Alright, Ducklings, are you shocked this hasn't taken me a bazillion months? Because, you know, I totally am. What's even more shocking is how much of a chapter this is. So much that the other half of Team P&K, CJ, and I definitely decided that splitting it into two parts would be better than one huge chapter (which would have been over 50 pages, by the way)

So here you guys are: the first half of Chapter 13! Enjoy.


CHAPTER 13

PART I

Quinn Fabray strode across the foyer of Theodore Roosevelt High School, her head held high and her mask of indifference across her face. Inwardly, she relished in the crowds parting for her, a few people vying for her attention in even the slightest acknowledgement. Her cheerleading skirt swirled around her knees, teasing the leering eyes that followed her down the hall.

Quinn groaned as she noticed Carter Brandeis approaching with intent in his stride. Anyone who didn't know better would have swooned at the simple sight of the dreamy junior quarterback. He was a fairly good-looking guy, tall and athletic with a set of dimples that he flashed willingly when he smiled. Quinn sighed. His personality left a lot to be desired, however.

"Hey, Quinn."

Quinn didn't look up at the greeting. She knew what she was supposed to do, having seen it many times before at Carmel. She was supposed to bat her eyelashes, blushing as she relished in the attention of the most popular guy in school. In this scenario, she played Sadie Mitchell and Carter Brandeis was Denny Campbell. And she would have played her part perfectly…if she didn't know any better.

"Carter." The simple, short acknowledgment, curtly expelled as though a full courtesy wasn't warranted, flew from Quinn's lips without a glance.

Carter continued on, undeterred by the less-than enthusiastic greeting. He leaned lazily against the bank of lockers, hands stuffed casually in his pockets.

"So, I was thinking," he rotated, his back now against the lockers. "You're really hot. We should go out some time."

Inwardly, Quinn rolled her eyes. She wasn't particularly impressed with Carter Brandeis, not missing how his eyes had raked over her body the first time he had met her. Being invisible had another benefit, she noticed. She had honed a rather innate ability to read body language and ascertain an accurate impression from little interaction. Not surprisingly, Carter Brandeis did not leave a particularly good impression on one Quinn Fabray.

"No."

Carter looked thrown, as though her wasn't used to being rejected. He straightened, running a hand through sandy brown hair. "C'mon, dinner, a movie…" He leaned in with all the swagger and charm a teenage boy could muster. "Sounds awesome, doesn't it?"

Quinn grunted, more invested in looking for her Trig homework than the conversation. "Not particularly."

"I can pick you up whenever you want, you know?" Carter twirled a key ring around his finger. "I have a car…well, I mean, it's my mom's but I can still drive it whenever I want."

Quinn slammed her locker shut, whirling on the quarterback. If there was one thing she learned from that year of torture under Sadie Mitchell, it was how to let her inner bitch out. Her hazel eyes flashed dangerously as one slim, elegant eyebrow inched upward as a corner of her mouth twisted into a lopsided smirk. Quinn Fabray was not amused.

"I'm sorry, was the word I used not familiar to you? In case you were mistaken, I said 'No.' As in the negative, as in I don't want to do anything with you, as in I would rather you not be standing in front of me right now."

Carter's brows drew together. It was clear he wasn't used to rejection in any form. "I get it, you're playing hard-to-get." He backed away with an easy smile. "That's cool. Then I'm sure you won't mind me asking Hannah North out this weekend?" he commented, naming one of Quinn's biggest competitors for captain of Roosevelt's cheerleading squad.

"Awesome," Quinn drawled, highly nonplussed. "Her locker is on the other side of the school. I'm sure you'd rather not waste your time talking to me when you could be making the long trek in her direction."

Carter was doing a rather accurate impression of a carp as Quinn's attention snapped to a scuffle in the foyer of the main hallway. She saw Matt Bosworth messing with a short scrawny kid with thick glasses and the misfortune of sporting a mop of wild, curly black hair atop his head. Her eyes narrowing, Quinn brushed past Carter, heading towards the group of rabid teenagers.

"Hey!" Quinn pushed to the center of the scrum. She wedged her way in between Bosworth and the boy. "Back off!"

Carter sidled up behind Quinn. "Aw, look, it's Dorky D!" He pushed the smaller boy back, making him stumble. "What up, dweeb? Did you have a good time taped to the uprights?"

Quinn's gaze snapped to Carter. "Leave him alone."

Bosworth smirked, staring down at the girl in front of him. "How precious. Fabray's sticking up for the geek."

"Don't be jealous because he's got a better chance than either of you ever will, Bosworth," Quinn shot back.

Bosworth scoffed, lewdly gripping his balls. "You sure you don't want a ride, Fabray? First one's free."

"I'm surprised you have enough down there to grab," Quinn growled, squaring up to the bigger boy. "What, does picking on him make you feel like a big man? Does it give you those balls you're clearly lacking if you think it's a worthwhile activity?"

"C'mon, Quinn," Carter piped up, moving to stand beside Bosworth. "We're just messing with him. It's just a little fun."

Quinn cocked an eyebrow. "'A little fun'?" she repeated. "A little fun is listening to some music or throwing a Frisbee in the park. Picking on someone is not 'a little fun'."

"He's just screwing around," Carter scoffed. "It's harmless."

"Yeah, I'm just screwing around," Bosworth answered. "That was cute, Fabray, but c'mon. Let me at the dweeb." Bosworth advanced, but Quinn slid to the side, firmly planting herself between Bosworth and his target.

"Well, to get to him, you're gonna have to go through me." Quinn planted her hands on her hips, tilting her chin upward in challenge. "Go ahead, big guy. Put your hands on me. Let's see how much of a man you really are."

Bosworth rolled his eyes, reaching out to physically move Quinn. Quick as a flash, Quinn's right foot shot out, nailing him right in the groin. Squeaking in pain and surprise, Bosworth collapsed down to his knees, wheezing in agony. Quinn approached the writhing boy.

"Let me be very clear, Bosworth." Quinn leaned in, her eyes flashing dangerously. "I may not be as big as you, I may not be as strong as you, but rest assured, I will work you over if you even think of messing with me or with him ever again. It won't be physical, but I guarantee it will be painful. You want to be powerful? Picking on someone smaller than you doesn't make you powerful. It makes you pathetic."

Bosworth puffed up with the bravado of a man who just felt a little bit of his ego get a bit bruised and looked up through the haze of pain to stormy hazel eyes. Whatever comeback he had died in his throat, and he gulped instead. There was something in those multi-colored spheres that, quite frankly, scared the ever-loving shit out of him. It was like a raging wildfire simmering just below the surface, and it promised that Quinn would follow through on her threat. Wisely, he kept his mouth shut, preferring to concentrate on the dull throbbing radiating from his crotch. But, damn, did she kick hard.

"And you!" Quinn rounded on Carter, eyes still blazing. "You should try growing a pair and standing up for what's right if you want a chance with any girl worth anything."

Carter blinked as Quinn grabbed the boy's hand and tugged him along away from the gathered crowd.

"Whatever, Fabray!" He hollered down the hall. "You're not worth it!" His shout turned into a grunt as Darius Vonn lowered a shoulder and knocked him into a locker bank. Carter slid down to join Bosworth, groaning as he clutched his stomach. The star of Roosevelt's nationally-ranked basketball team laughed at the two hapless football players as he exchanged high-fives with the teammates flanking him.

"Keep telling yourself that, Brandeis," the star forward mocked. "Because that's as good as Roosevelt's gonna get." Darius sneered down at the two boys from his rather tall and muscular six-foot, eight-inch frame.

"I'd listen to the girl," Darius remarked, flashing a set of white teeth that contrasted nicely with his dark skin. "That Declan kid helps a lot of people pass their science classes."

"Plus he's a pretty cool dude, too," Mario Rosales chimed in, the point guard shoving his hands in his pockets. "He helped me with my Spanish essay for Señora Aguilar."

"Bro, you're Mexican," Darius replied blankly. "You've been speaking Spanish since you were little."

"Yeah, speaking it, but that's slang," Mario explained. "I sure don't use correct grammar slinging shit with my tia."

