A/N: Hey, remember me? Yeah, me neither. Anyway, someone (KW Jordan) asked for the prequel for Better Where It's Wetter to be put back up. As it happens, I like this story much more than BWIW, so I'm happy to. XD
However, I'm having some problems with formatting, so I'll be posting this a chapter at a time – although there won't be too much of a gap between postings. I'm also going through and fixing some things; keep in mind I wrote this nearly two years ago so Glee canon has changed, and so has my writing.
(Also, this story is not linear, in case it's not obvious).
Like any typical romantic story, it begins with a collision.
McKinley High. Second day of the new school year. Quinn Fabray walking one way, Rachel Berry the other. One girl the epitome of nervousness, anxiously glancing down at the sheet music clutched in her hands and half singing to herself. The other is much more composed at first glance. However, this is only true on the outside; anyone that knows her well can see the tense line of her shoulders, the worrying of her bottom lip between perfectly even teeth that indicates an issue is niggling at her.
Thankfully not many know Quinn nearly as well as they think they do - no one around knows what's going through her head as she stares at the glee club advert clutched in her hands.
Paces away from each other now, both are lost in their own thoughts. There's a pause as Quinn suddenly comes to a halt, as though hesitating about doing something. Everything freezes and holds its breath, waiting for Quinn's decision.
A few tense moments pass before she lifts her head up and starts to move forward with renewed confidence.
A few feet to the left, or waiting just a second longer would've saved Quinn a heck of a lot of misery and happiness.
Quinn's sudden extra speed is what sends them straight into each other.
Some (particularly Rachel) would call this "fate."
Quinn, ever the sarcastic one, would prefer to label it "falling on our asses", as that is exactly what they did.
The impact had sent them flying in opposite directions onto the cold concrete, scattering papers all around them. For now, whatever forces that caused them to collide and fall on this rather cloudy morning of September - be it serendipity, destiny, or physics - slinks away and leaves them to get on with it.
Quinn is the one who recovers first. She pushes herself upright, massaging the painful spot on her back which will surely have a bruise later. An acidic curse directed at the clumsy person who ran into her is already forming on her lips - her mother would probably faint to hear the words she's thinking come from the mouth of her "perfect" daughter. Still, there's a lot of things her mother doesn't know about her.
Although the words are on the tip of her tongue, they simply evaporate when she sees Rachel for the first time: in all the glory of her lamb sweater and painfully short skirt. Years later, she'll tell Rachel that she was captivated by her beauty. In reality, however, that comes about five minutes later. The Quinn of this time is far shallower, and to the shame of her future self she's only thinking about Rachel's clothes - because one look at the still horizontal girl tells her everything she needs to know. She has "victim" written all over her – Quinn knows the type of person that ends up getting picked on at school and this one seems to be declaring proudly it for the entire student body to see with her cutesy farm animal design.
Hanging around with girls like her is like being near someone with the flu; it's as if the loser quality is contagious and attaches to anyone nearby, forever tainting their school reputation. She knows what comes after that from her sister: swirlies, being shoved in the hallway, locker filled with flour... Any manipulative scheme the others can get their grubby little hands on.
If today were a normal day, then Quinn would have already been on the other side of the school faster than you could say "repression". After all, she has obligations to take care of and she knows nothing about the tiny thing lying on the floor beyond her hideous wardrobe and the metaphorical target sign on it – not the most endearing traits. But then, just as she's about to leave, the unknown brunette sits up and blinks at her in confusion.
And for the second time in as many minutes, the usual barbs just die in Quinn's mouth.
This is when the captivation sets in.
'I'm so sorry,' says the other girl earnestly, scrambling to her knees and beginning to gather and order her things into piles (Quinn sees that they're all colour coordinated). 'I'm afraid I wasn't looking where I was going. Normally I'm far more poised, but I was a little – well, shall we say, wound up – because I just left from an audition for the glee club and Mr. Ryerson seems to think it prudent to wait until the end of the week to announce who will be allowed to join. I tried to explain to him that numbers are too small to be picky about who we let in but he seems to have completely disregarded everything I said to him. That includes my threa – my suggestions that he listen to me, otherwise I would be obliged to contact my gay dads and insist they call upon their contacts in the ACLU. Here,' she adds, shoving the poster back into Quinn's hands before continuing her speech.
