Authors Note: So first up I have to apologize. I didn't intend for there to be such a delay between Chapter 32 and this one however, while I haven't been suffering from writers block, I have been suffering from the lack of impetus to actually sit down and write. And when I do actually manage to sit down and write, the results haven't been to my liking. And honestly, I'm not entirely sure this chapter is as good as I want it to be.
Now this doesn't mean I'm not going to finish this story, I am definitely going to do that, but I am going to make some changes on how I do it. First, I'm probably going to be posting less often, maybe once ever two weeks but definitely not as long a gap between chapters as the last one. But I won't be sticking religiously to any particular scheduled, if I have a chapter finished early that I want to post, I'll post it but in the same way, if the two week marks arrives and I've not managed to get anything worth posting written, I'm not going to force it.
I'm also seriously considering when this story is going to split the story line into a new story. Right now I have two possibilities, either shortly after the babies are born and cover their senior year and uni in the new story or carry on in this story until the end of high school and have uni etc in the new story. Either way, time is going to start passing faster than it has done so far because otherwise this story is going to make war and piece look like a novella.
I'm also going to write other stories. Many of you know I'm also working on Of Poles And Promises and I plan to continue that story too. But I've got plenty of ideas for one shots or short stories that I'm going to work on and, while they might not all be posted immediately, hopefully the variety will keep me motivated.
For those that wanted some Quitt intimacy, I'm going to follow the idea of the Guest that suggested posting it as a companion one-shot. But it won't be posted until after the girls have headed back to Lima since it will be set during the visit to New York and I don't want to accidentally make spoilers.
So once again, sorry for the delay and the extra-long cliffhanger, but you all knew Rachel's answer anyway, right?
There are a few things to keep in mind when you go down on one knee to propose on a stage in front of a theater full of people. First, if you happen to be doing it in a dress remember to pick one that doesn't make it a distinct possibility you might end up flashing a good portion of the front row. And second, stages are designed to be durable and therefor are pretty solid. If there's any chance you might be waiting for an answer for some time, you might want to bring something soft to kneel on. Santana was learning both of these lessons the hard way.
But what was really starting to worry her right now was Rachel's reaction. Santana had thought she'd prepared herself for anything the other girl might do. The physical assault as Rachel threw herself at her and tried to smother her with kisses, the weeping collapse into her arms as Rachel accepted with a dramatic speech that sounded like she'd been writing it for months, the look of infinite sadness Rachel would wear as she broke Santana's heart or the possibility that Rachel might just bolt for the far side of the stage to get away from her. Some of those scenarios would hurt more than anyone could prepare for them but Santana had thought she had prepared as best she could.
She hadn't been prepared for Rachel's actual reaction, or currently lack of reaction. The diva was standing where she had turned towards Santana at the end of her song, the microphone forgotten, her hands dangling at her sides and her eyes on the little box in Santana's hands. She was standing so still that Santana thought she had actually stopped breathing, her face frozen in a look of shock, her mouth slightly open and her eyes wide.
Seconds ticked by that felt like hours to Santana, her eyes still trained on the motionless girl before her. The faint buzz of murmuring from the far reaches of the audience reaches her ears and even though her mouth feels like sandpaper and her heart is thumping in her ears, Santana manages to speak?
The uncertain question seems to jolt Rachel out of whatever shocked stupor had gripped her. One hand goes to her chest, the other to her baby bump and her eyes raise to meet Santana's. Her mouth opens and closes, once, twice then three times but no sound comes out and if she weren't so nervous right now, Santana would have taken pride in finally making Rachel speechless. In the end the diva gives up on trying to answer vocally and instead nods her head violently before hauling Santana to her feet and more or less throwing herself into the Latina's arms, almost knocking the ring box out of her hand in the process.
"Say it Rach" Santana whispers in to Rachel's ear, "Please… I need to hear you say it."
"Yes" Rachel finally manages to gasp, "Yes, I will marry you!"
"She said yes!" Santana declares into her microphone.
A wall of noise washes over the pair where they stand on the stage, clapping, cheering and even some whistling, her first standing ovation on Broadway but Rachel is oblivious, her entire world consists of just her and Santana. Rachel steps back a little and holds out her hand, fingers splayed, and looks at her fiance expectantly. Santana seems confused for a moment and Rachel grins.
