Author's Note: Sequel to Absence Makes The Heart. Just a bit of fluff. Second attempt at uploading because this site is a pain in the arse and disappeared the first posting.
Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or the characters, I just like to play with them…strictly non-profit.
The Heart Has Reasons
Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.
Quinn is smiling softly, fingers absently rubbing tiny circles over the spot on her cheek where a pair of soft lips had been just a moment ago, when she feels a gentle hand on her shoulder, shaking her from her dazed reflection. Dropping her own hand, her gaze shifts away from the empty staircase that Rachel Berry had just scurried up, meeting a pair of very blue eyes set beneath a dark brow. She frowns slightly, recognizing the guy from a party that Rachel had dragged her to during one of her visits to New York last semester. Billy, or Bobby, or Brady...something. She remembers Rachel offhandedly mentioning what a shameless flirt the guy can be, and Quinn had instantly disliked him on principle.
"Quinn, right?" he asks with a little half-smile that he probably thinks is charming. She quirks an eyebrow, looking him over with all of the cool disinterest that she'd perfected throughout her high school career, and decides that her initial opinion of him hasn't changed. She watches his smile fade with a perverse pleasure, reassured that she hasn't lost her touch, and Bucky...or Benny?...drags a hand through his over-styled hair and huffs, "You can't stay back here. The show is going to start soon. You'll need to grab a seat if you want to watch Rachel's performance."
He shakes his head a little before he struts away, not even bothering to show her the way out. Her lip curls as she watches him go, wondering if it's possible for Finn Hudson and Jesse St. James to have had a secret lovechild who's attending Nyada.
Quinn dismisses Barney...or Buddy?...from her thoughts as she wanders through the backstage hustle, fairly certain that she's heading in the right direction. The excited buzz of the performers and stagehands fades into the impatient chatter of an audience, and she stops, scanning the surprisingly crowded auditorium for a familiar face or an empty seat. Her phone vibrates in her pocket, and she pulls it free to glance at the screen, scowling when she sees the text.
Front row, Lezzie McGayForBerry
She grips her phone tightly enough to cut into her palm as she shuffles down the aisle, eyes roaming over every head until she spots the grinning face of Santana Lopez. Sighing, Quinn moves toward the empty seat, silently praying that Santana isn't in the mood to ask a lot of questions, because she honestly doesn't have any answers. Seeing Rachel again is like seeing the sun after two months of darkness; she can feel the endorphins dancing through her body, and her skin is tingling, and her heart is racing, tripping and skipping over beats. Quinn can't be expected to think rationally right now. She only knows that Rachel missed her, that she was hoping Quinn would come to see her perform in the showcase tonight, and that she wants to talk after the show. Talking to Rachel doesn't always end well for Quinn, but tonight...tonight Rachel kissed her on the cheek and smiled at her the way she used to smile at...at...well, at Finn.
"That stupid smile on your face better mean that you finally claimed your midget," Santana demands.
"Rachel," Quinn stresses with a glare, "isn't a piece of property to be claimed."
"Whatever," she mutters with a roll of her eyes. "As long as I don't have to put up with her sad, puppy eyes anymore."
Quinn bites into her lower lip and fiddles with the sleeve of her jacket, staring at the stage while her mind conjures up countless reasons that Rachel might want to talk to her, not all of them ending happily.
"You did work your shit out," Santana demands in a tone that suggests she'll be seriously pissed if Quinn doesn't give her a positive answer.
"Not exactly," she admits, still looking forward to avoid the heated gaze that she can feel burning into the side of her face.
Santana gapes at her, "What the fuck?"
Quinn huffs out a frustrated breath and turns to look at her friend, "We didn't have a lot of time to talk, Santana."
"Who said anything about talking? You should have just grabbed her tiny ass and kissed the crazy out of her." Santana frowns thoughtfully, "Actually, her crazy is pretty much a permanent condition."
Santana's words paint an instant picture in Quinn's mind, and she swallows thickly, feeling her face heat and her heart flutter as she imagines kissing Rachel. It's not exactly a new fantasy, but she usually only indulges it when she's alone under a blanket of darkness. "We're not living in some cheesy teen soap opera," she points out. "Normal people don't just grab someone and kiss them without any warning."
