A/N: Trigger Warning - Very brief mention of attempted sexual assault.
Chapter 14: The Date
Quinn Fabray was not a patient person by nature nor by design, simply because Fabray's never had to wait for anything.
Meals would immediately appear with a snap of her fingers, crowds would part with a wave of her hand—the world moved around her like moons in an orbit. Each person had a distinct course that solidified their presence in the universe. Not too close yet not too far away. A simple rule that her world followed since her birth.
Since the very beginning of the Fabray line.
But then there was Rachel Berry—Quinn's personal rogue asteroid—who did not care for the rules or regulations of orbital alignment. Who did not care for the organized structure that Quinn put in place at Dalton Academy.
Who had Quinn Fabray making stupid, stupid planetary metaphors.
Who had the Quinn Fabray, tapping her foot impatiently in front of their agreed upon meeting spot on a surprisingly chilly Saturday afternoon.
Rachel Berry, who is, as of now, one hour and thirty-three minutes late to their date. Not that Quinn was keeping track.
She refused to dig her hands into the warmth of her admittedly thin coat to check her phone, since it would remind her that she had been far too distracted to even think about giving Rachel her phone number during the school week. But she couldn't help that her eyes wandered to the clock tower adjacent to Bréve at every loud tick of the minute hand.
Just as a particularly cold breeze drafted through the plaza, Quinn wrapped her arms around her waist and her eyes once again drifted towards the clock tower.
One hour and thirty-four minutes.
She was curious.
That was the only explanation Rachel had to offer to herself for showing up to Tivoli Plaza at all. She was late—extremely late—and she couldn't help the guilt that bloomed in her chest at the thought. Because even though Quinn quite rudely invited her to meet in front of Bréve with no further indications of plans afterwards, Rachel knew the heiress had…some semblance of an afternoon plan. At this point Rachel knew that these plans would not be malicious, based on Quinn's most recent behavior. But now that Rachel knew better, the request to meet Rachel alone in such a beautiful place almost felt...
Rachel felt her steps stumble at the thought. She was only kidding herself, especially because Rachel had made the decision to stand her up anyway.
She battled the idea throughout the morning and partially throughout the afternoon. Even showing up to work—the only place she was technically allowed to go to thanks to her punishment for her drunken evening just a week ago—to battle the restlessness that came with her thoughts of Quinn Fabray.
"You're standing her up!" Tina noted with a glare.
"I am not!" Rachel snapped, then hesitated when Tina narrowed her eyes. "I was…I was hardly given a choice! I am merely…deciding not to take Quinn up on her demand."
"So, you are standing her up." Tina repeated her earlier observation.
"No I—" Rachel pressed herself against the nearest wall. "I shouldn't have told you about it."
Tina smirked. "You haven't stopped talking about it since Friday."
"Her audacity!" Rachel stomped her foot and stared down at the floor. "How dare she just demand for me to just show up wherever she tells me? Not to mention I'm grounded because of Quinn Fabray! She does not deserve my time."
Yet here Rachel was, shuffling her feet while sneaking a glance at the chiming clock tower. It was now exactly three and a half hours after the specified meeting time.
The sun had long started to set and the beginnings of a light drizzle began to hit the stone walkways. She adjusted the white scarf around her neck and clutched her jacket closer to her chest as she felt a chill run down her spine that had little to do with the rainy weather.
She was curious, Rachel repeated to herself. It was the sole reason why she made an appearance at the risk of her fathers' fury. It was curiosity that urged her to maybe catch a glimpse at the remnants of Quinn Fabray's plans, although Rachel was beyond certain that Quinn stormed off in a huff just after the clock struck two.
Quinn Fabray waited for no one, after all.
But what met Rachel's sight as she got closer to the demanded upon meeting place made her pause in her steps and blink in disbelief. She even rubbed her eyes to make sure if what she was seeing was not a figment of her imagination. Blonde hair shined brightly under one of the many arced lamps native to Tivoli Plaza, and the sharp hazel eyes staring in her direction were immediately recognizable.
Rachel felt a chill run up her spine once more. Quinn Fabray did not look very happy.
Quinn was certain Rachel had half a mind to turn around and march right back to her vehicle. On some level, Quinn actually wanted her to. But the swell in her chest at the thought that Rachel had not actually stood up their 'meeting' prevented her from striding over to Rachel and stapling a stupid Red Card on to her forehead.
Because Rachel was beyond late, and Quinn was absolutely furious about it. Though, the sense of relief she felt at Rachel's appearance was unmistakable.
What upset Quinn the most was that she knew she looked pitiful. She was huddled in the farthest corner of the wooden bench, her hands were stuffed as deep as possible into the pockets of her ridiculously thin coat, and her once pink lips had turned blue from the cold.
And for the life of her, Quinn could not stop shivering. She cursed herself for not having the foresight to check the weather before she left her estate in a floral patterned dress. But then again, Quinn had no intention of waiting three and a half hours outside either.
Pride was the only thing that kept Quinn on that bench. Pride, and the desire to give Rachel Berry a piece of her mind about the lack of respect for another person's time. And after Rachel had been chastised to her liking, activities would continue on as planned. Though at least two activities were cancelled due to time lost and—Quinn felt herself shiver—rainy weather, the dinner reservation on the prestigious top floor of Gershwin still held true. It would be a perfect opportunity to figure things out.
Quinn felt a wave of nervousness at the thought—spending an extended period of time alone with Rachel after leaving her home so hastily just barely a week ago.
Especially after her panic attack and realization about her...feelings.
