So I decided to combine the last two chapters because this way it flows better, which means this is the end. Thank you for being patient and taking the time to read. I hope you enjoy it. Sidenote: Finn's death is brought up.
Quinn glanced down at her cell phone, wearing the battery out simply by checking the time every few seconds. She wasn't waiting for a phone call, or a text message, but it didn't stop her from checking her phone religiously. She was debating, silently, whether or not she should contact Rachel. It was a struggle she's faced just about every time she's been somewhat buzzed. It was a curse. A haunting. She has a few drinks, if she doesn't have anyone around to keep her attention, her mind will drift back to the brunette.
It was easier now that she attended Yale. Having a little over 70 miles in between them was far more easier to deal with than living in the same town, or being at the same party. Senior year was antagonizing. Senior year was brutal. Senior year was hell.
But only when she was drunk.
She took a sip of her beer and brought her attention back to the conversation happening around her. People were holding up their drinks of choice and she quickly did the same.
"To 21 years of kicking ass," Santana said proudly, "Happy birthday to me."
Everyone cheered and hollered as they downed their drinks. Santana had been '21' for quite some time, thanks to Rosario Cruz, but on her official birthday she demanded Quinn travel down to the city to celebrate. Quinn could only protest so much before she felt guilty for trying to skip her friend's birthday.
Kurt rose his glass again, "And to old friends making the trip," he gestured towards Quinn and Brittany. Quinn smiled appreciatively and took another sip. Her eyes briefly glanced towards the entrance of the bar and looked away just as quickly. She'd been doing that all night.
"So how are your classes going?" Kurt asked, resting his chin on his hand.
Quinn nodded, "Great."
"Have you met anyone new?" His eyebrows wiggled suggestively and Quinn laughed into her pint of beer.
She shook her head, "No one worth talking about."
His face fell, upset that he wouldn't have any new gossip, instead he'd fish for more, "Have you spoken to anyone from high school recently?"
"Mercedes started taking some classes out in LA," Kurt nodded, already knowing that, "Mr. Shue and Ms. Pillsbury finally got married," he nodded again. She gestured towards Brittany, "Brit said on the train ride down that Sam's modeling career took a turn towards the male escort business."
Kurt's eyes lit up, that was a juicy tidbit he didn't previously have, "Interesting."
"How's Blaine?" Quinn asked, "Are you two still…?"
Kurt tilted his head back and forth, "It's casual."
"I'll probably call him later to come over," he dismissed with a wave of his hand before taking another sip of his cocktail.
"Oh, that kind of casual."
Kurt smiled, "Yes well, after the whole Brody-Finn-Rachel fiasco of 2013, we all decided to not allow significant others to stay for more than two days."
Quinn began picking at the label of an empty beer bottle, "That sounds like a good idea."
He rolled his eyes, "It's much less crowded now in the mornings. Although," He began to laugh, "Last weekend we all had casualties—which is what we call them, and it was rather entertaining. One knew the other from work, and then the third one hooked up with the first one. It was a sight."
Quinn grimaced through her smile, "I bet."
Truthfully, she didn't care to hear about Rachel's extra curricular activities. Rachel certainly didn't care to hear about hers, either. That type of discussion was off limits. But Rachel wasn't at the bar yet.
"Is Rachel seeing anyone?"
Kurt clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth as he thought, "Not consistently. After Finn—" Kurt paused and cleared his throat, as if being caught off guard by the sudden appearance of Finn's name, "After Finn passed, I don't know, it's been different. She's different."
Quinn solemnly smiled, remembering their friend. She placed a hand on his to show her support. It was a rough time for all of them.
"It'll be two years next month," Kurt said softly, "I can't believe how time flies."
"Tell me about it."
The heavy moment passed as Kurt's eyes shifted towards the door, "Speak of the diva and she doth appear," he said before standing up a bit to wave Rachel in their direction.
"Hi guys!" she hugged Santana from behind before smiling at everyone else at the long table, "Sorry I'm late."
Santana introduced her to a few of her colleagues, fellow waitresses at the new restaurant she was working at, and Rachel gestured to a few of her cast members at the bar already who she lured into coming out with her.
Quinn sat silently, observing everything from the edge of the table, how this merry band of misfits became somewhat of a family. She wasn't sure how to play it. The last time they spoke to one another was the night of Mr. Schuester's botched wedding, and that wasn't exactly rainbows and roses.
"How was class with our favorite trainwreck?" Kurt asked.
"Cassie is much easier to deal with when you're the teacher's assistant. And it also helps if you've been the lead in a timeless Broadway musical."
Kurt hummed in agreement before handing Rachel his drink. She took a sip and scurried off to the bar to order one for herself. Quinn sat back and reminded herself to remain neutral. It was the first time they were seeing each other in a really long time. Rachel's life was drastically different than it was the last time she saw her.
Quinn rested her elbows on the bar as she waited for a bartender to make his way back toward her. She'd been drinking beer but she needed something a little stronger. Santana's friends from work were all great but they were a little overwhelming. Rachel was jumping around from table to table as if she knew every single person in the bar. Kurt was doing an excellent job of keeping Quinn company. Thank God. She felt out of place. They all seemed to be in their comfort zone. Maybe Quinn just needed to get a little more drunk.
The bartender came over and she ordered herself a shot, she glanced over her shoulder and saw Rachel making her way toward the bar and she quickly called for another one, along with two drinks. Rachel slid in next to Quinn and put her empty glass on the bar top.
"Were you going to go the whole night without saying hello to me?" she asked.
Quinn laughed, "You're the one bouncing around like you own the place. I wasn't sure you remembered who I was."
"Quinn Fabray isn't the easiest person to forget."
"So I guess you tried to?"
The bartender set down the two shots and went about making the drinks.
"You could say that."
The playful banter they shared over drinks came easily. As if they never stopped. It was second nature.
