Title: Hope Springs Eternal (Hopefully)

Pairing: Quinn Fabray/Rachel Berry

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. Just having a little fun.

Summary: Quinn and Rachel stagger along bumps in the road as they journey through senior year. One carries faith as a weapon, the other, resignation.

A/N 1: Longest one-shot I've ever written. It basically chronicles Rachel and Quinn's relationship with each other as well as others around them their senior year as they also deal with college and moving on.

A/N 2: This is largely a character study, I've realized. Original Song (I think that's what that episode was called) gave a really interesting view of the current Rachel/Quinn dynamic and I thought it was interesting.

A/N 3: Lol, also, I wanted to get this out before the new season came out because if I waited until September, I probably wouldn't have ever finished this because of how vastly different the new canon senior year would be compared to this fic. With that said, this will probably be my last fic before my classes start back up. I wanted to go out with a little hurrah. :) I hope you all enjoy.

Her attraction to Quinn had never crept up on her. It wasn't a realization that happened one day as she stood at her locker and pined for a certain Head Cheerio as she talked to Finn during their sophomore year. It didn't slam into her the moment Quinn told her I'm not mad at you in the most broken voice Rachel had ever heard. And it certainly didn't stem from being slapped by her when she lost prom queen.

No, her attraction to Quinn had been a simmering, smoldering entity that had grown over the years until it got to a point where she couldn't fight it anymore. It was strong and undeniable. So undeniable that when Finn kissed her on stage in front of a large crowd the day they lost Nationals, she felt so sick and confused that she broke up with him that very night. Finn. Finn. The boy that she swore to herself to love for all of eternity. The boy that she told her dads she was going to marry someday in an extravagant wedding that included doves. The boy she was going to have really tall children with, grow old with, die with.

And maybe she was stupid. She spent the whole summer thinking she was because who throws away a two year on and off relationship just because they have very intense feelings for their boyfriend's ex-girlfriend who, in the past didn't like them very much? It was a Jerry Springer episode waiting to happen.

It felt stupid, but when she marched into school the first day of her senior year feeling more confident than ever, she was determined to woo Quinn because that's just what you do when you like one Quinn Fabray. You woo her because she's the type of person that someone just has to win over. Long story short, Rachel got slushied after her first ten steps into school. Literally ten. She had counted. She had blindly run into the bathroom to clean herself off. She was in the middle of washing her hair when the most angelic voice said to her; You're an idiot for walking into this place every year acting like you own it. If you just acted normal then this wouldn't have happened.

The juxtaposition of the scathing comment and the gentle tone in which it was spoken caused Rachel's stomach to knot and twist. The next thing she knew, her hands were being batted away and nimble fingers softly combed through her hair to wash the corn syrup out.

She remembered boldly stating something along the lines of 'I like you' and Quinn telling her 'I know'. Then she wondered if she was really that obvious. Quinn finished washing her hair and turned her around as she meticulously dried it off as best she could with brittle washroom paper towels. Rachel stared at her lips the entire time and though Quinn knew, she allowed it. They didn't kiss that day but they didn't need to because Rachel got her kiss just a week and a half later and it was worth it. And that's how she had got Quinn Fabray to be hers. Rachel Berry works efficiently. The rest, as they say was history.

History that was more or less writing itself right now with each passing day.

"Hello, Finn," Rachel greeted warmly as the two passed one another in the hallway. It had been four months since their break-up. Rachel secretly thought four was the most unlucky number in the world. Four was the number of people that belonged in the quadrangle that once included her, Quinn, Finn, and Puck. Four was the number of months Finn and Quinn had been dating when she stepped in and essentially stole him from her. And four was the number of months that she and Finn had been broken up when she spoke to him on this day. But apparently, four months still wasn't long enough. Finn merely spared her a glance as he kept walking. Her smile wilted and she clutched her books tighter to her chest. Yes, the number four was a cruel bitch. She and Quinn had only been together for less than a month so needless to say, Finn still wasn't cordial. She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear—a nervous tick—and kept walking to Quinn's locker.

She stopped right up beside her girlfriend's locker. Quinn's short hair was curled loosely to fall just below her ear. Rachel smiled. "Good morning, Quinn."

"Good morning," Quinn murmured distractedly as she fished a book out of her locker. She turned to Rachel. Her gaze quickly flicked over her face. "Something's wrong."

Rachel had found it uncanny that the second they got together Quinn seemed to know her better than anyone else in her life, sans her fathers, of course. She suspected that when they weren't friends, Quinn took the 'know your enemy better than your friends' motto to heart in a very big way. "Finn is still upset."

Quinn chuckled quietly as she closed her locker. "His two ex-girlfriends are in a relationship, Rachel. I doubt he'll be okay with that right now. Give him time."

"How much time?" she droned on.

"As much time as he needs."

She nodded and grumbled a little, then they turned to walk to class. Rachel watched as passersby watched them. There was a mixture of curiosity and jealousy. Boys continued to leer at Quinn openly as cheerleaders glared at Rachel. A couple of mean faces were made in a sea of indifference. Blindly, Rachel reached out to take Quinn's hand. She felt Quinn tense beside her and immediately dropped her hand.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly. She allowed her eyes to slide up to Quinn's, half expecting to see anger.

What she got was bawled up lips and a furrowed brow. Quinn looked down at her hand warily. She seemed to be making a decision. Rachel was about to suggest they forget this moment and keep walking when Quinn carefully reached out and gently grasped her hand. Warmth spread from their point of contact throughout Rachel's body until she was grinning giddily up at Quinn. "Are you sure you're okay with this?"

Sharp hazel eyes scanned the crowd of students passing by them. She saw a few curious glances a couple judgemental eyes, but they were largely ignored. She looked back down at Rachel. "I don't really know what I'm doing," she admitted. "But I can do this." She gestured to their interlinked hands. Rachel smiled wider and Quinn knew she had made the right choice. They walked to class with Rachel swinging their hands the entire way.

Rachel grinned like a fool the entire day.

"Well, don't you look happy," Hiram commented as he tied his apron.

Rachel sat at the table in the kitchen to engage him in conversation. "I am."

"Who's the new guy?"

"This guy is a girl, dad."

His eyebrows rose to his hairline. "I never thought you'd be—"

"I don't know if I am. I just know that I'm crazy about her."

He turned to her to find the familiar hearts in her eyes that she only got when singing and matters of the heart were involved. He smiled. "Be careful, sweetheart."

"She's amazing, dad."

"Did you hear me?"

"Did you hear me?"

"Yes, yes, I hear she's amazing," he quipped.

"She is."

"Does she have a name?"

Rachel smiled wildly. "Quinn."

"Quinnie, do you know who you're taking to prom?"

"Mom, it's only October."

"A good prom campaign has to start early. You don't want a repeat of last year."

Quinn groaned as the memories of last year came flooding back. She dropped her fork and placed her hand on her face. It was embarrassing. Not only did she lose prom queen, but she physically assaulted her then frenemy, now girlfriend. It was a Jerry Springer episode waiting to happen. It was one of the most devastating moments in her life. When Rachel reared back and looked at her with wide hurt eyes after being slapped, Quinn nearly broke down into uncontrollable sobs. It took everything she had to even choke out the words I'm sorry because all she wanted to do was curl into a ball and cry.

Rachel had extended her the most kindness out of everyone on her life, truthfully. Her father had kicked her out of the house once he realized she was pregnant, her mother had merely stood there and let it happen, her sister had left and never looked back once she graduated high school—though Quinn couldn't say she blamed her. And though Santana and Brittany were pretty okay friends from time to time—where had they been when she was pregnant? Not around. Where had Rachel been when she was pregnant? Well, she had pretty much dropped the ball by stealing Finn away with the knowledge of who the baby belonged to, but she was the only person in Quinn's life that extended any kind of friendship or helping hand aside from Finn's mother.

It still sickened her to think of prom because out of all the low moments in her semi-but-not-really friendship with Rachel, that was definitely the lowest.

But she always tried to look at the bright side. The bright side was that she had Rachel now. Rachel liked her despite the fact that Quinn had been telling herself for over a year up until this point that Rachel must have hated her. She liked her enough to be with her and for now, Quinn would count it as a win.

"Maybe I just won't go to prom," she mumbled.

"Nonsense, Quinn. You've wanted prom queen since you were thirteen."

"No, you've wanted me to be prom queen since I was thirteen."


"I'll think about it, mom."

School was immensely better for Rachel. Her senior year was shaping up to possibly be the best year of her entire schooling career and she had Quinn to thank for it. After the first day of school, Rachel was no longer slushied and though Quinn never admitted it, Rachel suspected the reason Karofsky and Azimio laid off was because they had been ordered to.

Thanksgiving wasn't that great for Rachel. She was hoping to have her girlfriend over to her house to meet her parents, but Quinn still hadn't come out to Judy. Rachel insisted it was okay and that she could still come over, but Quinn pleaded for a rain check. She promised by Christmas she will have met the Berrys.

"I thought Quinn was going to come over, Rachel?" Hiram asked.

Like throwing salt into a wound. Rachel frowned into her tofu. "She had a prior engagement."

"Are we ever going to meet the illustrious Quinn Fabray?" Leroy asked with a hint of a teasing smile.

Rachel smiled bashfully. She did tend to talk about Quinn in high regard whenever she got the chance. "I hope so, daddy."

Hiram watched her carefully. "Is she a nice girl?"

"Yes, dad she is very sweet and—"

"Quinn Fabray. Quinn Fabray. Why does that sound familiar?" Leroy interjected.

Rachel bowed her head and continued to eat her food as the dots connected in Leroy's mind. "Wait just a minute."

She quickly looked up. "Daddy, she's changed."

"She slapped you in the face!"

"And she apologized for it. I think it hurt her more than it hurt me."

"Oh, did it?" he questioned incredulously. "Did she have a bruise on her cheek that she had to explain to her parents when she got home?"

"No, but—"

"She's not allowed in my house."

"Daddy," she whined.

"You're lucky I don't make you stop seeing her. She hit you, Rachel."

"I'm aware of what she did. But I'm telling you she's a different person. She's calm and really nice."

"For how long?"

"Leroy, honey, lay off of her a bit."

"You're okay with our daughter dating an abuser?"

"She's not an abuser!" Rachel shouted.

"Rachel, let your father and I talk about this," Hiram said.

Rachel slumped back against her chair with a sigh. She dropped her fork, pushed her plate away and stormed up the stairs.

"Children fight, Leroy. That's just how it is."

"She slapped our daughter in the face."

"How many fist fights did you and your best friend get into in high school? You know, the best friend I can call up right now and he'd be down here in a second to watch a football game with you. That friend."

"That's different."

"It's exactly the same."