Santana fumbles with the box but manages to extract the ring and slide it on to Rachel's finger. They both stare at it for a moment before Rachel once again throws herself at Santana. Their bodies are pressed together when it happens, Santana's arms around Rachel's waist and the diva's hands linked behind Santana's neck. They are just leaning in for another kiss when Rachel suddenly gasps and Santana pulls her head back, looking down with wide eyes at where Rachel's baby bump pressed against her stomach.
"Was that…?" she asked in awe.
Rachel nods, "They're kicking."
"Was that the first time?"
"I've felt them moving about before." Rachel admits, "But that's the first time I've felt anything that strong, or anything that anyone else could have felt."
They stand there pressed together for a few more minutes, each kick they feel causing their smiles to get even larger and totally oblivious to both the cast and the audience slowly making their way out of the theater. Rachel suddenly pulls back with a dramatic gasp and Santana can feel her eyebrows rise.
"I need to get you a ring!" Rachel declares.
Santana can't help but smile. The thought had struck her only a few days after she had ordered Rachel's ring. They had been sitting on the sofa, or rather Santana had been sitting on the sofa and Rachel had been sitting on Santana's lap, when the Latina noticed Rachel unconsciously playing with her Claddagh ring. The first thing Rachel had done when she had gotten out of the hospital was take Santana out and get her a matching ring and it wasn't much of a jump to conclude that the diva would show the same desire this time round. Honestly, Santana wanted to wear Rachel's ring as much as she wanted Rachel to wear hers.
So she'd called the jeweler as soon as she could get some time to herself and commissioned a second ring in her size. It had increased the price of the pair somewhat, getting two matching heart cut diamonds was tricky so four was expensive and in the end they had to settle for stones a little larger than Santana had intended, but the ring turned out beautifully and the money really wasn't a problem.
So Santana pulls another small box out of her handbag and passes it to Rachel who looks a little confused as she accepts it. But a large smile breaks out on her lips as she opens the box and before Santana can stop her, she's already dropped to one knee.
"Santana, I… well I haven't exactly had a chance to plan what I want to say but… When I imagine the future I really can't see it being any other way than you and me and our kids. I don't know what's going to happen when we go to college and I don't know if I'm ever going to make it on Broadway like I dreamed, but what I do know is my dreams have changed and I know that whatever happens in the future, whatever career I end up having, I'll be happiest if you are there with me. Santana, will you marry me?"
Santana sniffs a little and wipes away a tear before nodding, "Yes Rach, I would love to marry you."
It's Santana's turn to hold out her hand and Rachel's to slide on the ring and then, after one more hug and kiss, they actually get around to the back stage tour Santana had arranged.
Brittany sits, feet curled under her, on the padded bench across from the elevators watching Quinn with some amusement as she paces back and forth for a short distance each way along the corridor, muttering to herself and casting a glance every so often at the closed elevator doors. Every time the elevator doors start to open Quinn turns and quickly makes her way over, only to turn away when whoever she was expecting doesn't exit.
Up until about twenty minutes ago, Quinn and Britt had been tangled up in each other limbs wearing only a thin sheen of sweat and basking in the afterglow of their latest orgasms. Then an alarm on Quinn's phone had gone off and the blonde had pretty much bolted from the bed, hauled on a dress (without bothering with underwear much to Britt's approval), slipped in to a pair of flats and was almost out the door before remembering Britt was there.
The expectant look Quinn had given Britt had her rolling out of bed and stretching, her arms above her head and a smirk on her lips as she watches Quinn's eyes scan down the length of her body before she swallows hard. But Quinn had resisted the obvious temptation provided and Britt had sighed before donning her own sweats and following her girlfriend out of the room. They had walked the length of the corridor to the elevators without a word and Quinn had started pacing immediately.
Britt had watched for a while before settling herself onto the available seating. She was trying to work out what had gotten Quinn so worked up and why they were waiting for Santana to get back. It was obvious even to Britt that this had to be the case, San and Rach were the only people they knew for sure that were out and Quinn hadn't checked any other rooms on their way to the elevators. Plus Quinn had known where Santana was talking Rachel that night so the alarm had to be for the end of whatever show was running at the theater.
"Are you still freaking about Santana being your legal guardian?" Britt asks.
It had been a point of consternation from Quinn when Santana had come up with that particular solution when Quinn had needed someone to sign her permission slip. At first she had thought it was some joke which had been bad enough, but once she realized Santana was serious and that she could legally do it, Quinn had freaked a little.
"But don't you think it's odd?" Quinn asks "She's a month and a half younger than me for goodness sake!". Quinn is apparently distracted from her pacing as she plops herself down on the bench next to Britt. "I mean, I know she's emancipated and all, but how can she be legal guardian for someone older than herself? How can she be legally responsible for anyone? I can't believe being emancipated allows that!"
