Girls Over Flowers
Chapter 13: Don't Be Late
Rachel woke up with a pounding headache, rolling stomach, and none other than Quinn Fabray fast asleep in a chair next to her bed. The thought barely registered before she was leaping from underneath her covers and racing to the bathroom to empty the contents of her stomach.
By the time Rachel returned to her room, Quinn was awake and peering at her through heavy eyelids and a frown on her features. Rachel froze in the doorway, unsure if she was truly registering that Quinn Fabray was currently in her home—in her room—with crossed legs and perched on a decorative chair next to her bed. "Q-Quinn!" Rachel's voice cracked, most likely due to the fact that her throat felt like it was lined with sandpaper. "What are you—"
"How can you possibly have anything else to throw up?" Quinn interrupted. Her voice was heavy with sleep and laced with annoyance. "I was certain that you left most of what you ate on my marble floors," She narrowed her eyes. "And on my custom made Louboutin shoes."
"I—" Rachel's eyes were wide. "I apologize for that." She shifted unsteadily on her feet when Quinn only continued to stare at her with an unreadable expression.
"Do you—" Quinn started. The room was dim as it was still before sunrise, but Rachel could just make out the muscles in her neck as she swallowed. "Is this something that you remember doing?"
Rachel went silent. She knew the question that Quinn was truly trying to ask. She watched as Quinn's leg began to bounce as she waited for a response.
"I—" Rachel glanced down feet, only to realize that she was still wearing the borrowed dress from the night before. "I remember." She glanced up at Quinn through her eyelashes, noticing that she was still wearing her dress as well, but different shoes. Rachel swallowed, guilty. "I certainly remember enough to abstain from drinking for a very long time."
Rachel heard Quinn huff, though she was not quite sure if Quinn was agreeing or disagreeing with her statement.
But then Rachel's eyes widened. "You brought me home." Rachel walked with trembling legs through the room until she was sitting on the edge of her bed facing Quinn. "But why? We were in your home, already."
Quinn rolled her eyes. "I don't need to remind you what happened the last time you woke up in a bed that wasn't your own."
Rachel felt blood rise to her cheeks, but raised her head defiantly. She tried to not wince when the pounding in her head worsened at the action. "Good girl. That means you're learning."
Quinn scowled. "I'm not a dog to be trained."
"Oh God." Rachel's eyes widened when the realization of what being at home entailed hit her. Rachel rested her head in her hands when the pain increased. "My parents. They're going to kill me!" She shook her head wildly. "I feel like I'm going to be sick."
Quinn's widened. "Go to the bathroom right now."
Rachel paused, then her voice took on an accusatory tone. "What did you tell them?"
"The truth." Quinn voice took on a dangerous edge. "And showing gratitude that I went out of my way to bring you to your ridiculously small home in the middle of the night wouldn't hurt either."
"You will not—" Rachel whispered harshly. "You do not get to toss veiled insults. Not here. Not in my home." Rachel took a deep breath through her nose to fight off the nausea, then exhaled through her teeth. "This is my sanctuary, Dalton is yours."
Quinn leaned back in the chair and stared at Rachel for long moment before finally nodding in assent.
"What did you tell them?" Rachel questioned again, softer.
"That you were inebriated."
Rachel blinked slowly. Suddenly feeling tired, she shifted herself until her head rested comfortably on her pillows. "And?"
"Your f-fathers were concerned, of course. " Rachel didn't have the energy analyze why Quinn stuttered over that particular word. "But they seemed understanding. And they offered to let me stay in the guest room."
Rachel's eyes began to feel heavy as she swallowed down the taste of bile in her throat. "If you were offered the guest room, why did I wake up to you in my room?"
Quinn didn't respond, but Rachel bet that if her eyes were at least partially open, she would see Quinn blushing fiercely.
"I felt it though, last night at the party." Rachel hummed as her breathing began to even. "Even though we're probably never going to talk about this again. "
"Talk about what?" Quinn murmured wearily.
"I felt you…" Rachel was beginning to drift off. "…kiss me back."
She thought she heard Quinn take in an unsteady breath.
"I felt your arms tighten around me and—you kissed me back, Quinn. It's making me think…" Rachel knew she was probably making no sense at this point. "The first time you kissed me wasn't just a mistake."
If Quinn had a response, Rachel certainly did not hear it, since she promptly fell asleep after those words were spoken. But when Rachel woke up later that morning with a rough throat and a throbbing headache to find no trace of Quinn Fabray, she was beginning to feel that their conversation was just a figment of her imagination.
