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This book was automatically created by FLAG on April 21st, 2013, based on content retrieved from http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7016614/. The content in this book is copyrighted by ALittleLion or their authorised agent(s). All rights are reserved except where explicitly stated otherwise. This story was first published on May 23rd, 2011, and was last updated on August 13th, 2011. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated - please email any bugs, problems, feature requests etc. to flag@erayd.net.

Table of Contents
Summary 1. Chapter 1 2. Chapter 2 3. Chapter 3 4. Chapter 4 5. Chapter 5 6. Chapter 6 7. Chapter 7 8. Chapter 8 9. Chapter 9 10. Chapter 10 11. Chapter 11 12. Chapter 12 13. Chapter 13 14. Chapter 14 15. Chapter 15 16. Chapter 16 17. Chapter 17 18. Chapter 18 19. Chapter 19 20. Chapter 20 21. Chapter 21 22. Chapter 22 23. Chapter 23

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Summary
New York City: the city of dreams. Brittany and Rachel came to achieve greatness; Quinn and Santana came to run away from what they knew and start over. What happens when their paths cross, and old memories long laid to rest come flooding back?

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Chapter 1
Let me preface this by saying that I know stories like this have been done before. Overdone, maybe. But I wanted to give it a try, because these characters really are wonderful. This is a Glee AU that is sort of an "after high school" look at some of our beloved characters. Some are in college, some are not. Some are friends, some are not. The central pairings of this story are same-sex pairings (Faberry, Brittana, Klaine), so if you have a problem with that for whatever reason, this story is not for you. It will be rated "M" in later chapters, but not right away - I'll warn you when it gets to that stuff. That being said, I hope you enjoy the new world I've created. Glee isn't mine, never has been, and likely never will be. I just like playing in other people's sandboxes. With that said, enjoy, and I'd love to hear what you think! Chapter One: Two years ago... "Fabray!" Quinn finished brushing her hair and looked around the room. It was a room that had only been hers for about six months - since her parents tossed her out on the street like yesterday's garbage. Six months ago, this had been the guest room at the Lopez's house. A room that had been offered to her many times before at sleepovers and other various occasions, but was never used, as she normally ended up spending her time in Santana's room instead. Now, it was hers, but it never felt like hers. Her things, some of which hadn't even been unpacked even after the time that had passed, had their places within the room; her clothes occupied the drawers and the closet. Her scent was on the sheets, and she slept within the comfortable double bed every night, but she still didn't see this room as truly hers. She tucked her hairbrush into the red duffel bag that she had once used for Cheerios! and zipped it up. Again, she glanced around the room. All her things that had piled in once again were prepared, packed away, and headed to a new destination. Perhaps the next place would feel more like home. "Fabray, get your ass down here before I spout some gray hair and arthritis kicks in!" Quinn chuckled; at least some things would never change.
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"I'll be down in a second, Santana!" Quinn took one last look and threw the duffel bag over her shoulder. The Lopez's guest room had been restored to its former glory before she had become their refugee and set up shop within the four walls. It was odd for her to think that she had been alive for nineteen years, had lived under her parents' roof for eighteen, and had managed to sum up that entire time period into four boxes over the course of two days. Brittany and Santana had recruited Puck and Sam to move her into the Lopez's house after they graciously offered her sanctuary, and over the course of six months, she had downsized her entire existence into the duffel bag in her hands along with two suitcases and a backpack that were already stowed away in the back of Santana's Jeep. Although some things never changed, most of it did, and that was what was most unsettling of all her memories. Quinn walked out of the spare bedroom and shut the door behind her. She took a moment to pause and appreciate the symbolism something she used to know nothing about. Since her world had changed, she grew as a person, and with that growth came the ability to appreciate the small things, and to take very little, if anything, for granted. As she exited down the hallway and reached the stairs, she caught the dark gaze of her best friend staring back at her. She was tapping her foot impatiently, but a smirk that lifted half of her lips let Quinn know she was amused, not irritated. "I thought you were gonna take another thirty fucking years," Santana remarked. "Sorry," Quinn said softly once her feet left the steps. "It's just a lot, you know?" Santana nodded and pursed her lips. "I know." "I'm not backing down, though. No way. I'm ready for this," Quinn assured her friend, placing a hand on the other girl's shoulder. "We've already wasted too much of our years and talent in this town. I want more." "Yeah, me too. I just never thought we'd be leaving. Places like Lima suck you in forever, unless you've got what it takes. We were good for high school, Q for McKinley, but out there? I'm still not sure," Santana confessed. Quinn took in the Latina's facial expressions, taut with insecurity, but still laced with a quiet passion
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that made her who she was. "That's why we're doing this together. I won't leave you alone," Quinn promised. "I've had my years of being a shitty friend," Santana reminded her. Quinn laughed quietly, the memories flooding back. Santana had always been a spitfire. She was driven, hot-headed, and no-nonsense. To high school students, and to teenagers, that could be easily misconstrued. But now, Quinn saw those things, even though her words could be edged with a bitter sword, as some of her finest qualities. "We've both made mistakes," Quinn replied. "At least you didn't get pregnant." Santana laughed so hard her shoulders shook; they could laugh about this now. "Which was a damn miracle, if you ask me." "We made it through, though. We survived, and now we're finally getting the hell out of Lima," Quinn said. Santana nodded, but Quinn watched the color fade slightly from her eyes as they grew distant, likely lost to memories that were far from happy. "Something like that, Q. Something like that," Santana replied. There was a brief pause that passed between them, and she shook her head as if to rid her head of cobwebs. Then, a smile crossed her features, as if nothing happened, and dark eyes settled on Quinn once more. They dropped to the duffel bag on her shoulder. "Is that finally the last of your shit, Fabray? I was starting to wonder if you were planning on sneaking the kitchen sink into my ride." "Yeah, that's the last of it." "Cool. Just throw it in the back with the rest. I'm going to put the spare key back in the hiding spot. Mom and dad made sure I knew to to tell you goodbye for them, like I'd forget. They're sorry they couldn't be here... they're gonna miss you, too, you know," Santana said, rambling nervously. That was the only time she showed weakness; when her thoughts became too much, and she had to deal with emotion instead. Santana was good at running from emotions, at sweeping them under the rug, but Quinn knew better than most that you couldn't run forever. Eventually, everything catches up. "Everything's going to work out, Santana. You just have to believe," Quinn said. Inside, her insides churned. She was trying to believe in herself. For both of them. But, she knew Santana was concerned about a lot of things, and even though this
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change of pace and fresh start was her idea originally, Quinn also knew that she was using it to run away. Again. So she had to be the strong one, even though inside, she was scared beyond comprehension. "Do you believe, Quinn?" "Of course I believe," Quinn said. Her lips curled into a smile, knowing that Santana needed the extra boost. "I came from a weird Christian family, remember?" Santana laughed, "Yeah, good point. Let's get going, Q. Got places to go, shit to do." Santana brushed by Quinn, heading off to another part of the house, and Quinn walked out the door. She opened the back hatch of Santana's Jeep and threw the duffel bag in with the rest of their things. Santana's suitcases were piled neatly on the bottom, and hers collected on top and across the sides. The red stuck out against the black, tan, and dark brown colors of the rest of their luggage; a beacon and reminder that although things were once familiar, everything was about to change. Quinn smiled and shut the hatch with a solid thump. The Ohio breeze washed over her, ruffling her honey-blonde hair for what she hoped would be one of the last times. It would be a change, she thought, but if everything went according to plan, and with a little luck, the change would be worth it. Things would finally get better. Present Day... "Santana!" Quinn called, cursing quietly as she tripped over a lone boot that had been left in the entrance of their apartment. Santana's parents had co-signed for this place, which was in the heart of Greenwich Village, and while Santana and Quinn both worked hard to make ends meet, the Lopez family had been wonderful in helping them keep afloat. It wasn't cramped, like most people thought of when New York City apartments came to mind. It was, however, simple a two bedroom, one bathroom flat with a small living room, attached kitchen, and a little bit of wiggle room in the main entrance. The view, however, was its crowning feature, and Quinn loved to sit in the windowsill of her bedroom, watching the city move beneath her. Even though the traffic was loud on some clear, still nights, she was happy to be out in the world. This had been her home for two years, and although the years hadn't been easy, and sometimes, she felt like giving up, she had stayed strong and made it through the worst. She had turned her life around, made something of herself, and while she would be lying if she said that she would have seen her life going in the
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direction it had, she was glad it went the way it did. Quinn kicked the boot aside, listening to the clunky heel clatter against their wood flooring, and waited for a response. Santana was still mobilizing at 1:30 in the afternoon, having worked another late shift at the bar where she was employed as a bartender. It wasn't a professional career, but it was in a competitive field that Santana enjoyed. The hours took a heavy toll on her, but the tips were good and helped keep extra money in their pockets. Santana had said on more than one occasion that tips alone made the fact that her sleep schedule was horribly out of whack worth it. "Q, what are you yelling about in there?" Santana called, her voice groggy and raspy, still caught in the space between awake and asleep. "Your fucking boot in the walkway," Quinn yelled back. "I kicked it under the table, when you go looking for it later, by the way. And you're welcome!" "For what?" "For keeping this place clean, because God knows you certainly won't," Quinn said under her breath. Santana was a good roommate; she cooked dinners when they were too broke for take-out, she was considerate of Quinn's needs and basic wants, and tried to abide by the agreement they set in place about not bringing too many strangers into the apartment. That was a work in progress. Santana was neat and tidy most of the time, but when her work schedule became hectic, it slipped, and Quinn was fairly good about picking up the pieces without too much complaint. Most of the time. "Quinn?" Santana called, her voice less distant when she appeared in the doorway that led down the hall to their bedrooms. She was wearing tiny boxer shorts and an indecently short tank top that was riding up her tanned midsection. The years had been good to them both, but especially good to the Latina, and Quinn fought the urge to check out her best friend, because this was Santana, for Christ's sake. They were both "team Rainbow," as the dark-haired girl liked to say, but Santana was still leaps and bounds more comfortable with her sexuality than Quinn. Quinn was more of a work in progress in that respect. "Yeah?" "Sorry about the mess. I'll have my shit tidied by the time you get home from work, okay?" Santana said, offering the blonde a soft smile.
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"You're working late again, it's all right," Quinn replied, uncrossing her arms and releasing the tension she felt moments before in the form of a soft sigh. "Gotta pay the bills, mama," Santana said, laughing quietly. "At least we've got a roof over our heads," Quinn replied. "Amen," Santana agreed. "Breakfast?" Quinn asked, motioning toward the kitchen with her head. "As much as I love it, a girl can't live off whiskey and cigarette smoke. Although I did talk this guy out of a few nachos last night before closing," Santana said. "Those were fucking epic!" "We need to go grocery shopping," Quinn said. "I think we're down to condiments and a few Hot Pockets in the freezer. Maybe some yogurt, but it might be past the pull date." "Eh, won't kill us," Santana shrugged. "You said something about breakfast?" Quinn's smile widened. "I may have acquired some doughnuts after my morning run." Santana's eyes grew to the size of dinner plates. "You sly little fox, what did you do?" Quinn walked toward the kitchen, the other girl hot on her heels. She sat at the counter and motioned to the white box that was filled with four pastries, still warm and permeating the apartment with their sweet scent. "I went to get a cup of coffee after mile three, because I found a couple washed dollar bills in the pocket of my sweatpants, and there was a girl who was working at the cafe," Quinn explained. Santana reached into the box and grabbed a chocolate glazed doughnut, taking a massive bite and motioning with her hand for Quinn to continue. Quinn grabbed a doughnut of her own and placed it neatly on a napkin, then tore a piece off and ate it delicately, taking the time to savor the rich frosting before continuing. "She was cute. I ended up with doughnuts. The end." Santana swallowed hard, pausing before taking another bite.
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"You flirted with a girl to get doughnuts?" Quinn took another bite of pastry and smiled before wiping her mouth with the napkin. "Come on, Santana I haven't lost my Cheerio charm completely, have I?" "No, no... you're just... what did we decide on?" "One foot out of the closet?" Quinn suggested. "Halfway to gay," Santana replied. "No, I'm definitely gay, just not completely... ready to be waving a rainbow flag around and doing the whole relationship with a girl thing. I was terrible enough at relationships with guys, and I didn't even want them." "I can't judge. I don't do relationships, either," Santana said. "But you're out, loud, and proud to anyone who cares to ask," Quinn said. Santana took another large bite of doughnut, then smirked. "And most people who don't care to ask," she added. "But that's me, Q. I went through my phase of being unsure and not ready in high school. I did my stint in the closet. I'm helping you get through your phase. Baby steps, and one day, all of this can be yours." Santana made a sweeping gesture with her hands, and Quinn laughed. "Random sex and late nights at a bar? Oh, be still my heart," Quinn replied. "Don't knock it 'till you've tried it, Q. At least I'm getting some." Quinn threw a hand up in protest. "I don't need... sex... to make me happy. I have... work, and you, and today I have doughnuts! I'm getting along just fine," the blonde said confidently, though her eyes said otherwise. "We're living the dream, Q," Santana mused, reaching in for her second doughnut while Quinn finished off her first. They sat in easy silence for a few moments before Quinn stretched her arms, working out the stiffness she felt after her normal
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exercise regiment. "Did you need the shower first?" Quinn asked. "Nope, but if you take too long, and I have to pee, I'll just run the water until you get the hell out," Santana replied with a quirky grin. "My best friend, Santana Lopez always a kind soul," Quinn replied sarcastically. "I'll sue whoever told you that, Fabray. Now get your ass in the shower 'fores my body decides your time is up," Santana replied. Quinn stood up and began to walk toward the shower, but was stopped by a loud, distinct clearing of the throat. She turned, and caught Santana's ear to ear grin. "Thanks for breakfast." "Anytime, San. Anytime." A/N: Thanks for giving this story a try (if you've made it this far). If you didn't totally hate it, I'd love to know what you think!

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Chapter 2
So, I listed this under Faberry, but this story will also have Brittana pairings and some light to medium amounts of Klaine fluff. There might be references to other pairings (Sam/Quinn, Rachel/Finn, etc), but only as it relates to their past. This is primarily a Faberry/Brittana love story, but I want to focus on group dynamics as well. So, without any further blathering on, here's some more story! Kurt Hummel was seated at his favorite cafe, making his way through a cup of coffee and waiting for his breakfast. He glanced around the room it wasn't a very busy morning, and he felt at peace being one of the only occupants. While he didn't mind crowds, quite the opposite, he planned to build a career around crowds of people watching him, he was thankful to get the attention of the handsome waiter that had been doting on him all morning. "Did you need anything else?" the curly haired young man said, flashing him a shot of dimples as he set down Kurt's egg white omelet in front of him. Kurt looked up from the food and smiled in return. "Come sit down with me, have breakfast. You know my appetite is like a bird's I can't eat all of this," Kurt protested, looking at the large portion of food. "You asked them to make extra, didn't you?" The waiter chuckled. "Kurt, you know I worry that you're missing lunch for classes, and trying to keep your 'perfect figure' intact. It's still perfect, and always will be perfect, I assure you," he replied. "Flatterer. That doesn't change the fact that there are only three other patrons in here, and two other waiters. Come eat breakfast with me, no excuses," Kurt pressed, reaching a hand out to touch the other man's. "Kurt..." "Blaine, please? Who's going to say anything? I missed my boyfriend this morning because, oh, this cafe works you night and day," Kurt said. "I'm starting to think you're having an affair with food and cheap French Roast."
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Blaine closed his eyes for a moment, but not too long as a wave of exhaustion hit him the moment he did so. He knew his extra hours were beginning to rule his life, but he was doing it for Kurt. For their little family, and so Kurt could keep going to Julliard and focus his attention on his studies, not on a second job that was necessary just so they could keep their lifestyle. Kurt's father helped them where he could, but both boys knew that money was tight back in Lima with the recession, and it was tough to be a small business owner, so they never asked for anything. Kurt smiled at him, crystal blue eyes thick with devotion and adoration, and Blaine felt his heart stutter in his chest; it was so worth it. "Well, all right. Ten minutes, though, and you have to give me some of that," Blaine said, throwing his hands up in defeat. There really was no arguing with Kurt. The other boy clapped his hands joyously and slid the omelet in the center of the table. Blaine slid in on the other side of the booth and grasped the fork in his hands, cutting a piece of food, spearing it, and then taking a bite. "I'll have to make sure Alan knows this is exceptionally delicious today." "It's because you're eating breakfast with me," Kurt said smugly. "For the first time in a week, I might add." "Kurt, you know it's not on purpose," Blaine said, taking another bite, then handing the utensil to his boyfriend. Kurt sighed and cut a small piece for himself. "I know, I know. You're bringing home the bacon. You're being macho, and sexy, and I love you for it. I just is it so wrong for me to miss the way things used to be?" "You mean when we were broke and I was worried about you being able to stay in school?" Blaine stole a sip of coffee from Kurt's mug, who in turned reached for Blaine's hand, placing his on top. Their eyes met, and Kurt smiled softly. "I'm not bitching. Really, this sounds like bitching, but it's not. I'm so thankful that you're making sacrifices for me, for us, and that my dreams and my career mean so much to you," Kurt said. Blaine's lips curled into a smile, and their gaze never faltered. "It just makes me fall even more madly in love with you. You're good enough to go to Julliard too, you know, but you didn't. You don't, because it's not your dream." "You're right, it's not. Singing has always been more of a hobby. I don't have dreams of the spotlight like someone else I know," Blaine said. He placed a soft kiss to Kurt's knuckles.
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"Anyway, I wasn't being bitchy. I know it came off that way, and if it did, I apologize and will spend hours groveling later, at your request," Kurt said. "I just miss my boyfriend. That's all. Case closed." "I miss you, too. But, I've worked a ton of overtime this month, so maybe, in another week, I can ask them to start giving me afternoon shifts? Maybe an eleven to six, that way, we can spend more time together, and I won't be too exhausted to give you all the attention you deserve," Blaine replied. "Blaine Anderson, you spoil me," Kurt murmured. Blaine smiled and leaned across the table, meeting Kurt's lips in a soft, chaste kiss. "Hopefully, for every day of the rest of our lives," Blaine replied. He speared another bite of omelet and stood up, giving Kurt one last lingering look. "And it's been somewhere near ten minutes, so I should get back to work. You are going to eat every last bite of that, Kurt Hummel, and don't even think about trying to hide it, because I work here, and I'll know." "Yes, sir," Kurt retorted playfully. Blaine turned around and received a gentle swat on the ass from his boyfriend before he made his way across the floor and ducked back into the kitchen. Kurt grinned and finished his coffee. "Refills better be free today." Halfway through his breakfast, Kurt's phone started chirping from inside his pocket, serenading the caf with Wicked's power anthem, "Defying Gravity." Which really only meant one thing. "Good morning, Miss Berry," Kurt answered. "How is my favorite pocket-sized diva this morning?" Back in the apartment, Rachel was tearing through everything in cabinets, drawers, and dressers like a whirlwind, flailing her arms and legs in a mad panic. "Kurt, I cannot find my sheet music! This is a terrible disaster. You know how I pride myself on my organizational skills, and for what? This is an absolute disaster. An epic disaster! It's like I've lost the source of my power. I feel gutted! How am I to go to my classes today without it?" Kurt fought a smile and held the phone slightly away from his ear as the brunette's volume kept getting louder and louder as her panic increased. "Rachel, just breathe. Relax, and breathe. Like in yoga - we remember yoga, don't
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we?" "Yes, Kurt. We remember yoga," Rachel seethed. "Good, so find your center. Relax and breathe," Kurt said, slowing his voice to match the cadence of their favorite relaxation technique. He didn't continue until he heard a slow, almost exaggerated breathing sound from the other end. "Good girl. Now, think, Rachel - what music are you looking for?" "My Funny Girl score! My pride and joy!" Rachel said, once again launching into her panic. "Kurt, if I were to ever bear children, they would likely mean less to me than that score. This isn't just any sheet music - this is Barbra." "Oh, this is serious," Kurt said, his voice dropping in tone. "So, really think, Rachel. When did you have it last?" "Last night. No, wait, yesterday morning. Likely right around this time, come to think of it," Rachel said, her voice cracking under the duress. "And what were you doing?" "There was no more granola, so I went to look for one of those vegan protein bars that Blaine brought home from the grocery, and I set it down somewhere," Rachel said, scuffling around in the apartment. Kurt heard cabinet drawers banging, silverware clashing, and winced. "Don't destroy our apartment, okay? It's kind of the only one we have," Kurt said. "Don't get short with me, Hummel! This is practically life and death!" "All right, all right. So you set it down somewhere. Elaborate? Retrace your steps?" Kurt suggested, trying to be helpful. He dropped his tone, hoping Rachel wouldn't hear the next thought as he muttered it aloud softly. "Pop a Xanax?" "You didn't happen to see a pink binder this morning, did you? Because it was inside of that. Pink, almost a magenta color, really, with gold stars embossed on the front?" "I'm fairly certain my retinas would be scorched, so I definitely could not have missed that," Kurt replied. Rachel scoffed. "You're not being helpful. Let me talk to Blaine," Rachel insisted. "He's at least
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sensitive." "To what, your psychosis?" "Kurt, this is serious!" Rachel whined into the phone. Kurt sighed and took another bite of omelet. "All right, I'll level with you. But only because I love Barbra, too, and you're my dear friend and roommate. You wouldn't have set it down in the kitchen, because food is prepared there, and the idea of getting even the smallest thing on your sheet music would give you hives," Kurt reasoned. "That's true," Rachel replied. "You've probably searched your room top to bottom, then reorganized the entire thing, because you can't live in chaos," Kurt continued. "Right, and it wasn't there," Rachel said. "It's not in the living room, is it?" "No," Rachel sighed. "I've nearly abandoned hope." The brunette sounded defeated, and Kurt placed his chin in his hand, thinking hard. He and Rachel had been friends for years, and living with another person allows one special insight into their life, their operational methods, their quirks, their behaviors. What would Rachel Berry do? Kurt smiled; if they were living in a cartoon world, this would be the moment where the light bulb appeared. "The keyboard is in our bedroom," Kurt deduced. "You took it in there yesterday morning, to practice, and left it on the music stand." The sound of rapid footsteps took over as Rachel dropped into a nearly dead silence. Then, a moment later "Kurt, it was on the music stand! Oh my God, how could you have possibly known? Never mind that, how can I repay you?" "Because you're a workaholic, and I am a God among men," Kurt replied smugly. "Also, I love you - but since you so freely offered to repay me come out with me
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today. Into the world, for once. After breakfast." "Kurt, I'm terribly busy today, but can we make a rain check?" Rachel asked hopefully. "We've rain checked the last six times, at least. No more excuses, Rachel. Come spend time with me today. We'll go shopping, try on clothes. We can go through Greenwich Village - you love the Village," Kurt pressed, unwilling to let it drop and be set aside. "It'll be fun." "I do love the Village" Rachel replied, trailing off. Kurt's smile widened. "Good, so it's set," Kurt finished. "No! My music. I've got class, and then I have to practice. There's an upcoming recital that they want me to sing lead vocals for, and I've got to prepare at least two numbers. You know how I feel about mediocrity," Rachel rambled. Kurt tapped his fingers against the table. He was not impressed. "Rachel, nothing about you is mediocre. You can sing effortlessly in your sleep, and still make the angels cry. One day, that's all I ask. You need to get out, cultivate some sort of a social life before you get old and it all goes south. Honey, just do this for me," Kurt asked. "Don't make me beg." "You'd beg?" Rachel asked, sounding suddenly amused. "Not and be happy about it," Kurt replied flatly. "You'd get to deal with a grumpy, bitchy Queen Hummel all day, and I know how much you love that." "More than anything," Rachel retorted sarcastically. She sighed, and Kurt felt his heart pause for a moment in anticipation. "Fine. Fine, you win. But after my class, though - Rachel Berry does not skip school. Even for the artistic wonder of the Village." "Wonderful," Kurt said happily. "I'll meet you downtown, at the park near the caf in three hours?" "Three and a half," Rachel replied. "That way, I have extra time to rehearse one of my numbers after class, just to be on the safe side. I can't let a day pass by without rehearsal, you know. It's a waste of time to not utilize the brilliance of our campus pianist."
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"I know, Rachel. Three and a half hours it is," Kurt said. "But, if you're not there, I'm going to find a way to slip dairy into your breakfast smoothies." "You wouldn't dare," Rachel said menacingly. Kurt chuckled, "Perhaps I wouldn't. Perhaps you're giving me too much credit. Don't be late, Berry." He slid his phone closed and tucked it back into his pocket. Again, he returned to his fork and breakfast and took another large bite of the half-eaten omelet. After chewing and swallowing, he frowned. Kurt cleared his throat, catching Blaine's attention from across the room. Within a moment, Blaine showed up at his table and refilled his coffee cup. "Is everything okay? You didn't finish your breakfast," Blaine commented. "Rachel happened, but all is well. However, I've worked up quite an appetite. Can you talk Alan into heating that up for me?" Blaine smiled and kissed the top of Kurt's head, taking his plate and walking it back to the kitchen. Kurt smiled happily, cradling his warm coffee mug in his hands. This was the good life, and he was a very lucky man. A/N: Thank you so much for the reviews! The acceptance for chapter one was truly amazing, and I hope this one was just as good. Let me know what you think!

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Chapter 3
Wow. I realized some similarities in this story and what actually happened in the finale! Huh. Maybe it's not as AU as I thought - maybe I'm psychic. Either way, enjoy! Exactly three and a half hours later, as scheduled, Kurt was seated on a park bench, participating passively in one of his favorite activities: people watching. He slid his phone open, and glanced at the time. She was two minutes late. He was going to kill her. Just then, a panting, slightly sweaty brunette showed up at the bench next to him, bracing her hands on the back. "Dairy! You'll never see it coming!" Kurt griped, crossing his arms and pursing his lips. She looked up at him, doe-like brown eyes laced with slight fear and apology. "I'm so sorry - you know this city. I was invisible to cabs today," Rachel said, her lips turning downward into a rather adorable pout that even Kurt found sometimes irresistible. "That's why God gave you legs and those legs, in particular. You should have worn the shorts," Kurt said, gesturing to her tight-fitted jeans and simple polo shirt. "That outfit does nothing for you." Rachel looked down, and her pout grew exponentially. "It's an improvement from high school," she stated simply. "Cropped plastic grocery bags would be an improvement from the atrocities you used to wear, but it doesn't help you catch a cab, dearest." "Forgive me?" Rachel asked, sitting next to Kurt on the bench and placing her hand on his forearm. He glared at her, but crumbled under the intensity of her patented "watery-eyed pout" and offered a small smile. "Next time Blaine and I go out for drinks, you are coming along with us," Kurt stated. "Wherever we want to go - and, you're buying." "I was two minutes late, Kurt, this is" "Would you prefer a calcium-laden sneak attack?"
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"Wherever you want, and I'm buying, but Kurt" Rachel protested. "Don't complain about our choice of establishment, either. Even though the men won't be interested in you, they will still be nice to look at. For all of us," Kurt pointed out. "You want me to actively pursue a social life, and then you drag me to a gay bar," Rachel replied. "You, Rachel Berry, should have no problem with inhabiting a gay establishment. Your fathers, gay. Your two best friends, gay. You know every word to every song by Barbra, Cher, and Liza you're practically a gay man," Kurt explained, becoming more amused as he found things to back up his argument. "If that were the first time someone had said that to me, I might hit you," Rachel grumbled. "Don't be angry that I'm right," Kurt said, placing his hand on her shoulder. "You know I love you." "Fine, you win," Rachel acquiesced. "Don't I always?" Kurt retorted. His smile widened. "Besides, perhaps your track record is some glaring sign we've missed, and in taking you to a gay bar, I'll in turn, introduce you to some nice lesbian who you'll fall madly in love with, and Blaine and I can knit your future babies plaid patterned quilts." "That would certainly be something to write home about," Rachel mused. "If I liked women that way, which I don't. There's a reason I'm not even friends with girls; they're mean, rude, conniving, backstabbing, and do you remember nothing from high school?" "It got better," Kurt replied. "That's beside the point. My star status did rise above the minority masses once we won our first Nationals victory; and then there was my original song I sang at graduation, which was spectacular, but you're getting me off topic. I'm not dating. Rachel Berry is focused on her career." "Rachel Berry is dating herself," Kurt said quietly. "There is nothing wrong with being a career-minded individual, primed and ready
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to catch a falling star within my grasp the instant that it heads to earth, waiting for me to take it and seize greatness," Rachel explained. "You know it's just a matter of time; I have to be ready." "Okay, Rachel. I'll drop it. For now, but our deal still stands. The next time we go out, you're coming along," Kurt said, raising a finger and making it impossible for Rachel to argue. "As you wish," Rachel said. "When is Blaine going to have some free time, anyway? So I can make sure to leave holes in my schedule." "Your schedule isn't that crowded. It's all the same thing: class, practice, class, rehearsal, lessons, blah, blah you're obsessed. I have an obsessive personality, and God knows I love music just as much as you do, but you're a little much, Rachel," Kurt said softly. "I worry." "I appreciate your concern, but I'm fine. Many stars are overly devoted to their passions and chasing their dreams," Rachel said. "It keeps us ahead of the pack in competitive situations." "Blaine is a workaholic, too. I'm surrounded by your kind," Kurt said, hanging his head. "But, he is trying to get less hours since he's worked so much overtime this month. It's not his fault that he's their best employee and they want him there constantly, but I also want him home. He's going to try to ditch the early morning shifts and switch to afternoons, so he can spend his nights and mornings with me." "That's so great, Kurt!" Rachel said happily. "That will be great for both of you. And, I've missed Blaine around the apartment, too. He keeps us both calm. It's strange." "He does have that way about him," Kurt swooned. "It's magic." "He's quite the catch. I saw it from the beginning," Rachel replied. "Is that why you tried to steal him?" Kurt asked, raising an eyebrow. "Past! That was in that past! You two are much better together. We would have had a tragic affair that would have likely ended in heartbreak, as all of my relationships do, and our friendship would have suffered from it," Rachel explained. "Blaine was just a fleeting dream." "A very gay one, at that," Kurt chuckled.
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"Semantics," Rachel said jokingly, her smile widening. "So. Subject change. Where are we going today, oh Captain, my Captain?" Kurt rubbed his hands together excitedly. "There is this adorable little bookstore in the Village that I heard about through a few of my classmates, and they said that it really is a delight. Old books, new books, vinyl, it's a haven for people like you and I." "Oh, that sounds like a wonderful idea!" Rachel said. "Is Brittany working today?" "All day, sadly, or I would have invited her," Kurt replied. "But I'm sure we'll see her over the weekend. I'm helping her choreograph for one of her classes tomorrow morning; you could tag along." "Classes," Rachel said. "After?" Kurt asked hopefully. "You know Brittany gets sad when you don't come along and sing for her at least once a week." "I'll see what I can do," Rachel replied. "That's all I ask," Kurt said. He stood up, then took both of Rachel's hands in his own. "Now, come along - the Village awaits. And you're about to see the Kurt Hummel way of hailing a cab. Foolproof." Rachel followed him, unable to take the smile off of her face. Her best friend really was a riot. "I'm a little nervous," Rachel confessed. "Nonsense! Just, don't make eye contact, and do exactly as I say."