She walked to her room and flung herself unceremoniously onto her bed. She bit back tears at the bickering going on downstairs. It wasn't fair that she had finally realized her feelings for Quinn, had Quinn and had to watch her family argue over her because her father didn't approve of Quinn. She chuckled darkly. What parent didn't approve of Quinn? She was the perfect model of a good girl. Smart, religious, wholesome. It amazed Rachel how this could have happened to her. And it wasn't like she came home from prom sobbing because Quinn slapped her in the face. There was just a red bruise on her face that had become more visible as the night had continued on. She had gone home that night and the first thing her father asked her when he saw her was how did she get that bruise on her face. He had been ready to blow up. He took to the phone, ready to call Jesse when Rachel had told him it wasn't Jesse's fault. Leroy was then about to call Finn's mother when Rachel bit her lip and once again, told him he had the wrong culprit.

He had calmly asked her who did it. Rachel was reluctant to say, but eventually told him that in the heat of the moment, Quinn lost herself for a bit and slapped her. Leroy was on the phone with the operator, searching for the Fabray household number before Rachel had managed to get him to hang up. She pleaded with him, near tears because he didn't understand. He didn't understand what prom queen meant to Quinn, he didn't understand how upset Quinn was, and how hurt she looked when she wholeheartedly apologized.

But he wasn't there when prom was over and Quinn walked over to her as she stood with Jesse waiting for their ride. He wasn't there when Quinn looked positively mournful. When Quinn cupped the side of her cheek gingerly, running her thumb across the bruised flesh. He didn't see the glint in Quinn's eye when she leaned closer to get a look. The remorse and compassion mixed with something else Rachel had never taken the time to notice before but now fully recognized. He didn't hear Quinn's breathy voice whisper I'm really, really sorry, Rachel as she looked her in the eye, as she stroked her cheek softly.

Rachel sighed at the memory. Those tumultuous hours of prom were really the only meaningful contact she and Quinn had shared up until the end of the year, if you don't count the longing glances she noticed Quinn shoot her when she was with Finn.

She pulled out her phone, all this reminiscing of the past making her miss Quinn.

Rachel: How is your evening going?

Quinn: Honestly?

Rachel: I always find that honesty is the best policy.

It took a full five minutes of Rachel nervously biting her nails and checking her phone nonstop for Quinn to reply.

Quinn: I kind of wish I had spent Thanksgiving with you.

It was five minutes well worth the wait. Her heart soared. Then the smile on her face melted away as she remembered Leroy's harsh words.

Rachel: Quinn, I think you should know something.

Quinn: I hope it's nothing bad.

Rachel: My daddy knows that you slapped me at prom.

Rachel: And he isn't really happy about it.

Quinn: He hates me.

Rachel: Well, no. He's just really protective.

Quinn: I'm sorry about that.

Quinn: What I did.

Rachel: I know, Quinn.

Quinn: And for everything else I've done.

Rachel: I know.

"What do you want for your birthday?"

"I don't know. What are you going to get me?"

"Well, I won't know that until you give me a hint for what you want."

"Maybe I want to be surprised."

"Maybe I suck at getting people gifts."

"Maybe I'll like whatever you get me."

"Maybe I don't want you to like it. Maybe I want you to love it."

They were quickly becoming one of those sappy couples, Quinn knew. But she didn't have it in her heart to stop it. They talked on the phone every day after homework and Rachel would talk about her future. Where she would go, how hard she'd strive, how much she loved to sing, how Broadway was calling her.

Quinn couldn't lie; she felt a little left out. Rachel had all of these big dreams and aspirations and Quinn was just Quinn, destined for Lima Community College or OSU if she actually cared enough to fill out the application. But Rachel was going places. She was going to soar far beyond Ohio and Quinn was going to let her.

She cleared her throat and spoke into the phone. "I'm sorry, were you saying something?"

"Were you not listening?"

"I may have tuned out a minute there."

"Quinn Fabray!"

"What do you want for your birthday?"

"I just want you to come here and meet my fathers."

She groaned and turned away from the phone as if it was something putrid. She stared down at it, Rachel's voice sounding squeaky from far away as she said, "It won't be that bad, Quinn. They just need to see that you aren't an abuser."

She quickly brought the phone back to her ear. "They think I abuse you?" she asked tightly.

"Quinn, calm down. Daddy was just acting a little extreme because—"

"Because I slapped you." She ran a hand down her face in frustration. She had a long list of things in her life that she wish she could take back and slapping Rachel in the face was in the top three. "I'm sorry."

"You've already apologized for that. And I've already forgiven you."

"Have you?"

Rachel didn't even hesitate. "Yes."

Rachel worked diligently day and night perfecting performance tapes for Juilliard. She was going to send in three videos, though she only had to send one. One can never be too cautious, was always her motto. She filmed one video of her singing a classic song, she was going to the dance studio this weekend to record herself performing an original piece, and Get It Right, the song she wrote, was going to be her third performance to send in. She had always considered it to be hers and Quinn's song for the simple fact that her conversation with Quinn inspired it. And for years they could never get it right.

But it was right, now. It was perfect.

She watched as Quinn's eyes roved over the walls in her room. Rachel often times found her girlfriend's overt surveying of her room for subtle changes every time she came over endearing. She had no idea that Quinn could be so…attentive.

"You can talk, you know," Rachel said softly when hazel eyes found hers again.

Quinn looked affronted. "What do you mean?" she asked, almost defensively.

Rachel sat up to face her more fully. "I've just noticed that you allow me to do all the talking. You don't talk." She scooted closer until all Quinn could see was a dark curtain of brown hair and big expressive eyes. "I suppose I just…want you to know that you can speak about yourself. Your likes, dislikes. I-I would just like to get to know you."

Quinn averted her gaze to the bed sheets below her. Rachel watched her silently, waiting for any indication that her words stuck. When nothing happened, she sighed quietly and plopped down on her back on the bed. "I suppose I can continue talking for the both of—"

"What do you want to know?" Quinn asked quietly.

"Hopes, dreams," Rachel fired back. She had been wondering this for a while. It was a little presumptuous to assume hers and Quinn's future goals would line up perfectly but she couldn't help but at least hope. "What do you want to be or do for the rest of your life?"

"I'm going to be a realtor."

"Yes, I remember," she responded solemnly. "Is that what you want to be?"

"That's what I'm going to be."

"Yes, but what do you want?"

Quinn looked at her strangely then, as if Rachel had grown two heads. She looked confused. And Rachel tilted her head, just as perplexed. Had no one ever asked her what she wanted in life?

"I don't know," Quinn grumbled finally. She laid down beside Rachel, shoulder to shoulder.

Rachel cleared her throat. She lifted onto her elbow to hover over Quinn. "What do you like to do?" she asked sincerely.

Quinn squinted her eyes as she gave it serious thought. She ticked off a list. Cheerios she joined because her father wanted her to. She joined the Celibacy Club because her parents wanted her to. She joined glee club in the beginning because she wanted to keep an eye on her boyfriend. She was on honor roll simply because she was smart and if she slacked off, her parents wouldn't have approved. Nothing, nothing that she had done had been because she wanted to do it. She inhaled a deep breath. "I guess I like to draw," she mumbled unsurely.

Rachel rolled her eyes, remembering the unflattering pornographic drawings and the hideous caricature with hearts around it that Quinn drew of her. "I should have known."

Pink tinted Quinn's cheeks as she muttered an apology for the pictures. "But still," she continued firmly, "How many artists actually make a suitable living from their drawings or paintings? I know it's unlikely for me."

"So, studio art can be a minor," Rachel countered right back. "How about a major?"

They stared at each other intensely, a silent battle going on. Rachel pushing Quinn to dream and Quinn resisting. "You can't save the world."

Rachel quirked an eyebrow. She leaned over to drape herself over Quinn and kissed her soundly. The tension in the room was quickly replaced by a different kind as slender, pale fingers ran through dark, thick hair. Rachel's tongue slid over Quinn's bottom lip and dipped inside. She coaxed an eager tongue to stroke against hers, moaning when supple lips closed around her tongue and sucked. Eventually she pulled back, panting as half lidded eyes stared back up at her. "I'm not trying to save the world," Rachel said quietly. "I'm just taking an interest in you."


"Because I like you. You're my girlfriend."

That simple statement seemed to completely disengage Quinn. Rachel almost giggled at how caught unaware she looked. Those eyes widened until fully visible and they stared at each other for the longest time. Quinn rubbed Rachel's back softly as Rachel's body settled more fully on top of her.

"I like writing," she finally whispered.

Rachel nodded. "Do you wish to be an author?"

Quinn pursed her lips. "Not exactly."

"Then what do you want to be?"

"You can't laugh."

"I would never laugh at your dreams," Rachel said genuinely.

Quinn's heart constricted at the honesty in Rachel's words. How could someone be so nice? Unlike her, when she spent years laughing at Rachel's dreams of Broadway. It sometimes felt like she had so much to apologize for even though she'd already apologized for everything.

"I kind of want to…teach."

Rachel hummed and dipped her head, resting in the space of Quinn's neck and shoulder. Her lips lazily trailed across the soft patch of skin and Quinn sighed. "I think you would be a phenomenal teacher."

"You're just saying that because it's polite."

"I am not. I saw how you were—though admittedly briefly—with Sam's siblings. You like children."

"I do."

They carefully sidestepped a very important landmine, deciding to save the touchy subject that was important to them both for a much later date.

"You could be a creative writing teacher."

She nuzzled further into Quinn as slim arms tightened around her. "I could."

"Then it's settled. You'll major in creative writing and minor in studio art."


"Just as you always tell me, Quinn, not buts," she teased.

Quinn huffed loudly as if put off by the exchange. But she had one of the brightest smiles on her face that Rachel never got to see.

Contrary to popular belief around the school, Quinn, Santana, and Brittany weren't that close. Brittany and Santana of course were attached at the hip since the day they met each other, but their friendship with Quinn was more based on convenience than anything else. Brittany at least was a genuine person, Santana was the more manipulative one that Quinn constantly had to watch out for. Their friendship began sophomore year when the three of them tried out for the squad again. Santana spent her time trying to one up Quinn for her position but in the end, Quinn was Head Cheerio.

After learning that, Santana quickly changed tactics. She befriended Quinn and at the time, Quinn really didn't have friends unless her boyfriend, Finn counted which to her, he didn't. Santana and Brittany were a packaged deal, so Quinn went from having no friends to having two. After about a month in school sophomore year, everyone knew her name, and by association, everyone knew Santana and Brittany as well. Those two used it to their advantage and slept around, but Quinn had kept to herself, only talking to people when she needed something from them.

It amazed her sometimes how much alike she and Rachel were. She wondered why she fought so hard to stay away from her when out of everyone in the school, Rachel was really the only one who knew her and could relate to her.

