Chapter 16 – Of First Fights and Heated Confessions
Hi guys. As you can see the length is insane but hey I think it'll be good. =D
Nightbrainzz, I did gets to writing but only finished it now. I think you'll be back just in time.
Phoebex13, I'm honored that you like this fic so much. But now worries there's still a large bit to go before the story ends.
Cali, well have fun and I'll chat to you later. XD
The girls are walking down a lightly lit street of their tenth formal date when they make their first mistake in reasoning. It's so innocuous that they won't realize, not till days later.
However, in the now, Quinn just glances down at their joined hands, swinging slightly. She feels nine years old again, landing in that perfect sense of happiness that's careless and so easy. The movement catches Rachel's attention, causing her take a pause from her spiel, beaming brightly. Her hand goes to brush a wild blonde strand back behind pale ears. Hazel green eyes glitter in response. An athletic body leans forward. They had just gone to see latest Footloose remake. Somehow, the shorter girl had managed to pick the movie yet again. It's been a month. Technically it's their anniversary or something like it, but amazingly they don't care. It's not that big of a deal because the girls do romantic gestures all the time. Flowers, songs or whispered adorations, there's no designated day. So when Rachel, out of all the people, suggests a quiet evening the blonde just smiles, kissing her softly. Surprise doesn't even bother making an appearance when she'll later be informed that the singer already had a choice in mind. Quinn doesn't care. She barely sees the film anyway, her senses always so attuned to the diva next to her.
After the second scene, her mind would begin to wonder. The pianist would encounter a thought that, in ten years, she'd love to be in the same moment, when both of them are a little older, a little wiser and still pathetically captivated by the other. In that second, her hand would subconsciously squeeze the brunette's. Rachel would intuitively rip her attention away from the screen despite the fact that she hates missing important plotlines. Her frame would be rigid with concern initially, before analyzing the situation. Understanding and contentment soon follow. It all happens in five seconds and the softball player would think that that face is far more interesting and expressive than any actor. And she'd like to stay here, staring, all night.
Back in the present, the girls are walking to Rachel's house. There are three reasons. The first is that they just want to spend more time together and gazing at the stars whilst making quips and telling anecdotes seems like a wonderful way to do so. The second is that the blonde would never let Rachel walk home alone, it's a mixture between protective concern and a sense of chivalry that tends to make itself known around the singer. The third is that Quinn's car is parked outside the Berry home. Now that they're only one block away, they'll start to slow down. Neither quite ready to go home. They stop, silent conversations with their eyes as nearby plants, animals and the occasional firefly vies for their attention.
Wait, one more minute.
The diva will shake her head adorably. She'll kiss her girlfriend softly before dragging them in another direction, to the park opposite her house. Her grip is strong, firm and a means for her feelings to travel to the blonde. Still dazed from the warmness of her lips, Quinn stumbles at the initial propulsion before relaxing. She lets Rachel take her wherever she wants. When they get there, the taller girl will run a little faster to snatch the adult swing, laughing and pumping her fist in victory. It's ridiculously immature but completely true to her internal impulses and fun. The singer will sigh amusedly taking a glance at the open children's chair. With an expert flip of her luscious brown hair, she'll stride confidently past it. She'll slide her left arm around the pianist's shoulders and her right will clasp it. The ex-captain's breath hitches with pink tinted cheeks. Slowly, tenderly and winningly the short singer will lower herself onto the ex-cheerleaders lap. Pale arms automatically stabilize and find purchase around her slim waist. The girls sit, rest and think for a while. Quinn focuses on how the streetlights reflect beautifully in the singer's eyes and how her diminutive smile only becomes more genuine and etched by the flickering shadows. Rachel loses herself in the blonde's neck, her senses come alive in the dark. The wind blows, half and hour passes and they clutch each other closer.
By the end, the softball player would walk her girl to the door. They'll both fidget and stutter because they're not quite ready to end the night, all the while, aware of the entertained fathers by the window. Unintelligent things filter from the diva's mouth as she tries to generate a reason to stay. Oh, have you done the history homework? Quinn has no interest in the subject or it's mindless tasks, but she'll speak about it like it's the single most important aspect of her life. She'll lean and linger in the doorway taking the unspoken invitation to go into the singer's space. Eventually, a loud cough comes from behind the curtains and they'll both blush, realizing the time. Ten minutes past curfew. The pianist whispers goodnight, turning and moving to her car. She does quickly, before they both find another point of conversation. As her hand grips the lever to her hatchback and something will be missing. Her sight trails back to the door of the house where the brunette is still standing.
Suddenly, she remembers, rushing back to the stoop, the kiss good night. Rachel's eyes lights up the moment the ex-captain comes back. Their lips press. By then, Hiram and Leroy have retired to the couch with shaking heads and laughing smiles, they've long since given up on the concept of a chaste goodbye.
The mistake is that when the girls are wound around each other, they'll think that the world can't touch what they have…they're wrong…
A sharp whistle blew. McKinley's girl's softball team rolled their eyes as their muscles automatically spasms, anxiety and fear flow through their veins. It's a classically conditioned trait much like salivation at the dinnertime bell. There in front of the field stood an irate vein throbbing Sue Sylvester. The megaphone clenched tightly in whitened-fists and a permanent scowl present.
"Alright you ingrates, stand to attention. Bad news, we're down one member of the team."
The coach swears a death threat under her breath as she circles her team. Each member stood so straight that it almost looked as if backs might be broken. Over the season, they've learnt to read the older women's thinning of the lips and sharp angry eyes. Sue leaned close as she made her rounds, glaring into their eyes. Only Santana Brittany and Quinn didn't wince. They just focused ahead. Sue's voice booms.
"Tammy went and decided that a good way to prepare for our upcoming game would be to catch the flu."
Whispers started like a plague. A few giggles broke out when a particularly strong breeze raised come of the coach's hair up vertically in the air. For once, her distaste for all hair styling products failed her. Still she had bigger problems, feigning several pitches at the girls that continued to lose their composure. Her expression actually makes it appear as if the words caused her physical pain and were actually being spit from her mouth.
"In an ironic twist of events, it was actually her subsequent fall down the stairs which broke her pencil legs and took her out for the rest of the season."
This time the discussions that broke out were out of concern. Quinn raised her eyebrow at Santana and Brittany whom both shrugged. They didn't have any reserves because the sport had been so unpopular. Whereas an annoyed Sue just shook her head, this wasn't a book club if the girls wanted to chitchat and send flowers they could do so in their own time. She dug her heels into the pitching mound, whistling into the megaphone. Birds, insects and human beings within a certain radius lost their hearing that day. In surprise, Brittany instinctively shies into the Latina's arms. The fiery ex-cheerleader cups her hands over the dancer's ears, not once worrying about her own. She shoots her captain a look. The pianist just cringes in response. Her delicate ears redden. Somehow, over everything Sue's disgruntled tone still sounds through the high bitched ring.
"Disappointment and disgust, it's an emotion that I've learnt to associate with you. I said to get sick, do drugs and get pregnant after not before we win the championship."
The coach crosses her arms.
"So now we're recruiting in house."
Santana's rebuttal comes out before she has a chance to censor it.
"How does that even work? If you give one of us Tammy's position, we'll still be one short."
Sue grunts, turning to her player. Sarcasm exudes from every pore, placating and patronizing at the same time.
"Congratulations funbags. I was wrong, maybe there is some residual brain cells left in there somewhere. But no, we're going to recruit from the Cheerios. Assuming that they've kept to my old regimen they should still be fit enough."
After that, it's the first time that the girls notice the line of cheerleaders filtering out on the field. There's eagerness and a desire to belong in something coordinated again. Alarmingly their lives do nothing but fall apart with out Sue Sylvester's every command and derision. The coach nods to several of them to bring over chairs and desks. Those softball players that had never desired to be in mocking distance of the Cheerios seem to retreat and squirm uncomfortably.
"Trials start now. Captain Fakeboobs, Brittany and Q. you're going to help me pick your new inmate. Your designations will be Simon, Paula and Randy, mirroring that ridiculously mind-rotting talent show. Dreams might come true? Spare me the drivel. The only positive is the bloodlust."
Resignedly, the trio moves to the indicated area before the older woman can administer another reprimand. Sue eyes glisten with undisguised glee as she stares at the nervous cheerleader applicants.
"I will represent, me, Sue Sylvester, because I'm already an institution and everyone should know me. The rest of you will stay and watch. Rest assured, if I see more than one girl that can do anything better than you I will not hesitate to kick your sorry selves off my team."
It takes approximately an hour to go through all the prospective members. Girl after girl, the four judges slowly but surely began to loose their wits and hopes. It may be that the Cheerios were athletically able but they had no concept of the specific rules and skills required for the game. Santana didn't think that a ball could be thrown in such a misdirected manner. Brittany with her quick reflexes had to duck when a flying metal bat sailed over her head from a loose grip. She had to pull the Latina back from ripping apart the young freshman cheerleader. Quinn started rubbing her eyes so much in attempt to stay awake, that her eyes become slightly red. She can't quite believe the sight in front of her. The girls look like a group of disorganized chickens without a pecking order. Similarly, Sue Sylvester seethes in her seat. Irritation roll off in waves while insults fire off at the ready.
"Are you kidding me?"
"I deserve monetary reimbursement for watching that!"
"A newborn could throw better!"
And when all else fails, softballs would spring out, heading to the head of the latest target. It's towards the end of the morning when their wishes are answered…only, not quite. Santana, Brittany and Quinn are packing their gear as Kelsey makes her way onto the field. They freeze up in shock and displeasure. There's a hint of curiosity but it's dulled by their immense dislike. For what it's worth the redhead doesn't say much, simply bowing her head, waiting for Sue Sylvester to make an order. It's a sign of respect because anyone could recognize the desire to fight and defend oneself simmering beneath her eyes. Subconsciously, Santana moves in front of the tall dancer, crossing her arms. There's a pregnant moment where Quinn drops her things back on the grass, walking back to her seat. Her hazel-greens are pointed and dissecting. She thinks she sees a flicker, a second where Kelsey isn't Kelsey Edwards. It makes a difference. Sue seems to consider something before grunting. She'll throw a mitt and a bat at the bully, silently intimating the instruction show me what you've got.
And…the redhead is good. Confidently, she'll pass every task, as if it was a simple arithmetic. Her movements are practiced and precise. It's perfect but it causes an uncomfortable feeling that jars all of the judges. Santana is only slightly impressed. Brittany seems to wear a careful look. And Quinn, she feels cold watching because everything is so empty. There was no real desire to win in those cobalt eyes, only a dogged sense of determination. There's no glow of achievement upon the success of a near impossible shot. There's no one worth seeing on that field. So why is she even there?
In contrast, Sue Sylvester cares about stats, she cares about championships and she cares about destroying Schuester's band of fools. With that said, even the snarky coach doesn't understand her own lack of joy in the current situation. They had possibly found Tammy's acceptable replacement and all she can do is snap her writing utensil in half and stare with boredom at the scene. Sue thinks that she needs to shove some faculty members around and humiliate a few freshmen because that pesky feeling resembling a conscience seemed to be rearing its ugly head. It's a disease.