She almost hated that her throat went dry at the sight of Rachel in her stupid, way-too-colorful coat and ridiculous knit cap perched on her head. Not to mention that the scarf around her neck was completely unnecessary, in Quinn's opinion, even though she was eyeing the warm material in quiet envy.
She watched with narrowed eyes as Rachel finally slowed to a stop in front of her, and waited as patiently as possible for a proper apology. What fell from Rachel's lips were far from it.
"What are you…why are you still here?"
Quinn felt irritation bubble fiercely in her chest.
"Didn't I t-tell you not to be late, Berry!" Quinn felt the venom of her words before she could stop it. But the stutter nearly ruined the outburst.
Damn the cold.
Still, Rachel reared back at the force of Quinn's words. "I never actually promised that I would come, Quinn!".
"Yet, you came." Quinn accused as she stood from her seat on the bench. "Do you h-have any idea how long I've been s-sitting here? Any idea?"
"I—" Rachel knew. Quinn was certain that Rachel knew exactly how long Quinn had been waiting. "I actually didn't expect you to still be here."
Quinn clicked her tongue and looked away.
"But," Rachel stepped closer. Why are you still here?"
"Because," Quinn crossed her arms forcefully, and instantly regretted the loss of heat from her pockets. "Even I knew you weren't stupid enough to a-actually stand me up."
"What?" Quinn felt Rachel's anger flare. "Did you just call me stupid?"
"Clearly, I j-just stated that you weren't stupid. The least you c-could do is apologize for your disrespect of my time."
Rachel clenched her fists, tightened her jaw, and stomped her foot forcefully on the pavement. Quinn squared her shoulders and prepared for the onslaught of Rachel's fury. But then she felt it; her eyes squeezing tight, a tickling in her nose and a deep intake of breath.
Quinn sneezed twice into her elbow.
And then Rachel was looking at her as if she were a box of kittens abandoned on the side of a road.
Quinn couldn't help but to feel self-conscious again about the state she was in; teeth chattering, blue lips and shivering frame. Quinn knew she no longer seemed intimidating, but she was freezing, and the light drizzle was beginning to seep into her clothing.
"Oh Quinn..." Rachel was within Quinn's personal space before she could protest, tugging off her own gloves and pressing her fingers to Quinn's cheek, then pressing her palms against Quinn's neck.
"W-What are you—" Quinn's stutter had very little to do with the cold this time. Their position seemed…pleasantly familiar.
"You're cold as ice!"
"What d-did you—what did you expect, Berry?" Quinn huffed. "It's freezing out here. And now it's r-raining."
Rachel grabbed Quinn's hands and led her towards the entrance of Bréve. "Why in the world didn't you decide to wait inside?"
"Because—" Quinn blinked slowly. She lost her train of thought the moment she glanced down at their joined hands. She flexed her fingers to get blood flowing, certainly not to feel the softness and warmth of Rachel's palm.
Rachel huffed as she tugged her further inside of the building. "You're incredibly stubborn."
"If you had just shown up on t-time..."
"Here," Rachel ignored her and released her hands, thankfully just missing the look of disappointment that crossed Quinn's features. "Take my scarf. It will warm you up."
"I don't need your—"
Rachel took it upon herself to wrap it around her neck and idly tuck it just underneath Quinn's coat for her.
"You're still shivering." Rachel murmured as she adjusted Quinn's lapels and smoothed down the material. "I'm sorry."
Truthfully, Quinn was worried that Rachel had gotten into a terrible accident. Or that she was mugged or kidnapped for ransom on Quinn's behalf—a very real possibility. But what worried Quinn the most was the possibility that Rachel did not want to meet her at all. And on some level, Quinn would understand her decision. Behind the false bravado that, being who she was, getting stood up was inconceivable, Quinn knew that the attacks she ordered against Rachel made her extremely untrustworthy.
Yet here Rachel was, unbelievably late, and tenderly tucking her own scarf around Quinn's neck.
She could no longer find it in herself to be upset anymore, especially when Rachel was staring at her with worry as she continued her gentle ministrations.
It wasn't until she heard a cough not too far away from their position did she get startled into awareness. She stepped back immediately, putting a more friend-like distance between herself and Rachel. They were in public after all.
"But you're still shivering!"
"And whose fault is that?" Quinn bit out before she could stop herself, but the three successive sneezes that followed devalued the bite to her words.
Rachel's doe eyes were back. And to stop the feeling of guilt from welling up in her chest, Quinn moved to pull the scarf off of her neck. Rachel halted her immediately.
"Please keep it on. And at least let me…" Quinn's gaze zeroed in on the lower lip Rachel had begun to worry. "Let me treat you to something warm to drink."
"We have dinner reservations at Gershwin's."
Rachel blinked at Quinn. "Dinner?"
"Reservations. On the top floor." Quinn reiterated slowly, eyeing Rachel's expression carefully.
"I know a place, just a few blocks from here."
Quinn growled. "But-"
"You'd never know there would be such a cute coffee house in such a non-descript building. My fathers used to take me for fruit tarts and tea when we couldn't afford to-" Rachel stopped talking and spun abruptly on the spot. She caught her own mistake.
"I mean, I-" Quinn watched as Rachel took a deep breath. "Daddy, Hiram, used to be a lawyer you know." She turned her head in order to eye Quinn carefully. "But he and dad always dreamed of owning their own business. The transition to Berry's Buttons left us with not a lot of on-hand money at the time. But we managed just fine. Even on our new budget, they put me through vocal training, acting lessons and dance classes." Rachel took another deep breath, then added slowly. "It's good coffee."
Rachel's message was clear. "I am not to be pitied."
"Fine. Fine." Quinn murmured impatiently after a moment of staring at the back of Rachel's knitted cap. "I'll never let you live it down if the coffee is crappy."