Santana laughs, "Berry isn't exactly normal. You know she loves all that romantic crap."
Quinn sighs, tucking a loose strand of hair back behind her ear. "I know she loved it with Finn, but I'm not," she trails off helplessly. There are a lot of things that Quinn is not. She isn't easy, and she isn't open, and she isn't anyone's sweet, docile dream, but mostly, she isn't the romantic leading man that Rachel has craved for as long as Quinn has known her. She takes a breath and closes her eyes, attempting to keep the tremor from her voice, "What if she doesn't want me in the same way that I want her?"
"Are you being serious right now?" Santana barks loudly enough to catch the attention of the older couple next to her.
Quinn flushes, ducking her head and making an extra effort to keep her voice low. "So she missed me. So what? Unless she specifically told you sometime in the last two months that she's in love with me, you're only guessing that...that she..."
"Wants to make lady babies with you," Santana supplies easily, and the woman next to her looks at them both in muted disgust.
"Can you not?" Quinn snaps.
Dark eyes narrow in judgment, "I swear to God, Fabray, if you chicken out after I dragged your pathetic ass here..."
"I'm not going to, okay?" Quinn insists, hoping to convince herself as much as Santana. "I can't keep doing this to myself. I need to tell her how I feel, even if it means losing her."
Santana arches a brow, "I can pretty much guarantee that you're not going to lose her."
"But I could be stuck in the friend zone forever," Quinn worries, allowing all her lingering doubts creep back in. She wishes she'd had more time to talk to Rachel before the show, because sitting here for the next two hours without knowing where she stands is going to be tortuous.
"Excuse me while I go find one of the violinists to come over here and play for you."
"Fuck you, Santana."
"No thank you," she counters easily, "I already gots me a hot blonde back in Lima. Besides, Berry would probably poison me in my sleep," she adds under her breath.
Quinn drags in a calming breath as the houselights flicker, "Just tell me again that this is the right thing to do."
Santana huffs, and leans closer, keeping her voice quiet and stern, "I'm not telling you something you already know. So stop being an idiot, relax, and watch your girl do what she does best."
Quinn shivers in pleasure at the idea of Rachel being her girl, and she leans back in her seat as the lights go down, trying her best to let her anxiety melt away. Two performances into the showcase, Quinn realizes exactly how talented all of these people are, and she understands more fully why Rachel was freaking out last semester. It's like an entire school full of Rachel Berrys, and even though Quinn personally thinks that Rachel's voice is superior, there's no denying the harsh reality that Rachel is going to have some serious competition in her quest to succeed on Broadway. Quinn wants to be the one to support her through all of the ups and downs, and she promises herself that no matter what happens between them tonight, she won't allow their friendship to suffer.
About halfway through the showcase, a haunting piano intro echoes through the theater, and the spotlight comes up on Rachel. Quinn unconsciously sits straighter in her seat, drinking in the vision of Rachel on stage, where she belongs, and realizing with a start just how much she's missed the sight and the sound. It was a weekly occurrence back in high school, and now moments like this are so few and far between that Quinn has forgotten just how radiant Rachel is when she performs.
'You've been on my mind. I grow fonder every day.
Lose myself in time just thinking of your face'.
The song is instantly recognizable to Quinn, and Rachel's voice is as flawless as ever, but it quickly becomes apparent to her that Rachel isn't fully immersed in her usual performance persona. Her eyes are searching through the audience as she sings, and it's only when she finally finds Quinn that she seems to settle, and her lips curve around the next words.
'God only knows why it's taken me so long,
To let my doubts go. You're the only one that I want.'
Quinn's heart falters, pausing for the breath that her lungs can't seem to expel. Rachel isn't looking away from her, not for a moment, and she feels a familiar connection come alive between them. The dominant, cynical part of her mind rationalizes that Rachel's song choice must be a coincidence, and she tells herself to breathe. Her chest expands, and her heart decides it will be fun to pound so loudly that it nearly drowns out Rachel's voice.
'I don't know why I'm scared, I've been here before.
Every feeling, every word, I've imagined it all.
You never know if you never try
To forgive your past and simply be mine.'
