A/N: Happy Friday the 13th! Written in the middle of the night in a few hours because I was under the impression that the 13th was next Friday. Also, for that anon who was disappointed I didn't do one for Easter.
My Black Cats
Quinn wiped her hands on her pants, hoping the black streaks left behind would wash out. The paint was supposed to be washable, but she still had piles of tiny pink and purple clothes covered in splotches from finger-painting experiments gone wrong.
At least the paint wasn't toxic. Quinn had gotten enough in her mouth to prove that. Nobody should be eating this much paint.
But that's what happens when foolish, misguided people with four-year-old daughters decide to paint their faces like black cats for Friday the 13th.
Beth giggled. Quinn smiled down at her. Yes, mommy's legs looked like a tiger's now. Quinn crouched down and carefully painted on the last of Beth's whiskers.
"That feels funny." Beth said through her teeth, trying to keep her mouth completely still. Her cheeks still twitched, and Quinn paused and eyed her until she stopped.
"Almost done, sweetheart." Quinn assured slowly.
She leaned back a little bit and tilted her head to examine her work. She found herself staring at an adorable black cat with bright hazel eyes. Beth beamed at her. Her teeth stood out against the paint, and Quinn laughed. She'd probably gotten some in Beth's mouth as well.
Quinn trusted Crayola though. Who wouldn't? They provided her with her daily requirement of sixty-four-pack crayons. Crayons were essential in her life.
"Mommy, put my ears on." Beth demanded, swinging her legs lightly and bouncing on the bed.
"Please." Quinn chided. She stood up and held the ears by her side, looking pointedly at Beth.
Beth nodded excitedly. "Please, please, please!"
Quinn leaned over and kissed the top of Beth's head, chuckling when her daughter tried to slither away. She brushed the pale blonde hair behind Beth's ears and settled the cat-ear headband on her head.
Now they matched. Two black cats. One of them had tiger stripes on her jeans, and the other was wearing light pink pants.
They were terrifying. So ready to bring the bad luck.
Quinn startled at the knock on her apartment door. She lifted Beth off the bed and swung her around once before settling her on the floor. Beth laughed loudly. Freely. She skipped off to get her jacket because it was still freezing in Connecticut halfway through April.
Quinn swung open her front door, hand on her hip, listening to her daughter sing jovially and unintelligibly in the background.
She caught sight of Rachel Berry and, off-balance, tipped into the door. Luckily it crashed backwards into the wall and stopped Quinn from falling all the way over.
Rachel shrieked, almost under breath. It was like a quiet screech of terror. Her vocal cords had probably seized up.
"Rachel!" Quinn blurted when her feet were planted solidly on the ground again.
Rachel clutched her heart with one hand and her mouth with the other. Quinn watched as recognition and realization dawned in her big brown eyes.
No, a giant black cat had not opened the door for you, Rachel. It was a person. Believe it or not.
"Quinn." She breathed out, eyes large and serious. Her cheeks were flushed. From the cold or embarrassment or terror or anger, Quinn didn't know. "Don't do that."
Quinn smirked. She'd mostly regained control of her limbs. And luckily enough, her flush was hidden by the black paint. "What? Open my door?" she asked.
Rachel tried to glare at her. But her hair was ruffled and she was bright red and holding an overnight bag in her hand, so Quinn stepped forward and pulled her into a hug to greet her properly.
Rachel grunted unhappily, but seemed to decide that reciprocating Quinn's hug was more important than pretending to be angry. She wrapped her arms around Quinn tightly and hummed into her shoulder.
"What are you doing here?" Quinn queried, trying to avoid pressing her face into Rachel's hair. It was tempting. It smelled like a lovely spring garden, filled with berries and honey bees and lavender. It was very tempting. Quinn should receive an award.
"I thought I wouldn't see you again 'till summer in Lima." Quinn continued.
Rachel pulled back. She looked up at Quinn with a small smile. "Well. I know you like Friday the 13th. For some reason. Some very odd reason."
"Rachel." Quinn reached up to scratch her nose, but halted her hand halfway because of the paint. She scrunched up her nose instead. Rachel watched, amused.
"Really, Quinn. It's not a holiday by any means." Rachel said, waving her hands around vaguely. "It's a day where people walk around terrified and businesses lose money and people buy into asinine superstitions just because of the date. It's absolutely ridiculous."
Quinn hummed nonchalantly. "Yeah. I like it too."