The group of basketball players nodded to Quinn and her new companion as they disappeared to another wing of the school.

Quinn stopped, breathing heavily through her nose. She threw her hands in the air, narrowly missing smacking the kid upside the head as she paced the hallway and ranted.

"God, I hate morons like that! Pushing people around just because they have those stupid letterman jackets. Like banging into other guys chasing after a stupid oblong ball makes you better than other people?!" She huffed. "I'd say that's all athletes, but Darius and the basketball team are mostly normal. I mean, you don't see them hanging people on the coat rack on the back of the chemistry lab, right?!"

She whirled back to the boy, who shrank back slightly under her stare. Seeing him do so, Quinn softened. He looked a bit perplexed at the rather rapid change of disposition.

"Sorry, I just really don't like bullies. They remind me that we are unfortunate evolutionary relatives with the Neanderthals."

The boy opened his mouth to speak, but all that was expelled, much to his chagrin, was a strangled squeak.

A small smile turned Quinn's mouth upward, instantly transforming Quinn's face. "What's your name?" It wasn't that growl that had stopped Matt Bosworth in his tracks or the sneering icy tone that verbally beat down Carter Brandeis; it was softer, friendlier.

"D-Declan," he answered, finally finding his voice. "Declan Riley."

Quinn cocked her head. "Are you a freshman?"

"N-no. Sophomore like you." His voice grew smaller as his eyes plummeted to the ground. "We're in the same history class."

"Oh…" Quinn winced and rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly. "Sorry."

"No big deal," Declan mumbled, scuffing a shoe into the linoleum. "I sit in the back corner. You'd miss me regardless."

"When's your lunch period?"

"Now," Declan answered.

Quinn nodded. "Mine too. You want to grab a table?"

Declan's brows drew together. "You want to eat lunch with me?"

"Sure. I mean, friends eat lunch together, don't they?"

Declan stared at her. "You want to be friends? Don't you already have friends?"

Quinn shrugged. "I'm new here. Haven't had time to try."

Declan's brow wrinkled skeptically. "You seem to be pretty popular with the squad."

"They're teammates," Quinn corrected. "They could become friends, but forced companionship doesn't necessarily mean friendship. I don't have many friends yet."

"And you want us to be friends?"

"Sure. Why not?"

Declan considered that for a moment. He nodded. "Cool."

This time, Quinn's smile was wide and bright as she stuck out her hand. "Quinn Fabray."

Declan threw out a lopsided grin, grabbing the offering and shaking firmly. "Declan Riley. Put her there, pal."

In the eyes of Theodore Roosevelt High, the friendship of Quinn Fabray and Declan Riley was a peculiar one. In the early stages, before Declan would bloom into his looks, people wondered how a girl as effortlessly gorgeous and aloof as Quinn would even spare a second glance to a dork like Declan Riley. It was a shake-up to the social perception of the girl when she had stood up to both Matt Bosworth and Carter Brandeis. Until then, no one was sure how to read Quinn Fabray because she was so aloof. That singular act had humanized her, in a way, had revealed something rather significant to the rest of Roosevelt. In a rather unique twist, Quinn Fabray had become an advocate to the downtrodden, a champion of the outcast. That singular act had made it okay to stand up for those being bullied, prompting a change in attitude amidst the masses of Roosevelt. If Quinn was willing to reach out to the perceived unpopular of Roosevelt, why shouldn't the rest of them?

Quinn wasn't the only one who became more transparent. Declan had also undergone a bit of a coming-out as well. Being connected to Quinn, he was thrust into the social spotlight as the only person Quinn really allowed to see much of herself beyond the reserved new star of the Roosevelt cheerleading squad. It seemed as though the blonde's influence was all was needed for Declan's previously stifled personality to emerge. The more people he was exposed to in connection to Quinn, the more people were enchanted with his good-humored, easy-going personality and ready smile.

What they didn't know was that Quinn saw a lot of Lucy in Declan. The population of Roosevelt was largely ignorant of the ugly duckling past their untouchable beauty held in the skeletons of her closet. It said a lot that no one really cared about Quinn Fabray's existence prior to Roosevelt; they were too blinded by the appeal of the mystery surrounding her to actually try solving it. Lucy Caboosey may have wanted to be invisible, but Quinn was certain that all Lucy needed was a friend to make Carmel bearable.

That was how their friendship started, but neither would have ever predicted the events that would irrevocably bond them together and how it would resonate with them for the rest of their lives.

xxx-xxx-xxx

Declan didn't know how long they sat there, curled up against the floor of Quinn's living room. Quinn had always been such a survivor, such a strong person, such a formidable force. To see her so fragile and so vulnerable broke his heart. There was a reason Quinn was so aloof, so reserved, and it stemmed from a time where she suffered unbearable loss in so many different ways and at such a young age. He remembered hearing a Taylor Swift song back then about life at fifteen. She sang about how it was okay for someone to not know who he was at fifteen when things seemed so much bigger than they really were. At the time, Declan had scoffed at the song. The problems were so juvenile, so…irreverent that he just couldn't relate. He knew exactly who he was supposed to be at fifteen. She did too. Problem was, it was something they were thrust into, something they never would have imagined happening. In one moment, innocence had been ripped away, and it was time to grow up. They didn't have time to squeal about first dates or agonize about the dreamy guy on the football team; life was coming at them so much faster than they had anticipated.

Declan stroked Quinn's back as her breaths evened out, and she took a final, shuddering breath, her tears regressing to ragged inhales and exhales. Declan glanced down at her bowed head.

"Are you gonna be okay?" It was a trite question, one he hated to ask, but the vocal reassurance would appease him for a bit.

Quinn sniffled, nodding slowly. "Yeah. Frannie, Trey, and the kids visited. It was a complete surprise. She sent me pictures of their trip and…"

Declan nodded. "I got you."

"Do you ever wonder what she would have been like?"

Declan swallowed hard, his Adam's Apple bobbing. "Every day."

"I always wonder what color her eyes were," Quinn whispered. "I never got a chance to know. I just wanted to know…"

"Tell me about her," Declan murmured. "What would she have been like?"

There was a long moment of silence before Quinn spoke, barely audible and muffled by his shirt. "She would have been pretty. Not like us when we were kids. The early ugly duckling syndrome would have skipped her generation. Her hair would have been hard to tame, so she would have put it up in a ponytail. I think I'd want her to have your eyes."

"Keep going," Declan prompted.

"I think she would have been a little tomboy, roughhousing with the guys and kicking their butts in sports. She would have been a bit of a troublemaker, and we'd be constantly called into the principal's office because of some scrape she got in or something. She wouldn't have been afraid to get dirty, and we'd be constantly exasperated with the amount of laundry we had to do." Quinn took a deep breath.

"And she would have grown up knowing we loved her with everything we had and nothing would have changed that, even if she was gay or wanted to dye her hair five different colors or decided she wanted to be a boy when she was older. No matter what, she would know what love is."

Declan squeezed her tighter as Quinn quieted. His hand skimmed up and down her back as he started to sing, his deep voice rumbling with the familiar tune. One could never claim that he would be the next Freddie Mercury, but there was a familiar sort of comfort that came with his voice.

Goodnight my angel, time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say

I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go, no matter where you are
I never will be far away

Quinn snuggled into his chest, reveling in the soothing warmth, feeling the muscles rumble beneath her cheek as he kept on singing. She remembered the first time she had heard a Billy Joel song. It was "Piano Man" but for some odd reason, it had soothed the insistent flutterings that came from her midsection in a way nothing else could. She soon found that any song crooned by the Bronx balladeer was often magic to a restless soul, and she had exhausted his catalogue for that very purpose. The first time she heard "Lullabye," she knew it was going to be the one she would one day use to soothe her own future children. She never realized just how fitting this song would eventually be.

Quinn sniffled, burrowing into his chest, her voice joining his.

'Goodnight my angel, now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry, and if you sing this lullabye
Then in your heart, there will always be a part of me

Someday we'll all be gone, but lullabyes go on and on
They never die, that's how you and I will be

The friendship between Lucy Quinn Fabray and Declan Riley may have begun with a simple act of kindness, but it had blossomed into something neither had seen coming. They shared a common past, and it was the events in their shared past that bound them together forever, for better or for worse. Declan remembered the first time he had seen her, so gorgeous and untouchable like an ethereal being gracing mere mortals. He had never fathomed that he, Declan Radcliffe Riley, would ever be the person who would breach that impenetrable shield.