Quinn takes it absently, brain still working over time to process the overload of information. Once it catches up she realises she has learnt several things about the brunette. One, she talks too much. Two, she talks too much, with a vocabulary completely unfitting for a teenager in Ohio. Three, she was auditioning for the glee club. Four, she has gay dads who apparently have contacts in high places. Five, her eyes are pretty. And six... well, she doesn't know what six was, because she's still stuck on five so it takes her a while to notice Rachel is looking at her pointedly.
'Sorry, what did you say?' she says, shaking herself back into conscious thought.
'I said I was Rachel Berry and then I asked your name.'
'Oh. Um.' What is her name? She can't remember, no matter how much she racks it and for a moment Quinn completely panics. So much so the wrong name falls out from between her lips. 'Charlie.' As soon as she's said it her hand claps over her mouth. What the hell, Quinn?
Rachel raises an eyebrow at her actions. 'Charlie. Hm. Well, I must say, you don't look like a Charlie.'
Quinn flushes bright red, unable to believe she said the wrong name in the first place. 'That's because it's not my name. I don't even know why I said that, I was just...' She forces herself to stop, and takes a deep breath. Start again. 'My name's Quinn… Quinn Fabray.' She makes a face. 'AKA, as of now, the biggest idiot in McKinley.'
Rachel laughs. Is it possible to fall in love with someone's laugh? If so, then Quinn thinks she might have found a soul-mate in the loud, bold noise that escapes Rachel.
Rachel sticks out her hand and Quinn takes it hesitantly.
'Nice to meet you. I'm glad you remembered your name in the end; it suits you more than Charlie. In my humble opinion, Quinn is prettier.' The compliment, laced with the tiniest hint of a teasing tone makes her blush even harder. What's happening to her? Quinn never loses her composure like this.
'My parents wanted a boy,' she explains weakly.
'Well then, if you were a boy, I'd tell you that it's very handsome...'
More heat in her cheeks, if that's even possible. She must look like a tomato by now. It's the intense, but affectionate way Rachel is looking at her, making Quinn's heart pound in a deeply unsettling way. Thankfully she starts to talk again – Rachel's good at that - and saves Quinn from having to speak any more since she isn't sure she'd manage to speak coherently without spilling her deepest secrets or something.
'Now, Quinn -' the single syllable sounds amazing in her voice, makes it sound like it could be pretty – 'I couldn't help but notice you were holding a glee club poster. Were you hoping to audition for the club as well?'
'I was considering it?'
Rachel's eyes widen happily. They are a seriously deep brown and yet when she smiles they light up with enough to power Quinn's house. She briefly imagines Rachel on a little wheel, providing electricity for her laptop, and starts to really wonder about her lack of focus today.
'You must! The club is rather short on members, and I could really use a friendly face with me.'
She's tempted – God, is she. She had already been considering it but now Quinn knows Rachel is in it too... Right now, there's nothing else she wants more than spending more time with this girl. She can't even think straight enough to be worried about that fact.
Quinn opens her mouth.
But she never gets a chance to finish her response, because she hears someone calling her name.
Quinn recognises the voice immediately and glancing over her shoulder reveals her suspicions to be correct: Santana, with Brittany too. Her heart plummets as it all comes flooding back: she was about to try out for the Cheerios but got distracted by that glee club poster, tacked on the notice board like an afterthought. Something came over her and soon enough she was ripping the thing off and running away with it like a mad woman. And then it led her to Rachel – literally.
The resulting disappointment she feels - knowing she's going to be made to leave now - is also highly concerning. She resists the urge to feel her forehead to check if she's running a fever.
'Quinn! C'mon, we'll be late otherwise,' Santana yells, right on cue.
Even from Quinn's position a short distance away she sees the smirk forming on her lips as her eyes pass over Rachel. Her head inclines slightly to Brittany, whispering something: they giggle together. There are no prizes for guessing who the joke is aimed at.