Rachel's eyes flutter shut as she pours her soul into the song, but then they're open and smiling down at Quinn in that brief pause before her voice grows impossibly stronger.
'I dare you to let me be your, your one and only.
Promise I'm worthy to hold in your arms.'
Rachel finally drags her attention away from Quinn, and like the flip of a switch, she's engaging the entire audience, inviting every one of them into the spell she's weaving.
'So come on and give me the chance
To prove that I'm the one who can
Walk that mile until the end starts.'
Rachel's eyes keep drifting back to Quinn, even though she doesn't linger for more than a second each time. Santana nudges Quinn's arm, but she brushes it off, too caught up in Rachel to give her friend any satisfaction.
'I've been on your mind.
You hang on every word I say.
Lose yourself in time at the mention of my name.
Will I ever know how it feels to hold you close?
And have you tell me whichever road I choose you'll go.'
Quinn wonders if this is what Finn felt like all those times that Rachel used to sing to him in the choir room. Her heart is racing, and her stomach is doing flips and twirls that would make any gymnast envious. She's always had such a visceral reaction to Rachel's brand of personalized performance—not always of the warm and fuzzy variety—but tonight is the first time she actually thinks that she and Rachel might be feeling the same way. It's a little bit exhilarating, and a lot terrifying.
Santana leans over the armrest, bringing her lips close to Quinn's ear and whispering, "Still think you're getting friend zoned?"
Even over the music, and with the soft murmur of her words, Quinn can hear the underlying amusement, and she turns to see the smug grin curving Santana's lips. Quinn knows that there's an idiotic smile on her own face, but she can't seem to care, and she turns her attention back to Rachel.
'I know it ain't easy, giving up your heart.'
That part of the song isn't exactly right, because it was so, so easy to give up her heart to Rachel. The hard part has been winning Rachel's in return.
She's on her feet the moment the last note fades, applauding and cheering with everything she's worth. Sue Sylvester would be proud. She doesn't even care that a few people around her are looking at her like she's crazy, or that a third of the audience is refusing to follow her example of a standing ovation. She only cares that Rachel is smiling down at her like she's the only person that really matters.
Rachel takes her final bow and leaves the stage, and Quinn sinks down into her seat in a daze. There are at least forty minutes left before the show is over, but all she wants to do is push her way backstage and find Rachel. The next performer comes on, and she claps politely out of habit until Santana pokes her hard in the shoulder.
"What the fuck are you doing?" she hisses. Quinn only stares at her in confusion, and Santana rolls her eyes, "Go talk to Rachel."
Quinn's traitorous heart stutters and skips again, and she glances back at the guy on stage who is in the middle of some slow, lilting ballad that Quinn doesn't recognize at all. "I..."
"Go," Santana barks, earning her a glare from the woman beside her and an annoyed shush. Santana turns to her with a scowl, "Please, like you're missing anything. Ten more seconds and Nathan Lame up there will have put the audience to sleep."
The woman bristles, "Well, I never..."
"Yeah, I can tell," Santana snipes, turning her back on the woman and aiming her scowl at Quinn. "Why are you still here?" she demands.
Quinn bites back a smile and shakes her head. A rush of pure giddiness sweeps over her, and she leans over and presses an impulsive kiss to Santana's cheek, stifling a giggle when Santana jerks away and rubs at her cheek in annoyance. "Ew, save that shit for Rachel."
She slides out of her seat as inconspicuously as she can, and ducks her head as she scurries out of the auditorium. She retraces her steps from earlier, but this time she encounters a roadblock in the form of a muscled, six-foot tall guy with unruly brown hair. "Sorry, only performers are allowed backstage during the show," he informs her.
Quinn glances past his shoulder, unwilling to be stopped on her quest to talk to Rachel. Relaxing her posture, she flashes her sweetest smile and blinks up at him, "Couldn't you make just one tiny exception for a fellow Giants fan?" she purrs, tracing a lazy finger over the logo on his shirt.
He smiles back at her, gently cupping her hand with his own and removing it from his chest. "Honey, I play on a different team."
Quinn's smile drops, and she huffs, "Look, I really need to talk Rachel Berry. Couldn't you just tell her that I'm here."