Once inside the bookstore, Kurt and Rachel went their separate ways. Kurt went to the aisle with the vinyl records, browsing through old Original Broadway Cast albums of his favorite shows, while Rachel went to the paperback section to browse through the books that were on sale and discounted. She was hoping to find some light reading to ease her lonely nights when she stayed awake in bed, too late to play music and rehearse, but in a state of insomnia where nothing would lull her peaceably where she wanted to go.
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"So many options," she mused, reading synopsis after synopsis of books of all different genres. She tossed aside the Twilight series with a scoff, then skipped over some "teen romance" novels, turning her nose up at the possibility. For after all, hadn't she once loved and lost? Why bring back painful memories? She wandered into the science fiction section, drawn in by the bright covers and captivating lettering that seemed to be like holograms shining on the covers of the book. This entire section was slightly darker than the rest, and although Rachel was not opposed to the idea of science fiction, she had never found it particularly interesting. She picked up a book with an alien on the cover, its finger stretching forward, almost as if it would leap off the page. Rachel frowned. Not her style. Her cell phone vibrated in her pocket, and she retrieved it, seeing she had a text from Kurt. Anything interesting? - K She looked around, exhaling heavily. There was a peace to this place, but that could have easily been because it seemed she and Kurt were the only customers perhaps in weeks. After the technology boom, people barely went into bookstores for actual books - everything was computerized. Though Rachel did enjoy technology, and was somewhat of a slave to convenience, she did appreciate the romanticism and literary value of holding a musty old book in her hands, curling up in a comfortable chair, and getting lost in a world that was not her own. Rachel tapped at her phone screen and sent a reply. I've gotten lost in another planet. Namely, the Sci-Fi section. Help? - R She barely had time to put her phone in her pocket before it buzzed again, springing to life in her hand and causing her to jump. Kurt really was entirely too speedy with text messaging. No can do, Rachel. I'm knee-deep in "Gypsy" and right next to "My Fair Lady." - K Rachel chuckled audibly. All of whom are female. -R
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Maybe you could find a nice companion in Spock. He wouldn't appreciate your musicality, and he's not a great conversationalist, but you talk enough for two people. ;) - K I'm headed in Classic Literature. There has to be something decent here. -R Way to change the subject and ignore my perfectly crafted insults, Berry. K Rachel was attempting to maneuver through the aisles while text messaging, something that was dangerous when crowds of people were around and potentially in the way. But, since the bookstore was empty, Rachel felt it was a safe bet. There wasn't even someone at the front counter when they walked in, which had been suspect, but since Rachel had seen two security cameras, she figured whoever was on shift was probably snoozing in the back, waiting for someone to give them something to do. Two more steps, and then before she could think to move aside, a body collided with hers. Hard. Her phone sailed from her hands and slid across the carpet, missing its chance to dive under a bookshelf by no more than an inch. Rachel sighed, then looked up at the human blockade. She crossed her arms and scowled. "Didn't anyone tell you that people feel pain? As in, when you collide into us with the force of a battering ram, it hurts? Watch where you're going next time," Rachel said, dusting herself off and then looking up. A pair of irritated green eyes that were fast darkening to a russet brown glared back at her. "My apologies, Princess. Perhaps if you looked up from your phone for two seconds, you'd realize you're not the only thing on two legs in the universe," her opponent countered. Rachel eyed the other woman up and down, feeling her blood pressure rise. She was Rachel Berry - nobody spoke to her that way anymore. Not since she left Lima. She took in her opponent's attire: simple, fitted black slacks, a fitted white button-down that was fashionable in its simplicity, sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Blonde hair was cropped short at the chin and pushed back with a black headband, and a name tag. An employee. "Are you the only person working today, because I really don't appreciate your tone, and would like to speak with your supervisor, Quinn," Rachel said, pausing to say the name with emphasis and disdain. No sooner did it leave her lips, however,
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did she run down a mental checklist. Blonde hair, hazel eyes, name of Quinn "Wait. You're not you can't possibly be Quinn Fabray?" "I'd deny it, but that would be a lie, and there really is no way of not recognizing you, Rachel Berry," Quinn replied. "At least you've grown from threatening to call various social authorities. Now you just threaten to call my manager, like normal people." "You didn't greet me with catty names like Ru-Paul or 'Man-Hands,'" Rachel retorted. "I thought perhaps if our paths ever crossed again, we'd be back to that." "I thought we grew past that before graduation. For good," Quinn said. "Besides, I never understood why we started that nickname in the first place. Your hands aren't very manly." "I've always thought they were quite feminine and delicate," Rachel said. "And you dated Finn Hudson, too. You'd think that would educate you about 'man hands'." "No, those weren't man hands - they were bear paws," Quinn replied with a soft laugh. They stared at each other for a moment, hazel eyes locked on soulful brown before Quinn swayed in her spot and forced herself to break the eye contact. "You dropped your phone over there?" Quinn gestured to the bookcase about ten steps in front of them where Rachel's phone was laying helplessly. "I hope it didn't break. That was quite a throw," Quinn called behind her as she approached the bookcase. She crouched down to retrieve the phone, then stood up and made her way back to Rachel to return the device. She extended her hand forward, a peace offering. "No calling my manager?" Rachel took the phone from Quinn and looked at the screen, seeing there were two unread text messages from Kurt. "I never would have thought Quinn Fabray would be asking me to do her favors. To spare her from some precarious situation," Rachel said, amused. She wasn't planning on really talking to Quinn's manager, after all. It had been a hapless accident that was mostly her fault for texting and walking, but even though things with her and Quinn had gotten better in their last year of high school, they had never patched completely. Rachel saw opportunity in everything. If nothing else, this literal run-in would force the blonde to engage her in some sort of civil conversation, as she was still on the clock and Rachel, for all she knew, was a paying customer.
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"It was an accident, Rachel," Quinn said. "Actually, I should have been paying more attention. See, we've been really slow this week, and I've been doing some reading. Nobody's ever in here, so I can stock inventory and read almost simultaneously. It's kind of sad and pathetic, right?" "What are you reading?" Rachel asked, raising an eyebrow. Quinn raised the book, showing the cover to Rachel. Alice in Wonderland. Rachel smiled. "Fantastic book." "One of my favorites," Quinn replied. "It's kind of hard making ends meet, and I'd spend all my money on books if I had it to blow, but I don't, so that's where working at a bookstore pays off. You can read the books, then just put them back on the shelf." "They have libraries for that," Rachel commented. "But I don't have to physically be in a library for six to eight hours, five days a week," Quinn stated before tucking the book back under her arm. "Touche." A clattering sound broke them from their strangely comfortable silence. Both girls turned and saw Kurt sheepishly leaning against a series of shelves that he had almost taken to the ground. He moved it back upright and slid a few books back into place. "Well, as I live and breathe, if it isn't the Head Bitch herself," Kurt purred. "What a terrible surprise." "Kurt Hummel," Quinn said, a smile tugging at her lips. "Some things really do never change."

A/N: Your reviews are lovely, and totally appreciated. These characters are so much fun to write, and I'm happy to hear that I'm not terrible at doing so! Let me know what you think, and thanks again!

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Chapter 4
Rachel was shocked when Quinn and Kurt awkwardly embraced in front of her. Kurt laughed and pressed his hands against her shoulders, drawing her in closer. Only when he did that did Quinn deepen the hug, adding more intimacy and lacing it with traces of how their friendship used to be before the years pulled them apart. Kurt laughed and moved back from the hug a few moments later, holding Quinn at arm's length. "You haven't aged a day," Kurt admired. "I'm jealous. I have to go through at least fifty dollars worth of moisturizer in a month!" "And you think I don't?" Quinn said with a soft laugh. "You do?" Kurt asked, obviously surprised. Quinn pondered for a moment, then smirked. "No, soap and water, maybe a little bit of off-brand face wash. That gets the job done, and it has to. I can't afford much else. You're looking excellent as well, though. Less cherubic, slightly more chiseled, and very New York City." Kurt blushed, the redness staining his cheeks just slightly, but enough to be noticeable. "That might be the kindest thing you've ever said to me," Kurt replied. Quinn placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled. Rachel continued to stare on, and tapped her foot impatiently. "I hate to interrupt this impromptu love-fest, but ahem," Rachel cut in. "You two are not alone in here." "I know! Now we've run into Quinn, isn't that fantastic?" Kurt asked exuberantly. "Fantastic," Rachel drawled. Quinn took a step back from Kurt, putting equal distance between her two former Glee clubbers.
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"Don't sound so excited, Rachel," Quinn teased. "Here I thought you were happy to see me." "I was," Rachel said. "Am. I am. I just there's so much it's been a long time," Rachel replied, stumbling over her words. Quinn nodded in understanding, and a silence fell over the group. Kurt regarded both girls in turn, taking in their body cues to determine what exactly was happening before his eyes. The story unfolded slowly, starting with how Quinn pursed her lips on one side, as though she was simultaneously deep in thought and at a loss for words. It moved from there to Rachel's hands, neatly manicured nails digging into her palms as her eyes darted everywhere all at once, although never quite landing on Quinn. Kurt could sense the awkwardness between the two, and he adopted an open, observatory stance. "I thought you two were getting better at this," Kurt said, breaking the silence. Two pairs of eyes snapped up to look at him. Rachel was stunned; Quinn was confused. "Kurt," Rachel warned. "No, let me say my peace. We were, at one point, a family. We didn't always get along, and we fought each other tooth and nail for every last inch of spotlight until the final note was sang at our last Nationals, but that didn't change much. We grew so much in our years of Glee - every last one of us," Kurt explained. "And now, just because two more years have passed, you're acting like strangers? I thought we'd gotten past all the animosity." "Time's a funny thing," Rachel murmured. "Yeah, it sure is," Quinn said, tracing a constant circle in the carpet with the toe of her shoes. Rachel looked up, glancing over at Quinn, and for a moment, she could not tear her eyes away. Kurt flailed his arms and adopted a wide smile. "You two are far too down in the dumps, too melancholy and internally cerebral for this kind of occasion! This should be cause for celebration - our little family, reunited after all these years," Kurt exclaimed. "I have a perfect idea!" "Oh, God," Rachel moaned, placing a hand on her forehead. "Brace yourself, Quinn. His ideas are legendary, and not in the good way." "We need to have a Glee-union," Kurt said, fanning his hands out in front of him as if he were envisioning banners and streamers. "Nothing too big, but momentous all the same. It can just be us: you, Rachel, Blaine, and myself."
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Quinn looked skeptical. "Really?" Quinn asked, raising an eyebrow. "That actually doesn't sound too terrible." "Too terrible? Quinn, it's a phenomenal idea. You don't know how long I've been trying to get Rachel out of the apartment, get her out of her Julliard mindset and into some semblance of a social life," Kurt said to the blonde. "You live with Kurt?" Quinn asked Rachel, who simply nodded. "And I'm a wonderful roommate. Well, Blaine and I are wonderful roommates," Kurt said, smiling at the thought of his boyfriend. "You're still dating Blaine?" Quinn asked, her features softening. "That's great news. I always thought he was so charming, such a nice guy." "Blaine's very wonderful," Rachel said. "And quite tidy. Hardworking - he works at this lovely caf downtown, and is incredibly supportive of Kurt. We both attend Julliard, but that's not a surprise, is it?" Quinn smiled warmly, her eyes taking on an adoring hue when she addressed the small brunette again. "Not at all, Rachel. I knew you'd make all your dreams come true," Quinn said softly before snapping out of her reverie, turning to Kurt and widening her grin. "Both of you! It was really only a matter of time. Congratulations." "Well, it doesn't hurt to dream big, that's what I say," Kurt said. "So, if I make arrangements for this little get-together, will you come?" Rachel glanced over at Quinn through her lashes, and Quinn crossed her arms, bracing herself. The look wasn't flirtatious, and it wasn't meant to send her signals, but Quinn felt a warmth spread through her whenever Rachel looked her way. Spending a whole evening with her, in a situation where alcohol was likely to be involved little supervision, and too much to catch up on "Yeah, absolutely," Quinn replied. "It sounds like a great idea." Kurt squealed a little, barely able to contain his excitement. "Excellent! You've made me so happy, Quinn. This is going to be amazing!" Kurt
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said happily. He turned to Rachel and looped his arm around her shoulder. "We have planning to do, because we need to discuss venue options with Blaine, work with his schedule. Quinn?" "Yeah?" Quinn asked, snapping back to attention after having been distracted by her own thoughts momentarily. "I'm going to go get a few records, but make sure you don't let us leave without giving Rachel your number. That way, we can text you when plans are in place," Kurt said. He gave the former cheerleader another quick hug before nearly prancing down the aisles, back to the vinyl section. Rachel laughed gently, almost sounding like a cough expelled from the back of her throat as they were alone once again. "So," Rachel said, offering Quinn a sympathetic look. She knew how intense her best friend could be at times, perhaps better than anyone. Except maybe Blaine, but the intensity he saw was less erratic and more romantic, which was the better way to show intensity, in Rachel's opinion. "Yeah," Quinn said, scratching her head. "He's vibrant, isn't he?" "You have no idea," Rachel said. "I love him dearly, though. He's been a better friend to me over the years than I ever expected to have, really. He's just easily excitable." "I remember," Quinn said, smiling at the fonder memories circling her brain. "It's nice to see you both, though. Really nice." "It's nice to see you, too, Quinn," Rachel said. "And in a place like this! Which I honestly never would have expected you to work in a million years." "Are you trying to say I'm illiterate or something, Berry? Uncultured?" Quinn asked, sharpening her voice to a razor's edge. Rachel winced, and took a step back. She gulped, and didn't quite meet Quinn's gaze, which she guessed was steely and intimidating, same as always. "Quinn, I'm sorry, it wasn't meant" "Rachel," Quinn said softly, her voice barely above a whisper. It was a hushed tone, normally what one would assign to lovers, gently conversing in precious moments alone in public places. Rachel looked up, stunned by the blonde's sensitive side, and saw her adopt a brilliant smile from ear to ear that nearly took her breath away. "I was kidding. I know you didn't mean it that way."
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"Apologies, huh?" Rachel teased, looking up at the blonde and offering a smile of her own. "Well, that's new." "Long overdue, if you ask me," Quinn replied. "Let's not dwell on the past, shall we?" Rachel commented. "There has been a two year gap between the last time we spoke, but things are different now. We're older, and things happened in the past, but that's the past. That's long forgotten." Quinn's eyes closed almost imperceptibly for a moment, and she tried not to lay her emotions bare on the table. She had learned in the past that doing so led to most of her troubles, so she hid them behind a wall and treated them like a princess in a tower. Because God knew she was far from that these days. Ever since she left her parents' house, although it hadn't been her decision, she had been free of her tether, and left to stand on her own. She was stronger now, on stronger, steadier ground, and she'd be damned if she'd let anyone watch her break. "Oh yeah," Quinn said confidently. "Forgotten." Rachel smiled, and only then did she place her hand over Quinn's. "You and I are supposed to exchange telephone numbers before we leave, correct?" "So says the Hummel," Quinn quipped. She let Rachel's touch linger perhaps a second too long, before she felt it start to sear, and then shifted so she could retrieve her phone from her pants' pocket. She pressed a few buttons, then handed it to Rachel. The brunette accepted the device and punched in her name and phone number, then handed it back to Quinn. Once Quinn's phone was stowed, Rachel handed the blonde her own cell phone. "Just in case," Rachel said, "Let's hope my phone doesn't start spontaneously glitching after its little accident." "You want my number?" Quinn asked. "That way, if you decide to delete mine, Kurt won't kill me," Rachel said teasingly, a half-smile etched onto her delicate features that had become slightly more mature through the years. Her eyes, however, remained bright with the same sense of passion and wonder she held back in high school. Few reasons she could put her finger on, but Quinn was helpless to oblige.
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"I highly doubt Kurt would kill you," Quinn said. "Maybe yell at you, or get annoyed, but that's normal for Rachel Berry, isn't it?" "Stop, please - you're too charming, I can't stand it," Rachel drawled sarcastically. Quinn typed her digits into Rachel's phone and hovered above the 'save' option for a moment. "I'm a Fabray. Charming is kind of what we do," Quinn replied, feeling her guts begin to churn. Was this really a good idea? Hadn't she been trying to escape her past? Wasn't Rachel Berry a part of that past? "You're taking awfully long, Fabray," Rachel said, putting the emphasis on the blonde's last name. Even when she was 'man-hands' and 'treasure trail,' Rachel had been on a first-name basis with the blonde. She always called her Quinn. It was out of respect, out of fear, but this this was playful, and Rachel had no idea where it was coming from, but decided to let it run its course. "Sorry, sorry," Quinn muttered. "I'm just having a hard time figuring out your phone. I've always wanted one of these Droid things, but I'm too broke to afford it. I still live in the pre touch screen era." A lie. Quinn knew how these phones worked. Her brain was just fighting her, a soldier in the most heated lines of battle with her heart and her common sense, along with her sense of self-preservation. Rachel took a step forward and placed both of her hands over Quinn's. Quinn bristled; this was a little too close for comfort. For propriety. For her to stand. "It's easy," Rachel practically purred into the blonde's ear. She guided Quinn's hands, and the ex-cheerleader could swear she felt Rachel's breath on her face. "You just press this little button here" Quinn swallowed hard. "That one?" Quinn asked, letting Rachel guide her still, despite her best efforts to turn tail and run like she stole something. "Yes, that one," Rachel said with a dark chuckle. "And you're saved! In my phone. Hooray! Now Kurt won't send me to bed without supper." Rachel stepped back, and Quinn could feel the temperature drop back to normal,
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but couldn't stop the hammering in her chest. It sounded so loud, and she hoped, no, she prayed that Rachel couldn't hear it. Couldn't have felt it when she was standing there. Some things really were better left alone. Quinn glanced around the store, waiting for an hour, looking desperately for it, and saw Kurt standing at the counter, a stack of records in front of him. "I have a customer," Quinn said softly. "It's just Kurt," Rachel replied. "He's not used to waiting for anything; you should make him suffer. Teach him some humility." "I have to do my job," Quinn countered. "But, it's not like we won't be seeing each other soon. And, if Kurt has anything to do with it, and you know he will, we'll probably be seeing a lot more of each other." The words felt like lead in her mouth. Rachel beamed. "As long as you don't show up in that damned cheerleading outfit, I think I'll be okay with that," Rachel said jokingly. "The color red still triggers horrible things." Quinn laughed, hoping it wouldn't come off as bitter. "No, I had to give it back," Quinn said. "It was for the best. And no worries, I've practically banned that color from my wardrobe." "Good for you," Rachel replied. Together, they headed to the register, keeping a respectable distance through the aisles. Quinn felt her heart finally slow when she saw Kurt, and fought to keep her eyes on him, not Rachel. She didn't know what she was feeling, exactly, but it terrified her and excited her all at once. Her thoughts lingered, allowing her to function enough to continue basic conversation with Kurt as she rang up his purchases and stowed them in the canvas bag he offered her. Whatever these feelings were, she was certain she hadn't felt them in years. Since high school. Since the last time she saw Rachel Berry.
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Which begged the question: was it attraction based on the fact that she was now open to her sexuality - because Rachel was, undeniably, a very attractive girl. Or could it be because she was Rachel Berry? Rachel and Kurt both slid on their sunglasses and headed for the door. "We'll be seeing you soon, Quinn," Kurt said with a friendly wave. "Don't work yourself too hard." Quinn swallowed her words and stuck with something automatic. Something she didn't have to decipher. "Have a nice day, you two."

A/N: Look at all these great reviews I have! I'm so happy, it's ridiculous. ALSO, thank you to all the people who have set me up for alerts and favorites. However, I'd love to know what you think of this story! Questions, comments, ideas? Let me have them. Don't be shy. It's a party up in here! Thanks again for reading, and I hope you enjoyed.

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Chapter 5
Kurt and Rachel walked down the crowded city sidewalks, silently watching the world pass around them. Kurt was humming to himself, and Rachel looked all around, glancing up at the tall buildings that, while they were familiar to her now, were still just as impressive as when she had been to New York City for the first time, during their first attempt at Nationals. She remembered the feeling of the city air fanning her face, the sound of the traffic, the advertisements surrounding her like giant monarchs as she stood in the middle of Times Square. She remembered their first impromptu performance; running around the fountains, a song on their lips and joy in their hearts. It was intoxicating, and remained high on the list of her fondest memories. Sometimes, if she was honest, it managed to achieve a higher ranking than their Nationals win. Everyone said it was inevitable, their talent just kept growing and their desire grew along with it, but Rachel felt that their initial loss had humbled them, and had caused them to grow as people, which was more important in the long run. "You're thinking. Processing, and it's scaring me," Kurt said, his voice no louder than usual, but in a manner that seemed nearly deafening to the brunette. "A silent Rachel Berry is absolutely terrifying. Talk to me - what's going on in that pretty head of yours?" "We saw Quinn," Rachel admitted. "For the first time in two years. Quinn Fabray. That's a lot to process, don't you think?" "It's just Quinn," Kurt replied. "We've known Quinn forever; it's a surprise, but it isn't that much of a shock." "You don't think so?" "No," Kurt said, brushing it off. "There are too many common threads between all of us. It was bound to happen eventually. Granted, I always thought it would be at our ten year reunion, and you and I would have already headlined a Broadway show, but beggars can't be choosers." "Quinn's in New York City," Rachel said simply, her voice still retaining a bit of a trance-like quality. "Well, so are we," Kurt argued.
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"That was expected, though," Rachel said. "For you and I to end up here. We decided it during our first trip here, after our impromptu performance at the Gershwin - which I still can't believe actually happened. Talk about surreal." "Little wonders happen every day," Kurt replied. "I'm just saying, it wouldn't be a surprise for someone to run into us here," Rachel said. "But Quinn? I always thought Quinn would" "Stay in Lima?" Kurt interrupted. "Did you really?" "Yes?" Rachel asked hesitantly. "I didn't," Kurt admitted. "I mean, I wouldn't have guessed she'd set up shop here, because let's face it, this is a little more Broadway and a little less Cheerio, but I knew she'd get out of Lima eventually." "How did you know?" "Since the day I first saw Quinn Fabray, with that tight ponytail, that cheerleader uniform, and that 'holier than thou' smirk etched into her features, I knew it was a facade. I knew that the real Quinn, the Quinn we got a glimpse of toward the end of Senior year, had stars in her eyes, and wanted more than what that town could offer her or any of us," Kurt explained. "I don't think most people saw it, and she tried to keep it under wraps, but it was there. I think she had more potential than a lot of us, just in a different way." "But she never seemed to care, Kurt. If you're a dreamer, if you want more for yourself, you have to care," Rachel argued. "I think she cares more than anyone," Kurt countered. "She's a survivor. To survive what happened with Beth, to lose her identity and everything she tried so hard to cling to, that takes guts. That takes sheer willpower, and I knew there was no way Lima could hold a girl like that down to the dirt." "You sound like you're the president of her fan club," Rachel scoffed. "I know talent when I see it," Kurt said, smiling softly and lacing his fingers with Rachel's. "Or have you forgotten? I saw it in you, too. Even when you didn't." "Especially when I didn't," Rachel sighed.
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"And now we're here," Kurt said, gesturing up with one hand. "In the midst of all we love, everything we want in life just within our grasp." "What do you want, Kurt?" Rachel asked, looking to the taller boy and hoping for more answers. Kurt Hummel was mysterious, even through his flamboyant way of living and telling things exactly as they were. Sometimes, Rachel thought she'd have him figured out, and in a split second, he'd do something that would send her all the way back to square one. After a while, she stopped guessing and just opened her arms to embrace him and every facet of his personality that made him a whole, and made him her very best friend. "Right now?" Kurt asked seriously. "Right now, since we're practically song and dancing down memory lane, I would like a bagel. Nothing fancy, just your run-of-the-mill, one-of-a-kind, New York City bagel. For old times' sake." Rachel smiled so hard she felt the tension all over her face. "Well that, Mr. Hummel, I can do."

Back at the bookstore, Quinn was only two pages past where she had left her book. Before. Before Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel came into her workplace on a coincidental happenstance. She sat down on the stool behind the register, trying desperately to adjust herself into a comfortable position. She read two more lines, and noticed that the words were starting to blur together, bringing physical note to the fact that her heart, mind, and focus were completely elsewhere, no matter how hard she tried to adjust her priorities. She paused, then looked up, and sighed heavily. They had not only been her only customers in the last hour, but they had put her in such a state of emotional disarray that she was having difficulty doing even the most basic things. Breathing, even, was becoming a tedious chore. It made her ache, head to toe, tiny jolts crushing her chest every time she exhaled, then inhaled again. She felt the stress tighten her body, a coiled spring ready to burst free and devour her in its wake. What is wrong with me? She slammed her hands, and along with them, the book, down on the counter and then ran her hands through her hair. It had grown since she chopped it off in her anti-Finn Hudson display, of course, but she never allowed it to become what it had
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been before. Just like she was physically, she kept it somewhere between the old and the new. She never wanted to go back to that girl; not Quinn, the pregnant teenager or Quinn, the head Cheerio, or even Quinn, the quarterback's girlfriend. She didn't want to be awkward little Lucy, but she didn't want to be the persona she created with her own hands, and broke with the same, either. She was so many things, and most of those things, she realized now, could not have been comprehended by high school driven adolescent minds. Not even her own. She was a phoenix that had risen from the ashes. She was a poet, an artistically minded individual. She was cultured, and damn it, she didn't have anyone tethering her down, keeping her string against the earth for the first time in twenty-one years. Quinn sighed and released her hands from her hair. She was free. It had taken years, but now, come hell or high water, she was free. And that, she decided, was worth fighting for. Her phone chirped audibly from the employee break room, and she felt her heart sink. It was likely Santana - Santana was the only one with her new number except for her co-workers, her boss, a few people she had met and scheduled plans with along the way. She never followed through with those plans; she always chickened out or made up some excuse at the last minute. But now there was someone else: Rachel Berry had her phone number. Rachel Berry was going to make plans with her, to take a stroll down memory lane, to reminisce. There was a chance, a small chance, that she could be texting her, reaching out another olive branch and encouraging communication from her estranged former classmate. Quinn wasn't supposed to use her phone while she was on the clock. Her boss wasn't strict about it, but it was frowned upon, and she knew it. There were cameras in the store, and although they were scarce and she knew the location of each and every one, could easily hide from them, and was probably due for a ten minute break, she hesitated. It would take one minute; one minute to read the text, then reply if the spirit moved her. Nobody would hang her out to dry over a measly sixty seconds, right? And if it was Rachel Berry, in an unlikely twist of fate out of some romantic paperback, she could spare that brief amount of time to reply. To let her
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know that yes, things had changed and no, she wasn't the raging bitch that the brunette still likely held at the forefront of her memory. Quinn jumped down off the stool and darted back into the break room, snatching her phone off the table and punching a quick series of buttons to check her message. Santana. Hey, hey - how's my favorite blonde? - S. Quinn wanted to sink to the floor. So much for happy accidents and coincidence. Since when did I become your favorite blonde? You've had three in the last week. - Q. She fought the urge to throw her phone across the room in frustration, and slid it into her pocket instead. She'd take it back out on the floor, but that didn't mean she had to be a slave to it. It was just Santana after all, and she was done with her work day in she checked the clock two hours, forty-two minutes. Too long. Her phone chirped again, less audible as it was muffled by fabric pressed taut to her thighs as she sat back down on the stool. Fingers brushed the cover of a well-worn paperback and she turned back to the dog-eared page; she'd have to purchase this book, for sure. Two more lines. Quinn closed the book and reached back into her pocket. Ha, ha. Longest running favorite blonde? - S. Quinn frowned. She knew that wasn't true, either. Whatever you say, Santana. I bet you use that line on all the girls. - Q. This time, she left her phone on the counter and turned it to silent. She didn't bother picking up the book, just sat in wait for her phone to light up, signaling the next text in what would likely be an endless series until she was either off work or had an actual customer to address in person. Okay, okay. Hate the player, not the game. Anyway what's new at the salt mines? - S.
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The phone nearly slid out of her hands as she felt a nearly literal bolt of shock course through her, causing the hair on the back of her neck to stand on end. Quinn swallowed; to lie or not to lie? Not much it's mostly vintage stock. ;) - Q. Quinn felt her stomach churn a little at the realization that she had lied to her best friend, and quite easily. It wasn't that she wanted to keep the information from Santana, they barely kept secrets. After some of the hurdles she had gone over and survived, Quinn hated secrets, too. Nearly more than anything; she could forgive a lot worse sins than lies and secrets. Her phone buzzed, and she delayed. Santana wasn't good enough to detect a lie over text message, was she? Okay, smart ass. I'll leave you to your job. See you at home! - S. Quinn held the device in her hands, wanting to type out a reply. To tell Santana that actually, something eventful had happened, and maybe they couldn't talk about it right then, because it was too important to be relayed via text message, but they'd discuss it later. Quinn sighed; that wasn't a good idea, either. Santana had made so much progress since graduation, since they got out of Lima - she had a job, a few casual friendships from work, and she was back to the Santana Quinn had always admired and loved spending time with. She was back to how she was before, only better. She was Santana 2.0. Quinn silenced her phone and slid it back into her pocket. She couldn't ruin Santana's progress. Because sure, it was just Rachel and Kurt. They had all been close back in high school, and they hadn't been the ones to shatter Santana, but they were still connected to all of it. Quinn was, in Santana's own words, the only part of Lima she could stand without breaking. Santana had spent so many years looking after Quinn, holding her hand and guiding her through life's hurdles, and Quinn had tried to do the same for Santana when she fell. She had never been in the right state emotionally to be the rock Santana needed, however, and she had kicked herself internally for that a thousand times. But now, even though she felt a kernel of nervousness building deep in her gut because of the memories that were starting to surface in her world, she was finally okay to be Santana's rock, should she ever need it. Quinn would be her life preserver, waiting in the wings to bring her back ashore.
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Telling her about Kurt and Rachel would be an anchor around her ankle, one careless shove away from sending her under.

A/N: So, this wasn't as long as some of the others have been (or will be I'm trying to stay ahead of writing, so there can be more frequent updates), but character development is really important to me, especially in AU/future-verse stories. Never fear, though... the "Glee-union" will be coming up just beyond that horizon, and it will (hopefully) be epic. In the meantime, I love your thoughts/comments/reviews/etc... so please, send them my way! It just takes a minute, but means so much to writers. Thanks to you all!

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Chapter 6
The panoramic mirrors weren't new to her, but they had a way of showing everything. Every fluid movement, or every misstep. Every success and every failure. Mostly, they showed the changes in her; her body, now stronger than it had been even when she was at what she had thought then to be her peak physical condition. Her hair was longer, darker by a shade, but she refused to douse her hair with potentially cancerous chemicals. She was still the bright, bubbly, blue eyed blonde she had always been. Sure, there were more bruises and bumps on her body, and some dark circles under her eyes, but only when she was overworked. She took a long, relaxed pull from her water bottle, then set it down and hiked her leg up on the bar, leaning forward to enhance the stretch. Her sinewy arms stretched forward, to the tips of her toes, then behind her as she leaned back slightly, feeling the pull in her lower abdominal muscles. "Brittany," a voice said from behind her. Funny, she hadn't heard anyone enter. "Yeah?" she asked, standing once again on two feet and looking behind her in the mirror. Kelley, one of the other instructors at the studio, regarded her with a kind smile. "Kurt and Rachel are here - I told them you were doing your dance thing. Getting the stress out. Want me to go ahead and let them in?" "Kurt and Rachel? Yeah, yeah, let them in. They're always welcome!" Brittany chirped happily. Kelley nodded and disappeared back through the door. Brittany wiped at the sweat that had pooled on her brow. She glanced around the room, then frowned - no clocks, right. It was probably better that way, since she had a tendency to lose track of time while she danced. Everything faded into the music, every thought she held, at least, the ones she held onto, drifted away like a breeze over rushing waves. The door clicked open, audibly this time, and Brittany spun around, her face nearly splitting in half to accommodate the smile she was sporting at the sight of her friends. "Brittany!" Kurt said, racing forward to hug the tall blonde. "Kurt! I haven't seen you in how long has it been?" "Not even a day, Britt," Kurt said, laughing against the blonde's shoulder. After a second, his face contorted in sudden realization, and he pulled away, smiling
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apologetically. "You're sweaty." "Only boys sweat, Kurt. Girls glisten," Brittany said, then she smirked. "Well, except for you. You totally glisten, too." "Well, Kurt is the fairest of them all," Rachel said, walking over to her friend with a sheepish grin on her face. "Hi, Brittany." "Oh no, you don't get away without being hugged. Come here, you," Brittany said, sweeping the small diva into a hug as well and picking her up off her feet just slightly. Rachel kicked her feet and laughed. "You were supposed to come by and sing for me. You didn't, and Lord Tubbington cried all night." Rachel looked crestfallen, even though she knew it wasn't possible for cats to cry. At least, not in the human way Brittany probably was suggesting. "I'm sorry, Britt. School's been crazy and time got away from me," Rachel apologized. "We'll make time for it soon, though, okay? Very soon. I promise." Brittany looked contemplative for a minute and glanced around. "How does it do that?" "What, Britt?" Kurt asked. "Time. It runs away from Rachel, too," Brittany said. "I thought it was just afraid of me. Or that, you know, my music kept stealing it." "No, that's just a figure of speech," Kurt explained gently. "Time runs away from everyone, metaphorically speaking." "Oh. That sneaky bastard," Brittany replied. "Well, when you get it back, you know my number, Rachel. I miss hearing you sing every day. That was my most favorite part of Glee. Well, other than you know" "We know, it's okay," Rachel said. She knew it still hurt Brittany to talk about Glee, about the people in it, about certain people in particular. Brittany never made excuses, though, and she was one of the most innocently honest people in the world. She couldn't help it, really. Even though it was obvious that memories broke her heart, she still brought them up because they were, according to her "too good to forget."
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"How is Artie?" Kurt asked. "Still kicking academic butt and taking names?" Brittany smiled happily. Her relationship with Artie had finally resolved itself and ended a year ago, but they were both still close. After graduation, Brittany and Artie had both moved to Los Angeles, and Brittany tried her hand at dancing there. She had many auditions, and many failed attempts to make a name for herself. Artie went to school at UCLA full-time, and found that a career as a social worker was calling his name. He had urged Brittany to take some classes, but everything was too academic, and she couldn't just rely on Cheerios and dance to make up for the areas where she lacked and get by anymore, so she ended up working as a hostess in a nice restaurant where the money was good enough, but the people weren't so great, and Brittany just wanted to dance. She had stayed close with Kurt, and with a little help from Rachel and Blaine, the three of them secured her an audition at a dance studio, as an instructor. She wouldn't have left Artie under normal circumstances, but the pressure of being pretty much the sole financial provider was wearing on Brittany, and she wanted better for herself. Her expectations hadn't been as high as some, but her needs were basic: food, dance, and love. Food was never a problem - their respective families would have helped out if they were at the point of going hungry, dance was moving further and further on the back burner of her life, and love theirs started to die shortly after they left Lima. Especially when she said goodbye to her best friend, whose name felt foreign on her lips even after so many years of saying it, whispering it, dreaming of it, and of her. Brittany knew that a part of her would always care deeply for Artie, but that particular goodbye had been the hardest thing in her life, and although she never said it out loud, still hadn't expressed it in so many words, really, suddenly, caring wasn't good enough. His touch wasn't quite the same as she remembered, somehow. His smiles weren't the ones she wanted to see every morning. The way he laughed and said her name lacked a certain inflection that only one person could provide, and Brittany realized that while she wasn't a stranger to mistakes, she had finally made her biggest. And that particular mistake, she knew, might be one that would have to go without the easy fixes to which she had been accustomed. "Definitely. Artie's so smart," Brittany gushed proudly. No matter what, she and Artie would always be friends. It was better that way. She had multiple reasons for leaving, after all, and while she hadn't told him all of those reasons - telling him everything would destroy him, and Brittany couldn't do that to him, he respected her decisions. She knew that he missed her; he told her every time they spoke on the phone, which was still quite often. She missed him, too. However, her heart never ached for Artie. Her feelings for him never kept her awake at night wondering what he was doing at that exact moment, miles and miles away longing to have him next
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to her, just one more time. Because her heart had found a friend in Artie, but it had found its match in someone else. She caught her own gaze in the mirror. Mirrors rarely lied, and while Brittany was pretty sure that the changes she had gone through were only on the inside, she could practically see them, like bold tattoos, written all over her face. The mistakes she made, the love she lost the love she should have held on to they were all there. However, she couldn't gaze in the mirrors all day. She had a life. She had a job, and she was doing something she loved. The children in her classes loved Miss Brittany, the teenagers she taught came to her with their problems, and she tried her best to counsel them. The adults in her classes made her realize that you could keep moving on, meeting new people, forging new bonds, but nothing seemed to stick. No one relationship that she tried to make from new bonds felt like home, felt like something she needed. However, Brittany decided those bonds might never be as powerful, or the same, but they would be something. So she tried anyway. Kurt, Rachel, and Blaine were like her family - they were her support system. Kurt and Rachel had set up everything ahead of time, getting her not only the job, but a place to stay in the form of a loft right above the studio, reasonably priced as a monthly rental. It was always meant to be occupied by an instructor, so Brittany saw the entire building as her home. She kept the place tidy, and could dance any time she wanted, day or night, which really was the best thing. It wasn't perfect, but Brittany felt that she was closer now to living her dream, and the life she had been building felt more like a blessing than Los Angeles or Artie ever did, despite how good he had been to her. "I'm glad things are okay," Rachel said. "Artie's a sweet guy." "He sang to me on the phone the other night," Brittany said playfully, sticking her tongue out for a second at Rachel, who crossed her arms and pouted in retaliation. "I said I was sorry! Now you're going to make me one-up myself just to make it up to you, aren't you?" Rachel asked. "Yep," Brittany replied. Rachel pursed her lips. "How about you come by Julliard tomorrow, and I'll sneak you in to watch my rehearsals? My vocal instructor wants me to headline at the next recital, and I'm singing Barbra."
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Brittany's eyes lit up. "That's amazing, Rachel! I'll definitely be there. Wouldn't miss it for the world," Brittany said. "Can Lord Tubbington come?" "I think he has to stay behind, but I'll come over and sing for him, too," Rachel replied. "Would that be okay?" "Bring tequila. Tequila always makes him feel better, and he might even forgive you," Brittany said after a moment of thought. "Although, I'm starting to think he needs to go to meetings. It's becoming a problem." Kurt covered his mouth with his hand, fighting back a snort. He regained his control quickly, then looked back at Brittany, eyes wild with excitement. "So, Britt, you'll never guess who we ran into today!" Rachel's eyes grew wide, too, but for a completely different reason. She reached out and grabbed Kurt's shoulder, but he wriggled out of her grasp. "Donald Trump?" "Donald Trump?" Kurt asked curiously. "Because if you saw him, it's not going to surprise me. I saw him getting into a limo the other day when I was walking, and it was windy. I was scared, I thought his toupee was going to fly off and asphyxiate me." "Did you really?" Kurt asked. "Yeah, he smells funny, too. Just like Mr. Kidney the janitor used to when he came to school on Mondays. I think he was coming off a bender," Brittany drawled. "Well, we ran into" Kurt said, squeaking when Rachel stepped on his foot subtly. He looked at the brunette, who simply shook her head no. "Alec Baldwin." "My grandma had a piano named Baldwin. I wonder if they're related," Brittany mumbled. "Did it hurt?" "Did what hurt?" Kurt asked, scratching his head. He should have been used to this by now, but sometimes, the blonde still managed to catch him completely off-guard and send him for a loop.
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"When you ran into the piano," Brittany said, as if this were the most obvious conclusion in the world. "Oh, like hell," Kurt acquiesced. "But it's all better now." Rachel looked between Kurt and Brittany and decided a subject change was in order, before Kurt decided to try and open his mouth again and bring up something that the brunette was concerned Brittany couldn't handle. "Do we have plans for today? Because I'm free," Rachel stated. "You're, wait, what? Free? But you are so busy with your insane schedule and since when, Rachel?" Kurt asked, shocked at the new development. Rachel smiled cheerfully. "Since right now, Kurt," Rachel said, her eyes looking directly into Kurt's, daring him to argue or push things further than he already had. He arched an eyebrow, amused, but kept his mouth shut. "Britt, did you have plans for today?" Kurt asked cordially, internally noting Rachel's little hum of satisfaction at having won this minor stand-off. "I don't have any more classes. I've been dancing a lot, though. I don't want my feet to fall off," Brittany mused. "I can hang out with you." "Excellent! We'll just wait here while you get ready," Kurt said. "You guys can come upstairs, if you want. I need to take a shower," Brittany said, looking at herself and noting that the 'glisten' on her skin was starting to get sticky. "We'll be right up," Rachel said. "I just need to talk to Kurt about something." Brittany looked between them, gears turning in her head. She smiled, and said nothing. "Okay, well, just let yourselves in. Watch TV if you want. There might be chips, help yourself," Brittany said, listing things off and trying to be a good hostess. "I'm really glad you dropped by. You guys are my very best friends, you know." "We love you, too, Britt," Kurt said happily. Brittany grabbed her water and her duffel bag and left the room. The two divas paused for a minute, waiting until they
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were certain she wasn't going to come charging back in before addressing the elephant that had taken residence in the middle of the studio. "What the hell was that, Kurt? 'Guess who we ran into, Brittany?'" Rachel asked, mocking him by raising her voice even higher than it naturally was. Kurt adopted a deep frown and tilted his head to the side. "Please," Kurt said, holding up a hand. "First of all, I do not sound like Minnie Mouse, and second of all, Brittany doesn't have very many friends. After she moved here, she was all broken up about Artie, and she's getting better, but I want to see all the time happy Brittany again. This could help." "It won't help," Rachel said simply. "It's Quinn! Brittany loves Quinn. Besides, we're already doing the Glee-union wouldn't it be great for Brittany to come along, too? She'd be so happy to see Quinn, and it would probably be just a big enough surprise to get the old Brittany back," Kurt explained. "You really think that her seeing Quinn is going to make her happy again?" Rachel asked, her voice getting slightly louder. "I love Brittany, too, and I would feel like a terrible person for lying to her, especially about something as serious as Quinn Fabray being back in our lives, even just slightly." "Then don't lie to her about it. Let's just tell her," Kurt argued. "No, because if she sees Quinn, it's going to bring up all this history, and this drama, and she's not going to just see Quinn. She's going to start to remember other things, Kurt, and that is going to break her heart," Rachel wailed, throwing her hands up in the air. "Are we still talking about Brittany here, or?" "Do not change the subject, Kurt Hummel," Rachel seethed. "Testy," Kurt said, punctuating his comment with a low whistle. "Do you really think it's a good idea? I mean, I wasn't ever as close to her as you, but I care about her, deeply, and I don't want to see her hurting again. But, since you're her 'best friend', it's your call," Rachel said, throwing her hands up. "But it will also be your fault when everything goes horribly wrong."
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"I don't know why you think it's such a bad idea, personally. Sure, there's history. God, there's tons of history, with all of us - high school is synonymous with bad blood and drama. We've all seen our share, but this is a perfect opportunity to get Brittany back on the horse after everything with Artie, after moving across the country. Quinn will be like another piece of home," Kurt argued further. "And you don't think Quinn will bring up memories of, I don't know, Santana Lopez?" Rachel asked, saying a name that felt freeing to utter aloud after long years of purposefully avoiding it, almost as if she were trying not to invoke the feisty Latina's spirit, even though she was, as far as they knew, still alive and well. "Santana? God, that ship sailed so long ago, it's practically ancient history," Kurt said, scoffing. "Brittany will be fine." Rachel looked down at the floor, then back at Kurt, her eyes smoldering with tentative insecurity. "I think you're making the wrong decision, personally. But, she's your best friend, and I'll put this in your hands," Rachel said softly. "I think you should reconsider. Sometimes history repeats itself, and I think you know as well as I do that the good ship Brittana may have sailed off, but with those two, it's always just slightly in the distance, waiting to come home." "I'll consider it," Kurt said, taking a pause to look at Rachel's quiet intensity that was radiating off her in waves. After a beat, he offered his hand, smiling when Rachel took it, and moved to lead them out of the studio, knowing they couldn't get away too much longer without raising suspicion. "Shall we?"

