A/N: In case it's not clear, this starts the summer after Quinn's first year of vet school. I think I'll update a couple times a week, but we'll see how it goes. Thank you for reading!
Still off the Key of Reason
Chapter 1: Eyes the Size of Baby Worlds
"Hippos are born underwater."
Rachel never forgot that. It was the only thing running through her mind as she stood with her fathers, preparing to walk down the aisle to join her bride. She peeked around the tree line at the small crowd of friends and family. They sat in small white chairs, soaking up the sun, probably overheating, but Rachel didn't really care at the moment.
As long as the lovely woman standing at the head of the aisle was smiling, Rachel was happy.
She was about to get married. Hippos probably shouldn't be at the forefront of her mind.
She'd already tripped over her flowy, white dress twice. Her fathers looped their arms through both of hers, so now she could dangle freely like a toddler if she fell again. She was tempted to do it, just because she was sort of out of her mind at the moment, but then she remembered she was an adult.
Adults don't do that, Rachel.
"I think it's probably really scary. When you're just a little hippo and you have to get out of the water where you were born."
God. Fucking focus.
Quinn probably wasn't having these thoughts. No. She would be thinking about polar bears prancing down the aisle, or wishing she could break away from the ceremony for a minute to frolic with the butterflies around them in Central Park's Conservatory Garden.
Leroy nudged Rachel's side, and she looked up at him with a frantic smile. She'd gone full circle crazy during this whole wedding planning process, rounding multiple bends and dips, and then landing right back where she'd started. Crazy with Quinn. Crazy like Quinn. And for Quinn and all about Quinn.
Rachel took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. She gave up on trying to stop her face from smiling like a fool.
This was happening. Right now.
The music started to play, and Rachel's fathers guided her around the tree line, grinning proudly, heads held high. Rachel staggered as soon as the ceremony came into view. Almost internally. That kind of feeling when your ankles almost give out and you feel like you're about to die, but you right yourself immediately and nobody else even notices.
Rachel was seconds away from collapsing into a heap, but she strode smoothly on.
Her gaze was locked onto the woman at the end of the aisle. Her fluffy blonde hair was tamed for once, and pinned neatly into place. She wore a mid-length white dress and a huge, adoring smile, and she was rocking back and forth on her heels excitedly, fingers tapping her thighs.
Rachel didn't register the smiles on her friends' faces, or the tears that her fathers were trying to stifle. She didn't the notice the four dogs sitting off to the side wearing matching tuxedos, or the one black and white dog chewing his way out of his attire and spinning around like a psychopath.
All thoughts of baby hippos were long gone. Rachel focused on her bear instead.
Her fathers kissed her cheeks when they reached the end of the aisle, and Rachel handed her bouquet to Santana and stepped in front of Quinn.
Looking up at her bride was like staring at the sun. Rachel had to keep blinking her eyes.
Also, it was insanely hot outside.
"You're the most beautiful person I've ever seen." Quinn whispered.
Rachel smiled and flushed, and Quinn looked pleased with herself. Rachel took Quinn's hands to stop her shifting and tapping.
She really did try to listen to whatever the minister was saying. But Quinn's face was shining with the intensity of a thousand suns, and Rachel's face was hurting from smiling so she just tumbled off the tracks and got lost in hazel eyes instead.
"Love you big bear." She mouthed.
Quinn bounced slightly on her feet.
When the minister fell silent, Rachel realized it was time for her vows. Her mind was blank. Or it was so full that she'd pushed the vows out. Rachel's eyes widened and her mind reeled.
She couldn't stop staring at Quinn's eyes. They were sucking her back in.
She was an actress. She should remember her goddamned vows.
Rachel shut her eyes for a second, and was wholly unprepared for the words that came rushing back to her as soon as the contact with Quinn's face was broken. She took a deep breath and met Quinn's gaze. Quinn reached out a hand and brushed it along Rachel's jaw.
Rachel wondered how long she'd been silent. She needed to speak. She briefly registered some kind of animal whining in the background.
Good start. Very good start. Rachel's lips quirked up when Quinn hummed.
