Author's Note: Follow up to This Is How We Tried To Love. Alternate Season 4 with spoilers to 4:14, I Do.

Thanks and cyber-hugs to Skywarrior108 for being an awesome beta.

Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or the characters - if I did it would have ended after season 3 - I just like to play with them…strictly non-profit.


In The Pull Of Gravity

I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone...
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carries the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air.
~Adrienne Rich, Twenty-One Love Poems, II


Part I: I Have Been Dreaming


It's the second week of February when Quinn Fabray makes use of that Metro North pass for only the third time, and she's once again flowing along with the crowd of travelers slowly making their way from the platform at Grand Central Terminal. The last time she was here was at Kurt Hummel's request, and he'd been waiting for her at the gate with a solemn face and a stilted apology for having called her to New York. She hadn't been completely certain why she'd agreed to come—probably a mix of her love for Rachel that refused to fade and the selfish need to keep the girl from stripping naked on film for anyone and everyone to see—but it turned out to be one of the best decisions that Quinn had ever made. She'd arrived slightly heartsick and left completely in love and happier than she's ever been in her life.

Quinn flushes with pleasure at the thought of her girlfriend—and that's a word she'd never imagined using in the past, but it sounds so perfect to her now. She and Rachel had spent three days together during her last visit, talking and kissing, and cuddling and kissing, and—well, arguing, because that's who they are—and kissing. They'd slept in each other's arms for two nights, though they hadn't had sex—okay, had sex again, if she's being completely accurate. It's amazing what three days can do. Quinn doesn't think she's ever felt so close to another person.

She quickly catches sight of Rachel carelessly elbowing her way between a disgruntled couple, and Quinn smiles widely at the expression of happiness and love on Rachel's gorgeous face that's meant only for her. She feels like she's waited forever to see Rachel look at her this way. Rachel practically throws herself into Quinn's arms, murmuring her name in the seconds before she claims Quinn's smiling lips for her own.

Quinn's arms slide effortlessly around Rachel's waist as she returns the kiss with vigor—the nine days since their last kiss suddenly feel like a lifetime without sustenance. She'll never stop being amazed by how right this feels. For years, her mind had been a constant cacophony of doubt and fear and self-hatred, but somehow Rachel quiets all of that. Maybe that's why she hadn't felt any desire to run and hide after that first night with Rachel—because for the first time in her life, everything inside of her was calm. But then Rachel had ripped that all away from her in the harsh morning light, and Quinn had been lost again, drowning in a sea of chaos and confusion that she couldn't escape—no matter how hard she'd tried to swim to safety. She's not proud of how easily she'd reverted to her old tricks in a failed attempt to get over Rachel Berry, using the besotted men (and women) at Yale to make herself feel better—feel desired. It hadn't worked. No one can quiet her soul (or heat her blood) the way Rachel does, and now that Quinn has her, she doesn't plan to let go.

Eventually, she pulls back from their embrace with a soft smile. "Hi," she sighs.

"I've missed you," Rachel breathes, seemingly reluctant to let go of Quinn despite the fact that they're standing in the middle of a busy terminal. Quinn thinks it's a good sign.

"It's only been a week, and we've talked every day. You've hardly had time to miss me."

"Haven't you missed me?" Rachel asks with a pout.

Quinn licks her lower lip before biting into it with a shy grin. "Every minute," she husks, ducking her head to steal another quick kiss. She grudgingly releases her hold on Rachel, who sighs in disappointment before reaching for the little, plaid pilot's case that Quinn has opted to use for this trip. Quinn rolls her eyes indulgently and allows Rachel to take her bag. She actually finds it incredibly endearing that Rachel constantly wants to do little things like that for her.

Rachel reaches down to entwine their fingers—Quinn loves the way their hands fit together so perfectly. "Are you hungry? We can have dinner somewhere and take a taxi back to Bushwick," Rachel suggests as they begin to walk through the busy terminal.

"I grabbed a quick sandwich before I left New Haven," Quinn says with an apologetic shrug. "I'm actually kind of tired. Maybe we could just go back to your place and…rest," she drawls, dropping her voice suggestively. Or not rest, she thinks wickedly. She just wants to be alone with Rachel.

"It will hardly be restful with Santana there," Rachel complains, giving Quinn's bag a frustrated jerk that causes the wheels to rattle against the floor. The reminder works like a bucket of ice water on Quinn's libido, and her smile droops.

Rachel had called her last Thursday in a panic, rambling nonstop about Santana showing up on their doorstep with suitcase in hand and announcing that she was moving in. Quinn had known that Santana was unhappy at Louisville—even unhappier about Brittany and her relationship with Sam—but she'd been as surprised as Rachel to find out Santana had dropped out of school and decided to try her luck in New York. Apparently, she's been sleeping on that disgusting, uncomfortable futon for the last six days—Kurt's new friend Adam had even managed to fix it so it folded down all the way.