She watched Rachel slowly turn around as she fiddled with her coat buttons. "It's the third floor of the building." Rachel responded cautiously. "With rooftop access two floors above it. The best view of the city actually."
Quinn scoffed quietly as they began to make their way out of the building. She highly doubted it.
"So you sing." Quinn stated rather than asked. She just managed to stop herself from wincing at just how…boring she sounded.
"So you have a lot of money." Rachel responded, then paused with a small smile. "This will be a highly uninteresting outing if we are going to continue stating the obvious, Quinn."
Quinn nodded in agreement as she wound her fingers around her coffee cup for added heat to her extremities. Her body temperature was finally rising to a normal level, partially due to the warm confines of the coffee shop, and partially due to Rachel's thick scarf tucked around her neck; it smelled of vanilla, brown sugar, and a scent that was distinctly Rachel.
Quinn felt warmth. She felt it spread from the tips of her ears to the tips of her toes, especially at the thought of just how tenderly Rachel stepped into her personal space and wrapped the scarf around her neck.
She felt taken care of.
"That can't be all you know about me." Quinn continued with a raised eyebrow, shaking the foreign feeling from her head. "You can find out much more by picking up a brightly colored teen magazine of your choice."
Rachel leaned forward. "And what exactly would I find in the pages of a 'brightly colored' teen magazine about Quinn Fabray?"
Quinn understood that Rachel was poking fun at her, but played along anyway. "That I enjoy long walks along the shores of the Cíes Islands. That I enjoy sipping Perrier-Jouët during my numerous visits to five star hotels overseas. That I am currently dating…" Quinn began to count on her fingers. "One, two…six members of five different boy bands around the world. I'm also a mistress to a West European prince, and currently dating a married actor. I'm quite the harlot, apparently."
"Hardly true." Rachel waved Quinn off with a blush. "But I think it's funny that these magazines have paired you off with all of these wealthy and highly recognized people when you really prefer," Rachel's voice dropped down to a whisper. "Kissing 'commoners' in restaurant bathrooms."
Quinn stiffened as her eyes darted from left to right, quickly surveying the area for eavesdroppers. Though Rachel's statement was incredibly accurate, she had no desire for the words to drift to unwanted ears. Gender neutral or not.
"Maybe." Quinn murmured, her spine still refusing to revert back to its natural curve.
"So," Rachel cleared her throat after a brief moment of silence. She must have sensed Quinn's discomfort. "Is there anything else that they say about you in these teen magazines? 'Quinn Fabray is an entitled, snobbish heiress who throws her power around for personal gain,' perhaps?"
Quinn rolled her eyes. "Well it does say that my favorite color is green. I wear it quite nicely, according to fashion commentators."
"I can see that." Rachel nodded solemnly. "It would compliment your beautiful eye color perfectly—"
Rachel's eyes widened and fell silent as she began to tug at the ends of her hair.
"I like books." Quinn murmured to break the awkward silence. When Rachel tilted her head curiously, she continued on. "You said that all you knew about me was that I'm rich, and a few...other insults." Her words were rushed and slightly jumbled, a far cry from the careful speech and near perfect annunciation that she was known for. "Well, I like to read."
"I think I kind of figured that out about you." Rachel looked pointedly into her tea cup.
Quinn raised an eyebrow, silently pushing Rachel to continue.
"I-I mean. I see you reading all of the time. You were reading when I came to your lounge to talk to Brittany about the Glee club." Quinn hummed at this, remembering that she paused her reading to eavesdrop on the conversation. Not that they were being secretive about it anyway. "And I always see you reading over the banister at lunch."
Blood rose to the tips of Quinn's ears. Rachel did not need to know that she used her book as a cover to discreetly observe Rachel's interactions with her peers and Rachel's interactions with Sam. Quinn took a sip of her coffee to hide her reddening face.
"You've also started to read on the balance beam in the gym during Physical Education."
Quinn let out a puff of laughter. Little did Rachel know that her 'reading' (carefully hidden glares towards Sugar Motta and Harmony Hall) had prevented any further injuries to her nose during their sports hour.
But Quinn was truly being honest when she stated that she enjoyed to read.
"Imagine if everyone found out that you're actually a closeted book worm. Damn nerd."
One of Santana's many jibes echoed in her thoughts. Quinn's lips lifted into a smirk. She did find that the words on the worn pages of her prized novels held much more of her attention than the lemmings that followed the F3 around on a daily basis. But lately...it has been hard to concentrate on the words of Jane Eyre when a certain commoner was always around to distract her.
"I mean…" Rachel continued slowly. "I've seen the way you interact with your books. How you—" Rachel tapped her fingers against her cup. "How nothing else seems to matter when you're reading them."
"You've been watching me." Quinn stated, swiping the napkin previously folded across her thigh across her lips. She couldn't quite hide the smug look that crossed her features.
Rachel, yet again, tugged the ends of her hair. Quinn surmised that this was a nervous habit. "No, not necessarily. I mean, they are common areas, Quinn! Not to mention that we happen to share a physical education course together. Well, we share the gymnasium at least. Besides, it's hard not to notice you. Certainly when everyone has taken up the habit of gasping every time you enter a room. Who does that? Do you even notice when people do it anymore?"
Quinn shrugged a single shoulder. She actually didn't notice anymore, but she was much more interested in the fact that Rachel watched her enough to pick up on her 'reading' habits. Perhaps her fixation on Rachel was not entirely one-sided. Especially if Rachel's drunken actions just a week prior had anything to say about it.
She crossed her legs underneath the table and rested a hand on her cheek, a wave of content moving over her form.