At the end, Kelsey makes her way to the four people by the desks. She keeps her head down. Butterflies? No, more like elephants stomp around her stomach as she fists her hands behind her back. For the first time that morning, she'll stop her autopilot and actually listen to her mind. Why was she even here? She recalls reading the email, waking up early and driving over but she doesn't remember wanting to do any of it. Since the snapping sting of the ice-cold corn syrup, she's been confused, floating from class to class, soaking in nothing. All the while Quinn's words echo we're not better…
Later, without her will, she looks up. Her eyes find the captain's and she tries to read her. There's a sense of familiarity and long forgotten camaraderie hidden in those hazel-greens. But above all, there's an intensity that Kelsey knows she lacks. It's also something that she's never seen in the blonde until this year. Quinn twirls her pen, ruminating. Her thoughts travel to Rachel and she relaxes. She surrenders to that calm and serenity she's associated with the diva. However, before long she's brought back to the present. By her mental image of the brunette, her initial anger and tendency to perform retaliatory acts against the redhead fade. She see's clearly, finally noticing something. She realizes that the tall girl is standing in front of them, unsure.
Santana cracks knuckles menacingly, enjoying the brief flinch. Her voice is measured as she stares Kelsey down.
"Good swing. Strong pitch. But I don't like you and I can't trust you. You're a bitch, so, my answer is no."
By the tone, Brittany rubs the Latina's back comfortingly, tilting her head. For a whole minute she just seems to look at Kelsey. And even then, her eyes glaze over and she's not quite there. Her focus is in disarray. That's probably the reason for the redhead's surprise when she hears the dancer's soft compassionate tones.
"Everyone deserves a second chance."
Sue just rolls her eyes. Carelessly, she aims her pen at the redhead to bring her attention back. A grunt of amusement comes out when the blue biro bounces of that smooth forehead. They were going to have to work on reflexes. The coach launches her spiel.
"Well Kelsey, other than the fact that your red hair puts you genetically closer to the Neanderthals and the fact that every time I lay my eyes on it, I feel like fire ants are just going to swarm out and claw me eyes out, you're the only useable person here."
There's a gap. Santana growls and suddenly it's all on Quinn. Make it, a go ahead or make it a tie, it's a heavy decision. She twists the cap to her blue pen and her eyes bore into the redhead's. The fact that Kelsey is putting herself out there should count for something, shouldn't it? Silence. The pianist thinks that she sees a sliver of herself in the girl and wants to save her, like how a certain singer did for her. Not for the first time, she can picture who she would have been if things hadn't changed this year. She also remembers Kelsey the first time they'd met, innocent, naïve and helpful. The captain knows what it's like to have a Russell or a Mary in her life. But she had managed to escape her father; the redhead hadn't with her mother. Sympathy and empathy comes as a flood. Quinn pictures Rachel and takes a breath. Her world comes back into focus and she feels stronger.
However her lack of words have had an effect. Not even bothering to wait, Kelsey shakes her head to herself muttering a quick apology before running back into the lockers. She has no control over the tears that trails down her cheeks.
The redhead is busy cramming her shoes and socks into her duffel when she hears light footsteps. Instantly she stops, her frame rigid. She focuses on controlling her harsh breathing. Somehow, she knows who it is.
"If you came to yell at me, don't bother. I should have known that this was a bad idea, I'm out of here."
With that, she throws her bag over her shoulder heading for the door.
"Kelsey! Sit down!"
Quinn's command is loud, filling the whole room. Tiredly, the redhead turns around. She refuses to sit, some small sign of rebellion, some small defense. At that, the blonde runs her finger through her short locks frustrated. Single steps forward, single steps closer. Her tone is serious but non-threatening and Kelsey is shocked.
"You don't know anything about me. And you're the one who came to us. Why?"
Shaking her head the redhead finds the floor seems more interesting.
"Does it matter?"
A shrug from the pianist is seen from the corner of her eyes. Quinn has taken residence, leaning against the wall.
"Depends on the answer."
Thoughts race through the redhead's mind. It's hard to reconcile this Quinn with the one that had ruled Cheerios and McKinley with an iron fist. She's different, serene and full of substance. Kelsey is envious and she still can't believe that it hasn't come to fists and black eyes yet. She had heard all the talks of the school's new couple. In her exile, she can recognize that what she's done was wrong but she doesn't feel guilty. Waking up this morning, that fact chilled her to her core. So she remembered that emergency softball tryouts were held today. The crux of the matter is that she doesn't see the HBIC in the blonde anymore. There's still that same sense of control and power but it's not scornful. It's only knowledgeable, weathered and almost wise. So for a moment, Kelsey feels that she might as well be honest because she won't get away with a lie.
"…I wanted to be real. I wanted to be someone and not just the bitch."
Quinn tilts her head.
"Does your mother know that you're doing this?"
The redhead snorts in contempt.
"No. If she did, I wouldn't be here. You know that Quinn."
And the blonde did, somewhere. For the Fabrays and the Edwards have always gone to the same church. Mary and Russell had always been competitive friends. It's forgotten but the girls used to play together a long time ago, sandcastles and tea parties. The blonde was always two years older. They had only become reacquainted when Quinn had transferred to Lima. But by then, the years had changed both of them, crafting them into people that they'd never thought that they would be. There's a niggling feeling that suggests a history, but the memories aren't there... Their dialogues don't feel alien. The pianist pushes off from her position.
"So what if she did find out? What would you do? Would you back out? Because Kelsey, this is a team, we depend on each other."
Each question seems to take it's own separate shot to the redhead's composure. She pushes her palms into her face, groaning.
"…What do you want me to say?"
"Exactly what you want, from this chance, from this team. The truth."
With force, Quinn replies. Shallow breathing and the occasional sound of annoyance is given as a response. Kelsey didn't open up but then again, she never thought that the blonde would either. Parent's like Mary and Russell didn't teach that way, having a distinctly different doctrine. Keep everything in, never let anyone see you cards and strike with efficiency. Looking up, the redhead sees that the older girl must be fighting all her instincts to be who she was now. It must be some sort of worth it. Kelsey repeats the thought in her mind and finally, she has the courage to say.
"Stay…if she found out, I would still stay."
The whispered words become so loud in the empty room. Kelsey feels lighter; she's surprised by her own answer. Quinn nods, looking at the redhead. She makes a passing comment.
"You're not who you want to be yet. You're not even close… but this is a good place as any to start."
At that, Kelsey's head snaps up. Gratitude reflects in her eyes. Until now, she was unaware just how much this opportunity meant to her. The pianist takes the redhead's duffel, shoving it into Tammy's locker. Later, she'll stop as she heads to the door.
"Practice starts at 5 every second morning, short of some sort of miracle. Don't be late or Santana will eat you alive."
Her last words are infused with a tinge of warmth and kindness. And Kelsey just has to ask.
"Quinn! Berry's really changed you hasn't she?"
They can hear Sue's continued and barked orders in the background. The blonde closes her eyes. Kelsey wonders if the captain realizes that there's a small but genuine smile on her face and beauty in the way her worries drain away, just at the mention of the short singer. But, Quinn just shrugs her shoulders moving out. She does know. It's what she counts on. The redhead notices the constant tug of war in the captain. Every now and then, the older girl would forget her present and remember her anger for all the bullying that Kelsey has done. The bully would tense, expecting a blow but it never does come. The ex-head Cheerio would take a deep breath, trace a pattern on a surface and return to herself.
In the end, the redhead is left in the changing area, alone, with a word on the tip of her tongue.
For once, she means it.
The first warning bell rings and with that Sue Sylvester blows the whistle putting an end to the morning training session. With aching muscles and bruised skins the team scampers off the field, eager for a warm shower and to get to their first class on time. As the new recruit, Kelsey is allocated the pleasure of putting all the equipment away. Glancing at her wristwatch, she tries to hurry. After enduring all of the coach's beginner's rage and the hatred of most of her teammates, she's exhausted and more than a little frustrated. It wasn't possible that all of the pitches seemed to accidentally hit her head, hazing only went so far. The redhead refused to be a fool. In the midst her internal tantrum, she loads more softballs into her arms than she can handle and trips over various haphazardly positioned bats. She falls face first and it hurts. For the first time in her 16 years she feels low, she thinks that she's reached the bottom. So, for a while, she just lies there, wondering if it was even worth it. She'll groan and slap the grass in a bad temper.
Quinn, Santana and Brittany are almost the last to change. The trio is not in a rush. They had figured out the art out of forging Mr Schue's signature years ago, carrying printouts of blank hall passes in their bag. However, this time when they are about to go in, they hear the release of pent up aggravation on mound. They turn, taking a look. Brittany is curious whilst the Latina shakes her head at the sight; the redhead in all her maturity with flailing arms. After watching several more of Kelsey's failed attempts with the equipment, eventually the pianist would tell her friends to go ahead. A feint sense of sympathy tugs in her gut as she tells them that she'd take care of it. Quinn would then proceed to receive a hug from the taller blonde and a sharp warning to be careful from Santana. Then, they would part ways.
Under the warm spray of the showers, Santana teaches Brittany the meaning behind afternoon delight before filtering out of the swinging doors to their class. They walk on air, only to freeze at the sight of an enthusiastic Rachel waiting by the drinking fountain. Mutual looks of apprehension and worry appear on their faces as they remember the reason why Quinn wasn't with them. At that moment, they curse the singer for making their captain a better person; for the old version of the blonde would have kicked Kelsey to the curb and prodded her a few more times for good measure. Brittany skips over with a too wide smile.
"What's up, Rachy?"
"Hi Brittany, I'm just waiting for Quinn. I thought I'd surprise her since she always walks me to my classes."
At that moment, the ex-cheerleader's also curse the brunette for being so considerate. She seems to fidget and stand on her toes to looks around their shoulder in an attempt to see behind them. Subtly, Santana purposely makes it hard. It's not that she thinks that there's something that even needs to be hidden. But, if the diva found out, it would be a stupid hitch to a good relationship. Rachel Berry wasn't the most secure person on the planet, the Latina knows because she used to exploit it in the past. Quinn Fabray was a devoted and enamored mess around the singer. But nonetheless, she was also very attractive, holding a questionable track record. It's stupid but it makes all the difference. And, Brittany's conversation isn't an adequate distractor because the diva still asks.
"Doesn't she normally come out with you guys?"
There's a pause. Brittany's smile falters. And it's just a collision of bad timing because, at that second, Kelsey and Quinn both walk out through the swinging doors. The redhead is laughing, clutching her stomach, whilst the blonde is shaking her head in an amused manner. There's a small quirk to her lips as she makes a gesture with her hands. In reality, all they are talking about is an amusing situation regarding a baseball bat and Sue Sylvester's possible demise from the team. The pianist is simply demonstrating the best arc to bring the significantly taller older woman down.
But, it doesn't look like it. Not to a girlfriend. Not to Rachel.