Her friendship with both Santana and Brittany waxed and waned. The end of last year was the pinnacle of their relationship. Though she can't say wanting somebody to love her translated to getting a new haircut, it was the thought behind it that counted. Her friends had ridden a taxi with her all the way to the hair salon and the three of them sat on chairs side by side, looking through magazines for different cuts. It had been oddly therapeutic and Quinn had been thankful that at least someone was there for her during the melt down.

She thought of all of this while she calmly looked over Santana's room. It was characteristically broody, much like she'd prefer her own room to be if her mother wasn't so overbearing. "I've always liked your room."

Santana shrugged. "You should. It's cooler than yours."

Quinn couldn't help but smile at the familiar banter. Their friendship—no matter how shallow, it was still a friendship—took a bit of hiatus over the summer as Quinn mostly kept to herself, trying to get her shit together before senior year. She had sworn to herself that she was going to have a good year no matter what because she deserved it after all she'd been through. So far things were looking up. She was getting good grades and had a great girlfriend.

"Where's B?"

"Probably somewhere trying to get Artie back."

She watched her get off the bed and walk over to her iPod deck. Santana pressed some buttons then the next thing she heard was Melissa Ethridge. Santana walked back over to the bed and plopped down with a dark expression.


She looked over to Quinn. "What?"

Quinn scooted closer. "Look, I'm sorry about the whole Brittany thing."

"Whatever. It was months ago."

"And I never helped you through it because I was dealing with my own stuff. But I am really sorry." She reached out hesitantly and drew Santana into one of the handful amount of hugs they ever had.

It was time to make amends. With Rachel, Santana, anyone she had wronged or treated in a way she didn't want to be treated. She was a different person, same bite but different bark. A gentler bark, if you will.

Santana smirked. Quinn quickly pulled back with a roll of her eyes. Santana was going to have her ass for this.

"Wow, the Five Step Berry Program to Declaw You sure worked wonders. And in such a short amount of time."

"Don't get any wrong ideas," Quinn stated firmly. "I still have means to end you. I just choose not to."

The warning fell on deaf ears just like it almost always did with Santana. She leaned back on her bed, the same shit eating grin on her face as she regarded Quinn carefully. "Is it worth being so tame?"

Quinn shifted uncomfortably. "Is what?"

"The pussy."

She flushed but glared angrily. "Don't ask me about things like that."

"Oh, come on, Q. Just tell me if she's good."

"We haven't…"

"Will you ever?"

"I'm done with this discussion."

Santana shrugged. She grabbed a magazine from her nightstand and began flipping through it nonchalantly. "So, there's this chick on Cheerios named Mandy."

Just like that, the conversation was over. Quinn breathed a quiet sight of relief. Her sex life wasn't something she was comfortable with talking about, no matter how experienced Santana might have been. "You like her?"

"She's cute."


"Double date?"


"Good morning, Finn."

"Morning, Rachel."

"Perhaps you'd like to discuss the obvious figurative elephant in the room since lately you have been avoiding me and—"

"Later, Rachel, okay? Later…"

Quinn groaned as she pulled back from Rachel's lips. She licked her own, gazing down predatorily. Rachel lay prone underneath her, looking a little loopy with a lazy grin on her face. Quinn giggled at her expression. "You enjoy this, don't you?"

Rachel's smile turned into a full-fledged grin. "How could I not?"

She hummed and dipped back down to attach their lips. She took a kiss-swollen bottom lip between her teeth and gave a gentle tug, reveling in the whimper that crawled from Rachel's throat. It settled low in her belly and made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.

Rachel pulled her closer until Quinn nestled firmly between her legs. She hissed at the new contact. "Quinn," she whispered.

"Hmm?" Quinn kissed a path down her jaw and to her throat. It was soft and delicate, almost begging to be marked. Quinn moaned sotly into her skin. She flattened her tongue and ran it along the length of Rachel's throat. Then something amazing happened. Rachel's hips slowly rolled into her own. It felt amazing. It felt…sexy. Quinn stroked along Rachel's throat again and those hips pumped into her own again more powerfully.

"Quinn," Rachel moaned. She grabbed onto the short, blonde locks at the base of Quinn's neck and held her there as teeth began to nip at her sensitive flesh. Her hips slowly picked up a steady rhythm. A rogue hand slid through their tightly pressed bodies as best it could. She heard a gasp against her throat as her palm grazed Quinn's breast. She moaned at the gentle weight in her hand. Quinn rose up a little as a small hand closed around her breast and squeezed. Her eyes slammed shut as shockwaves rapidly traveled between her legs. Her hips began to meet Rachel's thrust for thrust as her nipple was being expertly pinched through thin material of her dress and bra.

Rachel marveled at the long expanse of Quinn's neck. Her head was tossed back, her eyes were closed, and a telling blush was slowly creeping towards her chest. Her eyes locked on the hand on Quinn's breast that was wreaking so much havoc. She licked her lips, groaning at the thought of having as much of Quinn's breast in her mouth as she could fit. She pinched her nipple harder and Quinn whined at the sensation.

It was only going to get more out of hand from there. Quinn knew this. If anyone knew how simple making out could lead down the wrong path, it was Quinn. And it wasn't that making out with Rachel would lead down a wrong path, just a path that was too soon for either of them to be taking.

She smiled a little with a breathless gasp. She hadn't felt this good in—she's never felt this good. She glanced at the clock on the table beside her bed, then pressed a quick kiss to Rachel's cheek before disentangling herself. Rachel whimpered at the loss immediately. She turned over to Quinn as her bottom lip poked out.

"Don't pout at me."

"Why did you stop?" Rachel whined.

Quinn giggled at her antics. She reached up to brush a stray strand of hair behind Rachel's ear. "Because my mother gets off work in half an hour. I have to take you home soon."

Rachel pouted more and slunk off the bed to find her shoes. She sat in a chair across the room, staring at Quinn heatedly as she put her shoes on her feet.

Quinn smiled placatingly at her disgruntled girlfriend. "I have a question."

"Does it involve continuing what we started?"

She took the time to think about it. "No, but now I have another question. Are you really ready for that, Rachel?"

Rachel dipped her head bashfully, digging the toes of her un-shoed foot into the carpet. "No," she grumbled. "Not yet." She looked back up at Quinn with determination. "But I will be one day."

"What about not being ready for intercourse and babies until you're twenty-five?"

She gaped openly at her. Her mouth opened and shut repeatedly. "Finn told you that?" she shrieked.

Quinn waved her off. "He complained to everyone the day afterwards. Right after he told everyone he got to touch your breast." Her brow furrowed as her lips pressed tightly together.

Rachel smiled coyly at her reaction. "And you remembered all of that?"

She quickly clamped a hand over her mouth as if just realizing what she revealed. A slow blush crept along her cheeks and Rachel laughed. Quinn scowled across the room at her. "Now I won't ask you what I was going to ask you."

"Aw, come on."


"Quinn." Rachel hurriedly put her shoe back on and walked over to Quinn's bed. She sat down beside her girlfriend and leaned over to kiss her cheek. "Tell me?"






"Quinn, please."

"Say please again."



"It's almost time for me to go," she lamented. "Please tell me."

Quinn turned around to look at her. She flashed the most charming smile Rachel had ever seen. "I was just going to ask if you wanted to go on a date."


"Yes, really. That's what couples do. And I haven't been on a date in forever—you're paying, by the way." Her smile turned devious and Rachel shook her head good-natured disapproval. She still couldn't stop her heart from racing because Quinn, Quinn wanted to go on a date with her.

The shock of their relationship would probably never wear off.

"I would love to go on a date with you."

"And what song will you be performing today, Rachel?"

"I'll be performing At Last by Etta James, Mr. Schuester."

Quinn's eyes bulged out of her head.

She couldn't put off meeting Rachel's parents for much longer and truth be told, she didn't want to. Sneaking around Rachel's house was getting old and she needed to gain her parents' approval if she and Rachel were to go further. What further was, she wasn't really sure. She just knew that there was a further and that she wanted it.

She gripped the bouquet of flowers in her left hand tightly as she knocked on the door. A gust of cold wind flew by and she pulled her coat tighter against her.

"I'll get it!" a shrill voice squawked from behind the door. Quinn grinned widely. She knew that voice anywhere. Rachel opened the door a moment later and flung herself into Quinn's arms. "Hi, Quinn."

"Happy birthday," she murmured back. She rubbed Rachel's back and placed a kiss atop her head. Rachel pulled back and pecked her on the lips. They stared at each other goofily for a moment until Rachel reached for the flowers. Quinn pulled them back with a teasing smile. "These aren't for you, birthday girl."

Rachel frowned. "Who are they for?"

"Your fathers."

Rachel hummed in approval. She stepped back to allow Quinn inside and took her coat. "Wise choice."

Quinn walked through the hallway and into the kitchen to find the two men there waiting for her. Hiram sat at the table reading a newspaper while Leroy stood over the stove, preparing a meal.

"Good evening Mr. and Mr. Berry," she said as confidently as she could. Which was, of course, not very confidently at all.

"Hello, Quinn, it's nice to finally meet you! Rachel won't shut up about you." Rachel huffed quietly as Hiram stood from the table to walk over to Quinn and wrap her in a hug. He pulled back and grabbed the flowers from her hand. "These are simply lovely! I'll put them in a vase."

Quinn mentally sighed in relief. At least one of Rachel's parents liked her. She looked over to find Leroy approaching her. He was tall and intimidating. She tried her best to stand her ground as he came to a stop in front of her. He extended his hand. "I'm Leroy, Rachel's other father. It's nice to meet you, Quinn."

It wasn't anywhere near the warmest welcome Quinn's ever had, but he was polite. She greeted him back just as politely and followed him to the table.

Dinner was served and the only thing that was heard was the clanking of forks and the occasional loud swallow of food. Quinn's hand shook as the dipped her fork into the noodles on her plate. "This spaghetti is delicious, Mr. Berry."

"You can call me Leroy, Quinn."

She nodded sheepishly, looking towards Rachel. Rachel tried to smile encouragingly at her girlfriend. She felt sorry that Quinn felt uncomfortable and was looking at her with pleading eyes. She shrugged helplessly, biting her lip. "Sorry," she mouthed.

Quinn nodded a little. She looked to Leroy. "Sir—"


She paused, losing a bit of courage. "Leroy. I know you may not like me very much—"

"Why wouldn't I like you, Quinn?"

"Well, because of what I did to your daughter."

"Yes, but I'd like to hear you say it."

"Daddy, be nice!"

"I am being nice." He turned towards Rachel. "I allowed her to come over, I cooked her non-vegan spaghetti, and I'm talking to her very calmly."