'Are you auditioning for the glee club as well?' asks Rachel them hopefully. She either hasn't noticed the sneering going on or she's doing well at ignoring it.
At this Santana laughs. 'The glee club? Are you kidding?'
Her eyes slide past Rachel to Quinn, still crouched on the ground - halfway between staying near Rachel and following Santana and Brittany, her oldest friends.
'We're cheerleaders. Always have been.'
Quinn doesn't miss the derision in Santana's voice when she says "glee club". It's an unwelcome reminder of how the club is treated at this school, historically, from what her sister has told her. Quinn glances at the lamb on Rachel's front and knows it's true.
However, for a moment she still hovers awkwardly at Rachel's side, unsure.
Part of her is still so weirdly charmed by Rachel and almost wants to go ahead with the audition to see what happens. The rest of her sees Santana raising her eyebrow at her expectantly, waiting for her to get going, wondering why she's not following.
She and Brittany are already changed into the clothes they're going to try out in; Quinn is not. If she doesn't hurry now then she's going to miss her allotted time – and Sylvester kicks out any late-comers on the spot. It should be an easy decision.
Her gaze flicks back to the brunette, who is looking at the poster in Quinn's clutches. They rise in confusion to Quinn's face, the brow above furrowing. A silent question. Are you coming?
'Quinn!' Santana yells. She's much louder than Rachel, if possible, and much more impatient.
Suddenly, Quinn seems to come back to herself. What is she doing? She shouldn't have even thought about auditioning for the glee club. Becoming a cheerleader was all they'd talked about growing up, all they'd set about doing during middle school. Something her older sister had prepped her on, advised her on through late night phone calls from college. She can't give it up now for a simple impulse to try something new that had hit her upon seeing the poster. Or because of large brown eyes that make her feel both exposed and comfortable at the same time...
Unable to face Rachel's gaze, Quinn ducks her head. Her hand crumples the poster, chucking it over her shoulder and letting the wind carry it away.
'See you around,' Quinn blurts out before scrambling to her feet and scuttling to her place in between Santana and Brittany. They steer her around towards the school, leaving Rachel alone. 'Who was that?' asks Brittany curiously as they walk away, arm in arm with each other. Quinn barely resists the urge to glance back. 'No one...'
All around Rachel in the choir room people are hugging goodbye with promises to call or text over the weekend, to meet up for some party that night, all those social things that come so easily to others but not to Rachel.
She stands on her own in the corner, slowly packing her music away into the giant, alphabetised accordion file she always carries around with her. No one's really said anything to her. That's to be expected, though, since people rarely hang around to say goodbye on a Friday afternoon. As of late Finn has occasionally hovered nearby, waiting to give her a lift or simply a hug and kiss on the cheek before he leaves, but today he's already gone. Apparently Finn and Puck are repairing their bromance with beer and video games, and tonight is Mario Kart night, leaving Rachel alone.
Gradually the noise of the other students dissipates and she's left alone to pack her trolley case. Even Brad left five minutes ago - the piano player who is able to magically be wherever they need him has more social life than she does. Somehow, even as the rising star of McKinley with a practically-certain future career on Broadway, people are not lining up to spend time with her.
Rachel comforts herself with the fact that one day, they will all be clamouring for her autograph. Still, there's a long way to go before that.
Looking on the bright side, it's Friday; game night at the Berry household. Maybe this time she can win against her daddy at Scrabble. He's had a three week winning streak, and something needs to happen to stop her fathers glaring at each other across the dinner table and trying to sabotage the Scrabble set.
Rachel turns around, intending to leave the choir room – however, she ends up running straight into Quinn who is standing behind her. They both let out an involuntary cry and stumble backwards; the other girl looks just as startled as Rachel is.
'I have mace in my bag!' Rachel cries instinctively, jumping back behind the chairs for protection. She doesn't genuinely think she'll need it, of course, but old habits with Quinn die hard.
'Relax, Berry,' says Quinn, holding up her hands and rolling her eyes. 'I'm not here to hurt you.'
Beneath her hand on her chest, Rachel's heartbeat gradually slows to its natural pace, although still cautiously raised in preparation for danger.
'Oh. Then what are you here for?'
Quinn shrugs at her.