The next thing Rachel remembered that morning was her fathers' stern gazes as she stumbled into the kitchen for a glass of water for her parched throat and aspirin for her immense headache. They were quick to let her know that she would not be seeing daylight save for work and school for the next two months. Not that Rachel thought it would be any different from her normal routine—she worked with her best friend, and the only real extracurricular activity she experienced was the Glee Club at McKinley High.
Rachel did not have enough of a social life to truly experience its loss.
"You'd think the excitement of F3 arriving on campus would wear off by now, right?" Kurt murmured to Rachel as the members of F3 swept through the entrance hall. They were at their usual perch on top of the entranceway staircase, and Rachel could not help the small huff of annoyance when the students of Dalton Academy parted like the Red Sea to allow them to pass. "It was fun for the first few weeks, but you have to agree that the novelty is wearing off."
"I don't remember ever feeling excitement about their arrival, I assure you." Rachel's eyes unconsciously zeroed in on the F3's blonde leader. "Anxiety seems like a much more familiar emotion." Kurt hummed noncommittally as Rachel unconsciously bit her lower lip, waiting with bated breath for Quinn's usual glance in her direction.
It never came.
There were no glances from any members of the F3, for that matter. They breezed through the corridor with heads held high, and Rachel couldn't stop the feeling of disappointment from sinking into her chest; the same feeling of rejection that she felt at the beginning of Holly Holiday's party. A feeling that she had no desire—no reason—to be feeling at all.
She turned on her heels and began to make her way up the staircase as the crowd began to clear, barely listening to Kurt rambling beside her. Her emotions were inconsistent, crashing relentlessly then receding within her chest. She was torn.
Torn between both the feeling of hatred and the hesitant attraction towards one Quinn Fabray. Her mind was telling her to cease her thoughts of shimmering blonde hair and hazel eyes; to ignore Quinn's soft lips and velvet tongue; to remember that behind Quinn's beautiful features and melodic voice was a malicious bully who had no concern for anyone or anything that did not benefit herself.
To ignore that Quinn Fabray had stolen her very first kiss.
Rachel tried to think of Sam, a person who was strong, loyal and caring. She thought of his musical inclinations; his messy once-blond hair and sparkling green eyes. She remembered his kindness, and the frown of disgust on his features aimed towards her assaulters that horrible day in the choir room.
Rachel arrived at her locker without remembering exactly how she got there. Kurt was still speaking when she opened her locker to retrieve school books for the day, but she once again retreated within herself in attempt to map out her convoluted feelings.
She remembered thinking of Sam in his pure-white tuxedo. How the suit jacket fit perfectly over his broad shoulders. How his arms felt heavy, yet comforting around her waist. How she could smell his cologne as she settled her arms around his neck as they danced. She imagined leaning in to kiss him at that moment. She imagined how his lips would have felt if he pressed them to her own. But Rachel's mind betrayed her, transforming Sam's broad shoulders into a leaner, more feminine figure. To slender fingers gripping tightly at her waist and curves pressed against her frame.
Rachel gasped before pressing her forehead against her metal locker—cool to the touch and easing the tension away from her temples.
She remembered warmth, a breathy sigh, and the smell of cucumber melon perfume. She couldn't stop thinking about it. Rachel found herself wishing for the loss of memory from the alcohol intake just nights before.
Rachel was not attracted to Quinn Fabray. She couldn't be—
Rachel should not be attracted to Quinn Fabray. Not after everything she put her through.
"Rachel," Kurt's voice jolted her from her thoughts. She noted the concern on his features. "Are you alright?"
"Just a headache." She murmured without looking in his direction.
Kurt rustled through his backpack and produced a bottle of ibuprofen. "I'm always prepared." He shook the bottle playfully. "But were you listening to anything I just said?"
Her attention shifted away from her locker and towards Kurt. "Not really, no." She answered honestly—and maybe a bit shortly. Judging by the wounded look that crossed his features, he certainly understood why. Rachel wasn't going to pretend to not be bitter that Kurt hardly acknowledged her at Holly Holiday's party. Whether he truly didn't see her, or he was truly embarrassed by her appearance, Rachel could not ignore that every time she attempted to get within smiling distance of Kurt, he would mysteriously disappear into the crowd.
Rachel resolved to accept that Kurt's friendship would not extend past the walls of Dalton Academy, but she refused to hold it against him. In a bizarre, external way, she understood his hesitancies as to what being her friend entailed. She understood that the constant fear of the F3's wrath—should he misstep—was a fear that could not be easily shaken. Her voice softened. "Just distracted, that's all."
Kurt fiddled with the straps of his messenger bag, probably wondering if he should address the pink elephant in the room.
He did not.
"I was just wondering if you were ready for our first Glee club meeting." Kurt said instead.
"We told everyone that we were meeting today after school—last week at Gershwin's, remember?"