"You've been very hospitable, sir."

"Thank you, but let's not derail. What have you done to my daughter? For how many years?"

This felt oddly familiar to Quinn. It felt like she was apologizing for her sins and past transgressions. She knew this very well. She just hoped she'd be forgiven. "I bullied your daughter for two years. And last year at prom, I slapped her in the face."

Leroy's eyes narrowed as he sized her up. He was strangely impressed. He had interrogated Finn when he dated her daughter about why Rachel was still being slushied in school and what he could do about it and Finn coward away, stumbling over excuse after excuse. But Quinn lifted her head and owned what she did with an obvious air of remorse surrounding her. He rubbed his chin. "Have you apologized?"

"Yes, Leroy."

"Several times," Rachel chimed in. She was seething. Her father embarrassed her, acting like he was putting Quinn on trial. He didn't know her at all; how could he judge her? She reached out and fumbled under the table to grip Quinn's hand tightly in support.

"Do you think you've changed, Quinn?"

"I know I have."


"Well, for starters, this." She brought hers and Rachel's clasped hands from below the table to show them to Leroy. She lowered her gaze as he scrutinized their affection.

"Are your feelings genuine?"

"Yes, they are. I really like your dau—Rachel. I don't know how or where it started but—" She shrugged helplessly. "I don't know. I just know I like her."

"Do you like her enough to not hit her again?"


"I would never lay a hand on her, sir."

"I hope that includes in…other ways as well."

He smiled when Quinn ducked her head with a blush. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed his daughter frown in disapproval and made a mental note to have a modified, lesbian friendly version of 'the talk' with her later. He rested his elbows on the table, clasping his hands in front of his mouth to hide his amused smirk. Quinn was still blushing.

"It does."

"It shouldn't," they both heard Rachel grumble.

Hiram barely contained his laughter. Quinn tried her best to ignore Rachel as Leroy watched the whole exchange. Rachel looked to Quinn with a small pout as her girlfriend tried her best to look anywhere but at her. It amusedly reminded Rachel of that time she wore her Britney Spears themed outfit to school and Quinn obviously and actively avoided her the entire day.

She reached over to pinch Quinn's side and loud laughter filled the room. Quinn reared back in embarrassment as she tried to regain her bearings. She glared at Rachel before turning to the other two occupants in the room. "Sorry."

"Never apologize for laughter, Quinn," Hiram told her. "You have an angelic voice."

She smiled modestly.

"She can sing, dad," Rachel chirped. "She's in glee club with me. Quinn, sing something."

"I'd rather not," she grumbled. She moved back and forth in her seat to dodge Rachel's insistent poking of her ribs. "Quit that!"

"No! Sing a song!"

"I won't!"

"You will!"

Leroy looked to Hiram as they both paid close attention to the exchange. Hiram nodded and Leroy smirked. It seemed like both girls had met their match in each other. "Stubborn mules," Leroy mumbled to himself jokingly. He cleared his throat.

Quinn grabbed Rachel's questing hands and held them in her own as she looked towards Leroy.

"Quinn, while I admit I don't know what to think of you yet, it's quite obvious that you make my daughter happy."

As if on cue, Rachel flashed a mega-watt smile that lit up the room.

"I'll be keeping an eye on you."

"Yes, sir."

He smiled at her. "What did I say about calling me sir?"

"Leroy. Thank you."

Dinner ended shortly after that. They cut the birthday cake and it occurred to Quinn that this wasn't exactly a birthday party. She always had parties for her birthdays, all her friends did and the fact that Rachel didn't astounded her. It was odd, but she much preferred this intimate setting of close people that actually mattered to Rachel than her own parties when she'd look out into the sea of people and hardly recognize anyone aside from Santana, Brittany, Puck, and Finn.

After everything was over Rachel begged Quinn to stay but Quinn was reluctant to wear out her welcome now that she officially had one. "I'll see you tomorrow at school," she said quietly in an effort to soothe Rachel. She picked up her coat off the hanger and quickly put it on. Truth be told, she wanted to get of there. She was utterly exhausted from the range of emotions that mostly included fear she had felt in the last two hours.

Rachel opened the door for her and slipped outside after her. "Promise?"

Quinn laughed a little. "Of course, I promise. What would keep me away?"

Rachel wrapped her arms around herself to fight off the cold temperature. Quinn looked down to find long, tan shivering legs under a too short skirt. She looked up to see Rachel wearing a sleeveless sweater. She rolled her eyes. How impractical. She opened her coat in obvious invitation.

Rachel grinned happily and ran into her arms. She wrapped her arms around Quinn's waist as Quinn wrapped the coat around Rachel as best as she could. Rachel tilted her head up, her cold nose brushing along Quinn's neck. She softly nuzzled deeper. "This is nice," she mumbled.

Quinn had to admit it was. Despite how cold it was outside, the minute Rachel was in her arms, she felt ten times warmer. Almost too warm. Especially when she felt the flutter of soft lips against her neck. Rachel kissed her deeply as if she was trying to make love to her. Her tongue teasingly peeking out with every opened mouth kiss had Quinn squirming in her boots. Her mouth opened as she began to pant. She swept her gaze to the very open door to confirm Rachel's parents weren't there. Then she grabbed dark hair and yanked Rachel back. She felt a growl rumble against her lips as she kissed Rachel. Their lips slid hotly over each other. Rachel's fingers dug into her lower back in an attempt to pull her closer.

They eventually pulled back, panting into the air. Quinn marveled at the fact that Leroy and Hiram hadn't once come to check on Rachel. Surely her parents knew what they were out there doing, yet they didn't come stop them. They weren't overbearing like her parents.

She pried Rachel's hands from her ass and backed up. Rachel immediately shivered as the harsh cold swept over her. "What are you doing?" she asked as she watched Quinn fish for something in her pocket.

Quinn pulled a small black box out of her pocket with a grin. She handed it to Rachel. "Happy birthday, Rachel."

"Quinn, you didn't have to—"

"Open it."

Rachel gingerly held the box in her hand and pulled off the lid. There inside, lay two brilliantly shining golden eighth note shaped earrings with a diamond engraved in each one. She felt tears in her eyes already. "Quinn, I can't accept these," she whispered.

Quinn frowned. "Do you not like them?"

"They're exquisite."

"Then I don't understand."

"Quinn, where did you get the money to pay for these?"

"My dad pays child support," she explained away.

"Yes, for you to support yourself. Not for you to buy expensive birthday gifts for your girlfriend." Rachel had already taken them out of the box mid-sentence. She held them in her hand, admiring them. They were gold. Gold with diamonds in them. Though she's loved and appreciated every gift Finn had every bought her…they didn't shine or sparkle like this. Or maybe it was the tears in her eyes making everything slightly more dazzling than they actually were. She wiped away her tears to look at the earrings again. Nope, definitely brighter.

"Are you upset?" Quinn asked quickly. "If you don't like them, I can take them ba—"

Rachel threw herself at Quinn and kissed her thoroughly. "I absolutely love this gift," she breathed.


"Thank you, Quinn."

Quinn was allowed over after that night. She often visited after school since she no longer had Cheerios. She and Rachel would do homework together, watch musicals, make-out. Quinn much preferred the making out part which had surprised her.

"We are bad influences," Rachel mumbled against her lips as she allowed Quinn to lure her away from homework for a third time.

"Last time, I promise."

"You said that the last time." Her complaining didn't stop her from cupping Quinn's breast in her hand.

Quinn moaned. "This time I promise, promise."

"What's a promise, promise?"

"It's—oh my—" She had slid along Rachel's thigh just so and it felt like an explosion was happening between her legs.

Rachel licked her lips. "Do that again."

"But, homework…"

"Do it again, Quinn."

She did. Several times until she was shuddering and gasping and watching Rachel do the same before her eyes slipped shut.

Things came to an awkward and abrupt stop when Christmas break ended and it was time to start filling out college applications. She didn't really know where to start. Wasn't that something parents helped their children with? Whatever. She had gone to the career counselor that was newly hired and didn't get much help.

It was up to her, as most things were in her life. She got a little tired of having to make so many important decisions for herself, but she was becoming an adult. And that's what adults did, right?

She printed off her Lima Community College application. It was a safe bet she'd get in. And it was cheap. She quickly filled the application out and typed up a response to the essay question asked.

All the while she tried her best not to relive that conversation she had with Rachel when they were partnered to write a song for Regionals last year. It kept creeping around the edges of her mind. The sound of her voice, the defeat she felt, the tears in Rachel's eyes as she walked away. How she broke down and cried because she had once again made Rachel cry.

She stared down at her application realizing that everything she said then still stood now. Rachel was still going to New York and from the looks of that application, Quinn was still staying in Lima.

"She can't hate me," she whispered sadly. "She can't hate me for helping her."

Quinn couldn't help but feel like a dead weight. She had begun to carry a small resentment for Finn last year because she felt that he would hold Rachel back, so how was she any better? She wasn't. And out of all of the things she'd done to Rachel Berry, she'd never forgive herself if Rachel somehow managed to get stuck in the quicksand that was Lima, Ohio because of her.

Things came to an awkward and abrupt stop when Christmas break ended and Quinn began acting distant. Rachel for the life of her couldn't figure out what happened. Quinn had come over for her birthday, met her fathers, got as much of an approval as she was going to get, and gave her the best birthday gift Rachel had ever received. But now text messages were few and far between and phone calls were five minute conversations that consisted of:


"Hi, Quinn."

"Oh, hey, Rachel."

"How are you?"

"I'm alright. How was your day?"

"It was okay."

"That's really great. Hey, listen, I have a ton of homework and a test to study for. Can I call you back later?"

"…Sure, Quinn. Have a good night."

"You, too, Rachel."

It was blatantly obvious Quinn was avoiding her, yet when she brought it up, Quinn would just brush it off and say that she was just really busy. She was starting to take it personally and it was starting to hurt.

"Hey, Rachel. Doesn't Quinn normally sit with you for lunch?"

Rachel smiled sadly. "She used to, Kurt. I don't know what happened."

Kurt offered a sympathetic smile, pulled up a chair, and sat down in front of her.

Her friendship with Santana had been rapidly improving. It was mostly because she was spending less and less time with Rachel, but hey, a win was a win, and Quinn was looking for one anywhere she could find it to combat the bout of loser she was feeling. Plus, Santana was a milder version of herself now that she knew Quinn knew she was a lesbian. It was almost her way of saying thank you for Quinn being accepting and for not telling anyone. Quinn wanted to laugh at the absurdity. They were both acting as if the whole school didn't know already, but they knew the truth. Truth was, the student body was just too scared to confront Santana about it, but they knew.

"What college are you going to?" she asked, wondering. Always wondering, thinking, pondering about this subject. It was becoming an obsession.