And as Declan held Quinn in his arms, feeling her breaths even out, gently taking her to a thankful if not slightly restless slumber, he was forever grateful for whatever power drew them together to share this remarkable friendship even with all the heartbreak that existed in the past. Gathering Quinn gently into his arms, he stood and carried her to her bed, Charlie following loyally behind.

Declan laid her down, tucking her gently into the covers. He leaned down, pressing a sweet kiss to her forehead. Turning away from the bed, he ran a hand over Charlie's head.

"Watch over her, bud."

Charlie nodded, dutifully taking his post at the foot of Quinn's bed as Declan exited the room.

Declan closed the door behind him with a sigh. He made sure the house was locked up and the alarm was set before settling himself in the closest guest room from Quinn's bedroom. Sinking down onto the mattress, he held his head in his hands.

Only then did he allow himself to cry.

xxx-xxx-xxx

The early morning sun woke Quinn as it peeked through her blinds. She jerked into consciousness, blinking against the brightness. She grabbed her phone at her bedside table, noting the time. Flopping onto her back with a groan, she rubbed her hands over her face with a weighty sigh and peeled herself from her bed. The smell of bacon wafted from downstairs, and she followed her nose to the kitchen, scratching Charlie as she passed him on the way out the door and down the stairs.

Quinn stuck her head into her kitchen to find a similarly disheveled Declan manning the stove, peering dubiously into the frying pan as he supervised the strips of bacon simmering on the surface. She couldn't help but smirk as Declan tentatively reached out a fork to turn the bacon over, jumping back as the grease and oil popped, shooting out from the pan.

"You alright there, D?"

Declan grumbled, yanking his hand back as another pop sounded. "No one told me how dangerous it was to cook bacon."

Quinn grinned wryly. "How do you survive, big guy?"

Declan scowled, poking inside the pan, his torso leaned back to avoid flying grease. "Microwaves and toaster ovens are God's gift to mankind."

Quinn merely chuckled, plopping herself in a seat at the island counter placing her phone down at her elbow and laying her head in her arms.

Declan pushed the plate of bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns in front of her. "You okay?"

Quinn shrugged, running a tired hand over her face. "I guess." She peered up at him through her unruly hair hanging over her eyes. "Thanks for coming."

Declan snorted, pouring liberal amounts of ketchup over his serving of food. "Duh, dude."

Quinn smiled, her first real one since the day before, as she dug in.

She jumped as her phone vibrated incessantly from its place at her elbow, and she reached over to read the message from Rachel.

OMG, I can't wait for lunch at Ponderosa's. I've been craving their vegan Panini!

"Shit," she mumbled. "I forgot I promised I'd meet Rachel for lunch."

Declan's brows drew together in concern. "You sure you're up for it? I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you cancelled. Just say you're sick or something."

"No, you know how Rachel gets. She'd rush over here armed with chicken soup and every over-the-counter medicine she could get her hands on." Quinn squeezed her eyes shut and pinching the bridge of her nose, rubbing firmly. "Better I brave it for a couple of hours."

"Well, Little Miss Ray of Sunshine and all, it's not very surprising." Declan placed their plates into the dishwasher and leaned against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. "Maybe she's what you need right now," he offered. "You know, that kind of effervescent personality…?"

Quinn smiled, a mere quirk of the lips. "Maybe." She sighed, standing up and moving over to Declan, giving him a hug. "I should go get ready. I've got some errands to run. Love you, D."

Declan leaned down, kissing her cheek. "Love you too, Q."

xxx-xxx-xxx


DUTY AND HONOR, UNDERNEATH THE MICROSCOPE

As the release date of Chris Keller's latest projected hit, Duty and Honor, looms closer and closer, the buzz is already starting to form around the much-anticipated film, naming it a front-runner for all the major awards. In the midst of the successes of his last studio films: the dramatic coming-of-age story In Bloom, spy thriller Grey Area, and the film adaptation of the DC comic heroine Wonder Woman, Chris Keller is now tackling controversy head-on in his latest offering about a lesbian Marine in the wake of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Duty and Honor's stars, Quinn Lucas and Rachel Berry, are also creating a healthy amount of buzz off-screen. Lucas, the long enigmatic sweetheart of NBC's hit Queen of Babble, and Berry, a Broadway veteran making her debut on the big screen, have already been quite visible in numerous public appearances and photographed with quite the array of impressive company, among them NFL superstar Noah Puckerman, action star Everett Michaels, fashion designer Kurt Hummel, and model-turned-actress Lindsay Giannelli. All eyes are now on them as they take on their roles as embittered Marine First Lieutenant Sloane Gerard and bakery owner Mia St. Claire.

It still remains to be seen if Keller's film, already the subject of much controversy from both the conservative pundits and zealous religious organizations stating that this film is "glorifying the deviance and abnormality of homosexuality", "the liberal a conduit for pushing their agenda", and "tainting the long-standing traditions and notions of the military and its practices," is strong enough to sustain the momentum generated by the buzz alone. One thing is certain, however, all eyes are fixated on the cast and crew of Duty and Honor.


Quinn frowned as she read over the latest news reports, noting a stark influx of attention and even more speculation on Rachel's new mystery interest. She could see Anson's name thrown around, a few accusing Puck of infidelity against his new fiancée, and even a few conspiracy theorists naming Finn as Rachel's new love, saying Rachel's comments were a red herring to keep the heat away from the discovery. She sighed. This was exactly why she stayed away from the press.

"Hey!"

Quinn glanced up to find Rachel making her way towards her, a bright smile on her face. Quinn took a moment to appreciate the simple jean shorts and tank top concealing Rachel's amazing body as the little diva approached. She resisted the urge to lean down to give Rachel a kiss, settling instead for a prolonged hug.

"Hey."

Rachel frowned as she sat down, noting the bags under Quinn's eyes that she hadn't bothered to try covering up and the slightly slumped posture of the blonde. "Are you okay?"

Quinn shrugged, running a tired hand over her face. "I've had better days." She threw out a winning smile and poured on the charm, hoping the distraction would make Rachel forget about it. "Seeing you makes it infinitely better though."

Rachel's eyes narrowed slightly, her lips pursing with the barest pull of cheek. A normal person wouldn't have picked up the infinitesimal gesture, but Quinn knew exactly what that meant. There was no way Rachel was going to simply let it go.

Sure enough, the little diva straightened in her chair, leaning in slightly. "Want to talk about it?"

Quinn drew in a deep breath, lolling her head back against the chair. She seemed to consider that for a moment before slowly shaking her head. "No, not really."

Rachel studied her for a long moment. Quinn couldn't shake the feeling of every layer of herself being peeled away as Rachel tried to slip to the core. Quinn had no doubt that the brunette was capable of it and in the sneakiest way possible. Quinn couldn't help but relax as Rachel relented.

"Okay, but I'm here if you do want to talk."

Quinn mustered up a smile. "I appreciate that."

Rachel grinned, reclining back in her chair. "Are you excited for the Super Bowl coming up?"

This time, Quinn's smile was much more genuine as she thought of their upcoming trip down to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri to watch Puck's Chargers take on the New York Giants. "Of course I am." She eyed Rachel playfully. "You're not going to have a question of allegiance, are you?"

Rachel squirmed in her seat. "While I admit, I had a fleeting," she narrowed her eyes at Quinn's smirk, "I repeat, fleeting – moment of reconsideration, I admit my loyalty to Noah long predates my love for New York in all facets, and I shall align myself accordingly."

"Good," Quinn declared. "Because, you know, that'd be super awkward…"

Rachel stuck her tongue out in response, chucking her balled-up napkin into the blonde's smug face.


IS THE ICE QUEEN MELTING?

