Author's Note: A short interlude in the Don't Blink series, immediately following Shuffling The Cards Of Your Game.
Original draft posted on my tumblr.
Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or the characters, I just like to play with them…strictly non-profit.
Make Me Wanna Stay
Days of roses and wine
With your hand in mine
You stroke my fears away
And make me wanna stay
If bonfires lit up the shores.
~Bonfires, Blue Foundation
Rachel opens the door of her dressing room to find her gorgeous girlfriend standing just outside the threshold. Her smile is completely reflexive, as is the way her eyes drop, trailing helplessly over the perfect lines of Quinn's beige business suit and the body that it molds, before they lift once again to focus on curled lips and dancing hazel eyes. She doesn't even care if she flushes a little at being caught checking Quinn out (again) because Quinn is perfectly aware of the power that she holds over Rachel by now. She presses forward, capturing those smiling lips in what's intended to be a brief kiss, but if there's one thing that Rachel has learned (is learning) it's that Quinn has a way of making her forget her best intentions.
The kiss deepens, and Rachel feels those familiar tingles race through her blood. Their bodies gravitate together with no resistance, and for a moment, she seriously considers scratching off the dressing room from her 'to do' list, but she knows that they won't have time before she has to be in makeup for her show. They haven't yet mastered the concept of a 'quickie' unless they count last Sunday morning before brunch. Do three successive quickies still count as a quickie? Hmm, probably not—and brunch had turned into lunch, so technically not a quickie. They'll just have to keep practicing until they get it right. But not right now.
Rachel tips her head back, breaking the connection, and grins up at Quinn. "Hi."
"Hi," Quinn echoes with a soft smile of her own.
Sighing, Rachel extricates herself from Quinn's embrace. "Did you have a good day at work?" she asks, still loving the domesticity of the question, even if she isn't always entirely interested in the resulting answer. She loves Quinn, and she adores listening to her talk about the things that she's truly passionate about—like art and literature and that one musical television show that Quinn never misses and Rachel just does not understand the appeal of when one has Broadway at her backdoor—but Rachel has to silently concede that she tends to zone out when Quinn starts complaining about the day-to-day trivialities of her job. She's not conceited enough to imagine that Quinn doesn't occasionally do the same thing to her—well, not anymore. Quinn has more than proven that she hears all of the things that really matter. Rachel is only slightly less adept at doing the same.
"Mmm, yeah," Quinn murmurs. "I even managed to get away an hour early."
Rachel's smile droops slightly, and she glances at the clock on her wall. "But it's nearly six," she points out, wondering why it took Quinn so long to get here from her office.
Quinn hums again, gliding over to the little sofa sandwiched in the corner of her dressing room and gracefully sinking down into the cushions. "I met Santana for a drink," she says mildly. "At that little bar you told me about," she adds evenly.
When the words fully register, the last trace of Rachel's smile disappears. In contrast, Quinn's lips curve into a painfully familiar smirk. "You…you went to Ten Degrees?" Rachel whispers, instantly remembering her own experience at the bar.
Quinn shrugs, folding her hands daintily in her lap. "I thought I'd try the Sangria that you were raving about. Frankly," she drawls with an arched eyebrow, "I didn't care for it."
Rachel curls her hands into fists and takes a deep breath. She doesn't want to fight with Quinn. Not about this. Not again. They'd already hashed this all out after Rachel had confessed the details of her afternoon with Santana. Quinn had been more hurt than angry at the time, her eyes taking on that sad, wounded look that Rachel recognizes all too well. Seeing Quinn hurting has always twisted her up inside, even back in high school when they weren't really friends at all. She'll do almost anything to chase that look away now.
But this isn't hurt Quinn. This—this is the shadow of the head cheerleader who'd ruled McKinley with an icy glare. Rachel doesn't see her very often anymore, but when she does, she can almost feel the cold, wet slush running over her skin and the churning in her stomach that makes her want to run. Or scream.
Rachel takes another breath, blowing it out slowly. She'd thought that Quinn had forgiven her and that they'd moved past this silly, meaningless, barely-worth-remembering transgression. Obviously, she was wrong.
Don't yell at her. Don't start an argument. You have a show in two hours. Rachel repeats the mantra in her head as she closes the small distance between them and settles onto the sofa beside Quinn. Quinn watches her with steady confidence until Rachel is right beside her, and then her eyes dart away, and she shifts uncomfortably.
"Why would you do that?" Rachel asks as gently as she can, although she can hear a certain inflection in her own voice that lets her know that she's failed at sounding calm. "I explained that the very brief indulgence of my vanity was merely a foolish lapse in judgment on my part." She's hardly the first woman to be flattered by a little harmless flirtation, and while she understands why Quinn was hurt, she really doesn't understand her need to keep obsessing over this one insignificant incident.