Their conversation fell silent.
"I have to ask you, Quinn, since my dads always told me that honesty was the best policy in any interaction …"
Quinn hummed noncommittally.
Rachel paused, then took a deep breath. "What is this?"
Quinn blinked. "What is what?"
"This." Rachel waved her hand between the two of them. "We're...Quinn, what is this happening between us?"
Her contented wave crashed harder than expected. "What is 'this' supposed to mean?" She forced between her teeth, irritated that the pleasant feeling was cut short thanks to Rachel's need to...talk about things.
Especially when it was not on Quinn's own terms.
"To be frank, this feels like a date—"
"Can you not—" Quinn hissed quietly as her eyes darted around the coffee house. "—have such a big mouth, for once in your life."
Quinn missed Rachel's flinch when she shot a particularly nasty glare at the barista who just happened to glance in their direction.
"This is not...whatever you think this is, Berry." Her glare shifted towards Rachel. Quinn was lying. She knew she was lying, even though Rachel's assumption about the nature of their meeting was accurate. But fear had a grip so strong that Quinn felt like she could hardly breathe. The thought of anyone catching wind of anything more than platonic going on with Rachel...
Quinn felt her back stiffen at the thought, suddenly aware of at least three sets of eyes carefully observing their heated interaction. She felt her throat begin to tighten, and a replay of their current argument began to play in her head, analyzing the dialogue for any incriminating details that could be taken out of context and reveal the true meaning of their conversation. Quinn's limbs began to feel heavy, and her breathing began to quicken. Her thoughts were beginning to move in and out of her conscious at an alarming rate.
The feeling was beginning to feel all too familiar.
She clenched her fists under the table and the words spilled from her throat before she could stop it. "To think, I'm actually trying to be nice for once and you go and turn this into some fantasy of yours—"
"Stop lashing out at me." Rachel's tone was even. "We both know you're not being completely honest."
Quinn stood from her seat. "What do you know, commoner." The words were flowing without her consent. She knew how Rachel felt about that particular word, but she spat the venom regardless. The strange feeling of dualism swept through her senses; she felt like she could do nothing but watch herself in horror as she said one hurtful thing after another.
Rachel stood from her seat as well, eyes now blazing. "Back to commoner now, Quinn? I'm beginning to see a pattern.
"Again," Quinn hissed. "What do you know." It was as if her fear had a mind of its own.
"I know that you're bringing much more attention to ourselves by not being truthful about your intentions rather than having a civil conversation about it. Take a look around." Rachel murmured irritably.
Quinn did not need to look around to know that she was being watched. Their eyes felt as realistic as roaming hands. She shivered, despising the lack of privacy and wishing that she could once more become oblivious to the people around her.
Hearing her name jolted her from her thoughts, but did not stop the compression in her chest.
"We should probably have this conversation in a more secluded area. Don't you agree?"
Quinn heard Rachel's words, but did not quite register what was said. Still, her body acted of its own accord, and her head nodded at the mention of seclusion.
She watched as Rachel backed away with a concerned look on her features."Quinn? Are you coming?"
"I need—" Quinn flexed her fingers and sucked in a breath of air as she took another glance around the coffee house. She needed to regain control of herself, so she fought through the fog that had begun to cloud her mind. The few people who were previously focused on their conversation had quickly lost interest and their focus fell back to their steaming mugs of hot beverages and their own murmured conversations. Still, their lack of interest did not stop Quinn's hands from shaking as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, since the petty, self-absorbed, part of her subconscious was causing her to believe their murmured conversations were all about her. It always seemed to be about her, even when it was not about her.
Quinn felt like she was thirteen years old again, staring at the headlines of her parent's divorce. Followed by stares, whispers, and camera flashes everywhere that she went.
"I-I'll follow you in a moment." Quinn knew her voice sounded unsteady, but she forced an even gaze towards Rachel anyway.
"The rooftop? It stopped drizzling quite a while ago." Rachel hesitated, seeming to sense a shift in Quinn's mental state. But Quinn held her ground and Rachel nodded resolutely. "I'll be waiting, then."
Quinn nodded and let out a shaky breath she did not realize that she was holding. She watched as Rachel disappeared through what she assumed to be the stairwell leading to the roof, needing just a few moments to gather herself for the upcoming conversation.
"You confuse me, Quinn." Rachel murmured the moment Quinn clicked the door to the rooftop shut after several moments of deep breathing alone in the coffee shop. Rachel was faced away from her, knees drawn to her chest, eyes towards the city. Her tone wasn't what Quinn imagined it would be; full of anger and indignation. Instead, her voice sounded resigned. "You're a confusing person, and I don't think that this is ever going to change."
Quinn pressed her back against the door, still not quite ready join Rachel's side. Several moments passed before Quinn decided to respond. "I—" Her words were stuck in her throat, as they were words rarely spoken. "Downstairs, my words were unnecessary and…"
'Not truthful.' She thought to herself.
"I did not mean to snap at you, Rachel."
Rachel remained silent.
Quinn breathed a heavy sigh. "You have no idea what it's like…" She lifted a hand to unconsciously finger the fringes of Rachel's scarf. "... always being watched. To always—"
"Come sit down." Rachel gently interrupted, still facing the city. "This part of the roof is already dry."
"In a moment. I'm still…" Quinn gazed at Rachel's profile as she turned to better hear Quinn's words. "Breathing."
"That's fine." Rachel faced the city once more. "I certainly appreciate the drama of not looking at one another as we converse."
"You kissed me." Rachel blurted before any silence had a chance to settle between them. Quinn felt her muscles seize out of habit, even though they were the only ones on the roof.