"You're a light in the world. A wonderful light that I get to call my own." Rachel said slowly. "You radiate joy and kindness every single day. Even when the world doesn't deserve it from you. And all you ask for in return is a smile, or a few nice words. You've given me hope that there truly are good, happy people out there, who only wish to make the world a better place."
Quinn rocked happily back on her heels before Rachel stilled her again.
"You're an odd one, silly bear." Rachel proclaimed with a chuckle. She heard quiet laughter from their friends standing around them. And that dog whining loudly.
If they could get through this wedding without Cornelius ruining it, it would be a success.
"It means the world to me that I get to keep you." Rachel continued, gazing up at Quinn fondly. "So I vow to love you. More than myself. More than the stage and the animals. More than anything. I vow to swim with the dolphins with you, and I vow to visit all the lions and bears you want. "
Quinn's eyes lit up even further and Rachel grinned.
"I'll hold your hand when you're scared, and slow you down when your world spins away and words evade you. I will raise the most beautiful children with you, and, even when we're eighty years old, I vow to make you all the macaroni and cookies you can eat."
Quinn's breathing was coming more shallowly, and Rachel leaned forward so her face was only a few inches away. "Love you so much, big bear." She whispered.
Rachel hoped Puck was recording this because she wouldn't remember any of it tomorrow. Or in five seconds. She couldn't remember writing the vows, and she'd already forgotten speaking them.
Where the fuck was she?
She was marrying Quinn Fabray.
Rachel glanced at the guys standing behind Quinn. Sam was grinning broadly, mouth open wide. Kurt was crying into a handkerchief and Blaine was rubbing his back soothingly. Puck stood off to the side filming the ceremony with a new video camera.
Maybe the old one had finally spontaneously combusted.
Quinn was swaying side to side, excitedly, or because she was about to pass out, Rachel didn't know. She reached up and softly tweaked Quinn's ear to give her something to focus on.
Quinn shut her eyes for a second and took a deep breath.
Rachel heard the dog whining again. Somebody needed to remove Cornelius from the premises.
"Rachel." Quinn said, a little bit louder than necessary. She shook her head around and Rachel tugged on her hand because Quinn would mess up her hair.
How long had she been standing at this altar? Seven years?
"I-first, I love you more than anything in the world." Quinn began, gazing down into Rachel's eyes. "And today…I get to make you mine. Forever."
Quinn's lips quirked as she said this. She looked pleased. Like she'd succeeded at dominating the world.
"And I still can't believe it. I'll never believe it. Because-because…You're my favorite thing. The best thing. So today, I promise you the world. Because you deserve it. I promise that I'll dance like a fool for you. I'll-I'll hug you when you cry, and kiss you when you laugh. I'll watch musicals all night when you're sick, and-and I will stand right next to you when people-people are mean."
Rachel's eyes were blurring, but she kept them locked with Quinn's. Quinn was rocking on her heels even more now.
"I-I promise I'll let you-you can-I- I'll-we-"
Rachel squeezed Quinn's hands. She mouthed "slow down," and Quinn took a deep breath. Rachel smiled at her fondly.
"I promise…I'll let you mess up my hair and-and call me clumsy and throw marshmallows at me over breakfast, because I know you do it out of love. So much love." Quinn said slowly. "And when we're old, like elephants, and we move slowly and roll in the mud and eat nothing but chocolate pudding, I will love you as much as I do at this moment."
Rachel probably would end up rolling in some mud. If she was crazy now, then eighty year old Rachel would be off the fucking tracks.
She focused on trying not to cry. Or trying not to sob, because tears were already falling from her eyes. There was a chorus of sniffling from her bridesmaids behind her, but she didn't dare turn around.
Quinn leaned in closer. "I love you so much, little bear. And if-if you live to be one hundred, I hope I live to be one hundred minus a day, so I never have to live without you."
There it was. The Pooh Bear quote Rachel was waiting for.
Her face was about to break open with all the emotion she was holding inside. Quinn wiped a few tears away, and then stepped closer so that her toes touched Rachel's. She smiled down at her like they weren't being watched by twenty people.
