A/N: I want to thank all of you for joining me for this story. It's bittersweet for me, finishing a fic that I've loved for so long, but here it is. The final chapter of Kissing Quinn Fabray. I may, in the future, be moved to write more about this version of Quinn and Rachel (I have two very solid ideas for same-verse fics) but it's time for this story to be closed. If you would like to be notified of other stories in this verse, please set up an author alert or keep this story on story alert and I will post any additional links as further chapters so you can find them easily. As always, I would love to hear what you think, and I want to thank all of you for experiencing this story with me. It's been unreal, the response to it, and I thank you. We've come full circle, back to Rachel's experience with what's happened over this intense weekend with Quinn, and I hope you enjoy!

You didn't sleep at all.

How could you? With the smell of Quinn still on your pillow and the taste of Quinn still on your lips and the sounds of Quinn's breath hot in your ears, it's a miracle that your heart is even still beating, it's been hammering so hard all night.

You should be exhausted after the weekend you had, the emotions you had to sort through and catalog and shelve, but the only feeling inside of you is an apprehension that throbs dully from somewhere deep inside. You feel like it's the first day of school all over again, and in some ways it is.

Quinn Fabray called you her home. She asked you not to break her. And the way that she kissed you, it was like—God, it was like she's never wanted anything else.

The moment your phone buzzes on the nightstand, you know exactly who it is, and you grab for it.

The screen flashes that you have a new text and you open it and shut your eyes tight for just a second because you've seen enough movies where the couple spends the night together and the next day, one of them gets a text that just says, "I can't," or something equally dramatic, and what if Quinn—

You force your eyes open.

Good morning, sweetheart. Deep breaths, okay? Today will be fine. xx Quinn

You don't know how long you stare at Quinn's words, but suddenly you realize that you've been holding your breath. You exhale shakily and send back a reply—

I trust you is all you can think to say.

For the first time ever, you're distracted during your elliptical workout. What if she changes her mind once you get to school? What if she decides that it's not worth it for her to endanger her reputation again? What if she decides that you're not worth it?

You pick at breakfast, and you can tell that your dad wants to say something over his newspaper, but you're thankful that he lets you fret in peace. There are so many things that could go wrong today.

You abandon breakfast on the table and perch yourself on the armrest of the couch, watching the driveway for Quinn's car and picking absently at the hem of your sweater.

When Quinn's car pulls up, you yank her Cheerios jacket off the coat rack – she insisted that you keep it last night – and press your face into it once before pulling open the door and going out to meet her.

She's starting up the walk, but slouches back against her car when she sees you. She stuffs her hands deep into her pockets. Her lips purse up, and she quirks an eyebrow.

"You're supposed to be wearing that," she says, eyeing the jacket in your arms.

You want to be strong today; you want to show her that you do trust her, but even in light of her text this morning, you just know that things are going to fall apart. The sweet weekend you spent in Quinn Fabray's arms just could not possibly hold up under the scrutiny of your peers. It just couldn't.

You lift your chin. "I didn't think you would appreciate me showing up to school in your car and in your Cheerios jacket," you say.

"What? Why not?"

You're standing right in front of her now and you look into her eyes – those eyes!— and falter.

Her arms are around you before you can even hold the jacket out for her to take, her body pinning it to your chest.

"Hey," she says into you ear, and it soothes you. Having her hold you like she did yesterday slows everything down and you're able to feel yourself breathing again, your rhythm matching hers. "Rach, talk to me. What's going on? Are you... having second thoughts?"

A tiny little sob escapes you and you clutch tighter. "What if this isn't worth it?" you manage, and she's pulling you back and staring at you with such fervor, you feel like she could set you on fire with the friction in her eyes.

"Are you asking me if I think this—" she motions back and forth between you—"is worth it?"

You don't have to say yes. She can see it on your face, in your eyes, and you drop your gaze. She strokes your cheek with her thumb.

"Rachel, sweetheart, come here."

Quinn spins you around gently, pulls her jacket from your grasp and you notice the flash of silver on her hand. The Queen of Hearts.

She's wearing your ring.

To school.

You're searching her face over your shoulder, and she knows that you saw it. She just smiles and presses a kiss to your ear. "Here," she says and pulls you into her coat.

When she spins you back around, you have to clutch at her shoulders just to feel like you're holding on to something.

"Quinn," you whisper, and she shushes you.

"That's better," she murmurs, and she's holding you against her again, kissing your hair softly. "Rachel," she says finally, and you pull back enough to look up at her. "Of course I think this is worth it. I think you're worth it. You're worth more. Okay? Now, please. Let's go to school."

