A/N: Uhhhhhh. Hi. I'm sure you've all completely given up on this, but…here's something. It's super short, sorry. I'm either going to continue with more chapters or do an epilogue – I haven't decided yet. But this isn't the last update, either way. Happy holidays!
Rachel is up before the alarm goes off the next morning; she's not actually sure if she slept more than an hour, considering how long she lay awake before and after her trip to Quinn's bed. She still can't quite process what happened, and in the back of her mind, she's still worried that this is all some sort of huge, cruel joke. The thought makes her stomach twist with dread.
She turns onto her side and runs her hand across the bedside table until her fingers brush against the alarm clock and she's able to locate the large button on top. She hopes that Quinn is a heavy sleeper, because apparently it's only a quarter past five. It's late enough that she's just going to get up and start getting ready, but Quinn needs the rest much more than Rachel.
With a tired sigh, she rolls out of bed and begins slowly making her way toward the bathroom. Usually when she's in a small room that that she feels fairly comfortable navigating, she sort of just goes for it and if she bumps into a coffee table, she moves to the side and recalculates her route, no harm done; her cane is more a nuisance in small spaces. She's careful this morning, though, taking each step tentatively and hoping that there's nothing unexpected in her path. She listens for an interruption in Quinn's steady breathing or the squeak of a mattress, but by the time she reaches the bathroom door, it sounds as if she is still fast asleep.
Rachel uses her inability to sleep to her advantage and takes a long, hot shower. She lets her mind wander as the water sprays against her body in a sharp staccato rhythm; she thinks about the competition in a few hours and lets herself worry about it for about half a second, until she remembers that she's amazing and they will be fine. This leads her to thinking about her duet with Finn, and then Finn himself. He might be her boyfriend (she's never quite sure with him), and it's only just occurred to her that she has to consider him in this new situation with Quinn.
Rachel thinks about the feeling of the other girl's lips under her fingertips, and then the feeling of the other girl's lips pressed against her own. She finds herself shivering at the recollection, despite the warm temperature of the shower stall. She's not sure when her feelings toward Quinn started evolving, nor is she sure exactly what they've evolved into; she just knows that her heart flutters a bit when she hears her voice and she feels a small jolt of electricity run through her body every time they touch.
She's drawn out of her reverie by a sharp knock on the bathroom door, and then a muffled voice declaring that she really needs to pee, and Rachel is glad that the spray of the water drowns out her dreamy sigh at the sound of Quinn's voice.
She doesn't count herself as an expert on love, but Rachel is pretty that if someone announces their impending bodily functions and your stomach still does a funny little flip, you've got it bad.
The morning flies by in a blur of makeup and hairspray and hopeful/panicked discussions about their odds at winning this thing. The only thing Quinn remembers with absolute clarity is how much she wanted to stab Finn in the face when he dragged Rachel to his table during the hotel's continental breakfast.
They haven't talked about it at all. Quinn had seriously considered that it might have been a dream, until Rachel came out of the shower with flushed cheeks, a goofy grin, and the inability to form fully coherent sentences; they definitely kissed.
It's already early afternoon, and they go on in less than half an hour. They're all restlessly pacing in the small room they've been assigned back stage, and the girls have decided to touch up their already perfect (well, as good as it's going to get, anyway) makeup in an effort to take their mind of their anxiety. Quinn does her own and then guides Rachel to the makeup chair before anyone else can; they're not as bad as they used to be, but it wouldn't surprise her if Rachel ended up looking like a clown thanks to Kurt or Santana.
They talk quietly amongst themselves as Quinn carefully applies a few strokes of eye shadow and gives Rachel a tube of lipgloss to apply herself – she doesn't need to be that close to Rachel Berry's lips right now. The brunette still seems slightly unsure about their most recent interactions, and Quinn doesn't blame her. She does her best to put Rachel at ease, but it seems kind of useless, because she's not particularly relaxed herself.
When she's done, she stands behind Rachel to survey her handiwork in the mirror. The smaller girl shifts awkwardly in her seat and smoothes her dress a few times. "Do I look okay?"
"You look great," she says softly, tucking a wayward curl behind the brunette's ear. Color spreads across Rachel's face, and Quinn feels her own cheeks burn simultaneously.