"Can we have the rings, please?" The minister asked.
Unless Cornelius had them in his mouth, yeah. Sam stepped forward and handed them over, winking at Quinn when he went back to his spot.
Quinn didn't notice.
Rachel's hands were far too shaky to slide a ring onto somebody else's fingers. Especially when that somebody's fingers were shakier than her own. It felt like she was defusing a bomb. In an earthquake. During a seizure. Her throat was closing up. It was nerve-wracking.
Rachel stared in awe at the gold band on Quinn's slender finger when she finally got it on. Quinn slid Rachel's on, and then picked up her hand and kissed it. And then she kissed her bride.
Either Rachel had missed the cue from the minister, or Quinn hadn't bothered waiting. Either way, Quinn's lips slid softly against Rachel's. It was like they were back at Coney Island. Except Quinn's tongue wasn't blue, and she didn't taste like Fruit Roll-Ups.
She tasted like Peppermint Pattie, because that was Quinn's idea of a breath mint.
Rachel put a hand on the back of Quinn's neck and stood on her tip-toes, tilting her head and opening her mouth further.
It was her first kiss with her wife, and she was going to do it right.
Their first dance was to Dean Martin's "In the Misty Moonlight." It was a classic. When Rachel was a kid, she'd put Dino on and dance around her room with her stuffed animals. Singing along of course. All the wrong words.
Some things never change.
Now Quinn sang quietly with her as they swayed around the dance floor.
"In the misty moonlight, by the flickering firelight, any place is alright, long as you are there."
Quinn was deepening her voice comically to try and match Dino's, and Rachel was laughing into her shoulder. Quinn took the opportunity to spin her around, and the couples around the dance floor applauded before joining in. Sam was the first to saunter out, Barnaby as his partner.
Cornelius had been allowed into the reception, and he could be seen bouncing around peoples' legs wearing half a tuxedo and frosting on his face.
Rachel found that people seemed to lose control of themselves at wedding receptions. Herself included. But she didn't come with a lot of restraint to begin with.
Quinn was bouncing around the stage doing the "Party Rock" dance to "Sexy and I Know It," and Rachel was right next to her, jumping up and down and yelling "wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah" at all the wrong times.
"You're such a good dancer, baby." Quinn remarked breathlessly, slinging an arm around Rachel's shoulders when the song ended. Rachel couldn't be bothered to determine if it was sarcastic or not, but she happily agreed.
She was a fucking star.
"Karaoke time!" Kurt yelled when the song ended. He climbed up onto the stage as Quinn helped Rachel down. Blaine and Puck followed, Cloud in tow.
Rachel worked on scraping together some semblance of self-control now that she was back on level ground, following around her gorgeous wife, whose dress clung to every curve perfectly.
Quinn led Rachel over to the wedding party's table where Brittany, Santana, Tina, and Sam were seated. Rachel tried to regain her bearings after that performance. She'd turned into one of those inflatable arm-flailing monsters during the "wiggles."
She looked around and focused on the food table. Anything to take her mind off of Quinn's hot hand on her shoulder and the lean legs she could see under the table.
"Do you want cake or cookies, baby?" She asked Quinn, playing with the fingers on her shoulder.
Quinn smiled at her, cheeks flushed from dancing. Rachel tried to pat her fluffy, blonde hair down. It'd come undone as soon as they'd said "I do."
"Yes, please." Quinn nodded, completely serious.
"Or." Rachel repeated right away, smiling. "Pick one."
Quinn scrunched up her face like it was such a horrible thing to make her choose. Rachel knew she was playing. And mocking. Tina and Sam watched with amusement.
"Cake or cookies." Rachel emphasized, shoving Quinn's shoulder lightly.
"Yes. Please. Rachel." Quinn said slowly, keeping a straight face.
Rachel tilted forward and kissed her, ignoring the groan from Santana.
"It's their wedding, dude. Leave 'em be." Sam defended amicably. Then he took a big bite of something and choked. Quinn pulled back to see what it was. And if she could have some.