There's a grin somewhere in her words and you search for it until she helps you out and flashes it across her lips. You nod shyly, duck your head, tuck yourself into Quinn's car.

"Here," she says when she's seated beside you. She hands you a thermal travel mug. "Hot tea with lemon," she explains. "Isn't that what you drink?"

"Thank you," you say softly, and she smiles at you again before backing down the driveway.

The ride to school is completely silent, and you would wonder what's going through Quinn's mind if you weren't so busy with what's going on inside your own.

Quinn Fabray spent a weekend in your bed, in your arms. Being sweet to you. Playing with your hair. Kissing you. No one at school has ever even seen the two of you together outside of glee. Forced to coexist because of show choir. That's what everyone thinks. Quinn Fabray tolerates you. Shoot, that's what you thought until she pulled you into the Cheerios lounge and wrapped her arms around you for the first time.

When Quinn finally pulls into a parking space in the school parking lot, she's out of the car before you can even reach for your bookbag, pulling open your door for you and waiting expectantly for one Rachel Berry, clad in knee socks, argyle, and Quinn Fabray's Cheerios jacket to climb out of the car and join her.

A group of Cheerios saunter by, throw skeptical looks in your direction and whisper not-so-quietly something about what a troll you are, and oh my god is she actually wearing a Cheerios jacket? Who the hell does she think she is?

Quinn says nothing, and you deflate that much more. This is the moment you've been dreading all weekend. The moment you both realize that what you shared together won't be enough.

You blink back the tears stinging your eyes, wonder exactly how many times you have cried over Quinn Fabray. If this is how things are, you will accept them. You will hold your head high today. You will cry only in the bathroom where no one can see. You will be the strong one today, even if it means falling apart on your own later.

The Cheerios are still walking by, and though Quinn doesn't speak, you don't miss the expression on her face. She purses her lips, lifts her eyebrow. They must recognize the challenge when they see it because they immediately lose some of their swagger.

"Rach," Quinn says softly beside you, her hand grasping tightly to yours. Her lips aren't moving. "This is... I'm not completely sure how to do this. Be patient with me today, okay?"

There's a vulnerability about her that you've never seen, and she's holding so tightly to your hand. You blink back the tears and straighten your posture.

"We can do this," you tell her. "If you really want to."

"I really do," she says, in that same quiet voice.

You smile, softly. "Okay. Then lets do this."

The only thing you can hear is your own breathing and a bird chirping somewhere, and finally, Quinn echoes your smile. "Okay," she says and, just that quickly, the vulnerability is gone, and Quinn Fabray is back.

It sends a familiar chill through your body, seeing her like this. Full of confidence. She's sexy when she's like this.

She tightens her grip on your hand and pulls you toward the school. Her school.

The door swings shut behind you and still Quinn does not let go of your hand. You risk a glance at her, and she looks completely calm, her posture rigid and a look of cold superiority on her face. She looks exactly like every time you've even seen her in the hallway in her cheerleading uniform. Except this time, she has Rachel Berry by her side, holding her hand.

You expect there to be some kind of reaction from the student population. Audible, visible. Anything. Instead, there are a few curious glances thrown your way, but mostly your peers are keeping out of Quinn's way. She walks you quietly to your locker and leans up against the wall while you hang your bookbag inside and begin to remove her jacket.

"Leave it on today, Rach?" she asks quietly, and you don't bother to hide your surprise from her. She rolls her eyes. "I mean, obviously, if you get warm, take it off, but I'd like you to be seen in it today. I want people to know, and I don't know if I can—"

You don't have to ask what she doesn't know if she can do. The only thing you can think to say in response is "But what if I get slushied?" and she laughs.

"Then you get slushied. But God help the poor moron who does it because Coach will be out of control with rage."

"Yeah," you mutter. "At you for lending it to a loser."

"Rachel Berry," Quinn says so sharply that you can't help but snap your eyes to hers in alarm. "You are not a loser." When she pulls you into a hug right there in the hallway, people actually stop walking to stare openly at you.

"What are you doing?" you whisper, and she laughs again and says, "Hugging you."

You shiver and murmur, "This feels like a lot more than hugging," and she laughs again. "Seriously, Quinn. How are you doing this?"

"Doing what?"

"Are you drunk?" you hiss.

She still has her arms around you when she says, "Come on, Rach. Driving to school drunk? No." And then, god and then, Quinn Fabray does something that takes you so far off guard, you lose your breath completely. She presses her lips to your ear like she did to you in bed and murmurs, "This is how I do things, Rachel. I figure out what I want and I go after it."

You're shivering by the time she pulls back, and she grins knowingly. "I'll see you in third period," she says and kisses you on the cheek. She's gone before you can begin to process the fact that she winked at you in front of everybody.