Rachel turned and faced the blonde, "You look really good, Quinn."
The blonde shook her head and corrected her posture, "So do you. New York's been good to you."
Rachel glanced around the bar, "I can't complain."
Quinn arched an eyebrow, "You can't complain? Surely I've stepped into an alternate universe."
Rachel playfully smacked her arm, "Shut up."
"That'll be $34." The bartender said as Quinn handed him her debit card, "Keep it open?"
"You can close it."
"Don't want me buying drinks on your tab?" Rachel asked. Quinn picked up both shot glasses and handed one to her, "For me?"
Quinn nodded before bringing the shot to her lips and throwing it back. Rachel followed and Quinn watched in awe as the brunette didn't wince or cough once. Rachel noticed the look, "I've gotten better at taking shots."
Quinn laughed as the bartender slid a receipt toward her to sign. She handed Rachel her drink.
"And I get a drink, too? If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were trying to get me drunk." She took a sip, "A long island? Okay now I know you're trying to get me drunk."
"Somehow I think you're already halfway there."
Rachel smiled as she sucked on the straw, "My tolerance has gotten better."
"Don't get me wrong, the earth still spins, it just takes me longer to get to that point."
Quinn laughed, "It's good to know some things are still the same."
"Want to grab a table?"
"Are you going to desert me the second we sit down?"
Rachel pulled on her forearm, "I've already made my rounds."
"You can't possibly be serious," Quinn replied as she laughed into her nearly empty glass, "The person that replaced you in that student film went on to star in a movie that was in the Tribeca Film Festival? How is that even possible?"
"Someone saw it and casted her in their independent movie."
"I can't believe that," Quinn sighed out, "Well, now I feel bad for talking you out of it."
Rachel laughed and held her arms up, "I guess I should have just taken my shirt off."
"I guess so."
"You should have seen my face when I found out."
"I'm sure it was priceless."
"Quinn, I'm not even kidding, I nearly threw my laptop across the room."
"Always with the dramatics."
"Would you have me any other way?"
Quinn smiled and set her empty glass down, "No. I don't think I would."
Rachel smiled back, "Ready for another?"
"You weren't kidding about the high tolerance thing, were you?"
Rachel slid out from the chair and made her way back up to the bar, refusing Quinn's offer to pay for their next round. Rachel had already bought the last two.
Quinn glanced across the bar to see the rest of Santana's party still sitting at the long table. She hoped she wasn't coming off as rude to the others, but her and Rachel were getting along so well that she was afraid if they went back to the party, they'd lose the progress they'd made.
It wasn't exactly lost on her how much she was worrying about this visit. It took her a long time to get over her last encounter with Rachel. She replayed it over in her mind, wondering how it would have turned out if she'd said things differently.
She wouldn't let herself admit it back then but after dissecting everything after the fact, there was a very good chance that she'd fallen for the brunette somewhere along the way, and she wouldn't make that mistake again. She didn't like how it felt to be second choice. She made a promise that she'd never put herself in that position ever again. She'd be the one in control.
"I think everyone's getting ready to head over to another bar," Rachel said as she set down the drinks on the table. "Did you want to go?"
"I don't care."
Rachel sat, "I'd figured you'd want to because of Santana."
Quinn scoffed lightly, "That happened two years ago."
"I meant because it's her birthday and that's why you're in town."
"Oh." Quinn took a long sip to avoid Rachel's curious gaze. "We can go if you want."
"Well, what do you want to do?"
"I just said I didn't care."
"We can meet up with them later."
Rachel squinted in her direction, "Are you okay?"
"You're doing that thing."
"Where you close up on people."
"What would you know about that?"
Rachel laughed and took a sip from her drink, "Because I've seen it enough to know."
Quinn focused her attention on her drink to avoid Rachel's eyes, "I just don't understand why you would sleep with Finn."
So much for not putting herself in an embarrassing position. Way to be in control, Quinn. Way to let her know that you haven't forgotten that night. Way to bring up the boy she's most likely still mourning over. She could be so stupid sometimes when she drank. Something about Rachel's presence always made her reveal far more than she would under any other circumstance.
Rachel flinched at the mention of his name so suddenly, "You don't need to understand it. And like you said, it happened two years ago. It obviously won't happen again."
It was Quinn's turn to flinch, she pushed back from the table and hit the bench cushion with her back, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean—" she shook her head, "That was stupid."
She felt her stomach twist at the fact that she was getting jealous over something that happened two years ago, and the fact that the person she was jealous of wasn't even with them anymore. How petty and childish.
The truth is, it could have been Puck, or Sam, or even Brody and Quinn still would have been equally jealous. Finn wasn't the issue.
Rachel laughed, she actually laughed, "It's fine actually. Refreshing."
"How do you mean?"
"It's like he never existed. Everyone tiptoes around his name, afraid I'll crack, or fall into a deep dark spiral. I haven't heard his name in a year." She leaned back, her arm coming across her body and resting on her ribcage, "I could always count on you to tell it like it is, to not coddle me."
Quinn silently drank her drink, not knowing what to say. Rachel was right in a way, they never sugar coated things for each other.
Rachel leaned forward to reach her drink, she took her time bringing her glass to her lips as she kept her eyes trained on the blonde across from her, "So why Santana?"
"We're not talking about Santana."
"Why not? You just asked me about Finn."
"Because Santana was a drunken one night stand. You dated Finn."
She smirked, "So…only once?"
Quinn sighed, she'd been tricked, "Just that night."
"Have you slept with any other girls since then?"
She studied her carefully, trying to decipher why Rachel would be curious to know. She could lie or she could tell the truth and see how Rachel reacted, "Yes."
She squinted her eyes curiously, "Is the better question, have you slept with any guys since that night?"
Quinn bristled, "Why are we talking about this?"
Rachel shrugged easily, "Why not?"
"Do you actually care or are you just riling me up?"