Her bright smile falls and twists into something else entirely. The singer grinds her teeth and her fists whiten. Non-existent violent tendencies spring to life as her eyes zoom on specific aspects of the interaction. The first was that her girlfriend wasn't rejecting the redhead or telling her to go away. The second was the look Kelsey wore, a mixture of admiration, understanding and what could only be described as hero-worship. The redhead laughs louder than she needs to. The pianist isn't as mean as she could be. The flush spanning the redhead's cheek and neck is the first in a chain of events that the singer isn't equipped to handle. Past inadequacies, insecurities and her care for the blonde causes her hard to constrict, as small needles stabs at her heart. She can't see past her emotions and her small frame shakes. Deep down she knows that Quinn loves her even if she hasn't said it. Deep down she knows that it's probably nothing but the logic can't pierce through the murky haze.
Santana has an exasperated palm to her forehead, because there was something there but it wasn't what anyone thought. It was just another piece of her friend's complicated history. Even Brittany can grasp that Rachel and Quinn's best features will work against them this time, because they are so invested in each other. Protectiveness will turn into jealousy and conscientiousness will become neuroticism. The Latina leans forward next to the diva.
"Listen before you judge, Berry."
After Santana and Brittany leave, amazingly it seems to coincide with the end of Kelsey and Quinn's conversation as well. The redhead nods respectfully to her team captain before leaving. Still not seeing the brunette in the corner, the blonde begins to scroll through her contacts on her phone. She wants to wish her girlfriend a good start to the day. She also never gets to push the send button because Rachel strides up to her in an angry fashion, demanding her immediate attention.
"What is she doing here?"
The question comes out of nowhere but it doesn't faze the softball player. It a curious fact, but she knows when to argue and when to push. Right now, the singer needs direct answers and honesty. So Quinn gives her that. This wasn't a game of control or what you could make your partner admit to. Surprisingly, she's never had the inclination to play in this relationship and most importantly point Rachel wouldn't have let her anyway. The pianist reaffirms that she needs the singer just by holding those brown eyes. Her own questions can come later. Right now, it's not about her. She just wants to make the worry lines go away from tan skin.
"Tammy caught the flu and fell down the stairs, breaking her femur. Coach just told us this morning. Kelsey is taking her place for now."
The words are straightforward, honest. It explains everything. However Rachel still bristles. Thoughts of the slushies and the pain that the redhead had caused presented in her mind like a slide show. If she tries she can still remember the sting, the coldness and the mocking laughter. The singer doesn't hold grudges but she isn't so naïve as to forego all her defenses a second time. Kelsey causes them to come up. And Kelsey with Quinn makes her skin crawl. If the diva closes her eyes she remembers what the pianist looks like when she's smiling at someone else. It's an absurd clingy argument so she sticks with her initial annoyances.
"Quinn, have you forgotten what she did to you? To me? You can't trust her!"
"I know, Rachel. You have to calm down. Kelsey and I are not friends, ok?"
The blonde takes a step forward and goes to hold the singer's hand in hers. She squeezes them softly, until she has Rachel's full attention. The tone she uses carries so much meaning and is reasonable. There's no aggravation or annoyance that would normally have been present if she was falsely accused. In the front of her mind and the tip of her tongue, there's only concern and care.
"I can't be her friend after the things that she's done. But it seems like she's trying to change. And she is on the team."
The diva takes a deep breath as she turns her head away peevishly. Her heart races at the gentleness and sincerity that the blonde portrays. But, she wants to stay mad because she's still unsure.
"You sure looked welcoming."
There's a pause after that when the blonde is frozen before amusement begins to fill her features.
"Wait a minute are you jealous?"
Rachel ducks her head away her cheeks redden. It's ridiculous she knows but she's never been one for being reasonable. Quinn can't help but smile. She feels ten feet tall. The fact that the singer thinks that she's important enough, good enough to be distressed over, makes her walk a little straighter and drives her to be a little better. The truth is that most of the time she feels ordinary but one word, one gaze or one touch from the singer changes her view. Under the covetous eyes of footballers and hockey players the pianist feels disgusted, used and empty. Under warm brown orbs, she's different. She's in awe that the diva wants her to herself to the point where she's annoyed at another for being around the blonde. The smile is light and the softball player basks, until she realizes that the diva hasn't relaxed in her arms. Slowly she uses her hand to lift the brunette's face up. There's a layer of moisture covering Rachel's eyes and it causes the pianist to deflate.
"Rachel, I'm sorry…Come here."
The gravity of the situation registers and she drags her girl into the nearest classroom. As soon as the door closes Quinn rustles through her duffel to bring out her chemistry exercise book. She flips to the recent pages of the last month and hand it to the brunette. The singer's soft gasp echoes in the empty room. Tan hands trace the pages, taking everything in. One each sheet there's, a series of sketches and random song lines everywhere; on the top, on the side and in between homework tasks and class notes. Hearts, stars and pictures of the diva are showcased. Each scratch of the pencil covers older erased ones, revealing a desire by the artist to make the features perfect, to truthfully and not overlook the beauty of her subject. It's a messily beautiful mix. And Rachel nearly chokes on the knowledge that this was for her. She feels Quinn shuffle beside her.
"This is what I always end up doing in class after I finish the tasks. Rachel, believe me when I say that you have nothing to be worried about. I… I don't think about anyone else."
The singer can do nothing but smile dumbly. The processing is slow but feelings of joy would eventually appear. Kissing the blonde softly on the lips, she clutches the book to her chest and starts to pull Quinn to her next class. When the blonde reaches her desk, she'll recall that she actually needs her notes for today's pop quiz. Her palm slaps her forehead because when she stands, Rachel can barely be seen in the halls. Mrs Adams voice cracks in and out.
"I do hope you are ready for todays test. I will give those of you that haven't, 10 minutes to brush up on your notes."
The pianist grins shaking her head to herself. She's suddenly glad that she had studied extra the night before. But mostly, she's just reassured that if the diva feels lost or unconfident she can always refer to Quinn's reverent pictures and messages.
The next couple days pass like a content blur. Before long it's Wednesday, the middle of the week and the girls get tested again. Santana and Brittany walk into the cafeteria with grim expressions as they got to sit with the short brunette that is already sitting at their usual table. Heaviness weighs on their shoulders because their captain isn't with them. When they get there, they'll greet their friend by association. Rachel will smile only to tilt her head curiously when she realizes that Quinn isn't behind the girls. There's an automatic question in her eyes causing the Latina to rub her neck uncomfortably. Thanks to the dancer and extended time with the diva, she finds that she actually cares how this turn out. She might even be put off if Rachel isn't there to annoy her about her grammatically incorrect phrasing next lunchtime.
"Sorry Berry. But Sue's gots Q to stay behind and help Kelsey practice her skills. Q wanted to tell you herself but she couldn't get away. Coach has Becky keeping an eye on them."
Not for the first time, all three girls entertain the notion that Sue Sylvester might just be evil, in every sense of the word. The brunette's jaw tenses at the mention of the redhead but to her credit she relaxes after a few seconds. All the while her hand goes to touch the cover of an old exercise book. The movement does not go unnoticed by the Latina. However she is thankful she doesn't have to deal with a Rachel Berry sized tantrum. Santana has to wonder what was in between those pages because the singer honestly seemed aright by the news.
"If she's there for the rest of the period, how is she going to eat? Does she have food?"
Rachel asks when she thinks about the situation some more. Worry fills her expression as she thinks back to Mercede's experience of not eating, feinting and weight loss under her tenure in Cheerios, under Sue Sylvester. Santana and Brittany give each other a look before shrugging. They honestly didn't know.
"I'll bring Quinn a sandwich. Missing meal times can be hazardous to one's health as you over indulge in your next meal. Not that Quinn has anything to worry about there, but – "
Rachel began as she stood up.
"Berry shut up. I get it, but Q can take care of herself."
Santana interrupts. Frustrated, her hands rub her temples. She thinks that the singer might be good with the notion of her girlfriend helping the redhead until she sees the scene for herself. Visual input has a tendency to do that to a person. Almost certainly, her captain's connection with Kelsey could and would be misconstrued. The Latina knows the history there. Like how soldiers from other side of the worlds can so easily understand and function fluidly with each other, Quinn and Kelsey were linked by shared experiences and similar mistakes. It's a different sort of connection. But Rachel waves the comment away, walking out the door. Brittany fiddles with her snack pack.
"Rachy is going to get jealous."
The Latina nods, sighing.
"Yeah she is."
"That's going to be bad."
The dancer pouts. In response, Santana hugs the tall blonde to her body, kissing her slowly. When she pulls away, her tone is soothing.
"It'll be ok… Q will handle it."
Yawning, Quinn stretches out on the grass. The sun feels warm against her skin and the light breeze is refreshing. None of it is really enough though, because she still misses the brunette. Over the weeks, she had gotten used to lunch with her girl and without it, the day felt only half-finished. On the bleachers, she can see Becky keeping a vigilant guard and the captain has to snicker. Sue was really getting paranoid in her old age. But nonetheless it also means that she's trapped. Closing her eyes, she tries to imagine Rachel smiling next to her and feeding her the latest of vegan cuisine. It's brings some measure of happiness as her frown begins to fades. Across from her there's a growl of aggravation as another softball hits the mesh for the fiftieth time. Kelsey swears under her breath. They had been at this for the past half an hour, hungry and tired.
"Seriously Sue is going to get run over one day, most likely from one of her precious cheerleaders. This is insane, Quinn! All I did was fumble once. It's not like I dropped a nuclear weapon or something."
Quinn thinks that the sun has finally cracked the redhead, who begins to give up on accuracy. She actually starts to aim her next shot at Becky, despite knowing that it would never get there. Behind her, the pianist tries to stifle her chuckles. Oh, the joys of working under Sue. There were very few. Quickly, the blonde takes the projectile from Kelsey only to hand her a bat instead. Apparently her hits weren't quite up to par either.
"What? Did you suddenly forget how she is? She's hardly left the Cheerios for that long."
Kelsey glared at the blonde. And the older girl sighs; she takes the bat back to demonstrate the arc. She also knows that parts of it had nothing to do with the redhead's mistakes on the field. Sue was a complicated person. She believed in taking advantage of everything if you were on top but there were carefully drawn lines. The coach used to have a disabled sister, whom she loved dearly. The fact that Kelsey had slushied Artie would be her downfall. So, whilst the pianist didn't condone any of the redhead's past actions she feels sympathy because she just didn't know. That and Quinn has actually had the displeasure of meeting Mary Edwards. The woman didn't have limits, only a flawed sense of morality. Children were the product of their environments. Alarmingly, Russell might pale in comparison. So, her tone becomes kind. Neither notices the short singer who has just made it from the doors near the bleachers.
"Look, the trick to it is to fumble and hit foul shots, just not when Sue's around."