"I don't know. I applied to OSU and some place in Florida."

Quinn cocked an eyebrow in bemusement. "Florida?"

"Hot weather and even hotter women, Q. Where'd you apply?"

"Community and OSU."

Santana snorted out a laugh. "Community? That place's for losers."

Quinn pursed her lips, choosing not to voice that she'd probably fit in.

Santana watched the indecision on Quinn's face. "Me and you could go to OSU," she added.

Finally, Quinn cracked a smile. "Really?"

She shrugged. "It could happen. Imagine us, getting bitches. Unless you plan on staying with Berry."

Her smile diminished completely. "She's going to New York."

"Well, yeah, anyone with ears knew that. She's told everyone."


She felt the mood shift from dismal to downright fucking depressing instantly. Santana looked around. She saw her shot glasses nearby, but didn't have any alcohol to make a toast with. Improvising, she turned back to Quinn and put her fist out with a smirk. "Cheers to OSU?"

Quinn reached out to give her pound. Her heart felt like someone took an elephant and dump it right on it. "Cheers," she said weakly.

"You're breaking up with me?"


Rachel's lower lip trembled as she glared defiantly at Quinn. "Why?"

"It's complicated."

"Then un-complicate it." She felt tears springing to her eyes.

Quinn slowly paced the room, hands clasped behind her back. She looked toward Rachel, bit her lip and looked back down at the floor. How was she to say this? How was she going to make Rachel see things her way?

She sighed before coming to a stop, forcing herself to look into wide dark eyes. Rachel's lower lip was poked out, her eyes brimming with tears. Quinn's mask of determination slipped before she quickly built it back up. "Rachel, where do you see yourself next fall?"

"I'll be at Juilliard," she replied without missing a beat.

Quinn nodded. "Right. You'll be at Juilliard. You'll enroll in one of the most prestigious schools in the country. You'll be in New York for the next four years as you attend school. Then what? You'll look for work. In New York. You'll be in a play, star in a play. In New York. Do you see where I'm going with this?"

Rachel sat up a little straighter and shook her head.

"Rachel, you'll probably spend the rest of your life in New York. And I…I'll probably spend the rest of my life here. In Lima."


"No buts." The almost impenetrable mask melted away completely to give way to a sad smile as Quinn regarded Rachel. "I guess all those times I spent calling Puck and Finn Lima Losers stemmed from a little self-projecting."

"No," Rachel said firmly. She quickly sprang up from her seat. "No, you are not a Lima Loser, Quinn. Don't say that."

"I am."

"No, you're not!" Rachel shouted fiercely. Quinn gasped as those brown eyes flashed dangerously. She grasped at straws, trying to recall a similar situation in an attempt to learn how to handle this and came up empty. Rachel had never been this angry with her before. Hell, Rachel had never been angry with her before, period.

"Look, Rachel—"

"Just be with me, please," Rachel pleaded. She walked closer until they were practically toe to toe. She reached out to grasp Quinn's hand firmly in her own. Her grip tightened when she didn't feel Quinn squeeze back.

"I can't be with you," Quinn said with finality. "I won't be with you."

Rachel's tears spilled over and found purchase on her carpeted floors. Her grasp on Quinn's hand slackened until their joined hands dropped away completely. She folded her arms across herself, wondering vaguely if she left the window open because she suddenly felt cold.

Quinn's jaw tightened as she watched Rachel slowly shrink in on herself. She looked so small and fragile and it wouldn't have taken much to just take Rachel in her arms. She ignored it. "But that's okay," she forged on shakily. "That's okay because you're going to find someone better. Someone more talented that can keep up with you as you go far beyond here."

Rachel glared up at her with fire in her eyes as she hoarsely spoke. "There is no one better than y–"

"Yes there is, Rachel!" Quinn shouted suddenly, shocking Rachel into stupor. "I'm not that great a singer! I'm certainly not as talented as you are. Your voice is going to take you far from here and you and I both know it."

They both stood there, the mere centimeters that separated them feeling like yards, miles. Miles that Rachel felt she was running as fast as she could to catch up with the girl in front of her. She allowed Quinn's words to soak in. Her heart wrenched painfully at the sound of Quinn once again doubting herself.

"So come with me," Rachel said quietly, finally finding her voice.

Quinn ran her hands through her short hair in a nervous habit that Rachel had come to recognize. "I can't." She could barely speak around the lump in her throat. Her eyes stung as she shrugged her shoulders helplessly. "There are two types of people, Rachel. People that make it out and people who don't. You'll make it out. Mercedes and Kurt will make it out. Hell, maybe even Sam can find a band to join and get out of here. But me and Finn, and Santana, Brittany, Puck…we're here. We know we'll always be here."

"That's stupid!" Rachel exclaimed in yet another sudden burst of anger. Quinn was rapidly realizing that this subject was just as sensitive and important to Rachel as it was to her. Why did Rachel care so much all the time? "Quinn, you are a very bright girl. You're always on honor roll, you're in all AP classes. You do not have to attend college in this town if you don't want to," she finished with a whine. She stood helplessly as Quinn looked away from her. Hearing but not listening. Rachel slumped and leaned forward until her forehead was resting against Quinn's chest. Just needing that contact. She watched as Quinn's hands clenched and unclenched into fists. Strong shoulders shook quietly and Rachel buried her face further into Quinn's chest, unable to handle seeing her girlfriend cry. "Come to New York with me, Quinn," she whispered. "Apply to NYU; we both know that you're smart enough to get in."

"How will I pay for it?" she questioned. "My father acts as if my mother and I don't exist aside from the check he sends every month because it's court ordered, so how the hell will I be able to pay for tuition?"

For once it seemed as though Rachel didn't have an answer. Quinn sighed quietly into the silence between them before pulling away. "Just keep moving forward, Rachel," she whispered as she walked away from the girl, toward her desk. She softly ran her fingers over Rachel's notebook. A pink five subject notebook that Rachel used to not only write her songs in, but to also write down notes that help to map out her future. Her dreams. Dreams that Quinn admitted in the past she made fun of her for because she was too scared to allow her own self to dream. Quinn stared at the frayed edges of the book that was so frequently clutched to Rachel's chest like a sacred treasure. She wiped off her own tears that had fallen on it.

She looked over at Rachel and found puffy, red rimmed eyes peering at her with hurt and betrayal. It nearly broke her. "Don't hate me," she pleaded painfully, viciously wiping at tears that she didn't want Rachel to see. "I'm doing this for you, so you can't hate me."

"No," Rachel growled as she stormed over to her. "Don't you dare stand here and act as if what you're doing is for my benefit." Her lips pulled down in disdain as she regarded Quinn evenly. "You're a coward, Quinn."

Quinn's entire face smoothed over before she glared down at Rachel. "I don't need this from you." She walked away from the desk and quickly shouldered past Rachel. "I get criticism and unwanted opinions from everyone else in my life and I don't need it from you, too!" she shouted.

She reached the door and grabbed the handle, preparing to storm out for good when Rachel's voice touched her ears.

"It hurts."

Rachel inhaled deeply as Quinn tried to choke back a sob. She gripped the door knob harder, allowing it to anchor her in the storm of emotions that threatened to overtake her.

"It hurts to have the one person you want more than anything right in front of you, and then having them snatched away so quickly." She walked toward Quinn, leaning on the wall beside her bedroom door, facing her head on. "I imagine we're both feeling the same pain."

Quinn leaned her head against the door, eyes closed tightly as hot tears streamed down her face.

"I know that you believe that what you're doing is a noble act, Quinn. And I also know that you think that this is possibly the only noble thing you've done in your life, but you're wrong. You're so wrong, Quinn, and on so many accounts."

"You can't play the role of martyr all your life," she continued. "Allow yourself to be happy."

Quinn turned toward her slightly, locking eyes with her. "I don't want to be the one thing to hold you back," she whispered brokenly.

"Then allow me to be the one thing that pulls you forward," Rachel countered quietly. "We can do this, Quinn. You can do this. It's not too late to apply to NYU and when you get in, I can help you apply for any and all scholarships that we find."

It sounded so good. Too good to be true, like many things in Quinn's life. She shook her head weakly. "I'm sorry. I just can't."

Rachel didn't stop her as she walked out of the door, out of her house, and drove down the road. She wasn't sure where they stood anymore but that didn't stop her from collapsing onto her floor and crying.

They were broken up.

Rachel learned that the hard way when she spent the weekend calling Quinn's phone, leaving voicemails and text messages. Quinn didn't respond until Sunday night at ten.

Quinn: Hey, I'm okay so you can stop worrying. I hope you're okay, too. I mean that.

It had enraged and saddened her. How could Quinn move on so easily as if they meant nothing?

Rachel: Does this mean we're over? :(

Quinn: Yes, Rachel. I'm sorry.

Sorry wasn't enough for Rachel. She was so upset that when she stormed into glee club and found Quinn sitting front row in her normal seat, Rachel coolly walked past the seat she normally occupied beside her ex-girlfriend to sit on the third row beside Kurt and Mercedes. Quinn looked back at her with a mixture of shock and hurt but Rachel just looked forward. Always forward. Just like Quinn had wanted her to.

"Rocking the sad clown look today, I see," Santana muttered towards Rachel as she took her seat.

"Spare me, Santana."

"Oh!" Santana clapped her hands in mock happiness. "Are you going to put up a fight today, Frodo? Because I've been dying for you to get up in my grill so I can lay the smack do—"

Quinn quickly turned around to glower viciously at Santana. "I believe she told you to spare her." Her words dripped with a none too subtle warning as her eyes narrowed. Santana rolled her eyes and rocked her neck, sending one last sneer in Rachel's direction before turning around to face the front. Rachel and Quinn exchanged a look before Rachel turned away.

In the two weeks following their break-up, Rachel noticed three things. One being that Quinn still went out of her way to protect her. No one slushied her and besides Santana, no one antagonized her. And even Santana was a watered down version of the bully she was sophomore and junior year. The only things she really said to her were along the lines of 'I hate your clothes' and 'you suck'. That, Rachel could handle.

The second thing she noticed was that Kurt made lovely I'm sorry cookies and that Mercedes was a great counselor and probably the sanest person she'd ever met. They invited her to Mercedes' house after her break-up with Quinn and Kurt made cookies while Mercedes gave her a make-over. The three gabbed and sang all night. Rachel relished every minute of it. It was wonderful to have friends.

The third thing she noticed was that Quinn and Finn were starting to get closer. Finn would occasionally walk by Quinn's locker and wave or even worse, stop at her locker and engage her in conversation. It was irritating, watching Quinn's face light up as she talked to him about who knows what. Rachel tried to keep her jealousy at bay, but really? Finn and Quinn? Again? Her two exes? So soon after she and Quinn broke up? That, Rachel could not handle.

