"When I... when I was... seventeen, I was very into feeling sorry for myself because my life was... it sucked. I'd had a baby. I'd been kicked out of my house. I didn't know it, yet, but I was totally going to be hit by a truck..." Quinn nods at the audience in front of her. "Yep. True story." It's a weeknight, so the piano bar isn't packed, but there are still a fair amount of patrons in the place and from the look she's getting from Rachel's friend across the piano, Quinn feels like she needs to hurry up and turn this thing around, or else her microphone is about to be confiscated and she's going to be asked to get up from the piano bench. "But that's... you know... teenage angst shit or something..." Everyone laughs and she's confident that she's bought herself enough time to actually do this. "Anyway... when I was seventeen, I used to play this song on the piano, all alone in my house, because I was too caught up in all my crap to actually realize I wanted to sing it to someone in person." She looks right at Rachel and smiles, "Until right now."
"Hey, it's the Lily Allen girls!"
Quinn offers a small wave to the bartender and she recalls that he kept calling them the Lily Allen after her rendition of "Who'd Have Known" from the night before fed right into Rachel joining her in a session of several songs by the singer.
"These two are pretty incredible together, aren't they?" asks Tom, Rachel's friend who's the one actually employed by the bar to sing and entertain before they crashed his stage. The audience claps and cheers in response.
Rachel's arm is looped through Quinn's and the couple exits the stage, but not without stumbling into each other on the way down the steps. Singing and performing while drunk is easy. Walking, however, is not.
"Did you mean that song?" Rachel asks, her small body stabilizing itself against Quinn's as Quinn takes a seat on a barstool.
"Which one?" But Quinn knows exactly the one she's talking about.
"The first one."
"You want to know if I meant the song or if the story I told was about you?"
"Wasn't a story so much as a sentence."
"We're pretty incredible together."
"You still want to get married?"
"You said yes," Quinn says, leaning against the same stool from the night before. "You said yes, then we went to the chapel and got married."
"No," Rachel fishes the cherry out of the Shirley Temple she's been handed by the bartender. "I said yes," she pulls the cherry into mouth and rolls it over her tongue before popping the stem away. "And then we went to the chapel, but they wouldn't let us do anything without a license. So you rented one of those electric carts with Spongebob airbushed on it and we drove down the street to the county clerk."
"They rented it to us when we were that drunk?"
"No, they wouldn't and that's when I called Brittany," Quinn remembers. "She drove us there and back."
"And then we got married."
"Yeah." It's all in place for Quinn, now. Some of the edges are still fuzzy, but the evening is complete. It wasn't a dare or a joke or an accident. They got married because they wanted to, albeit while under the influence of a great abundance of alcohol.
Rachel's gaze is fixed on Quinn's face. "Is that... are you okay with that?"
"I..." Quinn can feel the weight of the surrounding bar pressing in on her and she suddenly feels like she needs to find the nearest exit, out of the casino, to the actual desert air outside. "I... need to go for a while. Um... I'll see you at Puck's tonight?"
There's a small nod from Rachel, though it looks like she's trying to keep herself from launching into a speech as an attempt to get Quinn to stay. "Yeah, okay."
When Quinn walks away from Rachel, out of the bar, she keeps her eyes focused forward, following the pathway marked on the carpet that ultimately leads to the doors that lead out onto the Strip.
With her newfound clarity about the wedding and her night with Rachel, she rubs her hand over her eyes and tries to figure out what to do next.
The party is in full swing when Quinn finally arrives, but Rachel's nowhere to be found.
Puck greets her with a monster of a hug, which is the same thing he did when he picked her up from the airport a few days ago. "Is it true?" he asks, when he finally releases her. "You and Rachel did the Vegas celebrity wedding thing?"
"It's not much of a secret, is it?"
"Brittany and Santana kind of defiled our wedding alb-"
"Not of that part. Of the honeymoon."
"You're a pig."
"What? It's a compliment. You're both very, very hot-" He relents when Quinn grabs his nipple ring, "Okay. I'm sorry!"
Quinn lets go and pats his cheek. "You're a pig, but you're sweet."
"Booze is in the kitchen and in the backyard." Puck points in both directions, then toward the room just past Quinn. "And in the living room."
"Thanks, I'm actually looking-"
"Noah," Rachel's voice is suddenly present, from behind an armful of paper grocery bags. "Please be a gentleman and help me with some of this."
"Is this real food or is this weird vegan shit?" Puck asks, peering into the sacks.
Quinn rolls her eyes at him and grabs one of the bags out of Rachel's arms. "Kitchen?"
Rachel nods and they both maneuver around either side of Puck, leaving him to answer Sugar's question about tiny umbrellas for the drinks.
They certainly aren't standing in silence with the party happening around them, but it's apparent that neither of them seem to know what to say. Quinn's willing to make the effort, though, as she watches Rachel set out hummus and raw veggies among the already present spread of hot dogs and barbecue chips.
Before she can get a word out, Santana's dragging her away to a far corner of the kitchen while Brittany engages Rachel in a conversation about whether or not chickpeas come from chickens.
"Mrs. Berry, I presume?" Santana asks, smirking at Quinn.
"I know you know. Your signature Sharpie artwork is unmistakable."
"I was going to give Rachel fake boobs but... they're actually pretty decent given the rest of her disproportionately miniature frame."
"You pulled me over here to talk crap about my wife?"
"You're really doing this, then?"
"What if I am?"
"I'm all about you getting your Big O jollies however you want and if that means being married to Lady Frodo, then I'll call up KC and the Sunshine band for a celebration. But do you really want to spend the rest of your life drinking seaweed smoothies and eating kelp nuggets?"
