Here's the prompt: Rachel is in a Broadway show and Quinn is on the crew for the production. During a mid-run tech rehearsal, a prop or harness that Rachel uses malfunctions and Quinn has to help her out of it. The situation causes unintentional dry humping. Up to you who gets off (if anyone) as long as actors and crew are around. Bonus points for Rachel's reviews getting better in later shows. Bonus points for using the following: cheesecake, an inflatable swordfish, Rachel's autograph book.
"Ultimately, Berry's shrill performance is a sheer indicator that she ought to steer clear of the stage and carry on with mid-week cabaret showcases, as her strengths clearly lie in song, not scenework."
Rachel's pacing as she reads the third review. Not a single one has had anything positive to say about her debut off-Broadway performance. The playwright is supposed to be the next Christopher Durang and the play is actually quite funny, but Quinn can kind of see where the critic is coming from in regard to Rachel's opening night. If only she can figure out how to say so without getting her eyes clawed out.
"At least he complimented your singing talent," Quinn finally says, setting Rachel's autograph book back on the dressing room table. She isn't even sure when she began flipping through the pages, but it must have been somewhere during the second review. "This is why I didn't even want you to read these, you know."
"Quinn, it's important that I gain feedback."
"All it's done is upset you."
"Are you saying this isn't a valid critique?"
It's a trap. Or it feels like one, because if Quinn answers one way, she'll be accused of pandering and if she answers the other way, Rachel will insist Quinn has no faith in her. Instead, she takes too long to say anything and Rachel flings the copy of the Village Voice on the floor and crosses her arms.
"I just want to know, Quinn. I want to know what your opinion is. You did, in fact, go to an ivy league school for this, so... how was I?"
Quinn Fabray is twenty-seven, with a master's degree in theater and performance from the Yale School of Drama, and Rachel Berry still intimidates the hell out of her.
There is one other factor that complicates things, just a little.
"Am I answering as your girlfriend or a colleague?"
"You know what? Forget it." Rachel disappears into the small bathroom and shuts the door behind her.
Quinn sighs, but only has about three seconds to reflect on everything that's happened before her headset crackles.
"Quinn? The house is open."
"Copy that," she replies.
There are times when it feels as if it's been ages since high school, and then there are times like now, when it seems impossible that those days are nearly a decade behind them. In the beginning, it was about building a friendship, about alternating trips to each other's cities, about college parties and hangover cures. They eventually reached the point where they were honest-to-goodness friends, who tried set each other up on the occasional date with "nice guys" they knew through other friends, who occasionally drunk texted questionable content to each other, and who eventually ended up sharing a two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, because one had finally finished school and the other was tired of sharing a space with four other people.
Quinn's been in New York for a year and a half.
She's been dating Rachel for three weeks.
It's more of a courtship, really. They're taking it slow, trying to see if it even works, because they don't want to lose anything they already have with each other. They also already live together, but they've agreed to keeping any "funny business" out of their bedrooms, just to maintain their current pace.
There actually hasn't been any "funny business" at all.
Kissing, yes. There's been plenty of that. That's actually been happening on and off since sophomore year of college, but it was under the guise of "drunken best friend antics" until the night they were stone cold sober and Quinn leaned over to kiss Rachel while they were watching Bridemaids on Netflix.
That was when Quinn still lived in New Haven.
The next time it happened was twenty-five days ago.
And now Rachel's her girlfriend. Her pissed-off girlfriend who's due to take the stage in twenty-seven minutes. The show begins in fifteen, then Rachel's entrance is twelve minutes later, give or take, depending on the pace of the show.
Quinn knocks on the door and doesn't wait for a response. "Ten minutes until places."
There's silence on the other side of the door, but just as Quinn turns to walk away, she hears, "Thank you."
Despite their conflict (it can't really be classified as an argument, because Rachel didn't even give Quinn a chance), Rachel exits the dressing room and meets Quinn in the wings, stage-right, where she's met her all week during tech rehearsal and last night's opening performance.
It may be an off-Broadway production, but Rachel's entrance is relatively grand and requires her to be lowered from above, so there's a harness involved, and Quinn's the member of the tech crew responsible for securing it. Rachel originally helped land her the job so Quinn could gain practical experience with set design, but it only made sense to have her best friend (and now girlfriend) ensure her safety, each and every night.