His eyebrows lift slightly, "You're a friend of Rachel?"
"Yes, her best friend," she stresses.
The guy's eyes narrow, "Nope, that would be Kurt Hummel," he informs her.
Quinn glares at him, "Her best girl friend," she growls, ignoring how wonderful the 'girl friend' part of that feels to say, and hoping that soon it will have the meaning that she desperately wants it to have.
"Nope," he denies again, "that's Santana."
"Like hell she is," she snaps. Rachel and Santana may be in the middle of an extended peace, but she knows they still drive one another crazy on the best of days. Quinn plants her hands on her hips, tapping into the head cheerio that still lives inside of her, "Listen, buddy, I need to talk to Rachel right now, so you are going to turn around, march your bulky self back there, and tell her that Quinn wants to see her."
Her eyes dart away from the unamused guy in front of her to easily find the petite form standing just behind his left shoulder. Her arms slacken and fall to her sides, and she smiles shyly, "Hi, Rach."
Rachel smiles back, laying a calming hand on the beefcakes shoulder, "Sorry, Paul. I should have told you to put Quinn on the list."
He relaxes instantly, and grins down at her as she steps around him. "No harm, no foul," he remarks easily, "Just remember to clear any guests next time," he tells her, "and there will be a next time," he winks, "You were awesome."
Rachel flashes her megawatt smile, "Thanks, Paul." She turns that smile back to Quinn, and Quinn has to struggle to catch her breath. "Hi," she whispers with a pretty blush.
"You," Quinn swallows heavily, "you were brilliant."
"Yeah," she echoes stupidly.
Paul chuckles, "I guess we do play on the same team."
Quinn scowls at him, but then Rachel is taking her hand and entwining their fingers, and Quinn's gaze falls helplessly to the connection.
"Come with me," Rachel says with a squeeze of her hand, tugging her into motion, and Quinn obediently follows. They walk outside, away from the amphitheater, and the chilly night air bites into their skin, but the warmth of Rachel's touch keeps Quinn from feeling the cold. She loses track of the turns they take, but suddenly they're inside a building, walking down a short hallway until they come to a little atrium with a few plush chairs and a cozy loveseat spread out under a glass ceiling illuminated by the lights of New York City.
Rachel tugs her down onto the loveseat and angles her body until their knees touch. "I really am so glad you're here," she says with sparkling eyes and tender smile.
"So am I," Quinn breathes, nervously licking her lips. "That song...it was," she trails off, shaking her head. She wants to ask, but she can't seem to get the right words to form.
Rachel's cheeks tint pink, but she meets Quinn's eyes without blinking, "I was singing it to you," she confesses softly, and Quinn gasps. She'd known deep down that it was true, but having Rachel actually confirm it is wreaking havoc on her nervous system. "And only you," Rachel adds with a knowing smile.
Quinn is thrown back to last year, and her vision blurs with unshed tears, because she's finally hearing the answer she'd wanted so badly back then. "Really?"
Rachel's eyes grow suspiciously shiny as she reaches up to cup Quinn's cheek and brush away a single, escaping tear. "I meant every word, Quinn," she confirms, dropping her hand and drawing in a shaky breath, "They say absence makes the heart grow fonder," she shakes her head and smiles wryly, "I don't know if that's true—it kind of had the opposite effect with Finn," she admits, and Quinn stiffens at the mention of his name. "I suppose I still miss the relationship, but I don't really miss him," Rachel clarifies. "But you," she pauses, biting her lip and gazing intently into Quinn's eyes. "Do you know it's been fifty-one days since I could touch you like this?" she asks, stroking her thumb along the back of Quinn's hand and driving the butterflies in her stomach into absolute madness. "I didn't know how much I," she stops again. "You wouldn't let me come to see you last month," she finally says, eyes filled with hurt and mild accusation.
Quinn swallows again, closing her own eyes to block out the memory of February twenty-first, and the unfortunate anniversary it had marked. "I told you why," she defends. "I just wanted to pretend that day never happened, and having you, or even Santana there would have made that impossible."
"Is that the real reason?"
"No," Quinn admits, opening her eyes. "I was afraid that I'd get emotional and end up telling you," she sighs, dropping all of her defenses, "telling you how I feel about you."