With that, the captain sits back down. She starts the count before pitching the ball. She'll nod, acknowledging Kelsey's gratitude without making her say it. Pride was a powerful thing. In her breaks, she'll take a couple of blades of grass and begin a weave. It was something that they had been taught in summer camp in Bellevue, grass bracelets, an environmentally friendly way of saying that you care. With nimble fingers she'll adjust the length with Rachel's wrist in mind. The particularly difficult part was folding the ends of it into a star. When she does, she'll yelp in victory, holding it up to the light. Kelsey pauses from her task to take a look at it. In a fast movement she'll snatch the crafted jewelry away trying on her own risk. The childish deed makes Quinn roll her eyes and shake her head as she patiently waits for it back.
For a third party, the scene is crushing. Everything action is revisited and seen to mean something else. At the beginning Rachel thinks that she can handle this. They were just training and she had the blonde's exercise book in her arms. She remembers the feelings behind those written words of adoration and the beauty in the sketched images. But as time passes, and Quinn's smile gradually becomes kind, the singer begins to loose her faith. Her mind fixates on the relaxed nature of the interaction and the way her girlfriend actually seems patient. The brunette's emotions restrict her ability to fathom it or think clearly. She diva hates the situation; she hates this, feeling so weak and insecure. However her heart begins to crack when she sees Kelsey with the bracelet that the pianist had made. Tears blur her vision as she waits for her girlfriend to snatch it back. The short singer runs away when it doesn't happen. Her hands can't wipe away the moisture fast enough, garnering strange glances from student in the halls.
The rest of the day is terrifying for the softball captain.
When she walks down the halls, weird looks are directed her way and it's not all right because she doesn't have Rachel next to her. She can't snap at those that linger too long because the thin air surrounding her couldn't possibly make her feel warm or apologize on her behalf. Somehow at every turn, even within shared classes, the singer is nearly in her grasp, only to disappear into a throng of bodies or a class task. Confusion encompasses the Quinn's thoughts and she's at a loss. But she's not ready to give up. She'll chase the brunette and make a fool of herself, but she won't walk away.
Even so, it does hurt when those brown orbs didn't light up in her direction, instead dulling and glued to the floor. Rachel seems to ignore the insistent whispers and yells for her attention. It sad, because the diva doesn't mean to be so harsh but the pain is unbearable. The knowledge that the girls would continue to have sports practices before, during and after school weighs heavily. She thinks that time might shift Quinn's kindness into something more. There's a defeated tone repeating monotonously in her head, that Kelsey and the blonde will only get closer.
However, in the moments when she's safe away from her girlfriend, the singer will bring out the exercise book and try to change her own mind. It shows that she still wants this. She still wants Quinn. So sitting on linoleum tiles, Rachel prays silently, using the content of the pages to drive her fears out. It's just hard doing it alone… And she collapses against the bathroom wall.
It's towards the end of the day when Quinn has Santana cornered and the Latina reveals that the diva visited the field at lunchtime. The captain uncharacteristically swears under her breath at the news. Somehow with the diva's present behaviour it's not a surprise. And the softball captain begins to lose her composure. Rachel Barbra Berry makes her do that, all the time. Quickly, she'll race to the brunette's locker, knowing that this would be the time where she would be packing her books away. On the way, realization will dawn on the blonde as she sifts through the possible events that could have caused such a mess. In her clutter of thoughts, relief is the most prominent because having this knowledge meant being able to find a solution. It meant that her girlfriend was avoiding her because she cared too much about whom she was spending her time with and not because she had suddenly decided that the Quinn wasn't whom she desired.
Reaching the lockers, the softball player relaxes. The singer is there. Thank god. Quietly, the blonde moves next to her. It's a sign that the Rachel knows that she is there when that petite body freezes. She seems to sigh, placing her head in the metal container for a moment before facing Quinn. It's the first time she's done that today. When hazel-greens meet chocolate browns, they can both admit that they've missed each other. The pianist swallows painfully, asking the pivotal question.
"So what did you see?"
At the question, the diva shakes her head depreciatingly.
"Wow, not even a denial. I guess there really is something there."
The accusation causes more upset than the blonde expects. As her confidence begins to waver and her strength withers under the pointed gaze, she comes to the awareness that she was wrong. Relief isn't the only emotion. She's angry. It's true, she has a reputation but Rachel was supposed to see past that. The singer had always been able to do so before. This time, Quinn's not guilty so she lets the irritation seep into her tone. She shows some weakness by letting the diva know that this hurts. The blonde might be the Head of the school but she's not calm and she's not cool.
"There's nothing Rachel!"
In response, the brunette looks away disbelievingly and it causes something to snap in the taller girl.
"Not that it matters because in your eyes if I deny it, I'll be guilty… And if I don't, guess what? I'll still be guilty! So you might as well tell me what you think you saw, so we can get through this."
The softball player is breathing heavily after her rant, no once breaking eye contact. Rachel sighs into herself. Tears begin to well.
"I saw you smile around her, Quinn. I saw you laugh. I saw you make her a bracelet out of grass. You can obviously have fun with any girl in the world so, what do you want from me?"
Silence. There's shock on pale features as she digests the words. Her voice comes out emotionless and in that second the diva is scared.
"Open your locker."
The brunette exclaims, subconsciously she shies away. The old movement causes Quinn to soften. Care and tiredness filters back into her tone and she waves her hand softly.
"Just do it Rachel."
The small metal door creaks as its hinges turn. The brunette's hands go to her mouth and she gasps. For there it was, on top of her books was the green grass bracelet. Her mind even glosses over the blatant violation of her privacy and slightly criminal behaviour it must have taken for it to even be in there. Suddenly, she's not sure about anything she's seen today anymore. With finality, Quinn closes the locker after the singer takes the bracelet out.
"It wasn't for Kelsey. If you had actually looked carefully and still didn't automatically see me as the … HBIC, then you'd realize that she took it off my hands to look at it. And after that she gave it back, telling me that I'm a sap but you'd love it. The thing is Rachel, you didn't stay long enough because you had already made your decision up."
"But – "
"But nothing, Rachel!"
Quinn exclaims. Her hands palm her face in irritation.
"I was smiling because I was thinking about you. And I was laughing because she had said something funny about the stick that was up Coach's ass."
With that final explanation, the blonde loses her energy. She looks years older and completely drained. Most of all she doesn't look strong anymore. Her resigned confession slips out.
"Look I don't know what to say or how to make you understand."
And Rachel can say nothing. For the first time today, she concedes that she might've been totally wrong. She worries over the knowledge that she's hurt the blonde with her clingy tendencies and she wonder's if this relationship would be the cost. Why not? Finn did. She was too needy, he would say. Now looking up and seeing the fatigue and pain in the pianist, the diva knows that she won't cope if she loses Quinn. So instead she says the only thing she can. She states the only thing that she's still sure of.
"I don't see you as the HBIC, you know."
It seems like a step towards something. The softball player nods. It's strange because she does understand. Her head tilts as she stares a little into the distance.
"… But a part of you can't let go of the fear, that I'll hurt you."
Getting off her position, Quinn takes the books from the singer's hands, helping her with her bag. After a breath, she's the person that took Rachel to those dates and wrote those songs again, pathetically captivated. The only difference is that there's weariness in her expression now. With gentle eyes, her free hand is held out for the diva.
"C'mon, I'll drive you home."
It's a silent trip. They both have a lot on their minds but neither wants to jump out of the car. They're still comforted by the presence of the other. And Quinn knows that she'll still do anything to make the singer smile. Rachel maintains that the blonde's eyebrow raises and sarcastic comments still make her internal systems melt. It's just disconcerting because this is their first fight and they don't quite know what to do. It might have been irrational but they thought that pettiness wouldn't affect their relationship. So there's no contingency plan. The car stops outside the Berry home, a well travelled path. Twisting in her seat the brunette turns to face the ex-cheerleader, hands wring. The pianist becomes unraveled by that small gesture.
"I just need time Quinn. Give me tonight. My head will get around this."
Quinn can't actually help it. She smiles gently at the determination in the shorter girl's eyes. After everything, she still thinks it's adorable. She'll nod her head at the request for time because hey, denial was never an option. It's a tender moment when she places her hand on the diva's cheek and Rachel leans into it. Hazel-green eyes trace over the singer's quirks as she speaks.
"I know. That's why I called ahead and told your fathers that I wouldn't be joining you for dinner."
A choked sigh relief comes from the shorter girl. She really would not have looked forward to explaining the situation to her fathers. Unexpectedly, in the cumbersome cabin of the car the diva's actions actually comes out gracefully as the she leans her forehead against Quinn's and they just breathe. It doesn't take a second for it to be synchronized causing them to shut their eyes, briefly. Eventually, the blonde takes the grass bracelet from the dashboard and ties it loosely around the singer's delicate wrist. A gasp escapes and they share a look. The simplicity of it is a sharp contrast against everything that Rachel is, but it still belongs. The softball player leans forward, whispering in the brunette's ear. Her words come out strangled and excruciatingly honest.
"Rachel…You can break me too... I'll see you tomorrow."
The next morning, Quinn is greeted with a tray of baked 'I'm sorry' cookies, the moment she opens her eyes. There's barely even time to adjust to the sunlight. Rachel stands at the foot of her bed different, contrite, refreshed and confident. The brunette was able to get her head around it; she poured her attention over old yearbooks and current memoirs from their dates, learning to differentiate. In the moment, the blonde doesn't have to ask; she just gets out of bed in her patched up oversized t-shirt. She carefully takes the baked food to her desk and gives the singer hug. They stay like that for a while as the previous day's events wash away. Curiously, their feelings are the absolution that they're both searching for and they don't need to say it out loud. Mentally, Quinn thanks her mother for letting the girl in.
The blonde's stomach rumbling breaks the peace, as the smell of the cookies permeate the room. A chuckle escapes the diva and she starts to pull back. But, the softball player doesn't let that happen, tightening her embrace with a pout. An endearing type of stubbornness crosses her features and the singer tries to brush the golden mussed up hair to normal. She likes being near her Quinn, anyway. She also feels better because she notices the few things that she's overlooked. The biggest of which is the way hazel-green eyes warmly receive her every movement. The pianist seems happier but not all that different to the person that the diva has seen all the days before. Adoring. Proud. Sure. There's a care in the way she interacts that prompts a realization. Rachel finally comprehends that Quinn doesn't see any deal breakers. Her actions have never suggested an end and she's always been operating on the notion that they'll get through. The diva can do anything, be jealous, neurotic and paranoid. They'll simply get through.
As the knowledge comes, in her blushing state Rachel's statement comes out a bit muffled in the taller girl's shoulder.
"I think that I might have over-baked."
A laugh bubbled up in both girls and the pianist lets go. She walks over to the tray amusedly. Her eyes shine as she lifts piece to her mouth, taking a giant bit for good measure. Her reassurance is easy and natural.
"It's alright, I love chocolate chip."