"I was really hoping we could spend some time alone together before…" Rachel trails off with a pensive frown.

Quinn's stomach flips unpleasantly, and she tugs her hand out of Rachel's and shoves it into her coat pocket. "Before we have to pretend we're just friends," she spits, hurt and frustrated over Rachel's reluctance to announce their relationship to their friends and family.

Rachel reaches out to touch Quinn's arm, stopping their forward progress and urging her out of the way of the people hurrying in all directions around them. "That's not what I meant," she insists as she determinedly recaptures Quinn's downcast eyes. "You agreed that we should wait to tell Santana about our fledgling relationship together."

It's true that Quinn hadn't wanted Rachel to face Santana's very special version of supportive friendship alone, but, "You said we shouldn't tell anyone else."

"Yet ," Rachel frantically reminds her. "I suggested that we shouldn't tell anyone else yet. Going back to Lima for this wedding is going to be awkward enough without having to explain that you and I are together romantically."

"You just don't want Finn to know," Quinn accuses petulantly, fisting her hand inside her coat pocket and sullenly averting her eyes.

Rachel sighs heavily, glancing away as she admits, "You're right. I don't want him to know." Quinn feels a little sick at the admission. Rachel has never tried to sugarcoat that she still cares deeply for Finn—still loves him—and Quinn can't hope to compete with their history without resorting to dirty tricks. She's not completely above doing that if it means keeping Rachel.

Rachel steps closer to her and reaches up to cup her face. "I love you, Quinn," she vows without hesitation, "but I almost married Finn last year, and I still care about him. Finding out that you and I are together is going to hurt him," she says with a sad smile, "and Mr. Schuester's wedding isn't the right time or place for us to…come out."

She falters over the last words, and Quinn stares into Rachel's dark eyes with unwavering intensity. Rachel is obviously still uncomfortable with all of this—still struggling to come to terms with being in love with another woman and what it will mean for the dreams that she's been working toward since she was a little girl. Quinn is still a little nervous about all of that too—she really isn't looking forward to telling her mother—but she's had the last year to process her feelings for Rachel. She can't help it if she wants to strut into that church in Lima with Rachel on her arm and her head held high as she announces to everyone they know that Rachel is her girlfriend—and that Finn Hudson is never getting another chance with her.

"Will there ever be a right time or place?" Quinn questions softly.

"I'm getting there, Quinn," Rachel promises, stroking her fingers along Quinn's jaw. "I'm not ashamed of you," she assures her, "and I certainly don't secretly want Finn back. But this is still so new. I just need you to be a little more patient with me."

Quinn bites into her lower lip, and Rachel brushes her thumb over the spot, gently prying the poor, abused flesh from between her teeth. Quinn turns her head slightly, pulling her hand from her pocket to reach up and encircle Rachel's wrist before gently guiding her hand down and sliding her palm against Rachel's to link their hands together once again. "I can be patient," Quinn murmurs. "I've been patient. But I won't hide in closets and lie about us forever, Rachel. I'm tired of living that way."

"I won't ask you to," Rachel swears, squeezing Quinn's hand. "We'll only be in Lima for a few days, okay? I just want us to have some time alone together before we start telling our friends and families. But we will tell them, Quinn. I promise."

Quinn holds on to that promise with her whole heart, and it's made easier by the fact that they're standing here, in the middle of a Grand Central Terminal, holding one another like any other pair of lovers would. Rachel might not be ready to tell everyone they know, but she also isn't shying away from public displays of affection here in New York. It's enough for now, and Quinn nods, murmuring a soft, "Okay."

"But first we have to tell Santana, because I refuse to hide in my own home," Rachel says with determination. "I've had to resort to taking your phone calls in the bathroom because it's the only room with a door where I can have a little privacy. I'm certain Santana must think that I have some kind of digestive issue."

Quinn smothers a smile. "She probably just thinks you're in there masturbating," she teases. She expects Rachel to be shocked and affronted by the suggestion, but Rachel's clamps her mouth closed tightly, darting her eyes away while her cheeks flush crimson. Quinn gasps, "Rachel!"

"It's a natural human urge," she defends hotly. "Especially lately."

Quinn bites into her lip again to stifle a moan at the unspoken indication that Rachel is thinking of her while she touches herself. She closes her eyes and imagines Rachel—locked in her bathroom wearing those tiny, little shorts and nothing else and… "Do you think we can kick Kurt and Santana out tonight?"

Rachel puffs out a breath and shakes her head sadly. "We might be able to convince Kurt to leave for an hour or two, but I doubt Santana will be so accommodating. I only hope that she doesn't feel like posting an announcement on her Facebook page."

"God, she's going to be insufferable," Quinn complains.

"Going to be?" Rachel grumbles. "You haven't been living with her for the last six days."