It's never taken longer to make it to history than it does today. Beside glee, this is the only class you have with Quinn, and the wait is completely worth it when she leans against the edge of your desk and talks to you before the bell rings. You honestly think that she might kiss you before she skips to her seat in the back, but she doesn't; she just smiles that smile that seems meant only for you, and then she's gone.

You're halfway through the hour when your phone flashes in your lap. Thank god you thought to silence it.

You're okay? I haven't scared you off, have I?

You've never texted in class before. You've never had anyone to text in class, and the idea of doing it is sneaky and thrilling. You're positive that the gold standard will forgive you for checking out for a few minutes, and you bite back a grin and type out your reply: Of course not, Quinn. I'm just surprised by your tenacity.

A few minutes goes by before it flashes again.

You're surprised by my tenacity?

You don't wait any time at all before sending, You're right. Maybe not.

Quinn doesn't respond, but you swear that you can hear her stifling her laughter in the back row.

When Quinn sits with you at lunch, it's at a table by yourselves, and the entire time she runs her foot slowly up and down the back of your calf underneath it. Her face, her voice, the topic of conversation don't give any indication that she's caressing you out of sight, but there is a very distinct look in her eye, and it makes you wish that you were home with her in your bedroom once again. If you were, you've recently learned that there are a dozen things that completely incapacitate her, and you'd try any of them in a second, just to make her heart thunder in her chest like yours is doing now.

After lunch, things are beginning to feel real. Like Quinn wants you with her. Like this could work. When you stop by your locker to get your books for English, you fish a black and white photograph out of your bag and tuck in beneath the magnet on your locker door. Quinn is holding you from behind and smiling at you like you're the only person in the world. Just looking at it now fills you with a warmth that you take for pure happiness. You can be that happy, you realize. The two of you. You shut your locker and head to class with happiness bursting across your face. You can't help it.

By the time it's finally time for glee, you're wrapped securely in Quinn's cheerleading jacket, just as she requested, and no one has tried to throw a slushie in your face. Your body is still humming from her secret attention at lunch, and on your way down the hallway, a hand presses lightly against your back and perfect white tennis shoes fall into step with your own. Quinn is walking you to glee club, and today is the best day at school you've ever had.

You look up to tell Quinn so and that it's all because of her, and the words die in your throat.

"Santana," you croak out instead.

She tilts her head, grins wickedly. "Hey, dwarf," she says, and before you know it, the gentle hand on your back turns heavy and then she's gripping your arm, and you're twisting against her.

"Let me go! This is harassment!"

"Oh no, you and me, we're going to have a little chat first." She shoves you through a door, and you find yourself in the bathroom. "About my girl Quinn."

Santana's hands are on her hips, and she looks incredibly pleased with herself.

You press yourself against the sink. The more distance between the two of you, the better.

"Quinn is not your girl," you tell her, and she laughs. She actually throws her head back and laughs at you.

"Because you think she's yours? Trust me, Yentl, there is no way on god's green—"

"What's going on?"

Oh thank god. Quinn must have seen Santana push you through the door and followed. That's when you notice the ice cold slushie in her hand. She could just be enjoying it as a treat, unless... oh god. You've never seen her drink one before. Ever. This is it, isn't it? This is the payoff she's been building up to since Friday afternoon in the Cheerios lounge. The ultimate humiliation. Make you fall so hard and so fast for her and then gang up on you with Santana in a bathroom.

Your eyes well up with tears, and somehow they're hotter than any tears you've ever cried in your life. You shut your eyes tight against them, and grip the edge of the sink.

"Go ahead, Quinn," you say in your steadiest voice. "Pull the trigger. Let's just get this over with."

Of course Quinn doesn't really want you. Of course she doesn't. You don't open your eyes. You can't. It hurts too much, how close you almost were to happiness. How sincere she seemed when she sang to you. The picnic—oh god, the ring!

Your tears are flowing freely now. You've been stabbed in the chest and you might as well bleed out and die right here. Your entire perfect weekend was just a long, elaborate set up for betrayal.

At least you found out now before you started planning your wedding.

"Santana, what the hell?" You don't open your eyes, and even if you did, you're crying too hard to be able to see what's going on. All you know is, the door opens, closes, and then there's warmth in your space again. You flinch and wait for impact. "Rachel, open your eyes and look at me."

You can't. You can't see her look at you with hatred in her eyes again. You can't.

There's a hand on your cheek, a thumb rubbing softly at your chin. It's not hurried. She's waiting.