They still have five minutes before curtain, maybe a couple more if they hold the doors for more audience members to arrive. Regardless, Quinn knows she's just supposed to assist with the harness and leave Rachel to focus on her character. As much as she doesn't know how to respond to Rachel interrogating her about critics and reviews, she knows to leave Rachel to her craft.
Tonight, though, it's taking longer than usual to get everything in place.
"Rach, seriously, I need you to hold still, because I can't get the thing to- is this even the same one we've been using?"
"Of course it's the same. Why wouldn't it be the same?"
"This strap just seems longer. Or maybe it's looped differently? How did you take this off last night?"
"The same way I always do. I just-" When Rachel steps back to demonstrate, Quinn moves with her. "If you give me some room, I'll show you."
"I... No, look, I'm caught. My belt is stuck."
"How did that even happen?"
"I don't know. Just..." Quinn can't seem to get a handle on where the harness is hooked onto her belt buckle. It's dark, so it's difficult to see.
Two members of the tech crew wheel a replica statue of Andy Kaufman up next to them. In the statue's arms is an inflatable swordfish. "Ladies, we need to get through."
"Sorry," Quinn mumbles, then looks down at Rachel. "Here... I'll, uh... I'll walk backward toward the wall and you just walk with me, okay?"
Rachel nods and they maneuver together until Quinn's back hits the wall. Because of the way they're tangled together, Rachel's leg deposits itself right between Quinn's and it's enough to make Quinn blush.
She's grateful for the lack of light.
That doesn't mean Rachel doesn't notice.
"Are you planning to get this off or...?" Rachel's anger from before has completely faded and there's a playfulness to her voice.
"I'm trying." Quinn tries to move to put some space between them, but it just pulls Rachel into her, again. Just like Rachel's thigh is pressed against Quinn, Quinn's is securely pressed against Rachel.
A voice chirps through Quinn's radio, telling the crew they have two minutes until curtain. Which means she has fourteen minutes to figure out how to get Rachel off of her and secured for her entrance.
Rachel's hands rest on Quinn's hips and her thumbs trace over the black cotton t-shirt, before dipping down and pushing the fabric up, creating a gap between the shirt and the top of Quinn's black jeans. Quinn takes in a small but sharp breath as Rachel light touches the skin of her lower abdomen and she can't stop her hips from rolling forward, even if it is just a little.
"Maybe you should try harder," Rachel whispers.
Quinn bites her lip and fumbles with the strap that she's still clutching in her hand. The crew moves back and forth behind them, busy with their own tasks of launching a performance in a timely manner. "Like this?" she asks, tugging Rachel more tightly against her.
Rachel's eyes shut, just for a moment, then flutter back open. There's a slow nod and then she moves again, her leg still firmly wedged between Quinn's. Everything else is forgotten, for the moment. Out beyond the wings, on the stage, the show begins, and Quinn knows she has twelve minutes to sort this out, but all she can say, barely whispered in Rachel's ear is, "You have to be quiet." Rachel complies, but makes Quinn test her own ultimatum when she grips the waistband of Quinn's jeans and rocks herself into her girlfriend.
A lot has changed in the years they've spent out of Lima. Quinn receives letters from Beth at least once a month. Rachel only hears from Finn on major holidays. Quinn hasn't eaten red meat since she moved out of New Haven. Rachel adapted from vegan to vegetarian, solely after an incident involving authentic New York cheesecake. Quinn has a girlfriend. Rachel does, too.
And now, more changes are in progress.
After tonight, after this show, there will no longer be a lack of "funny business" in the apartment.
After tonight, the reviews will shift. Not drastically. But they'll improve. Not that the bad ones will go away. They'll still surface every now and again.
And on those nights, Quinn will just pull Rachel into her arms and say, "Remember that night, backstage?"
Rachel will laugh and nod and kiss her girlfriend senseless.
And then, one night, a few years later, they'll be backstage together when Rachel's just come off stage after her final performance playing Elphaba and in that moment before the curtain call, Quinn will drop to one knee and, once again, everything else will be forgotten.
Except for the "yes" and the kiss that follows it.