Quinn doesn't have to live with Santana to know her stance (or lack thereof) on personal space and property. She'd only had to invite Santana to her house one time to learn that she needed to lock up anything and everything that she wanted kept private. "No, but I have five years of history with her that she can use as ammunition to embarrass me. And you," Quinn admits quietly, thinking about all the nasty things that she'd said about Rachel in the distant past—and all the potentially revealing things like convincing Santana to make Rachel prom queen.

"Please tell me that you two never," Rachel stops talking abruptly, pursing her lips with a frown as her hand tightens around Quinn's.

Quinn's eyes widen as she mentally completes Rachel's question. "Oh God, no," she chokes on an incredulous laugh. "She just…knows things that I'd rather she didn't. And I may have…purposely antagonized her at Thanksgiving," she says prudently.

Quinn had told Rachel some of what happened during her last visit to Lima—how she'd downplayed their contact, even lying about not visiting New York, and embellished how happy she was at Yale, including her short-lived dalliance with Alex—the psychology professor whom Rachel still refuses to acknowledge by name. At least Quinn had gotten some free therapy before she'd dropped Alex for lying about the divorce. She and Rachel have agreed to put those three months of mutual stupidity behind them.

"You are very good at antagonizing people," Rachel teases with a straight face.

Quinn tugs at her hand, narrowing her eyes as she leans forward. "I'm very good at other things that you'll be deprived of if you don't start being nicer to me," she warns with an arched brow.

Rachel licks her lips, rocking up on her toes and whispering, "I can be very nice," before she brushes a feather-light kiss across Quinn's mouth and pulls a soft hum of pleasure from her.

"Mmm…maybe I am a little hungry after all," she purrs, chasing Rachel's lips and capturing them in a far more sensual kiss that makes Quinn really wish Rachel didn't have any roommates.

Eventually, they do make their way out of Grand Central Terminal hand-in-hand. They take a taxi this time instead of the subway because Quinn has more luggage for the trip back to Lima, and also because it's already after dark on a Tuesday evening, and they have an early flight to Ohio tomorrow. It would have been easier for Quinn to just fly straight home, but she selfishly wants as much time with Rachel as she can manage, especially since they won't be attending the wedding as an official couple. Needless to say, they take full advantage of the taxi ride.

When the car stops in front of Rachel's building, Quinn has to give her a little nudge to get her moving. Rachel sighs dramatically, but she reluctantly slides out of the taxi and then gallantly offers her hand to Quinn, who accepts it with a grin. She allows Rachel to take her bag again as they walk inside the building.

They stop in front of the door, and Rachel nervously glances over at her. "As relieved as I'll be to tell Santana the truth, I'm not looking forward to the constant teasing and insinuations that will undoubtedly follow."

"We should just do it quickly," Quinn suggests, "like ripping off a band-aid."

"Except Santana has really sharp fingernails, and you just know that she's going to dig in and take off a layer of skin along with the adhesive," Rachel rambles.

Quinn shakes her head. "You're being ridiculous."

Rachel frowns at her. "Actually, she does keep her nails unusually long for a lesbian. That can't be particularly pleasant for her sexual partners."

Quinn considers this for a moment before she looks at Rachel suspiciously. "Why are you paying attention to Santana's nails?"

Rachel shrugs one shoulder. "It's just something that I happened to notice after she moved in that I never gave much thought to before you and I…well," she ducks her head with a sheepish grin. "I've just been thinking more about the importance of proper hand and nail care lately."

A slow smile spreads over Quinn's face, and she lifts Rachel's hand in hers, glancing down to inspect the soft skin and impeccably short fingernails. She hums in approval as she lifts Rachel's hand to her lips and presses a light kiss to her fingers. Rachel licks her lips as she watches Quinn's every movement. Quinn brings their joined hands down slowly, smirking proudly at the visible effect that she has on her girlfriend. Rachel groans, stepping forward to steal one last kiss before they go inside. Their mouths slide together hungrily until they hear Kurt's voice from inside the apartment telling Santana that he thinks he hears them outside. They break apart quickly, and Quinn makes a vain attempt to fix her lipstick before the door slides open.

They're barely over the threshold before Kurt is reaching for Quinn's hand. "Welcome back, stranger," he teases, pulling her in for a quick hug that Quinn returns somewhat awkwardly. She still isn't quite used to these more tactile displays of affection from Kurt.

She whispers a soft, "Hi, Kurt," into his collar before she pulls back.

"What?" Santana's voice cuts in. "Am I invisible?" she asks, having uncoiled from her position on the futon to stand behind Kurt with her arms crossed under her breasts.

Quinn rolls her eyes as she works open the buttons of her coat. "Hello, Santana."

"Yeah, whatever," she dismisses with a bored shrug. "Just don't think you're getting the couch to sleep on tonight. You can park your chubby ass on a chair or the floor."