A/N: Can you smell the drama lurking? It's hanging out there with the S.S. Brittana, I think. Thanks again for all the reviews and alerts and favorites you guys are amazing! Let me know what you think. I know there are still lots of questions, but everything will unravel itself in time. That's what the story is for, isn't it?

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Chapter 7
"Honey, I'm home!" Quinn called out as she entered her apartment, closing the door behind her and throwing her keys in the bowl on the table. She kicked her shoes off haphazardly, then frowned and aligned them properly in their correct place, safely off to the side. She glanced down the small hallway and saw Santana's head peeking up over the back of the couch, her eyes fixed on the TV. The remote was in her hands, and she was channel surfing at a furious pace. "Nothing good, huh?" Quinn asked as she rounded the corner, plopping down unceremoniously next to her best friend. Santana glanced over at her, body posture slumped. Quinn took a better look at her, noticing that the dark circles had mostly faded, which must have meant she had finally gotten some quality sleep. Santana breathed heavily, shoulders shaking with the force of her sigh. "It's fucking pathetic, Q. I'm so bored, I'm about to watch Telemundo," Santana groaned. "Seriously, and I used to ridicule my mother for that shit." "I didn't even know we got that channel," Quinn said. "Fix it," Santana whined. "Tell me something, anything. Your day had to have been more exciting than mine, although from your texts, I don't have much hope." "Work was slow," Quinn said honestly. "Sold a couple records, a couple books, tried to read a bit." "Alice in Wonderland again?" Santana asked. Quinn tilted her head to the side. "Yeah, how did you know?" "You're contemplative. It's creepy, and it only happens when you read that book," Santana replied confidently. "Well, unless you're deep in thought about something heavy, in which case, you'd best start to spill your guts, because I needs some fucking entertainment." Quinn chuckled, then felt her heart sink as the her emotion faded into what she was feeling later. Guilt. Avoidance. Trepidation. There was no way she could tell Santana what happened, because then she'd get mopey and impossible to deal with.
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"Nope, I'm afraid there's nothing to tell. Just the book," Quinn lied easily, hating herself for how simple it still was for her to do. She thought that with all the changes she'd done, that would be something that would have also been altered, since it was a quality she disliked about herself. "However, it's kind of scary how well you know me." "Isn't that what best friends are for? Call you on your quirks, put up with your bullshit? Face it, Q - you and me, we're in this for life," Santana said with a smirk. "What a chore," Quinn said dramatically. Santana frowned and swatted her on the arm, provoking a smile from the blonde. "Bitch," the Latina replied. Santana handed Quinn the remote, and the blonde stared at the device in her hands like it was a completely foreign object. "You pick something. I'm tempted to go into the kitchen and figure out how to make dinner out of mustard and pickles." "That's all we have? Let me call up the bank, see if there's enough in there for us to get some groceries tonight. Or some take-out. Something." "Do not say the words 'take' and 'out' in order in this house unless you're serious, Q. I've been craving breadsticks, and starch, and possibly Chinese food," Santana drawled, her eyes glazing over slightly and her stomach rumbling audibly. "I'm gonna get fat, aren't I?" Quinn smirked. "Not when we've just got condiments in the fridge." The blonde paused for a moment, realizing that Santana's odd cravings had included something familiar, and Quinn thought to poke on it, maybe using it as a segue a test, but then thought better of it. It was likely an accident, after all, wasn't it? "I miss my mom's cooking," Santana said. "Granted, I couldn't eat very much of it. Fucking Sue Sylvester." "We're still on food?" Quinn asked absently, her mind just moving back into the conversation. "Where you at, Q? Of course we're still on food. I wants to get my carbs on," Santana countered. "Then we'll get groceries," Quinn said. "My mom never cooked much, but she
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taught me a great recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. We could grab breadsticks, too." Santana's blank look caused Quinn to smack herself internally. It was so simple, and yet she had learned that the smallest things could trigger the craziest memories in Santana. The big things were even worse.

One year ago "Stop being so fucking speedy, Gonzalez," Santana barked as she chased the headstrong blonde through trees and grass that hadn't been mowed in a while. Since they moved to New York, Quinn had decided that she wanted to take up a morning jogging routine, and since it was common in New York City for people to do things like jog, there were more parks and jogging trails. Lima had been so different. "Said the Latin lover," Quinn called over her shoulder, still a few paces ahead. "C'mon, Santana! Push, or something." Santana wheezed and forced her legs to kick harder, to push against the sidewalk. She hadn't been active like this since her stint on the Cheerios, and a brief affair with cigarettes, which graduated from her occasional love of cigars out of her father's cabinet was starting to show in her lung capacity. Also, she wasn't exercising them from singing as often, so running was a chore. "I need to have more sex!" Santana yelled, causing a few people in the park to turn their heads. Quinn stopped dead in her tracks, and Santana caught up. She smirked victoriously. "Hey, Q." Santana jogged in place next to Quinn, who continued to stare at her like she had grown a second head. "While I love you for being open and crass," Quinn panted, "did you have to announce it to the entire city?" "What?" Santana asked innocently. Or, as innocently as Santana could ask something. "It's good cardio." "So is running," Quinn protested.

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"Yeah, but running is cardio for sexually deprived people. I don't have to be sexually deprived," Santana chirped. "You don't, either. That's your choice." "My choice to live a celibate lifestyle is perfectly healthy and gives me space in my life for other, more fulfilling activities." "Said the nun," Santana countered with a slow grin. "Celibate just never seems to work out for you, Q. Not in the long run. You'd best quit while you're ahead." "You're not oh, you're delusional," Quinn said, looking at Santana curiously. "Wait, what?" Santana asked. Quinn lowered her voice to a whisper. "You're not propositioning me?" "Well, I wasn't," Santana replied bluntly. She paused for a moment, and glanced Quinn over from head to toe, her smile turning into a lecherous leer. "But, if you're asking" Quinn swatted Santana on the shoulder. "Not in your dreams, Lopez," Quinn said with a playful smirk before taking off like a rocket, darting through the park again. "Fuck," Santana groaned before forcing her legs to start again, back to her game of chasing. Santana saw an upcoming bridge, and Quinn was halfway across it, so she sped up her pace, almost to a full-blown sprint, despite the pull and protest of her lungs, her muscles, and her entire body. Her feet adjusted to the difference in surface, and she nearly made it across before QUACK! QUACK! Santana stopped dead in her tracks. Her body moved to the side of the bridge, and she looked over the side curiously. Below, in the water, were two ducks, swimming closely together, gliding across the water with grace and precision. One of them was a sunny yellow, and the other, slightly larger duck was a russet brown with little white spots on its back. The Latina braced herself on the railing, and felt her heart seize in her chest. Quinn looked over her shoulder, waiting to see the grumbling brunette, but found that her friend was nowhere in sight.
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"Santana?" Quinn called, her voice raising as much as it could with the effort of running for the better part of an hour. They were nearly through the park; their routine that Quinn had planned out was almost finished. It would be ridiculous for Santana to quit now. Quinn pursed her lips; Santana was a lot of things, but she was steely and irritated enough not to back down. She wasn't a quitter, especially if it meant proving something to Quinn. Quinn started walking back down the path, toward where they had stopped and approached the bridge. Santana was dead in the middle, clutching the railing like it was her last shred of sanity, and Quinn sped up her pace, knowing that something was wrong, that she needed to get to Santana, and fast. Quinn didn't say anything when she approached, noticing that Santana was seemingly in some sort of trance. Instead, she followed Santana's eyes with her own, and saw what the brunette was seeing physically. The pictures in her mind, however, Quinn knew were likely too depressing to voice aloud. The blonde placed a hand on Santana's shoulder, hoping it would give her some sort of reprieve or comfort. Instead, it caused whatever was holding on in Santana to shatter, and the brunette broke under her touch. A loud sob left the back of her throat, and Santana dropped to her knees. Quinn moved quickly to support the girl, wrapping her arms around the brunette and holding her close. One hand stroked her hair, and the other moved the now horribly sobbing girl's head to her chest. "It's okay, Santana I'm here" "Brittany, you weren't supposed to leave. Not ever," Santana cried into Quinn's shoulder. "Why'd you have to leave?" "Shh, shh. I've got you," Quinn cooed, placing a gentle kiss to Santana's head. Santana sobbed harder, grabbing fistfuls of Quinn's tank top, and pulling the girl closer to her. The power of her sobs shook Quinn's entire body, and people were starting to stare, but the blonde didn't move an inch. Instead, she gripped her friend tighter and radiated her patented "head bitch" stare to the surrounding traffic, scaring people into giving them privacy. It could have been minutes, or it could have been an hour, but eventually, the sobbing stopped, and Santana was left to a series of soft whimpers and harsh breathing. Quinn tilted her head up, causing the reddened, darker than usual eyes of her best friend to meet concerned hazel ones. "Hey, you," Quinn whispered, wiping at Santana's residual tears. "Let's get you home, okay? I have a little bit of money for a cab. We'll break out the ice cream and watch slasher films."
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Quinn hated slasher films. Quinn hated violence. But Quinn loved Santana, and that was all that mattered.

"Breadsticks?" Santana asked tentatively. Quinn felt her breath catch; she didn't want to say the wrong thing, so she just stared ahead and let Santana go to where was most natural for her. Wherever that was, Quinn was ready. A few seconds later, Santana cracked a smile. "Yeah, that would be awesome, Q." Quinn released her breath, feeling her lungs ache from holding it in for so long. "Excellent. I'll make a grocery list. You go get dressed," Quinn said happily. "Yeah, I am still kind of rocking the bum chic," Santana said, gesturing down at herself. She hadn't changed from the morning. "Sorry about that." "No, it's your day off," Quinn said. "Don't apologize. You get what, one every couple weeks?" "Something like that," Santana shrugged. "All right. Make good choices, though, because you know I have veto power. No super health food bullshit." "I can only make few promises," Quinn said, raising a hand. "Now go, get out of my living room." Santana scoffed and disappeared down the hallway to her bedroom. Quinn heard the door close and slumped against the counter. Close call. Quinn was halfway through a decent grocery list; half options for her, half for Santana, and a few things they both enjoyed and could share when Santana emerged from her bedroom, dressed in an outfit that was "acceptable" for her standards. "Make sure to put ice cream on there," Santana said absently. "One step ahead of you," Quinn replied. "Aren't you always?" Santana asked with a cheeky grin. "Hate you."
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"You love me," Quinn retorted. "Tried not to," Santana said as she moved around the apartment. She went to the door and grabbed her leather jacket off the coat hook, shrugging it on. "Failed miserably. White bread?" "Got it," Quinn said. "Nice. Um, cheese?" "Definitely cheese," Quinn said, scribbling it down furiously. "Beer?" "I hate beer, Santana," Quinn replied. "Wine?" Santana asked hopefully. "You think we have enough to spring for a box?" "We might. Even boxed wine is better than beer," Quinn said. "We may have to cross out cereal and possibly a couple cans of soup if we want it that badly, though." Santana waved a dismissive hand, "Eh. Priorities." Quinn jotted down a few numbers, carefully writing down their budget. Her inner thoughts were interrupted by the sound of her phone buzzing angrily on the coffee table behind Santana. The brunette looked behind her, then back at Quinn, who was still crunching numbers. Shrugging her shoulders, since she was met with no protests from the blonde, she grabbed the phone and pressed a button, then placed the phone to her ear. "Quinn Fabray's phone, this is her agent speaking. Do you have an appointment?" Quinn's eyes looked up and she fought back a chuckle at her friend's ridiculous behavior, then paused. Her heart stalled in her chest, possibly mid-heartbeat, and she was overtaken by only one emotion: fear. Santana's face paled, and her features, once etched with joy and good humor faded quickly like the setting sun. She was left black as a canvas, not a single emotion left on her face. Nothing Quinn could decipher. The blonde watched Santana grip the phone tighter, knuckles going white; Quinn wondered if the phone would crumble and felt nausea start to churn from deep within in. Sweat formed at her brow, and she wondered for a moment what exactly a stroke felt like.
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"Who did you say was calling? I don't think I heard you correctly the first time," Santana said, her voice now eerily calm, possessing a smooth, almost saccharine quality that lacked any of its natural husk and made Quinn's skin crawl. "Santana, just give me the-" Quinn tried, pleading in one last desperate attempt. There really no more unanswered questions in her head, at least. It was clear who was on the other side of that conversation. Santana raised a hand to silence Quinn, and the blonde followed her orders to the letter, resigning herself to sitting on her bar stool with her hands in her lap, head tilted downward and eyes to the floor like a child that had been thoroughly reprimanded by a seething parent. "Quinn's not available right now, I'm afraid," Santana continued in the same tone as before. "I'll relay the message and have her call you back as soon as she can, Rachel. You have a wonderful evening." Santana hung up the phone and tossed it carelessly on the couch behind her. The silence hung between them like an albatross for a few moments before Quinn looked up, daring to look into Santana's coal black eyes. Quinn felt her stomach do flips; Santana's body was practically humming with latent rage. "Santana, I can explain" Quinn said, sticking to clichs as her only hope, and hoping it would be enough to gain her some kind of audience, even if it wasn't one she necessarily deserved. "No. I'm gonna say my peace, and then I'm done. Just let me say my peace. You owe me that," Santana said, her voice barely above her normal volume. Quinn winced; she wasn't yelling, cursing in Spanish. She wasn't crying or throwing things. Any of that, if Quinn was being honest with herself, would have been preferred. This was way worse. "Okay," Quinn said nervously. "That was Rachel Berry," Santana said, the shock thickly coating every syllable. "Rachel fucking Berry. Asking for you. I presume you knew she had your phone number, since she, you know had your phone number. Speak," Santana said, giving her permission. Only then would she reply. "Yes, she has my phone number, and yes, I gave it to her," Quinn replied, staring at her hands.
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"Look at me, Quinn," Santana said, forcing the blonde to snap her eyes upward. Santana braced herself by leaning backward on the couch and forced herself to breathe, although the breaths were shallow. "Rachel Berry is here, in New York?" "Yes, she is," Quinn replied simply. Lies wouldn't do anything but bury her now. "When did you see her?" "Today. Only today, I swear," Quinn said, looking directly into Santana's eyes and praying the girl would believe her. "Today," Santana said, testing the words in her mouth. "At work? Where nothing happened? That's not fucking nothing, Quinn. That's God, and you lied to me about it. I asked you, and you flat out fucking lied. What a great best friend you are." "Santana" "No, I didn't ask a question that time. Well, I did, but it was rhetorical, so just shut the hell up," Santana raged, her body tensing, muscles flexing in her arm as she gripped the couch for dear life. "What else aren't you telling me?" "I'm there's" Quinn stuttered. "Spit it out. You know I know you better than anyone," Santana said harshly. "When Quinn Fabray does anything, even the worst things, she doesn't do it half-cocked. If you're gonna lie to your best friend, it'd better be a whopper. What else are you lying about?" "Kurt," Quinn said simply. "Kurt was there?" Santana asked. "Yes," Quinn replied. "Both of them. Rachel was calling we were going to meet up. We hadn't set up anything official, though, and you know me, I probably wouldn't have even gone. Or maybe I would have, but I didn't want to tell you because-" "Because I'd overreact? Because my heart could bust in a thousand pieces because of what Kurt and Rachel being in New York City might mean? You thought you'd be my savior, right? Protect poor Santana from another breakdown," Santana asked angrily. "Well, you thought wrong. You did just fine breaking me all on your own."
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The slam of the apartment door resounded in Quinn's ears before she could do anything to stop it. You fail, Fabray. Again.

Santana Lopez was a creature of habit. When things got tough, she had to do one of two things: run or forget. Tonight, she decided, was about both. The Kitty Club was seedy, dank, and a place she detested, but it was exactly what she needed to forget and to avoid, to stack her deck and hopefully, find something that would take her mind off the betrayal she was feeling course through her veins. Quinn Fabray had never been a saint, and she knew this, but hadn't she been there for Quinn every time things got tough? Hadn't she held her hand and wiped those tears a thousand times? When she was on her own, kicked out by her own family for the second time not for a pregnancy, but for being gay something she couldn't change or run away from, hadn't Santana not only given her a roof over her head, but a home? "Fucking bitch," Santana growled under her breath. She raised her hand and offered a fake, blinding smile at the cocktail waitress that came to her aid. "Another gin and tonic, please." The booze was cheap here, and the women weren't as hot as she normally preferred, but occasionally, there was a diamond in the rough. She wasn't hoping for a miracle, but a warm body, something she could cling to, was enough. She brushed over the wad of ones in her pocket with her fingertips; she didn't have this kind of money to blow, but tonight was about being reckless. Her cocktail came, and Santana paid and tipped the waitress. She was only two sips in when her eyes caught a pair of crystalline baby blues that sent her heart flying straight into the lower half of her body. She licked her lips, and before she knew it, she was fighting not to tangle her strong hands into corn silk blonde hair as the stripper gyrated and danced a wicked routine on her lap. "I don't normally enjoy women this much," the blonde purred in her ear. Santana grinned and locked eyes with the other woman again. The stripper guided Santana's hands to her hips and the brunette gave a tentative squeeze. "You can touch me. Mostly, the no-touch rules is just for guys, and I want you to." "I'm flattered," Santana responded in kind, trailing her hands along long, smooth
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legs as full breasts slid toward her face. Santana tucked a few dollars into the girl's g-string and winked playfully. "You're feisty," the girl chuckled. "I like you." "Not feisty. Santana," she replied. "That's my name." "I'm-" Santana's eyes widened. Two more seconds, and her dream would be over. She pulled a crisp twenty out of her wallet and placed a finger over the girl's lips, then added the larger bill to the ones the girl had already earned. "Shh," Santana cooed. "Just be here with me tonight, Brittany." Dark eyes locked on baby blue once more, and the other girl smiled, then nodded her head in quiet understanding. "You feel so good, Santana," the girl purred, running her tongue along the brunette's pulse. A few more kisses to her neck, her jaw, and suddenly, Santana could feel the other girl's breath in her ear. "God, Brittany so do you," Santana moaned, feeling her body start to overheat. "So do you."

A/N: So, I said longer chapters, right? Hopefully it wasn't too long, or too jumpy. I've sketched out these characters pretty deeply, so it may seem like a lot of background, but we're getting to the action of the story VERY soon. However, this won't be angst-ridden and heartbreaking like I'm known for. It will have moments, but as I promised in the beginning, it is a love story. Let me know what you all think! Reviews are wonderful, and make me so, so happy. Thanks again!

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Chapter 8
Kurt, Rachel, and Brittany somehow found themselves in this situation on a regular basis. The three of them, piled on the comfortable couch in Rachel and Kurt's living room, stacked together with little to no space between them, watching movies. The credits rolled on their most recent cinematic excursion, and Brittany reached for another handful of popcorn. "I didn't like that movie," Brittany said softly. "I think I'm going to go home and apologize to my plant." "The one in your window?" Rachel asked curiously. "Yes, because if I don't, it's going to kill me. God, Rachel, were you sleeping?" Kurt smirked and placed a hand on Brittany's shoulder. "It's plastic, Britt. I don't think it counts with the plastic kind," Kurt explained. "But plants have feelings, obviously, and we've pissed them off," Brittany defended. "Don't be insensitive, Kurt. Do you think it would like a box of chocolates? That always makes me feel better." "I'm sure your plant would really appreciate it," Kurt replied, knowing how ridiculous it sounded, but carrying on anyway. "Okay, so no more M. Night Shyamalyan movies." "Please and thank you," Rachel chimed in. "Although Mark Wahlberg" "Zooey Deschanel" "Neither of them," Kurt groaned, looking at Rachel and Brittany. "I prefer men with more grooming and less nose." "I was a fan of the New York scenery," Rachel commented. "Although I may skip out on Central Park for a while. I feel very strongly about ownership of guns. I think everyone should just carry a whistle, maybe a medium-grade taser." "Ahh, but such is politics," Kurt sighed. "Too heavy. Moving on - who's up for some classic musical theatre?"
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"Barbra or Liza?" Rachel asked hopefully. "No," Kurt said. "Something Brittany hasn't seen a thousand times." Brittany smiled and nodded gratefully. Kurt leaned forward, through their stack of "potential" movies for the night, and picked one, holding it up above his head. "I'm thinking Shirley." "The Music Man?" Rachel asked, the smile growing on her face. "Wow, that brings me back to childhood." "Is he made of music?" Brittany asked absently. "Not literally, Britt," Kurt replied. "You'll love it, though. It's a musical and a love story." "Is it a happy love story?" Brittany asked, her tone lacing with concern just for a second. Kurt knew that sometimes, it was still hard for Brittany to watch those kinds of movies; ones without proper resolution and happy endings. She didn't like to get her hopes up. "Of course it is," Kurt said with a smile. "Just for you." Brittany clapped her hands and grabbed the popcorn, setting in on her lap so, as the middle piece of their configuration, she could share with everyone. Kurt went in to put in the movie, and then jumped back on the couch just as the opening music began to play. "Hey, Kurt?" Brittany asked, her voice not above a whisper, since she was determined to show proper movie etiquette even though they were comfortably tucked away in Kurt and Rachel's apartment. "Yes, Britt?" "Can we go dancing soon?" Brittany asked, eyes wide and hopeful. "At work?" Kurt returned. "No, silly. Dancing. As in, out dancing in a place where I can steal people's partners, like I used to," Brittany replied. "I still could, right?" "Of course you could, Britt," Kurt returned.
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"So, can we go dancing soon?" Kurt looked at Rachel, who was looking at her phone, absently scrolling and searching, an oddly knit expression on her face. The fact that she wasn't paying attention to a musical, of all things, made Kurt's eyebrow raise. During The Happening was understandable, but this? This meant that something major was going on. He forced himself to look back at Brittany, raising his voice so Rachel might hear what he was more or less agreeing to. "Of course we'll go dancing," Kurt replied. Brittany squealed with delight, and Rachel didn't look up from her phone. Another attempt was in order, Kurt decided. "Actually, we'll all go. You, me, Blaine, Rachel it'll be a big event." "Yay!" Brittany cheered. Rachel's eyes finally snapped up, and she regarded the boy curiously. "It'll be good to get out and show off again, won't it, Rachel?" "Yeah, good," Rachel replied brokenly, her voice hollow. Kurt tilted his head to the side and waited until Brittany's attention was back on the movie, knowing that the blonde former cheerleader had an incredible attention span and could literally zone out to the point where she was nearly comatose. Only then did he caught Rachel's glare and mouth a simple 'What's wrong?' She shook her head, refusing to reply. He crossed his fingers in his lap, and turned back to the movie. He'd wrangle it out of her later. A long sigh released from his entire body, and he watched as Robert Preston made his way into the small Iowa town that he planned to turn on its head. Kurt shuddered at the similarities, but felt comforted at the same time - he had tried so hard to make changes in Lima. He glanced to Rachel, then to Brittany, then back at the TV. A satisfied smile crossed his face. He hadn't made all the changes he wanted, but the people he had helped and the changes he had made were good enough.

Quinn wiped at her face with the back of her hand. The morning rays bled in through the kitchen windows, and she rolled off the couch, barely catching herself on two feet as she attempted to mobilize and greet the day. Her vision was blurred, but she saw bags from the grocery store just down the street scattered about, as if she had put the groceries away, but hadn't bothered to clean up. Quinn felt her pulse throb in her temple and groaned. She braced herself on the back of the couch and saw a wine glass sitting in the center of the table, a box of wine sitting co-pilot
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to the empty glass. Quinn thought maybe she should shake the box, see how much was left to decipher just how much she drank, but decided against it. She walked to the kitchen and grabbed a glass out of a cabinet, filling it with cold water from the tap, and took a drink. Three drinks later, and she splashed some of the same tap water on her face, alerting her senses and making her feel less hungover. Quinn sighed; wine always made her more tipsy, for some reason. So, she probably hadn't had that much. Just enough to soothe the guilt and overall feeling of failure. Quinn had a fleeting thought that maybe Santana had come home at some point last night, and perhaps just left her to her own devices, allowing her to remain passed out on the couch. Or maybe, she thought, as her stomach sank deeper, she had used the company in wine to allow her to sit up waiting all night for her friend before her body decided to lull her to sleep on the couch, which was very comfortable, yet not satisfying enough for proper sleep. The blonde finished her water in two strong gulps then wandered down the hallway to Santana's bedroom, cracking the door open slowly, almost afraid of a hungover based rage than a sober based one. She looked inside, noticing that the lights were all off, and there appeared to be no sign of a person occupying the mid-sized space. She peeked her head around the corner and glanced toward the desk, the bed, the closet Santana was still gone. Quinn took a step back and jumped when she heard the front door slam. She clutched her head and felt a wave of nausea pass through her body. "Hey! Hey!" a familiar voice called from the front of the apartment. "Ow, God why is my life so fucking miserable today?" Quinn asked, darting her eyes up toward the sky. She winced, then tried again. "Sorry for dropping the f-word. You don't need to hear that. It's not going to win me any favors with you, either." "Quinn motherfucking Fabray, come out, come out, wherever you are," the same voice slurred, and Quinn staggered out into the hallway. Santana arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow and smirked at her as she came into plain view. "Well, don't you look like a pile of wet dog shit." "I feel like it," Quinn groaned. She sniffed the air, knowing that she probably looked ridiculous, but all her senses were on overdrive, and this particular scent was new. At least, new for today. "What smells like cheap booze and hookers?" "None of your business," Santana bristled. "Sorry for knocking you out of the
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bottom of the wine bottle I mean, box." "Don't be a bitch, Santana. I'm hungover, and it's just really, really terrible," Quinn pleaded. "This is kind of our game, isn't it? Drink to remember, drink to forget, drink to feel alive it's getting fucking ridiculous, Q," Santana said softly. "Does this mean you'll help me?" Quinn asked innocently. "Forgive me? Anything." Santana looked around the apartment, noting the state of disarray, smirking at the fact that it was so unlike Quinn, except in situations like these, and then realizing what it all meant. "Help you? Maybe, since you did at least have the courtesy to stock our apartment with food before you smashed yourself into oblivion. Forgive you? Can't say that'll happen for a while." "Santana, I" Quinn tried again, and just like the night before, Santana cut her off instantly. "You lied," Santana said. "You know me well enough to know that I've done a lot of shit to people, and therefore can handle a lot of shit from people. But lying's a soft spot for me, and from you the person I consider my only real friend? Knife to the gut, Q." "You'll never know how sorry I truly am," Quinn said, hanging her head. "No, I will," Santana said softly. "Because you're going to make it up to me." Quinn tilted her head to the side, looking at Santana in what seemed to be a hangover induced glow. She was shining, partly with the sunlight, partly with the glow of contemplation, partly with an air of deviance, and a touch of something else wisdom, maybe. Quinn was still too drunk to tell. "I am?" Quinn asked, clutching her temple again as it started to throb harder. Santana laughed. "You are." "How am I gonna do that?" Quinn asked, making her way to the couch and sitting
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down. She felt the room start to spin and closed her eyes, using her foot to somehow attempt to stop the spinning. She wasn't aware of Santana's presence again until the brunette was next to her, pressing Advil into the palm of her hand and offering her another glass of water. "I have a plan," Santana said simply. Quinn opened her eyes, looked into Santana's, and wasn't sure she liked what she saw in them. "Now drink up."