Tina clapped Sam on the back.
Brittany stood up abruptly and clapped her hands to try to get everybody's attention. Santana tugged on her arm and handed her a glass and a fork. Which was much more effective. At making a huge mess.
Santana moved away from the broken glass and pretended like that hadn't just happened.
"Alright." She said, spinning around to make sure all eyes were on her. "As Berry's maid of honor, I have something to say. Because I have to say something, apparently."
Rachel rolled her eyes.
"I've known Rachel since high school. She's always been a tiny person with a huge voice and eyes the size of planets." Santana made a few hand gestures with her fists to emphasize. "She used to go out with that giant over there."
Finn raised a hand and grinned when Santana pointed at him. Brittany waved back.
"Now…Berry's always been one of the good ones. With a heart even bigger than her Jupiter-sized eyes."
Quinn leaned into Rachel's side and kissed right at the corner of her eye, leaving cake frosting in her wake.
"And then she met little miss sunshine, this weirdo over here. Who has a heart made of puppies, and a brain made of encyclopedias and cotton candy."
Rachel nodded along. That was accurate. Cornelius came skipping up to her side with one of the plastic cake-toppers in his mouth.
"Not gonna lie, I thought Q was a killer the first time I met her, and that I'd be called down to identify Rachel's body because of her psycho roommate."
Well this was a lovely speech.
"But…they twisted up their giant eyes and puppy hearts and created one huge, disgusting ball of love, which I am witness to almost every day." Santana heaved a sigh like she was in pain. "Quinn, Rachel, what you have is sickening. Your love makes me want to vomit all the time. But it's freaking heartwarming."
Santana held up her glass, but mumbled her last sentences so that Rachel barely hear them. "And it is fun seeing you so happy. To the Berry-Fabrays, we wish you the best."
Rachel cheered loudly. Sam whooped from across the table.
"That was very nice of you, Santana." Rachel said once she put her glass back down.
Santana glared at her from across the table. "Never again."
Rachel smiled innocently. "But you're so sweet. Like a blob of cookie dough."
Quinn put a hand on Rachel's thigh and leaned over to catch her eye. "We have that here, right?" she asked excitedly. A cookie dough meerkat.
Who the fuck would serve raw cookie dough at a wedding reception? Rachel pictured the Pillsbury dough boy getting married. Maybe to someone like Aunt Jemima. Or Little Debbie. Cookies, syrup, and Ho-Hos. They could be Quinn's family.
But God, of course there was cookie dough at Quinn's wedding reception. Rachel pointed it out, and Sam went to get some for Quinn. At the same time that Kurt, Blaine, Puck, and Cloud broke into an unnaturally and scarily high-pitched Bee-Gees medley.
Rachel's dads danced their way over during "Stayin' Alive." They bent over in front of Quinn to catch their breath, hands on their knees. Maybe they were a little too old to have disco fever. Maybe wedding receptions shouldn't turn into disco parties.
"Quinn, we would like to take this opportunity to officially welcome you to the family." Hiram proclaimed once he'd straightened back up.
Rachel grinned and watched Quinn's face.
"We've considered you our other daughter for a while now," Leroy said, putting one hand on Rachel's head and the other on Quinn's, "but tonight, you become a Berry. And there is no escaping now."
Quinn shook her head vigorously. Rachel chuckled.
She had Quinn in her trap and was never letting go.
"We've dreamed about the father-daughter dance at Rachel's wedding for twenty-six years now." Hiram continued. Quinn watched him, gaze unwavering. Rachel strapped her god damn heels back on to her feet.
She was ready for this. Her dads might pass out halfway through, but she was ready.
"So, lovely daughters, disco with us?" Hiram asked, holding out a hand for Quinn. Leroy held his out for Rachel. Maybe "Disco Inferno" wasn't the most traditional song for the father-daughter dance, but maybe it was perfect. Rachel and Quinn were far from traditional.
Rachel took her dad's hand, laughing at the "John Travolta" he did all the way out to the dance floor. She spun around to see Hiram teaching Quinn the same moves. Rachel caught her wife's eye with a smile and joined in.
