Rachel sighed taking a quick sip of her bottled water; she held her hand up to indicate wanting the five minute break she was more than entitled to.
She heard a few complaints from the crowd as the queue was paused; she'd feel bad if she wasn't feeling so overwhelmed by this new experience.
Why had she let her management talk her into voicing a video character again? Oh right, it opened her up to a whole new range of fans. The gamers.
She tried not to scrunch her nose up as the first kid walked her way. She smiled kindly as he babbled and tripped over his words in a way that reminded her of herself at his age.
"Thank you, what's your name?" she asked so she could sign his copy of the game and be done with it.
She'd never been the judgemental type but all of these people were starting to blur into one for her, they just all looked the same. There was nothing separating them from the next in line. They all wore the same worn t shirts, hooded jackets and over excited expressions.
She picked up a new sharpie marker and tried to get through the rest of the people waiting as fast as she could, finally she got to the last one. A girl this time, surprisingly. There hadn't been many of them in line today she'd noted.
"Thank you for coming" she said as she scribbled her signature across the cover, "who am I making this out to?"
"Quinn" the familiar voice answered, Rachel just had to look up.
Quinn Fabray was standing on the other side of the table. Her trademark blonde hair was still short and choppy though partially hidden by a red baseball cap. She was dressed in loose fitting jeans that just showed the top of her underwear with a tight fitted black vest reading 'Harley Davidson' across the chest, a pair of black Ray Bans poking out of her pocket.
"Quinn, um..wow, hi" Rachel said in surprise.
The blonde smiled as she adjusted her cap.
"I'm surprised to see you, I mean you look great but I never thought..you, well"
"Game?" she finished for her before chuckling. "My college roommate got me into it; I'm slightly obsessed with the game saga you've joined. Wow, there's something I never thought I'd be saying"
Rachel couldn't take her eyes off that smile, had it always been that bright?
"Me neither" she admitted, "How is Yale?"
Quinn looked thoughtful as she swayed side to side.
"It's been good for me, different" she paused. "I changed direction after six months"
"So, you're not pursuing performing arts?" Rachel asked.
She shyly shook her head.
"I love it still and I drive Matt – my roommate- crazy with my singing but it just didn't feel right for me. I'm taking art instead"
Rachel smiled; at least she was still being creative.
"That sounds great, Quinn. Good for you, I'm glad you seem so..happy"
Quinn laughed and the sound was joy to Rachel's ears.
"Thank you, I guess you never got to see much of the happy Quinn huh. Art is great though, I have a really awesome teacher and I'm close with everybody in my class. I.." she blushed a little.
The brunette waited for her to continue.
"I want to be an illustrator, I mean I'm already dabbling but..you know, like anything it's all a working progress"
"Of course" she said with a smile, "what do you illustrate?"
"Comic books" she murmured.
"Comic books" she said a little louder, still not really making eye contact.
"Is there any reason that is something to be embarrassed about, Quinn?"
The girl sighed slightly and stuffed a hand in one of her jean pockets.
"I know as well as you that this isn't really your scene, Rachel. I'm sure you've had the same collective thought about every 'geek' you've seen and greeted here today"
"You aren't a-"
"I am, Rachel" she said calmly, "I'm never going to be what you are"
"What I am" Rachel stated as she recoiled at the comment, "what am I?"
"Famous, wanted" Quinn paused, "Always in demand. A trendsetter, someone people want to be or be with. Did you do this for the money? Because frankly, I can't think of any other reason why you'd want to be lumped in with gamers like me"
Rachel felt incredibly guilty, there was a lump in her throat and she felt like she was going to cry or throw up. Her body went with the first.
Quinn bit her lip as she saw a tear drip onto the game the brunette was still holding.
The girl collected herself, quickly wiping at her eyes and standing to her feet. She held out the signed game to the blonde.
"You're right; I did make assumptions where I shouldn't have. But don't try to push your self loathing on me, Quinn, whoever you choose to be is perfectly fine and none of my concern. Now if you'll excuse me.."
Quinn held the case to her chest before reaching out with her free hand, she gently squeezed Rachel's wrist.
"Hey" she said gently. "I'm sorry okay? I didn't mean to have an outburst like that, I don't- It took a lot for me just to come here today" she confessed.