The smell of food being prepared wasn't a strange visitor to the Hummel/Anderson/Berry household, but on this particular morning, Rachel found that her position in relation to the food being cooked was strangely different. She opened her eyes and felt around, realizing that she wasn't nestled safely and happily in her bed, as she was used to. Her hands moved around, locating the source of warmth that had been keeping her content and deep in dreamland. Rachel's eyes followed the path of her hand and she blushed when she realized that the palm of her hand was cupping the swell of Brittany's breast, and the blonde was nuzzled next to her on the couch. Kurt was slightly behind Brittany, acting as the "big spoon," and their various limbs were hopelessly tangled. The TV was turned off, but Rachel knew that they had probably fallen asleep somewhere after The Music Man ended and South Pacific reached the half-way point. She sat up and tried to wriggle out from the embrace of her two friends without disturbing them from their slumber. Thankfully, her small stature was a blessing in this regard, and she managed to make her way out. Brittany snorted once or twice in her sleep, and she may have seen Kurt move a half of an inch, but she was confident that they would stay asleep. She padded down the hallway, smoothing hands over her pajamas, because at least they had the foresight to change out of regular clothes, lest they be horribly wrinkled when slept in. "Good morning, sunshine," a voice called from the stove when she entered the kitchen. Blaine was cooking something that smelled delicious, clad in an apron, and dressed in clothes underneath that were not work-related attire. His hair was starting to curl all over his head, since he had likely woken up and headed straight to the kitchen, and he offered her a bright smile as she got into the fridge, looking for something to drink to soothe her unused throat. She had been taught in her years of extensive vocal training that clearing of the throat was not advised to rid one of scratchiness or dryness, because it was damaging to the vocal chords. Until she felt comfortable to speak, she smiled and offered a wave in reply. She poured herself a small glass of orange juice, then sighed contently when she
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felt herself perk up and revitalize slightly. "Good morning, Mr. Anderson," Rachel chirped. "The spirit moved you to make breakfast?" "You know Kurt will be grumpy that he didn't make it to bed last night, so I figured I'd cut it off at the pass by making breakfast," Blaine said reasonably. "A grumpy Kurt is no one's friend. Also, he just looked so, so cute while he was sleeping. I wanted to do something nice, you know?" "That's wonderfully charming of you," Rachel said. "Is there anything I can assist you with?" "You can assist me by taking a seat, finishing that juice, and maybe reading the newspaper. Keep me company, if you'd like. Cooking is my cross to bear this morning," Blaine said with a wide grin that let Rachel know that this was no chore for him. "Well, if you insist," Rachel said, grabbing her juice and taking a seat at the table. She grabbed the newspaper and pulled it toward her, glancing through articles and pictures, then went to the review pages. She liked to read about new hot spots for dining, recreation, and the like within the city. Being out of Lima had awakened the traveler's soul within her, and she found that she was always in the mood for an adventure. When she had time, at least. "So, Kurt texted me about your little run-in yesterday," Blaine said absently. "How are you holding up?" Rachel paled and coughed, cursing her body's reaction at the precise moment she was attempting to take a drink. She coughed harder, continuing to curse internally until she took another drink, soothing her throat, which was aching slightly now. She frowned. What terrible timing. "I don't know what you're referring to, and why you'd think I'd be anything less than fine, Blaine," Rachel said, rattling off an answer she hoped would be suitable. "You don't know what I'm referring to?" Blaine asked with a smirk. "That's interesting, considering you were there when it happened." "Oh!" Rachel said, trying a new approach. "Oh, you're talking about the bookstore. Yes, we did happen to see Quinn. It was lovely, we're planning on getting together soon. Kurt's calling it a 'Glee-union.' I'm really looking forward to it."
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Blaine turned away from the stove and slid pancakes on a platter, then added a few strips of vegan bacon onto another, smaller plate. He rifled around in the cabinets and found agave syrup, setting it down on the counter next to the food. "Really? You're looking forward to it?" he asked, obviously not believing her. "Of course I am," Rachel said. "The Glee club was like my family. Who wouldn't want to be reunited with an estranged family member, separated for so long by distance and forced to go the years alone, without the same support they were once accustomed?" "Rachel, you don't have to lie," Blaine said softly. "Seeing Quinn wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, was it?" "Well, I suppose there was a feeling for a moment that was possibly dread, given our sordid history and the way she used to torment me," Rachel admitted. "I don't think that's what it was," Blaine replied. "Was she nice to you? Did you two talk?" "You're trying for something specific, aren't you?" Rachel blanched. "Well, it's ill-advised, because I haven't the faintest idea what you could be attempting to lure out of me." "All right," Blaine said, throwing his hands up and smirking. He shook his head, and reached for the plates, balancing them with practiced skill and carrying them to the table. He grabbed a clean plate and placed it in front of Rachel. "You're the first one awake, help yourself." Rachel grabbed two pancakes and gave them a liberal drizzle of syrup, then placed two slices of bacon off to the side. She cut into one pancake, making a proper bite, then turned to Blaine. "Quinn looked really, really good. Ageless, like the years hadn't touched her. Seeing her again was somehow strange and yet all too familiar at the same time," Rachel confessed. Blaine sat down across the table from her and placed his chin in his hand, waiting for her to finish. She ate the bite of pancake, chewed, swallowed, then looked back at him with brighter eyes. "But, I'm trying not to focus on Quinn. I'm trying to turn over a new leaf, be a little more selfless. Think of others. I'm thinking about Brittany, and what all this could mean, and your boyfriend is driving me crazy, because he wants to tell her! Can you believe that?"
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She pointed her fork at him accusingly for a second before slowly lowering it, realizing that she was getting a little rowdy and out of hand. Blaine chuckled softly. "That's Kurt. I love him, but he does tend to want to put his hands all over into everyone's business. He meddles, sure, but it's out of love," Blaine said. "Damn your boyish good looks and charm," Rachel cursed. "I wasn't going to tell you anything." Blaine laughed harder. "It's the food. I put truth serum in there," Blaine remarked. "You're joking, right?" Rachel asked, feeling a little insecure all of a sudden. Also, she thought, maybe this was what Brittany felt like sometimes. She hadn't always been the best at grasping sarcasm, either, after all. "Naturally," Blaine said gently. "But it was a good try. For what it's worth, though, your secrets are safe with me." "You'll tell Kurt," Rachel stated. "I don't keep secrets from Kurt as a rule, but if there's something you want to tell me in confidence, so long as it wouldn't hurt him, I could make an exception," Blaine assured her. "You're my friend, too. And I have a feeling that you're going to need someone other than Kurt. I've been told my wisdom is sage and Yoda-like a time or two." Rachel smirked, then felt herself sober up as she made her way through another bite of pancake. "Okay, Yoda. Try this one on for size," Rachel said. "What if I told you that I honestly can't wait to see Quinn again?" Blaine smiled. "I'd say it was a long time coming, personally." "Off the record," Rachel said defensively. "Cross my heart," Blaine replied, making the motions to go along with his statement. Rachel smiled before diving back into her breakfast.
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A/N: Wow! The great reviews just keep coming. I'm so glad you all are liking this story, and I'm even happier to hear that I'm doing these characters justice. I want them to seem real, and honest - it means so much to hear I've gotten their voices right, so to speak. Let me know what you think, and thanks again for reading and taking the time to review!

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Chapter 9
Three days later "Sometimes, this city still overwhelms me," Quinn said, watching the cabs and traffic blare by her, lighting up the darkened streets when the buildings could not, and bridging the gaps. She glanced all around, watching the sights, the people, taking it all in. Even though it wasn't new to her, she still felt that there were so many things to explore, places to go, people to see. It was beautiful. "It'll wear off," Santana said, tugging on Quinn's arm and keeping them linked as they wandered the streets, heading at a leisurely pace to their destination. "I'm nervous," Quinn said aloud, voicing her thoughts for the first time since they left the apartment. She suspected that Santana already knew, but didn't want to make any estimations. Ever since their initial argument, Santana had taken her sweet time with coming back around and correcting things between them. Quinn was grateful that the girl wasn't being cold to her, she was her only friend, and she cared about Santana more than nearly anyone else in the world. "Don't be, the hard part is already over," Santana replied. "You'll do fine, Q." "Yeah," Quinn said quietly, shoving one hand into her pocket as they approached a new neighborhood. Together, they strolled down the side of a long line of buildings and took shelter from the slightly brisk evening chill underneath an awning that was a stark black with bright blue, shimmering letters that read simply "The Office." After entering through the double doors, their ears were filled with loud, pulsing club music, and they maneuvered their way through a floor full of bodies, headed toward the bar in the dead center of everything. Quinn looked around carefully, scanning the tables up top, looking around and near the railings, scanning the bar, the dance floor, the side areas with the more private, secluded booths, and the game area where the dartboards were, for the more "sporty" patrons, and sometimes Santana when she had a whiskey kind of night. Everything was going just fine; they had gotten there first. Santana kept a hold on Quinn's hand, only releasing it when she ducked underneath the divider that separated the back of the bar stand from the patrons. She bumped hips with a scrawny, slender guy with toned, lean muscles, a ripped black muscle tee and skinny jeans. He smiled at winked at her, tucking back strands
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of unruly dark hair and his piercing blue eyes glimmered with mischief. This was Santana's favorite co-worker, and her partner in crime, from what Quinn knew of the stories. He was a good guy, and they had met a couple of times. He nodded his head in her direction, and she took a seat in front of the bar. "You look like you're on a mission, sweet thing," he called to Santana as she stripped off her jacket and hung it up, exposing her toned arms and showing off her sleek figure in a simple black tank and black fitted jeans. "Tonight's the night?" "It is," Santana confirmed. "I have to say, I'm a little nervous for you," he replied. "I still think maybe you should give it some time, think it over." "I've never been more sure of anything in my life," Santana said confidently. "Well, except the thing that brought me to this." "Love, you mean," he commented. Quinn smirked. She could practically see the vein in Santana's neck tense at the mere mention of that dreadful four letter word. "No, that's not what I mean," Santana drawled. "Are you still working, or are you off the clock, Jay?" "I'm off in about two minutes," Jay replied. "You're off now," Santana said with a grin. "Go home, kiss your boyfriend, stop flirting with my patrons and stealing my tips." She swatted him on the ass and winked. "Silly lesbians," Jay commented. He grabbed his coat and shrugged it on, then topped his head with a classic fedora. "Goodnight, Quinn. Nice seeing you again." He ducked under the bar and shot the blonde a dazzling smile, tipped his hat, then disappeared back into the crowd. Santana turned to the back of the bar and looked at the bottles, taking a second to organize everything the way she liked it, putting ice, mixers, and all the syrups and various fruits and garnishes in "her" spots. Once everything was settled, she leaned across the bar and looked to Quinn. "If you're hogging a space at my bar, Blondie, you'd better order a drink," Santana said with the cocky grin she sported as her "bartender" persona. It worked wonders, got her a steady stream of phone numbers, the occasional random hook-up, and damn good tips. The Office was one of New York City's most recent and hottest gay
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bars and dance spots, and appealed to nearly everyone from any walk of life. It boasted good music, good booze, good looking people, and was a relaxed enough environment that it was the perfect place to head after a long day at one's real office. "We're playing this game?" she asked, quirking an eyebrow. "Because I like you, first two are on the house. Now pick your poison," Santana said, knowing she could get away with the occasional slide of a free drink or two because she was not only one of their best bartenders, but she brought in a lot of return clientele, and made damn good money for the place. "Vodka cranberry," Quinn replied. "Bittersweet, just like you," Santana said with a wink. "You already know my number, stop trying," Quinn returned playfully. "Just getting in practice, making sure I'm at the top of my game," Santana replied. "That makes two of us," Quinn said, feeling her stomach flip again at the thought of what Rachel and Kurt might say if they ever found out Santana's devious plan. She had spoken to Rachel in the last couple days, multiple times, making plans for Kurt's "Glee-union." Quinn may have embellished at how excited she was, but it got lots of useful information about Rachel from the tiny diva's mouth to the former Cheerio's ears. Rachel confided in Quinn that Brittany was living in New York City, and it took some careful convincing from Quinn (after telling Santana that her suspicions were correct - and trying not to question the weirdness that Santana could literally sense Brittany like that), but she ended up talking Rachel into dragging Brittany along, to a place she suggested. Rachel hadn't been surprised when Quinn told her that "The Office" was a solid, friendly place for all people, and it just so happened to be occupied mostly by folks of the LGBT community. Rachel had laughed, as she remembered, and joked that Quinn being a lesbian wasn't "as much of a shock as one might think." Quinn felt scrutinized, like everyone had known her deepest, darkest secrets before she even had so much as an inkling. But, she guessed, that was probably how these things worked. Wasn't life cruel enough to disclose your skeletons with everyone else before you even got a glimpse of them? Santana splashed a heavy dose of cranberry juice over the generous shots she had already dumped over ice, stirred, and slid the drink to Quinn. She smiled and
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nodded to her friend, then took a sip. She winced a little; Santana always made her drinks strong. Before she could comment, she noticed that the brunette had wandered across to the other side of the bar, and had already started flirting with a group of girls. They were smiling, excessively feminine, and looked to be eating up whatever attention Santana was giving them. She'd make good tips off that group, for sure. Quinn pulled out her cell phone and checked the time; 9:00 pm - right around the time they had scheduled to meet. Given that it was Kurt and Rachel leading the pack, however, Quinn expected them to be "fashionably late." She nodded to Santana and grabbed her drink, walking toward the entrance of the bar, knowing that it wouldn't do for her to be seen with Santana right away. She knew that once everything was said and done, Kurt and Rachel would no doubt have tons of questions. Her instincts as a former liar came back in full, and she worked her way through each one mentally. Why did you want us to bring Brittany? Because I've missed her. Britt and I were always close back in high school, or have you forgotten? Did you know Santana worked here? Yes, but I didn't know she was working tonight. Nor did she know that you guys were meeting me here. Just because she's my roommate doesn't mean we tell each other everything. It just seems like an odd coincidence, don't you think? She imagined that one being Rachel, so quick to look for conspiracy and sell her out again as bad person, despite the changes she had made. Quinn took another sip of her drink and felt the alcohol burn her throat even with the cranberry chaser. She was a liar again. But, she told herself as she continued to search through the crowd, it was for Santana. It was for the best. This was what Santana needed. I could say the same about running into you and Kurt in my workplace, now couldn't I? Quinn looked back over her shoulder to the bar, where Santana was already working hard making drinks for another group that had come up to the counter. She
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knew that tonight had been something Santana needed to psyche herself up for, but she knew that the girl was mentally ready to face it. To face her ghost, face-to-face. However, Quinn had also made herself think of Brittany. Sweet, innocent Brittany who really did have a heart of gold as far as the blonde was concerned. Surely seeing Santana, especially as it was going to be in form of a giant surprise, wouldn't destroy her. It would bring back feelings, lots of feelings, but it likely wouldn't be as volatile to Brittany as a surprise meeting would have been for Santana. And, since Quinn no longer believed in taking chance for granted, she wasn't going to risk that happening. Brittany and Santana had their history, that was known. However, through their ups and downs and bumps and bruises, Quinn was certain of one thing; Santana wouldn't hurt Brittany. They had both hurt each other in small ways, naturally, but the big ways had always been the other way around. Santana practically worshiped Brittany; this would give her a chance for closure, a chance to heal, if nothing else. The music changed, the song now showcasing a strong techno-based beat. The bodies around Quinn continued to writhe, and she made her way through the sea of people toward a clearer space about ten feet from the entrance. She took a seat at an open booth, noting that it had enough space for her entire party, and enough seclusion that they wouldn't be disturbed. The few times that she had gone out dancing with Santana and Brittany had always been before alcohol was involved (unless Santana brought some on the sly), and still they drew their fair share of attention. Particularly Brittany, but that was generally when she made her way to the dance floor. Quinn smirked; it certainly wouldn't be good for Santana to see Brittany get hauled onto the dance floor by some other woman with grabby hands and lust in her veins. Quinn was almost finished with her first cocktail when she saw Kurt, Blaine, and Rachel enter. She felt her pulse race, and not from the alcohol; Santana would kill her if Brittany didn't show up. That, and, Quinn noticed as she traced a path from the top of Rachel's head to the stylish, strappy heels she was wearing, Rachel looked really, insanely beautiful. Kurt must have picked that outfit out for her. As they approached, Quinn felt her mouth get dry at the shimmery, dark blue dress that Rachel was wearing like it was custom made just for her body, showing off long, impossibly long, lean legs by its mid-thigh hemline, and a mildly plunging neckline that showed a tasteful bit of cleavage. Rachel's hair was tousled in waves, and slid down her shoulders just enough to "Quinn," Rachel said, standing in front of the booth and regarding the blonde with a smile. "Starting without us?"
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"Rachel," Quinn breathed out, hoping it didn't relay any of the dirtier thoughts in head solely by tone. "I can order you a drink, if you're feeling the need to get started on your own." "I'm a bit of a lightweight," Rachel confessed. "I might just stick with wine." "I remember," Quinn said, recalling their drunken escapades that originated at Rachel's house, in her basement, then moved to Puck's basement until he got busted for stealing from convenience stores, then at Santana's, where they tended to stay from that point onward. Her parents were the type that preferred their kids drink at home, so they'd at least know where they were. It was safe and comfortable, and sure, it took some of the fun out of drinking illegally, but at least they knew they'd be looked after. "Why does it feel like so long ago?" Rachel asked absently. "Some days, it seems like a lifetime," Quinn said with a gentle smile. Their eyes met and held maybe a second, possibly two too long, and then both girls looked away. Quinn rubbed the back of her neck and chuckled, suddenly finding the floor to be the most interesting thing in the entire bar; Rachel Berry excluded, of course. Kurt and Blaine, with their impeccable timing, walked up to the pair just seconds after, both with large smiles on their faces. They were dressed to the nines, coordinating without being matching in gray and black ensembles. Blaine's was modeled slightly after his old Warblers uniform, a gray blazer and black pants with a black muscle tee underneath, and Kurt was in some new, likely designer outfit that could only be described as "fabulous." Quinn smiled at the couple, glancing down to their linked hands and feeling a rush of joy overtake her. To have that kind of happiness, she thought, would be perfection. "Did you two stop at the restrooms before you got here, or did you get sucked into the crowd?" Rachel asked with a devious smirk on her face. "Which excuse are we using tonight?" The girl was bolder, Quinn decided. She could live with that. "For your information," Kurt interjected boldly, his eyebrow quirked with defiance. "Blaine and I were caught checking out the scenery. This is a new place, and has gotten marvelous reviews. We wanted to see what all the fuss was about." "Oh yeah, I love this place," Quinn responded. Blaine and Kurt looked at her curiously.
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"You?" Kurt asked, unafraid to be forward, as always. "You love this place?" "Surprise?" Quinn asked with a shrug of her shoulders and another sip of her cocktail. She hit the ice and looked at the now empty glass in her hand. "And on that note, it's time for a refill. Rachel, white or red?" "White," Rachel replied curtly. "Chardonnay, if they have it." "I'm sure they have it, Rachel," Kurt said, nudging the brunette gently. "It is a gay bar. We're not dropping this, Quinn." "I wouldn't dream of it," Quinn replied, signaling to a waitress who was carrying an empty tray. "Over here." A pretty, delicate auburn haired girl approached them, glancing at everyone in the blonde's group, then regarding Quinn specifically with a bright, happy smile. "Oh, hi Quinn!" "For the love of all that is holy, and Freddy Mercury on top of that, they know her by name, Blaine," Kurt murmured to his boyfriend. The waitress glanced at them for a moment, then looked back to Quinn, taking a minute to look between her and Rachel before doing so. "What can I get you?" she asked kindly. Quinn placed her empty glass on the tray and motioned to everyone in the group with a circle of her index finger. "I'd like a glass of the house Chardonnay, another vodka cranberry, and whatever those two want," Quinn said, pointing to Kurt and Blaine. "On me, and this is for you." Quinn pulled a five dollar bill out of her wallet, which everyone noticed was decked out in rainbow, and smiled at the waitress. Another smile was exchanged between the two of them before her attention shifted to Kurt and Blaine. "In a minute, boys," the waitress said. "I'm sure you're friends of Quinn's, but I do need to see ID." Everyone groaned, then retrieved their cards, showing them off one at a time. She nodded, satisfied, then turned back to Kurt and Blaine. "I'll have a whiskey on the rocks," Blaine said. "Extra rocks."
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"Cosmopolitan," Kurt ordered. "Extra fruity." "I'll be right back," the waitress said, tossing a flirty glance over her shoulder at Quinn as she left. Rachel noticed the extra sway in her hips and frowned. "So, not only are you a lesbian, but apparently you're a very good one," Rachel announced loudly. "Quinn's a lesbian?" Kurt asked, shocked. His eyes bulged wide and he sat down quickly. "All my life," Quinn said. "I just didn't realize it until after graduation. Well, maybe a little bit before. I was a slow developer." "Well, that's news," Kurt replied. "And it explains Sam and kind of Finn. No offense, Rachel." "None taken," Rachel said. "I've extinguished my torch for Finn Hudson completely, and thank God." "I'd cheers you for that, but we're empty," Quinn replied. "Welcome to Team Rainbow," Blaine said, giving Quinn a sideways hug. "Belated, but still important." Quinn looked around, happy with the group dynamic, but still missing an important and integral piece. "So," Quinn started, hoping everyone would be happy with a subject change. It wasn't that she was uncomfortable talking about her sexuality, especially not with old friends, but she had bigger fish to fry. "Where's?" A tall blonde staggered her way into the table, nearly bumping into Blaine as the crowd on the dance floor practically ejected her in their direction like it swallowed her whole in the first place. Quinn stopped mid-sentence and took a long, hard look at endless toned legs leading to a pair of cut-off denim shorts and topped by a sparkly, midriff baring, slightly off the shoulder and loose-fitting black top that hugged in all the right places, and fell off in even better ones. Blonde waves were tousled perfectly, and blue eyes seemed clear, pure, and familiar. "Sorry, guys," the blonde said sheepishly. "I was looking for the street. I think they moved it. Hi, Quinn."
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Everyone glanced at the blonde in shock. "Um" Quinn said, shocked that Brittany seemed so unfazed. She knew the girl wasn't a rocket scientist, but this was a whole new level. Unless they told her, but Rachel had promised her that they weren't going to. The entire point was in the surprise factor, after all. In more ways than one. How did she look so flawless? "Britt, you're" "It's Quinn, guys," Brittany said. "Why is Quinn here? Am I hallucinating again? Because I haven't even had anything to drink yet, although I ate mushrooms yesterday on my salad. They were from Whole Foods, though" "I'm it's" Quinn stumbled. "I'm so happy to see you, B." "Quinn!" Brittany said cheerfully, bouncing up and down like a child on Christmas morning at the realization that yes, Quinn was there, and possibly even that, no, she hadn't been hallucinating. The taller blonde picked Quinn up off her feet and enveloped her into a giant hug. She pulled back and just stared at Quinn for a few, long moments, and Quinn noticed that there was a tear starting to form in one perfectly blue eye. "Hey, you," Quinn said softly. "I've missed you so much," Brittany said. "I wanted to come see you, but I thought you were still in Lima, and I kind of never want to go back there. Not since I've left, you know. It's a black hole, I think." "I missed you more, I'm pretty sure," Quinn replied, bringing the taller girl back into another, longer hug. Kurt wiped at his eyes, Rachel smiled proudly, and Blaine wrapped an arm around his boyfriend. All were overjoyed at the sight, and happier still that they each had a hand, in their own way, at making it possible. Quinn pulled back and broke into happy laughter, feeling her entire body shake. Brittany unwrapped herself from Quinn, then took turns hugging Blaine, then Kurt, and then Rachel, giving her another extra squeeze. Brittany moved her lips to Rachel's ear, making sure nobody else could see, and offered a quick, subtle piece of whispered advice. "Before we leave tonight, you need to get Quinn to dance with you."
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Rachel blushed, and she looked at the floor for a moment before everyone took a seat in the booth. The waitress showed up just as they were getting settled and handed everyone's drinks out. "I went ahead and started a tab for you at the bar, Quinn," the waitress replied. Then, her vision settled on the newcomer, and she tilted her head to the side. "Oh. You weren't here before, or else I would have you're with Quinn, too?" "She is," Quinn said. "Whatever she wants." "Oh, Quinn - I can just go to the bar and get something for myself. I'll probably do a round of taste tests first. I think things taste better when they aren't mine," Brittany said simply. Rachel rested her forehead on her palm, and Blaine chuckled darkly. "Well, all right then," the waitress said. "Don't hesitate to wave me over if you guys need anything else." With that, she left. All eyes were on Brittany. "It's really good to have you back, B," Quinn said, reaching across the table to squeeze her friend's hand. "Likewise, Q," Brittany said, glancing at Quinn's drink and smiling. "Vodka cranberry?" "Yes, ma'am," Quinn said. Brittany nodded, then slid it across the table and took a sip. "Delicious," Brittany commented. "I might get one of those. It's really strong, though. Are they always that strong?" Quinn laughed, "The bartender here is a little heavy handed." "Well, good thing you told me that. Now I know not to get rum," Brittany said with a chuckle. "But I am going to go get something." Quinn's eyes widened, and she fought her initial impulse to panic. "Quinn, what's wrong?" Brittany said, not missing a beat. Everyone immediately looked to Quinn.
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"Oh, nothing," she lied, waving her hand. "Just pacing myself. Already ahead of the rest of you." Brittany smiled. "I'll catch up," Brittany said. "I'm really good at drinking." She kissed Kurt on the forehead, and then started to make her way to the bar in the center of the floor. Quinn followed her every move. This could either be brilliant, or a brilliant disaster. "Quinn," Kurt said. Quinn's eyes snapped up, and she didn't realize that he had said her name not just the one time that had been audible to her, but two times before that. Once she locked eyes with him, he continued. "You're hiding something. Or, you're worried about something. Either way, it could be juicy, so spill." "Kurt, don't if she doesn't want to, then" Blaine said, attempting to talk his boyfriend down. Quinn swallowed. She looked at Rachel, although she wasn't sure why, and then she looked back to Blaine and Kurt. This was a perfect opportunity for an out, to keep with the lies. But she didn't see the point; everything was going to unravel soon enough. Even her secrets. "It's Santana," Quinn said simply. "Wait, what?" Kurt asked, looking at her like she had just pulled a Brittany. "Santana," Quinn said softly. "She's here."

Brittany literally danced a swift path all the way from the booth to the bar. Something about music just got her pulse jumping and made her body want to move. It was her own reflex, her own basic need that most couldn't understand, and she couldn't explain. It just was. People writhed around her, some tried to pull her in for a shared dance, but she was on a mission. There would be time for dancing later. A smile widened her face. Quinn was here, in the bar, and it was the best surprise ever. She had missed so many pieces of her life in Lima, because for as many painful memories she had left behind in that tiny town, she felt like she had walked away from so much good, too. So much good.
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Her smile dropped for a moment, and she thought back to her greatest loss. Dark hair spilled over tanned shoulders as two bodies laid in the tall grass in the middle of a secluded field. She was looking at the clouds, telling her companion what they were; sometimes a rabbit, sometimes a carrot, sometimes a robot the girl at her side never objected, never said they were anything but what Brittany's eyes saw. Brittany felt her spine tingle of its own accord, and the memory was gone. She made it to the bar and leaned over the counter, waiting for the bartender to notice her. It never usually took long, but currently, the bartender was facing away from Brittany, giving her an opportunity to appreciate without being caught. Her heart instantly started hammering in her chest. Just like what she remembered, this girl had long, dark hair that flowed easily down to the base of her shoulder blades. Dressed all in black, her bronze skin tone that was likely natural and not the result of hours in a tanning bed popped, and gently sculpted arm muscles lifted bottles to make drinks with skilled hands that looked delicate, but still strong. Brittany felt extra thirsty, and swallowed twice. Her eyes traveled lower, to perfectly toned legs that ended in sensible sneakers, Chuck Taylors, to be exact. Stylish, but still functional and good for long work shifts spent standing up. Legs, however, Brittany could appreciate not just as a human with raging hormones and specific tastes, but as a dancer. And those were perfect. Come to think of it, Brittany was sure she hadn't seen legs like that since Dark eyes met hers when she looked up, and a wicked smile formed over full lips. The person had made it directly in front of her before she could realize, or run away. "Hola, Corazon," the bartender purred. Although her tone was confident, all Brittany could read within the confines of familiar eyes she knew better than her own was insecurity and fear. "Santana," Brittany breathed, knowing the name was a prayer, all released on an exhale from the breath she had been holding for a possibly infinite amount of time. Time. What a bastard. "I had something planned out," Santana said, retracting a moment later, knowing that honesty was always, always her first impulse with Brittany. However, time had changed and made her colder; it had taught her to be more measured, more careful with her words and her openness. "To say to you, just in case we ever met again. Can't fucking remember what it was now. God, you're beautiful." "You look so, so good, Santana," Brittany said quietly, reaching across the bar and fumbling for Santana's hand. She was happy, relieved alive when the brunette
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didn't pull away. Brittany smiled, really smiled like she had never smiled before, and linked their pinkies. Nothing else needed to be said.

A/N: So, remember when I said we were getting into the action of the story? Welcome to where it picks up. Rachel and Quinn are still dodging, but now at least Santana and Brittany both know that they're in the same city! Yay Brittana - guess that ship wasn't that far off, after all. Your reviews are so wonderful, so keep 'em coming! They never fail to make me smile. I love to hear your thoughts, thanks again!

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Chapter 10
"What are you drinking?" Santana asked, finally able to muster up the words. They had gone minutes, possibly several minutes, without speaking. Brittany's eyes were darting all over Santana's body, and Santana had a white-knuckled grip on the bar, internally debating whether or not she was happy or frustrated that there weren't any customers needing her attention, and therefore, she had no excuse to leave her current position. Part of her was happy that she didn't have to leave, couldn't leave, really. The other part was wishing she had an excuse, so perhaps she'd be able to exit gracefully should the silence become awkward. Or, you know, if Brittany wasn't happy to see her. She questioned for a moment if the blonde would say such a thing, even if it were true. She figured it would be more likely for Brittany to stay silent, let her actions do the talking. Brittany breathed in, Santana watched her closely, waiting for her to say "no, thank you" or "don't talk to me, Santana." She didn't. Instead, she regarded the brunette through long lashes, smiling softly and setting her hands on the bar, dangerously near Santana's. "Don't you remember that time when you tried to sneak behind the bar at that nightclub? We had fake IDs that you bought off Jacob Ben Israel they kicked us out," Brittany mused. "Britt" Santana started to say, then corrected herself. There was too much time, too much distance between them now. Formalities were key. "Brittany, I work here. They pay me and everything. What can I get you?" "I want that fruit thing you used to make me when Mama was out of the house," Brittany said, her eyes glazing over slightly, obviously launching her back into her memories. Santana smiled; it was a tradition of theirs to sneak a little bit of Mama Lopez's good tequila on sleepover nights. But, since they couldn't take too much without her noticing it was gone, Santana learned how to stretch it a little more, but it still gave them enough of a buzz to make the night enjoyable, and wash away inhibitions. The brunette swallowed hard, hating herself a little bit for needing alcohol, even just a little bit to feel free with Brittany back in those days. To chase away her lingering insecurities. Now, she knew, things would be different, but she figured she'd never get another chance. Even now, with the gorgeous blonde before her, ordering a drink in her workplace, putting herself back in Santana's life, even if the cards had
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been forced ever so slightly. "Paloma," Santana said simply. "The horse? You're making me a horse?" "No, not a palomino. Paloma. That's the name for what I used to make you," the brunette replied. "You'll love it, and now I can use more tequila, if you'd like." "I tried a sip of Quinn's drink - you make them really strong," Brittany replied. "Well, I just like to loosen Quinn up," Santana said. "You decide." Brittany smiled, slow, sexy, and just enough to send Santana into a backwards tailspin. "Do your worst." Santana grabbed a few bottles and carefully splashed various liquids into shot glasses, then deposited each colorful liquid, each a different color than the last, into a highball glass and slid it across the counter to Brittany, Cocktail style. Brittany grabbed the glass and gave it a tentative stir, then looked back to the Latina. "How much?" she asked. Santana smirked, and offered another wink. "First one's on me tonight," she replied simply. "Santana, I can't" Brittany protested. She knew it was in Santana's nature to look after her, to spoil her, even, but this was different. She had changed. They had changed, and while she wasn't as in touch with Santana as she had been at one point, she knew simply from the way the brunette stood, the way she didn't talk as much with her hands and there were more frown lines creasing her brow, that she was different. The old Brittany would have accepted a free drink, perhaps even expected it, should they find themselves in this position. But the new Brittany saw too many openings, too many opportunities to put herself back where she came from, and shied away. "Can't what?" "Let you buy me a drink when you're working," Brittany said. "That's not how it works. You could get in trouble, couldn't you?"
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"Nah, I do it for Quinn all the time. She doesn't care," Santana said. "Besides, if the hot bartender buys a pretty girl a drink, she might buy more than she was expecting to and I might get her phone number by the end of the night." "That's your plan?" Brittany said, her face sobering slightly. "What?" Santana asked, confused. She regarded the blonde carefully. She looked the same, but her presence, Santana noticed, was very different. The naturally naive essence that seemed to follow Brittany around before was now replaced with a more worldly stature. Perhaps she hadn't grown up entirely, and perhaps she was still naive when it came to one thing or another, but something in Brittany had grown up and experienced pieces of the world. Santana could practically smell it on her. "To get my number, take me home is that what you do, Santana?" Brittany asked, and it was so lacking in accusatory tone that it was almost innocent despite the content. Santana blanched, and felt her insides surge with guilt, and perhaps a smattering of shame. Brittany, despite the years, could still pick out her bullshit; she still knew her. "Not with you," Santana replied honestly. However, it lacked sting or insult; just truth. She didn't want to rush things with Brittany. She was just happy that the blonde was there, that she could look into crystal blue eyes that she thought she'd only dream of for the rest of her life. What a horrible existence, Santana thought, to go forever without looking into those eyes even just once more. Brittany took a sip of the drink and closed her eyes, moaning softly at the taste of the sweet cocktail. Santana felt that small sound like a caress all over her body and fought her urges. She knew better now; things were different. "That's really good," Brittany said. Santana felt relieved that the subject was, she hoped, about to change into something that was more appropriate conversation and wouldn't rip her apart in the process. "Well, like I said, it's on me," Santana insisted, regarding Brittany with kind eyes. She hadn't been good at looking at anyone else in that way, not even Quinn. For years, she wondered if this persona was the real Santana, and she could only be herself with the kindhearted blonde. "Santana" Brittany protested lightly, but when Santana shot her a knee-weakening smile, the brunette could have sworn she saw at least a bit of resolve crumple to the floor.
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"Just the first one," Santana said, holding up her hand. "Then I'll gouge you on booze prices, just like everyone else." "I'd like that," Brittany said with a quirky smile. She looked behind her and tried to find the booth where her friends were sitting. The bar was huge, and she could barely see past the dance floor. After another moment of searching, she turned back to Santana. "How late are you working?" Santana almost choked on the water she was sipping. "What?" "Tonight, how long are you working?" Brittany asked. She kept her eyes locked on Santana and took another pull from her straw. Santana rubbed a hand along the back of her neck; Brittany still had no clue how sexy she was, apparently. This wasn't flirting, not to her. To most people, it would be considered teasing, playing, foreplay but to Brittany, that's just how she was. That's how they were together. Santana rolled that word over and around her head: together. What a concept. "Late," Santana said honestly. She wasn't sure she wanted to tell the blonde specific details, but she had little confidence that Brittany couldn't get her entire work schedule, directions to her apartment, and possibly a key with a few pointed questions. That's just how things were. Brittany acted however was most natural to her, and Santana was helpless to her charm. No amount of years could change the structure of something so simple and so fitting in its own right. "Oh," Brittany said, casting her eyes down slightly and trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice. "But, maybe when I get a break, I'll stop by your table?" Santana suggested. Brittany's lips quirked back into a smile, and blue eyes met brown with such intensity that Santana felt the need to grasp the counter once more. She wasn't even intoxicated, hadn't been drinking, but knew that she could easily allow herself to get drunk on the blonde once more. She could lay herself down and submit herself to be touched, molded, and then destroyed by carefully questing hands so easily. She shook her head. No, not again. "I'd like that," Brittany said happily. "But you have to actually do it, Santana."
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"I'll see what I can do," Santana replied. Short. Noncommittal. No promises. Brittany raised her glass to Santana and smiled, then turned to make her way back across the dance floor. Santana watched the bodies part to allow her passage, and didn't drop her gaze until the blonde was out of sight completely. She thought back to her answer for a moment. Short. Noncommittal. No promises. That was what she had intended, what she planned to use in her dealings with Brittany, but the brunette quickly realized that her plan was failing, heading into a downward tailspin and fast. But, she knew that was just how things went with Brittany, with her and Brittany - everything she thought, everything she expected, never happened quite the way she wanted it to. Santana sighed, then looked at the clock; she'd just have to text Quinn to move them closer to her. She wasn't due for a break for a while yet, when another bartender came on shift with her. But, she quickly realized, now she had what she wanted, even in the slightest of ways, it would be impossible to stay away.