Rachel shouldered her backpack with a huff and made her way past him to get to their first class. "Of course I remember!" She did not remember at all, thanks to the events that occurred shortly thereafter. "I even have a number of sets to start practicing for Sectionals. I've narrowed it down to ABBA and Journey." She internally cringed at her impromptu selection. "—B-But nothing is set in stone. We can discuss this during the meeting. " Rachel was walking briskly down the hall before she could receive a response.
She had until the end of the day to put together a set list draft, create a list of audition songs that could perfectly showcase vocal ranges, put together fundraising activities, begin narrowing down instructors who could be sponsors, preferably those with a performance arts background—
Preoccupied with her thoughts, Rachel didn't notice her surroundings until her forehead collided with someone's shoulder.
"Watch where you're going, Smurf!" She heard Santana snarl first, then watched absently as Brittany spun around to place hands on her shoulders to steady her.
Next, she heard a slow, methodical, intake of breath near the doorway of the classroom. "Do you make it a habit of never paying attention to your surroundings?" Quinn drawled. Her arms and legs were crossed, with a shoulder propped against the mahogany door frame.
Rachel felt her anger flare up at the comment, but immediately took deep breaths in order to calm herself down. She was the one at fault in this situation, even though she wanted nothing more than to fling a few insults in Quinn's direction."S-Sorry." Rachel wasn't sure why she stuttered, but she certainly hoped it had nothing to with the low sparkle of amusement in Quinn's otherwise serious demeanor. She was wearing a dress today; white, floral patterned and hemmed just above her knee, accented with a red cardigan pulled tautly over her arms and torso. Her lips were ruby-red and her hair was pulled back to show off her sharp features.
The same ruby-red Rachel tasted at Holly's party.
"Stare much?" Rachel started at Santana's voice— her hips cocked to the left, and her arms crossed haughtily over her chest.
"I wasn't—" Rachel began to defend, but Santana's smirk left no room for argument. She heard Brittany cover her giggle with a false cough and felt her eyes wander back towards Quinn—whose features remained stoic. Quinn huffed and pushed herself off of the door frame, inattentively watching as Brittany and Santana sauntered into the classroom and clicked the door shut behind them, leaving Quinn and Rachel alone.
Rachel crossed her arms defensively when the hallway fell silent.
"What are you doing here?" Quinn began without preamble.
"This is school, isn't it? Why else would I be here?"
Quinn shrugged one shoulder, unfazed by Rachel's aggressive reply. "Don't be a smartass. I wasn't trying to—" Quinn sighed. "This is our private hallway, so."
"Private?" Rachel's irritation changed to that of surprise as she peered around the hall. So she might have missed a turn.
Indeed the hallway that she was currently standing met a dead end, but was also decorated differently from Dalton's typical classroom hallways; from marble floors to—Rachel peered down at her feet—soft, beige carpeting; pendant lighting focused on landscape photographs hanging along both sides of the wall; narrow, brass tables with colorful flower arrangements on its surface—
"No other student would dare to cross that threshold." Quinn pointed to the arched frame that marked the hallway's entrance.
"Well I'm not a normal—"
"So why are you here?" Rachel bristled at Quinn's interruption. "Unless," Quinn took a step forward. "You're actually here to see me."
This was an admittedly bold statement on Quinn's part. Rachel took in the blonde's features, head held high, her arms folded across her chest. Quinn looked entirely too confident. But there was a barely-there softness in her voice that could be heard if one listened closely enough—
"Absolutely not!" Rachel blurted before her thoughts could wander into territory she had no interest in exploring. "I can't remember a time where I've sought you out intentionally. I'm certainly not going to begin now."
"Right," Quinn raised an eyebrow. "Like you didn't intentionally seek me out Saturday night in the bar room."
Rachel inhaled deeply and said nothing to contradict the statement. She couldn't, not without lying through her teeth. At the time, she was still shakenfrom being pushed into the pool, still felt the sting of rejection from her classmates—from Quinn, and after being gently dried off and dressed by Brittany and Holly, felt overwhelmed by the sudden attention from her peers. When Quinn disappeared, it showed Rachel exactly how hyper aware she was of Quinn throughout the night.
It was unsettling.
But something that felt ridiculously like concern twisted within her stomach and prompted her to seek Quinn out at the bar. And if Rachel was being honest with herself, staying to converse, drink, and ultimately kiss Quinn, was not necessary for a simple checkup out of concern.
The hall went silent again when Rachel stared at her feet and Quinn tapped her fingers impatiently against her forearm.
"Rachel, I need to ask you—"
The five minute warning bell rang, ironically, without warning—both startling Rachel and causing her to shoot a gracious thank you to the heavens. She took a step backwards, eyeing Quinn cautiously. "I can't be late."