'I was about to say goodbye to you? Y'know, since no one else did.'
Somehow, she makes that sound completely patronising.
'Oh.' She draws out the syllable to show her disapproval. She doesn't want to talk to Quinn out of pity. She comes out from behind the chair and reaches for her bag. 'Goodbye, then. If you'll excuse me…'
Since Quinn's baby was born, Rachel actively avoids spending time with her. She even misses out her solo performances. Although Quinn appears to have turned over a new leaf and thus has a far warmer attitude towards Rachel, she's always wary of somehow inciting the girl's wrath again. It never used to take much - maybe she was standing the wrong way or looking at Quinn strangely. Whatever it was, the end result was often the same: Slushie facial (usually administered by someone else, but she knows the true source). At least they're not fighting over boys anymore.
Today is the first time Quinn has actually sought her out to talk to her in months, and she doesn't want to hear it.
'Hey, don't walk away,' Quinn says as Rachel begins to drag her trolley case away. There's a hint of annoyance in her voice. 'I wanted to speak to you.'
'Oh really? I thought you were merely saying goodbye.'
Quinn pinches the bridge of her nose in exasperation. 'Don't act stupid, Berry - you know as well as I do that that's not the only thing I'm talking to you for.'
'I wasn't aware you would condescend to talk to me for any reason, except to hurl abuse,' Rachel says mildly.
Quinn scowls, displeased with the sarcastic treatment. 'You know what?' she grouses, throwing her hands up. 'Forget it. I was actually going to give you something musical related, but I guess I'll just go give it to Kurt instead.'
Quinn turns to leave, but Rachel leaps forward and whirls her back around before she can stop herself. 'Wait! Musical related?'
She tugs her arm out of Rachel's grip and glances down at her nails mock-innocently. 'Well,' she drawls, 'I might have an autographed Spring Awakening poster in my car. Signed by the entire original Broadway cast... I found it the other day and thought you might like it. But,' she adds, 'if you're going to be rude to me...'
Inside her brain, the mini-Rachels in charge of her thought processes and actions have a silent three-way tussle for the controls. Rachel the Broadway Lover vs. Rachel the Sceptic vs. the biggest and often, most aggressive one – Rachel the Quinn Lover, who also sometimes moonlights as the Quinn Hater.
After a brief fight the Quinn Lover ends up pinning her sceptic side down while the Broadway fan inside her takes controls.
'No!' she exclaims. 'Quinn, the entire cast?!'
Quinn smirks slightly. 'Yes. My sister went when I was younger and I found out. She bribed me with it to make sure I didn't tell my dad. It's been under my bed for years.'
'Lea Michele? Jon Groff?' she says suspiciously.
Quinn nods, quirking an eyebrow. 'Of course.'
'People tell me I look like Lea.'
Now the mouth turns up as well, resulting in an adorably lopsided smile. It's as if Quinn is trying to smirk again, but can only smile instead. 'Yeah, she does. She's pretty, but I think her nose is bigger.'
Rachel is surprised to recognise that she's just received a rather subtle compliment from Quinn. Instead of making her melt and throw herself at the other person like compliments usually do, however, it simply makes her even more suspicious. 'How do I know you're genuine? What's the catch?'
She holds up her hands. 'None. Only –'
'Aha,' says Rachel, sighing.
'If you'll let me finish, I just want to tell you something. Let me say my piece, and it's yours.'
Rachel frowns at her.
'You'll just have to trust me.'
The one thing she has trouble doing. Rachel peers at Quinn. Although she valiantly searches her hazel eyes carefully for any sign of malice, she finds none. Although sense tells her not to believe the other girl at all, she reasons that even if she doesn't like what's being said she gets a signed poster out of it.
She says reluctantly, 'You win. You have fifteen minutes..'
Quinn blinks. 'That was easier than I thought it'd be.'
'Well, I'm intrigued to find out what lovely speech Quinn Fabray has prepared for me.' Rachel returns to her seat; once there she crosses her legs and folds her arms in a pose which she hopes adequately displays her disinterest in what Quinn has to say. Rachel inclines her head at the blonde. 'Speak!'