"And then he turned to me and said, 'I don't care what anyone said, you sounded exactly like Julie Andrews' which was such high praise, really," Kurt said. Blane was watching his boyfriend's every move, a smile of pure pride etched onto his features. Quinn's eyes darted around the club every few minutes, watching for Brittany, for Santana, or waiting for any sort of potential fall out from their little "plan." Rachel was focused on Kurt, and kept scooting closer to Quinn as her buzz started to wear heavily on her body. However, she would have bouts of realization and shift back to her original location, where their legs weren't touching, where she couldn't feel Quinn's body heat and crave more. Rachel stirred, snapping herself out of her focus for a second. Did she want to be close to Quinn? Rachel turned her head to look at the blonde. She really was gorgeous, Rachel thought, anyone with eyes could see that. Beautiful hair, beautiful eyes, delicate features Rachel's eyes shifted lower, where Quinn was cradling her glass. Excellent hands. Like a pianist should have. Rachel wondered for a moment if she played. But Rachel wasn't attracted to women. No, she could appreciate their beauty. She could appreciate God-given good looks, could pick out desirable characteristics, could understand why others would be attracted to a woman such as Quinn, but Rachel wasn't attracted. No, she decided. Still completely heterosexual. Her experience with theater and with her dads just made her more open-minded than most people. "Rachel?" Kurt asked, a smirk on his face. Rachel's eyes widened, and she
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snapped her attention back toward her best friend. "Yes, Kurt?" she replied sheepishly. "Is there something particularly interesting that's got you so enamored with the space by Quinn's head?" he asked. "Yeah, unless you're staring at me. Oh God, do I have something on my face?" Quinn asked, reaching up self-consciously to brush at the space around her lips. "No! No," Rachel said, reaching for her glass and pointing toward it in a desperate attempt to shift the group's focal point. She had been staring at Quinn, hadn't she? Really staring. "You know what happens when I consume alcohol, all of you. I get easily distracted, and probably found something interesting on the dance floor. So much movement." "Uh-huh," Kurt said, narrowing his eyes just slightly, and only for a second, so Rachel could see. He obviously wasn't convinced. "Drink more, it's amusing." Rachel chucked her napkin at him, then giggled when he looked affronted at her minor action. Blaine laughed, and Kurt swatted him on the shoulder. "You all should drink more," Quinn said, downing another healthy mouthful of her cocktail. "Nobody's even close to me yet." "Fabray can hold her alcohol," Blaine said, eying the glass in the blonde's hand. "It's impressive." "I live with Santana," Quinn said, as if this were explanation enough. "The abuse she's put my liver through in the last two years well, let's just say if my body had a mind of its own, and you know, hands, it would be writing me a formal complaint." Rachel snorted. When did Quinn get so funny? "Yeah, speaking of Santana," Kurt said, folding his hands on top of the table. "She's here, as you said. Are we going to get to meet her, or was the whole bringing Brittany here as bait sufficient enough?" His tone carried a hint of cruelty, and although Quinn was no stranger to cruelty she had lived on both sides for years, after all, she flinched. "I'm really, really sorry about that," Quinn said honestly. Truer words had never
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been spoken. "I'm refusing to hold judgment until something happens to Brittany. Which, if anything does, what's that saying? Oh. Right. 'Your ass is grass, and I'm the mower.'" Kurt said calmly. "Understandable," Quinn said simply. "I don't think anything will, though. Santana's she's still Santana, of course, but she's changed a lot, too. And we all know how she feels about Brittany." "I can't listen to 'Landslide' to this day without bursting into tears," Rachel confessed. "That's pathetic, isn't it? I'm realizing that I'm somewhat pathetic." "Oh, hush. You're fine," Blaine said with a reassuring smile. "He's so nice, isn't he?" Kurt said, eying his boyfriend, then leaning over to place a kiss on the other man's temple. "So nice, all the time." "I think you two are great together," Quinn said, having gotten an extra shot of courage by finishing off her second drink. "I long for that kind of greatness, actually." "Romantically?" Kurt asked, obviously intrigued by the level of emotion Quinn was choosing to share. Granted, he knew that part of it was plied with a healthy dose of liquid courage, but even before, they had shared a few drinks together, as a group, as friends, and she had always kept such tight control of her emotions that sometimes, they all liked to question whether the blonde ex-cheerleader had any at all. "Yes, romantically," Quinn said. "It's hard, and you'd think that living in a place like this would make it easier. But I'm, I don't know, shy I guess. That and selective. I'm very selective." "You're picky," Blaine replied. "Sometimes, holding out for someone perfect has its perks." Rachel groaned loudly at the smile Blaine gave Kurt in reply, and Kurt placed a hand on Blaine's chest to move him back slightly so he could move forward and lean more across the table, closer to Quinn. "There he goes, being Prince Charming again," Kurt said with a devious grin. "It gets worse with liquor. Anyway, this romantic greatness is it safe to assume that
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you're looking to quell those longings with a member of the fairer sex?" "With a woman?" Quinn said, a sly smirk spreading across her face. "Oh, I don't know, maybe." "Stop dodging my perfectly crafted questions!" Kurt exclaimed. "You see, I pride myself on having excellent gaydar, and if you don't give me anything to work with, it's hard to peg you. Although, you're not as lipstick as you were in high school. The sundresses were good enough for Lima, I guess, but it's good to see you've moved up fashionably." "I liked the sundresses," Rachel murmured quietly. Not quietly enough, apparently, since Kurt's attention was drawn back to her almost instantly. "Did you have something to add, Rachel?" Kurt asked, amused with his keen hearing. "I mean, I think Quinn looks quite nice," Rachel said, sending the blonde a complimentary, although almost forcibly platonic smile. "Your sense of style has always been impeccable, whether you choose to sport jeans as you are now, or sundresses as you once did." "Nice save," Kurt said, dejected. A few seconds later, Brittany strolled up to the booth and squeezed in next to Quinn and Rachel, causing their legs to brush. "Speaking of save" Blaine said, under his breath. "Hi, guys! I've got tequila. That dance floor is really crowded. I think I'll have another one of these," Brittany said, holding up her nearly empty glass. "You finished that between here and the bar?" Rachel asked, looking down at the glass of wine she had been nursing. "Impressive." "Everything okay, Britts?" Kurt asked. "This palomino is delicious," Brittany said simply, downing the remainder of her drink in one fell swoop. Rachel's eyes widened. "I want to go dancing! Who wants to dance with me?" Brittany said suddenly, slapping her hands on the table.
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With a sudden shrug of her shoulders, Rachel eyed the group, seeing that there weren't any immediate takers. "Oh, to hell with it all," Rachel said, finishing off her glass of wine with a quick, emphatic gulp. "That burns more than I thought it would. C'mon, Brittany - I'll dance with you." Brittany looked confused as the tiny brunette started to usher her out of the booth while everyone else stared at them. The tall blonde stood up and had her hand quickly snatched up by the brunette. "But Rachel, I thought you were going to dance with Quinn" Brittany said, mewling when Rachel stepped on her foot a little. "Tequila. Makes everybody crazy," Rachel said to the group. "And I want one of those palomino things. Whatever Brittany was drinking." With that, the brunette whisked Brittany off to the dance floor, and both girls were quickly out of sight. "Blaine, what just happened?" Kurt asked his boyfriend. Quinn shook her empty glass, then looked at the two boys. She paused for a moment, and waved over the waitress from before. "Your best friend getting plastered to run from her problems, apparently," Blaine replied. "That's what happened." "God help us all," Kurt said, leaning back against the booth. "Quinn, how wasted are we getting tonight, anyway?" Quinn looked into the crowd, finding Rachel and Brittany easily given that a crowd was starting to form around them. Brittany had her hands on Rachel's hips possessively, and they were writhing together to a song with a heavy downbeat, bass thudding and almost emphasizing every sway, every shimmy, and especially every thrust of their hips into each other. Rachel spun around, and Quinn could have sworn the small brunette was looking for her, even just for a split second, before she pressed back into Brittany, moving her hips in quick, circular movements that had both the blonde behind her and the one staring absolutely mesmerized. Realizing that the waitress had appeared and that she was being spoken to a second or two too late to appear focused, Quinn pulled her eyes away and launched herself back into the moment at hand. She smirked at Kurt and Blaine, hoping they
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wouldn't catch onto the fact that she was lost, too. That she was running, although she wasn't sure from what exactly, she had her suspicions. She knew that this wasn't the first time in her life that she felt attraction to Rachel Berry, but knew now that it had grown and now could stand on two legs of its very own, no longer sustained to the box of McKinley High School. Back then, Quinn was certain the feelings toward Rachel were mild attraction coupled with admiration and laced with a jealous twinge. "Very, my friends," Quinn replied. "Tonight, we are getting very wasted. Another round, please, except instead of the Chardonnay, my friend will be having a paloma. Two of those. Thanks." Quinn looked back at the dance floor and saw Rachel's fingers tangled in Brittany's hair. She felt a twinge of something deep within her gut. Perhaps it was more than mild attraction. Perhaps the twinge she knew before and was so certain was jealousy was misconstrued. Because right now, something was absolutely certain; she wanted Rachel Berry. Badly.

A/N: Wow. Hello, new reviewers! Thanks again, those of you who have been here and reviewing since the beginning! You all are AMAZING. Really, gold stars for all of you! One of the biggest challenges for me in writing this story has been keeping the characters intact, so I'm happy to hear that you're all happy with my portrayal. Thanks again for reading, and let me know what you're thinking! Thoughts, comments, praise - I love it all.

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Chapter 11
For this chapter, I used the song "Ashes and Wine" by A Fine Frenzy for a special flashback scene that sort of dictates the bulk of this entire chapter. When you get to that part, I recommend giving it a listen while you read. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Santana watched the crowd as people went to the dance floor, left the dance floor, found different partners. However, when she noticed a distinct shade of blonde hair attached to bright blue eyes, she couldn't look elsewhere. Not even for a second. Brittany's hand was attached to someone's, and Santana felt a stir of jealousy deep in her gut. She chastised herself mentally; it wasn't the same, now. Brittany hadn't been hers for years. She had no claim. The brunette that Brittany was dancing with turned slightly, and Santana could see who it was - Rachel Berry. Even in her head, the name gave her shivers. Santana had never been particularly fond of the tiny diva, but there had been times when the girl was set to grow on her. It hadn't happened very often, but every now and then, the girl would come along with some form of wisdom or another, and it would kick Santana's ass and open her eyes in ways that didn't make her want to smack the girl for a change. Sometimes, and it pained her to admit it, Rachel Berry was kind of awesome. But Santana never liked to lose. She liked to be on top, know her place, and make sure everyone else knew their places as well. When she finally came to terms with her feelings for Brittany, with a little shove and sage advice from Holly Holliday, Santana had been bound and determined to get the blonde back. Permanently. Santana wanted to walk down the hall with Brittany's full hand, all five fingers, laced around her own - not just a pinky. She wanted to kiss Brittany against her locker before she went to class, just like any of the other couples did. Besides, Santana thought, it would be easier for them. Brittany wouldn't have to lean all the way down like she did for Wheels. Just another way they were more perfectly matched. It took the entire summer, and Santana brushed up on romantic comedies to see how a proper courtship was done, but she ended up getting in touch with her feelings, and won Brittany's heart. Although, Santana suspected, she hadn't ever really lost it. Brittany was just letting someone else hold it for a while. Someone named Artie. They ended up walking hand in hand in the hallways during their Senior year, and things had been rough at first. They both got slushied, and once, Santana ended up getting suspended from school for a week because she kicked
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Azimio's ass for targeting her girlfriend. Everyone had been surprised that she had managed to take the over-sized jock down all by herself. Everyone except Brittany, and possibly Quinn. Then the end of the year came, and Santana started to realize that someone else was targeting Brittany, but not in the way of an ice-cold slushie to the face. Artie was looking at her much like Santana had when he and Brittany were together; unbridled longing and determination. While the brunette could respect it, she wasn't about to let Brittany go back into his arms. However, Santana may have tried a little too hard, been a little too possessive, and let her fear drive instead of just continuing to be loving and sweet, two things that she knew Brittany needed. Which was why she wasn't surprised to see flickers of doubt in blue eyes when everyone started talking about what they were going to do after high school. Rachel and Kurt were, naturally, headed to New York. Puck wanted to go to Ohio State for business, since he already thought himself an entrepreneur with his pool cleaning business. Mercedes had gotten an internship with that hot dentist Miss Pillsbury jilted and was making plans to be a dental hygienist. Tina and Mike were going to move to Chicago, because Mike had gotten in with a dance troupe that was located there. Tina figured that she'd try to go to school, but she wanted to support Mike's dreams first, since she wasn't set in a career or an idea of what she really wanted. Admirable. Adorable. Even after so much time, those two were still nauseatingly good for one another. Finn got a combined scholarship for music and football to Ohio State, which was a miracle, since the boy could barely spell. At least he would be doing something in his life. Artie wanted to go to school in California, for some reason, and naturally, he suggested that California might be the perfect opportunity for Brittany to look for jobs as a dancer. Brittany had considered it, and that was what broke Santana's heart the most. She hadn't made many plans about what she wanted, but she knew that she wasn't going to haul her ass all the way to the West Coast with Brittany and Wheels to suffer another viewing of them being together, even as friends. Not with the way he made moony eyes at her. Again, Santana tightened her grip on the blonde, which eventually proved to be too much. By the time prom rolled around, Santana was going solo because she and Brittany had broken up, and Brittany was once again Artie's girlfriend. They were looking for an apartment in Los Angeles, they were making plans for a future, and they were disgustingly happy. Santana remembered the weightless, gutted feeling; wasn't that supposed to be her life? Santana kept watching, a woman possessed, as Brittany clutched Rachel closer. Had Santana not fucked things up the first time, and even bigger the second, who was to say that Santana wouldn't be dancing with the blonde? Or, at least watching
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with pride at her girlfriend's dancing skills while said girlfriend waited for her to get done with her shift so they could go back to their apartment. Together. Rachel laughed and hugged Brittany close as the song ended, reveling in the moment before one song faded to another. That was a beautiful friendship, Santana thought, because even though she didn't like Rachel Berry, she could respect that Rachel cared. Even cared about people who didn't like her. Which meant that she was probably an excellent friend for Brittany, because the blonde had always held a soft spot for the little diva. Santana smiled, but still felt a lingering hand tug at her heart. She had tried so hard to change things, to fire off one last-ditch attempt to show Brittany what was real. They were real. They kept finding each other, didn't they? Rachel Berry had given her a piece of advice after their final Glee assignment had been given. Mr. Schue wanted all the Seniors to find a song that spoke to some kind of "legacy." Something they wanted to leave behind, a memory of their existence. Santana thought it was sappy bullshit, just like the rest of the pomp and circumstance of high school graduation. Rachel had cornered her and said that she didn't have to take it so literally. "Legacy isn't necessarily something you want to leave behind, Santana. Sometimes, your legacy is a promise of something you won't give up on. Something you want desperately. Sing to her, one more time."

Three years ago Mr. Schuester entered the choir room with the same cheerful grin on his face as they always remembered. It had practically become his trademark. "Okay, so today, as you all know, is the very last Glee club meeting for our beloved Seniors," Will said, starting to break up already. He wiped absently at a tear. "You guys have taught me so much about myself, about music, about love about life, and so, today is your chance to shine once more. Each one of you has chosen a song that expresses your legacy, and I personally cannot wait to hear what you've chosen." Everyone sat back in their chairs, looking around absently at who would go first. Everyone half-expected Rachel or Kurt to jump up first, but Santana knew differently. Today, she would be going first. She and Rachel had been practicing together for weeks, and Santana even let the brunette "train" her vocals a little so she could be pitch-perfect as well as emotionally perfect. Singing songs had become
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a perfect outlet to channel her feelings, and maybe it was getting a little exhausting for her to perform, but she knew that this was the final shot. And, she remembered, the last time she had sang a song for Brittany, the blonde had been disappointed that she couldn't do it in front of everyone. Santana glanced over at Brittany and Artie, where their hands were clasped together. Five fingers, laced around each other. The Latina swallowed hard. "So," Will began, rubbing his hands together, "Who wants to start us off? Rachel? Kurt?" "Me," Santana said confidently, although inside she was shaking. "Santana?" Will replied, eyebrows creeping up his forehead ever so slightly. "Well, all right. C'mon down, Santana." "Don't channel Bob Barker on my last day, Schue, or I'll throw you through that piano," Santana grumbled. Everyone laughed; it was expected, but Santana Lopez was still a force to be reckoned with. Sure, her heart had softened toward her fellow Glee clubbers, but she was still feisty and sharp like a razor's edge in nearly everything she said or did. Santana stood near the piano, resting back against it slightly to center herself. Rachel's eyes met hers, and the brunette smiled reassuringly. Santana couldn't help but smile back. "Wait," Sam said, interrupting the moment. "This isn't going to be a 'Trouty Mouth' reprise, is it?" "Get over yourself, pillow lips," Santana said, raising a hand. "This isn't about you right now." Sam's mouth closed sharply, and he moved a hand to his lips. Mike chuckled slightly and patted him on the shoulder sympathetically. It was never fun to be the running gag, after all. His days as "other Asian" taught him that. At least he was part of the Asian power-duo, which was good enough. "You guys, let Santana have her moment," Will replied, holding up a hand to silence his students, who were starting to stir and becoming rambunctious. "Tell us why you've chosen your song, Santana." Santana's eyes dropped low, and she fought the nagging feeling in her gut. The feeling that told her this wasn't a good idea, to just leave things alone, that it would be another failed attempt in a long line of miserable failures but her eyes raised, mostly by force, and she took a moment to look everyone in the eyes. She paused a
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little longer with Artie, and left her eyes on Brittany when she finally got the courage to speak up. "I bet a lot of people are going to sing about their futures, their careers, their talents, and what they want for the world. Not me. I don't care so much about the world, as you all have probably noticed." A few people laughed, then silenced themselves immediately after pointed glares from their teacher. "A legacy is something you leave behind. Something that defines you. Believe it or not, I've found something that defines me that isn't, you know, fear and really good sex. I was always too afraid to say it, talk about it, but then I lost it, and now it's the legacy I never thought I'd leave behind." Santana paused and breathed deeply, then turned to Brad and glared. "Play your shit, piano man, before I starts to have more feelings." Her gaze immediately went back to Brittany, who offered her a small smile of encouragement. Of affection. Of something, and whatever it was, Santana held onto it as the slow, melodic chords sounded through the classroom, playing her through to her cue. She breathed, closed her eyes, and fought to will them open. It was a battle. And then she found Brittany. Don't know what to do, don't you see I've lost the only love worth fighting for And I'll drown in my tear storming sea That would show you, that would make you hurt like me Santana held Brittany's eyes until the last line, and she felt her heart seize when Brittany looked away. She hadn't expected that. She tilted her head to the side, and kept her gaze strong. Truthfully, she never wanted to hurt Brittany, but the pain the blonde had caused her without even trying held tight like a hook in her soul, and for that, she wished she could at least explain. Her eyes softened as she went through the next lines. All the same I don't want mud slinging games
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It's just a shame To let you walk away But she hadn't let her. Santana knew that. She held onto that, because that was a given truth, right? Brittany had made the decision to choose Artie. Again. Hadn't she? Santana dropped her gaze just when Brittany looked back, and found Quinn instead. Her best friend regarded her with kind hazel eyes, for she knew the Latina's pain. How many nights since their break-up had Santana gone to Quinn, crying helplessly on the other blonde shoulder? Quinn could have easily ridiculed her; maybe she even deserved it. But she never did. She'd just wrap her arms around Santana a little tighter, hold the brunette a little closer, and promise her that everything would end up turning out okay. But what was okay? Hadn't Santana been cheating fate too long? Was she too tainted to hold onto something as pure as Brittany, as good as the love the blonde felt for her? Had she maybe pushed, even just a little? With her jealousy and her snide remarks, and her ability to be a downright bitch, maybe it was right that Brittany walked. At least Cripples worshiped the ground she walked on. Even if he rolled behind her. Santana sighed. But so did she. But her knees felt like lead, and she could barely stand to walk after Brittany, much less run like the girl deserved. Bravely, she launched herself into the chorus. Is there a chance, a fragment of light At the end of the tunnel, a reason to fight Is there a chance you might change your mind? Or are we ashes and wine? Santana heard the strings join in for her customized arrangement she slaved over, trying to find the perfect blend of soul and harmony, of spirit and pain, of love and loss, to give Brittany not only the words she needed, but the feeling she craved. Quinn smiled at Santana, gently and with enough faith in the brunette that Santana realized that she needed very little of her own. She could be vulnerable. She needed to be vulnerable. Brittany looked at her curiously, and Santana offered her a gentle smile of her
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own, needing the blonde to know that while it wasn't the love song they had both wanted her to sing in front of everyone, to profess her feelings, it worked in its own way. It was just as true as "Songbird," it was just as deep as "Landslide." It was them. Don't know if our fate's already sealed This day's a spinning surface on a wheel And I'm ill with the thought of your kiss Coffee-laced, intoxicating on his lips Santana threw a hand up and raised her voice to the sky. This was the part that would mold her, change her, or break her entirely. Now was her time. Shut it out I've got no claim on you now Not allowed To wear your freedom down, no Is there a chance, a fragment of light At the end of the tunnel, a reason to fight Is there a chance you might change your mind? Or are we ashes and wine? Santana took a breath, released it, and found herself back in the song. Back to Brittany. She locked those blue eyes with a death grip, with fearless focus, and saw a lone tear escape them. Brittany quietly shed two more, and Santana felt her own eyes prick. Her voice would break, she knew it. She was breaking, she could feel it. She could have run away. That was her game. That was what she knew. But she didn't. Instead, she sang, and let it all break. And I'll tear myself away
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If that's what you need There is nothing left to say But is there a chance, a fragment of light At the end of the tunnel, a reason to fight Is there a chance you may change your mind? Or are we ashes and wine? Brittany cried another tear, and Santana felt hers fall as well, burning hot paths of need, of want, and too much down her face. Yet, she wore them as badges, and did not wipe them away. Vulnerability. What a concept. The day's still ashes and wine Or are we ashes? The piano played to a gentle, yet slightly abrupt close, and Santana could have sworn she felt everyone breathe with her as she closed. She looked around - Quinn's eyes were damp, Berry was wiping her tears, Artie looked shell-shocked. She felt her knees start to shake. She found Brittany at the same time everyone else did, and it must have been too much for the blonde, because she scampered out of her seat, and bolted for the door. The door closed shut loudly behind her, and Santana felt a sob release from the back of her throat. Quinn stood up, looked at everyone, then crossed her arms, adopting her "head bitch" stance. "Santana, what do you think you're doing?" Quinn said in a curt, no-nonsense tone. Santana looked up, wrenched free from her momentary trance, and looked at the blonde with helpless, watery eyes. "Go get your girl, Lopez." Artie's mouth dropped open, but not a single word fell out. Santana felt her heart kick-start back to beating, and felt her legs carry her out of the choir room, and she started sprinting down the hallway. She was on a quest, a valiant mission, and knew exactly where the blonde would be. Santana ran all the way out to the football field, where Brittany was sitting in the center of the empty location, picking at the AstroTurf. Santana approached her quietly.
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"Coach will hang you by your ears if she catches you doing that," Santana said softly, hoping that this approach wouldn't spook the delicate girl. "Santana?" Brittany asked, looking up at the figure that was now blocking the sun from her eyes. "Who else would it be, Britt Britt?" Santana asked quietly. Then, she gestured to the spot next to the other girl. "Is that seat taken?" "No," Brittany mumbled. Santana took the opportunity and sat down next to Brittany, careful to keep a bit of distance between them, even though everything else in her wanted to grab Brittany, pull their bodies flush together, and never, ever let go. "I didn't expect you to do that," Santana admitted. "It wasn't because your song sucked or anything," Brittany replied. "It was beautiful." "It just made you sad," Santana replied. "Yeah, it did," Brittany said softly. "And I don't want to be ashes." "I don't want you to be ashes, either, B," Santana said firmly. She took a chance, even though part of her, the logic portion, was still screaming not to. This was what she needed, and what she hoped they both needed. She took Brittany's hand, proudly so, and not a care in the world, and placed a kiss against the blonde's knuckles. Brittany didn't pull away, but instead just looked at Santana, as if she was seeing her for the first time. Perhaps in a way, she was. "I want you to be mine." "That's not what the song said," Brittany said, and Santana knew she was playing a little. "The song said you wanted me to be wine." "Well, you are delicious," Santana murmured, causing a blush to color Brittany's cheeks. "But you're also special. And and I love you, Brittany." "You hate those words," Brittany argued. "You made me not hate them as much," Santana said. "It's a work in progress." The brunette offered a bright smile, and felt her heart sink when Brittany's didn't match.
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"You want me to stay in Lima," Brittany replied. "Not forever, B. God, not forever. It's a fucking cage, for both of us," Santana said. "But I'm not ready for college, and I'm broke as all hell. So I was thinking, we'd stay here, just for a little while, and we'd get jobs. Good jobs. Well, whatever we can manage, but good enough. We'll save up, and then go wherever you want in a year or so. Just throw a dart at the map, pack our shit, and leave." "But I can go to Los Angeles now," Brittany said. "Soon. And Artie says I can dance." "You can dance here, baby," Santana said, dropping the word she almost never used, and never outside one of their bedrooms. "For you," Brittany said. "Which I love, because you always say it makes you so happy. But don't you think I should make other people happy, too?" Santana's heart dropped. She was right. Who the fuck was she to keep Brittany in Lima, Ohio when she had a way out? "You're right," Santana said softly, finally releasing Brittany's hand. "God, I hate that you're right, but you are. I can't keep you from doing what you love just because I'm trapped here." "Come with me," Brittany said, as if it were the most obvious choice in the world. "To watch you and Wheels play happy family? No thanks, I'd rather have that blind kid in third period do my dental work," Santana said. "Tana, don't be mean," Brittany replied softly. "Artie's a nice guy, and he loves me." "I love you!" Santana said again, desperately this time. She had waited so long to be okay with those words, and now she couldn't understand why they weren't good enough. "I love you, too," Brittany said. "But I have to dance. I have to try, Santana." The Latina dropped her head. She felt gutted, empty truly vulnerable. She picked at the AstroTurf. " but I need you," she confessed.
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Brittany moved a hand under Santana's chin, lifting reddened brown eyes to her own, forcing Santana to look at her. "Do you think it'll be forever, Santana?" "What?" "After I leave, you think I'll be away forever, don't you?" Brittany asked. "Probably," Santana said, giving audience and voice to her worst fears. "You'll get a job, Artie will get a job, you'll love him even more than you do already, and then you'll get married, and there will be children, and he'll hold the fucking video camera when you teach them how to walk, and damn it, that's supposed to be my job." "But you can walk, too, Santana," Brittany protested. "That's not the point! He's living our life, Brittany. Our life, as in yours and mine, not his," Santana said. "You're going away, and then what do I have? I have to start over and figure out a whole fucking life without you, and I don't think I can do that." "It won't be forever," Brittany said simply. Santana felt her heart flutter in that chest. She knew that tone. She knew that most people, they saw Brittany and talked to her, then passed judgements that she was aloof, stupid, and other cruel labels that made Santana sick. But Santana knew that sometimes, Brittany was a little bit brilliant. Sometimes, she just knew things, and she didn't completely understand it, but she couldn't deny it, either. That tone gave her hope. "What won't be forever, Britt?" Santana asked quietly, needing clarification. "You'll find your way back to me, Santana," Brittany said, smiling as if she had just won the lottery. "You always do. And when you do, if it's right, I'll be yours. Forever." "Yeah, that sounds like a fucking fairy tale," Santana said, launching herself backward and looking up at the sky. A moment passed, and she felt Brittany lay next to her. The blonde moved onto her side, snuggling into Santana. Even though her heart was breaking, Santana moved her arms around Brittany and held her close. Their breathing synchronized, and Santana felt another tear roll down her face. "And when it happens, I want to be the fairy," Brittany said. Santana laughed, releasing the last of the tension, along with all her hopes and dreams, into the air.
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Free at last.

Santana gasped. Brittany had been right, all those years ago. They found each other again. Artie and Brittany must have broken up, or else she wouldn't even be in New York City. Brittany's words played like a broken record, over and over in her head. Her heart hammered so loudly, so painfully, and with so much strength that Santana could almost taste the blood pumping in her mouth. She nearly jumped the bar, yelling at one of the waitresses to cover the register for her, and tore her way furiously through the crowd. She probably injured one or two patrons on the way, but she didn't care. All she saw, all she needed, was Brittany. Santana approached Brittany and Rachel and placed her hand on the blonde's shoulder. Brittany turned around, hair flying, and smiled drunkenly at Santana. Santana cursed internally, then remembered: alcohol didn't really affect Brittany's thought process. Nothing really did. It wasn't like she would be taking advantage. Her lungs ached, and she fought to draw breath. She really needed to try running in the mornings with Quinn again. "Santana, what's wrong?" Brittany asked, her smile dropping slightly when she saw the girl hunch over and collect her breath. "Do you need water? Because you run the bar, and all I have is tequila." "No," Santana said. "Not that. I need you to answer a question for me." "I suck at pop quizzes," Brittany said. Rachel stopped dancing, realizing that she had lost her partner. She giggled, then covered her mouth with her hand and watched. Obviously, this was an intimate moment, and she was giddy about being a voyeur. "Just please? I need to know," Santana said, trying not to beg and sound needy and desperate, even though she was. This moment seemed like it would never come, like it had been a lifetime or two coming already. She needed closure, answers, and she needed Brittany. Somehow, for her, it always came back to Brittany. "Okay, I'll do my best, but I'm kind of drunk," Brittany said. "Not that it matters, I feel fantastic." "Remember that day on the football field, when you said that we'd always find our way back to each other?" Santana asked hopefully. Brittany's smile grew slightly with the memory, then shifted to contemplation.
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"Yeah, I felt bad about the grass. I tried to glue it back on later, and it didn't work. I used a whole bottle," Brittany said. "That just made it worse, and I think I poisoned some birds." "I'm sure they were fine," Santana said frantically. She reached out and grabbed both of Brittany's hands, then looked into the blonde's eyes. "You said that when that happened, if it was right, we'd be together." "This is so romantic," Rachel said, swooning a little. "Can it, Berry," Santana said sharply. Brittany's face fell a little. "Sorry. Brittany, what I'm trying to ask is what I need to know is is it right? Right now, is it right?" Brittany smiled from ear to ear, and Santana felt her heart skip a beat. Possibly two. As the blonde leaned in, Santana was certain that her body would flat-line at any moment. Brittany's lips touched to hers gently, the force feeling slightly like static electricity when they touched. Strong fingers came to tangle in blonde tresses as Santana felt her body become overrun with emotion. She pulled Brittany closer, and the blonde grasped at her hips, pulling at Santana helplessly, as if this was all she needed to survive. Santana moaned, and Brittany plunged her tongue between Santana's lips, darting out after a few moments to taste the brunette's lip balm. Santana felt her knees buckle; she had almost forgotten that they could kiss like this. That Brittany could kiss like this. She was already out of breath, and so she gave up the residual oxygen in her lungs to Brittany until they burned, and both girls parted. Brittany loosened her grip on Santana's waist, still circling with her arms, and used the slight lax in grip to pull her closer. They rested their foreheads together, and both smiled. "Does that answer your question?" "I love you," Santana said softly. "I missed you," Brittany replied. The words were different, but in that moment, they meant the same thing. The girls stayed close, and the song shifted to something slower, and Santana thought it was probably her buddy Jake the DJ working his magic. "Can I have this dance?" Santana asked. "You can have every dance, Santana," Brittany replied, leaning in for another kiss.
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It was stopped much shorter than the last by Rachel stomping her foot petulantly. Brittany pulled back and regarded Rachel with soft eyes. "Rachel, go ask Quinn to dance with you. I'm sure she would." "Q?" Santana asked softly, looking at the blonde like maybe she was crazier than she remembered. "Hush, Tana. I like to play matchmaker, and I think they'd be a really cute couple. Blondes are kind of perfect with brunettes." "Can't argue there," Santana said. "Yeah, Berry. Go ask Q to dance." Rachel crossed her arms, then looked back toward the booth. Quinn was swaying to the music in her seat, and Blaine and Kurt were cuddling on the other side, obviously feeling the atmosphere and the alcohol. "You know what?" Rachel said confidently. "I'm secure in my sexuality. I'm attractive. And damn it, I need someone to dance with. So, maybe I will just ask Quinn to dance with me." Rachel exited the dance floor, and Santana pressed her lips just behind Brittany's ear, bestowing a soft kiss. "She's gone, right? Because I kind of have to get back to work after this dance, as much as I totally don't want to. Midget was ruining my groove, and I wants to get my dance on with the most beautiful girl in this place." "She's gone," Brittany said quietly. "And, you know, we can always go back to my apartment after you're done with work. I'll just kick Lord Tubbington out of the bedroom; he likes sleeping in the kitchen better, anyway. I think it's so he can guard the food." "Are you sure?" Santana asked. "Oh yeah, I think it's why he keeps gaining weight," Brittany mused. "No, about me coming home with you," Santana said. "It's not too soon?" Brittany stroked the side of Santana's face gently. "Nope," Brittany said, leaning in for a quick kiss. "I've missed a lot more than just those sweet lady-kisses of yours."
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"Well, damn," Santana said, feeling herself get a little hot under the collar at Brittany's blunt reply. "Now just shut up and dance with me," Brittany said, spinning them off to their own little corner of the dance floor. Santana was convinced it was their own little corner of the universe. But, whatever it was, it was perfect.