Britt shrugs, "I think it's more that it doesn't disallow it." When Quinn looks at Britt questioningly she continues "Emancipation means you become an adult in the eyes of the law, which means you have the rights and responsibilities of an adult. But they don't list what those rights and responsibilities are or make any exceptions." Britt shrugs again, "I guess they never thought it through."
Quinn is staring at Britt in surprise, "How do you even know that?"
Britt grins at Quinn, "I looked it up when San told us about it." She reaches over and takes Quinn's hand into her own. "Look, San promised not to go all 'I'm responsible for you' on you but if her acting as your legal guardian when she needs too is a problem for you, maybe you should think about emancipation"
Quinn sighs and shakes her head, "I can't Britt. I don't have any means of support and the money I get from my parents is only because Santana made them pay. If I was emancipated I wouldn't even get that. Anyway that's not what I'm worried about." She takes a breath and turns to Britt, "Santana made me promise not to tell anyone, but she's going to propose to Rachel tonight."
Britt beams one of those smiles that warms Quinn's heart and squeals a little in excitement, bouncing and clapping a little where she sits. But then her face clouds with confusion.
"But why are you worried? You know Rach will say yes."
"I know" Quinn confirms, "It's not the proposal that I'm worried about, it's the future."
"It's just… It got me thinking. Santana and Rachel are getting ready to live the rest of their lives together. I mean, we knew it was going to happen because neither of them are going to walk away from those kids, but this makes it official. Whatever happens in their lives, they are going to have each other. When their sad they'll have someone to make them smile, when their ill they'll have someone to look after them, when they need someone to lean on for whatever reason, the other will be there. And honestly? Looking at the future, I'm scared I'm not going to have that with you."
"I don't understand" Britt says as the reaches out to take Quinn's hand, "I love you Quinn and I'm not going anywhere Quinn. Unless your tell me that you want to break up, I don't see why you'd be scared."
"But you are going somewhere Britt." Quinn sniffs before she continues, "In a year and a bit you're going to be back here going to college. You've dreamt of going to Julliard since you heard about the school and we both know you're a brilliant dancer so we both know you'll make it. Right?" Britt nods. "And Santana and Rachel will be here too, going to the schools they want to go to. But I won't be here Britt, I can't be."
"Why not?" Britt asks.
The tone of Britt's question makes Quinn's chest ache even more than it already had been. "For the same reason I can't be emancipated Britt, I can't afford it. My Dad doesn't want to support me right now and he's not going to want to pay for college, especially once I turn 18, and if by some miracle he does, it's going to be on his terms doing the course he wants me to do at the college he wants me to go to. And knowing him, he'll make sure it's as far away from wherever you are as possible just to spite me. No, the best I can hope for is a cheer scholarship to Ohio State and I know we can do the long distance thing but…" Quinn sighs, "A lot can happen in four years."
There's a long pause before Britt finally speaks, "Then I'll go to Ohio State with you. I'm sure…"
"No!" Quinn interrupts, "You can't Britt. You need to go to Julliard, you've always wanted to go there and you deserve to go there. It's the best dance school in the country and that's where you belong."
"But I don't want to go without you."
Britt was wearing that sad pout that made Quinn want to give her whatever she wanted, but this time Quinn knew she had to be strong because the only way she could see them being together was if Britt want to Ohio State with her and that wasn't going to happen. But before she could say anything, someone else spoke.
"You won't have to Britt, Quinn will be going to New York with us."
Neither blonde had heard the elevator arrive nor had they noticed the very people they had originally been waiting for stepping out. Santana had Rachel had been standing quietly listening to the two miserable girls talk and Rachel had squeezed the Latina's arm and looked at her with a pleading look and unshed tears in her eyes.
Quinn just sighs heavily, "I can't San. I…"
"I know, I heard." Santana interrupts, "But you're coming to New York and you'll attend whatever course at whatever school you want to."
"Hear me out." Santana and Rachel cross to the bench and take the space on Quinn's right, "You remember I told you that my Aunt Sofia left me some money? Well there's enough of it to take us to New York, pay for us to go to whatever school we want, and support us while we're there, all of us." Santana looks at Britt, "Britt, I know your parents have been saving for your education but I also know your hoping for a scholarship so your little sister can go wherever she wants to when it's her turn. Well you don't have to worry about getting a scholarship anymore."