When they arrive to school Quinn has the bag of treats in her hand, literally blanching at her mother's suggestion that she leave it at home for the church group's book club. Possessively, she has it in her grip. Judy doesn't really understand until she sees how those reactions cause the Rachel's smile to grow. Her hand goes to her lips to cover the gasp threatening to escape as salty water builds around her eyes. The girls really were so entwined in their actions, cause and effect. The mother sees intrinsic properties that normally stem from life-long marriages, that deep-rooted knowledge of how to love. And for a second, she'll wonder philosophically, why them?
Things are good for a while. Santana is back to complaining about the sickeningly sweet gestures coming from the couple and Brittany is back to planning their double date. Rachel becomes accustomed to the presence of the redhead around her girlfriend, although she did do one thing out of character and Kurt couldn't stop her. She's proud of it.
As the girls were coming to the cafeteria from a practice session, Rachel Barbra Berry waited. When her girlfriend waked through the door she strode confidently forward. The gossiping population of McKinley watch with undisguised curiosity as the singer smiles sweetly at Kelsey and then her girlfriend. Caution is thrown to the wind and she kisses Quinn Lucy Fabray. At first, it's just a press of their lips to stake some sort of claim, but bodily sensations get heightened and it turns into something more. Tongues parry and lunge, with purpose. En garde. It's no longer about proving something to others anymore. They're exploring themselves.Quinn smiles into the kiss, not one to be passive, her hands grip the small waist. The singer has a hold on the pianist's short strands and neck. There's no room for even air particles. It's better this way.
In the background, Santana's exclamation might make it to their ears.
"Damn! Berry got game."
Nobody questions whom the blonde belongs to but everyone smirks at the loss of Quinn's higher brain functions when the resident diva breaks away.
The peaceful while doesn't last, a week later unfortunate events test the girl's trust in this relationship and past personalities. They're without a care when they enter the glee choir room. They're wrapped around each other when they make it to the seats. And they're smiling goofily at the playful teasing of their teammates. It a perfect picture. But, when Mr Schue comes in with an uncertain frown. Attentions get drawn to the redhead standing awkwardly behind him. Eyes narrow and whispers spread like wildfire. Two people's happiness falls apart, with each of the teacher's spoken words.
"Kelsey is joining glee."
"Oh hells no."
Mercedes shouts. She's supported by most of team. But four girls don't say anything. They don't move a muscle. Brittany's duck daydream is tainted by her worry for her friends. Santana's capacity to tolerate the unfortunate chain of events is diminishing because it fells like the universe isn't even being fair anymore. Quinn stiffens; she's divided between concern for her girlfriend and concern for the reason that the redhead is standing here, in the choir room. She recognizes the defeated and betrayed look, wondering if Mary had set the oven timer for 30 minutes as well. Rachel hands tighten around pale hands and her head shakes. No, it couldn't happen in her sanctuary.
"Guys, please calm down. We've always been accepting of new members and it shouldn't change now. Kelsey has every right to be here if she wants. Give her a chance."
The flustered music teacher maintains. For a moment Rachel wonder's how many different ways he can say it for it to never to go through anyone's head. Their capacity to forgive is only so much. Even Kurt is feeling spiteful. The diva notices how Tina moves into Mike like a frightened child and she can't swallow this.
"No Mr Schue. Kelsey can't stay. This club has been through enough because of her and we won't be able to concentrate on Nationals if were constantly worrying about how to deal with this situation. It's counter-productive."
Finally, the diva turns to look at the redhead and speaks calmly.
"I'm sorry Kelsey. I know that you've changed but it won't work."
And something that surprises her is that she genuinely is. Rachel is able to let go and move on, but her protective instincts for her friends take priority. Tina and Kurt shouldn't have to feel threatened in their element. Mr Schue seems to have a small breakdown in his minds as he implores to the one person who has been a voice of reason this year, the one student who may change the singer's mind.
"Quinn, what about you? What do you think?"
All eyes snap to the blonde and Quinn rolls her eyes. She thinks the Mr Schue has a flaw as a teacher if he deals with a situation like this by handing it over to a student. Her shoulders feel ten times heavier. The weight of the world is very little compared to the judgment and strong notions of the McKinley glee club. The pianist looks to her constant variable, Rachel Berry. She doesn't know what to do because there's more to this that meets the eye. Upon the gaze, the brunette sighs and she deflates a little. With a reassigned but understanding smile she lifts Quinn's hand to her lips. She lends her strength.
Only then is the softball captain finally able to ask. It not that she needs permission but she has enough perspective that, her relationship means more than being a good or helpful person to a lost individual. The blonde will be the worst version of herself to keep the singer. And she's able to acknowledge that she's extremely lucky because she doesn't have to. Glancing at the redhead, her tone knows.
"What are you doing here?"
Kelsey shrugs emotionlessly, eyes empty.
"Mom found out…about softball, about quitting Cheerios."
Quinn nods at the situation. It sounds familiar. The glee club seems to take a collective gasp in remembrance and mention of Mary Edwards, whilst Santana just watches. The pianist shakes her head to herself and she loses herself in the memory of her father's cold eyes when she became someone else's daughter, someone else's problem. Only Rachel feels that trembles of her pale hands and instinctively she drags the sports captain to face her. She brings their faces close together whispering fragments of songs they've shared, tracing a pattern that they recognize and touching to communicate the thought, not alone. MrSchue can't quite believe his eyes, thinking that he's never seen such responsiveness before. Silence fills the room. Gradually, Mercedes, Puck and Kurt seem to understand the situation, feeling some sympathy, even for the redhead. When Quinn returns, her voice is rough from her old wounds.
"Where are you staying?"
"With Carina's. Your mom offered but…"
Kelsey looks pointedly at the diva.
"…It didn't seem smart."
There's another pregnant pause. The redhead feels like a criminal up for a parole hearing but then again she thinks she might be worse that any thief or vandal… She's broken people. Later, Kurt's voice is the first sound in ten minutes.
"I'm sorry about your mother. But you'll have to work to gain our trust."
And it's as close to a formal acceptance as she's ever going to get. The rest of the club seems to agree causing the music teacher to almost collapse in relief.
"Ok. Um. Quinn and Rachel I'm afraid I'm going to have to break you apart for this lesson. This piece requires a males lead, that means Finn, you're up."
Mr Schue ushers his students as he hands the football captain one half of the script and the diva the other, expecting to them to begin. There's a nervous energy in the air because this would be the first time since prom that the girls weren't paired up. Rachel presses a kiss to her girlfriend's cheek before standing. Whilst she's close she'll also hold Quinn's gaze making sure of two things. The first is that the pianist didn't mind. The second was to communicate that she would return to her. The blonde smiles, releasing tan hands. Those are concessions and reassurances that Rachel doesn't have to make, but she does, because nothing about their relationship was minimum effort. They were always going to commit themselves to the act, which would bring about the happy expressions, bright eyes and an overwhelming sense of care. Most days, they think it is love. Finn for the most part seems nervous. The rest of the group begins to pair up, as the leads get ready. Kelsey is left with Quinn.
It's almost a slap to the face when Mr Schue announces that the duo would be singing Adele's 'To make you feel my love.' A blonde head whips up and similarly a par of brown eyes widen. Memories of their first date come rushing back. There's nothing but good feelings in the memories but it's not enough to stop the creeping sense of apprehension. Rachel closes her eyes remembering, her vocal training. Mentally, she apologizes for what she's about to do. The brunette looks at Finn and tries to bring back old feelings to aid with her performance. She can feel hazel-green eyes and their penetrating focus in her direction. Quinn rubs her neck; she counts to ten, controlling her breathing. She recalls how the diva felt in her arms that day and the secrets they've shared since. She thinks that this will be fine and that she can handle this. The opening chords start. Finn starts.
When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on you case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love
The footballer passionately circles the diva. Jokingly, he'll place his arms around her in conjunction with the second last lines, swaying a little. The goofy and playful action causes Rachel to grin. There's a clear and naked manner in which the words and terms tumble out of his mouth, it becomes an advantage for him that he's perfectly simple. It's obvious; he is still in love with her. And under the weight of that, the brunette becomes suspended. She doesn't automatically jump away. It's the first thing that makes it to Quinn's mind as she watches, her frame tensing a little. She repeats to herself that it's just residual emotions, as something stirs inside her. Santana narrows her eyes; she can't help but know that this was going to end badly as Rachel's voice comes in.
When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there's no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love
The diva is a performer and naturally she'll do her best. Throughout her verse, pretending to be like a young girl actually in love, she'll leave light touches and teasing glances. Towards the end, she'll even lean close to kiss the boy on the cheek. It's utterly innocent and solely for authenticity and theatrical purposes but that's not the case for two people. Finn blushes like a schoolboy, eyes glazing over as his hand goes to touch the contacted area. Quinn grips the sides of her chair, there's an ugly side to her that becomes harder and harder to control. She's mistaken. She can't handle this. And it's not because she's doubts her girlfriend. It's because she's shown that Rachel's relationship with the footballer wasn't a terrible one. There were emotions between the two and a feint capacity for a happy ending. That's the driving force behind the threatening feeling that the pianist experiences. Pressure builds behind her carefully imposed damn of self-control.
Two chairs away, Santana prays that the inevitable won't happen. She recognizes the signs, Quinn's subtle clenching of the jaws, the energy coiled frame and the slight manic gleam. When the blonde was threatened she would lash out, manipulate or change the playing field. The Latina understands that they have a maladaptive form of coping to losses in control or confidence. They had to be the alpha figure. Whilst they rarely felt insecure, the feelings intensified ten-fold when they did. Santana recalls when the pianist had worried about losing Finn, she would order more slushies on the diva, and she would orchestrate a situation get the boy to grovel. Anything to get the upper hand because trusting someone else with her happiness wasn't an option.
And although, the pianist had been getting better, it wasn't fast enough, not for the situation right now. So when Rachel and Finn actually have decent chemistry and look like they could be a couple, it's painful to watch. The blonde's eyes would twitch once, before the moment when the worst version of her appeared. Brittany almost cries because the Quinn that loves Rachy does not want to do this, but the Quinn that was borne from Russell and the high school hierarchy, would do something devastating. The tall dancer knows that it has nothing to do with her captain's feelings for the brunette but instinctive reflexes to uncertainty.
It starts small. The pianist begins to whisper to the redhead next to her. They consist of small useless bits of conversation that doesn't really need to be communicated an inch from someone's ear. So, to everyone in the background, it looks like something else entirely. In line with each move the leads make on stage the Quinn would lean close again, maybe this time releasing a chuckle at Kelsey's responses. When Finn kissed Rachel hand and twirled her, the blonde would speak more animatedly. When the diva genuinely smiles at a gesture by the footballer, the softball captain will actually turn her whole body away to talk to the newest member of New Directions. The breaking point was when she picked a stray piece of lint out of Kelsey's hair, because there's an odd sense of intimacy to it. The singer just happens to turn her head in time to catch it and despair fills her face.