A/N: Yay! Brittana! Yay! Now, to get the Faberry pairing going. I hope nobody minds that I'm giving so much storyline to both couples. I love them both equally, and couldn't focus a story around just one or the other. I know this is posted in the Faberry section, and there WILL be Faberry. I'm just trying to make things happen at what feels like a natural rate to me. Brittany and Santana have history; Quinn and Rachel... well, they don't have as MUCH history. And with that little teaser, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all again for reading and reviewing. It really means so much, and keeps me going strong on this story. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear it!

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Chapter 12
Rachel let her eyes linger on the new couple for a few moments too long, and felt the loneliness churn in her gut. She had been so focused on her career lately - for the last two years, really, that she didn't make time for dates. She didn't have time, and she tried to avoid any and all potential suitors like they were carrying some new and improved strand of the bubonic plague that started with the vocal chords. It had been since high school since she had a serious relationship, and her hot and heavy rebound that followed didn't count, in her opinion. That was two months of no-strings attached petting and sexual encounters that made her feel worse and worse about herself, and eventually caused concern enough for her to end it. Finn Hudson, the stupid jock with a soft side, the person she least expected to be capable of destruction, real destruction, had done just that. Rachel never thought they'd last forever, and she had every plan in place about heading to New York after graduation. She had explained that to Finn, countless times, while they were dating, and still he insisted that they would be together, that they would find a way, that they would survive any and all obstacles. And, as time passed, God help her, but she started to believe him. She hadn't been heartbroken when they got their acceptance letters; his was for Ohio State and hers was an audition request for Julliard, acceptance pending her performance, which she knew would be nothing less than stellar. It had to be, after all. She remembered feeling pride that Finn had an opportunity to further his education and do two things he loved in the process, and remembered how he had accompanied her to her audition, and cheered her on the entire time. He held her in his strong arms, clutched her to his chest right before she went on that stage, and promised her that she would be great. She remembered looking into his eyes and seeing pride and love, and believing him. Again. The heartbreak came after graduation, when she told him that she was planning on flying him to New York that summer, once classes had finished, and they could be together, since she would undoubtedly miss him during their time apart. She had made plans to go back to Ohio for holidays, because her fathers demanded her presence for Hanukkah, at the very least. His reply was what caused her world to crumble. She remembered those eyes, once so full of love, looking at her for a moment as he stumbled over his words, at a loss of something to say. Her panic had been delayed, then hit her like a ton of bricks when he requested that they not see each other anymore. Not just because of the distance. He didn't want to go to New York, and he wanted them to be done with each other. Completely. Gone were the promises that they would overcome every obstacle. That they would survive it all,
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come what may. He found someone else. A girl, a friend of a friend, who was also attending Ohio State in that fall. He confessed that they had been seeing each other, and although nothing physical had happened, he was starting to believe that he was falling in love with her. The other woman. A faceless nobody who would haunt Rachel for years. Rachel didn't even have the courage to ask her name, nor did she possess the strength to slap him. Kurt would do that later, after she spent hours crying on his lap, broken to her very core. After Finn, Rachel stopped believing in love. Everything she had been singing about for years, everything she put into written words, felt shallow and like tattered dreams. However, it fueled her passion, and took her on gilded wings all the way to New York City. Her fathers came to visit there for Hanukkah instead, knowing that Rachel wouldn't be okay to return to Lima. Rachel rebounded with another Julliard student, Andrew, two months into school. He was beautiful, with soulful blue eyes and tight ringlets of deep auburn hair. He was slender, shorter, with the build of a dancer - nothing like Finn. He was smart and oozed talent from every pore. Rachel could easily get lost in him, in his passion, for she found an equal - someone she could admire. But it wasn't love, and soon into the rebound relationship, Rachel felt herself stir with longing. But, she had learned that with love came heartbreak - she believed the two could not live together. So that relationship ended, and her career at Julliard would flourish. But it was lonely. Rachel had Kurt, Blaine, and Brittany, but other than the nights where they would fall asleep in Rachel's bed or on their couch tangled after a movie marathon or a long night of pouring out their souls in laughter and conversation, she slept alone. She longed for arms to hold her, a gentle voice to whisper goodnight and sweet nothings into her pillow. Someone to love her, and really love her. Rachel looked at Brittany and Santana, carefully tangled around one another, in a way that really was unique to the two of them, and smiled. They had known their share of heartbreak and confusion; they had seen the dark sides of love and been stronger for it. They hadn't crumbled completely, they persevered. That in itself made Rachel want to believe. Her stomach flipped once more, and she moved off the dance floor, back to their booth. A drink was waiting for her there, and when Quinn saw her approach, she greeted the brunette with a kindly smile and slid the drink closer. "I hope you don't mind, I took the liberty," Quinn said. "That was very sweet of you," Rachel said, grabbing the drink and taking a sip. "Ooh, that's delicious." "It's strong, be careful," Quinn replied, her eyes shifting with concern for a second. Rachel smiled, disarming the blonde and set the glass back down on a
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coaster. "I fully intend to get out of my head tonight," Rachel said. "But, if you're that worried, I'll pace myself a little." "I wasn't trying to coddle-" Quinn said, silencing herself when Rachel placed her hand delicately over Quinn. Rachel glanced across the table for a moment, noticing that Blaine and Kurt were tangled up in one another as well - completely in their own universe, oblivious to all that surrounded them. That habit, while sometimes annoying, was currently working in her favor. "I know, Quinn," Rachel replied. "You don't have to apologize so much. If I knew better, I'd say you were trying to atone for something." "I am, kind of, I guess," Quinn stuttered. "The alcohol. What's that saying? In vino veritas?" Rachel giggled. "But you haven't been drinking wine, Quinn." "Same concept," the blonde remarked. "I sort of lured all of you here on false terms; Santana wanted me to arrange it so she could have a shot with Brittany, even just to see her again, and I'm afraid that it'll all get terribly fucked up, and I've already fucked up, so it's" Rachel gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. She pulled Quinn to her feet and dragged her closer to the dance floor. Taking advantage of her current control, Rachel shifted Quinn so she faced a specific spot, and gestured. She waited until she was certain Quinn was seeing what she wanted her to see before speaking, and felt confident when the blonde's body relaxed. Rachel could practically feel the tension flow from her muscles, which had only gotten more impressive over the years. Rachel wondered if she worked out regularly, or if genetics had just been that kind. "Does that look like you've fucked up, Quinn?" Rachel asked. "They're beautiful," Quinn said on a gentle sigh. "I'm going to cry, I think." Rachel spun Quinn to face her, and felt bold, so she placed her hand on the blonde's cheek. She felt Quinn's skin flush under her palm, although the dim light made it difficult to see. Rachel felt her heart hammer, and knew that it had to be because of the alcohol. She was straight. Heterosexual. Quinn was just beautiful, and Rachel felt vulnerable because of all the conflicting emotions. This would lead to a wonderful friendship. Even though Quinn was apparently gay now.
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"Don't cry," Rachel said. "Although I get that it's heartwarming. It's almost like a scene from a movie, really. Hell, it could probably be a whole movie on its own, their story. It's kind of epic." "Oh, tell me about it," Quinn said, releasing the emotion with a sharp laugh. "You're different than I remember." "A lot has changed," Rachel said. "I mean, I noticed before. The first time," Quinn confessed. "I've kind of always noticed you." "Well, you did manage to slushie me with deadly precision on nearly a daily basis for the better part of two years," Rachel replied. Quinn's face fell sharply, and the brunette could swear she saw facial muscles contorting with pain, and felt guilt slam into her in place of the other emotions, jumping the line from where she began the evening. It hadn't meant to shame Quinn. "Quinn, I'm joking." "You're right, though," Quinn said. "That's not a very funny joke. I hope you know how terrible I feel about all of that, and that high school was horrible, and I was" "You've changed, too," Rachel replied. "You're not the only person with eyes, Quinn Fabray." "Well, it took a lot of soul searching," Quinn admitted. "But finally, I came to terms with everything that made me, well, such a bitch." "You were a major bitch," Rachel said plainly. Quinn winced slightly, unable to pretend that the words didn't sting, even though she knew they were completely honest, and doubted that Rachel was saying them as a barb. She had come to terms with everything she was now, and everything she had been, and she knew the changes had been great, and felt proud to be standing as tall as she was in her current state and life. "I wish there was a way to go back, you know. Really atone, not just talk about it," Quinn mused thoughtfully. "I used to think about it all the time." The song shifted, not back to the same upbeat throbbing bass as before, but still more upbeat than the last one. It was sultry, smooth, with a steady pulse Rachel felt all over. She had always been sensitive to music, and found herself searching for something more in the dark. She found the light in Quinn's eyes, and thought back to Brittany's words. Back to a lot of the advice Brittany had given her. The girl was
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an eternal optimist. Rachel looked slightly off to the side, where Santana was giving Brittany what she assumed from context was a farewell kiss for the time being, at least. The brunette released Brittany's hands and made her way through the crowd back to the bar. Brittany stared the entire time, watching her go. Rachel turned back to Quinn. That optimism had certainly worked out for Brittany. "Don't think about the past," Rachel suggested, as if it were the most simple thing anyone would ever do. "Just be here, right now, where you are." "You make it sound so easy," Quinn replied, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Her lips pursed, and Rachel saw the blonde lose herself in thought yet again. "It is easy," Rachel insisted. Quinn's eyes met hers, and Rachel noticed that this time they were more green than brown, more stormy than neutral. Rachel felt her pulse jolt against her skin and found Quinn's hand again. The blonde looked down, tilting her head to the side with confusion. Rachel knew that she probably had reason to be confused, they hadn't ever really been close. There were moments where they tested their limits, pushed some boundaries, and maybe got close to building a friendship, but there would be break-ups, rivalry, or a boy jumping between them. Rachel almost laughed out loud at that final thought; there would certainly be no boys between them now. "How?" Quinn asked quietly. Had the word not been so simple, so stressed, Rachel wouldn't have heard it at all. As it was, she practically had to read Quinn's lips, which made her notice said lips, to do so. Rachel felt the words before she said them, felt their implication, and noticed that they, along with the alcohol that was hitting her system over and over again, gave her unmatched bravery. Confidence. Desire. "Dance with me," Rachel suggested. "But Rachel, we-" "We are in a club. With a dance floor. And music, and we've both been drinking," Rachel explained. "Actually, I'd say it's a high possibility that you and I both are quite intoxicated. There isn't a single reason I can think of why you shouldn't dance with me, Quinn. Can you?" Quinn paused, as if she was mulling over every possible outcome. Rachel made the decision for her, and dragged her out to the floor with a sharp pull. Quinn was baffled; Rachel certainly didn't look that strong, after all. She was still tiny. Yet
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within seconds, Quinn found herself adopting a position where her body was just inches and fabric away from Rachel. The brunette looked up at her through ridiculously long lashes and quirked a smile. Quinn felt her knees go to mush. Rachel's hand circled her waist. This is a really bad idea Quinn looked down at the grip Rachel had on her, small hands tightening against her hip bone as the music swayed between them, pulling them still closer together. Quinn's hips touched Rachel's, and she couldn't help but close her eyes and feel for a minute. Because of their height difference, Rachel's head lolled forward, and lips brushed just against her shoulder for a moment. With that simple touch, Quinn felt her body surge, bravery flying to the surface. She had mellowed out over the years, become more neutral and less acidic in all aspects of her personality. Yet for that neutrality, she had sacrificed other aspects of the "head bitch" persona, including parts containing her former confidence and dominance. However, now that she had Rachel Berry so close, Quinn couldn't help but dig deep to parts that had been locked away in a little box, fit the key in the lock, and open it just a little, needing those aspects back in action, at least for one dance. The blonde could have sworn Rachel moaned when she shifted her hips forward again, adding more insistent pressure to the dance. Quinn slid her hand down Rachel's back experimentally, caressing the bare patches of skin she could find with her fingertips. When goosebumps surfaced, the blonde smiled, and noticed that Rachel was shifting forward into her touch instead of skirting away. The hand on her waist became more possessive, controlling, and Quinn lost her mind a little. But, since she was letting some of the old Quinn out of the box, she felt determination flood her; Rachel wouldn't win this game, assuming it was a game. Quinn took Rachel's hand and spun the brunette so her back was tightly pressed against Quinn's front. The blonde moved her hips in circles against Rachel's ass, and pressed a hand just underneath the brunette's belly button, adding a pressure on the girl's lower stomach. The blonde splayed out her fingers, flexing them, and felt Rachel lean back against her body, submitting to the touch, to the dance, to the music, and to Quinn. Quinn leaned down, her eyes tracing a path against what looked to be flawless, and likely soft skin, and she licked her lips. The urges were taking over, and she wanted to touch, to taste, to have, to keep. Quinn swallowed hard; she couldn't lose to herself, either. Rachel must have felt a lull in her movements, because she moved her ass backwards, pressing against the crux of Quinn's legs and shifting up, doing a little shimmy that forced the blonde's stomach into a knot. Her fingers flexed again,
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taking some of the fabric, and she sighed, breath expelling onto Rachel's neck. The brunette shivered from head to toe, and she reached back, weaving her fingers in Quinn's hair and pulling her forward. Quinn shifted her hips from side to side and slid slightly down Rachel's body, letting her head lean forward to the brunette's shoulder, where she kissed once, then leveled her mouth with Rachel's ear. "Is this what you wanted?" Quinn asked, afraid of the answer. Rachel nodded, and with a quick movement, spun back around in Quinn's arms, looking up at the blonde with defiance and something else that was coloring her eyes a dark onyx. Rachel skimmed Quinn's sides with her fingertips, never losing eye contact with the stunned blonde. Rachel's back arched, and she moved her body in a weaving pattern before sliding back up Quinn's body, allowing their breasts to touch for a fleeting moment. Then, the brunette brought her hand back up to Quinn's face, resting it a little lower on her neck, allowing her long, dextrous fingers to graze the back of Quinn's neck, playing with the fine hairs at the base for a moment. "It's exceeding my expectations," Rachel said. "I don't normally dance like this." "With girls?" Quinn supplied. Rachel's eyes dipped low, then resumed their tight hold on Quinn's. Rachel shifted her hips forward, the punctuation on her following statement. This time, Quinn moaned. It was louder than she expected, and escaped without warning. Yet, she wasn't ashamed. "With anyone," Rachel confessed. "You've got to have people lining up for you," Quinn said. "You're" Her words fell short, and Quinn broke eye contact. Rachel didn't relent, just pulled harder and held Quinn closer. Although, while their previous movements had been nothing but sexually charged, now they held an element of intimacy, and Rachel seemed to cherish her with her hands now instead of possessing her. "I'm what, Quinn?" Quinn couldn't deny such a simple request. After all, after the horrible nicknames, didn't she owe her the truth? What she really thought? "You're absolutely gorgeous, Rachel," Quinn replied.
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Quinn wasn't sure what she expected in that moment. Rachel to run away, to never speak to her again, to pull away, as if her words had somehow burned and marred her flesh? She didn't. Rachel held fast to their embrace and continued to rock lazily against Quinn. The girl was silent for a few moments, and Quinn found herself wishing she was telepathic, because there was little she wanted more in that moment than to read Rachel's mind, to know what thoughts were causing her brow to furrow, her lips to press together in a simple manner that was oh, so appealing to her. "Quinn?" Rachel asked. "Yes?" Quinn managed to breathe out the reply, although she wasn't sure how. "How much do you remember from before I left Lima?" "I remember lots of things, Rachel," Quinn said simply, unsure of where the brunette was going with her question. "No, I mean right before I left. With us," Rachel pressed. Quinn felt her heart sink. Surely she couldn't? Play it cool, Fabray. You don't know how much she remembers. "You mean, after graduation? After" Quinn trailed off, realizing that it was probably insensitive to venture further, even if Rachel did bring it up. "After Finn? It's okay," Rachel said. "I can talk about it now." "You're going to have to refresh my memory," Quinn said softly. "I don't know if I know what you're referring to, exactly." Okay, maybe I do, a little. "The party at Puck's, right before Kurt and I were leaving?" Rachel replied. "He wanted to throw us a going away party. Finn wanted to, originally, but Kurt shot down the idea immediately. It was in bad taste." "Oh yeah," Quinn said, as if the memory had just sprung to the front of her mind. Truthfully, she remembered every detail of that night, even though she had been drinking. Everyone had been, really. It was their last celebration, an adieu to everything they had known. Kurt and Rachel were headed for the bright lights and big city living, and everyone was jealous and slightly afraid that they would lose the
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two of them forever. Rachel started drinking more heavily when Finn showed up, and Quinn was drinking because, well, she wasn't sure how exactly she was supposed to say goodbye to Rachel. She remembered confusion as to why she cared so much, but eventually decided that it didn't matter why she did, just that she cared. "That was the last time we drank together," Rachel mused. Her arms circled Quinn's waist a little tighter, a little more insistently, effectively trapping her. Not like Quinn wanted to leave; she was actually content with staying, even though her anxiety level was beginning to rise, since Rachel was clearly heading down the path the blonde was hoping she wouldn't go. "Yeah, it was," Quinn replied. "Do you remember now, Quinn? What happened?" Rachel asked, her brow raised slightly. Her lips parted and formed a teasing smile. Quinn knew exactly what Rachel was referring to; it plagued her mind on a daily basis, and more frequently since the little brunette had shown up at her workplace. It was one of those life-changing experiences, one of those nights where her world shifted, and so many of the pieces fell back into place. "I kissed you," Quinn breathed out. "In Puck's bedroom. You were really drunk, so I tried to help you find the bathroom, because I was afraid you were going to get sick. But you didn't, and you ended up pushing us into his room." "I shoved you down on the bed, if memory serves," Rachel said. The song shifted again, back to a slow thrum. "You fell on top of me," Quinn continued, adding her perspective to the story. "I remember thinking about how gorgeous your eyes were" Rachel said, pausing and gazing into Quinn's eyes for a long, drawn out moment before darting away, seemingly due to sudden shyness. "Still are, actually." "Thank you," Quinn said. "I thought a lot of things that night. I'm surprised you remember any of it." "I remember all of it," Rachel said. "Which is baffling, true, given how much alcohol I had consumed in a very short window of time. Maybe it was meant to be." "What was?" Quinn asked.
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"The kiss," Rachel replied simply. Quinn wanted to run; Rachel wouldn't let her. She held her ground, and Quinn relented, covering Rachel's hands with her own and taking a step closer. "I was scared that you'd get angry with me," Quinn recalled. "And also, that I was taking advantage of you, since you were drunk." "I wanted it," Rachel replied. "And not because I was drunk, at least, I don't think it was because I was drunk. I'm fairly certain it wasn't, actually." "You didn't talk to me after it happened," Quinn said, remembering the painful aftermath. "I moved to New York, Quinn," Rachel protested. "You still had my phone number," Quinn returned. She paused for another minute, as the music swirled around them. Then, another question popped into her head. "Did you ever tell anyone that it happened?" "Did you?" Rachel asked. "I asked you first," Quinn said, unable to stop the smile from surfacing on her face at how much of the old Rachel Berry was still in there. Probably in the same way that much of the old Quinn still was. However, Quinn was convinced that the old Rachel was way better than the old Quinn. After all, she was quite certain that she had feelings, or something, at the very least, for the old Rachel. For any Rachel. For every Rachel, even, but she refused to let herself dwell on those thoughts. To entertain that possibility. After all, it wasn't like every girl realized they were gay after high school. The ratio of straight girls to gay ones didn't play in favor of Quinn's team, and Rachel was proudly heterosexual. The kiss had been experimentation, and Quinn found that she was just lucky that Rachel wasn't completely freaked out that it happened. "I told Brittany, but not right away. It was, recently, actually. Maybe six months ago?" Rachel replied. "You didn't tell Kurt?" "Oh, you'd know if I told Kurt," Rachel replied with a soft chuckle that pierced Quinn all over. She leaned in closer, conspiratorially. "I don't know if you've noticed, but he kind of can't keep anything quiet."
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"I noticed," Quinn said with a responding laugh of her own. "Did you tell anyone?" Rachel asked again. "Santana," Quinn replied. "I didn't have anyone else to tell." "Right away?" "Well, she had to deal with my gay panic," Quinn explained. "Having a best friend who already knew she was a lesbian was extremely helpful." Rachel laughed. It was addicting, and Quinn found that she wanted to start cracking jokes all night just to watch the joy and happiness flood Rachel's face and coax that beautiful sound from those lips. "I'm glad you had her," Rachel said seriously. Her hand found the small of Quinn's back and silently, she urged the blonde closer. "Can we keep dancing, Quinn?" Her voice sounded small, distant, and strangely needy. Quinn couldn't have denied her anything in that moment, as much as she may have wished she could. It was another dangerous slope, and seemed to be a pattern. Inhibitions dropped, they became oddly close, comfortable, an intricate, misunderstood pairing that somehow fit even though at first sight, the pieces seemed jagged and warped. Maybe it was magical, and maybe they were dumb to ignore it all those years. Maybe alcohol was a catalyst, and although it wasn't pure in intention, it served its purpose. They just had to adjust in the light of day. "Of course we can," Quinn replied. She allowed herself to take the lead again, and pressed her body tight against Rachel, until almost no space could fit between them. The brunette rested her head against Quinn's shoulder, and the blonde shivered when she felt warm breath caress her neck. They moved together, as one, heartbeats thudding together, completing the musical interlude within which they were suspended, slaves to the passion of bass and drums. "Quinn?" Rachel asked, and Quinn looked down to see that Rachel was looking up at her. She wasn't sure for how long, or why exactly, but she quirked an eyebrow in response. Rachel paused, collected her thoughts, and licked her lips. Quinn flicked her eyes toward that quick motion and felt herself tremble slightly, then chastise herself for being effected by something so simple, and practically innocent. Their eyes locked again, and she felt Rachel exhale, powerful lungs releasing something that touched Quinn and grew life in the space between them. "If I asked you to kiss me again?"
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Quinn didn't respond, just lowered her lips to Rachel's, claiming them with her own in a needy, powerful embrace. Rachel moaned and slumped in her arms, then tangled her fingers in Quinn's hair. Quinn grabbed at the brunette and shoved their bodies together relentlessly. There was nothing gentle about this kiss. It wasn't loving or tender. It was primal, it was born in lust, in need, in repression, in everything strange and insecure in their lives. It built a home in their darkest places, and rose from the ashes. Quinn bit down on Rachel's bottom lip, then sucked it into her mouth, and Rachel gave in to Quinn's demanding overture. Their tongues met and swirled hungrily, and hips and thighs began shifting and searching for contact, for more, for everything. They broke, washing breath over bruised lips. "That was" Quinn said, unable to form any other words. "Don't talk, Quinn," Rachel replied. "Just do it again."

A/N: And here's the Faberry! I know, maybe it feels a little rushed, but trust me - there is a reason for everything. This story, however, is meant to be 95% happy and romantic, with only a *little* angst. As a writer who tends to enjoy the darker side of human nature, and doesn't always like to keep things light and fluffy, however, I have to throw a few anvils into the equation now and then. All I ask is that you trust that I'm invested in these couples (and I am), and will make everything better eventually. Because that isn't cryptic or anything. :) Let me know what you're thinking. Reviews are amazing, and they totally make me write faster. No lie.

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Chapter 13
The hours passed. The dance floor went from being crowded to being sparsely populated by a few couples and a few leftover singles that seemed to be more into dancing than finding a partner for that evening, or someone to keep them company. Santana's eyes scanned the floor, then the booths, then the clock - her shift was almost over. She looked back to the dance floor and saw a head of blonde hair that was quickly accompanied by two pale, toned arms above the dancer's head. Brittany had remained, all this time, waiting for her. Santana was nearly convinced that the girl could last forever on the dance floor, and felt herself blush a little, chest first, at the memories at how that stamina equated in other physical aspects. Aspects that, from very thinly veiled comments from the blonde, would likely be tested that night. Santana still felt uneasy at the prospect of going home with Brittany, and kicked herself for the thoughts every time. Wasn't that what she wanted, after all? A reunion, a second chance, another night to be with the woman that she was convinced, knew with absolute certainty, even, was the love of her life? Her mother always told her from an early age, as soon as the brunette started asking about love, that every person had one other person. And you could find happiness with other people, but if that person wasn't the one, you'd know. You could be happy, but it wouldn't be the same. Santana, of course, used her pessimistic nature to prove that with her mother's theory, it was possible for someone never to cross paths with their one, and just live a life of contentment, never fully satisfied. Or, in the same vein, convince themselves that every partner wasn't the one. Santana's little negative theories, however, had been destroyed the second Brittany Pierce entered her life, and had crumbled entirely the first moment the blonde had kissed her. Although life hadn't always been easy, and her past with Brittany wasn't always the happiest, the memories Santana carried of her and Brittany, in any circumstance, were always vivid, clear, and perfect. So, in that regard, Santana knew that there was nothing to be afraid of. Going home with Brittany was just making another memory, and she knew that the blonde had more of a penchant for emotion, for feelings, for everything than she did. Santana was the one who had preached that "sex wasn't dating" and what they had didn't count in high school. Brittany held on with an iron fist, and settled for good enough, because she had Santana. Santana had always known that it was unfair to string Brittany along, but back then, she was so obsessed with what people thought that it made her mind hazy, and shrugged major details that should have been sitting in her passenger seat to the background, trailing behind her and left in the dust. But now, as the brunette's eyes settled on the blonde figure once again, she
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felt her heart swell. She had fucked up, sure, majorly, even, but Brittany was still there. By some miracle, perhaps, and perhaps also her mother was right - Brittany was her one, the one she was made for, the one she was supposed to be with, and because of that, Brittany's words also rang true. They kept finding their way back. There was something powerful to it, and the brunette had never believed Brittany's talk about some things being magical, but Santana realized that maybe magic wasn't so impossible, after all. Now, she had another chance, and this time, she was in a better mindset, on more steady footing, so now, she could love Brittany the way she should have years ago. Proudly so. Santana smiled; there was nothing to fear. Nothing at all. Brittany looked over her shoulder at Santana and a wide smile broke the girl's face. Santana gave an awkward little wave that she realized was ridiculously far from the badass persona she had crafted. But it didn't matter, because she was someone different with the blonde. She didn't have to be a creation, nor a persona. She was just Santana. She was Santana and Brittany was Brittany, and they just were. The awkward wave had succeeded in making the blonde smile wider than Santana thought was humanly possible, and blue eyes ducked a little, breaking their intense contact. Santana looked down, too, and when she looked up, Brittany was making her way to the bar. Pale hands snaked across dark, polished wood over to Santana's, and fingers linked as Brittany leaned across the counter. "Did you need another drink, Miss?" Santana asked politely. "No, I've had enough palominos to fill a stable," Brittany said, slightly slurring her words. Santana knew it wasn't the worst, though. She and Brittany had been far more intoxicated together, and by the time Santana got off work, most of the residuals would have worn off. Especially if Brittany insisted on being responsible, and it seemed that she was. "A whole stable, huh?" Santana asked, chuckling softly at Brittany's wording. It was moments like this, where Santana remembered how people used to tease Brittany, call her stupid, say jokes behind her back and to her face, knowing that the blonde wasn't smart enough to decipher their true meaning, and kind enough to play along, that it broke her heart. Brittany wasn't going to win any awards for academia, that much was certain, but Santana never, ever saw it as a handicap. She saw it as another part to love, to laugh with the blonde over, to adore, and to cherish. She was full of quirks herself, and if her intelligent darkness was somehow more tolerable than Brittany's nave kindness, then Santana would know the entire world had gone into retrograde. But her intelligent darkness was a quirk Brittany loved, for whatever reason, so who was she to question? The honesty in those blue eyes
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had always been her savior and her hell, but Santana was happy to stay there. "Yep," Brittany remarked. "Thanks to this smoking hot bartender." "Should I be jealous?" Santana asked, crossing her arms. Brittany guffawed and reached for Santana's hands, now that they were away from her own and out of her reach. "Give back, Tana," Brittany requested, her bottom lip starting to quiver. Santana cursed in Spanish under her breath, then laid her hands back on the bar. "You're not supposed to do that when I'm just playing with you, Britts," Santana remarked. "Can't get away with a damn thing." "I'm magical," Brittany said simply. It wasn't meant to be boastful, but it was true all the same. "You really are," Santana said quietly, glancing back down at their entwined hands and holding her gaze there. Santana looked back up and felt her heart wrench with emotion, then chased it away to glance around the bar once more, then back to Brittany, decided that a brief interlude and subject change was in order. "Where did everybody go? Is the party officially over?" "Well, it's not over until we go home," Brittany remarked. Santana blushed, which was odd, since ethnic people didn't really show coloring well when they blushed. Santana, however, really couldn't help herself around Brittany, and it was still always somehow visible, even just slightly. Also, the blonde caught it every time. Never shamed her about it, but caught her without fail. "I meant our little impromptu Gleek reunion. Where did Streisand and her fabulous fairies go?" Santana asked. "Kurt and Blaine are fairies?" Brittany asked. "Not real ones, Britt," Santana replied. "Well, you know, not the kind in movies. In like, kids' movies." "Oh, good," Brittany said with relief. "I wanted to be the first one." "Don't give up hope, B," Santana commented, even though she knew it was, of course, an impossible feat. She never liked to discourage Brittany, though, on
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anything, even if it was ridiculous. "Blaine and Kurt left," Brittany replied, as if she had just figured out what the question was really referring to. Which, in all likelihood, was absolutely the case. "What about Q and Berry?" Santana asked, raising an eyebrow. "Did they go with them? I haven't seen them in a while." "They were dancing, Santana," Brittany replied excitedly. "I wanted to cut in, because it looked fun, but Rachel was being all sexy with Quinn, and it reminded me that Rachel's a thespian now, so maybe she and Quinn have a chance at being a couple! Although, not a better one than us. Naturally." "Wait, Rachel's a lesbian?" Santana asked. "Or is this like when you thought I was Lebanese?" "You are Lebanese, Santana," Brittany drawled. "But it's okay. I'll be Lebanese with you. I don't want you to be alone." "No, Britt, it's okay. I don't mind being Lebanese, but Rachel is she" Santana started to ask, then paused for a moment, trying to craft her wording just right so she'd get the answer she was looking for. "Does Berry go for girls, too?" "Well, she slept with a couple random guys when she started at Julliard, but there hasn't been anyone in her life recently," Brittany explained, and Santana arched an eyebrow. "She's been working really hard at school, and she wants to do well, so she's taken a vow of celery." "Celibacy," Santana asked. "I think so. When she talked about it, I looked for some, because they're really good with peanut butter and raisins, but she didn't have any," Brittany replied. "Isn't that what it means, if you take a vow? Shouldn't she have celery at her place?" Santana pressed a kiss to Brittany's knuckles. "I'll get you celery if you want some that bad, Britt Britt, but that's not what she's talking about," Santana said. "She's not having sex, that's what she means. With anyone. Which doesn't help me or, you know, Quinn. Unless she's desperate." "Quinn likes Rachel?" Brittany asked, and Santana smiled with relief. Things were starting to turn around.
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"Yeah, for a while now," Santana replied. "I mean, you know, Quinn doesn't talk about shit. She's all repressed and closed off. Freaky ass religion fucked her up, but she definitely likes Rachel," Santana told the blonde firmly. "Rachel told me about their kiss, at the going away party," Brittany told Santana. "She did?" Santana asked. "Quinn was all freaked out about it, but I told her that midget- Berry Rachel was probably cashed out drunk and probably wouldn't remember anything, anyway." "Oh, she remembered," Brittany replied smugly. "She liked it?" Santana asked, stunned. "Damn. Wouldn't have thought Q had it in her. Or Berry, for that matter." "Rachel's a thespian, Santana. I know my friend, she's wild," Brittany defended. Santana smiled, and couldn't help the laughter that followed. Brittany was a little bit magic, it was a definite fact. The brunette leaned across the bar and captured the blonde's lips with her own. They kissed for a few moments, comfortably sliding lips across one another, unafraid of any negative consequence. When they broke, Santana looked up at the clock and fought the urge to do a fist pump. "Why don't you wait back by the break room for me? It's past last call, I'm going to start closing up," Santana told the blonde. "I'll hurry, promise." "You remembered," Brittany said with a large smirk. "How impatient you are when it comes to my sweet lady kisses?" Santana asked. "How could I forget?" Brittany leaned over the bar again and planted a smoldering kiss on the Latina's lips, running her tongue along the seam and pulling back before Santana could deepen their embrace. She winked and placed a finger against Santana's lips, then backed away from the counter. "I'll be waiting," Brittany purred, before tossing long blonde locks over her shoulder and walking toward the break room. Santana sank forward, feeling her heart finally resume its normal pattern. Santana looked out at the dance floor once more, watching the bouncers and other workers say goodnight to the patrons and escort them out. There was still no sign of Quinn or Rachel, which worried Santana for a moment, but she resigned
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herself to the thought that they must have caught a cab home with Kurt and Blaine. Santana pulled her phone out of her pocket, deciding that it wouldn't hurt to check in. It wasn't like Quinn to inform her of plans, because even though they weren't each others' keepers by any means, it was a big city, and both of them knew that a lot could go wrong. It was safety. Way to leave without saying goodbye, bitch. If you don't wake up in a gutter, text me so I know you're all right, k? - S Santana tucked her phone back into her pocket once the message sent and went back to her tasks for closing. She put everything away, did a last minute sweep and tidy of the place, and balanced her keys in her hand. The bouncers left, and she took the time to introduce them to Brittany, who was not as enthused or bubbly as she normally was when doing introductions, but was still cordial. Santana held her hand the entire time, and once the building was safely locked up, and they were plunging into the cool city air, Santana felt her heart thud heavily in her chest, as if a weight had been latched to it. She shivered once, and Brittany snuggled in close to her side. "So, not to be a clich, but your place or mine?" Santana asked, looking at the blonde and taking a moment to lean upward and place a soft kiss against her temple. Brittany beamed and looked at Santana, lacing their fingers again, in a way that was more comfortable and gave Santana the top position. "I have to feed Lord Tubbington," Brittany said. "So, mine?" "You didn't feed him before you left?" "He has to eat little meals throughout the day, or he'll never lose weight," Brittany said. "I'm concerned for his health. I don't want him getting diabetes, because then that scary mustache man might show up on my doorstep." "Your place, then," Santana said. "I'll just text Quinn again, let her know what's up. Not that she cares - I haven't heard from her since she left. I don't even know where she went." "I haven't heard from Rachel, either," Brittany said. "Normally she's all about the keeping contact and keeping with a schedule. Did you know she still carries a rape whistle?" "That's not surprising, actually," Santana replied, fighting a chuckle. "Maybe they're together," Brittany mused. "You think maybe they are, Tana?"
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"Who, Quinn and Rachel?" Santana asked, feeling stunned when Brittany nodded. "Not a chance. Maybe those drinks were a little strong for you." Brittany pouted, and Santana immediately leaned down to kiss it. They lingered, standing still for a moment to properly enjoy each other, then broke. "If Quinn and Rachel slept together, the universe would end," Santana said. "Plain and simple. Now, lead the way to yours so I can get my mack on, gorgeous." Brittany giggled, and started pulling Santana behind her, both girls overly eager to get home.