When Quinn didn't say a word, Rachel spun on her heels and began to make her way towards the sciences hallway. But then she paused, took a deep breath, and marched determinedly back towards Quinn, who had not moved an inch.
"I don't think I've—" Rachel cleared her throat. She might as well get it over with while she could. "Properly thanked you for bringing me home safely Saturday night."
"You're right. You haven't. " Quinn responded, deadpanned.
Rachel balled her fists and clenched her teeth, physically preventing herself from doing something that she would regret. "So, thank you, Quinn. That was incredibly…kind of you to do something like that."
She watched as Quinn's arms dropped to her sides in quiet surprise, then watched her features shift back to her normal visage of indifference, though her eyes seemed unable to meet Rachel's. "Whatever, Berry. It's not a big deal."
Rachel ducked her head in order to meet Quinn's gaze again. "But it really is."
They stared at each other for a moment; Rachel, with her hands tucked into her cardigan pockets and Quinn, whose eyes seemed out of focus.
Rachel took the moment of silence to glance down at her wristwatch and let out a panicked gasp. "I have to go!" She spun on her heels and all but sprinted to the end of the hallway without waiting for a response.
"Rachel!" Quinn called.
Rachel huffed, but halted her steps anyway.
"I—" Quinn glanced down at the carpet beneath her feet, hesitant, but then her neutral features transformed into a smirk . "Remember that it's rude to be late, commoner."
Rachel stomped her left foot with a huff before making a dash towards her chemistry class. Even with a minute and fifteen seconds left to make it on time, she grudgingly allowed a small smile to flit across her features. Somewhere deep down in her conscious, she knew that Quinn was teasing her.
But that did not make Quinn any less insufferable.
And Rachel absolutely refused to think about how Quinn's smirk made her impossibly more attractive, or how much Quinn could change the world if she smiled a truly genuine smile. Because she had more important things to think about, like being on time for class. Or the impending pop quiz on the assigned reading she barely skimmed over during the weekend.
Rachel certainly did not have the time be thinking about Quinn Fabray's ruby-red lipstick.
"No, no, no."
Quinn pressed her back against the classroom door the moment she slammed it shut. Her breathing was unsteady, and her hands were shaking uncontrollably. Her heart was beating so rapidly it felt as though it was going to hammer right out of her chest. She needed some fresh air. She needed—
She needed space. The room was warm.
"No, no, no—" She was repeating herself over and over. It was the only word she could process. She touched a hand to her neck, then to her ponytail to yank out her hair-tie. She felt so constricted.
"You're freaking me out, Q."
She needed to get out quickly. The room was too small and closing in. She tried to take in deep breaths to calm herself, to rationalize, but her lungs rattled in her chest and her legs felt weak. She felt herself slide against the door to the floor.
She felt herself being surrounded. She couldn't breathe.
"I need space!" She shouted without meaning to. "I need—-" She ran her fingers through her loose hair. "Just give me a moment to—" To what, think? Her thoughts were slipping in and out of her conscious. Too quickly to decipher them, too disoriented to keep them in one piece.
"Get her some water." Water sounded good. Her lungs were beginning to burn.
"Hey, I need you to focus on me, okay?" She felt hands on her shoulders.
She shrugged to remove them, shaking her head rapidly. "I don't—I can't be touched right now." She clutched at her chest. It felt tight, and was beginning to squeeze even tighter. She needed to think. She needed—
She stood from her slumped posture on the floor and made her way to the glass patio doors at the back of the classroom and out to the connected balcony overseeing the recreational field. She felt cool air sweep across her cheeks and already felt her muscles begin to grow lax.
Quinn finally felt as though she was able to breathe again. Her chest was still heaving, but even that was beginning to slow as she took in the fresh air, slowly easing the burn in her lungs. Her thoughts were beginning to slow; to solidify. She closed her eyes to steady her breathing even further, and allowed her practiced progression of thought to take place.
First, she laid out her observations. Her inability to think clearly, the tightness that she felt in her chest, her rapid breathing, erratic heartbeat, and her bout of claustrophobia indicated that she was having a panic attack—something that she had experienced only a few times in her lifetime. Her most recent one of this caliber being just two years ago when—
She took a deep breath and shook her head to clear her thoughts, making a conscious decision not to think about the mistakes that she made in the past, but to focus on her current predicament. Her short-statured, very loud-mouthed, middle-classed predicament.
And essentially, her trigger.
Which led to Quinn's second step in her progression; analyzing how Rachel Berry could initiate such an extreme reaction out of her by just a few words and that—that look. That look when she peered up at Quinn through her eyelashes; so genuinely thankful for such irrelevant actions. She told Quinn that she was kind. A descriptor that people would use to refer to Franny, maybe. But Quinn? Quinn was frigid, aloof and impenetrable.