Rachel Berry and Quinn Lucas, stars of the upcoming Christian Keller military film Duty and Honor shared what seemed to be a cozy lunch yesterday. Lucas, notorious for her reclusive personality, has rarely been seen without the company of her Duty and Honor costar since the pair began filming the Chris Keller drama. Is the Ice Quinn melting? Perhaps…


xxx-xxx-xxx

Bellies full, they returned back to Rachel's suite where Quinn settled down on the couch, huffing out a laugh as the brunette plopped down beside her, lifting Quinn's arm to drape over her shoulder. One thing Quinn had certainly noticed in their short courtship was that the little diva was definitely not shy about showing affection. She had seen it with Santana, Brittany, and Puck, but that affection came from years of building a close friendship.

Rachel snuggled as close as she could, molding her body to Quinn's. Her hands went to Quinn's hair, tenderly stroking the unruly strands from Quinn's face.

"Your hair's so soft," she murmured, head craning up to meet Quinn's fond gaze.

Quinn shrugged. "Nothing special with it…just conditioner."

Rachel hummed, turning her face in towards the crook of Quinn's neck, her nose skimming against the pale column. Her lips pursed, leaving the barest of kisses on the skin.

"I can't stop thinking about your kisses," Rachel admitted softly. Her lips moved up to Quinn's jaw line. "You're very addicting."

Quinn held back a whimper, resisting the urge to tilt her head and allow Rachel more access. "C'mon, Rach," she grunted, chagrined to note her voice had more than a hint of a plea behind it. "Slow down a bit."

"Oh, Quinn," Rachel drawled. She leaned up, her lips seeking out Quinn's. "Don't you know this will go so much better if you just give in?" She meandered over to Quinn's ear, teasingly nipping the lobe as she started to sing.

I'm gonna wear you down
I'm gonna make you see
I'm gonna get to you
You're gonna give in to me

I'm gonna start a fire
You're gonna feel the heat
I'm gonna burn for you
You're gonna melt for me

Come on, come on
Into my arms
Come on, come on
Give in to me

"Rachel…" Quinn hissed out a breath, arching off the cushion as Rachel's fingers danced just beneath the hem of her shirt. Her hands stayed resolutely at her sides.

"Why are you fighting so hard, Quinn?" Rachel purred, sliding onto Quinn's lap. She ducked her head, nipping Quinn's pulse point, hips rolling in their achingly familiar dance. One hand drifted down briefly palming Quinn's breast before raking through Quinn's hair. Her lips captured Quinn's, caressing, stroking, providing just a taste, before drawing back teasingly.

"I know you want me just as much as I want you." Rachel's tongue poked out, tickling Quinn's pulse point once again. "Give in to me, Quinn."

Up until that point, Quinn had refrained from unleashing the rather primal side of her sexuality, the side that effortlessly charmed and wooed prospective lady loves with the precision of a master surgeon. It was a persona crafted just as carefully as her Quinn Lucas image, and one that could be devastatingly effective when honed in on potential prey. At Rachel's words, however, it was clear the little brunette was underestimating Quinn's iron-clad control. If Quinn had truly wanted just sex, she could have Rachel naked and wanting with nothing more than a significant look and a raised eyebrow, but whatever it was between them deserved better than instant physical gratification. Perhaps it was time to turn the tables a bit. Rachel was being a bit too smug.

Quinn growled, her hips pinning the brunette down to the couch. Rachel squeaked out in surprise as she found herself looking up into intense hazel spheres. The glint in Quinn's eyes stole her breath. They shone with a dangerous sheen, almost predatory.

"You want to know why I want to wait?" Quinn murmured, her low, rasping voice wafting hotly into Rachel's ear, sending a shockwave of heat straight to the other woman's center. "Because I know this is going to be amazing," she punctuated her assertion with a rough grind of her hips. "I know that making love to you, that fucking you is going to be nothing short of mind-blowing."

Rachel couldn't help but whimper as Quinn's lips traveled down to her neck, nipping and sucking in an erratic pattern that was driving her wild. Her hips surged up, desperate for purchase, any sort of friction that could provide relief. She whined as Quinn rocked back, denying her with a smirk.

Quinn traveled down, her tongue skipping up and over Rachel's collarbone, teeth scraping across the swells of Rachel's breasts. One hand skated beneath Rachel's tank top, fingernails raking lightly against the tan skin eager for her touch. "I want to know everything else is going to be amazing too."

Rachel hissed out a groan as Quinn's hand slid from her abdomen down to the waistband of her shorts, one finger tracing the seam before sliding lower to cup her sex. There was no doubt the blonde could feel the heat radiating from her core.

"Quinn…"

"I don't want you to just want me," Quinn husked. She maneuvered herself between Rachel's legs. "I want you to yearn for me in every way."

Rachel arched up as Quinn's thigh skimmed against her center. The blonde traced her fingertips along the lace and silk of her bra before retracting to fist in Rachel's hair. A strangled moan of surprise escaped Rachel's lips as Quinn thrust forward roughly, sending the tremors rollicking through every nerve ending available in her body.

"This won't be just sex," Quinn vowed. "This will be absolute and utter fulfillment." Her breath hot in Rachel's ear, she punctuated her statement with another forceful thrust that prompted a gasp.

"When I'm done with you, you won't be able to feel anything other than the rapturous euphoria of complete satisfaction." Quinn smirked, pulling gently so that Rachel's eyes met hers. "I want you to reach your breaking point until there's nothing left for you to do but to surrender to your desire."

Rachel surged up, catching Quinn's mouth in her own. She drank in the desperate kisses, greedily accepting Quinn's tongue as it ventured out to tangle with her own. Her body rocked of its own volition, acting off of instinct rather than pure consciousness. She ground her hips against Quinn's muscled thigh, frantic for the delicious friction that sent her body tingling. She directed the hand tangled with Quinn's beneath her shirt to cup her breast, a keening moan erupting as the blonde rolled the aching nipple between her fingertips.

"Hey, Ray…Whoa, sorry!" Brittany jumped as she found the two women in a rather compromising position. She grinned sheepishly. "My bad."

"Hey, Britt." Quinn lifted herself off Rachel, taking a spot at her side as though she hadn't just been caught ravishing the tiny brunette. Quinn left Rachel sprawled over the couch, thoroughly and completely disheveled, her eyes wide and glassy with a dual armament of lust and arousal.

Brittany grinned at the sight of her normal put-together best friend so unhinged. "Hey, Ray, sorry to interrupt sexy times, but we have that interview taping. You might want to get ready."

Rachel nodded absently, her face bright red with both arousal and embarrassment. "Thanks, Britt." Rachel took a moment to compose herself, hitching up her shorts and buttoning them. She looked to Quinn. "Come with me?"

Quinn's eyebrow arched upward, her mouth tilting in time to showcase a lecherous smirk.

"Perv," Rachel accused playfully, smacking the blonde. "I meant to the taping."

Quinn laughed. "Whose show?"

"Elaine DeGarza," Rachel answered with an excited bounce. "I've always wanted to be interviewed by her. Daddy and Poppa are such huge fans."

Quinn nodded. "Sure. I love Elaine."

Rachel beamed. "Excellent." She cleared her throat, rising from the couch to head towards her bathroom. "I'm just going to go get ready."

Quinn let out a deep breath as Rachel flounced away. The ache was present in her own body, but she fought it down. She turned to Brittany, ruffling her hair sheepishly.

"Er…sorry you had to walk into that."

Brittany smirked knowingly and just held up a hand.

Quinn barked out a laugh, shaking her head and obliging, her palm meeting Brittany's firmly.

xxx-xxx-xxx

Elaine DeGarza was a quick-witted comedienne and actress, who had come out to much scrutiny during a time where homosexual visibility hadn't quite made its way into the mainstream media. Her career had stalled before she reemerged as one of daytime's leading talk show hosts. She had found her niche with her self-titled show and even her personal life, falling in love and marrying British supermodel Presley Richards following quite the publicized relationship. Currently, the legally-titled Mrs. DeGarza starred in a comedy sitcom about a dysfunctional, morally defunct family, aptly dubbed Delayed Evolution.

Elaine was one of the few from whom Quinn never hesitated to accept an interview request. She had long been a fan of the comedienne and admired Elaine for the rather bold choice of choosing to live her life freely and without reservations when it hadn't quite become as accepted.