A door closed, and silence filled the void for mere moment before moans followed suit, taking residence in the space and swarming between two quickly overheated bodies. Hands roamed over slim hips and tugged insistently, bringing two forms together, eager to meld them into one. Brown hair was thrown over a shoulder, and a blonde hungrily sought out her counterpart's pulse. After a moment, a mark was left behind, sporting proudly in the shape of a circular bruise that was already darkening quickly, a sign that in the light of day, it would be even more severe. "You feel amazing," the blonde gasped, running her tongue over the brunette's skin, eagerly caressing the mark she left. The brunette whimpered and nodded her reply, hiking a long leg over the blonde's hip and allowed her hands to skim the expanse of a toned back, desperate to feel skin underneath her fingertips instead. "So do you," the brunette moaned. "I never thought it could, that it was supposed to feel like this." "Shh, no need for words," the blonde replied. "Just kiss me." The brunette nodded her head, feeling that it was heavy on her neck and pressed her lips insistently against the blonde's. Immediately, they parted, attributed to their practice and quick discovery of one another. They had gotten quite good at this, after all. Again, the brunette ran her hands down the blonde's back, raking her nails along her spine and felt the blonde surge forward, pressing her hips between the brunette's legs and earning a moan from the contact. When she pulled back, she saw the desire, hot and heavy, demanding all over the brunette's face, and thrust her hips upward again, hitting the same spot that she had accidentally ignited before. The brunette dug her nails into the blonde's shoulders and threw her head back.

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The blonde took this offering, this leap of faith as a beacon of trust, and reattached her lips to the brunette's pulse, nipping with ivory teeth, then sucking with full lips. The brunette's moans were a symphony, and she realized something heavy, as if it had decimated her like a mack truck - she needed this woman, and she needed her now. "I need to touch you," she confessed, guiding her hands along the brunette's inner thigh. With a quick burst of strength, she hoisted the brunette up against the wall, allowing the brunette to adjust and wrap her legs around the blonde's waist completely. They rocked together, mouths fused loosely as if they were only halfway locked into a kiss. Their eyes opened, and met, and the blonde resumed her shifting against the brunette's throbbing center that was blazing against her as they met and sparked more bolts of delicious friction. "I'm not stopping you," the brunette replied. "Don't hold back." The blonde felt a nagging voice in the back of her mind, and she shook her head to chase it away, as if that would help somehow. Part of her thought that this wasn't a good idea, because as badly as her body wanted it, and as badly as her companion seemed to want it, it wouldn't help anything. It wouldn't change anything. It would be a means to an end. There wasn't any emotion, not really. But, she had spent so many nights alone. She had waited for so long to feel this kind of connection with another woman, another person, and while part of her wanted it to be so much more, she knew that the chance of that was slim to none. And she was fairly certain that she had never felt this wanted in her life. She had never felt this beautiful. Sure, in her past experiences with women, she felt desire, but not to this level. Never had she known passion like this. She was quite certain that nobody had the same amount of passion locked within their body as the woman that was currently panting against her neck, whimpering helplessly and practically begging for her touch. No, because even if it didn't mean something like roses and promises of forever, it was still something. It was feeling, it was raw emotion, and sure, it would probably be over before the sun rose, and maybe they'd regret it then, but tonight, it would make them both feel something. The brunette noticed a lag in her partner's behavior and looked up, licking her bottom lip, and leaning forward in a bold move, capturing the blonde's lips in a gesture that was less charged sexually, and held an air of comfort. Of understanding.
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"Is something the matter?" She should have known better, in retrospect. The alcohol had worn off, and she was still acting like a booze-laden hussy. She suspected that her partner was likely intoxicated as well, so maybe she was taking advantage a little. Guilt held tight in her gut, and she waited for eye contact before offering a soft, shy smile. The blonde returned the gesture and deceptively strong hands held tight to her hips. Maybe this wasn't the best idea she had conjured up, but she was lonely, and this was beautiful. It wasn't what she was used to, but it felt so good, and felt strangely right, and she found herself craving it. Craving this woman. "Just thinking," the blonde replied. "Don't," the brunette said, moving her lips forward for another needy kiss that was bordering on desperate. But she couldn't help it, couldn't hide it any longer. She needed this. The blonde looked torn, looked like she was maybe going to back down, and the brunette felt her stomach surge. She grabbed the blonde's hand and moved it between her legs, pressing up and letting the blonde feel her heat, her desire, wanting her to know that all of it was for her and because of her. They locked eyes, and the blonde moaned. It was breathy, gentle, and completely intoxicating. Again, their arousal heightened, and lips fused together. The blonde was stronger now, fiercer, and gone was the last trace of gentility. Her hands blazed fire all over the brunette's body. Hands moved under cotton, and within seconds, the brunette's shirt was gone, as was her bra, and discarded somewhere completely random. "What do you want me to do?" the blonde asked, her voice a throaty growl in the brunette's ear. "Fuck me, Quinn." Their eyes met again, and Rachel smiled devilishly. Quinn picked her up, supporting her weight easily and took them all the way to her bedroom. Quinn kicked the door closed behind them and threw Rachel down on her bed. She pounced, more feline than woman and mounted Rachel, resting her weight on both hands that were positioned on either side of Rachel's head. Rachel arched up against Quinn, rubbing herself shamelessly all over the ex-cheerleader's lithe body. "Last chance to back out," Quinn warned. Rachel shook her head and reached for the hem of Quinn's shirt, lifting it over the blonde's head and exposing her pale skin
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to hungry eyes. Rachel shuddered when Quinn was illuminated by moonlight, and could not tear her eyes away. "I don't want an out, Quinn," Rachel reiterated, bringing her hand lower to caress taut, defined abs. "I just want you." Quinn smiled and lowered her lips to Rachel's, demanding and seeking with a fire-fueled intensity that was bound to swallow them whole. Still, there was no love, there was no feeling other than the need of their bodies, which were shifting and rocking, determined to be one. Nothing could stop them. Everything they had known was out of their control, and while it was terrifying, it was also release. It was a gift. It was freedom.

A/N: So, the next chapter will be getting into the steamy stuff. It may take a little longer to write, because it is SO not my strong suit. And by that, I mean it terrifies me, but I try to do what's natural for my characters. And my characters, although they don't necessarily have the best logic at times, well... they wants to get it on. So, review and encourage me, please. Yes, I'm begging (but only a little). Thoughts, comments, suggestions - all are appreciated. Thanks again, to everyone! You all are so wonderful it's ridiculous.

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Chapter 14
As previously alluded to in last chapter's A/N, this is where the steamy stuff starts. Hence, where I earn my "M" rating. This chapter took me forever to write, and I agonized over getting it perfect. However, I know perfection is rarely reached, so I hope it's at least satisfactory. Enjoy!

Santana followed Brittany into her front door, and sighed softly when the door latched closed. She could feel the ache all over her body, and not just from the steps they had both practically sprinted up to get where they were currently. In Brittany's living room, alone, and together. Together. Santana had been saying that word over and over again in her head all night. Part of her couldn't believe that this was really her life, her reality, to have the blonde so close, after all these years of longing. And even more, that she was available and still wanted her. That was mind-blowing. "So, this is my apartment," Brittany said, doing a little wave with her hands. "It's not much, and I try really hard to keep it clean, but I'm really not home much. I'm usually downstairs or out somewhere with Kurt and Rachel." "It's nice," Santana commented, not wanting to skip formality just because she needed the closeness. She had been raised better than that, and she had something to prove to the blonde. That she had matured, that this was more than sex, that she was different than she used to be. Still, she swayed nervously in her spot, shoving her hands deep inside her pockets to brace herself. "Great windows. You've got a hell of a view." Santana looked out at the bay windows that looked out over the skyline and smiled. Even though the buildings weren't as visible while cloaked in darkness, the lights really were quite phenomenal. "Well, the job was what brought me here," Brittany replied. "I kind of love New York, though, actually. More than I thought I would. And more than Los Angeles." "Because of Kurt and Rachel?" Santana asked.
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"No, because I still think about Nationals. Every day," Brittany said. "I know it's probably dumb, right? To dwell on something that happened in high school?" "Not at all," Santana confessed. She wasn't the only one who felt that way, after all. "It made me think of you," Brittany said, a sweet smile covering her face. "The buildings, the air, the way it smells here, the noise sometimes, for the longest time, I'd eat lunch on the fountain, you know the one?" "I remember," Santana replied. "Sometimes, I swear I could still hear you singing," Brittany said. "And I'd wonder if maybe, maybe you were here somewhere. I guess I was right, wasn't I?" Santana saw the blonde duck her head slightly, looking bashful. The apartment was dim enough that the color wasn't visible on her cheeks, but Santana still was aware of its presence. "Hey, you were the one who said we'd always find our way back," Santana said gently, taking a few steps toward the blonde. She felt fueled by bravery, touched by desire, and her heart was throbbing with emotion. Insecurity flew out the window, and she knew that she never had to feel unsure with Brittany. Because when she sang "Landslide," she had hit the nail on the head; in so many ways, she had built her life around this girl. Maybe it wasn't always the sanest or safest thing, but most of what she was, and what she had become, was at least partly in thanks to Brittany's presence in her life. And sometimes, it was even inspired by the lack of said presence. Santana took a breath and placed both hands on Brittany's hips - she felt relief flood every inch of her. This was just like coming home, and while Santana had never been much for homecomings or for staying in one place, or in one frame of mind, she had to admit that this felt perfect. A long awaited conclusion to the blank spaces in her life. "Santana," Brittany breathed out, a reverent caress to her name. Santana moved forward, placing a finger over the blonde's lips. "You don't have to say anything, Britt," Santana chided gently. "I'm here, and you never have to be without me again." Brittany looked shy for a moment and then smirked up at the brunette. "I was going to say that I should feed Lord Tubbington," Brittany replied. "He gets
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cranky." "He's smart; he'll just figure out how to break into the food container," Santana insisted. "You know, I'm pretty sure he figured out how to steal my Doritos," Brittany remarked. "He'll totally be able to fend for himself," Santana breathed, leaning in and gazing heavily at Brittany's lips. "Totally," Brittany breathed, her body shuddering slightly at the close proximity of her former lover. Santana's hands grasped her waist again and squeezed. Brittany's eyes flickered from Santana's lips, then back to her eyes, which were now coal black and all-consuming. Brittany broke the space between them, fusing her mouth to Santana's, and both girls moaned at the contact. Even though they had kissed before, many times, every time still felt brand new, and sent a rush through their systems. Santana tangled her hands in Brittany's hair, running them through the silky strands, then wrapping her fingers gently against Brittany's neck, brushing the soft baby curls that developed at the nape. Brittany eased back and rolled her neck on her shoulders, giving Santana permission to explore further. The Latina dropped her kisses down, moving down the side of Brittany's jaw to her pulse. Once she reached that point, she took a moment to breathe in the intoxicating smell of Brittany at her purest essence; pheromones and the base level of her perfume that still lingered, with a hint of chamomile that was probably body wash from the morning. After a moment's pause, she allowed her hands to glide up the blonde's back as her tongue flicked out against the hammering skin, laving a trail in the form of an open-mouthed kiss to the erogenous zone. Brittany moaned again, and slumped forward into the brunette's strong arms, and Santana supported her easily. After another few minutes of teasing kisses, nibbles, and licks from the brunette, Brittany tugged her up and met her lips in another powerful, guided kiss. They broke, resting forehead to forehead and Santana spoke. "Where's your bedroom?" Santana asked simply. "You mean you don't want to take advantage of my couch?" Brittany teased. "It's closer." Santana smirked.
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"Fuck convenience. I need my space to do this right." Brittany looked at her with hooded eyes, her lashes fluttering against high cheekbones. The moonlight that poured in through the window highlighted pale skin and just a few freckles, and Santana felt a glow from the inside. She hadn't forgotten just how gorgeous this woman was, of course, but sometimes, simplicity could cast such a showing that she felt reminded all over again. I'm so lucky it's ridiculous. I need to buy a lottery ticket in the morning. "Follow me," Brittany purred, and Santana felt her knees weaken momentarily before the blonde took her hand and led her down a little hallway, then around the corner to her bedroom. It was neat, organized, and only a few random articles of clothing littered the floor. But that didn't matter; there would be more joining them momentarily. With the gentle click of the bedroom door closing behind them, Santana felt as though the final barrier had been crossed, and she was overwhelmed with need. Her pulse raced and throbbed in her throat, her breathing grew shallow, and she felt her eyes feel heavy. She dipped her head and looked at Brittany in a way that was probably predatory, but noticed that her companion didn't seem to mind as her pouty lips curved into a smile. "Come here," Santana demanded, walking a few steps backward toward the bed, and noticed that Brittany followed her command easily, feet gliding in an effortless manner that could easily be attributed to her skill as a dancer, but made her appear to be floating on the air around them before she braced herself against Santana, moving her hips so they met, and wrapping her arms around the brunette's neck. "Now you've got me, Tana; what are you going to do?" the blonde said softly, quirking an eyebrow. Santana felt a direct line shoot to her core - Brittany had changed in more ways than she had expected. While she had certainly never been insecure or uncertain in the bedroom before, this sexual confidence, this fire that seemed to be mixed almost with a demure twist made her completely irresistible. Which, was pretty amazing, given how she had always been Kryptonite to Santana. Santana kissed the blonde hungrily, using the power she possessed naturally and the control the blonde had willingly given her to flip their positions and lower Brittany to the bed. Santana guided her up toward the headboard and climbed on top of her prone form, starting with her hands, and allowing them to glide up the blonde's sides, taking cotton with them in their ascent and exposing her first view of pale, flawless skin. Brittany moved her arms upward, and Santana removed her top,
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tracing down the new area of Brittany's body that was clad only in a strapless, black lace bra. With a front clasp. How convenient. The brunette traced over the dips, curves, swells, and valleys of the blonde's perfectly toned physique, noting that her abs were still chiseled and sculpted, perhaps even better than she remembered. Her mouth felt dry, and Santana drew the backs over hands over Brittany's abs, then raked her blunt nails over them on the second pass downward. "Damn, girl. I'm jealous," Santana remarked. "Don't be," Brittany said simply. "They're yours." "Because you're mine?" Santana commented instantly, needing a final blow of confirmation. "Completely," Brittany said, punctuating the promise with a nod and a smile. Santana felt the hunger resurface, and she had to steel herself for a moment so she didn't just attack Brittany in that moment. She didn't have much remaining decorum, especially with the blonde about to be half-naked before her very eyes, but she held onto every shred that she did possess. "Need to touch you, B," Santana groaned, her hands making quick work of the blonde's bra and throwing it behind her. Her hands covered the new area, allowing Brittany's stiff nipples to press against her palms. Brittany moved her head back against the pillows and her back arched slightly, causing her chest to form a tighter seal with Santana's hands. Skilled fingers tweaked and teased, and Santana kissed all over Brittany's neck, supporting her body slightly off to the side of the blonde so she could have more room to work, to touch, and to explore. Brittany sighed and moaned, moving one hand slightly above her head so she could play with Santana's hair as the Latina worked her into a frenzy. Brittany touched lower, frowning when she met cotton. "Santana, take it off," Brittany demanded. "The rest of your clothes?" Santana asked, placing a soft kiss in the center of Brittany's chest, directly in the valley between her breasts and nuzzled there before giving the blonde a stunning smile from her position. "Absolutely."
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"No, your shirt," Brittany said. "I want it off of you, now." The dark tone that coated the blonde's words made Santana pause for a moment to allow a shudder to make its way from the center of her being all the way to the roots of her hair, and a moan escaped from the back of her throat. Santana nodded and locked her eyes with Brittany as she guided her hands to the hem of her own shirt, removing it and her bra with quick, purposeful motions. Brittany licked her lips and eyed the brunette hungrily. "Better?" Santana asked. Brittany nodded, and Santana shivered as a pale hand snaked its way up her back, fingertips trailing fire all the way up her spine until they found the back of her neck and pulled her down for a hungry kiss. This joining allowed their naked chests to press together, and moans flew wantonly from both women until they broke for air. "So much better," Brittany affirmed. Her hands moved around Santana, tickling the outside of her ribcage before settling under her breasts, then up a little higher, letting both globes rest in her palms. "I forgot how much I loved these." "You did? I'm offended," Santana said with a huff. She was teasing, but Brittany seemed to take it seriously, and pouted. Her eyes dropped, and Santana's nipples hardened under her gaze. "I think I owe them an apology," Brittany murmured, moving forward and kissing all over Santana's chest, fluttering her tongue outward over one nipple, then drawing it into her mouth with light suction. Santana whimpered helplessly and tangled her fingers in Brittany's hair again. She could feel her heartbeat lower now, in a way that made her pants uncomfortable as the material brushed against her, a little more insistently with every motion, no matter how slight, her body made. "Fuck, Brittany," Santana cursed as the blonde sucked her other nipple into the hot cavern of her mouth as well, this time taking the opportunity to rake her teeth gently over the bud as she drew back. She kissed Santana's shoulders, then the nape of her neck, and bit down gently. The Latina's hips shot forward of their own accord and Brittany moaned when they connected with exactly the right spot. "Touch me, Santana," Brittany requested, her words lacking the demanding tone from earlier and showed her need, her want, and her desire for Santana. The brunette looked at her carefully, took in the reddened blotches of her aroused body, the flush of desire and sear from where the heat from her own body had landed, and slid her hands up Brittany's sides, stroking the smooth skin tenderly. Santana leaned forward and kissed the blonde gently, tenderly, allowing their lips to smoothly slide
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together, tongues meeting and caressing, lips seeking and gliding, breath washing against breath as they finished undressing one another. Santana's hand broke free and slid off Brittany's pants and underwear, only fumbling a few times because of nerves, and managed to get them off impossibly long legs without too much difficulty. Brittany needed a little more help, but Santana was happy to provide it, and ended up straddling the blonde's hips for a few moments until she, too, was completely nude. With no more clothing separating them, hands caressed hands and skin freely as both women explored each other, reminding themselves and each other of everything that made them complete; everything that had existed before in their love for one another, everything that should have faded away into a memory, but never did. "I love you," Brittany gasped as Santana's lips met her abdomen, tongue darting over the grooves in her muscles as the brunette made her way lower and lower. Strong hands met slim, pale thighs and spread them apart, meeting no resistance as the blonde offered herself up to her lover. "I'll always love you," Santana promised. "Just like this." "Forever?" Santana kissed a hipbone, gently marring the perfect flesh with her teeth and sucking gently, leaving her mark behind before nuzzling Brittany's inner thigh. The blonde moaned, and her hips shifted forward, then down, seeking contact. Santana looked up and took her time visually caressing every inch of her lover before meeting those stormy blue eyes and smiling immediately. Their eyes locked and held, steadfast and true. "Forever." Santana met the apex of Brittany's thighs, placing an open mouthed kiss to the blonde's heat, tasting the essence of Brittany and moaning as it hit her lips and tongue. She gripped hard at Brittany's hips, pulling her closer, and sought out her throbbing bundle of nerves, coaxing it from its hood with the tip of her tongue, and sucking it gently between her lips once it complied. Brittany moaned, reaching down and holding Santana close by threading careful fingers through her hair, careful not to pull or push too hard. This gesture, though it could easily have been misconstrued by someone who didn't know her as well, was about intimacy and the need for connection, not control.
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Santana felt Brittany get wetter, a reward for her skillful efforts, and eased one of the blonde's legs over her shoulder. Santana scooted up a little, giving herself more access to the blonde's center, and sent a quiet praise above to the fact that Brittany was so flexible. The brunette kept licking, caressing every delicious inch of her lover with her tongue, using broad strokes, then short, quicker ones until she felt Brittany's inner thighs begin to quiver, trembling on either side of her head. Santana brought one hand up and caressed Brittany's abs, gently soothing the blonde as she began to fall apart. Santana nuzzled the blonde's thigh again, placing a gentle bite to one side and chuckled darkly when the blonde's hips jerked wildly in response. Then, she resumed her motions with increased fervor, latching onto Brittany's clit and sucking hard, drawing in her sweet, heady essence just like she was candy. The grip in her hair tightened, but not in a painful way. Santana moaned against the blonde, which seemed to be quite enjoyable for her lover, as a flood of liquid hit her, and she eagerly lapped up every drop. Brittany writhed on the bed and Santana felt her hands tighten once more, then release slightly, and she sagged back against the bed heavily. Her abs continued to twitch and throb under Santana's careful, loving ministrations, and she stroked up and down the expanse of Brittany's torso until her lover came back down to Earth. She worked tirelessly at cleaning up the blonde, placing gentle licks over her spent core until Brittany groaned in protest. Santana smiled and kissed the blonde's hip, then made her way up to plump, kiss-bruised lips, and kissed there instead. Brittany licked Santana's lips, happy to indulge in her own flavor, and sighed happily. Blue eyes sparkled, and Santana wrapped her arms around Brittany. "Welcome back," Santana said, referring to Brittany's foray into the atmosphere. Santana had every memory, every detail of their lovemaking etched into her brain; she remembered how the blonde could get lost, and absolutely loved it. Brittany chuckled, and Santana kissed her neck lovingly. "Oh, don't get comfortable," Brittany scolded gently. "It's your turn."

Rachel slid up Quinn's body, a satisfied and slightly cocky grin firmly set on her features. Quinn panted, wiping the residual sweat off her brow with the back of her hand and enjoyed the afterglow. Rachel kissed Quinn's shoulder and threw an arm over the blonde's stomach. "You look incredibly pleased with yourself right now," Quinn commented.

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"Shouldn't I be incredibly pleased with myself?" Rachel asked. "I mean, unless that kind of reaction is entirely ordinary for you." Quinn laughed, deep and throaty and in a way that kind of made her throat hurt from how loud she had been just moments before. "No, that's definitely not ordinary," Quinn replied. "Be pleased with yourself. That was incredible." "I was going to say mind-blowing," Rachel said with a smirk. She teased her teeth gently over Quinn's shoulder, feeling delighted at the little squirm it caused. "Mm-hmm, that's because your vocabulary is excellent," Quinn replied. "Flattery will get you everywhere with me, Miss Fabray," Rachel purred, tracing her fingernails over Quinn's stomach, caressing the soft, smooth skin and toned muscle. "You know, I should have figured you'd be good with your mouth," Quinn said with a devious grin of her own. "You kind of use it all the time." Rachel's jaw dropped wide, and she swatted Quinn on the stomach. "How dare you say such a thing?" Rachel said. "I should storm off right now and leave you all alone to your own devices and whatever toys you have hidden." "Who says I have toys hidden?" "You don't?" Rachel asked, looking shocked. "You're more innocent than I thought, then." "Um, hello - former Celibacy Club president," Quinn said, raising a hand. "Sex toys don't exactly come with that territory." "Neither does sleeping with girls, I'd wager," Rachel replied. "You know, I think there was a whole chapter about that," Quinn mused. "But I'm a rule breaker." Rachel glanced over Quinn's body, tracing over a little patch of ink on her hip that was now uncovered and very visible.
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"So it appears," Rachel said. "You're a real bad ass. But why the music notes?" "Music saved my life," Quinn replied simply. "Glee saved my life. You all you all saved me from becoming a horrible clone of my mother with all my father's hatred for difference and intolerance. I had to honor that. Also, apparently it's very common for lesbians to get inked. Santana has four." "That was something I could have gone without knowing," Rachel replied. "But yours is very, very sexy. I love it." "Well, you were kind of all over it," Quinn commented. "I was all over all of you, if memory serves." "I'm not done committing this night to memory," Quinn returned, the husky, desire-laden quality returning to her voice. "Especially because you're naked and I haven't touched you properly." "You went first, Quinn," Rachel replied. "Stop keeping score, Rachel," Quinn countered. "Besides, I used my mouth." "And it was better than I've ever-" Quinn silenced the verbose girl with a deep, steamy kiss, tongues mingling easily. Rachel whimpered into the blonde's mouth, giving up some of her control and all of her statement, and found herself on her back within seconds. "No more talking," Quinn said, feeling a prick in her gut. It wasn't that she didn't like talking to Rachel, she actually was enjoying it more than she thought she ever could. It wasn't even about the fact that they were still naked in bed together, and she could think about doing many, many things to the gorgeous brunette next to her. Actually, as Rachel Berry had been an active part of her fantasies for years, she had an entire catalog stored up in her head of things to do. It was something beyond that. Something that felt a little like jealousy, and Quinn didn't want to address it. "You said you liked my dirty talk, Quinn," Rachel quipped, biting gently on her bottom lip when Quinn fixed her with a heated stare that defied any further argument. Rachel whimpered again, this time in submission as Quinn's hands burned all over every inch of her exposed skin. "It should be a crime to be as sexy as you are," Quinn commented, kissing down
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Rachel's neck. The brunette moaned happily, arching into Quinn, guiding her body up into the former cheerleader's hands and allowing herself to be molded and touched however Quinn wanted. Quinn raked her nails over Rachel's nipples lightly, not enough to cause more than a brief flicker of pain mixed with the pleasure, but more than enough to satisfy. Rachel could feel her center throb and found that she was getting wet all over again. She sighed and shifted her hips up. She was begging wordlessly, and Quinn found every movement her body made to be completely irresistible. Her hands slid up Rachel's inner thighs, and swiped between her legs, feeling her fingers were immediately drenched with evidence of Rachel's desire, all for her. "God, you want me badly, don't you?" "So badly, Quinn," Rachel whined, figuring that this kind of talk would be more than acceptable to the headstrong blonde. "Good," Quinn said simply. She wasted no more time, and slid two fingers deep inside Rachel with one swift, claiming thrust. Rachel writhed and bucked her hips down immediately, greedy for more of Quinn's touch. Quinn moaned and rested her head in the crook of Rachel's neck. Rachel returned their embrace by wrapping her legs around Quinn's waist, allowing the blonde to rest between her legs and thrust against her hand, creating a delicious rhythm that was driving Rachel to impossible heights. She was careless with her noises, knowing that perhaps her guilded vocal chords would protest in the morning, but found that for the first time in her life, she didn't care. This moment, this night, would likely be her only foray into another world, and she knew that it was only a matter of time before everything ended. She was going to make the most of it. Quinn sped up her pace, curling her fingers rapidly and stroking parts of Rachel that the diva didn't even know existed. Her legs quivered, and she keened, making helpless little mewling noises that drove Quinn insane and made her work harder. She was nearly brutal with her pattern now, owning Rachel and leaving her mark all over every inch of the smaller girl. "Oh, Quinn I'm not going to last," Rachel moaned, a little embarrassed until Quinn curled her fingers again and her train of thought completely abandoned her. "Just come, Rachel," Quinn commanded. "Come for me." Rachel dug her nails into Quinn's back, leaving marks, possibly drawing blood, but neither girl cared as Rachel's hips practically launched her off the bed. She screamed Quinn's name and twitched like a livewire as she let go, releasing everything she had onto Quinn's fingers. This time, Quinn looked amused and pleased as she slowly withdrew, but only when Rachel had fully recovered. She
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licked every drop of Rachel's essence from her fingers and rolled off the brunette slightly, resting just a few inches to her right, giving her space until the diva requested otherwise. For a moment, Quinn wondered if she would. It was only seconds later, although it seemed like hours, that Rachel made little grabbing motions with her hands, unable to make words, that beckoned Quinn closer, and encouraged the blonde to hold her. Quinn complied, drawing Rachel into her arms and keeping a tight, yet comfortable hold on the girl until she was asleep. Her breathing evened, and Quinn inspected her closely, with keen eyes even in the darkness to ensure she was asleep before bestowing a soft, gentle kiss on the brunette's forehead; the first of its kind all evening. Then, Quinn followed her into slumber.

Morning came before she realized it, and Quinn opened her eyes, cursing softly when the sunlight hit her retinas in an unforgiving way that notified her to two things: it was no longer nighttime, and she was hungover. She found herself feeling disgruntled and grumpy for a moment until the memories hit her in waves. Rachel. She slept with Rachel, and it had rocked her world. She smiled, and rolled over, expecting the brunette to still be taking up residence beside her. But, she found herself greeted with cold, empty sheets instead of a warm, gorgeous body. Quinn's heart sank, and she realized that she was alone. Rachel was gone. Before she allowed herself to freak out, however, she decided to give an audience to logic. There were many explanations as to why Rachel wasn't there, after all. She had to use the bathroom, maybe. She was hungry, and in the kitchen. She'd be back any minute. She had a phone call, and didn't want to wake Quinn to take it. Or maybe she wasn't still in her apartment, but there could have been a logical reason for that, too. She had an early morning class, and there would be some sweet note on the fridge, in true romantic Rachel Berry form. Romantic? What the fuck is wrong with you, Fabray? Since when did you start thinking a straight girl would romance you? Your life isn't a LOGO movie. Quinn reached over on her nightstand and found her cell phone. She checked it to see the time, and noted that it was well into the morning, just after 10 AM. Then, as she looked closer, she saw her notification bar had an icon signaling that she had
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unread text messages. She opened the first one, which was from Santana, and laughed at the content. Way to leave without saying goodbye, bitch. If you don't wake up in a gutter, text me so I know you're all right, k? - S She'd have a lot of explaining later to do, that much was certain. Although Quinn suspected that Santana was probably just in the next room, she sent a reply text and prayed that it wouldn't wake up the Latina. Some of her worst moods were triggered by interrupted sleep. All is well. No worries. Love you! - Q Then, Quinn opened her second text message. Which was from Rachel. Quinn. I can't. I'm sorry. - Rachel Although she had experienced lots of disappointments, lots of heartbreak, and lots of struggle in her life, she was unprepared for the emotion that followed her reading, then re-reading of such a simple text message. Quinn read the message two more times, then closed her phone, gently setting it down on her nightstand before turning over onto her side. She pulled her sheets up to her chin, then felt nausea hit her in waves when she smelled a scent that wasn't hers in the usually familiar fabric. Now, even her own room felt like a stranger to her. Quinn threw the sheets aside, and felt the cold as she realized for the first time since waking that she was completely naked. She stood up on shaky legs and grabbed a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, pulling them on. She flopped face down on her bed. Then the tears came.

A/N: I said this wasn't an angst story, right? Well, it's not. But there will be drama! Or, at least a little. As much as I'd love Faberry to live in a happy world that is full of unicorns and rainbows and nobody had to work, so they could just stay home and have sexytimes all day, that's not realistic. Faberry, should it ever exist, would probably be a little... dramatic. So, bear with me, and I promise that (eventually) I'll fix it. But yay Brittana, right? Thoughts/comments/reviews are awesome, and so appreciated, so please, please don't hesitate to let me know what you think! Thanks, everyone!
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Chapter 15
A/N: I just wanted to extend another thank you to everyone who continues to review chapter after chapter, as well as the people who have just started reviewing! You all are important to me, and I appreciate the feedback so much. I would also like to comment that this is a dual Brittana/Faberry story, and while it has been a bit Brittana heavy in the beginning, there will be definite amounts of Faberry in the future. I want the story and the characters to develop naturally, and Brittana has history; Faberry have their work cut out for them. And here's where it starts, so enjoy, and please let me know your thoughts! I really love it.