Rachel couldn't seem to remove her eyes from Quinn's cat face. It was a nice cat face. Quinn didn't blame her. But it felt like the paint was tightening already and if she moved her face around much more, it would split in half.
"Mommy! Mommy, can we go now?" Beth cried, galloping up behind Quinn and pressing into the back of her legs.
Rachel made some kind of noise of delight and clasped her hands together in front of her jacket. Like she was afraid they'd fly out of control if she let them. Like they had a mind of their own. "Beth!" she exclaimed, clapping a little bit.
Beth twisted out from behind Quinn and blinked up at Rachel.
Quinn put a hand on her head. The ears were already crooked. Beth's blank face finally broke into a brilliant smile and she bulldozed past Quinn to wrap her arms around Rachel. Rachel crouched down hurriedly, toppled forward, and ended up just sitting on her legs and laughing into Beth's hair.
"Rachel!" Beth enthused. "Mommy, Rachel's here!"
Oh, is she? Is that who mommy was talking to for five minutes before Beth came barreling in? Good to know.
"Rachel, are you staying with us, Rachel?" Beth asked loudly. She sounded like she was pleading. "Rachel, are you coming to the haunted place with us?"
Okay. Quinn had forgotten how attached her lovely daughter was to the word "Rachel."
But really, it was a pretty nice word to be attached to.
"Haunted house?" Rachel gasped. She stood up and heaved Beth up with her, groaning exaggeratedly. Beth wrapped her arms around Rachel's neck and giggled loudly. "Quinn, are you sure that's appropriate? You're only-"
"It's an allegedly haunted theme park." Quinn interjected, rolling her eyes. "And it was Beth's idea. She just wanted to do something scary for Friday the 13th."
Beth nodded vigorously. Rachel saw this and joined her. They both stared at Quinn earnestly. "Oh, I know." Rachel assured. "Of course Beth will be fine. She's very brave. I just didn't want you to be scared."
Quinn's mouth dropped open. Beth was quiet for a second, processing what Rachel said, but then she tilted dangerously far back in Rachel's arms and laughed loudly, slapping Rachel lightly in the shoulder. Rachel's smirk changed to bewilderment at the fact that Beth was contorting out of her arms.
"I'll shut this door in your face, Berry." Quinn threatened, eyeing her daughter to make sure she wasn't dropped.
Rachel tightened her hold on Beth. "I have your daughter." She threatened.
Quinn shrugged. "No, that's someone's cat. I don't know where my little girl is."
Beth gasped and stopped trying to backflip out of Rachel's arms. "Mommy!"
Rachel's eyes widened as well. "Mommy!" she copied.
Surely all the paint on Quinn's face would wear off soon with the effort it was taking to contain her smile. Her muscles were exhausted. But she kept her mouth in a line and stared at the children outside her door.
"I will lock you out." She stated bluntly.
Rachel hummed. She shifted around and looked down at her bag and then up at Quinn, much less certainly than before. "I was…thinking I could stay with you for the weekend. I'm sorry; I would've called, but I wanted it to be a surprise, and-"
Quinn held up a hand and cut her off. She sighed exaggeratedly, picked up Rachel's overly heavy bag, and waved her inside. She felt electric. Super psyched for whatever this was. Ever since she'd caught sight of Rachel and toppled into the wall. But she kept all those feelings out of her face, mostly because it felt like she was Botoxed, and raised an eyebrow when Rachel didn't move.
"Rachel. She said yes." Beth said slowly, like one would speak to somebody learning how to read. Or learning the alphabet. Beth bounced in Rachel's arms and kicked her butt with her heel like a horse.
Rachel looked hopefully up at Quinn. "Really?" she asked quietly.
Quinn dropped her act and smiled warmly at her. "Of course. Come on."
Rachel's eyes lit up. She ducked her head and shuffled inside. Quinn went straight back to the bedroom and grabbed the black paint. There was no way she was going to be the only adult painted like a black cat today.
Twenty minutes later, Rachel dumped a plastic box of various beads and string on the table and declared that it was time to make lucky charms. If they were going to "an allegedly haunted theme park," they would need lucky charms. If only for fun, because she didn't believe in superstitions, of course.
Beth sat next to Rachel and Quinn sat across from them. She found herself focusing on Rachel's face instead of the plastic beads. Quinn's hands had been shaking when she'd painted on the whiskers, so those were a little stilted.