Her heart twisted painfully with every conversation she witnessed them share.

"Honey, I know that you're sad about your break-up with Quinn, but don't you think not finishing a meal is a little extreme? I mean, you guys have been broken up for what, two months now?"

"It's only been four and a half weeks, dad."


Rachel forked her peas around the plate as Leroy passed Hiram a mild glare.

"What your father means, sweetheart, is that maybe you should move on," Leroy added.

Rachel looked utterly perplexed. "You want me to date someone now? In the last four months of school?"

"No, what I'm saying is that maybe you should stop moping around and focus on school work, glee club and…all the other clubs you're in."

Hiram snickered good-naturedly, remembering receiving the yearbook last year and seeing Rachel's picture on every other page in every single club. "I think your father's right, dear. This is your last year! Enjoy it while you have it."

Rachel rested her chin in the palm of her hand as she contemplated this new approach to the remainder of her school year. "You're right."

"Mr. Schuester, I would like to perform a solo a week from today please."

"Sure, Rachel." Mr. Schue turned to her from the dry erase board with a warm smile. "What'd you like to sing?"

She smiled dimly. "It's a surprise."

She ended up performing Jar of Hearts again. It was fitting, considering Quinn broke her heart and that she and the person Rachel originally sang the song for had apparently formed this super friendship out of the pieces of her broken heart.

Quinn shifted awkwardly in her seat throughout the whole performance. Santana snickered quietly behind her hand and Finn passed confused glances between Rachel and Quinn. When the song ended, no one really knew whether or not to clap. Artie, Brittany, Tina and Mike clapped, Santana made a show of not clapping, Mercedes and Kurt loudly cheered their friend on, Finn looked guilty though he had no idea what he'd done wrong and Quinn quietly excused herself, nearly bumping into Puck and Lauren as the quickly ran out of the room.

Rachel didn't go after her.

"I think when we get to New York, the first thing we should do is get mani-pedis."

"Kurt, that's highly impractical. We should see a musical."

"All I know is you two better be saving up your money to fly out to see me in California. Between going to school and recording my album, I won't have time to leave LA."

"We promise, Mercedes."

"Hey, Rachel."

She looked up from her sheet music to find Finn staring down at her. "Hello, Finn."

He looked to the risers to confirm no one being there, then walked around the piano to Rachel. "I was just coming to talk to you."

"Very well."

He shifted awkwardly. "I was wondering—have I done something to upset you?"

"Not at all, Finn. Why would you ask?"

"Well, you've kinda been glaring daggers at me for the past month and a half. At first I thought you had lemon in your eye because your eyes were all squinty but then I realized that you were actually trying to glare and then things got kinda weird for me because I'm all like, why would she be upset with me, you know?"

She immediately felt like the biggest jerk on earth. Finn had no idea what was even going on. She remembered how sweet he was, one of the nicest guys she had ever met. He had his tendencies to be a jerk but so did everyone, including her. She walked closer to him. "Finn, allow me to apologize. I was upset. B-but that's because I saw you with Quinn and the two of you seem so close now and—"

"We are close."

Her mouth clicked shut. "Right. Anyway, I had approached you in the hallway months ago to rectify our friendship and you blew me off."

She watched as he awkwardly jammed his hands in his pockets and smiled a little at the endearing gesture. "Yeah, well, sorry about that. I wasn't ready to be friends then. But I'm ready now."

She nodded as a tight lump formed in her throat. "Do you—do you still have feelings for her?"

"Do you?"


He smiled a crooked, bittersweet smile. "No. I don't have feelings for her. We're just friends."

"And why aren't you and I friends? If you don't have feelings for her and you can be friends with her, then—logically—you can be friends with me as well. She was one half of that relationship she and I were in, Finn Hudson."

Finn laughed. "Yes, she was. But Quinn and I have been over for almost a year, Rachel. I was able to get over her a while ago. You on the other hand, broke up with me with the intent to be with her."

"I didn't—"

He stared at her pointedly. "Rachel, I was dumb to a lot of things, but I've never been dumb when it came to you. I may not have picked up on when you first started liking her but when you kept calling her pretty, asked me what it felt like to kiss her, and knew what corsage to get her for prom, I pretty much figured it out."

She bit her lip guiltily.

"Plus, when I got into a fight with Jesse over you at prom, yet you ran after Quinn when she stormed off in a hissy fit, I pretty much realized I had already lost in a game that neither you nor Quinn realized was even going on."

She looked down at the floor, disappointed in herself. "I'm such an awful person."

"You're not," Finn countered. He walked over and engulfed her in strong arms. Rachel melted in his embrace like she did many times before. But it was different this time. Her heart didn't hammer in her chest, she didn't feel butterflies, she didn't blush with thoughts of wanting to kiss him. She was simply content to be there and find comfort. "You just love really hard, Rachel. And that's a good thing. But trust me when I say that for Quinn, it's a scary thing. Especially when she feels the same way."

"Does she…?"

He nodded. "Just as much as you do."

She stood in his arms for as long as she could, apologizing and soaking up his warmth and comfort. She didn't even realize she was crying until he pulled back and wiped her tears away. "Thank you, Finn."

"I'm always here."

With Cheerios Nationals right around the corner, Quinn had been offered a position back on the squad courtesy of Sue Sylvester. Sue had offered to give her position as captain back if she worked day and night to learn the cheers before Nationals. And consider hair extensions. Quinn had refused. Jacob took to his blog immediately with the information and as Rachel sat across from Quinn in the library as they worked on a Spanish project, she discovered it from reading it on a school issued laptop.

They had been partnered together for the project, much to both girl's distress. They worked quietly, neither wanting to disturb the other more than they needed to. Rachel casted curious glances in Quinn's direction. She looked the same, beautiful, closed off, alert. She looked like the Quinn that everyone else got to see but Rachel always knew there was so much more there. She likened Quinn to an iceberg, there was so much more to her than what was on the surface. And over the last four months before their break-up, she got to see that.

She frowned. Yes, the number four was a cruel bitch.

Her gaze washed over Quinn's face. "Why didn't you join?" she asked timidly.

Quinn looked up at her in a mixture of irritation and relief that only she could pull off. Rachel knew what that look was for immediately. They hadn't talked since their break-up and it wasn't because of lack of trying on Quinn's part. But Rachel was learning to be a strong independent woman thanks to lessons from Mercedes…and Kurt. She couldn't hang off of Quinn like she did with Finn when he broke up with her for kissing Puck. It wasn't healthy.

Quinn sighed heavily and bookmarked the page in her book, closing it. Her level gaze landed on Rachel. She adopted a faraway expression as she warred with herself briefly before finally settling on the truth. "You would have been disappointed in me. Because I was doing something that I didn't like to do."

Rachel's jaw dropped. "You care about whether or not I'm disappointed in you?"

Quinn rolled her eyes. "Of course I care. Rachel, just because we're not together doesn't mean I don't care about you or about how you feel."

Her heart thumped loudly against her chest. So, Finn was right. She had spent weeks convincing herself that Quinn didn't care about her. To hear the opposite sent her heart aflutter, especially because she felt the same way.

"I care about you, too," she whispered. The floodgates were open, damn whatever Kurt and Mercedes said. "I can't stop caring about you."

Quinn ran a hand through her hair, debating whether or not to have this conversation. It would be easier for Rachel if she thought she didn't care about her. But when Quinn took one look into those wide, innocent doe-like eyes, she couldn't bring herself to hurt Rachel more than she already had. "I can't either."

"Every time I see you it hurts." All of the emotions she's felt over the last two months came flooding back. Her heart constricted, her palms became sweaty, her eyes stung. "Every time I see you or think about you I care more and more, Quinn." She reached across the table to clasp the other girl's hands in her own. They were warm and she took solace in the fact that they were just as clammy as her own. She watched with rapt attention as Quinn hesitantly intertwined their fingers.

"I care about you more and more, too, Rachel."

"Quinn, I think I—"

"Don't say it." Quinn chuckled quietly. Rachel stopped talking, relishing in Quinn's laugh no matter how empty it sounded. "Just…hold on, Rachel."

Hold on.

To what exactly?

Rachel didn't know what it meant, but her heart kick started in a strong pitter-patter as Quinn's warm gaze washed over her features. "Do you feel the same way?" Rachel asked.

"I feel the same way."

Even with the heavy weight on her chest, she felt lighter. She was back to texting Quinn daily and a tentative friendship was quickly being forged. Even still, it was difficult. It was difficult to get over a person she saw and talked to every day. Rachel had learned that with Finn and to a much lesser degree, Puck. But with Quinn, it was something different entirely. It was like Quinn had a piece of her and when they broke up, she never got that piece back. It was quickly becoming suffocating just being in the same school with her. Still, she always wanted to be closer. They had bridged the gap to communicating via phone but during school it was virtually the same it had been the past two months. Minimal contact, but Quinn still protected her. Rachel didn't know whether to pull Quinn closer or push her farther away. It was driving her nuts.

"Have you applied to any colleges, Quinnie?"

Quinn rolled her eyes. Her mother was going to pick now to care about her higher education after high school? In March when it was too late to apply to most colleges? "I applied to Community College and OSU, mom."

"You didn't apply out of state?"

Quinn's jaw clenched. She was practically glaring a hole through her dinner plate. "No."

Judy sat down in front of her brooding daughter. She reached out to calmly pry apart the fist clenched around the salad fork. "Why didn't you apply to out of state colleges like that Rachel girl did? She's really a lovely girl, Quinn. One of your lovelier friends, unlike Santana. I'm sad she doesn't come over anymore."

Quinn ignored her mother's praises of Rachel, knowing if she knew the true nature of their relationship, she wouldn't be as nice. "I don't know."

Judy laughed humorlessly. "Lucy," she said softly.

That got her attention. Angry eyes flickered to Judy's face. "That's not my name."

"Why didn't you apply to out of state colleges?"


"Because why?"

"Because, mother," she ground out.

"Tell me why, Quinn."

"Because this is where I belong!" she shouted, gesturing wildly around her. She shot up from her seat. "I belong in this shit town, married to Finn and working in real estate."

She cut off her rant as she saw Judy's eyes widen to saucers at her swear. It was dead silent around them. "I-I'm sorry."

"If you truly belong here, then why does it make you so angry?"


"If you're supposed to marry Finn, why haven't the two of you been together in nearly a year?"

She had nothing to say. Deflated, she sat back down. Truth be told, Quinn didn't know her mother was aware of enough of her life to know that she and Finn hadn't been together for a year. And she couldn't really answer the question. She couldn't say that the reason she and Finn weren't together was because she had been dating his ex-girlfriend. And that though she and said ex-girlfriend weren't together at the moment, she couldn't really get over Rachel enough to move on.