Quinn lounged in the dressing room, waiting for Rachel to come back from makeup. She idly scrolled through her phone, checking her email, texting her mother, and responding to a few tweets that were worth replying to, mentioning Rachel in a couple. The trailer for the film had been out for awhile, and she was pleasantly surprised at the reception from her fans.

SweetSammyS
QuinnLucas Love seeing you and MsRachelBerry hanging out! She's so cute!

QuinnOfMyHeart
Can't wait to see QuinnLucas and MsRachelBerry in #DutyandHonor Already clearing my schedule for the premiere.

MrGaryToYou
Kudos to QuinnLucas and MsRachelBerry on tackling the issues in their new movie. Good to see Hollywood stepping it up.

Quinn wasn't ignorant to the dissenters to the film as well, and she had received many a scathing correspondence towards the nature of her sexuality and her new role but much of the reception had been largely positive. Still, the rather heady buzz surrounding the movie prompted Quinn to be extra attentive when it came to the protection of both her professional and private lives. She wasn't naïve enough to believe that her 'open yet discreet' lifestyle would make her invulnerable to the crazed homophobes and conservative talking heads who took just as much offense as if she was flaunting it. She was well aware of the scrutiny she was under by helming this project. This movie definitely had the potential to thrust her into a level of inspection with which she wasn't comfortable; it was almost certain to prompt more and more media persons to try and dig even further into life. Knowing that, it was imperative that she exercise vigilance and discretion.

She glanced up as Rachel entered the dressing room. The brunette gave a little twirl, modeling the white lace dress that set off her tan skin, the thigh-length hem showing off Rachel's long and slender legs, her feet clad in champagne-colored heels. Her hair was down in gentle waves, bangs gently tickling her forehead.

"Well, what do you think?"

Quinn smiled softly, reveling in the sight before her. It was perfect, not too casual, not too dressy, and Rachel looked absolutely stunning. "Amazing."

Rachel leaned down, pressing a soft kiss to Quinn's lips, careful not to muss her lipstick. "Thanks for coming with me."

Quinn shrugged. "No big deal." She squeezed Rachel's hand. "Have fun out there."

Rachel winked. "I'm always excellent with interviews, Quinn. Don't you worry."

For some reason, that assertion put Quinn right on edge.

xxx-xxx-xxx

Elaine DeGarza sat reclined in a comfy, squishy chair a bright smile on her pretty features. Her short, cropped blonde hair shining in the studio lights, she addressed the studio audience who waited anxiously for her guest. She crossed her legs, showing off a rather loud pair of striped socks, twirling a simple platinum wedding band around her ring finger.

"My next guest started on the bright lights of a Broadway stage in Thoroughly Modern Millie where she won a Tony Award. She is in Christian Keller's new drama Duty and Honor. Please welcome Rachel Berry!"

Rachel beamed, striding out with an enthusiastic wave to the crowd. She leaned up on her tiptoes to accept a hug from the taller host, laughing and nodding with whatever Elaine whispered in her ear upon parting. Rachel gracefully sank down into the cushioned chair, settling herself as Elaine plopped into the chair opposite her.

"Well, hello there!"

"Hello!" Rachel smoothed out the skirt of her dress, daintily tucking one ankle behind the other. "Thank you so much for having me."

"Thanks for being here. I know you're busy promoting the movie."

Rachel laughed, waving a hand. "Oh, I would have rearranged everything to fit you in or risk the wrath from my fathers."

Elaine nodded, sagely. "We can't have that! How is your father Miles? We heard he is a police officer with the Lima, Ohio police department and he was recently shot in the line of duty."

"Good as new," Rachel assured Elaine. "He's been recovering and doing physical therapy, but he's still on leave, so he's getting a bit restless." Rachel smiled fondly. "That blue blood runs very thick in him."

"And we wish him a speedy recovery."

"I'm sure he'll be so glad to hear that." Rachel looked to the camera, waving enthusiastically. "Hi, Daddy! Hi, Poppa! Hi, Mom!"

The audience laughed along as Rachel shrugged sheepishly, and Elaine relaxed into her chair, looking fondly over at her guest.

"So, we came across this interesting photo courtesy of your costar, Anson Blake."

Rachel laughed. In the photo Quinn, suspended by wires, was flying through the air, a look of abject terror on her face. Rachel stood behind her, a fierce look adorning her face, arms raised as if she had "thrown" Quinn. "Oh, yes. It was during a break in filming, and we wanted to try out the wires. They only had time for one of us so we rock-paper-scissored for who got to go on." Rachel pouted. "I lost. This is what came of that."

Elaine chuckled, shaking her head. "I'm told you're responsible for most of the hijinks that happened on set."

Rachel demurred, flicking her bangs from her forehead. "I have my fun, yes."

"So this is your first film role, but this isn't your first professional job. You started at Tisch, and you've been on Broadway for various roles, the most recent of which was Roxie Hart in Chicago."

"That's correct," Rachel affirmed. "I grew up in Lima, Ohio, but Broadway and New York had been my dream from the first time I watched the movie Funny Girl as a child, and I was fortunate enough to secure a job upon my graduation."

"And you have done very well. A Tony Award for your first musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and now it seems you've made it to the big screen."

"That's right." Rachel nodded. "I've been very fortunate."

"So why don't you tell us about this new film that's coming out?"

"Well, Duty and Honor is a story about Sloane Gerard, a Marine who has just come back from a tour overseas, and this is her story about how she juggles the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the option of an out life with the societal expectations of her conservative Midwest town."

"That's quite ambitious endeavor," Elaine commented. "Now, you weren't the first actress to take this role. You took over for Jennifer Wolfe, who was originally cast as Mia. How did this opportunity come about?"

Rachel sat a bit straighter, folding her hands in her lap. "Well, from what Chris Keller has told me, he saw a picture of me in the New York Times, remembered my role as Millie, and decided right then and there that he wanted me as Mia."

"Just like that?"

"Just like that," Rachel confirmed. "I think it is now a recognized caveat in Hollywood that no one should ever disregard a Chris Keller hunch, so the producers went with it."

"It must have been overwhelming to have a Hollywood director call you out of the blue and offer you the role of a lifetime."

"It was!" Rachel giggled. "My agent gave me a heads-up that he was calling me, but that certainly didn't prepare me for the shock. I'm pretty sure I asked him if he was certain a couple of times. I mean, who knows? Maybe there's another Rachel Berry who spells her name differently than I do!"

"And I'm sure you're glad you were the correct Rachel Berry!"

"Oh, of course," Rachel answered. "Gosh, that would have been devastating if he was mistaken."

"Now that you've filmed this movie, how is it different than theatre?"

Rachel contemplated her response. "Well, for one the hours are certainly insane. Broadway is pretty structured in that you always know when your shows are, that part never changes, and while people may come in and out of the production, the content is pretty much the same. Hollywood," Rachel shook her head fondly. "Hollywood is a whole different bear. Sometimes, I'm not even sure who I'm working with for the day until I've arrived on set!"

"But you enjoyed this experience?"

"Oh, I had a blast!" Rachel enthused. "Everyone has been so warm and welcoming, and it's been a great time."

"Even Quinn Lucas?" Elaine prompted. "She's not known for being an open person."

"Especially Quinn," Rachel amended, quick to defend her costar. "It's certainly not a misconception that she's a bit aloof, but it is a misconception that she's frigid and unpleasant. She's one of the warmest, most engaging people I have ever met. One just has to be patient and allow her to show that side on her own time. I am truly blessed to have her in my life now."

Elaine waited as the applause died down before she switched gears to another topic. She brought out a stack of pictures with a rather cheeky grin. "So, we have been hearing a good amount of your love-life in the tabloids. You certainly don't waste any time getting out there."

Rachel shook her head good-naturedly. "I must have skipped the stealth section of celebrity class."

"I mean," Elaine showed the first photo, "we have this…"

Rachel laughed at the sight of her and Puck, the linebacker holding her up to his eye-level with a vice grip around her legs, her arms slung around his neck as they grinned at one another.

"He's my best friend in the whole world. I've known him since our parents brought us to the same Temple when we were babies."

