Takes place during season two. Unbetaed.
Rachel was certain her eyes were going to bulge from her head at any moment; they were beginning to sting from refusing to blink as she pressed her forehead and palms more firmly against the bus window. 42nd Street was bustling and she knew in just two short city blocks they would pass it. It didn't matter that she had been there before, had walked down the street hand in hand with her fathers. Seeing that street sign, looking down the expansive roadway with the countless theaters she hoped to one day call home filled her with enough excitement to make her hands sweat.
"Is it close?" Quinn craned her neck trying to find a clear patch of window not blocked by Rachel.
"Yes. One more block."
"Move your hand." Quinn pried the fingers from the glass for a clearer view.
Rachel huffed and scooted herself closer to her seat allowing Quinn to lean forward and look out next to her. The sun had already set and Quinn's eyes worked quickly to try and take in the overwhelming amount of activity on the street below her. The lights, the people, the vendors and performers, the tourists posing for photos, it was exactly how she had imagined, except more.
"It's amazing." She whispered, her breath fogging up the glass before quickly being wiped away.
"I know." Rachel agreed smiling, tensing as she saw the next intersection approaching, she nudged Quinn's shoulder and pointed.
Quinn looked to her right and felt Rachel's nails grip into her bicep as the green and white street sign came into view. Her own mouth fell open, Wicked, The Lion King, Memphis, adverts so large and bright she was certain the combined wattage could light all of Lima for a year. The street sign almost seemed lackluster by comparison, simple green and white like just every other, but much like Rachel she felt a chill roll down her spine when she read it;
After spending the last two years hearing Rachel speak so passionately about it the name had taken on an almost mythical quality. The place where dreams and hopes were made or crushed, where stars were born and legends lived, a place so magical the theaters breathed and the sidewalks pulsed with life.
Unable to resist she glanced to her left as they passed, she had expected to see Rachel smiling so brightly her teeth would reflect the lights outside, she was instead surprised to find her shakily wiping an errant tear from her eye.
"Are you ok?" She asked, suddenly concerned. Rachel nodded and turned her head to try to keep the street in view as they continued moving down the road. "Are you sure?"
"Yes." Rachel spoke softly, leaning back as the road became nothing but a blur of moving people and flashing lights. "It's just overwhelming sometimes, how badly I want to be here."
Quinn nodded in understanding, sitting back in her seat. "You will be someday."
"You really think so?" Rachel looked at her, perking up slightly.
"I do." Quinn smiled warmly, "C'mon be happy, we're in New York, we're going to Nationals, Kurt's back, you're singing a solo!" She laughed lightly, "What more could you want right now?"
Rachel agreed, though somewhat vacantly. She wanted a lot of things, not the least of which was sitting next to her doing her best to cheer her up. The last few of months had been a whirlwind of emotions. Breaking up with Finn had been…difficult. Looking back at it now it's almost comical the amount of time and energy she had poured in to trying to win him back, and for the life of her she couldn't understand why. Her envisioning's of a high school romance complete with declarations of everlasting love had clouded her from the obvious truth, that they simply didn't work.
Oddly enough it was the current object of her affection that had caused her to see the light; their impromptu friendship born during an unnecessary and entirely ridiculous fight for his attention. Gaining Finn's attention was never an issue; she and Quinn had been sharing it for well over a year, regardless of whoever held the title of being his girlfriend.
She remembers it fondly now, Quinn and herself facing off in the middle of the auditorium. She had stated her intentions to win Finn back and Quinn had fixed her with a look of utter disbelief before bursting out into laughter, much to her own chagrin. She had stared back dumbly for a few minutes waiting for her to stop but she didn't. She just continued laughing almost deliriously so until Rachel had become fed up and asked her curtly what she had found so funny about her statement. It still took a minute before Quinn gained some composure, then gripping her stomach to settle the cramp that had formed she just smiled. It was a smile Rachel had never seen before and she knows now the type, it was that bizarre smile that comes when you feel as though the curtains had been pulled from your eyes and you finally see things as they are.
"I just can't believe I'm standing here in a fight over Finn Hudson." Quinn had finally spoken when the air had returned to her lungs. "What am I doing?" She laughed again mirthlessly, running a hand through her hair; the question was clearly a rhetorical one.
She went on to tell Rachel she could have him if she wanted. Told her how preposterous she found it to be that the two of them were arguing over a boy who in reality could offer neither of them something substantial. Who had cheated and lied himself yet held the gumption to claim superiority. It was as if all of it had dawned on her in the space of a few seconds and she was both delighted and frustrated with herself for not having figured it out sooner.
Rachel had listened in stunned silence, calculating internally the odds of this being a ploy on Quinn's part, a clever way to throw her off the scent. But the more she listened the more she believed her, not only that but her words held a frighteningly real amount of truth. What were they doing? What was she doing? How had she, Rachel Berry, allowed someone like Finn to dominate her own existence for over a year? It was an unflinching moment of clarity, and as Quinn began laughing again at the ridiculousness of it all, Rachel felt a small smile curl on her lips, the same one Quinn had just sported minutes ago, and within seconds the same delirious laughter was bubbling in her stomach and spilling from her throat.
And that was when it had happened, as improbable as it seemed. Something shifted for them on that stage, bonding over their shared blindness. A common ground formed to tentatively secure their footing. And as the weeks passed the ground grew sturdier, a duet here, help with an assignment there, and before either of them really had the opportunity to consider the sheer unlikeliness of it all, they were friends.