"The floor is probably cleaner than that futon," Quinn remarks, flashing a teasing grin at Rachel, who rolls her own eyes in response.

"Please, Santana," Kurt chastises as he takes Quinn's coat, "we don't make our guests sleep on the floor. In any case, that certainly won't be necessary for Quinn."

Quinn's eyes dart to Rachel, and she watches her blush and glance nervously at Santana before she clears her throat and pushes Quinn's suitcase at Kurt. "Why don't you put this in my bedroom, Kurt?" she prompts with a blatant shut-the-hell-up expression. He gives her an odd look, but he loops Quinn's coat over his arm, takes the case, and heads towards the bedroom.

"Oh, I see how it is," Santana says, and Quinn can actually feel Rachel tense beside her. "You'll give up your comfy bed for Ms. Ivy League, but not for your own roommate."

"Maybe because Quinn was actually invited," Rachel mutters, relaxing slightly as she takes off her own coat.

"I was invited," Santana reminds her huffily.

"For a visit, Santana. Not forever."

"So if we call this an extended visit, do I get to sleep in your bed, too?"

"No," Quinn growls in stereo with Rachel. Their eyes catch, and they both grin a little.

Santana doesn't seem to notice. "Come on. It's not like I'm gonna molest you in your sleep," she huffs testily, and then she tilts her head and gives Rachel a slow, noticeable once over that annoys Quinn more than it should. "Although I have to say, Rachel, your new look is unexpectedly hot, and I have developed a certain appreciation for experimenting college girls."

"I'm not experimenting," Rachel practically shouts. Quinn clenches her jaw at the unpleasant memory, and she glares at Santana darkly, crossing her arms over her chest.

Santana rolls her eyes hard. "Oh, calm your itty-bitty titties. We all know you're as straight as the stick up Quinn's ass," and Rachel colors and glances away guiltily, "and even if you weren't, we live together now so you're in my no fly zone."

"You're damn right she is," Quinn bites back possessively, barely resisting the urge to pull Rachel into her side. It's not that she thinks Santana is being at all serious with her comments—she's just being her usual crass self and trying to push Rachel's buttons—but Quinn no longer feels any need to suppress her urge to protect and defend Rachel from people like Santana. No one is going to mess around with her girlfriend while she's standing right here.

Maybe it's something in Quinn's posture, or maybe it's something in the way that Rachel is looking at her, because Quinn swears that she can feel the subtle shift in Santana from the bitchy troublemaker to the frighteningly single-minded predator on the scent of a kill.

Santana laughs—half-amused and half-incredulous—as she scrutinizes Quinn with dark, calculating eyes. Her gaze darts to Rachel, then back again several times before she mumbles, "No freaking way," under her breath. When the familiar, calculating expression finally appears on Santana's face, Quinn's body vibrates with anticipation because she recognizes that look. "You know," Santana drawls with feigned indifference. "It suddenly occurs to me that you're both wearing the same shade of lipstick."

Quinn's lips twitch at the corners, and she shrugs nonchalantly, glancing at Rachel with twinkling eyes. "It's a popular color," she hedges, wondering how far Santana will push it.

Santana reaches out and puts one hand on Quinn's shoulder and the other on Rachel's, gently guiding them around until they're practically face to face with Santana standing in between them. "I'm pretty damn certain that Berry, here, wasn't wearing any lipstick at all when she left to pick you up, and yours is looking a little smeared there, Q. Why, it's almost like you loaned Rachel your lipstick directly from your own mouth, but I know that can't be right, because you aren't that into that," she reminds Quinn pointedly before turning to Rachel, "and you're completely cock-whipped." Rachel squeaks indignantly, but Santana ignores her. "And I know one of you two bitches would have told me if you've been screwing like baby lesbian bunnies behind my back."

"We are not screwing," Rachel hisses disdainfully.

"We're in love," Quinn says with a soft smile, reaching over to take Rachel's hand in her own. It feels so good to say it out loud—to tell someone that they're together—especially when Rachel squeezes her hand and returns her smile.

Santana glances down at their joined hands, and then between them with a frown. She drops her hands from their shoulders and crosses her arms again. "Okay, you're both totally fucking with me now, right?" she asks warily, glancing at Rachel first. "This is all some elaborate setup to get back at me because you think I invaded your privacy or something."

"You rifled through all my drawers," Rachel reminds her testily. "And used my shampoo. And," she narrows her eyes, "is that my sweater?"

Santana puffs out a dismissive breath and turns to Quinn. "And you're obviously still pissed because I called you out on your passive-aggressive bullshit at Thanksgiving."

"You slapped me," Quinn reminds her irritably, "very, very hard. I'm expecting an apology for that, by the way."

Rachel whips her head from Santana to Quinn. "She slapped you? You didn't tell me that part."

"She slapped me first," Santana defends while Quinn just shrugs guiltily.