Rachel sighed, a slight ache in her chest.
"Why? Why are you always so afraid of me?"
"It's not you.." Quinn finally let go of her wrist and pulled her baseball cap off to run a hand through her short choppy locks.
"I'm not used to people that care, you've always cared so much that it's scared the crap out of me, Rachel" she bit her lip before continuing. "And I almost didn't come today because..because I thought you might laugh at me, or worse..not remember me"
The brunette was unable to stop her mouth from falling open in shock.
"How could I ever forget you, Quinn?" she breathed.
Quinn shrugged before putting the cap back on.
"High school was years ago, and you made it like we all knew you would. I didn't know if you were still in contact with anyone from Glee"
Well, that was fair enough.
"You were a friend, Quinn, eventually" she smiled. "I speak to most of them from time to time, I saw Kurt last week. Look, I don't mean to be rude but I've been here since ten am and I'd kill for a bite to eat. Can we continue catching up somewhere else? Maybe you can tell me about this amazing game I've become a part of because other than knowing I'm the only female character and quite badass, I don't really know anything else"
Quinn laughed, looking to her feet before back at Rachel.
"I'd like that; I'll take you to one of my favourite diner's"
Rachel grabbed her purse and made her way to the other side of the table to be beside her.
The blonde raised an eyebrow.
"Are you really going to insult me by asking if it's vegan?"
The pint sized star had the decency to look bashful as Quinn smirked at her as she let her out of the store and they walked quite silently down the street.
"So, are you going to tell me about this game?" Rachel asks as she browses the menu at the booth they chose in the 50's style diner a few blocks from where the signing had been held.
Quinn looked thoughtful before shaking her head and smiling.
"Nope, it's much more fun knowing you're involved in something you know nothing about"
Rachel half stomps her foot before stopping, she doesn't want to embarrass herself but it seems she's already done so as Quinn laughs loudly at her.
"That isn't very nice"
"I'm sorry" the blonde says as she once again removes her baseball cap and fluffs her hair, "but don't you think it's funny that you're the very first female character in this game saga that happens to be one of the most popular games in the US"
"Can we order before I fully commit to letting you make fun of me?" Rachel sighs dramatically.
"Kay'" Quinn says with a wink before gesturing to the elderly male cleaning a nearby table.
"Hello Quinn and..Quinn's friend. Say, I recognise your face; I think I've seen you on TV"
"Glen this is Rachel Berry, we went to high school together"
He scratches his head before rushing to pull out his notepad.
"I thought it was you! My wife and I loved you on that Barbra special, you've got some mighty lungs on you!" he smiled. "Do you mind?" he asked holding out the notepad and pen, "only the wife would kill me if she knew you'd been here and I hadn't got your autograph"
Rachel smiled and took the paper and pen.
"Of course not. To Glen and..what's your wife's name?"
"To Glen and Sheila, my loyal and Barbra loving fans" she smiled as she wrote, "all my love, Rachel Berry"
"Thank you Ms Berry" Glen said appreciatively as he took back his pad and pen. "Now, what can I get you ladies?"
"Um, what's good here?" she asked Quinn setting down her menu.
"Pretty much everything" the blonde said causing Glen to look bashful, "but how about two berry smoothies and grilled cheese? And so help me god, Rachel, if you even think to ask about them being vegan friendly I will beat you over the head with your own game"
The brunette snorted before quickly covering her face.
"That sounds lovely, we'll go with that order please Glen, the one Quinn suggested before threatening me with violence" she said poking her tongue out as the blonde playfully swiped at her.
Glen laughed and picked up their menus.
"You two are cute, coming right up ladies"
"Shouldn't you have like a bodyguard or something with you?" Quinn asked through a mouthful of her grilled cheese, which Rachel had to admit was amazing.
"Do you see how short I am? Having some six foot beefy black bodyguard would not only draw more attention to me in public but it would make me look like a child in photographs"
The blonde almost choked on her food as she laughed, she grabbed her smoothie and slurped at it eagerly.
"Good point, I don't know how you do it..putting up with all that attention"
"It can be hard" Rachel admitted, "but it comes with the territory"
"Have you ever had any scary experiences with it?"