She misses her next cue and Mr Schue's subsequent prompts, staring at her girlfriend and the redhead. Eventually she won't be able to stand the sight trying to shake the tears from her eyes as she runs out. It's then that the pianist is able to stop, and it finally hits her. Rachel's sadness finds a way to shake her Quinn back; it pierces though the blonde's haze giving her the energy to shut down that self-destructive part of her personality for good. Almost like a file deletion,the softball captain finds that the cruel voice is completely gone, and no longer a lingering trace. Things feel calmer and she's feels as if she has finally arrived. But it's too late; Kurt runs out after the brunette, giving her a pointed look. The lucidity that she now possessed punishes, becauseit's with absolute and sickening clarity that she realizes the consequences of her actions. Her body begins to shake and she can't believe that she let herself hurt the singer. There's nothing to stop the guilt, there's nothing to stop the painful sounds of two hearts cracking.
Thwack. Santana's hand makes contact with the back of her captain's head. The people in the room freeze and Finn shuffles awkwardly by the door. Part of the footballer wants to make sure that the singer is all right, but he also understands that it's not his place anymore. Now his role is to make sure that the right person does. The Latina's voice sound rough and cuts through harsh struggled breathing.
"That was stupid, Q."
What can be said, really? The pianist looks forlornly at her hands. She can't quite believe her actions still. Instead she says what she can.
The command slips out. The Latina stands straighter because she knows she's right. Quinn's mouth opens and closes. It's the most ungraceful she's ever been, the picture completed but hectic hair and red eyes.
"I- I can't."
"Bullshit… Give me your keys."
Mindlessly, the pianist does what she's told. She figures that letting someone else dictate her actions might be prudent. Considering her own thoughts and mind has made a mess of things. It's one that, a part of her doesn't want to fix because it can't happen again. Rachel is only so strong before she breaks and she should have to keep forgiveness on speed dial. Nevertheless those thoughts are thrown out with Santana's nest words.
"I'll drive you to Berry's home before she gets her dad to kill you with a scalpel."
And the Latina leaves a gap of time for the blonde to respond. She gives her an out that she knows her friend won't actually take when push comes to shove. She is far to deep in this but Santana feels an obligation to make sure anyway. Brittany gives their friend a hug. The trio leaves the room. Along the way, they have separate thoughts leading to the same conclusion. Quinn and Rachel could fix this if they try and if they want. The tall dancer thinks that the pianist just needs to be honest like how Lord Tubbington about his guilt chocolate covered pleasures. Santana thinks that there are a few things that the diva needs to learn about her girlfriend before they can proceed. It'll only make them stronger.
Quinn thinks that they're both still hiding and holding on to old beliefs and secret worries. She won't let them stop this; it won't be their breaking point.
In the choir room, the glee kids filter out. Kelsey gets her belongings but she's assisted by a tall footballer. He has a stern look on his face as his forehead scrunches and facial features attempt to scowl. It's more funny than threatening but the message is clear. She pauses, really actually taking the time to look. Finn isn't what she expects. Dumb? Most definitely. But he wasn't a jerk. Bad guys would have taken advantage of the crying diva that they were still hopelessly infatuated with. Bad guys didn't try to look menacing on their ex's behalf. They didn't care as much as he obviously did. So no, he wasn't a bad guy. He hands her things as he speaks
"Kelsey, Rachel and Quinn are together. What you did today wasn't cool."
The redhead sighs.
"Contrary to public opinion, I'm not out to get the golden gay couple. Quinn… she made that mess today all by herself."
The tall girl attempts to leave but the giant footballer blocks her way. Aggravation bubbles up when he shakes his head and continues to speak.
"She wouldn't have if you – "
Soft lips pressed against his to interrupt Finn. It's chaste, but has a strange effect in him. He is by no means falling for the girl or molester? But, there is something different that changes inside. For a second, he forgets to be heartbroken over the diva, it's the first reprieve he's had in weeks. And Kelsey's eyes glitter with mirth. She chuckles at his wide eyes and blushing cheeks.
"So that's what it takes to shut you up huh?"
With that the redhead walks away.
Outside a certain house, Quinn knocks her fist repeatedly on the wood. It's loud and soon she's pretty sure that the whole neighborhood will come out but she won't stop. Rachel can't ignore her forever. Sooner rather than later, the door opens. The pianist is about to apologize before she realizes that it's not the diva. No, it's the towering frowning African-American father. For the first time, the blonde is able to see him as intimidating and her stomach drops. The magnitude of her mistakes hit her again. And the words she says are not flowery of defensive just true.
"It's not me that you need to apologize to, Quinn."
Leroy responds, never once showing any signs of welcome. He has his arms crossed as he remembers the tearstained face of his daughter this afternoon. The ex-cheerleader takes a sharp breath. Her vision begins to blur and she's sure that she's actually shaking. But she doesn't walk or run away and the father does have to credit her for that. He's sure that she's done something hurtful and he's also certain that she regrets it like nothing else in her young life. Tiny differences in her character stand out, as he tries but fails to find the last vestiges of the popular child, that cruel instinct. The father can't help but wonder how she was able to get rid of it because it had taken him several years. However, the whimpers coming from the living room gives him an inkling. And all he can do is sigh and step aside. He trusts the pianist with his daughter one more time.
Rachel is curled up on the large sofa with puffy eyes and a box of tissues. Quinn can't help but think that she still looks beautiful. Memories of quiet afternoons spent watching and re-watching Funny Girl, Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera cross her mind. She recalls how the singer felt in her arms as her fingers trace the fabric of the seating. In the present, the diva seems to be in a state of shock as the pianist continues to stand in front of her as if that was where she was supposed to be all along. Rachel shakes her head; she's weak because without her command she somehow ends up in the blonde's arms. Softs hints of lilac and freshly washed clothing soothes her like nothing else and she speaks into it.
"I can't believe Kelsey. What was she thinking?"
It's an easy exit from this mess. The pianist shakes her head internally as the pressure builds behind her eyes. The way her throat suddenly constricts makes it hard to breath. After the events, the singer still wants to see the best side of her, to paint someone else as the villain. The diva wants to blame it on someone else, so that this relationship can continue untainted, because, under the truth, happiness becomes harder to find. Rachel's ready to lie to both of them to make it happen. And the softball player aches as she realizes that she can't let this happen. The brunette wouldn't be able to sleep through the night; the dishonesty of her actions would haunt her. Quinn clenches her jaw. No, she'll take responsibility for her acts.
"You know it's not her fault. Rachel, I did this today. I made you cry."
The admission barely makes it through, because the ex-cheerleader is shoved roughly away. Once she able to stabilize herself from the backwards stumble, the shorter girl takes a second step, pushing again. Her eyes are filled with fresh frustration.
"What is it about this girl Quinn? What is it about her that makes you come to her defense, every time?"
The question sounds slightly defeated towards the end. One of her trembling hands is placed on the blonde's chest, where her heart should be. The warmth from the tan limb permeates through the light blue fabric of the blouse, electrically waking every sensory neuron in that area. Thump. Thump. Thump. Steady heartbeats speed up. And the singer is slightly in awe of the immediate and very strong response. Before she can move back in confusion, pale hands encircles hers, keeping it there, pressed harder. She'll be able to feel everything from the shallow breathing to the rushing blood. Hazel green eyes hold brown ones with an open intensity. Quinn whispers because it's only them in the moment right now.
"Nothing. God I promise you that. It's just…I know her mother and I've been there. We can talk to each other because of that."
The diva closes her eyes. A tear slides down her cheek. And the blonde is torn between wiping it away or simply watching, as it leaves a trail. It's a reminder of her stupidity.
"Why did you do it, Quinn? Have I really been such a horrible girlfriend? Did you want to hurt –"
Something in the pianist snaps at the singer's guilt ridden tone. She's sees a lack of confidence and a withered sense of self-esteem in Rachel. The blonde loses the multitude of small qualities that makes her day-to-day existence brighter. Suddenly, Quinn's thoughts rearrange themselves with a strange sort of purpose. There's only one path to take. Maybe the truth could cleanse their souls and wash the sting from their past actions. Her confession is a jumbled stream.
"Jealous! I got jealous, ok?"
There's a pause as the diva looks up in disbelief.
Quinn lets go of the shorter girl. She tries to get some distance because she's never had to explain this out loud before. To admit one's greatest flaw, it's not easy. But then again, nobody has ever been so important. When she's able, she kneels in front of the brunette sitting on the couch, who doesn't rush anything. The singer is able to see the softball player's struggle and not matter how many times she tries, her traitorous self, refuses to make the moment more difficult for the pianist. The taller girl tries to communicate.
"I can't actually help it. It's stupid, impulsive and… not really an excuse. But you're able to bring out the best and the most ugly part of me. Rachel, that HBIC, you knew from freshman year, she's still in here, or was…I don't know anymore."
There were problems with being placed on a pedestal. The most important was that one could never really measure up. And perhaps the blonde wasn't alone in making a mistake, today. Perhaps the diva had closed her mind to Quinn's biggest flaw, because since this thing started between them, she's been protected from it. Her minds plays back, and for the first time she notices the ever present tug of war that always occurs in the pianist during a power play situation. Last week, somebody had attacked the ex-cheerleader for the couple's random acts of romanticism. Rachel remembers persuading her girlfriend to let it go. She also recalls overlooking the fact that it might have been a hard thing for Quinn to do, because it wasn't intuitive. Looking up, brown eyes take a long look, taking in everything, faults and all… She can't help but think that she still captivated by what she sees.
The blonde catalogues the small changes in the diva's features, pushing on.
"So when I saw you and Finn today, a million things hit my mind. I started to feel out of control and I think the only thing that was going through my mind was proving that I could have an effect on you too. That, I could make you lose your composure. I was angry. I was jealous and it was hard to handle."
"I don't care about Finn."
Quinn smiles despondently.
"He still loves you, but I think even you could see that…"
There's a gap. In their minds, they confront the truth and the host of feelings it brings. For Rachel, none of her warm notions towards the footballer makes a dent in her passion for the blonde. For Quinn, she recognizes the pettiness of her insecurities and heartbreaking discovery that if the diva asked, she would step back. So, the pianist offers another possible ending to this story. The misconception of fairytales is that relationships are straightforward and you would only have one prince. The taller girl never wants the diva to feel like she couldn't choose.
"You could be happy around him."
"Just stop, Quinn. I don't care. Don't you get it? Finn isn't the problem and to some extent, neither is Kelsey.
I found out today that you could actually hurt me and I don't know if I can trust you not to do that in the future."
With that, honesty becomes a two way street. And they get to the crux of the matter, the reason why they can't breath, and the reason why it hurts so much. Rachel shakes her head to herself as she speaks.
"I'm not a gambler. I won't even play blackjack with my fathers."
The blonde clasps the diva's loose hands. She whispers into them.
"I'm sorry, Rachel."
The words have been said too many times by both girls this week. But it never loses meaning, not even once, because they always mean it. Rachel smiles sadly.
"I know… but Quinn, you turn every head when you walk past. People stare as you walk into the room. They can't, not… I'm not that girl who can do all that."
The softball player grips tighter. She knows that one day the brunette won't doubt her attractiveness around others. She knows that one day the diva will grow to be as confident in skin as she is in her musical talents. Quinn only wants to be next to her when she does. She wants to help the singer get there because in that moment, Rachel will be beautiful in that untouchable way. So for now she sows the seeds, doing what she can.