"But you have dated Noah Puckerman in the past?"

"Yes. Briefly."

Elaine nodded. "And this is your ex-boyfriend?"

Rachel's nose wrinkled at the picture of her and Brady walking, his arm slung around her shoulders, the hand dangling by her collarbone tangled with hers. "Correct. That didn't end well…"

"No, we heard about that as well." Elaine showed the final picture, the now-infamous shot of Finn smothering a rather tiny-looking Rachel. "And this is also your ex-boyfriend?"

Rachel laughed, shaking her head at the ridiculousness of the photo. She know understood what Quinn was talking about when she declared Rachel standing next to Finn made the brunette infinitely more miniscule in relation. "Also correct."

"So there isn't a relationship with any of these men, but you might have hinted at a romance with another man."

"I did…" Rachel played coy so well.

"But none of these men are your reported love interest?"

Rachel shook her head. "No."

Elaine nodded. "So I guess the question is, who is he?"

A slow, melting smile split Rachel's lips as she nonchalantly flipped her hair behind her shoulder. "What makes you think it's a he?"

Elaine certainly wasn't expecting that response as her eyes widened, and the ever-composed host looked thrown. Finally regaining her sense of speech, she leaned forward in her chair. "Are you telling me your mystery person might be a she?"

Rachel giggled cutely, thoroughly aware of her newfound power in their current situation. "I didn't ever mention a gender, did I? I have always thought my sexuality to be fluid, and it would be an injustice to my fathers and myself to not consider the possibility of finding romance from alternative sources to my norm."

Elaine honestly had nothing to say in response. She merely gaped at the camera as the audience hooted and hollered. For her part, Rachel ducked her head down, lips curled in a sly, enigmatic smile.

Rachel could have never predicted the extent of the storm that was brewing in the wake of that confession, and the eye began mere feet away in a dressing room occupied in part by a certain blonde.

xxx-xxx-xxx

Back in Rachel's dressing room, Quinn's mouth dropped as she heard Rachel's coyly uttered words. She stood from her seat, moving towards the screen that played the interview in front of her. As the words sunk in, she rotated slowly to Santana and Brittany watching from the couch, one finger pointed to the television.

"Did she just say what I think she just said?" Quinn intoned.

"Ay dios mio," Santana grumbled beneath her breath.

"I can't believe this!" Quinn hissed, beginning to pace in front of the screen.

Santana and Brittany exchanged a glance as they observed the blonde silently fuming. Being fairly secluded from the soundstage allowed this sudden burst of emotion to resonate. It was clear Quinn was not happy in the slightest, but had they been in mixed company, Quinn wouldn't have dared to make any sort of indication towards her displeasure. There certainly wasn't any guessing to Quinn's outlook concerning their current situation. Neither Brittany nor Santana could hear what was being said as Quinn began muttering inaudibly, but they knew for sure it wasn't anything warm and fuzzy. Brittany leaned down to Santana.

"I'm kinda scared for Ray," she whispered.

Santana nodded. "Right?"

Whatever reaction they thought Rachel was going to receive, they didn't have to wait long to find out as the brunette bounced into the room a moment later.

"Wow, that was quite thrilling!" Rachel enthused. "Are all talk show interviews like that?" She halted as she noted the rather grim expression on her costar's face, an expression mirrored by Santana and Brittany. "Quinn? Is something wrong?"

"I'm fine," Quinn bit out. "We need to talk. Not here though."

Rachel frowned. Quinn's eyes told a different story, the wildfire raging in the hazel spheres. She may have stated otherwise, but the tension was evident in Quinn's posture and carriage. The blonde turned sharply on her heel, stomping out the door.

Santana bit her lip. "I'm guessing that's our cue to leave. She might wrestle the keys from Derrick and drive off without us."

The drive back was tense, the thunderous expression on Quinn's face halting any attempts for conversation. Santana and Brittany exchanged another uneasy glance. The tension was palpable, and Rachel looked understandably confused at the rather surly demeanor of her costar. She honestly wasn't sure what had transpired from the time she had exited the dressing room to the time she had returned, but it seemed as though Quinn's attitude had done a complete one-eighty. Needless to say, nothing was said until they got back to the hotel.

Quinn waited until the door was shut, whirling on the tiny brunette. "Rachel, you can't just say stuff like that!"

Rachel recoiled back. "Excuse me?"

"Discreet, Rachel!" Quinn ranted. "Discreet! That is the key word."

Rachel cocked her head in confusion. "Concerning what, Quinn?"

"Everything!" Quinn shot back.

Rachel merely leveled her costar with a look. "You're going to have to be more specific Quinn," she commented. "Considering telepathy is not one of my considerable talents, I cannot possibly begin to even fathom to what particular aspect you are referring."

"You can't just go off and say the stuff that you did to Elaine like that!"

"And what exactly did I say?" Rachel challenged. "I didn't mention you, I didn't even confirm that my romantic interest was a woman, all I did was open up the idea that it could be a woman."

"The fact that you even said anything in the first place is the problem!" Quinn practically shrieked.

Santana opened her mouth to defend her best friend, but she stopped as Brittany placed a hand on her arm. Looking to her girl with questioning eyes, Santana frowned as Brittany shook her head. Her frown transitioning to a pout at the lost opportunity to go Lima Heights, Santana conceded, standing down at the moment.

"So your problem is that I answered a question asked of me," Rachel reiterated in an attempt to better understand the situation.

"No," Quinn corrected. "My problem is that you said too much."

"As opposed to?"

"Two words," Quinn gestured with her hands. "No. Comment."

Rachel shook her head. "But I do have a comment, and I'm going to say whatever that comment is."

"When it's easier to say nothing at all?!" Quinn threw up her hands. "You know what? Forget it. I can't deal with this right now!" With a growl, Quinn turned on her heel, stomping out the door.

Rachel looked utterly bewildered at this turn of events, staring at the spot occupied by the blonde merely seconds before. She turned to Brittany.

"I'm not even sure what just happened."

Santana snorted. "Call me crazy, but I don't think Quinn was too happy about the way you basically outed yourself to the world, Tiny." She sighed, grabbing her phone and heading to her and Brittany's bedroom. "I've gotta call Jazz and…everyone. We're gonna have to do some damage control. Or at least coordinate so that everyone's on the same page."

Rachel stared after Santana, wide-eyed and still horribly confused and turned to her tall, blonde assistant. "I don't understand," she admitted. "Why is Quinn so angry with the way I did that interview?"

Brittany sighed. "C'mon, Ray, you gotta see it her way, too. It's like when you fill up a balloon. When you let the air out, you can do it two ways: You can just let go and all the air just rushes out, or you can pinch the end and slowly let it squeak out. When it comes to talking to the press, you're the first one; you just let it all out at once. Quinn's the second one. She does it slowly little by little."

Rachel nodded slowly. "Well, okay, but why?"

"Q's super private," Brittany reminded her. "She's like a roly-poly bug. When something threatens her, she curls up in a little ball so that her soft parts don't get hurt."

"And what am I like?" Rachel asked.

"A porcupine," Brittany answered promptly. "You spike up and take it head on." She wrapped the little brunette in a hug. "Remember, Ray. You gotta play see-saw with Quinn. One person can't always be in the air and one person can't always be on the ground. That's no fun."

Rachel nodded with a hefty sigh. She could see Brittany's point, even if she didn't like it. "Got it, Britt. Thanks."

Rachel could only hope this incident didn't damage the tentative relationship they had established.

xxx-xxx-xxx

The next day, Quinn was certainly not amused that someone had managed to capture her rather thunderous mood outside of Elaine's studio as she led the way back to the car and had posted the accompanying picture on Twitter.


Hollywood411
QuinnLucas and MsRachelBerry outside of ElaineDeG's studio. Despite what is being claimed, looks like the Ice Quinn is back! Twitpic


"She's like a leaky faucet," Quinn grumbled under her breath, pacing back and forth in her living room as Charlie looked on with disinterest. "No matter how hard you tighten the handle, a little bit always manages to drip out."

Quinn threw both hands skyward, continuing back and forth. Charlie followed her with his eyes, his head flopping on the rug.