Quinn glances over at the vegan line-up of snacks that's now overtaken the entire counter. "Kale chips."
"Whatever. Is that what you want?"
"I have to go do something."
She doesn't wait for Santana's next comeback and she doesn't care that Brittany really seems to be involved in what Rachel has to say about the health benefits of hummus. Her arm loops around Rachel's waist and she guides her out of the kitchen. "Can we talk somewhere?"
"I was talking to-" Rachel knows it's pointless to argue. "Sure. Where?"
Everywhere in the house seems to be bumping with music or loud with the cheers and chants of people playing beer pong. Everywhere except the bathroom.
Quinn shuts the door behind her, then leans against it. The regular light bulb has been replaced with a colored one, so the room is dimly lit with a blue hue, offset by the flickering LED candle sitting on the back of the toilet.
Rachel rests against the sink, her hands resting on the counter. "Tomorrow we can go sign everything. Evan already called to get it set up."
"Rachel," Quinn pushes herself off the door and steps toward the sink. "I need you to shut up."
"You said you wanted to t-"
"Stay married to me."
Quinn's close enough that Rachel has to tip her head up a little to look her in the eye. "What?"
"Stay married to me," Quinn repeats.
Rachel's response is to push Quinn backward until she bumps against the wall behind her. "You left me all alone in that bar today, you know." Her hands smooth along the sides of Quinn's dress, the same one she recommended for her that morning (though Quinn's paired it up with a lightweight cardigan for the evening), then rest on Quinn's hips. "You walked out of there without any explanation and now you want me to stay married to you?"
But Rachel shakes her head. "Before you say anything else, I want you to know that I'm going to need a little more than just a general deman-"
Quinn's tactic shifts from conversation to something a little less focused on words. Her mouth captures Rachel's and it's a matter of seconds until they're right back up against the sink, Rachel's right hand gripping the tiled edge of the counter and her left still clinging to Quinn's waist. Quinn has a handful of Rachel's hair and her other hand trails up the inside of Rachel's thigh, under her skirt. Her fingertips make contact with the elastic edge of Rachel's panties and proceed over to the span of already dampening fabric.
She pulls her mouth away from Rachel's eager lips and presses a kiss to her neck. "I left because I didn't know what to say." Her fingers press a little harder against Rachel, which elicits a light moan from the woman in her embrace. "Because you are so, so incredible. You always have been." There's more movement from Quinn's fingers, which causes more vocal reaction from Rachel, who's now rocking her hips forward against Quinn's hand. "And for someone like you to be married to me... I never thought I'd be so lucky." The underwear is really just an obstacle, at this point, so Quinn pushes the elastic aside and allows her fingers to slide along the sticky wetness that's genuinely Rachel.
"Quinn..." Rachel hips lift away from the counter, creating more friction against Quinn.
"I left because I've been holding on to all of that... everything... since we were dumb high school kids. And I'd convinced myself it couldn't happen and then it did and when I woke up this morning, there you were, right next to me." Her thumb shifts upward, putting pressure right where Rachel needs it, because it earns her Rachel's face pressed against her shoulder, along with another moan. "I needed to think about everything, just by myself. Because it's one thing to imagine something happening but it's another thing to know."
Rachel's head raises up so she can look at Quinn. "Know what?" she pants, her body rocking with the movements of Quinn's hand.
"That I love you," Quinn says, simply.
"I- oh my god," Rachel's head drops back down as she braces herself with the hand that's still on the counter. Her body jerks and shudders as she comes, while Quinn kisses her jaw and her ear and her neck and anything within reach. She's barely had time to regain her bearings when Quinn starts talking, again.
"So, Rachel Barbra Berry, would you do me the honor of staying married to me?" Quinn's hand, the one that hasn't been buried between Rachel's legs, disappears into the pocket of her cardigan and when it reappears, it's clutching a small velvet box.
"Is that..." Rachel takes a deep breath and forces herself to concentrate.
"I told you I would get you another one," Quinn says, opening the box and taking out the ring inside. "But try to keep this one on your damn finger."
"This is hardly fair, springing this on me in the afterglow."
"Did you want me to leave you alone for a while?"
Rachel grabs a handful of Quinn's dress. "Don't you dare." She looks down at the ring Quinn's sliding on her finger. It's a much better fit than the one from the wedding chapel. "What if I'd said no?"
"You still haven't said yes."
Both of Rachel's arms rest on Quinn's shoulders, almost as if they're planning to slow dance. "Yes," she says. "I'll stay married to you." She tips her chin upward to press her lips to Quinn's, but not before adding, "I love you, too."
When they emerge from the bathroom, Santana just shakes her head and mutters, "Newlyweds."
Brittany shrugs and chases after her, saying something about wanting a pirate wedding.
Quinn squeezes Rachel's hand and smiles at her. "Can I get you a drink, Mrs. Fabray-Berry?"
"I'd love one. But," Rachel pulls Quinn closer, "it's Berry-Fabray."
"We can talk about this later." Quinn wraps her arms around her wife. "Maybe when we're naked."
"If you're thinking that this afterglow thing is going to work for you every time-"
"Uh, it seems to work."
"I beg to differ."
"I can work with begging."
"Quinn, there are other people here."
"Maybe we should go back in the bathroom."
"That's not very good party etiquette."
"Okay, then can we go tell Finn we're married?"
"Yes. Just... move the chairs, first."
Closing note: Thanks to everyone who so consistently reviewed each new chapter. I hope this is a satisfying bit of closure on this piece. And perhaps we can revisit this 'verse in the future. Maybe Lore's Lore will make a comeback. ;)