"You are, Rachel. You, just the way you are, right here, is enough to keep everyone's attention. When you're close, when you sing, people do stop in their tracks."
A sharp intake of air as the diva looks up into the blonde's eyes.
"Then why couldn't I be enough? Why did you have to make me cry to feel safe?"
And the pianist doesn't have a good enough answer. She can try to point out time after time that it's not the diva's fault but it won't sink in. They're far too emotional to grasp the concept of logic, not to mention that around each other, their thoughts seems to jump into a game of Russian roulette, playing unexpected moves. Normally, it keeps them excited and on their toes. It makes them more aware and more responsive each other's desires, elevating their happiness. Today, it works against them. And the only thing that is important is the question in the blonde's head.
"…Are we breaking up?"
Her tone sounds broken. As tears come with disturbing force and the air begins to thin, nobody can accuse her of not feeling anything. Rachel leans close. Forlorn, her hand cups Quinn's pale jaw. It sends a current, rousing the pianist from her haunches. It reminds her to fight because there's still a few things that she hasn't said in an effort to protect herself from total heartbreak. Her eyes burn with determination and care. And she's moves closer, speaks stronger.
"Because Rachel, you're not the only one that needs this. I'm so deep in this relationship, trying to keep my head above the water. But I do, because you're more than I thought I could have and I want to be that person for you…"
The singer feels anger and resistance melting away. Quinn whispers her request.
"Please don't break me."
"What? No. I wouldn't do that."
Rachel flinches at the words, at the idea. She doesn't have the capacity. She feels overwhelmed. It's their first fight and unlike most, it carries more weight and meaning. The girls move past the honeymoon phase and learn to offer everything they have. They learn more in a week than others do in years. The diva thinks about all the things swirling within her. But there's one feeling that overshadows the rest. Warm. Calming. Exhilarating. It seems familiar, but she's never felt it to such a degree before.
"Don't you get it? Hasn't this week taught you anything at all? I. Love. You, Quinn."
The blurted statement hangs in the air. Hazel-green eyes widen. Minds are wiped clean as all thought processes center on three words. The blonde seems frozen and with each moment that she doesn't speak, Rachel's happiness drops a little more. Finally, after several minutes, the pianist speaks.
"We need to talk through this."
It's not the right response because the singer is slightly angry, as she turns herself away.
"No Quinn. For once we don't. I'm done talking. I just said I love you and you didn't say it back."
"Because you're angry and you don't mean it."
The reply comes out instantly and the blonde grabs the diva's hand just in time. In her full height she looks down at the singer. The uncertainty that burns in her eyes covers a strong desire to reciprocate the words, the sentiment. It scares her because she can't understand it, instead trying her damnedest to stamp it down. There's a minor hysterical element to her tone.
"You don't mean it. You can't. It's only been a month. And a second ago we were fighting and yelling…"
Gradually, her voice loses steam and become a little lost towards the end. Her mind seems to rebel with the denial. Rachel leans close, gathering the softball player's attention, muttering with force.
"You're wrong Quinn. It's been a year. You started this at Nationals in New York…"
With that, she pulls her hand out of the blonde's grasp and storms out the door. Seconds later, Quinn will do the same heading in the other direction. Fear drives her actions as the singer's confession repeats. Leroy watches from another room with his face in his hands. Again, their problem isn't a lack of attachment but its strength and depth. So much so, that one of them is running scared.
Outside, Brittany and Santana are cuddled together on a nearby bus bench. They had decided to stay, hoping that their friends would make it out alive. By now the sky has darkened as evening settled in. in the middle of their conversation they notice a tear filled and frustrated brunette running out. Bewildered the couple look at each other with confusion and concern. Seconds later, a slam of the door alerted them to Quinn's exit followed by a violent breakdown. Their captain throws her palm against the hood of her car repeatedly. The Latina winces at the sound. Holding the dancer's hand, they watch the blonde entering the vehicle. For a second longer they stare before coming to a simultaneous understanding of the probable events that had transpired. Rock, paper, scissors.
Santana groans, rolling her eyes when she sees the results. With a tired attitude she gives her girl a hug, whispering the offer a night out in the town, after all this is over.
"Berry! Freaking wait a second."
Brittany calls as she latches onto the passenger door, sliding into the car. In surprise, the pianist looks up. For a moment, all the dancer thinks is that her friend looks so confused and frightened. She wonders why because Rachy wasn't scary. Tiredly, hazel-green eyes will meet sky blues. The fight in Quinn seems to dissipate a little as she falls back into the driver's seat.
"What do you want Brittany? I'm not really in the mood to deal with anything right now."
"Santana says to stay with you to make sure you don't crash your car or do anything stupid."
The answer slips out easily and innocently. As if the tall blonde doesn't realize the weight of the situation because it would actually be considered a legitimate concern. Quinn sighs. She's happy that it's Brittany in the car right now because she needs the kind emotional direction. Her own personal compass is spinning every which way as three words act as the magnet. Rachel's voice echoes, I love you. And the pianist seems to be void of responses. There's a feeling that tugs her mind and she wants to chase after her girlfriend and whisper what they both need. But every time she thinks about it her throat constricts. She falls back on the small voice, which offers a possible escape. It's too soon.
Too bad she also sure that it's not true. Closing her eyes and takes a breath; she thinks she can't deal with this. The starting the rumbling engine ignition sounds, the pianist speaks the quiet instruction.
"Put your seat belt on."
Brittany does. And they start to drive, past the small suburban street and turning at the roundabout.
"Why aren't you with Rachy right now?"
The question breaks the silence. Quinn opens her mouth to speak but nothing comes out. Instead her grip on the wheel tightens as the car comes to a stop in front of red traffic lights. Enlightenment comes in flashes, in and out. Like an old black and white movie, memories are replayed. It starts small. She sees the singer's quirks, the focused furrow of the brow and crinkled forehead. She hears the way Rachel's breath hitches when they're alone and how the diva is prone to streams of verbal consciousness. A smile appears on the pianist's features, gritting her teeth and being scared becomes less important. The little things transition to bigger things and the diva's powerful performances come to the center-stage. The captain's mind likes to fixate on the passion, surety and apparent love in those warm browns.
Brittany looks out the window, it's all the privacy she's able to give in such closed quarters. But she can imagine her friend's expression as all her emotions bleed together to create something rare unique. Quinn can't fight against the strange feeling that fills every crevice, securing her to the ground, to the diva. The world feels different. It might be too soon and the singer did mean it. The realization comes fast but it doesn't shake any foundations because parts of her already knew. This is love. Probability, one hundred percent…
And, she swerves, doing a 180 turn. Brittany watches the time on the dashboard, 7:03pm. In less than ten minutes, Quinn is back at the diva's door, with determination and fresh eyes. She didn't even make it around the block in her car. It's an indication that she would never be able to walk away, not without help. For the second time today, she knocks frantically on the Berry's door.
With understanding the Leroy lets her in. Rachel isn't back yet but Quinn is free to wait. They settle in for the long haul.
"You know she's not what you think. When Rachel says I love you, she's not trying to make you feel better."
Leroy says as he pours the blonde a cup of water. She's just a little drained from the events. Quinn shakes her head slightly. Her fingers play a tune on the dinner table. Her voice is thick with undisguised emotion.
"Rachel's exactly what I think. I just didn't treat her as such. She means what she said, I know that."
Pause. Leroy tilts his head, gauging the truth. He comes to the decision that the blonde does seem to understand his daughter. She seems to love Rachel too but thoughts dance around in her mind. The father knows that she's visiting various thought, worries and what ifs. But the fact that she's sitting in his living room, tells him that in the end, those will just disappear the moment Rachel walks though the door. Quinn's already made a decision to love...
The things that she probably wonders about is the few others that the diva has said those same three words to. And the African American can concede that the singer has cared about one other person that way, Finn. At that time and that age, the feelings that were surging through her could be considered as love. But hindsight is twenty-twenty. If they ever did compare in the present, it wouldn't be a contest. There are two sorts. The first is the one that you can move on from, opening your eyes to notion that such a bond with another person is possible. And then there's the one that you'll forever be tied to, stealing the air from your heart and the blood from your veins without even trying. Between the footballer and the softball player, nobody needs to say which is which. Leroy takes the seat next to the pianist.
"So what is it about the word that scares you so much? Is it the meaning itself? Or is it being able to say it to another person?"
Quinn sighs, rubbing the tension from her face. Her dysfunction is difficult to explain.
"I don't know option A? B? All of the above?"
"Well, you don't have to say it just because Rachel did. It's all right. I think that she just wanted you to know. Hiram is the same way. But, if you do happen to feel the same and vocalizing it is hard, then writing it down, putting it to songs and in gestures, it works just as well…"
Leroy leaves the blonde with that answer going up to his room. Somehow it's obvious that the girls will make things right.
So when the father is gone Quinn looks around. She sees a stack of lined paper on the kitchen cabinet and reaches for them. It is her longest night; combinations of words filter out until they become are able to capture her meaning, her wants and her feelings…
The girls have different experiences, different things to work through. When Rachel walked out, a frustrated Latina kept up with her.
"Berry, dammit wait!"
The diva raised her eyebrow, retorting tersely. Quinn's lack of response surrounds her thoughts. Behind the shock on the pale features, there was hope and something until it was shut down by denial. Rachel hates the disbelief in the pianist's tone at her confession; it's like a blow to her stomach. She's also angry with herself because the moment wasn't how she dreamed it, over candlelight and delicious food. But would it have made a difference?
"Go away Santana."
"Uh, let me think about that… No, nope, not gonna happen. God for being midget sized you're fast."
The Latina's sarcastic voice pops out. She's breathing faster from the exertion. The singer takes the scene in. Santana Lopez stood in front of her, breathless from chasing one Rachel Berry. She has to ask.
"Why are you here? We've never been good friends."
Her head tilts. There's a part of her that can't help it, the desire to be liked and accepted. After the blowout in her home she needs just a little reassurance, maybe in the form of a friend. Santana groans internally. She'll never admit it but, over the course of glee and extended time due to Quinn, she's become more than tolerant of the diva. And she doesn't want her to be hurt. So an uncharacteristic thing happens. She swallows the reflex to reject the brunette and replaces it with something softer, almost caring.
"It's getting dark. And you shouldn't be alone when you're all Berry-like."
It's hard and easy at the same time. The censorship of her callous self is like trying to rein in a psychotic child in a candy store but the reminder of whom it's for and why she's behaving as such helps the process along. And Santana gets it. Quinn does this every day, chipping away at the block on her emotions, to be deep and open, in the relationship… It must be love, or something stronger.
"Fine, but we don't speak."
Rachel responds gratefully. They do. It's a nice quiet walk to the park and Santana pushes a few keys before slipping her phone away.
Santana and Rachel eventually make to the park. Kelsey stands in the center of the playground, waiting. When she sees them, her voice is soft and non-threatening.