"I don't care," Rachel growls, poking Santana in the shoulder. "If you want to stay here even one more night, you'd better apologize to my girlfriend."

Quinn beams at Rachel, flushing with pleasure as she tugs Rachel closer and slips an arm around her waist. Santana's eyes widen. "Holy shit! You're not fucking around with me? You're actually together?"

"Did you seriously think we were playing a practical joke on you?" Quinn asks with a small frown. She knows it's probably a little surprising, but she'd actually thought that of all their friends, Santana would have been the one to suspect this—at least on Quinn's part. Looks like she was wrong.

"Hey, Hummel. Get your gay ass back out here," Santana demands loudly as she spins on her heel and stalks closer to Rachel's bedroom.

Kurt cautiously peeks his head out. "There's no need to shout, Santana," he reprimands, stepping away from the curtain and smoothing his shirt. "I can hear everything you're saying perfectly well."

"Is that," she sloppily waves behind her at Rachel and Quinn, "actually happening for real?"

"I can assure you that it is," he tells her, walking over to her and gently turning her around to look at Rachel and Quinn. "And has been, in one form or another, since October. You are currently witnessing the hard-fought, happy resolution of the most epic gay panic in history."

"Kurt!" Rachel snaps, even as Quinn holds her a little bit tighter in silent support.

Santana nods her head. "I guess Professor Mid-life Crisis makes a hell of a lot more sense now."

Quinn purses her lips to smother a smile, and Rachel groans a little as she buries her face into Quinn's shoulder. Kurt starts to laugh unabashedly, wrapping an arm around Santana's shoulders and squeezing. "Oh, sweetie, you've got it so very wrong." Santana looks so confused that Quinn can't help joining in Kurt's laughter, hugging Rachel close to her as she does.

The four of them eventually end up sprawled around the living room, sharing a bottle of wine as they talk. Once the initial shock wears off, Santana turns out to be unexpectedly sympathetic—or perhaps it shouldn't be so unexpected after her own coming out experience. There's some muttering about her otherwise awesome gaydar being on the fritz, but there's also an odd smile on her face every time she looks at Rachel and Quinn curled together on the futon that makes Quinn believe that she's genuinely happy for them. Of course, Santana wouldn't be Santana without needling them both a bit, and she's having fun thinking back over their convoluted history and pointing out all of the times they'd acted particularly gay for one another.

Santana is currently reminiscing about junior year of high school—she's already covered sophomore year, including Quinn's favorite artistic subject and the bit of blackmail on Quinn's behalf that earned Jacob Ben Israel a pair of Rachel's panties—and she laughingly reveals that Finn had told Puck who'd told her that Rachel had asked him what it was like to kiss Quinn. "I guess now you know first hand," Santana snickers, waggling her eyebrows at Rachel.

"Did you really ask him that?" Quinn questions softly, pushing aside her irritation that Finn apparently shared so many personal things about both Rachel and Quinn with people he had no business sharing them with—like how Quinn had told him that he could cheat on her with anyone but Rachel. And really, Quinn probably should have figured out that she was attracted to Rachel much sooner than she did.

Rachel meets her eyes, and she bites into her lip and nods. "I wanted to know if he saw fireworks with you."

Quinn has a very clear memory of being tangled up with Rachel on this very futon, staring down at her wild hair and dark eyes after having kissed her senseless and being told that the fireworks were pretty. A slow smile curls over her lips, and she whispers, "I only care that you see them."

"Every time," she murmurs with confidence, pulling Quinn down for a brief kiss.

"Wanky," Santana comments with a sly grin before her eyes go wide and gleam with unholy mischief. "Oh, please let me be the one to tell Finneffective that all of his exes are hot for the ladies now."

"No, Santana," Rachel refuses sharply.

"Not on this trip, anyway," Quinn mutters dejectedly. If it were up to her, they'd be telling Finn the minute their plane lands, and she couldn't care less what inappropriate things Santana might say.

"Not ever," Rachel corrects, lightly pinching Quinn's arm in warning. "When we eventually tell him, we'll do it tactfully."

"I can be tactful," Santana insists. Quinn, Rachel and Kurt all stare at her with varying degrees of skepticism until she tosses up her hands, admitting, "Okay, fine. For the record, I can be tactful. I just choose not to be. The boy outed me in the middle of a crowded hallway. The least you can do is let me have this one little thing," she complains.

"And that was wrong of Finn," Kurt agrees, "but he needs to hear about Rachel and Quinn from Rachel and Quinn. When they're ready," he adds with a nod, and Rachel smiles at him gratefully. "And on that note, it's getting terribly late, and we all have to be up early tomorrow."

He rises from his chair and begins to collect the discarded wine glasses and the empty bottle. Santana makes a show of stretching, spreading her body across the far end of the futon and nudging Quinn's leg with her stocking-clad foot. "So, I guess there's zero chance of me getting to share that comfy bed, huh?"