Rachel was getting right to the point.
"And you kissed me." Quinn managed quietly.
"So…" Rachel paused. "What exactly does this mean?"
"Nothing," slipped from her mouth before she could accidentally utter, 'Everything.'
"You and I both know that this is far from nothing."
"You have no idea what I'm thinking."
"And this is exactly why I am trying to figure this out." Rachel finished firmly. "I never know what you're thinking."
Quinn silently pushed herself away from the door and made her way towards Rachel.
"You're the most unpredictable person that I know, Quinn. I don't understand how you can—"
With a better view of Rachel's face, Quinn watched as Rachel's gaze dropped to her knees as she lowered herself onto the concrete.
"I don't understand how you can turn the entire school against me one day, then...then press me up against the bathroom wall the next. How you can...insult my living class in one moment, then carry me home while in a drunken haze and sleep next to my bed to make sure that I was okay, the next."
Quinn felt the beginnings of migraine at the base of her neck. She did not want to talk about any of this. This is not what today was supposed to be about. Her internal thoughts were already a mess to go through, and saying it out loud added a sense of reality to their situation.
A reality that she was not quite ready to face head on as of yet.
Today's date—meeting was meant to be an experiment; were Quinn's feelings for Rachel worth any repercussions? So far her conclusion had been indefinite, but she had to admit that she actually enjoyed Rachel's presence, and that a small part of her was craving physical contact with the girl again. Just remembering Rachel gently tucking her scarf around Quinn's neck, and how Rachel took her hand and gently led her to the entrance of Bréve caused her face to flush.
The thought of kissing Rachel again…
Quinn felt her stomach flip at the memory.
"Can we just—" Quinn had to stop her thoughts from going any further. "Take this one day at a time?"
"This as in…?"
Quinn growled in frustration as she dragged a hand through her hair. "I honestly don't know, okay? Rachel, I really don't know. All I know is that..." After a lengthy pause, Quinn lowered the volume of her voice. Honesty was probably her best bet at this point. "Well, this is why I invited you to Tivoli...essentially."
"And have you figured it out?"
Quinn let out a humorless laugh. "If anything, I'm even more confused."
Rachel turned to face Quinn fully. "I have a proposition for you."
Quinn turned to face Rachel as well. "Okay…"
"I think we skipped a number of steps here. I think..." She began to tug at the ends of her hair. "I think we should become friends."
A frown marred Quinn's features before she could stop it. A friendship didn't sound like there would be much kissing involved.
Rachel nodded to herself, Quinn's expression going unnoticed. "Yes, a friendship sounds good."
"I don't understand."
"I think we're trying to...cross bridges that have not been built yet," Rachel began, unknowingly echoing Santana's words just days ago. "And that has contributed to our current lack of clarity. And the truth is, Quinn, my view of you is still predominantly negative thanks to our first few encounters with each other. What you've done to me...is not easily forgotten."
Quinn rolled her eyes, irritated. "I thought we were over this. I rescinded your Red Card weeks ago."
"Yet you still haven't actually apologized for giving it to me in the first place!"
"I should apologize? For your blatant disrespect of me?"
"D-Disrespect?" Rachel sputtered as she scrambled from the ground. Her eyes blazed with anger, and it was in that moment that Quinn realized she had just made a big mistake. Rachel pointed an accusatory finger at Quinn's nose. "Disrespect! You alienated me! You had me abused by the student body! I was almost...by those boys...If it weren't for Sam, I was almost—" Quinn watched as Rachel took in a shaky breath. "I despised you, Quinn Fabray. I told myself...I told myself that you were a manipulative, power hungry, self-absorbed girl who treated people no better than the dirt beneath her shoes. A girl who felt threatened because I would not let her treat me in the terrible way she treated others."
"Rachel," Quinn warned as she stood with just a tad more grace than Rachel had just moments before. "If you think you—"
"You will let me finish, Quinn Fabray!" Rachel demanded with such force that Quinn reared back and was stunned into silence. "So help me, I will get this off my chest."
Quinn nodded, thoroughly silenced.
"You say you did all of this because of my disrespect to you? I was standing up for myself! I was standing up for my friend! God, I was so so mad at you!" Rachel stomped her foot to emphasize her point. "Mad at you, and everything you seemed to stand for. I was terrified of you! Terrified of just what you could do with all that power you seemed to throw around so carelessly. I wanted to leave Dalton Academy and never come back! As a matter of fact," She adjusted her knitted cap forcefully against a particularly strong gust of wind. "I didn't even want to come to Dalton in the first place because of you! Because of the F3! Because of what the F3 did to that boy, Finn Hudson…"
Finn Hudson, Kurt Hummel's half brother, son of Burt Hummel and Carole Hudson-Hummel. His Red Card was incurred by Santana's wrath, not her own. An ill-timed insult to Brittany's intelligence sealed his fate, and truthfully, Quinn was not concerned about him. Rachel, however...
"And then," Rachel's voice lowered to a normal volume after a lengthy pause, interrupting Quinn's thoughts. "There was that day I was hit with the volleyball and you...you tried to help me clean myself up. And the day you kissed me at Gershwin's? I didn't—I had no idea what to feel. At Holly—Franny's party, I saw you watching me that night. I saw the look of concern on your face when Sam helped me out of the pool those awful girls pushed me in. I didn't want to believe it. Something at the back of my mind told me that there might be something more to Quinn Fabray than just being bully. It was that look on your face that pushed me to..." Rachel's voice lowered to a whisper. "I kissed you."
