "I'm calling myself your mate." She walks into her bedroom and Quinn is hot on her heels, fingers already tugging at the zipper of her dress.
"I'd like to make a toast!"
Quinn groans. "The last time she made a toast she was drunk off her ass."
"Quiet, blondie," Santana growls. "This toast is also your wedding gift."
Aghast, Rachel leans forward from her position beside Quinn on the sofa. "Quinn and I are not getting married for at least another two years, Santana. That should be plenty to time for you to penny pinch and scrape money together to get us a decent—"
"Berry," she bites out.
"Let it go, baby," Quinn whispers in her ear, rubbing her back in gentle circles, knowing that if those two started arguing no one else would get a word in the whole night.
"Anyway," Santana continues with a smile. "A toast to Q and Berry! I don't even know who wrestled who into submission with the two of you."
"I bet Rachel got Quinn to submit. Her thighs are super hot so she probably did a wrestling move and wrapped them around Quinn's head until she tapped out."
Quinn colors from the tips of her head to her neck as Rachel keeps a stiff upper lip, though her blush isn't much better. On the other side of the room, Mercedes looks visibly uncomfortable and Kurt looks around for his man bag in an attempt to make a quick exit.
Santana winks in Brittany's direction. "I bet you're right, B." She looks over to Quinn, Rachel whispering in her ear to breathe so the blonde doesn't pass out. "You two seem like a match made in weird hell but you somehow made it work. Oh and, Berry?"
Rachel looks over at Santana's grave expression. "My threat still stands. That's my best friend and whether you're her girlfriend or her wife I'll kick your ass if you hurt her. Again."
"Santana," Quinn warns but Rachel grips her arm with a disarming smile.
"I wouldn't have it any other way, Santana."
"Hold on one damn minute!" Mercedes chimes in. "The same goes for Quinn. She better not harm my girl, Rachel." Kurt nods.
"I'd never," Quinn says determinedly as her piercing gaze levels on Mercedes and Kurt.
Santana nods. "Good. Now that everyone's been properly threatened, I give my blessing. I look forward to attending your hot damn mess of a wedding!"
Everyone brings their glass of wine to their lips after their toast except Rachel. "It will be a perfectly organized, well thought out and executed wedding with extravagant—"
"We'll probably have to be on a budget, baby," Quinn tells her as she leans over to place a placating kiss to Rachel's cheek.
"No Barbra?" she asks with a pout.
"Nonsense, I can make it work!" Kurt flits to the front of the room. "I put together my father's wedding with six hundred dollars, a Donna Karan catalog and an unfortunate twenty dollar Nike gift card." He shudders at the memory.
"And it was off the chain," Mercedes supplies.
Quinn grabs her glass and a nearby spoon to bang the two together. "I'd like to make a toast too." She stands up to head to the front of the room while she has everyone's attention. "As of this morning, Rachel is the new Wendla in Spring Awakening."
Rachel smiles broadly as everyone around the room congratulates her. Things quiet down and Quinn continues. "I would wish you luck on all of your shows but you're already such a star, you don't need it. So instead, I'm going to wish Jesse luck because if he comes on to you one more time I'm going to kick his ass."
Santana rolls her eyes. "Correction. She's going to mope around and come whining to me about it and I'm going to kick his ass."
"Shut up." She turns back to Rachel. "And lastly, at the expense of sounding mushy; I love you."
Rachel can barely contain herself as Quinn walks back to sit beside her. She flings herself into the blonde's arms, peppering her face with kisses. "I love you."
Brittany smiles, eyes shining at all the talk about love and weddings going on. She leans over to wrap Santana in a big hug. "I can't wait 'til we get married, San!"
Santana pats her back gently. "Someday, B."
She gasps, pulling back to look her in the eye. "Did you just propose?"
Santana looks back, wide eyed. "Uh, B, I was just saying—"
"Sounded like a proposal to me," Quinn replies with a smirk. "What do you think, Rach?"
"Though it lacked eloquence and grace I would also be inclined to believe it was a proposal."
"Two weddings," Kurt mumbles to himself. "My greatest challenge yet."
She looks around, from Quinn to Rachel, Kurt to Mercedes, then back to Brittany, a telling blush coloring her cheeks. Brittany squeals and pulls Santana closer before crawling in her lap. "I love you, San."
"Love you too, B."
They engage in a kiss that's far from innocent and—not to be outdone—Quinn grabs Rachel by the waist, drags her unofficial but really, really official fiancée into her lap for a languid kiss that makes the two remaining occupants in the room blush and look away.
"We should just—"
"Yeah, the exit is this way," Mercedes rushes out as the two leave.
Quinn is off the couch, running to her room with Rachel in tow, pinning her against the door once it closes. "My fiancée," she breathes against Rachel's neck.
Rachel smiles, yanking Quinn by her hair to bring them back to face. "My fiancée."
They both flinch when the very distinct sound of a lamp is heard crashing down to the floor and shattering in the living room, followed by a loud moan.
Rachel blushes. "Should we...?"
"Your apartment," Quinn agrees as she grabs a light jacket. She clasps her hand in Rachel's, smiling as the ring on her finger catches the sunlight from her window and glitters brilliantly. Just like Rachel, she thinks faintly. A shining star.