Yet she seemed to soften at the words of a commoner. It was a jarring realization.
Quinn's mission today had been to avoid Rachel at all costs, even to opt out of their ritualistic staredown in the entranceway in order to avoid any and all alien emotions from stirring up within her chest. It was harder than Quinn would have liked to admit, barely managing to stop herself from even glancing in her direction.
But then Rachel, walking rapidly and mumbling to herself (which Quinn grudgingly thought was sort of endearing), ran headfirst into Brittany just in front of their classroom. At this point, Quinn couldn't stop herself from interacting with Rachel if she tried. Certainly not when she was in such close proximity.
She knew she was in trouble the moment she started noticing the little things; the way Rachel tucked stray pieces of hair behind ear; how she would fiddle with the lapels of her uniform blazer and the pockets of her cardigan; how her eyes would glint in defiance whenever she spoke—
Quinn sighed and rested her forearms against the marble balustrade. Rachel Berry was entirely too distracting. So distracting that Quinn allowed words to fall from her lips that were intended for her mind only.
"Unless," Quinn took a step forward. "You're actually here to see me."
She forcefully ran her fingers through her hair at the memory, frustrated both because she said it at all and because deep down, she actually wanted it to be true. Something deep down inside of her was thrilled at the idea of Rachel confronting her about her dismissal this morning. About Quinn's sudden disappearance from her Rachel's home.
About Saturday night's kiss.
Because that meant Rachel was as drawn to Quinn's presence as much as Quinn was drawn to Rachel's. It would mean that this attraction was not one-sided.
God—Quinn groaned aloud—was she actually admitting to being attracted to Rachel Berry?
Quinn allowed her head to drop to her forearms. Damn Franny for putting stupid ideas in her head. Damn herself for losing control and kissing Rachel for the first time in Gershwin's. Damn Rachel for kissing her breathless Saturday night.
Her mind began to race once again. The implications and consequences of her actions suddenly becoming very real; the fact that she was developing feelings for a girl, the media backlash if anyone were to find out, the conservative reputation of Fabray Enterprises, the social class differences between their families, her previous cruel actions towards Rachel—
She felt her chest seizing again, the thoughts becoming too overwhelming. But then she felt Santana's presence next to her after a few moments of shallow breathing, and she took the proffered cup of water out of her hands without saying a word.
Quinn downed the water in three large gulps.
They stood in silence; Quinn, absently observing a game of lacrosse on the field, while Santana eyed her steadily with a serious expression.
"So," Santana began, shifting her gaze to her fingernails. "The gay panic set in."
"I don't have time for your crap, Santana," Quinn hissed and moved away from the balcony. But Santana snatched Quinn's arm and yanked her to her previous position. "Let me go."
"Listen," Santana's gaze softened but her voice and grip on Quinn's arm did not. "You're running away from the wrong person right now. Someone who has had a very similar experience to how you're feeling."
"I can guarantee you that it's not the same—"
Quinn blinked. "What?"
Santana released her grip on Quinn's arm and turned to face the field. "Do you have any idea what I went through when I came to the realization that I was DeGeneres levels of gay? When I realized that I was a lesbian?"
Quinn flinched at the word. She couldn't help it. "I'm not a lesbian."
Santana shrugged, still not facing her. "I destroyed an entire wing of my home." She said quietly. "Rare paintings? Ripped to shreds. Centuries-old vases? Broken. I punched walls and knocked over bookcases."
Quinn moved a bit closer to Santana, unsure of what to say.
"After abuelita—" She let out a sigh. "My grandmother found out that I loved...women, she practically disowned me. I accidently put three houseworkers in the hospital that night."
She moved even closer to Santana until their shoulders were brushing. Neither were sentimental by nature. "I knew you had a hard time, S. But I didn't know about any of this. About your grandmother—"
"Water under the bridge. Plus my dad wasn't nearly as concerned about my sexuality as he was of me taking over the business one day."
Quinn hummed, not surprised by the acceptance of Santana's father. Though If Quinn's mother ever caught wind of her association with Rachel Berry she would—Quinn shook her head. She didn't even want to think about what Judy Fabray would do to the Berry family to protect their family reputation.
"But wait," Quinn says, Santana's words finally catching up with her. "Earlier you said four people."
She felt more than heard Santana's intake of breath. "Yeah." A guilty look crossed her features as her eyes flickered towards the classroom. "But you kind of already knew."
Quinn followed Santana's brief line of sight directly towards Brittany, sitting cross legged on a mahogany desk and chatting amicably to their private tutor who had most likely arrived sometime during Quinn's internal musings. She narrowed her eyes, slowly putting together Santana's words.