Quinn stood frozen on the spot as Rachel took a step forward. "And that same night, I remember you carrying me into my home; you were so gentle. And you stayed by me to make sure that I was okay. This Quinn Fabray was nothing like the one I thought I despised. Don't get me wrong, this Quinn was still an obnoxious, ostentatious, heiress." Rachel chuckled humorlessly. "But this Quinn…" Rachel peered down at her shoes. "This Quinn seemed so much easier to forgive. I told myself, 'I can forgive her if she would just apologize. If she would just admit that what she did to me was awful, I would…" Rachel fell silent.
After a long pause, Quinn finally murmured, "You would what?"
Rachel shrugged her shoulders, refusing to finish her statement. "Don't think for a moment that you're the first bully I've ever encountered, because you are not. And I can guarantee you that you will not be the last, Quinn."
A wave of protectiveness swept over Quinn at Rachel's words. She would be the last bully if she could help it.
"However, I'm the first me you've ever encountered. I am an anomaly, something different. Someone who was not afraid to stand up to you. I told myself that whatever...things you may be feeling towards me would pass as boredom struck, then things would go back to normal. But...I realized that I didn't like that feeling at all! And then you asked, no you demanded that I show up here—which, the way you did that was completely unacceptable, by the way. And the stubborn part of me did not want to give you the time of day. The stubborn part of me...did not want to face whatever this meant, because the stubborn part of me was...is not quite ready to forgive you yet. At least not until there is meaningful change in your behavior."
Rachel seemed to deflate at the end of her lengthy speech, her energy spent in a flurry of emotions. "I guess my point is," She sighed. " I want to start over and...we should try to be friends. But all I really want is a simple, genuine apology before that could happen. Before anything could happen."
Rachel finally lifted her gaze from her shoes to Quinn's face, but then her eyes widened in shock. "Quinn?" She moved to take a step forward, but then hesitated. "Are you...are those tears?"
Quinn's eyes widened as her hand shot to her own cheek, and sure enough, her fingers came away with a surprising amount of moisture. She could not stop the gasp that escaped her lips, and quickly used her other hand to try to wipe the remaining tears away. How had she been crying without even realizing it?
"I'm not...I didn't…" Quinn did not even know where to begin. Her emotions were in a whirlwind thanks to Rachel's outburst. A sniffle that was not her own interrupted her thoughts. She swiped a palm over her eyes to clear her vision, only to see Rachel mirroring her actions. "Now why are you crying?" Quinn questioned in disbelief, stamping the urge to cross into Rachel's personal space and wipe away her tears herself. "You shouldn't be crying."
Rachel let out a strange mix of a choke and a laugh, followed by another sniffle. "I know I'm not supposed to be crying, but did you hear my speech? My acting class instructor would be pleased that I moved even the coldest person to tears."
Quinn huffed a sound of disbelief. "Seriously?"
"Honestly, Quinn?" Rachel tugged at the ends of her hair. "This is something that I've been carrying around for a long time. Just saying the words weren't enough for me, apparently."
A long silence settled between them, broken only by the occasional sniffle from both Rachel and herself. A cold wind swept over the rooftop causing the two of them to instinctively move closer to one another, now only inches apart. The chill that remained from the rain earlier that evening reminded Quinn that she had not fully recovered from her three and half hour wait for Rachel.
Quinn knew that she deserved it, regardless.
"I'm sorry, Rachel." She whispered, causing Rachel's eyes to widen in shock.
"Don't…" Rachel gaze dropped to the ground. "Don't say it if you don't mean it. Please don't."
Quinn felt a wave of irritation and immediately cupped Rachel's chin to lift her gaze back to her own. She wanted Rachel confident in her own words. "I mean it." Quinn stated firmly. "I owe you an apology for the way that I treated you." Quinn paused to choose her words carefully. Even though she regretted what she had done to Rachel, she wasn't nearly as forgiving to the rest of her peers. "The way you were treated by me was undeserved and my actions towards you...they were uncalled for." She finally released her grip on Rachel's chin after gaining confidence that she would hold her gaze on her own.
"Brittany told me that I wouldn't see those boys again. Do I—" Rachel whispered, still tugging at her hair. "Do I want to know what you did to them?"
"Rachel, you have to know. I did not ask them to—they went far beyond what I—"
"I know. And I believe you Quinn."
"They were idiots." Quinn hissed with narrowed eyes. "So my answer to you is no, you don't want to know what I did to them. And for the record, I should not have asked anything of them in the first place. I put you in a terrible situation and…" Quinn clenched her fists at the memory of that incident. "I take full responsibility for that. I'm so sorry, Rachel."
Quinn watched as Rachel paused, perhaps contemplating the legitimacy of her apology. When she finally nodded her head in acceptance, Quinn released a breath that she did not realize she was holding in. The look of contemplation did not leave Rachel, however, and Quinn watched in bemusement as an internal debate played across her features.
She had had never seen anyone quite so expressive.
"So…" Rachel started, her shoes seemed to be much more interesting than whatever she had to say. "Are we friends?"
"Yes." Quinn answered carefully, still not quite content with the limitations of that title, but grateful for it nonetheless.
"And friends...they hug, don't they?"
Quinn felt her arms twitch in anticipation at the question. "I believe that is in the criteria, yes."
"I'm going to hug you now." Rachel warned. And before Quinn could respond, she was stepping in and wrapping her arms around Quinn's waist.
Quinn stiffened as an initial reaction even though the hug was expected. But when her arms wound themselves around Rachel's shoulders and her added warmth began to seep into Quinn's clothing, she wondered why she would ever be uncomfortable with this in the first place. She inhaled deeply, suddenly feeling relaxed, and unconsciously pulled Rachel flush against her body. Neither made any move to release the other. Quinn sniffled before she realized what she had done.