"There was one time this really creepy older guy kept trying to touch me, luckily my publicist saw and quickly averted a situation and escorted him off set"
"Well, you have nothing to worry about now" Quinn smiled, "no one will dare try anything after seeing you wielding a sword"
"Are you really not going to tell me anything about this world I've gotten myself into?" Rachel pouted; the blonde rolled her eyes good naturedly.
"Honestly it would be a lot easier if you just played it, it's going to confuse you more without a visual aid. I bet you don't even own an Xbox"
"Actually, I do.." Rachel admitted sheepishly.
Quinn's mouth fell open.
"No way! But, you don't game. Why do you have an Xbox?"
"My ex-boyfriend forgot to take it with him when I kicked his ass out of my apartment"
"Ah. Well, that makes sense"
The brunette chuckled.
"So what, your current boyfriend uses it or?"
"I'm not seeing anyone actually"
Quinn looked extremely surprised at that.
"Oh" she said awkwardly, "maybe I should introduce you to Matt, he's a little in love with you and keeps demanding I bring you to the apartment sometime"
"I'm sure he's wonderful, but he probably wouldn't be my type"
Quinn raised an eyebrow.
"You have a type now? Well Matt is super smart – he's studying medical science, he's not freakishly tall like someone you used to date, he's clean cut and as far as men go he's not that messy"
She shook her head.
"Again, he sounds like someone with great boyfriend potential, just not for me"
Quinn narrowed her eyes at the other woman as she reached for her smoothie.
"Okay then, apparently now you're fussy when it comes to partners. So, pray tell, what is Rachel Berry's type?"
"Well" she began, "I like medium height so I'm not being towered over, facial hair is a no no and oh yeah, they can't have a penis"
The blonde proceeded to choke and spill the remainder of her drink on to the table.
"Can you repeat that?" she croaked.
"In simpler terms? I'm into women"
Quinn's eyes all but popped out of her head.
It seemed to be a lot to process. Then again, she had always been a gifted actress.
"Anyway, enough about me I want to hear more about you" Rachel interrupted as she leaned back against the comfortable plush fabric of the booth, "how are things on the relationship front for you?"
"Non existent" the blonde murmured.
"I find that hard to believe" she smiled.
Quinn sighed and wiped at the table with napkins before leaning her head on her hand.
"Not really, between college and work and sports there hasn't really been the time to date"
"Preaching to the choir there" Rachel laughed, "When I'm not on stage or shooting I'm in the studio or doing promotion work or flying to somewhere for whatever reason, but if someone was worth the time I'd find it"
"I guess" the blonde said chewing her bottom lip. "I mean, no one's shown any interest any way so.."
"Now I know that's a dirty lie, Quinn Fabray"
"I'm being honest with you. I went on a date with a guy about a month after moving here and it was a complete waste of time, we had nothing to talk about and he spilled spaghetti sauce down his suit"
"He was probably nervous as hell, Quinn. God knows everybody wants to make a good impression on you"
Quinn was shaking her head.
"I'll never understand why you give me so much credit. I'm just a girl. A girl who likes to draw and play video games and would rather stay in on a Friday night watching some stupid dorky movie with a pizza and a few beers"
"Hey, that sounds like a pretty good night in to me"
She rolled her eyes and raised an eyebrow.
"So you're a homebody. So your passion is art and you like to sit in front of your TV I don't know..in some imaginary universe or whatever it is you do on what you play, but you'll never justbe a girl, Quinn. And if people don't see that, well, fuck them. You're better off without them"
"Rachel, do you realize how silly this all sounds? You're a celebrity; you walk on red carpets and play to sold out audiences. You shouldn't be sat in a cheap diner with an old high school friend, you should be..i don't know..dining with some famous lesbian at a restaurant whose name I can't pronounce"
The brunette leaned over and covered one of Quinn's hands with her own.
"Will you please stop? You're making something out of nothing" she told her gently.
"I'm not good enough, Rachel. I wasn't then and I'm not now"
"Stop it" she told her firmly. "Sure I do all those things and I do love my job, but I don't love everything that comes along with it. I can't dine with ANYONE without there being a rumour started, let alone an out gay woman. I'm not out, Quinn, I'm not allowed to be" she said bitterly.
Quinn looked puzzled.