"Last year." Quinn's voice took on an edge of anger. "She told me she fractured her tibia dancing."
"It was accident." Santana's voice grew indignant. "It was—an accident that could have been prevented if I were in the right state of mind." She let out a sigh. "Brit was just trying to calm me down, to get me to look at her. And we were standing too close to the stairs, I—"
"I shattered every mirror I could find just because I couldn't stand to look at myself." Her tone was self-deprecating.
"I would probably never forgive you for that, you know," Quinn stated honestly. But then she flinched inwardly, remembering all the attacks she ordered on Rachel, including one that could have ended with serious consequences.
Both Quinn and Santana were destructive idiots.
Santana went silent for a moment, and Quinn figured that Santana was still having a hard time forgiving herself as well. But in an instant, Santana's sarcasm came back in full force. "Well it's a good thing I'm not dating you, Quinnie."
"Never call me Quinnie again, ever. And I'm still not sure where you're going with this."
Santana shrugged, unaffected by Quinn's icy tone. "I guess the point I'm trying to make is that my gay panic dick is bigger than your gay panic dick."
"It can't be gay panic when I'm not—"
"Yeah, whatever. But you're still hot for Rachel Berry."
Quinn turned to lean against the balustrade, once again facing the field. She wanted nothing more than for this conversation to end.
Santana mirrored her actions. "Look, you kissed her, not once, but twice."
Quinn jerked away from Santana. She knew that she let the first kiss at Gershwin's slip to her best friend, but the second one... "Twice?"
"I saw you at the bar at the party. And to be honest, if you wanted to be discreet about it, Q, that sure as hell was the wrong place to be."
"Who else?" Quinn clenched her fists, attempting to keep calm. "Who else saw?"
"Brittany." Santana shrugged as Quinn nearly sighed in relief, though Quinn's shoulders were still drawn tight. "Relax, Q. Everyone else already left. Hell, we left too when you looked ready to rip Berry's clothes off."
Quinn blushed at the statement, hardly ready to have that train of thought.
"Look, Q." Santana's tone grew serious. "I know you're thinking really hard about this; about the pros and cons, everything. I've been there. But you're trying to cross bridges that haven't even been built yet, hence the panic."
Quinn nodded slowly, surprised that Santana was actually making sense right now.
"Would—whatever this is—benefit you?" Santana questioned, unknowingly echoing Quinn's final progression of thought.
"I—" Quinn paused as she thought carefully about her answer. "At this point, no it wouldn't."
Santana eyed Quinn's rigid posture. "But you still know you're attracted to her."
Quinn did not respond.
"And you also know that you can't fully weigh your options until you find out if she's worth the trouble."
"So was Brittany worth it? Was she a benefit?"
"I knew I loved her long before I came to any realizations about my sexuality." Santana answered without a second thought. "Yeah, she was worth it."
"And you still panicked."
Santana paused. "Yeah."
"What next?" Quinn asked quietly, hating to admit that she was asking for advice.
"You grovel," Santana snorted. "You get to know her, if you dare. She's a brat."
Quinn chuckled, ignoring the insult. "What am I supposed to do, ask her on a date?"
Instead of the chuckle she thought Santana would return, Quinn was met with a pause and an incredulous look. "Actually, I—" Santana blinked. "Yeah. Exactly."
Quinn stared at Santana, waiting a few moments for her signature smirk to appear.
It never came.
"You're joking, right?" She watched Santana push herself off the banister and swagger back towards the classroom. "I never asked anyone out on a date a day in my entire life!" She shouted after her. And Quinn was telling the truth. All of her past suitors approached her first. "So why would I suddenly start now? With Rachel Berry of all people?"
"Don't actually call it a date, you moron."
"What am I supposed to call it then?" Quinn snapped back.
"A rendezvous, a meetup, an appointment, a hang out. Who the hell cares?" Santana tossed over her shoulder. "For all anyone knows, you can just be meeting a friend."
Quinn pursed her lips, watching her go. Then she felt the gears begin to turn in her head. God she hated when Santana was actually right about something: that it truly did not have to be labeled as a date. And the only reason she was considering doing something so out of her depth was to get to know Rachel, just to see if she was worth the trouble. Nothing more.
"Meeting a friend..."
Yet that thought did not stop the bubble of anxiety from rising into her chest.
"You're joking!" Tina exclaimed. "All over her designer shoes?"
Rachel nodded, hiding a giggle behind her hand. "She wasn't very happy with it."
"But she seemed pretty happy with you before." Tina winked as Rachel blushed. "Your dads must have been livid with you coming home so late."