It was obviously working.
Rachel traced the rim of her glass with her finger, "How come you haven't asked me if I've slept with anyone since then?"
"Because I don't want to know."
"Because you don't care or because you'll be jealous?"
"Why would I be jealous?"
Rachel shrugged, a small constant smirk playing at her lips. She was just so smug, "Just a question."
Quinn finally answered, "Because Kurt already mentioned your clever nickname for one night stands."
"MmHmm," she replied over the rim of her drink.
"So I really don't need to know the details."
"How else was I supposed to forget about you?"
Quinn closed her eyes, "What are you doing?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, why are you telling me this?"
Rachel shrugged nonchalantly, "Why not?"
"Let's talk about something else."
"How are your classes?"
"They're going great. How about yours?"
Rachel nodded slowly, "So are you seeing anyone?"
Quinn groaned, "No. I'm not."
"Is that so hard to comprehend?"
"I just thought you'd be with someone."
Quinn hated this conversation. She hated when she'd have it with her mother, with her roommates, and she hated having it with Rachel, "I'm not fond of commitment."
"What do you mean?"
"Well… I just thought you'd want the stability and security of a relationship."
"Are you implying that I'm insecure and unstable?"
"Among other things," Rachel smiled with her eyes. She was having a blast.
Quinn rolled her eyes, "I think you're talking about yourself."
"I see you haven't lost your bite."
"I see you've acquired one."
Rachel's smile grew, "Mad that I can keep up with you now?"
"Quinn Fabray impressed, huh? I can't imagine that comes along too often."
"I've had my fair share of Quinn Fabrays in this city, I've had ample time to practice."
"Why aren't you seeing anyone?"
Rachel frowned, "What makes you assume that?"
"He needs to keep his mouth shut."
"So why aren't you?"
"I don't want to."
It was Quinn's turn to pry, "Why not?"
"Commitment complicates things."
"Nothing changed. I just haven't met anyone in this city I wanted to get complicated with."
"In this city implies there's someone in another city."
"You choose now to start being observant?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
She sighed, "Nothing."
Quinn moved on, "You're not going to tell me who?"
Rachel leveled her with a playful glare, "Do you really want the details?"
"I didn't think so."
Quinn laughed, "I'm torn between missing the old Rachel Berry and being intrigued by this new one."
"I'm still the same girl I was in Ohio."
"You just mask it well?"
Rachel shrugged, "I guess. I just built better walls."
"Did someone hurt you?"
Rachel scooted back from the table, "We should head over to the next bar."
Quinn stayed seated and continued to sip her drink, "So we've hit a topic that you don't want to talk about?"
"Exactly. Let's go."
"I'm not finished with my drink yet."
"I'll buy you a new one when we get to the next bar."
"I want this one."
Rachel swiftly grabbed the glass off the table and downed the remainder of the drink before handing it back to the girl, "All gone." She turned and walked towards the door.
By the time Quinn made it out of the bar, Rachel was standing on the curb with her hand in the air, hoping to hail a cab.
"What the hell was that for?"
"Let's go means let's go, Quinn."
"Clearly, I've hit a sore spot."
Rachel glanced at the girl from over her shoulder, "Yeah. You did."
"I'm not apologizing."
"I wouldn't expect you to."
"Okay and now what's that supposed to mean?"
Rachel put her arm down, giving up on the cab for now. It would be impossible to hail a cab on that street anyway at that hour, unless someone was getting dropped off right in front of them. Rachel turned around, "It means that even if you did apologies, I wouldn't want it."
Rachel began walking down the sidewalk, toward the subway station, holding her arm up just in case by miracle a cab stopped for them.
Quinn struggled to keep up, "What else am I supposed to apologize for?"
Quinn finally caught up and tugged on her other arm, getting Rachel to stop walking and face her again, "Tell me."
Rachel laughed as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "You slept with Santana."
Quinn relaxed her grip on Rachel's black leather jacket and dropped her hand. She closed her eyes, already tired of this subject. It'd been haunting her, "Two years ago."
Rachel's eyes flashed, "Exactly. Two years ago. Two fucking years."
Quinn's mouth dropped open, "Rach—"
"Two years since I've seen you. Since I've heard from you. And you show up, here, tonight, for Santana's birthday?" The disbelief was all over her face.
"Would you have rather me not come?"
Rachel didn't answer, "You gave me shit for sleeping with Finn when you had Santana in your bed?"
"The only reason I was even with Santana was because—" she stopped herself. They were starting to draw attention to themselves.
"No, what? Go ahead, say what you haven't been able to say for two years."
"Because you chose Finn."
"Is that what you think I did?"
Quinn was starting to get snarky, "Well, let's see, by sleeping with someone, I'd say you're choosing them."
"Over you, you mean. I chose Finn over you."
"Yeah I think it's pretty clear what I meant."
"So because I didn't get drunk and sleep with you, you had revenge sex with Santana to get back at me?"
"First of all, it wasn't revenge sex."
"What was it?"
Quinn was starting to get flustered, being put on the spot, "I don't know. A mistake. A drunk accident. It meant nothing."
"Is that what we were? A mistake? A drunk accident that meant nothing?"
Quinn gritted her teeth, "No." She composed herself, "You weren't supposed to find out about Santana."
"That doesn't make it hurt any less, Quinn."
"Why are you even hurt?"
Rachel stared blankly, "You're an idiot." She turned and began walking toward the street corner.
"Will you stop walking away from me?"
"Why? Not used to chasing after someone? You should try it more, it's oddly humbling."
Quinn tugged strongly on Rachel's arm and pulled her under an awning as the pedestrian walk sign illuminated.
"You don't get to be upset, and sarcastic, and a bitch to me over something that happened two years ago. I'm not perfect, Rachel. I'm far from it, and you've known all along. I made a mistake."
"No. You're right. You're absolutely right."