It's not until you hear the slushie dumped in the sink that you finally open your eyes, the sight in front of you wrenches a sob up your throat. Quinn is silently crying. The sink next to you is filled with purple liquid, crushed ice, and a plastic cup floating on top.

"You really thought..." She swallows like the words are lodged in her throat. "You really thought that I would do that to you?"

"Quinn, I—"

She drops her hand. "I really don't know how much more sincere I can be. I've never—"Her tears come harder. "I've never been as open with anyone as I was with you this weekend, and you... you still don't believe me."

What can you really say? That you do believe her? You didn't even give her a chance to defend you. You just assumed immediately that her entire intent was malicious without even giving her a chance.

"I'm sorry," you say through silent tears. "I do believe you, I just..." You bite your lip. You're both still crying, and it's not right. This isn't how this is supposed to go. "Please, Quinn. Please hold me again."

If she doesn't, if she walks away from you now, it might actually kill you.

You don't have to wait long. Her arms are around you before you can even take another breath, delicate hands stroking your hair.

"I wanted to ride in on a white horse," she whispers. "I waited so long for you. To be able to be with you. You said... I made you feel safer than you've ever felt."

"I was supposed to be strong today," you tell her, and she sobs quietly against you. "I'm sorry."

With your arms around her waist and hers around your neck, you can't tell if she's holding you or if you're holding her.

You've both hurt each other beyond belief, and now you're back outside in the rain, looking through the window. Except that Quinn isn't standing next to you anymore. She's inside, looking out.

"I wanted to fight for you, and it turns out... I'm actually fighting you," she says, and you want to tell her that she's not making sense. "You think that I'm still this monster who would—"

She seems so lost, so broken. You can feel the pain that you've caused so vibrantly, as if it's in your own heart. It makes you want to gasp and clutch at your chest. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry." This time, you're nuzzling her, trying to get her to respond. Trying to make the same connection that you've shared all weekend. You're terrified that you've wrecked it, ruined it forever. You've shut the door in her face and she's never going to open it again. "Please, Quinn. Hold me."

"I am," she murmurs into you hair. But she must know that she's not. Her arms are around you, but there's a whole world between you.

"You're not." You choke on the sob that works its way up your throat. "Not like you have been. Please. I'm sorry I didn't trust you."

She's letting go. You're losing her! She steps back, and your hands automatically cover your face and catch your tears.

"I need to think." Her voice is hollow. Her tears are real and warm, and coming one after the other, but her voice is so empty. Mechanical. "I need to think, Rachel. I'll see you after glee."

As she's walking away, you don't know what else to do. In desperation, you whisper one word, the only word that feels like it can save you, can save what you had together. One word, barely a whisper. "Daisy."

It's so soft, but you know she hears you by the way she stops with her hand on the door. When she turns to look at you one last time, the tears are cascading, and she's biting her lip as if it will hold them back.

One last look back and then she's gone.

Glee club is a disaster. The only other time you've ever been off key is when you were sick and almost had to have your tonsils out. You can't concentrate. You can't stop the assault of the image of Quinn's tear-streaked face, her heartbreak advertised so clearly in her wounded eyes before she left you in the bathroom, sobbing.

Quinn isn't here. You don't know where she would go right now, but she's not in glee club, and it's your fault, which only makes you cry harder. The whole club can see you, no matter how tightly you wrap your arms around yourself. The last time this happened, Quinn took care of you. She led you away, she made you feel safe. And now—she can't be that for you. You turned her into something else, something that can't protect you.

When Mr. Schuester stops you for the fourth time to ask you to go back, Finn huffs and rolls his eyes. "Maybe if you could get it together—"

You shoot to your feet, hands curled into balls at your side. "Don't you dare say another word, Finn," you spit out with as much venom as you can muster. In the back of your mind, you think dimly that if Quinn could see you, she might be proud of you for standing up for yourself. "I understand that you're still angry with me for breaking up with you, and I'm sorry that I hurt you. But I am getting extremely tired of you blaming me for all of the glee club's problems. You have no idea what I'm dealing with right now, but since I seem to be ruining everything for the rest of you, I'm just going to go home early."

You make it to your locker before you break down again completely. It's the black and white photo that does it – the one that your dad took of you and Quinn before the most magical night of your young life. A night that you might never get to experience again. The look on Quinn's face in that photograph should have been enough for you to see how much she cared for you, but with Santana cornering you in the bathroom, and the slushie clutched in Quinn's hand, you forgot all about the picture. You forgot all about your weekend. You panicked. Because, really, how could someone as beautiful as Quinn Fabray want you?

You wipe at your eyes with the back of a shaking hand. The other hand tears the picture down and shoves it deep into your locker.