She reaches over and takes one of Quinn's hands, holding it gently between hers. "You have to know that I love you, Quinn. I'm not interested in other women. You…you don't need to mark your territory."
She feels Quinn tense under her touch. "If you weren't interested, you wouldn't have let her even think of giving you her phone number," Quinn accuses. "In fact, it was pretty easy to shut Teresa the bartender down," she reveals testily. "She probably handed me the same sad lines that she used on you, but guess what Rachel? I wasn't interested, and she got the hint right away."
Rachel recoils, dropping Quinn's hand and clutching at the sofa cushions. She feels like she's been slapped—or slushied. "She…she came on to you?" she manages to squeak through a throat that suddenly feels swollen shut.
Quinn puffs out a breath, her shoulders slumping a little as she drops her head and frowns at the floor. "The point is that I made it very clear that I wasn't interested," she repeats quietly.
Rachel drags in an unsteady breath, standing jerkily and pacing over to her vanity. She feels gutted, torn apart with every one of her old insecurities bleeding out onto the floor, and she wants to cry. Of course, Teresa would come on to Quinn. Quinn is gorgeous and sexy and mysterious and savvy enough to know when a beautiful woman is flirting with her—and smooth enough to take advantage of those kinds of situations whenever she chooses.
"So you're trying to make a point?" she wonders in a small voice. "Because trust me, Quinn, I am painfully aware of how many other women want you." She laughs hollowly. "And how many men want you," she amends, crossing her arms defensively around her middle. "I know you could have anyone," she trails off weakly, squeezing her eyes closed in an attempt to block out the parade of beautiful people whom she's had the displeasure of seeing Quinn date over the years.
It's always bothered her to some degree. When they were teens, she was able to dismiss all of it as jealousy over Quinn's beauty and desirability, and when they were finally friends, she explained it away as a natural instinct to protect Quinn from people who quite obviously didn't deserve her. Only now does Rachel fully understand the primitive impulses that were driving her insane need to meddle in all of Quinn's relationships. Now she'll do anything to defend this one.
Quinn is behind her in three heartbeats, wrapping her arms around Rachel's tense shoulders and pressing lips to Rachel's hair. "I only want you," she whispers desperately. "I get jealous, Rachel," she admits softly. "And possessive, and I hate that you liked having some other woman flirt with you when it took you years to notice me standing right beside you."
Rachel's eyes open, meeting Quinn's tearful gaze in the mirror. She wants to deny it and swear to Quinn that she's always seen her, but of course Quinn is right. Rachel couldn't see her through her pre-designed fantasy. Quinn drags in a trembling breath, and her arms tighten around Rachel. "I'm so terrified that you're going to change your mind about us and decide that we were better off as friends."
Rachel chokes on a stifled sob and wipes at her eyes before she turns in Quinn's arms. That hurt look is back again—hazel eyes shiny with emotion—and she feels her heart constricting in response. It's so dangerously easy for her to forgive Quinn Fabray anything and everything.
"I love you," she vows, gently cupping Quinn's cheek. "I want you." Forever, she thinks. "And you should know from experience how notoriously stubborn and single-minded I can be. I won't be changing my mind about us. This," she emphasizes by tightening her arm around Quinn's waist. "Us…it's something that I'm willing to work at. Just like I worked to make you my friend," she reminds Quinn with a little smile. "I'm so sorry that my actions made you feel insecure, Quinn."
Rachel has apologized for humoring Teresa the bartender once before, but this time, she thinks that she fully understands how her carelessness had affected Quinn. She's known Quinn for so long and feels so close to her that she tends to forget just how new this relationship is for both of them. They have to learn to trust one another in a different way, with fragile hearts that have been bruised and neglected by others in the past.
"I'm sorry I...reverted to the worst version of myself," Quinn admits with a rueful half-smile.
Rachel traces Quinn's lower lip with her thumb, nodding slightly. "But look how far we've come," she points out, briefly recalling some of their more dramatic, youthful confrontations, and her lips curve in fond nostalgia. "We've acknowledged our mistakes, apologized, and we're willing to work on our lingering issues together. And no one even stormed out in tears."
Quinn chuckles lightly, reaching up to brush the dark hair from Rachel's damp cheek. "Give us another eight years, and we just might get this right."
Rachel sighs, pulling Quinn into a hug and resting her cheek against a strong, reliable shoulder. "This feels pretty right to me."
"Yeah, it does," Quinn agrees softly, pressing her palms to Rachel's back and holding on for all she's worth, guiding them into an embrace that's become so sweetly familiar.
Rachel knows that her relationship with Quinn isn't going to be magically perfect, but she's never felt more certain that she's exactly where she belongs—with her imperfectly perfect match.