"But that's your money" Quinn points out the obvious, "You should be using it to support your family."
"I am Quinn. You are Britt are as much my family as Rachel and the babies are." Santana assures the blonde, "You've been like sisters to me for most of my life, you were there for me every time I needed you and now it's time for me to be there for you. Yeah I could keep the money or invest it in stocks and shares but what does that get me? More Money?" Santana shakes her head, "But this way not only do I get to keep my family together and make sure their happy, I get to invest in their future because I don't know what Doctor Quinn or Lawyer Quinn or Actor Quinn will achieve, but you can bet it's going to be more than Waitress Quinn ever would."
Both Rachel and Brittany are beaming at Santana while Quinn blinks back the tears that threaten to fall. "I… I don't know what to say" she admits.
Santana slides her free arm around Quinn's shoulders and pulls her into a one-armed hug, "Just say yes."
"Yes" Quinn nods, "And thank you."
"Good, now that's sorted…"
Santana is cut off by a sudden squeal of joy and then Britt has pulled Rachel up off of the bench and is spinning her around in the hallway and laughing.
"What the…?" Quinn says.
"Um, I think she may have seen this…" Santana says showing Quinn her ring after realizing it would have been on display to Britt given how the Latina was hugging Quinn. "And Britt, if you keep doing that you might find Rachel throwing up all over you."
Rachel is indeed feeling a little queasy as Britt puts her down and she's glad to be able to get back to her seat on the bench next to Santana and just watch as Britt dances and spins around in the corridor. Quinn is holding Santana's hand and examining the ring closely.
"You know as good as the drawing you did was, it totally didn't do this justice. It's gorgeous." Quinn says.
Rachel leans forward slightly to look at Quinn in confusion, "What drawing?"
"You didn't tell her?"
Santana shrugs, "The rings are custom Rach" she explains, "I wanted to give you something special so I designed the rings myself."
"Really?" Rachel is holding her hand out before her and gazing at the ring she's wearing, suddenly aware of the entire significance of the piece.
"Two hearts, one for you and one for me." Santana explains, "See, that's your birthstone and that one is mine. And they're going to be together forever."
"Like us." Rachel says a little dreamily.
"Yeah" Santana smiles and hugs her fiance, "Just like us."
Santana bangs twice more on the door, listens for a moment and then calls through the wooden partition, "If you two don't get your skinny asses out of bed I'm going to come in there and drag them out!"
Rachel is leaning against the wall, her arms wrapped around her stomach and watches her fiance with a smile as she tries to rouse Quinn and Britt.
"How do you know they are even still in there?" she asks, "They could have went down for breakfast already."
"Rachel, it is zero-dark-thirty in the morning and if I'd realized Mr Shue intended us to practice this early on a Sunday I'd never have said I'd follow his schedule. If I don't want to be up, they most certainly won't be." She pauses a moment to bang on the door again, "And anyway, it was you that thought you could hear them breaking in the bed all night."
It was true, Quinn and Britt had the room next to Santana and Rachel's and the diva had been sure she could hear bed springs from the other room late into the night. Santana's assurances that the walls were too thick to let sound through and that no bed in a hotel like this would actually squeak no matter how vigorously used hadn't placated Rachel.
"Don't say I didn't warn you!" Santana shouts as she produces a plastic card and slips it into the door lock. Rachel blinks in surprise as the door pops open.
"Where did you get that?"
"Where do you think?" Santana replies with a smirk, "For some reason the managers seem to like me here."
Rachel has no choice but to follow Santana through the door, closing it quietly behind her and discovering that Santana was indeed correct, the bed was still occupied with two blonde heads poking out from underneath the covers. The Latina is already half way to the window and a few steps later she's pulling the curtains open and turning towards the bed. Reaching down to a lump in the covers that she fervently hopes is a shoulder she gives the pair a shake.
"Come on you two, outta bed, now!"
There's a mutter that sounds like "Go away, sleeping" from the bed and given how close the two girls seem to be pressed up against each other, Rachel isn't sure which of them had spoken.
"Last chance blondes!" Santana, who seems to be rather enjoying herself, declares. "I'm counting to three. One, two…"
On the three Santana had grabbed the covers and in one fluid movement dragged them all the way down to the foot of the bed to drop them on the floor. Rachel turns away, her face heating up as she realizes that not only are they two girls intimately tangled up with each other, they are entirely naked. This fact doesn't seem to bother anyone else in the room and Rachel realizes that's probably due to them changing together for Cheerios practice all the time.