Quinn pushes her foot away with an arrogant smirk. "Another reason for you to be jealous of me while you spend another night on this flea-market reject." She pats the cushion beside her in emphasis.

"Quinn," Rachel chastises, "please stop disparaging our furniture. And stop antagonizing Santana."

"Ha," Santana shouts, pumping her fist in triumph before pointing at Quinn. "In trouble with the little lady already."

Quinn glares at her.

"You're lucky Kurt and I are even letting you stay here, Santana," Rachel says, untangling herself from Quinn's arms before she stands. "Especially when I don't seem to recall hearing you apologize for slapping Quinn."

"Ha," Quinn echoes triumphantly, gracefully straightening her own body from the futon and sliding her arms around Rachel again—happy when Rachel melts into her.

Santana makes a face at them. "Please, she was hooking up with some old, married perv to forget about you," she tells Rachel. "You should be thanking me for knocking some sense into her."

"That won't be happening," Quinn informs her snippily.

"Goodnight, Santana," Rachel says with a sigh.

"Just try to keep the noise level down tonight. I needs my beauty sleep."

Rachel blushes. "As if we'd do anything with you and Kurt twenty feet away."

"Well," Quinn purrs with her mouth close to Rachel's ear. "I wouldn't say we won't do anything."

"I bought a box of earplugs during Quinn's last visit," Kurt chimes in as he breezes past them on his way from the kitchen to his bedroom. "I'll be happy to lend you a pair, Santana."

"Kurt," Rachel squeals indignantly while Santana laughs. Quinn feels the tips of her ears get hot, and she hides her face in Rachel's hair. She really didn't think they were that loud. They'd only fooled around a little bit—okay, a lot. Rachel shakes her head, peels Quinn's hands away from her body, and drags her into the bedroom without a backwards glance.

They're barely inside with the curtain drawn before Quinn wraps herself around Rachel again, capturing her lips in a heated kiss. Rachel moans quietly and presses closer. Quinn has never considered herself an overly sexual person. She'd always used sex as a means of control—a weapon to be wielded or a tool to get something she wanted—but her body has never craved physical contact purely for the sake of release. With Rachel, it's something different, and the strength of her physical reaction constantly takes her by surprise. She wants to touch and be touched—to take and be taken. Both her body and her heart are completely engaged, and it's overwhelming.

Her hands find their way under Rachel's blouse, dancing along the silky smooth skin of her back. She loves this—skin against skin—feeling the flex of muscles and the fine tremors that work through Rachel's heated body. One of Rachel's hand tangles into Quinn's hair, and the other finds her breast and begins to tease the nipple. Quinn groans and gently catches Rachel's plump lower lip between her teeth, giving it a tug before soothing it with her tongue.

Rachel struggles to catch her breath. Panting, "You're too good at that."

Quinn smirks down at her, despite the fact that her own body is thrumming with unsatisfied desire. "Just wait until I get you completely alone."

Rachel's eyes flutter, and she groans. "But that won't be until Friday at the earliest. I really wanted to spend Valentine's Day alone with you," she pouts.

"We could always skip the wedding and stay here," Quinn suggests, only half-joking.

Rachel drops her forehead onto Quinn's shoulder and sighs dejectedly, "We can't do that to Mr. Schuester and Ms. Pillsbury."

Quinn licks her lips. "We could spring for a hotel in Lima."

Rachel chuckles, meeting Quinn's eyes. "The thought had crossed my mind, but my fathers are expecting me to stay with them, and your mother is expecting you, and well, people might wonder why we're forsaking a free bed with our parents to spend money on a shared hotel room."

"And we can't have that," Quinn mutters, letting her arms fall away from Rachel's waist.

Rachel only holds on tighter. "Patience, remember?" she quietly prompts, and Quinn nods tersely, forcing a wan smile before she drops a quick peck to Rachel's lips. Rachel squeezes her one last time before she lets go, and they proceed to get ready for bed in relative silence.

Quinn steals a few glances at Rachel as she changes into shorts and a loose t-shirt, and she's pretty sure Rachel is checking her out in the mirror. They'd purposely teased one another the last time Quinn had stayed—still high off their mutual confessions of love—but the slight tension about going back home is still lingering in the air between them, successfully muting their amorous mood.

They slip into bed, and Rachel curls into her. "Are you very upset with me?" she whispers. "For wanting to keep us private for now?"

Quinn sighs, shifting on the mattress so their bodies curve together perfectly. "I'm not upset, Rachel. I'm…disappointed, I guess, and a little frustrated that we can't just relax and be together without over-thinking everything."

Rachel chuckles softly in the darkness. "It's you and me, Quinn. Over-thinking everything is kind of a given."

Quinn smiles a little at that. "Look, I get it. You're being remarkably logical for once, and I'm being…"

"Surprisingly emotional?" Rachel finishes with an amused lilt.