Quinn regards her with an odd half-grin, half scowling expression. With one hand she's twisting the hem of her dress; the other is resting on her belly where her baby once was. She notices Quinn's shoulders are hunched and tense. Rachel's known her long enough to recognise the signs of when the girl is nervous. Why, though? What could make Quinn anxious? Perhaps she had some particularly mean prank to play on Rachel, and she's not sure about going through with it.
A few minutes pass where Quinn just remains silent, her mouth working around words but nothing coming out.
'Your quarter of an hour is ticking away,' Rachel reminds her eventually.
Inexplicably, Quinn lets out a quiet laugh - still looking at Rachel in that strange way. Her leg twitches, like she's deciding whether to move or not. Sure enough, after a moment of hesitation, she crosses the room in a few strides. A chair is spun around to face Rachel and Quinn sits with her legs folded beneath her, resting her head and arms across the back. 'You know, I spent all day thinking about what I was going to say. Now I don't know where to start.'
'All day? So this was premeditated?'
'Of course.' Quinn glances up at her through her eyelashes before dropping her eyes back down shyly, poking at the chair. Very different from the confident, bribing game she was playing a few minutes ago. 'Why do you think I brought the poster?'
'You really intended to use it to coax me into talking to you?'
Quinn arches an eyebrow. She glances around the room. 'You're not recording this to show to a cop or something are you? Because that seems like something you'd do, Berry.'
'Sadly I left all my recording equipment at home since I wasn't informed you'd be speaking to me today. After all, you haven't spoken to me properly for a long time, and before that it was only to insult me,' Rachel says, an edge to her voice.
To her surprise, Quinn doesn't get annoyed or start saying sharp words back. Instead, she sighs deeply. 'Yeah, you're probably right.'
'Excuse me?' 'I said you were right. Don't get used to me saying that,' she adds, lips twitching. 'But… Yeah. Um. I've treated you... horribly.'
Rachel nods. 'Yes. You have.'
Quinn rolls her eyes at the short response. 'You can't make anything easy, can you?'
'I think because I know where this conversation is going, I want to make it as uncomfortable for you as possible.'
'You're weird,' says Quinn.
'Insulting me is not endearing me to you at all, and I might not be inclined to listen to anything you say next...'
'It wasn't an insult.' At Rachel's scoff, Quinn grits her teeth, dropping one leg back to the floor in order to push off and tilt her chair forward. 'Okay, fine. I'll say it.'
'Nice and loud, please, if you will,' Rachel sings.
'Ugh,' grumbles Quinn. She rocks her chair a second time, glaring at the floor. 'Right. Well. Berry... I'm sorry, I guess.'
Quinn glares at her. Rachel decides not to push it. After all, it's a momentous occasion. Quinn Fabray rarely apologises, particularly for huge mistakes. Rachel considers this for a few moments and then bobs her head once in acceptance. 'I see,' Rachel comments. 'Do I get my poster now?'
The blonde's head shoots up in incredulity. 'That's all I get? All that angst and worry about saying the words and you say "I see"? Do I need to write you a list of things I did - Slushies? Drawings on the bathroom wall? Name calling? Think of it, I probably did it to you.'
'Quinn, I'm well aware of everything you did to me.'
'So why aren't you reacting more?'
Rachel raises an eyebrow at her. 'It's very simple. I've offered you friendship many times since we first met. Time and time again, you've declined; not only that, you've practically thrown it back in my face in the form of a Slushie. And yet you appear to believe that just saying "I'm sorry" is somehow going to mend it all.'
Of course, Rachel neglects to mention to Quinn that she forgave her a long, long time ago and that the sorry was never needed. That doesn't mean it's not wanted, however, as she can't deny how good it feels to hear it. Still, Rachel intends to drag out this little guilt thing Quinn has going on as long as she can. Twisted? Maybe. But a girl has to get her amusement somehow.
'I don't think that,' Quinn says defensively. 'But it's the first step right? Admitting your mistakes. At least I'm trying.'
Rachel shrugs and crosses her arms over her chest. 'I didn't say I didn't appreciate your attempts. However, as you might imagine, an entire year and more of torture is not easy to get over.'