"I'll just say fuck you for disappearing for two years and we'll call it a night."
Quinn growled, "You're absolutely infuriating, do you know that?"
"I've been told. By you actually, I believe." Rachel tapped her finger to her chin, "Now was it before or after we had sex?" Rachel looked back at Quinn with a shrug, "Doesn't matter I guess."
Quinn stared in muted shock. She didn't know this person. This bitter, hollowed out shell of someone she only thought she knew.
Kurt was right. She was different.
Quinn dropped her hand from Rachel's arm and stepped back in disbelief, "What happened to you?"
"You happened to me," she leveled before shouldering passed her and stepping off the curb. Quinn felt her heart drop into her stomach as she saw Rachel turn around and continue to walk backwards as she crossed the street. She held her arms out, "You were the best and worst thing that's ever happened to me."
Quinn stepped onto the curb and looked up at the green awning. She supposed it was the right place but it didn't exactly look like the type of place Rachel Berry would frequent.
After finally getting in touch with Kurt to find out what bar they all were at, she made it there in one piece after miraculously finding a cab. Which apparently wasn't an actual cab because it cost her $20 to go 10 blocks, and had she known how close she was, she would have just walked.
It would have been worth it had Rachel actually been there. No one had seen her and Kurt suggested that she probably went back to their apartment, which is where Quinn began navigating to next, this time with the help of Kurt himself. And thank god, too, because she would have been lost had she attempted to do it by herself. After they got back to the apartment, Rachel was still nowhere to be found, which was when the panic set it.
"Calm down, I'm sure she's at Murphy's."
"Who is Murphy?" Quinn was seeing red.
"It's a bar not a person. It's two blocks away. She goes there when she wants to be alone."
"You let her go to a bar by herself?"
Kurt rolled his eyes. He was either too drunk to realize how dangerous it was, or she'd been going so long that it wasn't an issue.
She shook her head, the boy already had his phone to his ear, and before he propositioned Blaine to meet up for a late night booty call she demanded to know how to get to the bar Rachel was at.
She walked in, expecting to be carded, and was weirdly surprised when no one made a move to check her ID. It was nearly empty, only a few people sitting at the bar watching a west coast sports game, and a few others playing pool. It reminded her of an Irish speakeasy, and it had an oddly homey feel to it for being situated in the heart of Bushwick.
She spotted Rachel sitting at the bar and approached with caution. She didn't know what she was going to say to the girl when she found her, she just needed to find her. She'd been running from the girl for so long, it was time she chased.
Rachel scoffed as she looked to her right and saw Quinn take a seat next to her. She leant back on the barstool and stared into her nearly empty tumbler. She swirled the ice around, "Thought you'd be long gone by now."
"You're right, it's oddly humbling."
The bartender, who was an older man with black suspenders, approached Quinn with a coaster, "What'll it be, miss?"
"Um," she gestured, "Whatever she's having."
Rachel laughed, as if she was aware of something that Quinn wasn't and took another small sip of her drink.
"Thank you," Quinn said as the man placed the cup on the coaster.
"This one's on me," he winked before tending to another customer.
"I can see why you like this place," Quinn mused as she lifted her glass.
"Don't feel flattered, he says that to everyone. It's never on him."
Quinn coughed and hit her fist against her chest, "Jesus Christ, what are you drinking? Rubbing alcohol?"
Now she understood why Rachel was so amused.
"Since when do you drink Scotch?"
"It feels good. How'd you find me? Santana?"
Quinn sidestepped the jab, "Kurt."
"How often do you come here?"
"That depends, what did he tell you?"
"You come here when you want to be alone."
"And yet, you're still here."
"Yes. I am here. So drop the attitude."
Rachel lifted her glass again and took a small sip. Quinn did the same.
She had no idea what to say, or how to even begin repairing the tear in their relationship. It was much easier when Rachel was the one that was doing all the work. Following her around, and begging her to come back to glee club. How simple things were. When her biggest concern was what color to dye her hair. She wished she could stop caring again.
But even when she didn't care about anything, she still cared about Rachel.
She had no idea how to say the words out loud.
After a few more long moments of silence, Quinn finally spoke, "She's all yours now."
Rachel, who in her black leather jacket and black leather boots somehow fit in at this bar so well, turned to look at her with a curious expression.
"Those are the last words I heard you say. She's all yours."
Rachel stared at Quinn for a few seconds longer before she swallowed and went back to swirling the amber liquor in her glass. She laughed to herself, "I'm surprised you remember that."
"I remember everything from that night."
"I suppose that's to be expected."
Quinn could tell she was once again referring to Santana, she took the bait. "Yes, I slept with Santana. No, it didn't mean anything. Yes, I wished it were you. That's not why I remember, okay?"
"Do you honestly think I could ever forget those words? The look on your face? How utterly disgusted you were with me? I got over the fact that you slept with Finn—" Rachel scoffed and Quinn corrected herself, "Fine. I'm still unnecessarily bitter. But not as upset as I was when I heard those words."
"Of all the things I've ever said to you, why remember those words."
"I knew you were done with me. That you wanted nothing to do with me. That out of all the things I've said or done to you, that was the breaking point."
"I didn't care that much. I was being dramatic."
Rachel rubbed her forehead, "What's your point?"
Quinn shook her head, "Every time I thought about you, wondered what you were doing, or who you were with, those words echoed in my head. They're paralyzing."
"That's your excuse?"
"I'm not giving you an excuse, I'm giving you a reason."
"A reason for why I'm still here."
"And that is?"
Quinn refused to let Rachel's indifference discourage her. She was doing it on purpose. It was her defense mechanism. "For two years, I heard those words. Remembered how your face fell, and what it felt like to watch you walk away from me. The worst feeling, the worst memory, maybe even the worst thing that's ever happened to me. And I've been through some shit," she laughed even though it was really rather sad, "It was my fault, and I know that. I've been told to leave my house, I've had to tell my boyfriend that the baby wasn't his, been through countless breakups, and I've even been told I might never walk again."