"It was so entertainin' when the boogie started to explode, I heard somebody say,
Burn, baby, burn! Disco inferno. Burn, baby, burn! Burn that motha down."
It was nice to be back in New York after a year in California. Even if it was only for a week for the wedding. Rachel had missed the Carnegie apartment. She'd missed the bright lights and tall buildings, and her Broadway-decorated office. Guest mentoring at Davis was fun, but it wasn't home.
"We're home!" Quinn proclaimed, flinging open the front door but grabbing Rachel's shoulder before she could walk through.
"I have to carry you over the threshold." Quinn explained, lips quirked up but eyes serious.
Rachel was wary. They were both tipsy and weak from dancing. Quinn let the dogs inside and then turned to scoop up Rachel.
"Don't drop me." Rachel warned with a smile, squealing when Quinn took her legs out from under her. She wrapped her arms around Quinn's neck, and Quinn edged them through the door before kicking it shut.
Quinn started humming as soon as they were fully inside.
"Yellow cab, gypsy cab, dollar cab, holla back, for foreigners it ain't for, they act like they forgot how to act, eight million stories out there and they're naked."
Quinn bounced around the living room with Rachel in her arms, and Rachel slapped her in the shoulder lightly. "Bear, stop singing. Take me to bed."
Quinn changed direction but sang even louder. "Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do!"
Rachel buried her face in Quinn's neck so that if she was dropped, at least it would be a surprise. She felt Quinn swerve and looked up to find them in the kitchen.
"Quinn." She chided.
"I need water." Quinn explained, panting like she'd been traipsing through the desert.
Rachel reached out and grabbed a bottle. "Anything else?"
Quinn shuffled over to the cookie jar and angled Rachel's body. "Cookies for energy, please."
Rachel rolled her eyes, but took two cookies and put one in Quinn's open mouth. She could feel herself slipping so she put an arm back around Quinn's neck and hummed for her to hurry up.
Quinn tilted her face to the ceiling so her cookie wouldn't fall out of her mouth, and then thundered out of the kitchen and down the hallway to the bedroom. It was like being on a roller coaster. A very unsafe roller coaster that made Rachel feel like she was about to be flung to her death.
Quinn set Rachel down right next to the bed and turned to shut the door so the animals couldn't get in. She stuffed the rest of the cookie in her mouth, swallowed, and took a deep breath to settle herself down.
Rachel watched with a smile. Quinn eyed her from the door. She looked playful, because Quinn always looked playful. But her eyes were dark. Rachel knew that look. She stood still and waited for Quinn to saunter up to her.
Quinn rested her hands lightly on Rachel's hips. "You're my wife." She stated quietly.
Rachel chuckled. "Yes, I am."
"You're going to spend the rest of your life with me."
Rachel nodded, wrapping her arms around Quinn's waist. "Yes, I am."
Quinn's fingers played with the fabric of Rachel's dress. "You're going to swim with the dolphins with me on our honeymoon. And visit the big turtles again, and the zoo in Honolulu. And I'm going to get you endless mango smoothies because you love them."
Rachel hummed. "I do."
"You do." Quinn confirmed with a grin.
"So…what are you doing now?" Rachel asked curiously. Quinn hadn't moved, and Rachel's legs were about to give out. Who knew weddings were so fucking exhausting?
Quinn was silent for a moment. She ran her hands up and down Rachel's waist. "I'm…I'm going to lay you down."
Sounds interesting. Rachel could get on board with that.
Quinn ran her hands up Rachel's back and tilted her head down to capture her lips. Her nose nudged Rachel's cheek and Rachel leaned in to her.
"What next?" Rachel whispered. She was interested to see how far Quinn could get.
Quinn blinked. She leaned her forehead against Rachel's. "Well, I, um, skipped a step. First, we lose the dress. And then I'll lay you down."
Rachel chuckled and kissed Quinn's ear.
Quinn was using the husky voice she got when she was grumpy or tired. Or turned on. She grabbed Rachel's shoulders and turned her around gently, and then slowly undid the zipper on the back of the dress and let it fall to the floor.