"Trust me, they were. Grounded for two months, as a matter of fact."
Tina winced. "Yikes."
"And Glee club was awful today. Just awful."
"No one, and I mean no one could agree on anything! We couldn't decide on who would lead the club as captain even though I would be the obvious choice from my previous experiences, song choices, arrangements, fundraisers, and so forth. People were claiming to be in vocal ranges they clearly were not in! Kurt is just as much of a diva as I am, so he was of no help. Sam's commentary was especially redundant—"
"It sounds like you guys need an adult."
"Correction, we need a director. It was an utter disaster. There's no way we could be ready for sectionals this year if this behavior keeps up. And I'll be the one that ends up doing Santana's laundry or some other unruly punishment if I can't come up with the money."
Tina chuckled as they began to busy themselves with routine chores around the store, since they had not accomplished much in the past couple of hours while they had been talking. Rachel had spewed every detail that had been going on in her life for the last few days. She had no one else that she could really vent to and saying the events out loud allowed her to better process her thoughts about a certain individual.
"And don't even get me started on Quinn Fabray..." Rachel huffed, grabbing the nearest cleaning cloth.
"Your life feels like a movie nowadays, Rachel. So much more interesting than the boring stuff going on at McKinley."
"Really?" Part of Rachel—the highly dramatic side of Rachel—was thrilled at the idea of her life developing into movie material, while another part of her remained confused in just about every other aspect. She didn't understand Quinn's behavior at all. She couldn't even understand her own, constantly teetering on the edge of attraction and loathing.
Not to mention her—what Tina decided to call— "savior-complex" attraction to Sam was slowly being replaced by thoughts of Quinn. Though Rachel would only ever admit that to herself.
"Were things weird today at Dalton? Has anything changed since Saturday?"
Rachel paused mid-stroke across the glass case she happened to be cleaning. No, she supposed, things truly haven't changed. The students still sneered at her and called her commoner at every opportunity, Sugar, Harmony and Kitty in particular. And Sam was acting strangely with her all day, including his unhelpfulness during the glee club meeting—though it was still nothing to warrant alarm. "Not really, no. I mean, at first the F3 ignored me, as expected, but—"
But then Rachel accidently ran into Brittany this morning, and her conversation with Quinn left her stomach filled with butterflies for the majority of the day. Rachel decided to pass it off as anticipation for Dalton's first Glee club meeting. "But I talked to Quinn this morning." She murmured.
Tina let out an excited squeal.
"It's not what you think." Rachel rushed out, not wanting her best friend to get the wrong idea. "I just wanted to properly thank her for taking me home Saturday night." Rachel finished, purposely omitting a few details of the story.
"She seemed...surprised." Rachel wrinkled her eyebrows and her voice softened. "Almost like no one has ever genuinely thanked her for something before."
Tina paused, then spoke carefully. "Rachel?"
Rachel hummed that she was listening, absently rubbing cloth against the glass.
"Do you think you would ever—could ever—" Rachel paused her cleaning and glanced up at Tina. "Could you ever consider Quinn...romantically." Tina's voice was quiet. So quiet that if Rachel had not stopped cleaning, Tina's words would have been lost under the sounds of squeaking glass.
Rachel glanced down at her hands, then back to Tina. "No." Was her only reply before she moved on to the next glass case.
"I mean, is it because she's a girl or—"
"No." Rachel sighed. "I mean yes, but no."
Tina looked confused. "But your dads—"
"I know what my dads are, Tina." Rachel snipped a bit too forcefully. "I just have no desire to turn them into a negative statistic any time soon."
She watched as Tina looked down at her shoes, but continued regardless. "And even if that weren't the case, Quinn has an ego the size of her big, stupid, beautiful house. She's more wealthy than ethical! She's-she's a bully with no regard to anyone but herself and unpredictable! I've told you what she's done to me, Tina, so why would you even ask that?"
Rachel's breathing grew heavy by the end of her rant, but she then grew guilty at her own words and the wounded expression on Tina features.
"Sorry I asked."
"I shouldn't have said those things. Not like that."
Tina nodded, her hesitance at restarting the conversation obvious.
Rachel sighed. "I have to be honest with you, because you're my best friend. Well, technically, my only friend."
Tina rolled her eyes good-naturedly.
"While the things I said about Quinn are true, I think I keep repeating them to myself because— because it reminds me of why I shouldn't like her. Why I shouldn't enjoy our arguments, or think she's too beautiful and too smart for her own good. Or that she probably has a really, really sad reason for having the view of life that she has. It keeps me from thinking how much I don't mind that Quinn was my first kiss—" Rachel smacked her hand over her own mouth to stop herself from saying anything more.