"Is there a point or am I just supposed to feel bad for you?"
"Out of all those conversations, that night in the hotel was by far the worst one I've had with someone," Quinn took a sip of her drink, "Until tonight." Quinn laughed softly, "You happened to me," she repeated and shook her head. "And I knew that if I left, I'd hear those words echoing in my mind, haunting me the way only you know how to do. That's why I'm here, I let you walk away from me once before, and I can't—I won't let it happen again. I can't spend another two years wondering what if, Rachel. I won't."
Rachel nodded before swallowing the rest of her drink and setting the glass on the bar top. She slid off the chair, "You don't really have a choice, Quinn."
She turned and walked out of the bar as Quinn struggled to pull money out of her jacket pocket to give the bartender for her drink. She downed her drink, needing something to quell her nerves, and took off after the brunette.
She found her walking towards the apartment and ran to catch up. Her arms were crossed over her body, huddled into herself, as she walked with her head down. Quinn eased up, not wanting to have another altercation on the sidewalks of New York, especially because the last one didn't turn out so well, and decided to quietly follow the brunette back to her apartment.
They walked up the five flights of stairs, their boots echoing through the stairwell, and she gave Rachel space as she heaved open the apartment door. She saw her bags still sitting on the couch but could tell the apartment was empty. Kurt must have gone to Blaine's apartment.
Quinn considered letting it all go but she just couldn't. She couldn't be in the same apartment with Rachel after all this time and not work things out. It'd been too long.
Rachel was in her bedroom, shouldering off her jacket when Quinn tugged on her arm to whirl her around, "What is your problem, Berry?"
She took a step back when she saw the wetness on her cheeks, "Why can't you just let it go?"
"You like to throw the blame on me, but can we just remember that you're the one who started this entire thing by sleeping with your ex-boyfriend after sleeping with me two weeks prior."
"If I recall correctly, we weren't dating. You have no reason to be mad."
"We weren't dating but we hooked up whenever we drank."
"And there it is." Rachel held her arms out, "You've finally figured it out. Good job Quinn." She walked towards her rack of clothes to find pajamas.
"What that we only hooked up when we drank?"
Rachel stopped and walked back towards Quinn, she pushed into her chest with her pointer finger, "No. It's that because you were drinking, you assumed and expected me to fall into your bed."
"And if I recall correctly, we were in your bed all three times."
"And when it didn't happened, you got all pissed off and vengeful and slept with Santana. Santana. Don't tell me it didn't mean anything, because you knew exactly what you were doing. The fact of the matter is, you can't be with me unless you're drunk, and the fact that you slept with Santana when you couldn't have me, well that just proves you really don't care who's in your bed, as long as there's someone in your bed."
"Really? Coming from someone that was juggling three people at once? That's rich. You've been just as drunk as I've been all those times. In fact, you're the one that initiated it all three times. Yes, okay? I was pissed the night of the wedding, I already told you I wished it was you, but I've never played any games with you. You knew what you were getting into. I'm the one that had to sit on the sidelines and watch as you went back to Finn, time and time again. We'd sleep together, and then you'd get back with him. It was clockwork."
"It wasn't like that."
"It was like that, Rachel. You have no idea what that was like for me. What that felt like. You know what? I'm glad you found out about Santana because you're right, when I couldn't have you, I settled for her. Just like you settled for me when you couldn't have Finn."
"That's not true."
"Admit it, I will always be your second choice."
Rachel shook her head and wiped her tears with her hand, "It doesn't matter anymore."
"Just say it, Rachel. I was your second choice."
"You were never my second choice."
"Third, fourth, fifth? What was it, huh?"
"Drop it," Rachel replied as she moved away.
Quinn followed, "That bad, huh? Just admit that I was the distraction. Put us both out of our misery."
Rachel exhaled deeply before slowly stepping back towards Quinn, "You were never the distraction."
"What was I?"
"You were always my first choice, you asshole. Finn became the distraction, Brody was to pass the time, you—" Rachel placed her palms on either side of Quinn's cheeks, she ducked closer, "you are who I wanted."
Quinn should have been relieved, but all she could focus on was one word, "Wanted?"
Rachel's hands slowly slid from her face until they were back protecting her body, "I'm sorry, I can't do this."
Quinn tried to reach for her before she slowly slipped away, "Don't do this."
"I needed you, Quinn. You'll never know how badly."
"I'm here now."
"I needed you then."
"Rachel, had I known…"
"You'd what?" she laughed to herself, "My entire world fell apart and you were nowhere to be found. Had you known? Finn died and you didn't even come to the memorial. Not one phone call, or email, or text. Nothing. For two years. You didn't think I would need you? You did know."
"I didn't know what to say."
"I didn't need you to say anything, I just needed to know that you were there." A sob escaped passed Rachel's lips as her small frame began to shake, "I hate you for that. I hate you so much. I hate that I still need you."
Quinn took a bold step forward, fully prepared to be shoved away, and continued until her arms were firmly wrapped around the brunette. Rachel clung to her as her cries ripped through her body, as Quinn began to rub her palm in reassuring circles across her back.
"I hate you."
"I know," Quinn whispered, "It's okay, I know. Shhh, it's okay."
"I lost both of you."
Quinn finally felt the tears stinging her eyes. She was trying desperately to be strong for Rachel. She at least owed her that. But the words hit her, shook her to her very core, because up until that night, Rachel considered Quinn gone.
"I haven't showed it, but I've always been here. You never left my mind," she said softly and held Rachel closer.
She could feel Rachel begin to pull back after another minute and Quinn reluctantly released her hold. The brunette wiped furiously at her eyes, black makeup smearing everywhere, "You're not exactly an easy person to forget."
Quinn chuckled softly, reaching forward to help Rachel fix her eyeliner, "But you've tried, at least."