"Quinn." Rachel murmured against Quinn's shoulder. "You're still crying."
She was not crying. Crying was messy, undignified. Quinn had tears in her eyes; elegant tears, there was a difference. But she still was not quite sure why moisture continued to gather at the corner of her eyes. Perhaps she was just mentally exhausted. "Fabray's do not cry."
"You're ridiculous," Rachel huffed. "And annoyingly pompous."
A small smile spread across her features. "You're over-dramatic and annoyingly opinionated."
"This friendship is going to be disastrous."
Quinn hummed in agreement against Rachel's temple. "But only because I can't exactly kiss you to get you to stop talking, can I?" Quinn froze the moment she let the words slip out of her mouth and moved to release herself from Rachel, but Rachel's grip tightened around her waist.
"No," Rachel shifted her upper body so that her eyes met Quinn's. " I guess you can't."
This time, Quinn froze for an entirely different reason. She could not quite stop her eyes from darting to Rachel's lips before focusing back on her gaze. And she could not quite stop the small amount of thrill that shot through her when she watched as Rachel did the same. Rachel, to Quinn's disappointment, pulled completely out of the embrace after several tense moments just as Tivoli's clock tower chimed in the distance.
"It feels late." A worried look crossed Rachel's features as she began to dig into the pockets of her jacket. "Do you happen to have the time, Quinn? I cannot seem to find my phone."
"Yes, of course." Quinn frowned at her current lack of warmth as she dug into her coat pocket. "It is…" When she finally fished out her phone, she was met only by the dim reflection of herself from the string of lights along the rooftop railing. She tried her power button several times before she concluded that it had no power. "My battery is out…"
Rachel's brow line scrunched in confusion as she began to search with more urgency. "Maybe I left it downstairs or...maybe in the car...". Rachel muttered to herself as she made her way towards the rooftop door. "And it's freezing up here!" She clutched the collar of her jacket at the sudden gust of wind. Quinn fared no better, and she was just as eager to get back to the warmth of the surprisingly quaint coffee shop, even with Rachel's scarf wrapped snug around her neck.
Once Rachel finally reached the door, Quinn watched in confusion as Rachel tugged once, twice, then three times on the handle of the door.
"Um, Quinn? I don't think...I can't open the door."
Quinn huffed, amusement playing across her features and she strode forward to stand by Rachel's side. Wordlessly, she shouldered Rachel until she stepped back, allowing Quinn full control of the door handle.
She pulled once, twice, then three times. The door did not budge. Quinn's second and third attempts fared no better.
"I told you." Rachel uttered smartly. "I think it's stuck."
"It...doesn't...feel...stuck." Quinn's words interspersed with her tugging. "I think it's locked."
"Absolutely not!" Rachel shouldered Quinn out of the way to have her hand at the door once again. They would not lock us up here. People know that we're up here, right?
"Of course they wouldn't. They're not idiots."
Quinn was hit with the realization that if there was a chance that the door was indeed locked, both her and Rachel would be stuck—without access to their phones—in the cold until one of the insolent workers who locked them up there in the first place, came to unlock the door in the morning. Rachel seemed to be thinking along the same lines.
They gave each other a panicked glance and began to bang on the door in tandem.
Their panicked state lasted for several minutes, each taking turns at trying and yelling for anyone to come unlock the door. They both made a lap around the rooftop, searching for a way down. But the five story building was much more intimidating to Quinn than she would admit, and its fire escape was so severely rusted that she was sure that it would not end well for either of them if they tried to climb down it. She made a silent note to do everything in her power to get this hazardous building with moronic employees, shutdown. And it was only a matter of time until she and Rachel began to turn on each other out of pure frustration.
"I would not be surprised if you did this, you know." Rachel huffed with her hands stuffed deep into her pockets. It seemed to be getting colder by the minute. "You did kidnap me. What would stop you from purposely locking us up here? How convenient is it that I don't have my phone and yours is dead."
Quinn rolled her eyes at the memory. "You knocked yourself out, remember? And do you think I would do something this stupid? It's freezing up here. How do I know this isn't something crazy you thought up? It was your brilliant idea to come up here in the first place."
They continued to bicker throughout their meaningless effort to get downstairs from the rooftop, though Quinn noticed something about the way their communication had shifted. The underlying bitterness was gone, and their quips held a sense of playfulness that was not quite there before. She understood that despite their 'fresh' start, trust would need to be built upon this friendship, but the lack of heaviness from their past interactions felt...nice. Quinn had to wonder if Rachel had really forgiven her, though. But only because if Quinn had been in a similar position, she would not be so kind.
"I'm going to be in so much trouble." Rachel breathed as she collapsed onto the concrete floor. Both of their fists were red from hitting the door, and their voices raw from their calls for help. Quinn followed and settled closely beside her.
"You were grounded." Quinn deduced.
Rachel nodded in confirmation.
Rachel's father, Hiram, did not seem very happy at the state she was brought home after Franny's welcome home party, after all. And although Quinn never had that punishment herself, she understood that there were consequences if such a punishment was broken. She tried not to think about the fact she could never picture her own mother worrying for her like that. "And we're stuck up here until someone can come unlock the door."
"I'm going to be in so much trouble." Rachel repeated with a sigh.
A comfortable silence settled between them as Quinn took in the admittedly beautiful view of the city. Though she would never tell Rachel outright, the view from the top floor of the Fabray Enterprises building in New York City held a much more breathtaking sight; she wondered if Rachel would be interested in appreciating it one day.
Quinn caught herself wondering a lot about Rachel Berry these days.
"Hey, Quinn?" Rachel murmured, unable to meet her eyes.