"I don't really want to be here," she whispered hollowly.

"Then go," Judy soothed. "I hear they're more accepting of the friendship you and Rachel share in bigger cities than they are in this small minded town." She reached out and patted Quinn's hand softly. "Just know that I love you no matter where you go, Quinn."

She stood up and gathered their dishes to take to the kitchen. Quinn listened to the familiar clinking sound of ice falling into a wine glass as she stared dumbly at the white tablecloth, only one thought going through her mind. Di-did her mother just say what she thought she said?

"My mother knew about us."

"She what? But how?"

"I don't know. But she told me there were other places that were more accepting of our 'friendship' than Lima."

"Are you sure she wasn't talking about an actual friendship and not our relationship, Quinn?"

"Well, she was nudging a Bible in my direction as she was telling me, so you do the math."

Rachel chuckled quietly into the receiver of her phone. She quickly sobered up and clutched the phone to her ear. "Does this mean we can get back together?"

She heard Quinn sigh quietly. "No, Rachel."


"No buts. You're still going places and I'm still here."

"If you could go with me to New York, would you?"

"In a heartbeat."

Quinn knocked lightly on Emma's open door as she slowly walked in. "Ms. Pillsbury, I hope I'm not interrupting anything," she said wryly as she watched Emma scrub the mini figurines on her desk with a toothbrush. Emma looked up with a warm smile.

"Not at all, Quinn! It's nice to see you. You haven't been in my office since—"

"Since the whole student body found out I was pregnant and Finn and I moved to the bottom of the social ladder," she groaned. She got an odd sense of satisfaction out of how disappointed she was with the old Quinn.

Emma continued to smile at her. "Yes, precisely. Come on in and take a seat."

Quinn stepped further into the office, making sure to close the door tightly. She sat down at the seat in front of Emma's desk, her fidgeting hands settling in her lap.

"What can I do for you, Quinn?"

"Well, you're a guidance counselor. I suppose I need some guidance."

"Sure! What issues do you have?"

"I just—I—" She floundered as she tried to come up with how to voice herself. "How do you know what your purpose is and what you're supposed to do in life?"

"Do you mean as a career? We have a new career counse—"

"Yeah, and she sucks," Quinn told her. "And I don't mean strictly career. I mean everything. How do you know what career suits you or what—" She swallowed. "Or what person suits you?"

"Well, Quinn, I think that people tend to have a general idea of what they want and need out of life. What types of fulfillment will make them feel complete."

"Complete," she mumbled. "What if a person doesn't know what they want? Like, take Rachel for example." She blushed a little. "Rachel knows what she wants and she's not afraid to get it."

"Rachel has a lot of faith in herself," Ms. Pillsbury said with a nod. "Faith is a very important key. Do you have faith, Quinn?"

"Ms. Pillsbury, I wear a cross around my neck every day. I have a Bible by my bed and go to church every Sunday. I have a lot of faith."

"Yes, you have faith in someone else. Do you have faith in yourself?"

She was stunned into silence. She sat a little straighter in her seat and smoothed down her dress, recollecting herself. "Of course I have faith in myself."

"Quinn," Emma said softly. "If you had faith in yourself, would you be in here?"

"I was asking a general question."

"I often find that when people ask 'general' questions, they're asking about themselves."

Quinn didn't bother to respond.

"Very well. Then allow me to say this. Have faith in yourself and allow yourself to dream and want, Quinn. You'll never know where you'll end up."

She knew. She knew exactly where hoping and wishing and dreaming and wanting were going to put her. But could she handle it? Was it going to work, were they going to work? Was life really that easy? Life had always been an uphill battle for Quinn. Why would this be any different?

"Rachel and I are totally friends again."

She smiled at Finn. They sat outside on the bleachers, watching the Cheerios practice. They had stayed after school because Santana had asked her to so that when she asked Brittany out to Breadstix later, Quinn and Finn could be buffers in case things went south. Her relationship with Mandy was very short lived. And it was only two and a half more months left in school, so she wanted to make amends with the first and only girl she'd ever loved. No one knew if Brittany was going to college—she had only applied to Community. Santana was debating between OSU and the school in Florida. Quinn figured this outing with Brittany was more or less going to sway that decision.

"That's good." She reclined back onto her elbows on the next row of bleachers up as Finn sat beside her. She looked over at Sue as she loudly yelled into the bullhorn and wondered what, besides her father, possessed her to join the squad in the first place. She watched as two cheerleaders ran off the field to throw up. It caused Santana to nearly topple off the pyramid and Quinn could hear her swearing in Spanish from where she sat. She shook her head and turned to Finn. "I have a question."

Finn leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees as he leered at the cheerleaders. "Go ahead."

"Do you think we'll get married?"


"You and me."


"Why not?" she bit out, a little offended.

Finn chuckled at her tone of voice. He pushed his sunglasses further onto his face as he turned to her. "You don't love me. Why would you marry me?"

She stared at him, affronted. Did no one support how she was going to spend the rest of her life? "I don't even know anymore…"

He sighed quietly and scooted over to drape an arm around her. "There was a time when I was all you needed."

She smiled ruefully. "There was a time when I was all you needed, too."

"Funny how we ended up needing the same thing in the end."

Quinn hummed silently, contemplating, dodging. "It was a simpler time. When you and I were together."

Finn allowed it, moved on. "We were simpler people. We were kids. Now, you need a lot more than the quarterback boyfriend and Lima, Ohio. You have dreams."

"I do?" She was genuinely curious. Had Finn cracked some secret code to her life that she wasn't aware of?

"Sure, you do. I mean, you don't love me or want to marry me anymore so there must be something else that you're looking for."

She looked away.

"Or someone else," he finished quietly.

"I can't hold her back, Finn. I won't," she said fiercely.

He laughed heartily, clutching a hand to his stomach. She scowled, elbowed him in the stomach, and pushed him off. "You think this is funny?"

"Ouch, geez, no," he wheezed. He took a few seconds to catch his breath. "At least I know with all the changing you've done, you're at least the same girl I fell in love with."

She folded her arms tightly. A smile that she tried to fight worked its way onto her face.

Finn smiled back. "Look, Quinn. For what it's worth, I don't think you'll hold Rachel back. That's why I was laughing. It's impossible to hold Rachel back. She's too determined and stubborn. With or without you, she'll find a way to Broadway."

"She is pretty stubborn," Quinn allowed.

"Yeah, well, she's not the only one. You're about to commit yourself to a life of misery because you're too stubborn to let yourself be happy."

She slumped back against the bleachers tiredly. She was tired of everything. Tired of everyone telling her that she was making a mistake, tired of everyone telling her to go, tired of fighting with herself to try to stay.

Santana and Brittany ran over to them once practice ended. "Let's eat, bitches!"

"Quinn, are you joining the Cheerios?" Brittany jumped up and down. "It'd be super fun to have you on the squad again."

Quinn smiled at how genuine those words were. People could say a lot of things about Brittany but she had a good heart and it was one of the things Quinn admired most about her. "I'm not joining the squad, Brittany. But I will be joining you guys for dinner."

Brittany grinned happily. "Awesome."

Mr. Schuester's next assignment was for the kids to pick a song from the Alternative genre and make it their own. Rachel chose Everlasting Light by The Black Keys. Her normally loud and belting voice was soft and subtle. Strong in its vulnerability. Santana reached across the row to take Brittany's hand. They shared a fond smile. Kurt and Mercedes hugged each other tightly as they listened on. Finn smiled proudly and Quinn. Quinn crossed her legs and leaned her elbow on her knee, chin in her hand as she listened with rapt attention. Rachel's voice always commanded her attention. Her eyes began to mist over. Rachel sat on the stool, holding her gaze unwaveringly and crooning to her because Quinn Fabray was the type of person that someone just had to win over.

The song ended beautifully and Mr. Schuester looked around at everyone, deciding to send them home because of how emotional they all were. Everyone quickly jumped off the risers and headed home. Quinn finally stood up. She smoothed down her dress and fiddled with her hands nervously before walking towards Rachel.

Rachel waited with baited breath. She didn't dare say anything, lest she scare her away. Quinn came to a stop in front of her, brushing the side of her thigh. Rachel looked up into those red rimmed eyes and found she could no longer contain herself. "Can I say it now?" she pleaded quietly.

Quinn just shook her head with a small smile. "Not yet."


Quinn leaned forward and kissed her soundly.

Rachel forgot her question.

It was difficult for Quinn to suddenly have faith in herself just because people told her to. Faith was something patient that took time. She was feeling a little more confident with each passing day but as she dropped a crisp white envelope into the mailbox at the post office, she found that she didn't need faith in herself for this one. She called on God.

She held onto the mailbox tightly as her eyes slid shut.

"I always pray for You to bless me with what I want because I'm a little selfish." She laughed bitterly. "But now I just—I just pray that You let Your will be done. I know what I want, and You know what I want, but now I'm asking You to give me what You think I deserve. And no matter what it is…I'll take it."

Her eyes opened and blazed intensely as she stared at the mailbox that essentially held her future inside.


"Quinn, guess what."


"I got into Juilliard!"

In front of the entire student body Quinn grabbed Rachel around the waist and spun her around until they were both dizzy. Rachel giggled madly at the feel of being in Quinn's arms as Quinn finally set her feet on the ground again. She hugged Rachel tightly. "Congratulations," Quinn murmured in her ear.

"I have to admit, this is the best reaction I've gotten so far."

"Yeah, right. Leroy's strong. He probably threw you to the moon and back."

Rachel smiled as she stared deeply into Quinn's eyes. The earrings in her ear caught the light in the ceiling and flashed brilliantly. Quinn smiled back. Rachel looked like a star. "You're wearing the earrings."

Rachel reached up to touch them; almost forgetting they were in her ear. "You can't have them back," she teased.

"I'd never take them back."

"Good, because they're mine, Quinn Fabray."

Quinn smiled a little sadly. Those earrings weren't the only thing she gave Rachel that she'd never get back. She squeezed Rachel a little tighter, not knowing how many more times she'd get to hold her before Rachel moved to New York for good.

"I'm going to OSU."

"Geez, I wonder why," Quinn remarked dryly as she plopped down on Santana's bed beside Brittany.

"I'm going to Lima Community College, Quinn! Isn't that awesome?"

"It's way awesome, Britt." She leaned over to give her friend a congratulatory hug. "I'm proud of you."

Brittany hopped up from the bed and bounded over to Santana. "I have to go. My mom wants me to help with dinner." She pecked Santana lightly on the lips and sent her a wink before waving to Quinn and skipping out of the room.

Quinn shook her head in amazement. "You guys are two of a kind."