Quinn considers this—how easily her otherwise guarded emotions are put on display for Rachel, and how unusually thoughtful Rachel always tries to be with everything relating to Quinn. "I guess we've been spending too much time together," she muses.

"Or not enough," Rachel counters, stroking her fingers in gentle circles over Quinn's hip.

"We will be sneaking in a few hours of alone time somewhere in Lima," Quinn swears, "even if I have to lure your dads out of the house with fake Patti LuPone sightings."

The gentle touch on Quinn's hip turns into a playful slap. "Quinn Fabray, don't you dare! Patti is almost as sacred as Barbra in our household."

Quinn giggles, snuggling closer to Rachel and breathing in the faint scent of honeysuckle that clings to her skin. "I'll think of a way to get you alone," she murmurs happily.

"I'm certain you will. You're very resourceful."

Quinn hums in agreement, feeling the long day of classes and traveling and confessions catch up to her all of a sudden. "I love you," she whispers sleepily.

She closes her eyes and lets herself drift inside the warmth of Rachel's embrace with a sweetly whispered, "Goodnight," sounding in her ear.

She dreams of gardenias and fireworks.

The next thing Quinn becomes aware of is the clanking of the pipes, and she pries her eyes open to see that it's still dark, though the florescent lighting from the loft filters in around the drawn curtains. She stifles a groan—it feels like she's only had about ten minutes of sleep. Rachel is breathing evenly next to her, and Quinn suspects that she's probably grown immune to the noise. She lies there for a moment just enjoying the way their legs are tangled together beneath the sheets, and Rachel's hand has sneaked under her t-shirt to curve against the underside of her breast. She loves waking up like this.

Quinn carefully twists one arm behind her to reach blindly for her phone on the nightstand. She brings it close to her face and squints at the time. It's actually later than she thought, and she and Rachel have less than two hours to get showered and ready before they'll need to leave for the airport to make their eight o'clock flight.

The pipes go silent, and Quinn angles her body toward Rachel on the mattress, sweeping dark hair back from her face with gentle fingers. She leans closer and places a soft kiss to Rachel's cheek, her nose, her chin, and finally her lips—lips that curve into a faint smile against Quinn's mouth.

"Mmm…morning," Rachel rasps sleepily.

"Good morning," Quinn echoes, brushing her mouth across those tempting lips one more time.

Rachel's eyelids flutter open. "You're so much better than my alarm."

"I would hope so," Quinn says laughingly.

There's a metal scraping as the curtain is jerked open and light spills into the room. "Rise and shine, baby gays," Santana says with a sharp clap of her hands as she strides into the room. Rachel clumsily jerks away, and Quinn flinches in surprise, letting her eyes adjust to the sudden brightness as she glares at Santana, who is obviously fresh from the shower. "You've got ninety minutes until the taxi gets here, and nobody's waiting for your lazy asses."

Rachel growls a little as Santana pulls some clothes off the rack that they've been sharing. "Is that my robe?" she asks in annoyance, propping herself up on one elbow.

Santana shrugs. "You weren't using it."

"Because I was asleep!"

"Hey, it's not my fault Quinn wore you out last night," she counters with a smirk, draping her clothes over her arm and grabbing her hair dryer. Quinn feels her face heat, but she bites her tongue because she knows that anything she says will only provoke Santana to tease them more.

"We really need to have a serious discussion about boundaries."

Santana stalks to the edge of the bed with a deceptively sweet smile. "Okay, Rachel, let's discuss." In a flash, she leans down, grabs a fistful of sheet, and jerks it down. Rachel squeaks in protest, and Quinn makes a vain grab for it, but it slips through her fingers.

"Santana!" she snaps.

"I don't acknowledge boundaries. Discussion over," she announces, arching one dark eyebrow as she looks them over. "Oh, and for the record, this," she wags a finger between them, "would have been better if you were actually naked."

Rachel grunts and attempts to toss her pillow at Santana, who is already walking away, but it doesn't even clear the end of the mattress. "You're the worst roommate ever!"

Quinn throws her arm over her eyes and smiles—this is her life now, and she couldn't be happier.

They both manage to get ready with enough time to grab a quick cup of coffee and a piece of toast that Kurt has so thoughtfully made for them before they wrestle their luggage down to the sidewalk and into the waiting taxi. Quinn squeezes in between Rachel and Santana, while Kurt sits up front next to the driver. She tangles her fingers with Rachel's as the car jerks into motion, and she tries to tune out the conversation that Kurt and Rachel are having about the new guy in his life and how he feels about seeing Blaine again. She really doesn't want to think about how Rachel might feel when she sees Finn.