"What do you mean you're not allowed?"
"My management won't allow it until I've conquered a wider demographic, in other words until I gain more momentum in the 18-25 age group I have to remain closeted. My fathers are the only ones outside of my team that know, well, except you now of course. I'm pretty much a walking lie, Quinn, still think I'm better than you?"
"That sucks" the woman said in a small voice, "but you aren't lying by choice"
Rachel laughed without humour.
"I could walk away, try and find representation elsewhere, but what if no one would have me? I can't take that risk this early on in my career, without it I'd have nothing. This is all I have to offer, it's pretty much all I'm good for because I'm pretty sure being great at crossword puzzles wouldn't pay my mortgage. I am my talent, Quinn. Without it I'm just your average girl that can't cook and requires five inch heels to see through a crowd"
"That's because your talent's all you've known, Rachel" Quinn said softly, "practically since you were born it's something you've excelled in and put all your focus in. Being talented isn't a bad thing, you're driven and I always knew you'd make it. The entire school did, they tried to drag you down but they couldn't. You were meant to do this, so why focus on what you don't have?"
Rachel raised an eyebrow, albeit not as well as the blonde could.
"Pot, kettle, black"
Quinn's pale cheeks went a little pink.
"I think we both need to call a stop on all this self loathing, don't you?" Rachel said, "So you're a gamer and an artist and someone I haven't seen since graduation" she shrugged, "I don't know you all that well now, but I like who you are, Quinn. I always have, even when you were calling me names and drawing graphic pictures of me on bathroom walls. I guess I should've seen the artist in you then, huh"
The brunette was smirking and Quinn's poor cheeks felt like they were burning.
"Um..yeah, I..sorry, about that"
"It's in the past. Though I must admit I was very flattered"
"Flattered. Wh-what? Why?" she spluttered.
"My nose always seemed smaller in those drawings. Its funny actually, my daddy tried to convince me that you were doing it because you had a crush on me" she snorted. "Crazy right?"
The blonde froze. Rachel didn't notice at first, she just kept on babbling.
"I laughed right in his face, I think I told him he was crazy and he got super pissed off that I couldn't stop laughing. My dad had to calm him down and send me to my room. Like Quinn Fabray would ever..Quinn?" she waved a hand in front of her face.
"Helloooooo. Quinn, stop daydreaming"
She snapped out of it and shook her head.
"Sorry, um..I need to use the bathroom, excuse me"
And with that she raced across the linoleum to the customer bathroom almost tripping over her own feet in the process. She burst through the door and grabbed on to the sink for dear life.
She doesn't know, she can't know. Calm down, Fabray. What would Santana say right now? Oh right, cool your crazy"
She looked at herself in the mirror, shaking her head before splashing cold water on her face.
Rachel slurped the last of her smoothie while she waited, she hesitated before calling to Glen.
"Glen, how long have you known Quinn?"
He stopped his sweeping and crossed over the room to stand at the edge of the booth she was occupying.
"About a year, maybe a little more. Why?"
"Just curious" she smiled. "Does she bring anyone with her when she comes in?"
Glen shook his head.
"She never has, not before today. And naturally I was very pleased it happened to be you"
Rachel smiled at the kind expression he wore.
"Can I get another of your amazing smoothies for the road? As much as I'd love to stay I have to go collect my dry cleaning soon"
"Surely you have people for that, Ms Berry"
She shrugged her shoulders with a smile.
"I could do, but I'm famous not incapable"
Glen busied himself once again with cleaning his diner and Quinn finally returned from the bathroom, looking a little paler than before.
"Are you okay?" Rachel frowned, "you look a little peaky. Are you sick?"
Quinn tapped her foot on the flooring; she found a spot to stare at and stuck with it.
"Yeah, sorry. Anxiety" she murmured.
"Look me in the eye and tell me that you're alright"
She squeezed her eyes shut tightly before looking over to the brunette that was now standing, putting on her coat.
"Your lying isn't what it was in high school, Quinn. I can see right through it, though I often could then too"
The blonde sighed and shoved the baseball cap back on her head.
"Just drop it, please?"
"Did I say something wrong?" Rachel asked quietly, "did I hurt you or something? Please tell me"
"Why would it matter?"