Quinn cupped her cheek, "I didn't even try."
Rachel took a step back and blew out a shaky breath, "I didn't care so much that it was Santana, I cared that it wasn't me. That I did that in the first place and practically pushed you towards her. It wasn't worth it."
Quinn shook her head, "Let's not. It's not an issue." Quinn ducked her head and locked eyes, "Are you okay?"
Rachel laughed and gestured to her face, her eyes felt swollen and red, "Embarrassed mostly."
She nodded, "I'm gonna go—" she gestured towards her face again, "Wash up for bed."
Quinn stepped aside before following her out to the living room. She rifled through her bag to find her pajamas and sat on the couch as she waited for Rachel to be done in the bathroom.
She glanced at the clock on the TV and saw that it was a little past two am. It had been a long day. Traveling from New Haven to New York, having lunch with Santana and Brittany, the back and forth with Rachel all night, she was exhausted. The conversation needed to happen, there was no doubt about that, but damn did it take a lot out of her.
She glanced around the apartment, it was pretty much the same as the last time she had been there. Minor upgrades here and there. A few new furniture pieces. She went into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water, hoping to take a pre-emptive strike on the hangover she was bound to have the next morning. She poured one for Rachel as well.
She wasn't sure where they stood, but things were out in the open now, things neither of them probably wanted out in the open, but that was one of the consequences of drinking.
Rachel walked out of the bathroom with a clean face and took the water Quinn offered her before she walked into her bedroom to change. Quinn steadied herself in the mirror. She surmised that she's probably looked better. She began washing her face, taking her time with all of her rituals, hoping Rachel would be fast asleep by the time she was done. It wasn't that she wanted to avoid Rachel for the rest of the night, it was that she wanted to avoid the awkwardness. Normally they were stumbling into a bed together, not caring where their clothes ended up. But now, now was probably the drunkest they've ever been together yet the most sober.
She finished up and walked back out to the living room to find her bags were gone. She peered into Rachel's room to find her pulling back her comforter.
The girl glanced up, "You don't want to be stuck on the couch when they get home."
"It's fine, I don't mind."
Rachel's expression changed from thoughtful to slightly pained, "I don't want to be alone."
Quinn nodded, not needing to hear anymore, and dropped her things on top of the duffel bag that now laid on the floor.
Rachel got under her covers as Quinn turned off the light and joined her. Both girls lay on their back, staring at the ceiling, and it wasn't lost on either of them how different things were between them.
After a few minutes, enough for Quinn to assume Rachel had passed out, she cleared her throat, "I'm sorry."
Quinn rolled her head to the side, "I'm the one that's sorry. I don't blame you if you never want to see me again."
"It was hard enough the first time," Rachel sighed, "I know it didn't seem like it, but I'm really glad you're finally here."
"I'm sorry I haven't come sooner."
Rachel shifted underneath the covers, "I know you came to see my show."
Quinn felt her heart drop into her stomach. She licked her lips and closed her eyes, "How?" she whispered.
Rachel laughed softly, "Santana."
Quinn shifted this time onto her side so she could see Rachel's face. It was hard to see but her eyes were beginning to adjust and she could just make out her outline thanks to the colonial windows on the far wall, "You were never supposed to find out."
Quinn sighed, "Because I knew you'd be mad."
"I was," she answered non-committedly, "But a bigger, more insisting part of me was happy you came at all."
"I guess a part of me knew how badly I'd messed up. I guess I was just trying to delay the conversation we had tonight."
"It needed to happen."
"Are we okay?"
"I'm okay if you're okay."
"I'm better than I was."
"So what'd you think?"
Rachel laughed, "The play."
"You were incredible."
"Do you mean that?"
"You're not just saying it because you're drunk?"
Quinn lazily laughed into her pillow, "It would be true regardless, you're only hearing it because I'm drunk."
"What else haven't I heard because you were sober?"
"Go to sleep."
Rachel chuckled and shifted towards her, "You're right, I've never heard those words come out of your mouth sober."
Quinn opened an eye to find Rachel's eyes on her, "You're beautiful."
Rachel shifted her gaze with a conserved smile, "Say it sober and I'll believe you."
Quinn reached forward and blindly grabbed for Rachel's hand. She brought it to her lips and placed a chaste kiss on the back of it before she settled their entwined hands in between them.
"Stop getting me drunk and maybe you'll hear it sober."
She felt the bed shake with Rachel's laugh, "You're infuriating."
Quinn smiled sluggishly, sleep was beginning to consume her, "Would you have me any other way?"
It was a few seconds before Rachel finally whispered, "No, I don't think I would."
She cracked an eye open as she heard loud laughter coming from the living room. She peered over and found that she was alone in Rachel's bed. A glance to the alarm clock and it was nearly noon. Her head throbbed a bit as she sat up and reached for the rest of her water, but she counted her blessings because she could have been far more hungover.
She padded across the hardwood floor slowly and offered a sleepy grimace when Brittany and Santana cheered at her presence.
"There's the princess."
Quinn squinted her eyes, "Are you still drunk?"
"Signs point to yes, Fabray. And I'll tell ya, I feel great."
"21 looks good on you," Quinn mumbled before walking into the kitchen.
She found Rachel nursing a hot cup of coffee as she leant against the counter. Quinn poured herself a cup and stood next to her.
"What time is your train?"
"They run every hour."
"Ah right, I should know that."
Quinn grunted, "You would if you came to visit."
Rachel set her mug down before licking her lips, "I don't want to lose touch again."
Quinn turned towards her, "I don't either."
"What do we do about this?"
Quinn chuckled, "I bought the metro passes last time."
Rachel leveled her with a glare, "I mean it, Quinn."
The blonde set her coffee down and rested both hands on Rachel's shoulders, "I know. I'm just letting you know, school's going to get hectic soon. My finals start in two weeks and I start my summer internship after that."