But seriously, she'd been an inch away from Rachel's face, warm, brown eyes tracking her every move. It was like defusing a bomb. Rachel was lucky that the pink paint for her nose hadn't ended up in her eyeball.
Fortunately, Quinn had managed to get enough black paint in her mouth to make up for that.
"What kind are you making, Rachel?" Beth asked loudly, kneeling in her chair and leaning her whole body over the table to examine the beads.
Quinn was worried she'd topple over and crack her head open. Quinn seemed to worry about that a lot. Beth was very into ill-timed acrobatics. Rachel glanced at Quinn, smiled slightly, and held her hands out to hover around Beth's waist, ready to catch her if she fell.
"I'm making one with green string and lots of little stars on it." Rachel explained, pointing out the beads to Beth.
Beth nodded earnestly. "I want one with stars too." She proclaimed.
Quinn tried not to roll her eyes. This was her daughter. She could be anything she wanted to be. Even if it was Rachel Berry.
Rachel helped Beth pick the stars out of the pile of beads and cut her some string. Quinn started on her own lucky bracelet. She did it sort of distractedly, partaking in the conversation about which of them looked scariest as a cat.
"Mommy." Beth said definitively.
Rachel hummed and shook her head, delicately threading beads onto her string. "I disagree. I think mommy looks too cute to be scary." Rachel reasoned. Quinn's face got hot and her fingers started shaking again. She almost sent her beads spewing all over the kitchen floor.
"I think you're the scariest, sweetheart." Rachel stated, smiling at Beth.
Quinn cleared her throat and nodded. "Yeah, baby girl. You're a terror." Her voice still came out a little weaker than usual.
Rachel eyed Quinn knowingly. When Quinn returned to a more cognitive state of mind, she realized that she was threading beads onto her string in the pattern heart-star-heart-star. Her eyes widened and she hurriedly slipped a few shamrocks in there to avoid suspicion.
"Were you guys just going to the theme park by yourselves?" Rachel asked curiously.
Quinn nodded, refusing to lift her face up from her bracelet. "Before you got here, yeah. Who else would we take?"
Quinn was a Yale freshman living in an apartment with her four-year-old daughter. People weren't exactly banging on her door to hang out with her. Except Rachel, obviously.
Rachel shrugged. She smiled softly at Quinn. "I guess you're sort of isolated out here."
Quinn swallowed. She nodded slightly and then glanced at Beth, who was singing under her breath and frowning in concentration to thread her beads.
The corner of Quinn's lips quirked up and she looked back at Rachel. "I don't know. I have my cat, so that's good."
"Mommy!" Beth protested, banging a little fist into the table. Her hazel eyes locked onto Quinn's. "Stop calling me a cat!"
Rachel gasped and leaned forward to whisper to Quinn. "Quinn, did you know your cat could talk?"
Quinn nodded proudly. "She's a very clever cat." She stated, nodding in Beth's direction.
"You know, you guys look like cats too!" Beth whined. She swung her half-finished bracelet around and Rachel caught her wrist lightly before all the beads could fly off.
Rachel moved back from Quinn and leaned into Beth this time. She tied the bracelet around Beth's wrist and stage-whispered in her ear. "I don't know, Beth. That one looks more like a black lion than a housecat."
Rachel nodded in Quinn's direction. Quinn just snorted and kept working on her little bracelet.
"Are black lions real?" Beth asked in awe.
Rachel could say they were, and Beth would believe her. She could say pink lions were real and Beth would believe her. She had the power to corrupt Quinn's daughter. There was nobody else who could say that.
"Well, I've never seen one." Rachel admitted. "But that doesn't mean they're not real."
Rachel winked at Quinn while Beth processed this information. Quinn shook her head fondly. It really was a nice save. Quinn probably would've ended up lying. Of course black lions are real! I see them all the time! Or dashing Beth's hopes and telling her they weren't.
Quinn's face was getting warmer and warmer. There were two possible causes. One of them was paint toxicity. But again, Quinn trusted Crayola with her life. She looked away from Rachel and slipped another heart onto her bracelet.
The sun was setting by the time the trio reached Lake Compounce, the oldest official amusement park in the world. Which was absolutely fantastic in Quinn's book. How the hell else would they be able to hear the disembodied voices or see the shadow people that move across the park at night?