"I mean, she should know that the press is like a pack of rabid, starving hyenas!" Quinn continued to rage. "Dangle that little piece of meat in front of them and they pounce, ripping it to shreds and leaving a wave of destruction and chaos behind them. She should know that giving them even a tiny little morsel opens up the doors for mass devastation. They're gonna blow everything out of proportion and there won't be anything she can do to stop it! My privacy is already out the window, may as well send it out to SPACE!"

Charlie grunted. There really was no stopping Quinn when she got like this.

"I mean, it's not a lot to ask that she doesn't say anything about her private life, right?"

Quinn whirled towards Charlie, one finger extended, a wild fire in her eyes. "Right?!"

Charlie merely gazed up at her as his head lolled to the side. Quinn scoffed, batting a hand at him agitatedly. "You're no help." She stopped, shoulders slumping as her head drooped down to her chest. "I'm going out," she waved a hand to the beach just down the steps of the patio, "there…"

Charlie sighed, shaking his head as she went out to the back where her surfboards and gear hung beside the outdoor shower. Charlie stretched out with a yawn. He plopped his head down on the comfy rug.

Humans

Out on the sands of the adjacent private beach, Quinn stood with her surfboard tucked under her arm and looked out at the gently crashing waves. There was something soothing about being out there, watching the rolling water ripple to the shore. It calmed the turbulent feelings coursing through her mind, bouncing off each other until they became a mass of disjointed emotion that couldn't be deciphered one way from another. Hitching her surfboard higher under her armpit, she jogged out into the swell to face her aquatic foe.

The spray of salt water against her face was rejuvenating, as she emerged from the depths of the ocean to lie flat on her board, paddling out to meet the gently rolling tide. She waited for the perfect set, turning the nose of her board towards the shore and moving with the current before hauling herself up on the break.

Quinn carved gracefully through the waves. Her muscles flexed with her movement, manipulating the board with ease. She looked comfortable amongst the waves, commanding the water like a female version of the ancient Greek god who ruled over the sea. There was no tension in her features as she weaved in and out, cutting up towards the crest and riding the break back down. She was at peace, dipping and diving amidst the swelling current, ruling over nature and owning the ocean. In that moment, she was free.

Her freedom was only temporary, and she exited the waters, heading back to the house. Stripping herself of her wetsuit top and shorts, Quinn propped her board beside its fellows and entered the outdoor shower in the corner of the patio. She stood under the spray washing away the salt water, her hands braced against the shower wall and head bowed down as she felt the water cleanse her in more ways than one.

Freshly showered and feeling refreshed, Quinn trumped back into her living room. She rumpled her hair, in a pair of loose shorts and a comfortable, well-worn cut-off t-shirt. Wiggling her feet into a pair of leather flip-flops, she plopped down onto the couch with a hefty sigh and looked to her dog. Charlie hadn't moved, still on his belly, watching her closely. Much calmer, but still not quite calm, she grumbled to her dog.

"Never has anyone caused this much trouble for me, and we're not even officially dating!" Quinn balled up her fists and wriggled in an irritated little shimmy, clearly showing her displeasure. "Imagine if the press got a hold of this!"

Quinn lolled her head to the side and exhaled deeply, the agitated breath ruffling the bangs that hung in her line of vision.

Charlie rolled his eyes. He had a feeling Quinn wasn't going to make the first move. He hauled himself up, moving to the bowl where Quinn often left her keys and essentials. Grabbing the key ring in his teeth, he dropped the keys in her lap, and grabbed the hem of her shorts, tugging intently. Quinn rose to her feet, looking curiously down at her dog. Charlie scooted behind her, his nose nudging the back of her knees and urging her forward to the front door. Rearing up on his hind legs, he used his paws to deftly flip the lock and turn the knob. Charlie sat back on his haunches with an expectant tilt of his head and a commanding bark, one paw pointed out the open door to the second of her two cars in the wrap around drive way, a drop-top Jeep that looked as though it had lived through a sandstorm.

"No," Quinn rejoined stubbornly, reading his intention. "I'm not going. Why do I have to be the one to apologize?"

Charlie stared unrelentingly into her eyes, responding with an insistent growl.

"No!" Quinn insisted, crossing her arms. "I'm right!"

Charlie merely lofted a paw again, pointing out towards the car.

Quinn sighed, kicking at the ground. "Fine. God, you're so bossy…"

Charlie rolled his eyes, nosing her butt from behind with a sharp jab of his head, pushing her to the driveway, knowing that Quinn would dawdle if left to her own devices.

"Alright, alright, I'm going," Quinn grumbled, making sure she had all the essentials before Charlie had her out in front of the car. She looked back. "You gonna be alright here?"

Charlie barked, lifting his paw and veritably waving her off. Quinn grumbled some more as she clambered into her Jeep and started the engine with a roar. As she pulled away from the driveway, she saw Charlie shake his head and make his way back inside to close the door firmly behind him.

Quinn sighed, returning her attention to the road. Why couldn't she have gotten the dumb dog?

xxx-xxx-xxx

Quinn didn't know it yet, but at her destination, Rachel was going through a very similar conversation with her own smarter-than-average pup. The little diva looked absolutely miserable as she curled up on the couch, wrapped around Hugo as the large pup offered her comfort.

"I can't help it," she mumbled to her dog, burying her face in his fur. "It just comes out. I don't even know what she's so stringent with what I say! It's not like I mentioned her directly!"

Rachel sighed heavily. "I just can't win with her. I don't know what's going on in her head, it's like a minefield. You have to tread lightly or BOOM!" Rachel shot upright, upending Hugo. "You know what, this is dumb! I shouldn't be feeling bad about what I said. I merely spoke the truth!"

Hugo oriented himself from the sudden jostling of his comfortable position and barked in agreement in clear solidarity with his mistress.

"So it's settled then," Rachel declared firmly. "We're mad at Quinn."

Hugo sealed their agreement with another bark.

Rachel held onto her righteous indignation for a moment before deflating with a pout. "But I don't want to be mad at Quinn," she whined. "And I don't want her to be mad at me…"

Hugo tilted his head in confusion, unsure of which emotion he should convey. Whimpering pitifully, he ducked down, covering his head with his paws. Boy, this emotion stuff was not for the dogs…

Rachel sat resolutely on the couch, trying to muster up enough indignation for it to stick. She was failing miserably. As a knock sounded on the door, she hauled herself up and found Quinn hovering at the threshold, shifting anxiously from side to side.

Rachel couldn't help but smile inwardly. Quinn looked just like the beach bum she often imagined. She took in Quinn's hair, noting the darker blonde color. The slightly damp strands were unruly, and Rachel knew Quinn had ruffled the blonde locks repeatedly, one of her few nervous tics. The mildly tousled appearance was one of Rachel's favorite looks.

Quinn ruffled her hair before shoving her hands deep in her pockets. She fidgeted like a child who had done something bad. The voice that slipped from her lips was small and timid. "Uh…Hi."

Rachel crossed her arms, tilting her head to acknowledge the greeting. "Hi."

Inwardly, Quinn winced. That tone was as cold a tone as she'd ever heard Rachel expel. "Can I come in?"

Rachel wordlessly stepped back, allowing the blonde entrance. Quinn shuffled in, reaching down to greet Hugo.

"Hey, bud."

Hugo sniffed, canting his head and pointedly moving away from Quinn to stand by his owner. Quinn's lips tilted in a wry smirk.

"You too, huh?" Quinn sighed, flopping down on the couch. She turned her gaze to Rachel, still stalwart in her displeasure. "Look, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gone off on you like that."

"No, you shouldn't have." Rachel held out her hands, rotating them to check the palms and backs. "Do I have frostbite? It sure feels like I should."

Quinn inclined her head. "I deserved that."

"Quinn, you have to remember I've been in this business just as long as you have," Rachel commented. "I may not be as high-profile as you are, but I am just as much of a professional. I've dealt with the media before. I'm not some green actress who has never had a taste of what the media has to offer."

Quinn surged to her feet. "I'm not questioning your credentials, Rachel, I'm questioning your methods!"

"And I'm telling you that I am handling the press the way I've always handled the press," Rachel countered.