"You'll never find another like us," Santana agreed.

"Do you ever—" she paused and tried to figure out how to ask what she was thinking. "Don't you ever get scared? I mean, you and Brittany are like this big thing. Doesn't it scare you that, I don't know, maybe you two won't end up together in the end?"

Santana narrowed her eyes. "Are you stirring shit with me after I just got her back?"

"No," she quickly assured. "No, no, I'm happy for you. I was just wondering…"

"Well then, no. Hell no, that doesn't scare me. Why should it?"

"Because you love her. And there's a chance you might not end up with her."

Santana sat down beside her, completely unfazed. "Honestly? I've been through that shit already, Quinn. Do you not remember Artie? She was with him, I was alone and I was sad, yeah, but I got over it. And you know what? Do you know who she's with now? Me."

"And so what if I may not spend the rest of my life with her?" she continued. "I'm with her now. And if I'm with her five, ten, fifty years from now and she up and decides she wants some younger chick then I'll deal with it if/when it happens. But for now she's mine. And I'm not letting her go."

"You have to consider the future, too."

"The future's great, Quinn. Sure, consider it. But sometimes you gotta react based on what you feel in the present. You can only plan but so far ahead. It might work, it might not. But if you feel strongly enough about something in that moment, then do what you need to do to keep it."

And who knew Santana Lopez was going to give her life changing advice? Their conversations in the past mostly consisted of how to maintain healthy nail beds. She never knew her friend had such good advice to give outside of how to keep up her outer appearance.

Quinn patted her on the shoulder. "I wish you luck at OSU."

Santana turned to her. "You're not going?"

She smiled enigmatically. "I don't know anymore."

"We should go to prom together."


"As friends. We should go as friends."

"Prom is a really touchy subject for both our families. Don't you think we should just skip it?"

"No! Not our senior year! This is an important milestone, Quinn."

"Rachel, be reasonable."

"But you'd look so pretty, Quinn!"

"We're really underprepared. We don't have dresses and the dresses that are left now after everyone's picked through them are going to be ugly."

"But I already know what corsage to get you."

"Thank you for the one last year, by the way."

Rachel didn't say anything and Quinn giggled quietly into the phone, picturing the shocked look and minor blush on her face.

"Who told you that?"

"Finn, of course."

"Ah, I see."

"You were crushing pretty hard on me there."

She heard embarrassed whining on the other end and decided to stop teasing.

"Hey, Rachel?"

"Yes, Quinn?"

"Will you go to prom with me?"

Graduation was rapidly approaching and Quinn checked the mailbox everyday with disappointment. She feared she sent it too late. She was on pins and needles because the time to make a decision once and for all was almost near. She prayed day and night over it and hoped that would help. She had faith.

She was called into Principal Figgins office where he declared her valedictorian. She smiled genuinely because it was an honor to finally win something real, to feel like a winner. Rachel was called in moments later and was knighted with salutatorian. They smiled at each other, then Rachel's smile slipped into a challenging smirk.

"I could have had valedictorian if I wanted it, you know."

"Doubt it. Some people can't be as smart as me. It's okay, really."

"Oh, please, Fabray. If I wasn't in every club in school then I could have dedicated more time to my studies and had that spot."

"Sucks that you actually were in every club then, doesn't it, Little Miss Over Achiever?"

"Ladies, ladies, please take your flirting out of my office," Principal Figgins said incredulously. "This is a place of business."

Two red faces ducked sheepishly as they followed one another out of his office.

Prom turned out immensely better than Quinn ever thought it would. Rachel was beautiful, her hair was pulled up just as it was last year, the way Quinn told her she liked it. Quinn's dress was non-ugly, though she would have preferred something different. The Berry men and her mother scraped enough money together for a limo and Rachel and Quinn arrived hand in hand.

Rachel spent the entire night reminding herself that she and Quinn were only there as friends, but every time they danced and she looked into Quinn's eyes, all she wanted to do was kiss her.

Quinn won prom queen. She wasn't as excited as she thought she'd be but, once again, a win was a win. And she knew her mother would be proud. Puck won prom king. They shared matching smirks, a long comforting hug, then Quinn went to Rachel to share her victory dance with her. They took pictures, drank punch, and spent the rest of the night attached at the hip.

"I guess you still don't want me to say it," Rachel whispered as she stood on the porch of her house.

Quinn smiled at her solemn expression. "We had a wonderful night, Rachel. How can you pout like that?"

"Because I want to express my—"

Quinn leaned forward to press her finger against Rachel's lips. Rachel kissed it and she smiled. "Have a good night, Rachel."

"Can I at least get a good night kiss?"

She did.

It was a week before graduation when Quinn finally got it. She was in the middle of typing up the finishing touches on her valedictorian speech when she heard the faint screeching tires of a mail truck outside her home. She smiled, today was the day. She had faith.

Quinn knocked loudly on the Berry household door at three in the afternoon on a Saturday, letter clutched tightly in her hand. She bounced from foot to foot in anticipation. The door swung open a moment later and Leroy loomed over her. "Good afternoon, Quinn."

He didn't sound nearly as fond of her as he had grown to be months ago. "Hello, Mr. Berry."

"You can still call me Leroy."

She smiled gratefully. "Hello, Leroy. I was wondering if I could talk to Rachel."

"Are you just coming in here to break my daughter's heart all over again?"

"I'm sorry about that, sir," she said remorsefully. "But I was truly doing what was best for her."

"Were you, now?"

"Yes. At the time there was no possible way I was going to be able to go to New York with her and I didn't want to hold her back."

"And now?"

She smiled. "Now, I'd like to set some things right."

He regarded her carefully before speaking. "I have to admit I admire you putting my daughter's hopes and dreams first. I know how selfish high schoolers can be. Hell, I live with one." He rolled his eyes good-naturedly and Quinn laughed. "So, for you to actually care about my daughter's aspirations says a lot about you, Quinn."

"I care about her."

"I'm sure you do," he replied knowingly.

He finally allowed her through and Quinn quickly scampered up to Rachel's room, greeting Hiram in passing. She plowed through Rachel's door and closed it behind her, turning around to find her on her bed, watching a movie. Rachel gasped at the sight of Quinn in her doorway, storming toward her, and…kissing her fiercely. Her hands instantly threaded through short blonde hair in an attempt to anchor Quinn and never let her go. But leaving is the last thing on Quinn's mind. She climbed onto the bed, onto Rachel and straddled her. Rachel's tongue slid hotly over plump lips before sliding home. It felt incredible, familiar. Quinn grasped at any inch of skin she could reach. She had missed this, craved this intimacy for months and now she had it. Now she would have it for as long as Rachel would let her. She pulled back, ignoring Rachel's whine. "Wait," she whispered.

She slid off of Rachel onto her side, grabbing the letter on the bed that had slipped from her grip. She handed it to Rachel. "What is this?"

"Just open it."

Rachel eyed her suspiciously but nevertheless, opened the letter to read. "Dear, Quinn Fabray, we are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted…class of 2016—" She squealed happily, tackling Quinn to the bed. Quinn laughed loudly as Rachel covered her face with kisses. She sputtered and clenched her eyes shut, but didn't dare move from the loving assault. "Is this real life?" Rachel mumbled as her kisses traveled down Quinn's jaw.

"I sure hope so."

"I'm so happy."

Rachel moved back up to kiss her soundly on the lips. She kissed her nose, her chin, her cheeks, her forehead. Quinn contentedly ran her hands down Rachel's back, sides, through her hair, trying to remap her body as if she forgot. As if she could ever really forget. "Me, too."

Rachel pulled back, panting heavily. Those big eyes that Quinn could forever get lost in stared down at her with so much adoration. "Can I say it now?"

Quinn's hand cupped her cheek softly. Her thumb stroked back and forth. "You can say it."

"I love you, Quinn," Rachel breathed.

Quinn's eyes rolled closed and her head tipped back as she allowed those words to wash over her, drench her completely. Every time Rachel threatened to say it it took all the strength Quinn had to tell her not to or to not beat her to the punch and say it herself. And now she finally, finally got to hear those words. She opened her eyes and smiled back at Rachel. "I love you, too, Rachel."

Rachel squealed yet again, this time beside Quinn's ear as she hugged her tightly. She had always hoped this day would come. "We're going to New York," she sing-songed.

"I still have to fill out scholarships."

"I can help you with that," she quickly replied. "I already filled out mine."

"It's not going to be easy for us," Quinn told her, always the practical and somewhat pessimistic one.

Rachel nodded, actually agreeing with her for a change. She bit her lip in contemplation and Quinn couldn't look away even if she tried. "I don't think anything that comes easy is worth having," Rachel said slowly, her words seeming to soak into Quinn's skin. "And anything that requires work in order to have is much more cherished."

"Like me?" Quinn asked with a small smile.

"Like Broadway," Rachel retorted, a teasing smirk on her lips. Quinn scowled up at her and the next thing Rachel knew, she was on her back and Quinn was tickling her sides. "That'll teach you to mess with me," Quinn said victoriously.

Rachel writhed and twisted and within seconds Quinn felt an unquenchable passion that she couldn't contain. Rachel noticed the shift immediately. Quinn's fingers slowed as they stared deeply into one another's eyes. Rachel's chest began to heave as the weight of the moment slammed into them.

"Make love to me." It was as if Rachel was reading Quinn's thoughts.

"Your fathers are here."

"Yes, but they won't hear."


She leaned up to kiss her name off of Quinn's lips. Her tongue worked diligently to distract Quinn as her hands reached down to slowly hike Quinn's dress up. The pads of her fingers dug into soft, pale thighs and Quinn squirmed on top of her as Rachel lifted her dress inch by inch. She bunched it around her waist, moaning as the mental image of how Quinn must have looked assaulted her mind. She hooked her thumbs into the waistband of pink panties and that was all it took. Quinn dipped down to lay fully on top of Rachel and kissed her heatedly until their clothes melted off.

"Quinn?" Rachel murmured sometime later into the sweaty skin of Quinn's neck.


"That was perfect."

"It was pretty amazing."

"Now I know what fireworks feel like."

Quinn chuckled lightly at her.

Rachel pulled back to stare at the serene, unguarded look on Quinn's face. She drew lazy, nonsensical patterns along the expanse of her back as she continued to stare. "And you know what?"


"We're going to New York."


She drew her name over and over again. Rachel fucking Berry. "And you know what else?"

"What else?"

"You're not a Lima Loser."

Quinn smiled the most brilliant smile that Rachel had ever had the fortune of seeing. The happiness that radiated off of the once troubled girl in front of her spoke volumes. Quinn turned onto her side and Rachel got an even better glimpse of what true happiness looked like on her girlfriend's face.

"I guess I'm not."