Rachel hid her pout by biting her bottom lip, "I have showcases and finals and yeah, I'm just as busy."
Quinn dropped her hands from her shoulder and shrugged, "Okay well, no pressure then. No expectations. If it works out that we have a weekend off, then we'll get together."
Rachel nodded, "Okay."
Quinn picked up her coffee mug and offered a confused smirk, "Did we just have a sober conversation?"
Rachel nearly choked on the hot liquid, "Not sure, I'm most likely still drunk.
Quinn shrugged, "Well, we tried."
Quinn lounges back in her bar stool as she glances at the clock in front of her. Each tick gets louder and louder as the second hand never stops moving, passing each number as if it's not a big deal. Each second that goes by is a second closer to seeing Rachel.
She's not sure what to expect tonight because she hasn't seen the girl in over a week. It's the same routine each time, meet at Murphy's pub for a few drinks, end up having a few too many, take a cab back to one of their apartments, and stumble into bed together. It's not complicated. It's them. It's what they've always done.
It's been three years since the first time she walked in the small little bar. Her dimly lit sanctuary. The only place she could be herself. It's been two years since she graduated college. And a year since she moved to New York. She thought about staying in Connecticut, maybe heading to Boston for a change of scenery, but something always kept her mind on New York.
She could probably guess what.
Not a what, but a who.
The girl that found this bar long before Quinn made it hers. The girl that wiggled her way into Quinn's life before Quinn could even realize it was happening. The girl that still had no idea the effect she had on her.
She brought her tumbler to her lips and took a sip as she thought about the last year. Being in the same city as Rachel was harder than she thought it would be. She was up to the challenge, but neither of them made it easy for the other. It's just how they were. She's not sure she'd have it any other way.
She thinks back to the first time she was in this bar, unaware of the role it would have in her future, the night her and Rachel finally showed their hands, and the morning after.
She thinks about the occasional text she'd get from Rachel at three in the morning, misspelled, and too honest to be created while sober. She was guilty of the same thing.
Her senior year flew by, which is how it goes in most cases, and before she knew it, Quinn was back in her old bedroom at her mom's house for the summer. She didn't mind it. She lived in a beautiful brownstone apartment around the corner from the Yale campus for three years, having to move out after graduation because the lease expired.
She let it expire.
One of many decisions she made that would ultimately bring her to call New York her home. Judy loved it. Her daughter, the Yale graduate. Certainly better than her own degree from Bryn-Mawr, or her ex-husband's from Penn.
Quinn took the summer after graduation off, needing one after the busy year she had, and focused on the things she loved. She read, and she wrote, and she took a cooking class at the community center. She occasionally applied for jobs, and somehow always ended up looking in the tri-state area. It wasn't on purpose. Well, maybe a little.
She found herself in a one-bedroom apartment by the end of September. One that her mother helped her pay for until she began making enough money. It didn't take long. She liked her first job, but it wasn't until she worked for a different company that she really fell in love with it.
The first time she saw Rachel after moving to the city, they met for drinks at Rachel's favorite bar.
The bar she was currently in now as she waited for the brunette to show her face.
It looked a little different from the last time she'd been in it, which was nearly two years before, but maybe that's because Quinn hadn't been looking at her surroundings.
She remembers how she found Rachel at one of the booths, a pitcher of beer, and two pint glasses already on the table. Rachel jumped up as she saw her, pulling her in for a hug.
"You look great!"
Quinn shyly ducked her head, "Thanks, so do you."
Rachel poured some beer for Quinn and slid it across the table, "I can't believe you live here now, how do you like it?"
Quinn took a long pull and nodded, "It's definitely going to take some getting used to. I have to remember to not go crazy at the grocery store, and not to get into the black town cars when I need a cab."
Rachel laughed heartily, "See? You're already a New Yorker."
"How are things?"
"Good, still living with Kurt and Santana. I'm waiting to hear back from this director for a role I auditioned for. Just kind of doing the same old thing."
"Good, that's great."
Rachel leaned forward as if she was sharing a secret, "I can't believe you're here, it's been what?"
"It feels like it."
"Yet it feels like I just saw you."
Quinn held up her glass and Rachel clinked hers against it, "To New York."
It became their routine. Every few Saturday nights, like clockwork. Sometimes the times changed, other times the bar changed, but the one thing they could count on was one another's company.
It was comforting, and normal.
Until it wasn't.
It was a week ago when Rachel and Quinn had blindly stumbled into the blonde's apartment. She's lost count of how many times they've been together.
This night was different because Rachel had finally had enough.
Rachel turned her head as Quinn went to kiss her. It wasn't anything alarming, Quinn easily found purchase on the soft skin of her neck. It wasn't until Rachel pushed her shoulders away that Quinn realized Rachel was not in the mood.
"I'm over this."
"This," she gestured between them, "I can't drink myself into a stupor every time we meet up."
"No one is asking you to."
"It's like our unofficial rule."
"I didn't know it bothered you."
Rachel sat on the bed as she put her shirt back on, "At first the two am texts were exciting, and I'll admit, I loved it. I loved getting to see you after a rough week, but—"
Quinn sat next to her, giving her undivided attention, "But what?"
"I'm a booty call."
"You are not."
"Name one instance where we've been sober together."
Quinn was stumped and she knew she shouldn't be, "I, uhh."
Rachel sighed, "Look, I don't know how we fell into this routine, but I can't anymore."
Quinn's face dropped, "That's it?"
Rachel rolled her eyes, "No, that's not it." she stepped closer and cupped her cheek, "I want you, Quinn. I've wanted you for quite some time, but I want all of you. Not random hookups, or texts at three AM telling me to come over. I've seen your rare and fleeting moments of sincerity and honesty. I've seen you with your guard down. I know you want more."
Quinn closed her eyes, "I'll hurt you."