The last thing you need is a constant reminder of what you could have had.

The gasp behind you makes you whirl, your skirt fanning out. Quinn is still staring at the blank spot on your locker door.

"So, that's it?" she says. You can hear the tears lacing through her voice. Knowing that you're the one who put them there makes you think you might be sick in the hallway. "We have one fight, and you're done with me. Awesome."

"No! No, Quinn, I thought—" How do you explain that it's the exact opposite? "You left and... I thought—"

"You hurt me," Quinn says, dropping her gaze. "Worse than I've ever been hurt, I think. But... I also realize that I put you through so much hell that it's bound to have some residual effect on us, at least at first. It's another reason for us to slow down, maybe."

"Are you saying...?"

"I'm saying that this weekend was the best weekend of my life. I'm saying that I feel things for you that don't go away just because you assume that I'm capable of—" Quinn closes her eyes, shakes her head slightly. "I'm saying that we're together, and I don't walk away from things because they're hard. But if you're done, Rachel, I need you to tell me now so that I can go try to get over it."

"I'm not—It hurt too much seeing it there. I thought I ruined us. I don't want to be done. I thought I didn't have a choice. I want you to hold me again, like you did before." You're crying again, or maybe you never really stopped, but it doesn't matter anymore because Quinn's arms are around you. This feels like the first time, the way that she's holding you, fierce and protective. You melt into her, sniffle against her shoulder. "I'm so sorry," you say again, and she shushes you and strokes your hair.

There's a gentle kiss pressed to the skin just behind your ear, and she whispers against you, "I treated you so horribly, Rachel. It's no wonder that you doubt my feelings for you. It's going to take some time for me to get over what happened today, but... let me show you. Give me some time, and let me show you. I need you to let me try to build your trust."

You're about to tell her that she can have all the time she needs. You're going to say that the only thing you want is her arms around you forever. But her entire body tenses before you can. "What are you doing here?" she asks in a low voice, and when you hear Santana's answering laugh, you tense up too.

"Oh please, tubbers, I can walk down the hallway if I want to. It's a free country."

"Turn around and walk away, Santana."

"No problem. It's not like I really care, anyway. I hope you're happy throwing your life away on some ridiculous hobbit."

"Just because you and Brittany can't seem to work yourselves out, that does not give you the right to assault my girlfriend in the bathroom. If you ever lay a hand on her again, I'll have you kicked off the squad so fast that your scholarship will seem like it was never even offered to you in the first place, Santana. Don't test me."

"Girlfriend," Santana scoffs, but you can tell that Quinn's words have done their damage. Santana wants out of Ohio just as much as Quinn does. "Whatever. You don't know anything about me and Britt. Stay out of my way, dwarf. Just because you're screwing a Cheerio doesn't mean that you mean anything to the rest of us."

You listen to Santana's retreating footsteps and nuzzle into Quinn's neck.

"I'm your girlfriend?" you ask her softly, and she laughs.

"That's what being together means, Rach." She twirls your hair. "Unless you changed your mind about what you want," she says slowly.

"I haven't changed my mind," you're quick to tell her. "I just don't think your friends like me very much."

The sound Quinn makes sounds somewhere between pained and frustrated. "We only have a few more months until graduation, Rach. I'm not worried about retribution from Santana. She'll get over it."

Her finger is tracing your jaw now, and it's making you shiver. "I know you can't stay tonight, but will you at least come over? We can have dinner and do homework and..."


"Cuddle, maybe?"

"We'll see." Her fingers are in your hair again, and you wonder with her tenderness towards you how you ever could have thought her capable of sweeping you off your feet all weekend just for the chance to humiliate you. It makes you want to sob into her again, with how good she's being to you, but her arms tighten just that much more, and you're safe. She makes you feel safe.

And then, there's a kiss pressed to your mouth that you never even saw coming, and all of the feeling, all of the warmth, all of the care that Quinn has been showing you for days erupts in your belly, and you cling tighter to her and sigh against her.

When she pulls away, you're both breathing heavily. "Come on, Chuck," Quinn says in a low voice, "it's me and you. Right?"

And when you can finally tell her that, yes, it is, she leads you by the hand down the hallway and out into the sunlight.

It isn't raining anymore, and you're not looking in the window at Quinn or anybody else. This time, it's you and Quinn, together, and you grip Quinn's hand tighter and let her carry you away in those tumultuous eyes of hers. You finally know that feeling of what it's like to be happy with someone, and so does she.

Even though your future isn't as certain as you thought it was before Quinn took you into her arms on a Friday afternoon in the cheerleading lounge, she looks at you and, just like that, you've found the thought that can make you fly.

And for now, it's enough.