"Because I care about you" Rachel stated firmly.
"Don't" she whispered.
"Why not? I know we had our differences but things are different now, Quinn, we can be adult about this. I'm not going to hurt you"
"Why are you acting like we're going to see each other again?"
Rachel looked surprised and she blinked.
"I just assumed…I thought maybe- we both live in New York and..oh, you don't want to see me again"
"I..think it would be best if-if we didn't"
The brunette tried to stop the hurt look appearing on her face but it didn't work, she looked like a wounded puppy. Quinn swallowed down her guilt.
"Oh, okay. But the least you can do is give me a reason as to why"
"For who? Quinn, if you're feeling guilty about things you did or said to me years ago then please don-"
"It's not always about you, Rachel" she snapped.
"Oh well I'm sorry for having feelings" the brunette retorted sharply.
"I have feelings!" Quinn yelled. "Feelings that I hate, that it kills me to keep buried when you're around. It's like high school all over again! You don't know what it's like. To hide something for so long and then have it right back in your face again, I thought I was over-"
She froze realizing what she'd almost said, and she quickly ran out of the diner not expecting Rachel to follow her. Then again, when had that girl not been occasionally unpredictable?
"Quinn" she yelled into the wind as she struggled to keep up. "Quinn Fabray you are NOT going to make me ruin $400 heels by chasing after you"
The blonde continued to run before stopping and remaining in place.
Rachel reached her after about a minute and grabbed onto an arm to steady herself.
"I swear if these need re-heeling, you'll be giving me five dollars to do so" she grumbled.
Quinn found herself laughing, she laughed until she literally had tears in her eyes.
Rachel just stood there with folded arms and a smile on her face.
"I think I know what you were trying to say back there"
Suddenly she wasn't laughing any more. Her throat was dry and it was suddenly a hundred degrees outside.
"Did you have a crush on me, Quinn? Just nod, you aren't too good with your words right now" she said gently.
The blonde nodded.
"Do you..do you still feel anything for me now?"
Quinn started to open her mouth before the brunette flicked her gently on the forehead, she nodded again.
Before the blonde could flub her words or run again Rachel's arms were around her waist squeezing her tightly.
"I can't believe my daddy was right" she murmured against Quinn's vest.
"So..you aren't mad?"
"I'm a little mad" she said pulling back to look the blonde in the face, "but only because I never thought you could feel anything for me the way I felt for you"
The blonde's eyes grew wide.
"Quinn, I want to get to know this you, the now you. And you need to get to know me again too. I like you, I have for a long time, but we need to take this slow so we don't risk hurting one another" she paused to smile. "I need to relearn you, and you I. I need to see more than you standing in front of me"
Quinn took a deep breath before nodding her head.
"Now, do you have any words for me yet?"
"You're right" she croaked before coughing to clear her throat. "We know a version of each other, and while I doubt you've changed too much I think it's obvious that I have"
"Yes" Rachel nodded. "Do you feel like giving me a peek into your life?"
The blonde stuffed her hands in her pockets again, one of her nervous traits.
"Y-yes. I could show you my apartment if you have the time? And I could maybe show you the game too?"
The brunette smiled and threaded an arm through one of the leather clad ones.
"That sounds great; I do have to make a stop on the way though to pick up my dry cleaning. We need to go back to the store to get my car"
Quinn's mouth dropped as she took in the shiny new Prius before her.
"Nice car" she breathed, Rachel chuckled.
"It was a thank you gift" she explained as she opened the doors.
They got in and buckled their seatbelts.
"Rach" Quinn said as they started driving.
"Matt is going to freak, between you and the car he's going to think all his Christmasses have come at once"
Rachel laughed loudly.
"Seriously, he's a smart guy but a beautiful girl AND a shiny car? You know what they say.." she sang.
"Don't" Rachel warned half heartedly.
"Not enough blood to flow to more than one place at once"
"Eww!" Rachel shrieked. "No mention of penis in this car or anywhere with me, ever!"
"You had Finn's" Quinn smirked sticking her tongue out.
"Fabray, I will throw you out of this car and leave you in the gutter" Rachel laughed.
The blonde sighed dramatically.
"Break my heart why don't you"
The air in the car grew a little thicker; Rachel put her hand on her leg briefly.