The singer ignores her, whirling around towards the Latina with a silent question in her eyes. She feels betrayed. But Santana for the most part stays resolute. If she wants to comfort the shorter girl or reassure her, it is now locked away because they're in front of others. She repeats the same comment she made the first time, at the start of the week.
"Listen before you judge, Berry."
With that and pointed warning to the redhead she turns and walks away, wondering if this is the correct decision. As enough time passes she becomes more and more sure, because if Quinn can't make Rachel understand, Kelsey will have to. The Latina never wants the diva to ever have the displeasure of meeting Russell Fabray, but it would reveal everything the pianist still seems to want to protect her from. The redhead might be the next best means of explaining.
Back at the park, the singer twists her features.
"What are you doing here?"
There's a moment where the girls just stare each other down. Kelsey eventually holds up her cell phone, displaying a short text message.
"Mini Q, get your ass to the park and fix this mess – Santana"
Rachel rolls her eyes. She makes a mental note to yell at the Latina later. For now, she just replies stubbornly.
"I don't want to talk to you about Quinn."
The redhead shakes her head, climbing to the top of the monkey bars. Part of her questions why she's doing this. Rachel would never be receptive. But as insecurity and a series of other emotions cross the diva's features, the newest glee member remembers, to be real, to feel like somebody. She recalls the perfect ease with which the brunette and Quinn operate, together. It was a representation of the things that were possible if you were open and if you care enough.
"Fine, then let's talk about you, Little Miss Broadway. Kurt is your friend right?"
Rachel huffs with annoyance.
But Kelsey continues without a care. Her tone exuded confidence and logic. It forces the diva to listen. She seems so certain. And in many ways, she is. As a third party she sees everything with a strange sense of clarity, the various paths that can be taken and how the girls could and probably would end up in each other's arms. They were bullheaded enough to force their way to happiness, as long as they avoided the shiny trinkets, quicksand and false steps along the way. The redhead flips down so that they're face to face.
"You're both really close. I've heard the jokes, my hag and me. And from what I've seen, to any stranger, you behaviour around each other could be misconstrued for romance."
Rachel responds with disbelief. The slightest notion was ridiculous and the image of herself being paired up with anyone other the pianist makes her stomach turn. The redhead chuckles at the exaggerated expressions. She gingerly and very cautiously takes a seat next to the singer, playing with a fallen twig.
"I know but what I mean, is that even when you're bickering with each other or competing for the same solo, there's still some kind of link there. It's easy to talk to each other because you both have verbose personality quirks and Broadway dreams to look forward to."
"So, what's you point?"
The diva asks feeling the stirrings of doubt. The points are hard to argue against, pure in their reason. Try as she might, she can't identify any trap or ulterior motives behind the statement. Once, the concept sinks in, Kelsey speaks again, getting to the turning point. She'll explain her history, clearing some gray areas about the pianist. The redhead can appreciate the desire to keep one's broken household locked away, because it's a ridiculously pitiful story. And with someone that feels as much as the brunette evidently does, it would just cause a lot of pain. Rachel Berry would cry and feel angry and helpless due to the situation… Still, it's something that she needs to know.
"Quinn had Russell. I had my mom. They're unaccepting and as vain as people come. Your family time consists of bonding? Ours consists of lording our achievements and wealth. We would talk about the events of the day, only to be reminded of how it could always be improved. Russell and Mary's continued support was contingent on positive results. So Quinn and I? That's something we can talk about to each other about."
The singer looks up. She lets go of her initial dislike for the redhead and sees someone trying to help. As a result she lets herself process the information. Pain blossoms in her heart as she imagined the scenario. It wasn't fair. Being kicked out and constantly berated, the blonde had seemed to take it in stride. Suddenly, some of Quinn's actions and traits are explained. Rachel understands her girlfriend enough to grasp that the holding back was done in a desire to protect, not hide or deceive. Kelsey asks her question.
"Rachel, that's all it is, a common ground that makes understanding easier. So why is it acceptable for you to have Kurt but for it to be so bad that you girlfriend even speaks to me."
"Kurt is gay."
Rachel responds simply, causing a snort to come from the redhead.
"Would it seriously make you feel better if I told you that I was straight? Believe me I have no interest in the fairer sex."
Kelsey chuckles in amusement before returning to the task at hand.
"What Quinn did today, don't wreck what you have based on it. Granted she freaked out, going all HBIC and Fabray-like again. But next to you she's different, a better person. Until today, she's always had a worse side, old demons I guess. Honestly, I think hurting you was the thing that managed to drive it out of her. It's so depressing, Shakespeare would have a field day with you two."
The sincerity in the comment brings a smile to both their lips. Rachel breaks into a soft laugh. She recognizes the fact that Kelsey isn't a terrible person, just as misguided as the rest of them. Surprisingly, the singer feels comfortable enough to share a little. Sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger.
"Then why couldn't she say I love you back?"
"You told her that?"
Kelsey asked with shock. It was fast to be sure and she can only imagine the reception that would have ensued in the pianist's mind. Rachel nods her head, proud. She doesn't regret it. She was simply being honest. You couldn't tell her otherwise. At least the blonde would always know, she would never be alone.
"Good for you."
The redhead replies. She's impressed and decided to answer the question, making rude gestures to some unknown entity.
"It means that Russell is a grade one basta – "
The admonishment slips out automatically at the expletive. The redhead stops as to say really? When she gets nothing but a serious look in response, she tries a different tack.
"Ok, let's look at this objectivity. Everyone Quinn has ever said those words to, have probably left her. Her father disowned her. Finn cheated with you, maybe not physically, but emotionally he did. And then there's Puck, I'm going to guess the Quinn told herself that she could maybe love him. But he then proceeds to sleep with every cheerleader on this side of the hemisphere."
Kelsey explains offhandedly, she'll turn to the diva for the important part.
"It's not personal Berry. She doesn't say it because she either doesn't trust in the concept or doesn't trust in herself to say it anymore. Maybe she's even forgotten how to..."
There's a nice lull in the conversation. Kelsey continues to fiddle with leaves and twigs and Rachel closes her eyes. It's almost as if she's gone through the pianist's entire life in a couple of hours. She feels a sliver of guilt thinking about the pressure that her confession might have caused but still thinks that it was important to say out loud. Now, on the park bench, she makes the resolve to assure the softball player that there was no immediate need to respond in kind. Kelsey voices out next to her.
"She does, you know? Quinn loves you."
The singer does. It's in all their interactions. The redhead stands, dusting the dirt of her clothing. She feels as if her part was done. That the girls will end up together now, because they've gotten to know the bad parts of each other, Rachel's insecurities and Quinn's darker side. Kelsey waits for the diva to get up as well.
"C'mon I'll walk you home, otherwise Santana may bludgeon me to death tomorrow morning."
They walk side by side and the brunette offers her friendship.
"I'm sorry about you being kicked out as well."
Kelsey feels a wave of positive emotions welling up as tears sting her eyes. She's grateful for the opportunity.
"At least I got an hour, it's better than Quinn's raw deal."
Rachel flinches, disgusted by the idea. How do you pack up your life in and hour or less?
"Are you all right?"
The redhead smiles at the concern. Having a friend feels nice.
"I will be. I joined the softball team because the two of you together sends some kind of message. That positive change is possible I guess."
It's late when the singer gets home, almost midnight actually. The lights inside the house are out except for one, on the kitchen table. Taking a step closer, Rachel notices a blonde head asleep on the table, sheet of paper and pen clutched in hand. Soft snores fill the room. Quinn's chair is positioned in an angle that would have allowed her a direct line of sight to the door, vigilantly guarding. The softball player had waited till her eyes wouldn't stay open anymore and even after Leroy and Hiram had retired to bed. She would always do so. And Rachel melts at the sight. Her heart beat faster as her hand covers her lips in surprise. The pianist looks angelic, the soft movement in her back indicating a steady line of breathing. Stray blonde locks fall over her eyes. She must have waited hours.
Moving closer, the diva will notice a collection of balled up paper surrounding the bin, probably thrown in frustration. Her curiosity causes her to pick one up, reading the neat scrawl.
- Rachel, I'm sorry. You mean everything to me. I lik– Damn it!
And it snowballs. Rachel straightens the sheets one after the other, as the words get closer to saying something.
- You make me feel so many things. I don't have to think so hard, worry as much when you're around. It's never going to be enough. I'll do whatever you want and I can be everything you need. You can – garargh.
- I wish I could just tell you. I wish – stupid, stupid, stupid, c'mon Quinn just say it!
- I think I might lo – god why is this so hard?
The brunette can picture the annoyance and aggravation behind each crossed out line and tear in the paper. It's the effort buried inside the attempts, which causes her to collapse on her knees. Just when her feelings for the pianist couldn't get any deeper or intrinsic, it does. On wobbly legs she stumbles to where Quinn is. As she brushes the blonde strands away from the sleeping ex-cheerleader's eyes, she can't help but feel that it's exactly where she needs to be. The supposed botched confessions, she holds onto because they didn't actually fail or disappoint. It tells her more than she asked for. A brilliant smile stretches across her features, and happy tears fall. She leans down placing a lingering kiss on Quinn's upturned cheek. In her dreams, the softball player lets out a huff of breath, her tension dissipates and the corners of her lips tug upwards. The monsters were going away, she feels warm. In the present the movement directs Rachel's attention to the half covered sheet of paper.
With precision and extreme care, the brunette slides it out from under the taller girl's frame, reading the words.
Her surprised gasp fills the room.
Rachel, I love you.
And even if I can't say it out loud yet, I promise to do so someday soon.
So stay with me, talk to me, love me.
Wait for the day where I keep my promise.
I'll write the words until then.
I. Love. You.
The singer can barely function. The beauty of the pact encompasses her being. She knows that will. She'll stay with the blonde. She'll talk those pale ears off. Not a moment will pass, where she stops or tries to stifle her love for Quinn... Rachel Berry promises to wait for the day. Sitting in the chair beside the pianist she takes one of her hand, unwilling to go all the way upstairs to her bed and be away from the softball player. Tick. Tick. Tick. It's not long, before the diva falls asleep next to her girlfriend, pale and tan fingers are interlaced.
The next morning when they wake up next to each other and in that first minute of awareness where their eyes are still adjusting to the light, all they will comprehend is each other, smiling. A sweet kiss will play out, and as Hiram and Leroy come into the room they'll think to themselves how domestic the scene already seems. The smaller man will picture grandkids. The girls are all right with the ache in their muscles and the pink imprint on the side of their face because it was worth it. Every action now carries one more meaning…
I love you.
Their mistake in reasoning gets corrected. They now accept that the world can touch what they have. But they're also convinced that it would have to work awfully hard against them for that to happen. Quinn and Rachel think that together they're strong enough…
This time…they're right…
Hmmm I wonder how many people still read fics now that glee's back. Quinn was badass but seriously I think that there's so much potential there with the way she stares at Rachel. But I guess the writers will never make it happen so I'll get back to writing mine ;)
But yeah, review if you wanna =D