"You okay over there, Q?" Quinn's head snaps up and she catches a reflection of Santana's amused expression in the mirror. "You look a little flushed."
"I'm fine. It's just hot in here."
Santana quirks her eyebrows. "I'll say."
Quinn's fists clinch involuntarily, and she's really disappointed that Mr. Schuester enters the room and tells them to head backstage before she can punch Santana in the face.
Their performance is amazing.
Quinn kind of loves Glee club and she knows they've got a lot of talent, but it wouldn't be completely honest to say that she believed that they had a shot at winning. Whether this makes her a pessimist or a realist, she's not sure. All she knows is that she walked backstage intending to sing and dance with her friends and then leave without a trophy. They're the last to go on, and watching the competition only further convinces her that they don't really stand a chance.
But then they actually take the stage, and everything changes.
She's sure this is the best they've ever sounded, and the energy from the crowd is palpable. Her eyes stay fixed on Rachel for most of the performance; she wonders how it's possible that she manages to completely own the audience without being able to see them. If they win this thing, and now Quinn believes that they might, they'll owe it all to Rachel.
Before they know it, the performance is over and they're running toward their dressing room to await the judges' decision. Well, most of the team is running; Rachel and Quinn are falling behind because there are a lot of steps, which poses a slight hindrance to both of them.
"We make a good team," Rachel says with a smile, tightening her hold on Quinn's elbow as they begin another flight of stairs.
Quinn lets out a short laugh between huffs for breath; she's glad that Rachel can't see the sheen of sweat developing on her forehead. No one this pregnant should have to conquer this many steps. "Yeah," she says. "I guess we do."
When they reach the bottom of the last flight of stairs, Quinn stops short suddenly and leans against the wall beside her, causing Rachel to stumble slightly.
"Sorry," Quinn murmurs. "I just need a minute."
Rachel's eyebrows come together in a concerned frown. "Are you okay, Quinn?"
"Yeah, I just…" she trails off, unsure of how to answer. Maybe she's not okay. She feels hot and winded and her back hurts and she's really crampy for some reason, and being alone with Rachel is really hard because she's not sure if she regrets kissing her or if she wants to do it again.
(Actually, she's pretty sure she wants to do it again.)
"I'm fine," she finally says. Rachel's frown doesn't let up, so she adds, "You were amazing out there today."
As expected, the smaller girl breaks out a show-stopping smile. "Thank you, Quinn. You were wonderful as well."
Quinn rolls her eyes. "I didn't have a solo."
"I was listening for you," Rachel says with a shrug.
They stand at the base of the stairwell in silence, until Puck appears in the doorway down the hall. "Berry! Baby Mama! You guys coming?"
Quinn pushes away from the wall with a sigh. "Yeah, we're coming."
Rachel grips her arm again and they make it about halfway down the corridor before Quinn suddenly stops again.
"Quinn, I don't mean to be rude, but could you please give me a heads up before you stop? It's for your sake, really; a little warning would have dramatically cut down on the amount times I've stepped on your heels in the past ten minutes."
Quinn lets out a sharp breath. "My water just broke."
Rachel has no idea what's happening.
Well, that's not exactly true. She knows about childbirth and she knows what's happening, but she doesn't understand how she got here. One minute she was struggling to keep up with the rest of the group as they rushed to get to the bus, and then before she knew it, Noah was helping her into a sterile gown and ushering her into the delivery room. Quinn immediately captured her hand (she'd know her grip anywhere, even though it's usually less sweaty and bone-crushing), and that is where it has remained ever since.
It's been ages, and she hasn't so much as pulled away to readjust the headband that's about to fall out of her hair. She wouldn't dare do that to Quinn, who is alternating between screaming obscenities at Puck and tearfully begging everyone in the room to just make it stop hurting. Rachel doesn't understand how squeezing the life of out her is helping Quinn, but it's apparently her role and she is going to treat it as the most important thing she's ever done.
She holds Quinn's hand for so long that it's almost confusing when her grip suddenly goes slack for the first time in almost six hours. However, when Quinn starts weeping with relief and joy, Rachel understands.
And then the room is filled with the cries of a brand new baby girl, and Rachel feels the need to correct herself.
Nothing is over.
Everything is just beginning.