"I don't deserve you Rachel, not the way you want."
Rachel sighed before she placed a small kiss on the girl's forehead, "I don't believe that for a second."
"Please don't go."
"I need some time."
"How long?" Quinn couldn't do anything to mask the panic.
Rachel reached the door to Quinn's apartment, "Just, I'll meet you at Murph's? Saturday at 9? You can tell me your answer then."
"What's your question?"
Rachel laughed, it should have been obvious, "I want dates. And lunches. And walks in the daytime. Movies and shy kisses. I want to show you off to my friends at work, and I want to have dinner parties with you. I want to be sober when I kiss you. I want you to be my girlfriend, Quinn."
Her demands are still lingering in her mind.
It's nearly 9 o'clock, as Lucky reminds her when he walks by with an excited smile. She shakes her head, she still isn't ready to face Rachel. She's not sure how she'll react or what she'll say. She takes a sip from her glass, the cold liquid soothing her dry throat, and waits patiently for the brunette to join her.
It's not much longer. Maybe three minutes before the door opens, and she just knows. She knows in a way that maybe should scare her but doesn't. A way that's familiar to her. She hears the boots across the tile floor, and smells her signature perfume, long before the barstool slides out next to her. Rachel plops down and puts her purse on the bar.
Quinn doesn't miss the way her face falls, she doesn't mistake the sigh she makes under her breath, and she pretends not to feel heartbroken when Rachel meets her eye, and all she sees is disappointment.
She huffs again, and drops her hand to the bar top as she waits for the bartender, "Whatever," she mumbles and Quinn knows it's a dig meant for her ears only.
"How was your day?" Quinn asks.
Lucky finally appears in front of Rachel with a grin, "What'll it be, sweetheart? On me."
She shakes her head, clearly irritated, "Whatever she's having."
"Coming right up, doll."
Rachel finally turns to her, "So I guess we're still doing this?"
"Look, Rach," Quinn begins, "What we have is, I don't know, special. It's the highlight of my day whenever I get to be with you. It hasn't always been easy. Things, and people, and miles kept us apart but we've always somehow done our own thing."
Lucky sets Rachel's drink down on the coaster and walks away.
She reaches blindly and takes a sip.
Quinn swallows and continues, it's not easy.
"I'm not good at expressing myself like you are."
She pushes on, expecting the jab, "I'm not someone that can just let go, and not care about things. I need something to help me through it."
Rachel takes another sip, as does Quinn. Her throat is still dry.
"And I realized, I was crediting the wrong thing. It's you I need. You're the one that makes me feel like I could move mountains, and you're the one that's on my mind whether my brain is functioning or not."
Rachel perks up a bit, "What are you saying?"
Quinn laughs and reaches for Rachel's hand, "I'm saying that you've been sitting here, clearly irritated with me, and you haven't even noticed you're drinking cranberry juice."
"What?" Quinn hides her grin, as Rachel lifts up the glass.
"It's just cranberry juice. I'm sorry to kill your buzz."
Rachel's eyes flash as she brings her attention back to Quinn.
"You haven't been drinking at all?" Quinn can tell she's tempted to taste her glass so she slides it towards her.
She holds up her pinky, "Promise."
Quinn's trying not to be offended, "I'm not an alcoholic, Rach. I drink, sure, but I don't need to."
"I know, I know, I'm just… really?"
Quinn leans forward and catches Rachel off guard with a slow kiss. She pulls away and rests her forehead on Rachel's, "I'm terrified of hurting you but I'm more terrified of losing you."
Rachel draws little patterns on Quinn's neck with her nail, "I feel like the room is spinning."
Quinn quirks an amused eyebrow, "Have you been drinking?"
Rachel blushes and shakes her head, "The room always spins when I'm with you." She admits softly, only for Quinn's ears. "Yet you're the only one that can ground me."
The blonde can't help the growing smile that spreads across her face, she tucks a strand of Rachel's hair behind her ear, "I thought we could go see a movie and grab something to eat afterwards."
Rachel chuckles softly, "How unbelievably…" she trails off, searching for the right word.
Rachel nods, an amused smile tugging at her lips, "But somehow perfect."
"I was hoping it would be."
Lucky appears in front of them again, setting down two shot glasses upside down on the bar, he hits the mahogany with a fist. "A celebration is in order. What'll it be? On the house. I mean it this time."
Quinn's eyes fly over Rachel's features. She takes in the rose tint to her cheeks, her sparkling irises, and her bleached teeth as they show behind glossed lips. She squeezes Rachel's hand before she turns to the bartender, "Not tonight, Luck."
He holds his hands to his chest in jest, "You break my heart."
They slide off the barstools and Quinn grabs Rachel's purse for her before following her out of the small, dimly lit bar. They get to the street and Rachel settles into her side as they stroll towards the subway station.
It's a familiar scene but it's so very different from every other time they've done this.
It's everything she's wanted from Rachel since the beginning. Rachel's nails lightly scratch her hip as they continue to walk and Quinn places a chaste kiss on her temple. Because she wants to. Because she can.
She realizes she can do it whenever she wants and it's the best feeling in the world. It's a thought that makes her drunk with passion. She stops walking and when Rachel glances up to ask her why they're stopping, she swallows her words with a sound kiss.
Rachel's winded when Quinn finally pulls away and punctuates it with an innocent kiss to her lips.
"You're breathtaking," Quinn whispers once Rachel opens her eyes,
"And I think I've been in love with you since high school." Quinn's dumbfounded and Rachel can tell, "Is that even possible?"
Rachel leans forward and briefly connects their lips, "Believe me, it's possible."
"I'm sorry it took me so long to tell you."
Rachel shrugs, "Just a few drinks. Besides, it took me just as long."
Quinn laughs and shakes her head, "Could we have done it any other way?"
"Us?" Rachel kisses her once more before settling back into her side so they can continue walking, "No. I don't think we could."