They weren't there to ride anything or win any games. They were there to test their luck and see some ghosts and show off their black cat faces. The other park-goers seemed amused. They waved and smiled and praised Beth's little face. A few refused to allow the cats to cross their path.
Beth was pumped. Quinn got her to slow down by telling her that she'd scare the ghosts away if she was too loud, or if she ran up to them.
Rachel muffled a bit of laughter at this. But then she walked into a shadow and shrieked like a child.
Beth told her to be quiet. She'd scare away the ghosts.
"Quinn, all we're doing is wandering around in an almost-empty amusement park in the dark." Rachel reasoned. "This is a waste of time."
"Rachel, the ghosts will get you if you don't be quiet." Quinn said with a straight face. "Would you rather wander around a cemetery?"
"Ewww, mommy, no." Beth interjected hastily. "That's weird."
Rachel nodded with her. "Yeah. Ewww, mommy, no."
Rachel hugged her arms tighter around herself and glanced at the shadows under the roller coaster warily. She spied a ladder next to one of the game booths and took an unnecessarily large arc around it. In case some kind of gravitational force decided to drag her under it against her will. Beth followed in her footsteps. If they were dinosaurs, Quinn wouldn't be able to tell two of them had taken that path.
Quinn took half a step closer to Rachel, walking so that their shoulders bumped together. "Are you cold? I would've thought New York would be colder than here."
Rachel chuckled wryly. "That's what I though too. Apparently, it isn't so."
Quinn unwrapped the wooly black scarf from around her neck and started to drape it over Rachel's shoulders.
"Oh, Quinn, no." Rachel protested, trying to duck away. "You'll be cold. It's-"
"Rachel. Hold still." Quinn instructed. Rachel bit her lip shyly, and then stuck her tongue out and scrunched up her face because it was still painted black and tasted absolutely disgusting.
Quinn laughed quietly. She fitted her scarf snugly around Rachel's neck and looped it a few times. Rachel seemed to vanish completely from view. She blended into the shadows now that her neck was no longer exposed. It was a bit terrifying, really. All Quinn could see were the whites of her eyes. Maybe her hands when she took them out of her pockets.
"Just…don't get lost." Quinn instructed uneasily. "You're like Batman right now."
Rachel scoffed. She looped an arm through Quinn's so that she wouldn't get sucked into the shadows and vanish forever. Quinn held on tightly. She could still smell that spring garden, so Rachel was very close.
"Mommy! Rachel! I found a ghost!" Beth called out excitedly from a few yards ahead of them.
Quinn was mildly alarmed. She squeezed Rachel's arm and picked up her pace. Beth actually sounded delighted. It must be a nice ghost. She whirled around enthusiastically when Rachel and Quinn reached the closed game booth she was standing in front of.
Quinn eyed it carefully.
"Sweetheart, where's the ghost?" Rachel whispered.
Beth pointed gleefully at a shadow inside the booth. Quinn narrowed her eyes. Sure, it looked like a person. And there were no people standing in the right place to cause it.
And then she blinked and the shadow turned into a person's profile and she took half a step back in surprise, dragging Rachel with her.
"Whoa." She muttered.
Rachel chuckled lightly, though her nails were digging into Quinn's arm. "Okay. That's not real."
Quinn just couldn't take her eyes off of it.
"Yes it is, Rachel." Beth declared. "It's a ghost. Look, it has a face."
Rachel tilted her head slightly to whisper in Quinn's ear. "Well, my stuffed animals have faces too but they're not haunting people."
Quinn caught the word "well," and then got lost in the feeling of Rachel's warm breath on her neck. She nodded absently at whatever Rachel had said. Something about haunted animals?
"Talk to it, Beth." Rachel encouraged.
Quinn choked and laughed and protested at the same time. Three people painted like cats talking to shadows in a theme park in the dark. This is what happens when Rachel Berry gets involved.
"What?" Rachel asked with a smile. "You're the one who wanted to dive headfirst into danger for Friday the 13th, Quinn."
Quinn poked Rachel in the ribs and watched her daughter slowly approach the shadow. She half expected it to envelop her in some kind of black hole. Or seize her ankle and drag her away under the booth. "I never said I wanted to dive headfirst into danger." She countered.
Rachel shrugged. She pressed her cheek against Quinn's shoulder as they watched Beth have some kind of quiet conversation with the shadow.
"That's too bad." Rachel sighed.
Quinn looked down at her in confusion. "What?"