"How do you feel about me, Quinn?" Rachel pleads.
She looks away, shaking her head. She doesn't know how Rachel expects her to just say it, like it isn't the scariest thing she's ever had to do—and Quinn has had a baby and gotten hit by a truck and been temporarily paralyzed. "You already know," she mutters instead, because it's obvious now that she's been hiding nothing from Rachel in these last months.
Rachel sighs, "I didn't at first." She smiles ruefully, "Not until I spent three days crying because you...you didn't seem to want to be near me," she says quietly. "I was so angry at you for avoiding me, and at Santana for telling me to let it go because you needed your space. I couldn't stop thinking about...about last year, and how I almost got married, and how you," she stops, stifling a sob, and squeezing her eyes shut.
Quinn's heart aches, and she shifts closer on the loveseat, wrapping her free arm around Rachel, who instantly burrows into her shoulder and holds her so tightly that Quinn can barely breathe. Or maybe that's just because she finally has Rachel so close to her. "Hey, I'm okay. It's in the past."
Rachel nods slightly, "I know," she mumbles, "but I just kept thinking that I could have lost you, just when we were finally getting closer, and I kept seeing your face right after Regionals, and remembering what you said to me in that hallway, and," she lifts her face to look into Quinn's eyes, "I was so blind. I've been so blind," she repeats softly, lifting the hand that was resting at Quinn's waist to stroke the back of her neck. "I've always wanted to be closer to you. From the moment I first saw you in your cheerios uniform, strutting down the hallway, I wanted to make you like me, and I never bothered to really examine why. I think I wanted to believe it was just about...about..."
"Finn," Quinn supplies, less bitterly than she expects.
Rachel nods guiltily, "It wasn't, though. I don't want him anymore, but I," she smiles shyly, "I still want you—more now than ever—and I miss you every minute we're not together."
Quinn sucks in a breath, and then puffs it out slowly, "Because I'm your best friend?" she checks hesitantly.
Rachel rolls her eyes, "Because I'm in love with you, Quinn."
Her arms tighten around Rachel, and she stares into those beautiful brown eyes, seeing everything she's ever hoped for reflecting back at her. "Say it again," she demands fervently.
"I love you," Rachel repeats with a joyful smile, and just like that, Quinn's world becomes brighter.
Someone loves her—Rachel loves her—with all of her flaws, knowing nearly everything about her, the good and the bad, and every mistake that she's made and lie that she's told from the age of fifteen. The person who has always been able to bypass her defenses and strip her bare. The girl she fell in love with somewhere between the slushies and the teen pregnancy and the boyfriend stealing and the pink hair and foolish rushed engagements. This crazy, Broadway obsessed diva that can rile her up and calm her down and drive her insane and inspire her to be the best version of herself.
"Quinn?" Rachel worriedly mewls, the smile having disappeared from her lips, and Quinn realizes that she's been silently staring at Rachel for longer than she intended. She feels like she's on top of the world again.
A slow grin pulls at her mouth, and she dips her head until their lips are so very close. "Prove it," she dares.
She hears Rachel's breath catch in her throat, watches her eyelids flutter, and then—then the ghost of those lips against hers, soft, hesitant, and far too fleeting. It isn't enough—will never be enough—and Quinn chases the kiss, capturing Rachel's plump lower lip and tangling her fingers into long, dark hair to keep her close.
It's nothing like she imagined it would be—it isn't fireworks or bells or symphonies playing. It isn't sweet like wine, or soft like velvet. It doesn't make her knees go weak.
It makes her feel strong.
It makes her feel safe.
It's makes her feel like she's finally come home.
When Quinn finally manages to drag her mouth away, it's Rachel's turn to chase the kiss, and Quinn smiles. "I love you," she breathes against Rachel's lips.
Rachel tips her head back and gazes up at her with dark eyes, "It took you long enough," she admonishes playfully, pulling Quinn back down for another kiss, deep and full of promise. It's taken them both longer than it should have to get to this moment, but right now, Quinn has absolutely no complaints. They're exactly where they're meant to be.
"One and Only" by Adele
A/N: Feedback is always appreciated.