Quinn faced her silently.
"I'm...I'm pretty cold, to be honest."
"So am I." Quinn observed Rachel for a moment, then shifted to observe her surroundings. "There's a slight incline towards the edge of the roof. If we sit against the wall beneath the railing...maybe it will help to cut out some of the wind. It doesn't look too damp either."
Rachel nodded, rubbing her hands together. "We might be stuck up here for a while."
Quinn hummed. "Maybe even until the morning." She tilted her head curiously when Rachel began to gnaw at her bottom lip. "What is it?"
"I've read somewhere that...well...if people are trapped in poor weather conditions…" Rachel rubbed her hands with more force. "Body heat helps to stave off….hypothermia." She finished lamely.
Slightly annoyed and somehow charmed by her nervousness, Quinn settled a hand over Rachel's, stilling her movement. But then Rachel's words sunk in, and her mind felt as though it were hit by a jolt electricity. There were several blissful moments of emptiness where a single thought did not cross her mind. But just as quickly, it felt as if a generator began to turn the delicate cogs of her brain and all of her thoughts began to flood at once.
All thoughts of just what Rachel meant by her words just moments before.
Her body reacted much more quickly than her thoughts, however, indicated by the contraction of the core muscles that felt ridiculously like butterflies, and the rapid thud of her heart against her ribcage.
"Is—" Quinn swallowed several times in order to buy time to organize her thoughts. Her, hand, still settled over Rachel's, unconsciously tightened. "Is that right?"
"Yes," Rachel nodded quickly. "Dad—Leroy, he's obsessed with survival television shows. Together, we've picked up quite a bit of knowledge of what to do in situations such as this one..."
As Rachel continued to ramble, Quinn's thoughts began to solidify once more. There were several things that she was still attempting to process, but Rachel's body heat suggestion took the forefront. And Quinn, no matter how muddled her state of mind, was never one to miss a perfect opportunity when it presented itself.
"Come here." Quinn interrupted quietly as she stood, shifting her hand to grip one of Rachel's in order to help her off the ground. They moved quickly towards the edge of the roof, and Quinn settled herself on the cold concrete against the wall. When Rachel didn't immediately follow she raised an eyebrow. "Well?"
Rachel shuffled her feet. "W-Which side? Should I—"
Quinn huffed and opened her arms expectantly. She blamed her most recent short circuit for her lowered inhibitions. And truthfully, Quinn as far too tired of fighting herself to over-think her actions.
Quinn also suspected that she was beginning to develop a fever.
Rachel's hesitation caused a slight waver in Quinn's outstretched arms and she bit back her growl of irritation at her own insecurity. "It was your idea, wasn't it?"
"We're friends now, right?" Quinn let out a sigh as she lowered her arms.
Rachel paused. "...yes."
"You're cold, I'm freezing. And you're the one that suggested that we…" Quinn sighed. "Friend's don't let each other freeze to death, right?"
Rachel nodded mutely.
"So," Quinn extended her arms once more and repeated firmly. "Come here."
"Quinn?" She heard Rachel whisper against her neck. But she had pretended to even out her breathing just moments before. Quinn truly just wanted to relish holding Rachel flush against her in silence, even if the circumstances were not to her liking. She felt Rachel shiver and shift impossibly closer towards her when yet another cold wind swept over the rooftop.
"Good. You're asleep." Rachel shifted her body weight and began to toy with the ends of Quinn's hair. "Asking for friendship...this is good." She felt Rachel nod against her neck and felt her fingers trail to the lapels of her coat. "It's for the best."
Quinn wasn't quite sure if her shiver was from the cold or from Rachel's gentle touch. She hoped that Rachel assumed the former.
"The truth is," Rachel sighed. "I can't like you. I mean I—" Rachel began to finger the buttons on Quinn's coat. "I'm not ready to like you, Quinn."
Quinn's curiosity and the sensation of Rachel's fingertips could no longer allow her to falsify her sleep. "Explain."
Rachel huffed. "I knew you weren't sleeping."
"I'm waiting for your explanation."
She felt Rachel take a deep breath. "You…you are you, Quinn Fabray. And I am me, Rachel Berry."
Rachel adjusted herself to peer up at Quinn curiously. "How typical would that be? We are a living, breathing, literary trope. I am the 'poor commoner' who falls for the 'wealthy, uncouth, bachelor'. Or in your case 'bachelorette' I suppose."
Quinn felt herself scoff out loud before she could help it. "We are not just some trope." She murmured. "I am Quinn Fabray, and you…" Quinn felt her fingers squeeze Rachel's waist. "And you are Rachel Berry."
Another chill swept the rooftop as Rachel's grip on Quinn tightened. "You're oversimplifying things a bit, aren't you?"
"Yes." Quinn paused. She was oversimplifying things. But only to fend off the repeat of the mild panic attack she had just a few hours earlier. Keeping it simple kept herself from over-thinking the warm feeling of Rachel tucked and curled tightly within her grip. "…and no. I also refuse to allow myself to be compared to some hackneyed romance novel."
They both fell silent, their bodies taking in as much warmth as possible from each other in order to fight off the cold. Quinn's breathing began to even as she felt her body become heavy with sleep despite the chilly rooftop. Something at the back of her mind warned her that this was not a good thing, but she was far too exhausted to fight for alertness.
"You want this to be our story," Quinn felt more than heard Rachel mutter against her neck. "And no one elses."
Quinn did not quite know if she responded to the statement before her world went black.
A/N: Hi all. I don't have much to say, but I do thank you very very much for your patience. Your interest in this story means so much to me, and I appreciate every review, favorite and follow. Words can't explain how much I do.
Until next time,