Tina smiled, but said nothing to embarrass Rachel any further. Of course Tina already knew that Quinn had been her first kiss, but openly admitting that she didn't really mind it?
Another matter entirely.
Rachel felt her neck and face heat at the thought. She did not and would not like Quinn Fabray. Rachel would make sure of it. And even if—hypothetically, of course—she were to continue developing feelings for Quinn, there was a very, very, small chance that those feelings would actually be returned.
Quinn Fabray, heir of Fabray Enterprises, certainly did not like people like Rachel Berry, no title included. And Rachel was more than willing to pass off the last few encounters as flukes; impulsive decisions that would never be made again, for the sake of her sanity.
As much Rachel hated to admit it, Quinn was a god among demigods in her own world.
A beautifully striking, wealthy, impenetrable, and pompous god.
It was also a world where Rachel was clearly mortal and reminded of it daily. It was exhausting to keep up the facade of self-confidence in a world that she didn't quite belong. She hated that the thought of standing next to Quinn played off of every insecurity she ever had.
Rachel knew that Quinn had never met anyone quite like her before, a middle-class "commoner" with a bold enough personality to stand up to her nonsense. It was Rachel's mission in life to shine, after all. To stand apart from the crowd and to one day be in the spotlight. But Rachel was counting on Quinn's fascination with her to pass.
"Because gods don't fall for mortals," Rachel reminded herself as she forcefully cleaned the glass case, purposely ignoring Tina's concerned gaze. "They merely play with us when boredom strikes."
There was a sense of anticipation in the air all week. Rachel's sixth sense was pulsing with it. She could feel it like humidity. But no one else seemed to sense the change in the atmosphere. Kurt still chattered in her ear every morning and lunch hour. Sam still greeted her cordially, but grew noticeably more withdrawn. The second and third Glee club meetings of the week went just as horribly as the first. And Quinn—
Quinn continued to hold Dalton Academy in the palm of her hand. She parted crowds with a flick of her wrist and shut down anyone that displeased her with a glare. She met Rachel's gaze in the mornings, and ignored her in the afternoons. Quinn seemed to be losing interest, as predicted, and life went on as normal. But why did Rachel feel as though something was going to happen soon?
It was Friday during lunch hour when the anxiety became too much for her, but she accepted the invitation from Kurt to sit with the other members of the Glee club in the cafeteria, regardless. She didn't bother mentioning to him that her original plan was to feign sickness just to spend time alone in the nurse's office; away from the anxiety-inducing hustle and bustle of the cafeteria.
The moment Rachel settled herself down into her chair, she felt the familiar chill down her spine before she actually heard Quinn's voice speak her name.
Ignoring the open-mouthed expressions on her classmates' faces she spun around to greet Quinn cordially with a smile plastered to her features—even if her stomach twisted in something that felt like a mix of longing and fear. This is what kissing someone did to a person, Rachel supposed.
Not to mention that Quinn was incredibly unpredictable, and had not spoken to her at all for the majority of the week.
"Good afternoon, Quinn." Rachel watched Quinn closely when she didn't immediately respond. Her brows were furrowed in what seemed like hesitation, and her hands were clenched together behind her back. If one looked carefully—very carefully—Quinn shoulders were drawn, and the muscles in her neck shifted almost imperceptibly as she worked her jaw. Rachel was beginning to define these actions as a few of Quinn's nervous habits.
"Meet me in front of Breve, 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon." Quinn's words came out quickly, and her sentence ended abruptly. It didn't sound organic at all. In fact, it sounded almost—practiced.
Rachel didn't realize that she was gaping upwards at Quinn until she noticed her eyebrow twitch in irritation. Rachel spoke before she could think."What did you just say?"
Quinn's other eyebrow twitched as well. "I'm not going to repeat myself, Berry," Quinn hissed through her teeth. She began to walk away from the lunch table as quickly as she arrived. She paused, however, spinning on her heels and pointing at Rachel in what could only be perceived as in a threatening manner.
"Don't be late."
A/N: Wow, who to even thank first? I particularly want to thank TripUpStairs/justtripping/JT for putting up with my procrastination bullshit. I don't know what I'd do without her. Actually, I want to thank EVERYONE for putting up with my procrastination bullshit. It's been a while.
You guys are super kind and super lovely, and I can't thank you enough for the feedback. Nope, this hasn't stopped being overwhelming for me. I can't thank you guys enough for reading. Ladyfun is the ultimate asskicker. Hajabeg wore pointy ass devil heels while doing her kicking. And to the anons who kicked my ass on tumblr? Thank you. My ass is sore, really. So thank you ;)
P.S. Thank River for putting her fist down and giving me a week and a half timeline. She owes me "words".