"What the fuck?" Quinn says as they both sit up and stretch, "What you do that for bitch?"
"We've got breakfast then practice so get your asses out of bed and hit the showers."
"Who died and made you god?" Quinn asks but without heat, they are both already climbing out of bed and heading to the shower.
"You've got twenty minutes to fuck and shower and then I'm dragging you out of there whether your done or not." Santana calls to the pair as they disappear into the en-suite. The only response Santana receives is the door slamming and the lock clicking into place.
Rachel crosses to settle on the padded window seat next to Santana and she chews her lip while her eyes drift towards the bathroom door.
"They wouldn't actually have sex in there when they know we're out here, would they?"
Rachel's question is punctuated by a rather loud moan and Santana grins. "Rach, when the three of us had sleep overs they would have sex while I was in the same bed as them. A locked door is nothing."
Rachel stares at Santana with an open mouth and the Latina grins as she reaches out and closes it with one finger. "Relax Rach, I never had sex with them and they always waited until I was asleep, but seriously who could sleep through that?" she asks just as someone moans loudly again.
"But… That's… I…"
Santana just shrugs, "That's Quinn and Britt."
Nineteen minutes and 55 seconds later the bathroom door swings open and Rachel averts her eyes once more, elbowing Santana until she does the same, as the two blondes exit the en-suite still totally naked except for the towels wrapped around their hair. Thankfully the didn't delay the process of getting dressed and within a few minutes they were all heading down the corridor towards the elevators and breakfast with the rest of the Glee club.
"So have you told your parents about the engagement?" Quinn asks.
"We called my Dads this morning." Rachel supplies, "Oddly, they didn't seem entirely surprised at the news."
Rachel was looking at Santana with suspicion but the Latina just shrugs.
"What about your parents San?" Britt asks.
"I got their answering service." Santana says flatly.
Neither Santana nor Rachel were surprised that they couldn't get in contact with Santana's parents. That was, after all, the reason Santana was emancipated, but it still hurt them both that they seemed to have so little interest in Santana's life. And even though Santana was sure they had been back in Lima at least once, they still hadn't responded to Santana's query about the still unexplained SUV sitting in the garage.
"So, how do you think everyone will react when you announce it at breakfast?" Britt asks as she bounces along beside Rachel.
"Actually" Rachel replies, "Santana and I have talked about this and we have decided, for the moment anyway, not to make any particular announcements about the engagement. The most important people in our lives already know where possible. Santana and I know, quite obviously. My father's know, Santana's parents will know whenever they pick up their messages" Rachel stops and turns towards Britt and Quinn, "And, if I may be so bold as to claim you two in the same way as Santana does, our sisters know…"
Rachel is immediately surrounded by Britt's long arms as the dancer hugs her tight and squeals almost directly into the diva's ear but, having learned her lesson from the previous night, she doesn't spin Rachel around this time. Quinn just smiles and squeezes Rachel's shoulder.
"Okay Britt… Too tight." Rachel manages with a kind smile and Britt releases her almost immediately. "As I was saying, our sisters know and the rest of our family knows and neither of us really feel the need to announce it to anyone else. If they ask, we will obviously confirm that we are indeed engaged, but that is all. Besides, with the competition only a few days away, the club really doesn't need the distraction right now."
The elevator arrives and they all crowed in. Quinn takes a moment to make use of the mirrored walls to examine both Santana and Rachel's left hands.
"Rach, your both wearing your rings." She points out.
"If you think no one is going to notice that your both wearing over two carets of diamond on each of your ring fingers, you've got another thought coming." Quinn point out, "I'll give it two minutes and then… distraction."
In the end it took less than a minute from the time Rachel sat on the chair thoughtfully pulled out from the table for her by Santana until Mercedes let out a shout of surprise at almost the same moment Kurt almost choked on his orange juice. Technically Tina had noticed almost as soon as Rachel has sat down since she was sitting on the left hand side of the seat Rachel had chosen, but she had been so surprised by the overnight appearance of the ring that she had sat staring at it with her mouth half open until Mercedes shriek made her jump.
And Quinn was right, the distraction happened weather Rachel and Santana wanted it or not. All of the girls, including Britt and Kurt, wanted to know all the details of the proposal and even some of the boys offered questions. Rachel, despite her reluctance to make an announcement, was only too happy to recount ever moment and Santana sat and listened, her hand clasped around Rachel's, with a smile on her face.
At one point Britt leans over and demands in a whisper to Santana "You know your going to have to help me when I ask Quinn, right?"