Finn watched on in irritation as the two girls he seemingly thought he'd always have some part of barely acknowledged his existence, his attempts to win them back quickly rebuffed whilst simultaneously pushing them closer. It was surreal Rachel thought, looking back on it now, that the same person who had been the cause of much of her and Quinn's animosity was the same one who brought them together, albeit unknowingly.
Four months had passed since then and as their junior year was winding to a close Rachel honestly called Quinn a friend, a best friend even. Something she had to remind herself of constantly, a friend was all she was, all she would ever be.
She didn't know how or when it happened, couldn't pinpoint exactly when her feelings towards Quinn had changed from platonic to physical. Rachel decided it had been a culmination of hundreds of small moments, late night phone calls, laughs over coffee, tears over films, discussions of dreams and fears that had the two of them staying up all hours of the night. She wanted to fool herself into believing the quickening of her heart when she called or the warmth in her belly when she saw her was merely excitement, but her mind would only allow her so much delusion.
She at least remembers clearly the moment she acknowledged it to herself. The local theater had been doing midnight showings of classic musicals and after much begging on her part Quinn had agreed to accompany her to Yentl. There were few things in this world that could distract Rachel from the God that was Barbra Streisand, and she realized that night Quinn was one of them.
She had been engrossed in the film, her eyes glued to the screen, their shared popcorn long forgotten. There, huddled in the darkness, she felt tears prick her eyes as the chords to Papa Can You Hear Me began strumming through the speakers, she watched and listened not for the first time in complete and total awe, clutching her own chest in amazement. And just as the song was coming to a close it happened, Quinn leaned in close to her, gripping her wrist lightly before whispering softly in her ear;
"You sounded better."
That was it, three words, not at all sexual in nature or action, but the shiver that clawed its way through her body in that exact moment far surpassed any she had felt before it. It seared her insides, causing the now familiar warmth in her belly to seep southwards, sending an intense heat between her thighs so powerful it made her stomach lurch. There was no mistaking it, no telling herself that was a normal reaction to have from a friend merely whispering a compliment to her in a darkened room. Her body spoke loud and clear the thoughts she had been trying desperately to ignore, she was attracted to her, pure and simple.
The remainder of the film went unseen by Rachel, her mind and body reeling with admission and awareness. Every brush of Quinn's forearm against her own pushed her further, each bump of their knees, each graze of their fingers setting off a series of internal reactions she had not yet experienced before. When Quinn had dropped her off later that evening she had practically sprinted to her bedroom, that night being the first of many times she shamefully brought herself to orgasm thinking of her.
From then on being in Quinn's presence was a difficult affair, a constant battle to keep her eyes where they belonged, her thoughts in their rightful place, and her hands to herself.
Quinn didn't make any of it easy, if she only knew the things Rachel was thinking she wouldn't bring herself within three feet of her. But she didn't, so Quinn continued on as normal, still whispering in her ear when she felt the urge to tell her a secret, still gripping her hand when she wanted to bring her somewhere, still played with her hair murmuring things about shampoo commercials, still slept over at her house in indecently small scraps of clothing.
And Rachel in turn, became more and more adept at hiding her true feelings, forcing her desire into the deepest darkest parts of her mind in exchange for the first truly rewarding female friendship she had encountered since beginning high school. She was never sure whether she wanted to laugh or cry at her own misfortune, that she found herself yet again wanting someone who was unavailable to her.
It was those desires, those urges, which had her feeling more anxious about this weekend in New York than excited. Not anxious for the club or how they would perform, she had more than enough confidence in their abilities to do well — anxious because this meant an entire weekend, two full nights sharing the same space, the same room with Quinn. She wasn't sure how she would cope, especially considering there would be no outlet for her frustrations; Quinn would be sleeping mere feet from her at all times. She would be there when she showered, when she changed, when she woke and did that deliciously long stretch that arched her back and exposed her stomach, she would be there for all of it and it frightened her.
"Hey." Quinn quietly nudged her shoulder breaking Rachel away from her own thoughts. "Talk to me..." She looked at her, concern shining behind her eyes. She couldn't believe that they were driving through Manhattan and Rachel instead of standing on her seat belting out New York, New York was staring down at her own hands brow furrowed in contemplation.
"It's nothing." Rachel blanched, "Just nervous."
"The Rachel Berry, nervous?" Quinn laughed. "I never thought I'd see the day."
Rachel merely rolled her eyes and Quinn quickly sobered herself, realizing that now was not the time for jokes.
"Come here." She wrapped her arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer, her other hand quickly entwining with Rachel's to still their nervous movements. "We'll do great." She spoke into the brown hair that was now tickling her chin as Rachel let herself relax into her body, "You'll do great." She gave her shoulder and hand a gentle squeeze willing her to believe.
Rachel closed her eyes and allowed Quinn's misdirected words to weave warmly though her heart. Instantly she was disgusted with herself for reveling in this closeness they shared, for the steady thrum that already pulsed in her body as she inhaled deeply the perfume along her neck. That delicious neck that her eyes found themselves fixed upon for far too long, wondering how it would feel beneath the tips of her fingers, against her tongue, between her teeth.
God, how I would mark this neck. She thought helplessly. Squeezing her eyes tighter she battled off the tremble that threatened to roll through her body as Quinn's hand found its way to her hair, brushing it back behind her ear before placing a chaste kiss along her scalp.
"Better?" Quinn whispered.
Rachel smiled lightly and nodded, slowly disentangling their bodies and moving back to her seat, though Quinn refused to release her hand, instead choosing to lace their fingers together more snugly while they both stared admiringly out the bus window. Though Rachel's eyes registered none of the activity before her, the lusty haze had already settled and she simply prayed for the strength to come out of this weekend unscathed.