Quinn's face falls. 'I know,' she mutters. Her expression indicates she knew, but hoped it wasn't so. 'I never expected you to...'
Rachel studies Quinn carefully. Then she says abruptly,
'Stop doing that.'
'That face. Yes, that one!' She points as Quinn accidentally does it again, only this time with more confused bottom lip. 'That is far too similar to the Berry Pouty Face, which, I might remind you, is a trademark for my family only.' She plants her hands on her hips and looks at Quinn sternly. Comprehension and slight amusement appears to be dawning on the blonde's face. 'It's lucky I am immune to it.'
Quinn pushes her lip out even more. 'Are you sure about that?' Her words come out muffled because her lip is protruding so much. Rachel tries to hide her smile, she really does. It's not her fault Quinn does look adorable like that, even if that particular pose is meant to for the Berrys only.
However, she really doesn't expect Quinn to notice and let out an extremely uncharacteristic noise that sounds like "squee". She's practically bouncing in her chair now, hazel eyes sparkling and pointing frantically at Rachel.
'I made you smile! Like, properly smile!'
She sounds so pleased about it.
'Why does that make you happy?' asks Rachel curiously. Quinn is actually full-on beaming at her.
'I haven't done that in so long. I honestly thought I'd never make it happen again.' Again. It's the first reference Quinn has made in months to their friendship at the beginning of freshman year. She's spent every day denying it ever happened and pushing Rachel away; that was the first time Rachel actually felt like she had a proper friend at this school. She hasn't done since.
'Admittedly I do prefer when you're making me smile rather than… cry.' Sighing, she turns her chair around mirrors Quinn's position of leaning over the top of the chair. Her eyes are fixated on Rachel's face, displaying her feelings so openly in a way she isn't accustomed to seeing anymore. It's uncomfortable but she makes the effort to meet her eyes back.
'I do too,' says Quinn earnestly.
Rachel shakes her head. Hesitating, she slowly reaches out to place her hand over the other girl's. Although the muscles jump underneath her and twitch as though she wants to move away, Quinn doesn't. In fact, she joins their fingers together, swinging them in the space between their chairs.
They stay like that for some time. Quinn's staring at their hands in wonder, a small smile on her lips. Rachel pretends she hasn't missed that smile and the warmth that comes with being the only recipient of it. After a few moments, Quinn says quietly, 'You forgive too easily,' Quinn says quietly. 'I never expected you to listen, let alone...' She trails away.
Rachel squeezes her hand. 'Tell me why this is so important to you. Why now? Why not before? Why did you do it at all?'
Quinn's brow furrows in thought at this question, hair falling into her face to shield her from view. The teeth come out to chew her bottom lip, and when Quinn doesn't respond for a long time, Rachel begins to think she's shut her out again even if her hand is still in Rachel's. But then, she speaks, voice even softer than before.
'Because the past nine months have been hard. Because I've lost my family once already, and even though I have my mom back, things are tense. I lost my friends. And I got Slushied.
She shakes her head. 'Actually, it hasn't just been hard. It's been... awful.' Quinn starts to fidget, falling back into twisting the material of her skirt between her fingers. 'Y'know, for a while there, I had no one. And it got me thinking... Why did this happen to me? What are the mistakes I've made, so I never repeat them?' She takes a shuddering breath, raises her gaze again briefly before dropping it.
'Rachel, you... you were the biggest mistake. Everything - everything I did to you. And the reason I did it? It was all because I was scared about... about your feelings for me.' She pauses, for a moment looking at little panicked. 'You don't still have them, do you?'
Rachel shakes her head fervently.
I can practically feel my underwear catching fire from the size of that lie... Rachel thought. She hopes Quinn can't read it from her face.
Quinn sighs in relief. 'Sorry, I think that would take me a little longer to get over. I do regret everything I did though, and I have for a long, long time... it's taken me all this time to get the courage to say anything.' Quinn raises her head, but her eyes appear to be focusing on Rachel's nose rather than looking at her directly. 'I need you to understand that I mean this apology.'
'Do you really?'
Quinn nods vigorously. 'I do.'
'Then say it again, and look me in the eyes when you do.'
