Part 3

I spent most of Saturday getting things around for the party. My mother had business to attend to in Columbus and wouldn't be back until the following evening, which was perfect for me. As much as I wanted to help Rachel, I still wasn't ready for my mom to know—and she would, as soon as she saw how I looked at Rachel, how I treated her. I wonder if I would have had that same instinctual, maternal intuition for only a second before I brush the thought aside, internalize, repress, and continue about my day.

There isn't much to prepare, but I still take my time with it, working out the details with as much precision as I know Rachel would. I'm well aware that I'm only being so meticulous because she'll be coming over, and that it is at least somewhat pathetic. I can't find it within myself to care, though, as I turn our plain living room into a veritable jungle of pillows, blankets, and bowls (of chips, popcorn—no butter for my vegan company, and pretzels). The coffee table is littered with DVDs, 'Funny Girl' sitting proudly on top and awaiting Rachel's attention. I admittedly picked it up on my morning run today in hopes of maybe impressing her by already having it.

My bedroom floor is scraped clean of any dirty clothes that wormed their way out of my hamper and items I just didn't feel like putting away at the time, making a suitable space for four sleeping bags to rest before I dig out every accessory and makeup application I own, knowing Kurt will insist upon every available scrap of ammunition in order to turn his chosen makeover partner from 'drab to fab', as he puts it. It's a bit frightening how someone can go from a friend to a human canvas in a matter of seconds with him.

He and Mercedes arrive only minutes after the pizzas get here (two large, one with just cheese, the other split in half with bacon—it seriously tastes good on everything, just trust me—and pepperoni toppings, and one medium vegan pizza on top) and I'm a little concerned that neither of them offered Rachel a ride, but push it aside in favor of helping them get their stuff into my room. Kurt gushes over all the makeup I set out and I have to internally congratulate myself on a job well done. Mercedes is unrolling the sleeping bags while Kurt is prodding me downstairs to see what movies I already set out—apparently he took the liberty of bringing some of his own, just in case. It's then that the doorbell rings, and I take the last three steps with a jump to the bottom and rush forward in my eagerness, and I can't help but grin when I open the door to a lip-biting, fidgeting Rachel.

"Hey," is all I can bring myself to say, and I can tell she's really trying to meet my eyes when she replies, "Hello, Quinn."

I'll never be able to keep myself from smiling when she says my name. It's different from the way anyone else says it. I like it.

I give myself a mental slap, because she's still standing on the porch holding a…plastic bag. And that's it. I'm a little concerned now, but I lean forward to take it from her anyway even as I angle my body so she can slip past me, "Let me take that."

A flush rises in her cheeks, but she lets me have it, ducking her head as she slips in past me with a quiet, "Thank you."

I just smile and shut the door behind her, ignoring the odd look Kurt is giving me in favor of peering in the bag, which holds what looks like a plastic container of celery and some kind of dressing. I have to sigh to myself, because of course she'd think she had to supply her own food. When does anyone else ever think of her?

I suppress a wave of irritation and step past the two to set her celery and dressing next to the chips before turning to thank her for bringing food, play the hostess, but their conversation quickly catches my attention.

"Rachel, darling, you look fabulous," Kurt is telling her. My fists clench of their own accord, even as he spins her to examine the tight black jeans and red tank top she's wearing. Of course she looks hot and all, but it's not her, and I hate that one of my best friends has been encouraging this. "But where's your sleeping bag? We saved you a spot right by the heater like you like, diva." He places his hands on his hips, and Rachel looks utterly panicked.

She looks over at me and I groan with frustration. I'd only told her it was a 'girl's night', not that she would be sleeping over. Shit.

"It-it's a—"

I step forward and I can tell it startles her, so I instinctively wrap my hand around hers as I say, "It's my fault. You can borrow my stuff, I don't mind." I pause, but there's no shift in her expression. "You can stay, can't you?"

Kurt's odd expression is back, even as he turns to pout at Rachel, begging with puppy eyes. I ignore him again, focusing on Rachel. I realize belatedly that I'm rubbing my thumb up and down the back of her hand. It takes some effort to stop, her skin is so soft, I've missed having my hands on it. She can't stop looking at our hands, it seems, but eventually she manages to nod, and Kurt is already squealing.

"I-I should probably call my dads, though," Rachel adds quietly, and I smile warmly, just saying, "Of course" before she's swept up in Kurt's arms and they're dancing around the living room, and even though I'm not holding her hand anymore, I don't mind as much, because she's laughing.