They arrive at the airport and get through security without any problems. Luckily, they managed to book a nonstop flight, and Quinn clutches at Rachel's hand for the entire ninety minutes until they're touching down in Columbus. She hates flying—it's a combination of her claustrophobia and a genuine fear of large metal objects falling from the sky and crashing to the earth at a thousand miles per hour. Her mother had driven her to New Haven in the fall, and she'd taken a bus back home for Thanksgiving. The last time she'd been on a plane was when New Directions had gone to New York for Nationals—Chicago had been a five hour bus trip—and Brittany had been nice enough to let Quinn nearly break her hand on both flights. This time, Rachel distracts her with soft words and the warmth of her body where it presses against Quinn from knee to shoulder.

Kurt doesn't want to trouble his father to pick them up at the airport, so he'd made arrangements, courtesy of Burt's credit card, to rent a car. Quinn is grateful for the extra two hours she gets with Rachel before they have to pretend that they're nothing more than friends. They cuddle in the backseat, occasionally chatting with Kurt and Santana as they occupy themselves on the drive.

About forty minutes outside of Lima, Rachel's phone sounds with the melody for 'The Scientist.' The smile that's been tattooed on her face all morning disappears as she glances down at the screen. Quinn's stomach churns unpleasantly when Rachel answers the call with a quiet, "Hello, Finn."

The car goes completely silent, and Quinn digs her nails into the door handle, clenching her other hand into a fist on her lap. "Our plane got in about an hour ago. We're driving back now," Rachel explains, darting her gaze over at Quinn and chewing on her lip as she listens to Finn's response. "No, I don't think that's a good idea, Finn." Rachel frowns, shaking her head. "Can't you just tell me over the phone?" She looks down at her lap and nervously tugs at the edge of her coat. "We are still friends, but," she snaps her mouth shut, squeezing her eyes closed and sighing raggedly. "Okay. Fine. I…I'll see you then."

Quinn stares hard at Rachel's profile—head bowed and eyes still closed. "What does he want?" she asks more harshly than she intends.

"Seriously?" Santana laughs, turning around in the passenger seat to look at Quinn. "He wants what he always wants. Rachel." She cranes her head and scowls at Rachel. "Congratulations on lasting all of thirty seconds before you caved right into him."

Quinn glares at Santana. She's trying—God knows she's trying—to keep her jealousy and her temper in check. "Can you shut up?"

Rachel reaches across the seat, wrapping her hand around Quinn's closed fist and pulling her attention back. "He said that he needs to talk to me about something important before the wedding," she says.

"Sure he does," Santana mutters.

"My dad did mention that Finn has been acting odd for the last week," Kurt offers as an explanation.

Rachel frowns, meeting his eyes in the rearview mirror. "He did seem upset on the phone."

Quinn can hear the concern in her voice, and she slides her hand away from Rachel's touch. "So of course you're going to see him," she huffs.

"I agreed to meet him at the Lima Bean at three o'clock," Rachel confirms softly, and Quinn grits her teeth. "Whatever else Finn and I have been to one another, we were friends first," Rachel reminds her gently, "and I'd really like us to be able to get back to that again."

Quinn exhales sharply, narrowing her eyes at Rachel's naivety. "He's not going to be satisfied only being your friend, Rachel. I wasn't satisfied with that."

"Finn and I had our chance…chances," she clarifies with an sardonic smile, "but now," she leans closer, reaching up to stroke the backs of her fingers along Quinn's tense jaw, "we get to have our chance, Quinn. Finn is getting me for one cup of coffee. You get me forever."

"And I get to be sick from how nauseating you two are being," Santana complains.

Quinn kicks the back of her seat, even as Kurt says, "I think they're adorable."

"So if Finn is just your friend now," Quinn says carefully, still focused on Rachel, "and I'm just your friend to everyone outside of this car, then there's no reason that I shouldn't be able to go with you. Just three old friends catching up over a cup of coffee."

Rachel drops her eyes, and Quinn's stomach drops because she knows that Rachel is going to come up with some excuse for why that can't happen. "Quinn…I…"

"I think that's the best idea ever," Santana interrupts gleefully, twisting around again. "Can I come, too? Because this version of that tired old triangle is so much more entertaining than the last two times you did this."

This time Rachel kicks the back of her seat with a growl that Quinn would probably find adorable under different circumstances. "Sheesh. Chill out," Santana grumbles, facing forward again. Kurt reaches over and pinches her arm, shooting her a warning look.

Quinn really wants to cry in frustration. She can deal with keeping their relationship on the down low. She can even deal with Rachel and Finn seeing each other again at the wedding. But she's not sure that she can deal with her girlfriend meeting her ex-fiancé for a goddamned coffee date when she knows that Finn is still in love with Rachel.

"Please just trust me," Rachel begs, grasping at her hand. Quinn almost believes that Rachel can read her mind in that moment. "Whatever Finn wants to talk about won't change anything between us, Quinn. You're the only person that I want now."

Quinn closes her eyes, wishing that the now didn't feel like such a tenuous thing to hold on to.