Almost immediately, Quinn looks up and tries to say it, but the words seem to die in her throat. She makes many false starts like that – starting to say the words without looking at her, or looking at her but not being able to say anything.
'Why is this so hard? I managed it before,' says Quinn in frustration, after the fifth consecutive attempt. 'I want to say it. It's right there. Two words. It should be easy.'
'I have time, you know,' Rachel says. 'We can do it another day, and I'll be happy to hear it whenever as long as it's honest.'
'No,' says Quinn forcefully. She slides her foot on the floor, scooting her chair until it's nearly pressed against Rachel's. 'We're doing this today.' She sits up and steadily meets Rachel's eyes. There's the old HBIC confidence in there, certainly, but something else too. 'Rachel, I –'
For one heart-stopping moment, her breath catches and Rachel seems to go slightly insane. The rational part of her brain knows perfectly well what Quinn is about to say. But for a moment, she really thought Quinn was about to say 'I love you'.
Obviously, she doesn't. 'Rachel, I'm so, so sorry.'
Rachel wills her heart to slow and to lift, rather than making her feel so disappointed to hear that instead of what she'd originally thought would come out of Quinn's mouth. No matter what she does, though, there's a part of her brain – the same one thinking Quinn looks beautiful with her hair down like that and making her heart flutter at their current proximity, no doubt – which wants to believe her original assumption was what Quinn intended to say.
'Thank you. I believe you… And I accept your apology.'
'However...' continues Rachel dramatically.
'Oh no,' says Quinn, groaning. 'Here we go.'
'It's going to take a lot more than that for me to like you again. If that is your aim, I suggest you plan some sort of big display, possibly involving unicorns and cupcakes, in order to fully make me trust and forgive you,' Rachel deadpans.
Quinn raises her eyebrow. 'I'll sing and even bake for you if that's what you're getting at, but I don't know if I can get the unicorns for next week.'
'Well, I suggest you try and think of something else, assuming you really want me to smile rather than cry.'
'Of course,' says Quinn enthusiastically. 'I miss the smile you had when we used to spend time together. It'd come right the way up... here...' Quinn had been about to trace the relevant line on Rachel's face. At the last moment she pulls her hand back and blushes scarlet. 'Well, you know the one I mean,' she mumbles.
She saw it mirrored on Quinn's face enough, and she sees it now.
Over the next week Quinn dramatically steps up her efforts of being cordial to Rachel. There are 'Hello's in the corridor, waves as she passes by, even paused by her locker to give her a slightly goofy smile and then run away as quickly as she came.
Nonetheless, there are no big gestures of friendship just yet. Rachel, ever the romantic, is rather disappointed no one has turned up beneath her balcony to sing to her or planted a dozen roses in her locker, and is a little annoyed at the lack of unicorns or even cupcakes.
It's only on the aforementioned second to last glee session that anything happens and Rachel effectively loses any restraint she had on keeping her feelings for Quinn in check.
Her family had told her about the gay cruise a while ago, and had been debating with herself the merits of asking someone to accompany her. She's never once been on holiday with a friend – but then, this is also the first year she's actually felt like she had some semblance of friendship with anyone.
Still, Rachel doesn't even consider asking Quinn. It's too soon, and she doesn't want to rock the boat, pun intended. So the first ten minutes of the meeting is spent telling the glee club about the proposed trip on a gay cruise for three weeks that summer and despite her attempts to recruit, no one seems remotely interested, even Finn – who she assumed would want to make some sort of effort to get her back as his girlfriend. Apparently the "gay" aspect puts him off for some reason.
In some form or another, everyone has made an excuse not to come. With her hands on her hips, she sighs. 'Are you telling me that no one wants to make this trip with me?' she says in exasperation.
'I'm not adverse to going with my dads alone by any means, but I think it might be ... awkward without someone my age there.'
She decides not to mention how badly she really wants someone to come, because at this rate, it doesn't seem like anyone is going to.
Deflated, she imagines returning home to tell her fathers she didn't manage to convince her friends to accompany her – that she has no friends.
And then, just as she's losing all hope, there's an unexpected voice from the back. Quinn.
'You didn't ask me.'