Rachel heard Quinn swallow. She flushed and smiled.
"I-I have the most beautiful wife in the world." Quinn murmured.
Rachel blushed even further. She turned around, and Quinn's gaze settled on her bra-covered breasts before dragging up to her eyes.
"Your turn, baby." Rachel whispered. She wondered when they'd stopped talking at normal volumes.
Quinn turned around and let Rachel undo her dress. Rachel followed it as it slid to the floor, running her hands over the smooth, pale back and full hips. Then she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Quinn, leaving a few hot, open-mouthed kisses along her shoulders.
Quinn whined and spun around. She picked Rachel up so that Rachel's legs were wrapped around her waist, and shuffled them to the bed. Rachel moaned as soon as she fell back on it.
"God, bear, we need to take this bed to California with us."
Transporting a king-size mattress two thousand miles across the country shouldn't be that hard. They'd done it with eight animals without anybody dying.
"You don't like the one we have?" Quinn husked, climbing on top of Rachel, blonde hair falling around and obscuring her face. She managed to find her way to Rachel's lips, and she ran her tongue along the full lower one until Rachel let her in.
Had Quinn asked a question?
Rachel's hands snaked around Quinn's back and sought out the bra clasp. She undid it, and Quinn shimmied it off her shoulders without removing her mouth from Rachel's. Rachel rolled her body up for maximum contact, and then palmed both breasts, smiling when Quinn had to bury her face in the pillow next to Rachel's head to muffle her moan.
"You're getting crumbs everywhere." Rachel said thickly. Hadn't Quinn swallowed the cookie? How did she still manage to get crumbs on every surface she came into contact with?
"Mmmsorrmm." Quinn moaned.
Rachel took the opportunity to rub softly at the birth mark right below Quinn's breast. It was like the magic button. The key to make her girlfriend, her wife, fall apart. Or, one of many keys. Quinn was easily excitable. In every way.
Rachel could feel just how excited Quinn was, if the sensation on her thigh was any indication. Quinn lifted her hips up, balanced on her knees, like she knew exactly where Rachel was going. And what she was thinking.
Pssht. They were pros at this by now.
Rachel tugged Quinn's panties down her thighs, and Quinn shuffled until she could fling them off the bed. Literally, fling them, by the elastic like a slingshot as far as possible. It was a game Quinn liked to play. If there was a hamper nearby, she'd turn it into panty basketball.
Rachel lifted her hips up and allowed Quinn to do the same with hers. She shuddered at the first skin-on-skin contact. Quinn rid Rachel of her bra, and dove right in to playing with her favorite little toys. Licking, sucking, nipping. Quinn was always delighted by them.
When Quinn started grinding down onto Rachel's thigh, Rachel wasted no time in moving her hand to where Quinn wanted it most. The fact that her hand had a wedding ring on it was driving her over some kind of cliff.
"God, I love you, bear." Rachel whispered, just because she couldn't control herself. And she shouldn't, when that was the sentiment. Quinn deserved to have her world filled with "I love you."
"Mm. Love you t-too. So much." Quinn murmured as she started rocking in time with Rachel's hips.
Rachel couldn't get over the fact that this was her wife. Her wife with freezing cold reptile feet and choppy, fluffy hair, who loved gummy bears and fuzzy reindeer pajamas. Rachel stopped kissing along Quinn's jaw to look her in the eyes.
It was joy and delight and lust and happiness, and then euphoria and love. She remembered when she'd first seen those hazel eyes across the room. Three years ago. They had refused to meet her own and had focused on the dog instead.
God, how far they'd come.
Now they were locked on to Rachel's gaze. Rachel felt like she could read her mind. Stare into her soul. It should be unnerving, but…Quinn was her life now. Rachel knew everything about her.
Quinn's breathing slowed down and she tickled along Rachel's sides with a smile. "Again, little bear." She remarked happily, kissing Rachel's nose and rolling her over.
Rachel could have this every day for the rest of her life. That's what she was promised today. Because hippos are born underwater.