"Rachel, you have to understand where I'm coming from," Quinn entreated. "I'm a private person. In my camp, you just don't talk about anything that doesn't pertain to work."

"And you have to understand where I'm coming from, Quinn," Rachel countered. "In my experience, it has always been easier for me to be upfront about everything. Being forthright with whatever the media wants to know staves off any potential rumors from arising. If the press knows the facts, speculation is kept to a minimum, which is how the most damaging rumors start."

"They can't speculate what they don't know about," Quinn shot back. "And I'd prefer the media doesn't know anything about me."

"So, what then?" Rachel challenged. "Just because I don't do things your way means I do them wrong?"

Quinn started at that, her mouth opening and closing in an attempt to formulate a response. She found, much to her immense displeasure, that she didn't have one. It was certainly not something she had ever considered before, but to be fair, she had never been in a relationship where her significant other also was in a position where she had to deal with the media directly.

Rachel sighed, guiding Quinn down to the couch and sitting beside her. "You have to remember that relationships are about compromise, Quinn," Rachel remarked softly. "I don't know what we are, but I will tell you this: I won't change who I am. Not for you, not for anyone."

Quinn looked down at her hands, slightly ashamed of the implication. "I don't want you to change. I just want…" Quinn sighed in frustration. "I don't know what I want."

"You have to realize that going into this…whatever…between us means you take me for who I am," Rachel asserted. "And I take you for who you are. I know you're slightly closed off, I know you're holding a lot of yourself back for whatever reason, but that's who you are. I accept that, and I'm okay with taking it all little by little until you've given me everything."

Quinn groaned, flopping back on the couch, her hands covering her face. "You make it really hard to stay mad at you," Quinn huffed softly, peeking out at Rachel through her fingers.

"That's not good," Rachel rejoined in an effort to lighten up the mood. "Angry sex is fun."

"You can't talk about the different incarnations of sex when we haven't had it yet," Quinn whined, slapping balled fists into the cushions of the couch.

"Look, I know that when it comes to how open we are in deference to our lives, we have vastly different philosophies," Rachel commented. "We'll find out a way so that both of us are happy when it comes to just how much we're revealing. We just have to find a middle ground."

"I'm sorry," Quinn murmured. "I've just…I don't like putting all of myself out there. It's dangerous when the media has that much power with all that information."

"I understand," Rachel intoned softly. "But remember that I'm not the media. I know there's something you're not telling me, Quinn." Rachel cupped Quinn's cheek, gently brushing back the damp strands from her forehead. "And it seems to really be bothering you. That's okay. I'm very, very patient when need be."

Quinn nearly teared up at the tender touch. "Thanks."

Rachel beamed, pressing a kiss to Quinn's lips. She ran a hand through the tousled blonde locks. "Did you just take a shower?"

"Yeah. I had a nice surf session. It helped clear my head."

"That's kind of hot," Rachel remarked, brightening.

Quinn recognized the look on the brunette's face. "You're gonna sing, aren't you?"

"Mmmm-hmmm," Rachel hummed her agreement. "I told you, my life is a musical. I sing to emphasize important parts. This is the song right before I endlessly and relentlessly tease you…"

"Okay," Quinn dumbly as Rachel's hot breath tickled her ear as she crooned the famous Beach Boys melody.

Little surfer, little one
Made my heart come all undone
Do you love me?
Do you surfer girl?

Quinn's breaths came in a ragged uneven cadence as Rachel's lips skimmed down from her ear to her neck. God, Rachel's voice did things to her. The brunette's tongue flicked out to taste skin as Rachel's lips parted and closed over Quinn's pulse point.

"Shit, Rachel…"

"Oh, no, Quinn. You can't complain when you teased me so thoroughly earlier."

"Okay…" Quinn could feel her intelligence slipping away with every pass of Rachel's tongue. Inwardly she groaned.

Hello? Self Control? Where did you go?

"You being so dominant, so aggressive…" Rachel moaned. "It was so sexy."

No, actually, you stay over there. We're content with the hot girl on top of us.

Quinn reached up, one hand winding through dark chocolate locks. She smirked.

"You're really asking for it, aren't you?"

Rachel merely returned the smirk, pointedly palming one of Quinn's breasts. Quinn chuckled, fisting the hair in her grasp and gently guiding Rachel's head back to her lips. Their kisses, deep and searching, quickly escalated to a carnal cadence, lips and tongues desperately seeking to take and give more. Quinn reclined back, pulling Rachel on top of her.

Rachel slithered down, drawing Quinn's shirt up, her tongue stumbling over the dips and bumps of chiseled abdominal muscles. She moved back up, laying her head on Quinn's chest.

"Do you notice we always end up making out on a couch with me straddling you?"

Quinn chuckled. "What about the hot tub?"

"Oh yeah," Rachel hummed. "The hot tub. I was still straddling you in the hot tub though."

"Is this your way of telling me you're a top?"

"Maybe," Rachel drawled coyly. "You know, I liked the hot tub. Much less clothing."

"Geeze, Puck was right," Quinn muttered. "You are a freaking Siren. You even sing…"

"I'm not quite sure how I feel about you and Noah conversing about my seduction prowess," Rachel mused thoughtfully, drumming her fingers on Quinn's stomach. "That seems endlessly disturbing…"

"And what else did he say?" Rachel prompted, leaning down to find what she had found to be Quinn's "special spot," the skin just in front of the curve of Quinn's jaw where her pulse beat in a staccato cadence. As she scraped her teeth over the delicate skin, she delighted in Quinn's sharp intake of breath.

"He wished me luck in resisting you," Quinn answered with a smirk. "He said that you would leave me wondering why I even bother."

Rachel grinned as she tugged Quinn up to a sitting position to wrestle off her shirt, leaving the blonde in just a sports bra. Rachel crossed her arms at her waist, pulling her own tank top off. As Quinn reclined back against the arm, Rachel let her hands wander, loving the feel of bare skin beneath her fingertips.

"And is that true?"

Quinn chuckled, ghosting a kiss to the valley of Rachel's breasts, palms splayed against Rachel's ribs and back.

Their lips connected, moving in the dance that was becoming familiar but no less enthralling. They were beginning to learn the nuances about each other's personalities when it came to their more amorous activities. Rachel found that Quinn loved the chase, loved it when Rachel teased her a bit. Quinn was quickly finding that Rachel liked it a little rough, that displays of strength or dominance never failed to spike arousal in the little brunette.

Quinn used her strength to deftly flip them, pressing Rachel into the cushions. Quinn relished in the tiny whimper, knowing that the weight of her body bearing down on Rachel was driving the little diva wild. Rachel craned her head up, lips searching for Quinn's, a contented sigh rumbling from her throat at the soft, carnal contact. The two women were so wrapped up in one another they didn't heed the latent warning they would soon have company when Santana's voice preceded her into the room.

"Yo, Tiny-licious, we gots to get…¡Hijo de puta!" Santana swore loudly as she swung open the door, only to find Quinn and Rachel in a rather compromising and half-naked position. She clapped a hand to her face, turning sharply away, only to smack into the frame and stumble back into the door. Righting herself, Santana blinked rapidly before scrubbing her eyes as Quinn and Rachel fixed themselves.

"What the hell, Berry?! You have a bedroom for a reason!" Santana swatted the air in front of her face as though the movement would erase the image she had walked into. "¡Joder! I can't un-see that shit!"

Rachel blushed. "Sorry, San!"

"San, it's only, like fair," Brittany placated. "I mean, we totally christened Ray's trailer before she even got a chance to, like, make out in it."

Santana merely ducked her head down, mumbling in Spanish as she made her way to her and Brittany's room to get ready for their upcoming flight to Missouri for the Super Bowl.

Brittany shrugged and followed her girlfriend, smacking Quinn's upraised hand on the way.

As I hinted at the beginning, this isn't the end of this chapter; the whole thing was just too massive for one big posting. So you guys get two chapters for the price of one update! Yay, team! The songs used here are "Lullabye" by Billy Joel, "Give in to Me" sung by Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester in the film Country Strong, and "Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys.

And so, I direct you to the second half of Chapter 13…Enjoy!

*ISP