Rachel straightened up and stuck her hands into the front pockets of her coat. She looked up at Quinn through her eyelashes. Her face paint was actually coming off, so a lot of Rachel's cheeks were visible now.
"Well," Rachel started slowly, kicking her foot against the ground and fiddling her hands in her pockets, "I wanted to give you this if you got scared. Or if you were, you know, unlucky. To give you…luck. Obviously." Rachel produced another plastic bead bracelet from her pocket.
Quinn gazed down at her, smitten by how soft her voice had gone and how bright her eyes looked in the dark. Rachel took Quinn's hand gently and slipped the bracelet onto it. Quinn held it up so that she could see what it said.
"Um, Beth helped me." Rachel explained nervously. "When you went to get her lunch, she helped me make that.
Quinn squinted to make out the symbols on the beads.
"That's kind of why I came here this weekend." Rachel rambled on, twisting her hands together and gazing up at Quinn's face.
Quinn just could not make out the damn words on the bracelet. She saw a pattern. Star-heart-star-heart. But there were letters as well.
"It's okay if you, um…You don't have to say yes." Rachel continued. Her voice was growing in pitch. But she didn't seem to be scaring away the ghost Beth was having a conversation with.
The letters finally focused in Quinn's vision, and she read the words out loud. "Go on a date with me?" She read it entirely too slowly to process it the first time. Or entirely too quickly. Maybe she was just incapable of processing the phrase itself.
"Go on a date with me?" Quinn read again, louder this time. Her gaze flicked from the bracelet to Rachel's anxious eyes. They stood out, shiny and bright against her dark face.
Quinn noted that she still had her pink nose. She reached a hand up absently and tapped it. Rachel smiled a little bit.
"I'm sorry if you're not-If you don't-I mean…I just thought-"
"Rachel." Quinn whispered. "You're standing in a theme park in the dark painted like a cat and watching my daughter talk to a shadow."
Rachel nodded uncertainly. Yes, those were all facts. But they were not answers.
Quinn licked her lips and grimaced at the paint that was still there. Rachel reached a hand up and brushed a thumb along her lower lip.
"That's a yes, Rachel." Quinn assured, restraining herself from jumping on this woman by clutching the bracelet and her wrist close to her body.
Rachel's lips quirked up. And then down. And then back up, and she finally beamed when Quinn smiled.
"Yeah?" she checked. Nobody could ever be too sure.
Quinn grinned and nodded. She went in for a hug before Rachel could say anything else. But Rachel went in for the kiss, and their lips crashed together, not smoothly or gracefully at all, but oh-so-perfectly.
Quinn didn't even mind the paint. She tilted her head and pulled back a little to let Rachel's lips glide over her own in the dark. She wrapped her arms around Rachel's waist and laughed giddily into her mouth. Rachel's hands were on her cheeks, and her fingers came away blackened when they pulled apart.
She wiped them on her jeans. Hopefully it would wash out.
"Mommy! Rachel!" Beth squealed, evidently finished with her spectral conversation. Quinn kept an arm wrapped around Rachel and Rachel played with the new bracelet on Quinn's wrist. They both looked at Beth, a little dazed.
"You can kiss later!" Beth proclaimed. "You scared the ghost away!"
Quinn studied the booth. Sure enough, the shadow had vanished. She didn't know what had caused it, or where it had gone, but it sent shivers up her spine. Rachel pulled away slowly from Quinn to approach Beth.
Beth held both her hands up like a stop sign. "No! No, Rachel. You hold mommy's hand and I'll find us another ghost, okay?"
Rachel glanced back at Quinn, eyebrow raised in amusement. Quinn shrugged. It seemed like a good plan. She held her hand out for Rachel and trailed behind her daughter, looking for disembodied voices and inexplicable shadows.
"I thought you weren't superstitious." Quinn whispered in Rachel's ear, holding up her new lucky bracelet. Her new favorite bracelet in the whole world.
Rachel shrugged and tilted her head onto Quinn's shoulder, watching Beth skip away. "You are. So now you'll have all the luck you need." She answered reasonably.
Quinn squeezed her hand. "I am very lucky." She agreed.
Friday the 13th was the luckiest day of Quinn's year. Every year. Because Rachel Berry always seemed to smile at her a little bit brighter or sing a little bit louder. She sighed contentedly, and because she just couldn't contain it.
Quinn was going out with Rachel Berry. It had to be the luckiest day of her life.