Rachel was quite certain, other than the physical impossibility of it all, that she had made it from Quinn's apartment to her own without taking a single breath. Even though Quinn's apartment was a good 40 blocks from where she lived. Rachel paid and tipped her cab driver, then stepped out onto the sidewalk before her stoop. She felt her legs were shaky, and stumbled up the steps. She cursed internally for having forgotten her sunglasses, due to the hangover and her sensitivity to light. But, then she cursed again, because apparently along the way, she had forgotten her dignity as well. She put her key in the lock and tried to open the door as quietly as possible, knowing that if she woke Kurt, and he caught her sneaking into the house in full daylight, he would have an Inquisition waiting for her. And she really couldn't handle that. Rachel slid the door open, wincing when it creaked ever so slightly, and shut it behind her, trying to lock it with only a mild click. Although, everything seemed louder and more vibrant to her this morning. She contributed most of it to the hangover, then gave credit to the anxiety she felt for sneaking around. Then, she recalled, some of it was probably residual endorphins lingering in her system. Because of Quinn. That much was painfully clear, and Rachel felt as though she wore the blonde's mark not only all over her skin, which she did, but also in places that were just as secret and not as visible. Which, she decided, absolutely wouldn't do. Rachel tip-toed down the hallway, traversing her way through the living room to get to her personal bathroom, which was right next to her bedroom, and both were a fair distance from Kurt and Blaine. The living room, however, was not as convenient. Rachel circled the couch and made her way down the hallway, feeling a sense of lightness fill her
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chest. This was going to work out, wasn't it? The distinct sound of an alerting hum washed over her, and Rachel closed her eyes. This was the part in the movie, she knew, where the sneaking liar and/or cheater was caught red handed and had to own up to their offenses. Rachel turned around, plastering what she hoped was an innocent smile to her face and looked at Kurt, who was sitting mildly on the couch, hands crossed politely in his lap. "Why, good morning, Miss Berry," Kurt drawled. "Good morning, Kurt!" Rachel chirped. "I was just, you know, prepared and getting ready to greet the day. And it is such a beautiful day!" It was a horrible lie, and she knew that it was ridiculous to attempt such a method, but figured that it was best to at least try. "Cut the crap, Rachel," Kurt said evenly. "I know what a walk of shame looks like when I see one." "What do you mean?" Rachel asked, affronted. She placed a hand against her chest and widened her eyes more than normal. "You're still in your clothes from last night," Kurt said. "And, since I didn't hear you drunk stumbling into this apartment last night, I cannot assume you passed out in the same attire. And that, dear friend, is the only reason why you'd still be wearing last night's clothes. Hence, walk of shame." "Walk of shame?" "Don't even try to act like you don't know what that means! We watch Sex and the City," Kurt prompted. "Fine, you caught me," Rachel said, eyes drifting down to the floor. She hoped that being contrite would save her from a verbal assault. Kurt could be quite persistent in his interrogations. "Thank you," Kurt said simply. "I'm going to get changed now," Rachel said sheepishly. "That's probably a good idea," Kurt said. He smirked, then pressed his hands together, palm-to-palm, and set them against his lips. "You still smell of
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debauchery." Rachel felt the urge to check, but didn't, feeling a heavy, hot blush rise from her kneecaps all the way to her throat and swayed in her spot. "God, that's embarrassing," Rachel murmured. "Ah, it's your first walk of shame," Kurt said, brushing it off. "At least, that I know of. It is your first one, isn't it? Andrew always came here. I still hear the noises; they haunt me at night." Rachel chuckled. Kurt had never been fond of Andrew, which would have mattered more to her if she was intending on starting a relationship with the boy, but since he was really only useful for one thing, she never paid it any mind. He was happy when that fling ended, however. "First one," Rachel drawled. "Forgive me if I'm not proud." "I think it's marvelous," Kurt replied with a bold smile. "You're a healthy young woman, with needs, and while I don't wish to hear about those needs in great detail, nor do I need to hear evidence of those needs being met like last time, I'm happy for you. Getting back on the horse." Kurt chuckled at his own double entendre, and Rachel pressed her fingers to her temples, trying to stave off a wave of pain that shot through her head. "I'm never drinking again," Rachel whined. "That's what everyone says," Kurt replied. "Now go, change out of those clothes, grab a quick shower, and I'll be out here with water and aspirin when you've finished." "Thanks, Kurt," Rachel said. "I'd hug you, but" "Smell of sex, and I'm grateful for your distance. Now scoot," Kurt replied. Rachel stamped her foot a little, slightly petulant in her gesture, then made her way down the hallway to her room. "Love you!" Kurt called after Rachel, hoping that she was only acting and not really mad. He never meant to be so blunt and persistent, it was just his nature. Kurt relaxed back on the couch, and smiled when he felt strong hands rest on his
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shoulders and a kiss placed to the top of his head. "I know you love me," Blaine said quietly. Kurt turned around to face his boyfriend and smiled happily. "But what the hell are you doing all the way out here?" "I'm sorry, honey," Kurt replied gently. "I just had to catch her. It was important." "Catch who, exactly?" Blaine asked, confused and still slightly rumpled from sleep both in appearance and action. "Rachel," Kurt replied. "What's she doing now, babe?" Blaine asked, mussing his curls with one hand, then making his way around the couch to sit next to Kurt. Blaine moved all the way up against the back of the couch, and opened up his arms so Kurt could lay against him. Kurt placed his head on the other man's chest and sighed happily when he felt strong arms wrap around him. "The walk of shame," Kurt chirped musically, unable to contain his enthusiasm over the subject. "It was fantastic." "Rachel didn't come home last night?" Blaine asked, still trying to catch up to the current point of conversation. "No, because she was out getting down and dirty with some random," Kurt said. "Which, in some ways ew, but in other ways, I'm happy for her. I was starting to get worried about the intense celibacy thing. That really cannot be good for anyone." "But some random? I just don't know, Kurt, you really think that can be good for her?" Blaine asked. Kurt regarded his boyfriend for a moment, noting the concern in his eyes, and then leaned up to plant a sweet, sensuous kiss on Blaine's lips. He pulled back and bumped their noses together, nuzzling softly. "You're so sweet, how you care so much about Rachel. About everyone," Kurt replied. "She's my friend, too, Kurt," Blaine said simply, as if it were nothing at all. "It's still adorable," Kurt countered.
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Blaine tightened his arms around the smaller boy just slightly and kissed his forehead again. "Besides, it probably wasn't a random," Blaine suggested. "I may not know Rachel as well as you do, but I don't think she's the kind of girl to pick a random suitor from a bar, a gay bar no less, and drag them into bed. Or, more specifically from the details you've given me, herself into their bed." "Then we've got a mystery on our hands," Kurt said. "Because obviously she slept with someone." "Yeah, that's not so much a mystery," Blaine replied, amusement flickering over his face. "Wait, what do you know that I don't?" Kurt asked sharply. "I know that I can handle my alcohol so much better than you can, love," Blaine replied. "That's not what I asked," Kurt said, pouting. "But that's what I told you," Blaine said gently. He stroked his fingers up and down Kurt's arms soothingly, allowing them both to drift back into silence for a few moments, before Kurt broke it again. "You're leaving out important details that apparently I was too drunk to comprehend last night," Kurt stated. "That is not fair. And, we do not keep secrets, Blaine Anderson, so spill." Kurt looked at Blaine sternly, and Blaine chuckled. "Well, it really is Rachel's business, and I'm not certain that this is even a possibility. I mean, we are still talking about Rachel," Blaine began to explain. "However, she was sort of dancing all over Quinn last night. And by all over, I mean" "Like she wanted to take her home? Blaine, you're kidding, right?" "I would say I wish I was kidding, but it was sort of gorgeous," Blaine said, looking off to the corner introspectively. "In a purely objective way, they're quite a good looking couple."
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"Couple?" Kurt blurted out. "Quinn Fabray and our Rachel Berry, a couple? Blaine, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life." Blaine shrugged and smirked. "I'm not saying that's what happened, I'm merely telling you what I saw," Blaine said. Rachel came around the corner, groaning and holding her head. She was freshly showered, but it had been brief, and both boys smiled sympathetically. It wasn't always easy to take long showers when the hangover hits you hard, and apparently, it was starting to decimate the tiny diva. However, Kurt noted as he sniffed the air, it was a vast improvement. "Saw what?" Rachel groaned, plopping down unceremoniously on the couch next to Blaine. "Blaine, I'm so hungover, and I think I want to die." "Oh, honey," Blaine cooed. "Kurt, sweetie, will you get Rachel some water and aspirin?" Kurt smirked, then left his boyfriend's arms to go into the kitchen to aid his best friend in her time of need. "What did you see, Blaine? I thought I heard talking, and you probably were talking, but it all sounded like garbled white noise. It was like a bad radio station in my head, and I feel miserable," Rachel said, rambling in a manner that lacked her usual enthusiasm. Blaine rubbed her back gently, playing the role of devoted friend. Kurt returned seconds later, taking up the spot on the other side of Rachel so she was sitting between them, and helped her take the aspirin and insisted that she drain the first glass of water. She complied, then leaned back against the couch, tilting her head back and closing her eyes. They sat there in silence, Blaine watching with concern, and Kurt starting at her curiously, as though he had never really seen her before. "Rachel?" Kurt asked. Rachel murmured in response, waving her hand to let Kurt know to continue with whatever he was wanting to ask. In retrospect, she should have known what a terrible idea that was.
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"You didn't sleep with Quinn Fabray, did you?" Rachel's eyes shot wide open. She hadn't expected that, and given her current fragile emotional state, the simple question hit her harder than it should have, prompting an immediate response that none of them could ignore. "God, it's such a terrible mess!" Rachel whined, tears beginning to pour down her face. This time, both boys wrapped their arms around her, shushing her and holding her, trying frantically to calm her down and give her some comfort that everything would be all right. At least, in the end.

Santana opened the apartment door, throwing her bag onto the couch as she walked into the main section of the living area. She walked into the kitchen, heading to the fridge first, and grabbed a soda from the shelf on the bottom, opening it and nearly draining it in one go. She sighed and leaned back against the now closed fridge door. After a moment, the silence got to her, and she paused, listening for any signs that Quinn might be awake. It was completely silent, which was strange, since Quinn usually hated such deafening silence. She had to sleep with either music going or some sort of white noise in the background, and normally during the day, if the TV wasn't going, she had Pandora going on her laptop, a CD playing, or some sort of noise as she went about her daily routines. This was creepy. "Hey, Fabray!" Santana called, chuckling slightly when she realized that her greeting rhymed. It was a testiment to her amazing mood that was residual from her amazing night before. "Hey, Fabray - hey, hey Fabray." Santana chanted the last, and even added a little hand clap to her motions, then rolled her eyes inwardly at her own crazy antics. "God, I'm so fucking gay," she murmured under her breath as she made her way across the living room, crumpling the can and throwing it into the nearest trash can. It was a single can, and she doubted somehow that it alone was going to destroy the environment. Besides, throwing cans was much more entertaining than putting them neatly in a bin. Quinn would gripe at her about it later, though, no doubt. There was silence that followed her, acting as its own presence slightly off to the shadows as she made her way back to Quinn's room. Santana knocked on the door and stuck her forehead against the wood. "You can't still be asleep at almost 11:30, you lazy bitch," Santana called through
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the door. "We've gots a lot of living to do." "Just go away, Santana," Quinn's muffled voice sounded from inside of her bedroom. Santana tilted her head to the side and took a step back, crossing her arms. What the hell, Q? The voice that resounded was very unlike Quinn; it was raw, husky, and so full of emotion that Santana felt her chest ache. She could normally feel Quinn's moods when they started, and their cycles were synchronized, so it wasn't her time of the month. "Q, open up, let me in," Santana protested. She wasn't about to abandon her friend if something was troubling her. Sure, they had their differences, even recently, but Quinn was still her best friend, and maybe she had fucked up a little bit in the beginning by hiding her contact with Rachel and Kurt, but if she hadn't, and if they hadn't fixed everything together, she wouldn't be with Brittany now. She wouldn't be back together with the girl of her dreams. Her life wouldn't be headed back in the right direction, and she'd be the same old bitchy Santana that she had always been, headed in one direction and not liking where she was going. "Just go away," Quinn replied again, still muffled, as if she were talking through a pillow. "Please, Santana, just go." Santana should have probably obeyed the girl's wishes. She probably should have just turned tail and walked back out into the living room, kicked her feet up, turning on the TV to some random show or catching up with her missed programs on the Tivo, maybe texted Brittany a little, but she didn't. She couldn't, really. So, she opened the door and traversed her way into the darkened cave that was currently serving as Quinn's bedroom. The blonde had the shades drawn tight, not allowing for an inch of light to creep through. The blonde was haphazardly strewn in the center of her bed amongst a slew of messy sheets, more than she could have done herself, and dressed in an outfit that didn't match even in the slightest. As if she had gotten dressed in the dark, which she probably had. Her clothes from the night before were thrown all over the place, and Santana could have sworn that a heady, familiar scent still lingered in the air. Normally, she would have commented on this first, but the fact that her best friend was face down in her pillows and seemed to barely even be breathing convinced her not to do such a thing. To be sympathic, to be the rock Quinn needed, for whatever reason.
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"You're not getting rid of me that easily, Quinn," Santana said, taking a seat on the bed next to the blonde, still keeping a little bit of space between them. "I mean, how many times have I been pissed at the world and you refused to leave shit alone?" Normally, this would have earned some kind of minor chuckle, at least, but when the Latina was met with the same, still silence, she knew that humor wasn't the way to fix this. Instead, she had to use her heart, which was previously an abandoned organ, something she used for sustainability, nothing more. At least, most of the time. It had never gone with much practice or much concern, but Santana felt more alive than she had felt in years, perhaps in her entire life, and she couldn't stand to see Quinn hurting. Especially over something that she didn't know about. "Quinn," Santana tried again, leaning forward slightly and placing a tentative hand on the middle of the other girl's back. "What's got you all fucked up, huh?" "Said I don't want to talk about it," Quinn murmured into the pillow, turning over slightly so her back was completely facing Santana. The brunette sighed and tried a new attempt. She moved closer to the blonde on the bed, feeling persistent. "Well, you're going to stop being a royal bitch to me, even if we don't talk about it," Santana said simply. "We don't have to talk, but you need to know that I'm here for you." Santana scooted up behind Quinn and laid on her side, wrapping her arms around her friend in the classic "big spoon" position, modifying it a little so it was less intimate and more friendly. Santana's arms were strong, despite their slim size, and protected Quinn from the outside world. The brunette tugged slightly and forced Quinn to rest more of her body against Santana's, and Santana gently stroked the back of Quinn's hands. "You're not still mad about the-" Quinn started to ask, and Santana swatted her on the hands ever so slightly, effectively silencing her. "Not mad, Q," Santana said. "Actually, things kind of went in my favor after you fucked it all up." A chuckle escaped the brunette, partly because she had a tendency to think she was hilarious, and also she wanted to ensure that Quinn knew she was joking. The blonde could be really delicate sometimes, and Santana knew her better than just about anyone. "You're hilarious," Quinn drawled, unamused.
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"Yeah, and I stick by your sorry ass, so I'm a great friend, too," Santana said, squeezing the girl's sides. Quinn squirmed a little, a result from being ticklish, and then relaxed. "Talk to me." Another wave of silence washed over the two girls, and Santana rubbed Quinn's arms, up and down, and if this would somehow coax words and answers from the stoic girl. This, however, caused the blonde to shake, and sobs to rack her body in quick succession. Santana's eyes widened; that was unexpected. "Hey, hey," Santana said, feeling panic start in her chest. "Don't cry, okay? I can't fucking handle tears and shit. What's wrong, Q?" Santana tried to comfort the girl, tapping gently on her forearms and hoping that was soothing, then pulling back strands of blonde hair so they wouldn't get all up in Quinn's face. After that, she tried soft shushing sounds until she felt the blonde calm, even just a little. The sobs weren't as frequent, or as powerful, but they were still present. Santana helped roll the girl over, despite physical and verbal protests from her friend, and once they were face-to-face, Santana wiped away some of the tears the blonde was sporting. "You look like hell, so's you know," Santana said simply, flashing Quinn a quick smile. This earned a small chuckle, but it could have just as easily been another prelude to a series of heavy, uncontrollable sobs. "Thanks," Quinn replied, her voice broken and hoarse. "How was your night? You didn't come home last night, did you?" "No, I didn't," Santana replied, unsure as to why Quinn was bringing that up. "Did you go home with Brittany?" Quinn asked, and it seemed to be laced with a hint of a hopeful tone, just at the end. "Yeah, I did," Santana said, unable to control the giant happy smile that broke her face. "How was that?" Quinn asked, moving a little closer to her friend. Santana almost lost herself in the war with word vomit, but curbed her impulse and shot Quinn a glare. "We're not changing the subject," Santana said. "I know what this is. We're not talking about me, we're talking about you and your shit. So spill."
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"I don't want to talk about it, I said," Quinn stated plainly, starting to sound a little pissed off. Still, Santana pushed. "Why don't you want to talk about it?" "It's just it's too much, Santana," Quinn said. "I'm already kicking myself that it happened, but if I start talking about it, then it'll really be real, you know?" Santana arched an eyebrow. Immediately, her gut instinct was to assume the worst, but she doubted Quinn would be holding up as well as she was, which wasn't great, but was a step above devastation, to be sure. She shook the thoughts out of her head and grabbed Quinn's hands, lacing their fingers together. "What happened?" "I did something I really, really shouldn't have," Quinn said. "And I was stupid to think that it wouldn't have consequences, that it would just be I don't know, light and easy?" "Well, you were drinking last night," Santana said. "A lot, if I remember correctly, since I fucking made your drinks." "I just, I thought it'd be different. I wanted it to be different," Quinn rambled. "I mean, I never really thought it would happen to begin with, but if it did, I didn't want it to happen that way." "People do stupid shit when they're fucked up," Santana said, moving Quinn's hair out of her face again. "Even you, Quinn. It's okay. It can't be that bad. Unless, you know, you killed someone and need me to help you bury the body. Which I totally would." "I didn't kill anyone, Santana," Quinn said. "I wouldn't think you had it in you, blondie," Santana said. "Are you gonna tell me what you did that was so terrible, already? I swear, you're worse than those fucking thrillers where they tease you for days about the big twist, and then it's like a rabbit trapped in a closet making all the scary noises." "I slept with Rachel," Quinn blurted out. Santana dropped Quinn's hands and stared at her. Really stared at her, almost like maybe she'd grown a second head. "God, don't look at me like that."
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Quinn ducked her head, needing to avoid the intense gaze that shifted to heavy confusion in expressive, dark eyes. "With Berry?" Santana asked, for verification. "She's not that bad, you know! I don't know why you have such an issue with her," Quinn said defensively. "She's smart, and she's funny, and she's brilliant. She's absolutely brilliant, and she's never been mean or rude to anyone. Maybe she was a little headstrong, and kind of annoying at times, but we treated her like shit, and now I thought maybe she and I could be friends, but I fucked that up, and you're insulting her. Still, and for no reason!" "You think I hate her?" Santana asked. "Don't you?" Quinn asked. "I was terrible to her, I know, but you were pretty bad, too, Santana. Maybe even the worst, at times." "I had my reasons," Santana quipped. "I don't get it, Santana," Quinn replied. "I'm a lesbian, Quinn," Santana said, as if this were the answer to the universe. "Alert the media," Quinn drawled. "No, listen. I'm a lesbian. Which means, even though I didn't get my shit sorted until later, I still was a lesbian. Even way back, when everything started. I saw it, Quinn, and I'm pretty sure that's why you were such a bitch to Berr-to Rachel," Santana explained. "Because you liked her." "I really like her," Quinn said, her pitch swooning slightly. "But she's straight." "Obviously flexible, though, since she's a switch-hitter," Santana replied. "She was drunk," Quinn said, voice breaking as she reiterated her inward, dark thoughts. "It was a mistake. It didn't mean anything." A fat tear rolled down Quinn's face, and Santana held the blonde a little closer. She rubbed the girl's back, up and down, hoping the pattern and repetition would relax and ease the hurt. "I was a bitch to her because I think she liked you, too. Deep down, even deeper
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down than my own denial. Which was fucking buried," Santana explained. "I saw, even way back then, that she was the one who could break your heart. And, look at this, I was right." "Don't be glib, it's not amusing," Quinn replied, although it lacked in her usual ice and fury. "How much do you like her?" Santana asked, treading gently. "I don't know if there's a scale. A lot?" Quinn said, looking up to meet Santana's eyes. "Obviously a whole lot, since her leaving before I woke up shattered me. She didn't even leave a hand-written note, or anything that would lead to... you know, anything. I got a text message and an empty bed." "She? Oh, Quinn," Santana said, holding the girl closer. She knew that sex was a bit of a sore spot to Quinn; the girl had always held out for some romantic reawakening where she could be with the person she really loved. It never seemed to go right for her, for some reason, and Santana knew that this was just another notch on the list of long intimate failures. "See?" Quinn asked. "I should just join a convent." "You're too hot to be a nun," Santana replied. "So, here's what we're gonna do." "We?" Quinn asked. "Yes, we. If you want to be with Tiny Tim, I'm gonna help you," Santana said. "Even though I'm still not sold on all of this." Quinn's head lifted up slightly from the pillow, and she stared at Santana, obviously shocked by her friend's willingness to help with something that not only was a nearly impossible attempt, but sort of outside of the brunette's comfort zone. She wasn't exactly known for her matchmaking skills, nor did she retain the enthusiasm. "You want to help me?" Quinn asked, then paused. "Just so I'm understanding, you want to help me court Rachel Berry?" "Well, when you use words like 'court', you make me less likely to offer my assistance, Princess," Santana said with a soft smile. "Attempt to date her?" Quinn suggested.
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"A little bit better," Santana replied with a shrug. "Do you have a plan?" Quinn asked. Santana looked to the side for a minute. "Woman, I barely have a romantic bone in my body," Santana said, raising her hands. "It takes a while to make the magic happen." "I appreciate anything you can do," Quinn assured her friend. "Hey," Santana began. "Don't get sappy. I'm mostly doing this because I'm in a fucking awesome mood, and seeing you cry sucks. Emotions are all ugly and messy, and I kind of hate them. Brittany will be better at this than me, so I'll consult with her." "You and Brittany are?" Quinn asked, wanting to confirm before she made assumptions. "Together," Santana said, smiling brilliantly. So brilliantly, in fact, that it may have lit up the room ever so slightly. "Finally." Quinn hugged Santana, unable to contain her excitement. "Hey, hey," Santana said. "What did I say about emotion?" Quinn pulled back a little, then smiled sheepishly. "Sorry," Quinn said. "I just it gives me hope. Because even if things totally go haywire with Rachel again, I can always live vicariously through your love life." "Fuck that," Santana said sharply. "We're going to gets you that girl. No way in hell you're doing anything with my love life. It's me and Britts in there, okay? Couple, not trio." "I told you I'm not into that," Quinn replied with a smirk. "You wish," Santana said hotly. "Not really," Quinn replied. "Just go along with it," Santana said. "My ego likes to be boosted, and I'm helping you win over the Polly Pocket."
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"Okay, okay," Quinn said, admitting her defeat with a smile. "So, what are we doing?" Santana arched an eyebrow, then grinned slyly. "Well, first, you are going to take a shower, because you reek of downstairs lady bits," Santana drawled. "And I am going to text my girl and see if we can't all scrounge up some breakfast." "That sounds wonderful," Quinn said happily. "Because I'm awesome," Santana said, pulling back just slightly. She started to climb off the bed, then looked back at Quinn. "But seriously, get in the shower, stinky." Quinn's laughter followed Santana into the hallway, and the brunette sighed with relief. The apartment was back to feeling like home again. But now, she had a job to do.

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Chapter 16
A/N: I know this is a little shorter than the last few have been, but my life has been incredibly crazy as of late. This is a filler chapter, to get "the plans" for Faberry in place. I hope it's still enjoyable. Rest assured, there will be a longer update within the next few days. With more Faberry action! Yay!

As Quinn stepped out of the shower, she felt the steam fill her lungs with a renewing sense of vitality that somehow made everything clearer, despite the foggy haze of the room. She toweled herself dry, then wrapped the towel around her body, tucking it in at her chest. She moved to the sink, and swiped her forearm across the mirror, wiping the condensation away and stared at herself. She hadn't morphed into some creature, some different person, despite what she was feeling on the inside. Her eyes looked a little tired, a little distant perhaps, but not different. She still was Quinn Fabray, and if nothing else happened, she could hold onto that and stay close to the fact that although she was still human and still, apparently, made mistakes, she was at least a likeable version of herself now. Which made her chest ache; she was trying so hard to think of reasons why Rachel could have left. She's not a lesbian. Not even bisexual. She's straight. She realized that you were just a drunken indulgence and didn't want to lie to you by staying over. Rachel's smarter than that; she wouldn't hitch a wagon to a girl like you. You're not in school, you work at a bookstore, for crying out loud. Rachel Berry has goals; places to go. That's what you lo-like about her. She still remembers what you were, so how can you expect her to see new Quinn? Quinn slumped against the sink, hands gripping the marble hard. That one hurt the worst. Quinn exhaled sharply, taking more of the steam into her lungs on a cleansing inhale immediately after, then released again. She turned off her mind, her thoughts, and went through the motions of making herself presentable again-brushing her teeth, brushing her hair, putting on clean clothes-like she was a zombie. Rachel Berry was starting to fill all the voids, leaking into spaces, crevices, corners of Quinn's world that she had tried to close off. She was aware of this fact, she had crafted the "keep out" signs with her words and emotional inadequacies,
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hoping that would be enough. But it wasn't; this time, her best attempts had fallen short. As Quinn walked down the hallway toward the living room, her mind turned back on, as if someone had flipped a switch. She heard laughter, which sounded closer than if it came from the TV, and scrunched her brow. She turned the corner, and within seconds, was almost taken to the ground by a flurry of blonde hair and ridiculously long limbs that wrapped around her and held tight, strong, not moving an inch once the embrace was connected. Quinn breathed in the scent of raspberry and vanilla, and smiled. "So happy you live here!" the blonde murmured. "Well, Santana and I, kind of best friends," Quinn replied, rubbing up and down the blonde's back. The blonde was still crushing her close and sighed happily. "So glad you're best friends, still," she murmured again. Quinn looked around the blonde slightly and saw a very amused Santana Lopez sitting back on the couch, her face contorted in a way that suggested she might burst into laughter at any moment. Which made Quinn wonder what her face was doing. "Brittany, you're crushing me," Quinn said breathlessly, causing the blonde to loosen her grip, but not pull away completely. "Sorry, Q. I'm just really, really happy," Brittany said, her blue eyes sparkling as if they were made of all the most beautiful gemstones in the universe. Quinn couldn't help but return the smile. Brittany just had that effect on people. The girl was practically personified sunshine and happiness, after all. "I couldn't tell," Quinn said with a sly smile. "It's not every day a girl gets nearly crushed to death just by stepping into her living room." "Sorry," Brittany said apologetically, her smile only fading slightly. "I'm like the Hulk, and I don't know my own strength sometimes. The enthusiasm gets to me, but it's not that bad. I don't, like, turn green or get big or anything like that." "Did my girl just make a comic book reference?" Santana mused from the couch. "I think so," Quinn said. "Where in the world did that come from?" "All of Kurt and Rachel's books are too smart for me, and sometimes I can't sleep at night when I stay over, so Blaine lets me read his comic books. They've got lots of
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pictures," Brittany explained. "You do know the Hulk is a guy, though, right, Britt?" Santana asked. "She-Hulk is a girl," Brittany chirped. "And bad ass. I wanted to be her for Halloween last year, but they only had boy Hulk costumes at the store, and they were all for kids. They fit me, but I looked like that guy on the green bean can." Santana and Quinn both laughed. "Wait," Quinn said, breaking the laughter. "How did Brittany get here?" Santana scoffed. "My girl is made of magic and sparkles and awesome shit, that's how," Santana said. "Also, you took the longest shower ever. Now I have to wait ten years for the hot water to come back." "Exaggerator," Quinn griped. "It doesn't take ten years." "Fine, fine," Santana said, holding up a hand, then smirking. "Nine and a half." Brittany giggled and moved back across the living room, taking the short distance in a few long strides before she was seated back next to Santana on the couch. Quinn watched them closely for a moment, wondering just how much things had changed. She, Santana, and Brittany had almost always been friends - at least, for the largest chunk of their young adult, and now adult lives. She had seen the beginnings of Santana and Brittany's friendship, the beginning of their relationship that was carefully hidden behind closed doors, her eyes being the only outside ones privy to their affections. Quinn had watched that relationship grow, then sour, and change. She had watched Santana grow over the last few years, and found herself willing the Latina to make one more push, to really let Brittany in this time instead of keeping her at a distance. Immediately, Santana's arms wrapped around the blonde, and she gently tugged so the blonde laid against the front of her body. Quinn couldn't hold it back; a broad smile escaped and covered her face-change was a beautiful thing. Brittany snuggled backward into Santana, and looked over her shoulder at Santana for a minute, content to just look at the other girl while the brunette kept her eyes on Quinn.
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"You're an ass," Quinn said, bringing them back to the subject of hot water. Or, she supposed, the lack thereof. "I try really, really hard," Santana said, hinting with sarcastic pride in her tone. "You're really a big softy," Brittany said gently, giving Santana's knee a squeeze. The Latina furrowed her eyebrows, and Quinn crossed her arms. This would be the test, whether Santana would leap forward and embrace who she had become, who Quinn knew she really wanted to be, or whether she'd recoil back into her shell and rely again on protective armor that she had hand-forged for years. Santana smiled, and tucked a strand of Brittany's hair behind her ear, letting her fingertips linger on the girl's cheek for a second. Her voice dropped to a gentle coo, and Quinn was quite certain she had never heard Santana speak in that tone before. "That's because I let you see the best parts of me, baby." "All your parts are the best parts," Brittany said, pouting her lips just subtly enough to let the other girl know exactly what she wanted. Santana obliged her instantly, placing a gentle kiss on the blonde's lips. Then, after they broke seconds later, she looked at Quinn and arched a brow. "Stop swooning over there, Fabray. You never seen the real deal before?" "Now I have," Quinn returned. Santana narrowed her eyes, then smiled. She was obviously pleased with this response. "Well-played," Santana said. "Now, back to the reason we are gathered here today." "We're going to talk about Rachel!" Brittany said, clapping her hands with excitement before Santana snaked hers around and claimed the other pair, lacing her fingers with Brittany's. Quinn's eyes dropped to the floor. It wasn't that she was embarrassed, per se, but she was nervous about this particular subject. She still wasn't exactly sure what her feelings were for the little brunette. She knew most of what she was feeling the night before, but after she paid proper due to lust and alcohol, there was a blurred, gray area that she wasn't sure of. She didn't know what was left. "Don't be shy, Q," Santana said. "We're all girls here. Girl loving girls, even. So tell us the dirty," Santana said with a mischievous smirk.
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"There's nothing dirty to tell," Quinn said, blushing at the word as it rolled off her lips. "It was many things, and I'm kind of surprised that I remember it all, but it wasn't that." "Rachel's a very clean person," Brittany remarked to Santana. "Seriously. She showers twice a day in the summer, on humid days." "I thought she was a big eco-hippie tree hugger," Santana said, confused. "I've never seen her hug a tree," Brittany drawled. "Britt, you're making me change the subject! We has to make this silenced up bitch talk," Santana said. Her fingers traced little circles on Brittany's knee when she brought both up to her chest and leaned back a little further into Santana's arms. "Stop being distracting." "Are we going to continue with the Inquisition, or are you two going to keep being ridiculously cute?" Quinn said, choosing her words wisely. Come to think of it, she had never found out for certain whether or not the brunette did, in fact, keep razor blades in her hair. It had always been random threats, allusions, and ambiguous gestures, but no proven facts. However, Quinn had a feeling that insulting anything having to do with her and Brittany, even in a joking manner, might cause them to fly out and make an appearance. "Well, you're not going to give us any details as to the what what happened last night," Santana said, her tone turning petulant. "So, I guess that leaves us to feelings and shit." Great. The things I don't understand. "Feelings? You mean like, what I was feeling last night?" Quinn asked, trying to buy herself time. "Yeah, what you were feeling. Other than her tits," Santana said. Quinn rolled her eyes, and then allowed her mind to drift back to the night before.

Quinn's hands blazed a trail down tan skin, toned muscles that were lean from what was likely lots of vigorous cardio. Rachel tilted her head back, allowing Quinn's mouth to move more freely along her neck, across her pulse, along her jaw. Quinn
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took a moment to nuzzle the brunette's neck, kissing the center of her throat as if she were paying reverent worship, giving her dues to the golden voice she knew was just beneath that surface. Rachel moaned, and even her moans were musical, which completely unhinged Quinn and caused her hands to grip harder. Skilled fingers, although they were a little shaky from lack of practice, tweaked at two stiff, brown nipples, and Rachel again arched into her. "Quinn, so good," Rachel moaned, giving the blonde encouragement. This was still fairly new, they had much more to explore, but already, the brunette was proving to be a very vocal and effusive lover. Quinn didn't mind the ego boost, and it sent shock waves of pure desire down to the very core of her being, the center of her existence, to know that not only were her ministrations wanted, but they were good. Very good, if Rachel's enthusiasm was a valid clue. Quinn worked on shedding the last piece of clothing on Rachel's body, her underwear, trailing her fingertips along with the fabric as she moved her way down the glorious body beneath her, guiding the scrap of fabric down impossibly long legs. Rachel whimpered, and their eyes locked as Quinn made her ascent, stopping at Rachel's hipbone and nibbling gently. Rachel's hands tangled in her hair, and Quinn moaned against soft skin, losing herself to the gentle contact. The non-verbal encouragement was amazing, too. She looked up at Rachel and let her eyes drift over every newly exposed inch. She had been divested of all her clothing first, due to Rachel's insistence that she be undressed slowly, and Quinn's over eager need to feel her skin rubbing all over the tiny brunette. Quinn took in gently sloping hips, a toned stomach, beautifully muscled legs, breasts that looked much fuller than the restriction of clothing could ever portray. Quinn's hands slid up the brunette's stomach, palms flat against the girl's skin, and found her breasts, cupping them gently, running her thumbs over them and teasing her nipples again. Her mouth remained lower on Rachel's body, and she kissed just below Rachel's belly button, feeling the shiver soar through Rachel's body, releasing the tension against Quinn's lips in the form of a sharp muscle contraction. "Are you okay?" Quinn whispered, raising her mouth slightly, but leaving her hands in place. "Better than okay," Rachel informed the blonde. Her eyes betrayed nothing but wanton desire and cool confidence. Quinn was mesmerized. "I want you, Quinn. I need you." The emphasis on that final word was Quinn's undoing, and she felt the room grow hotter, and the air felt as though it became thicker somehow, causing her head to swim and vibrate. She felt like she was suffocating, and the only way to relieve the
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intense heat was to hear her name on this gorgeous woman's lips. "What do you need, Rachel? Anything, I'll give you anything," Quinn promised, knowing that maybe she sounded a little too eager, again, or perhaps desperate, but didn't care. Her hands traced a slow line down the center of Rachel's body, and she felt more shivers, more tremors, more surges of delight embrace her fingertips as she touched and tantalized the other girl. "Your mouth has hypnotized me for years," Rachel confessed. "I might die if you keep it away from me now." Quinn smiled; even her dirty talk was dramatic, involved, like a line from a movie. It was beautiful. Quinn wouldn't deny her any longer. She moved her hand up and stroked Rachel's cheek, then brought both hands back to the girl's breasts, allowing one to drift to her hip in order to help hold Rachel down for the onslaught she had asked for. Quinn licked her lips sensually and moved lower, licking a heated trail up Rachel's thigh until she found her goal and took her first taste. Rachel moaned, hands shooting down to Quinn's hair immediately where she took purchase and grounded herself. Her hips rocketed forward, and she threw one of her legs over Quinn's shoulder. Quinn scooted forward, easing Rachel's hips up slightly, and started flicking her tongue over every inch of Rachel's swollen, dripping, delicious sex. It was in that moment that she knew one taste of Rachel Berry would never, ever be enough.

"You're all sex faced! Ew, dude, what the fuck were you thinking about?" Santana teased. Quinn shook her head and remembered that she was in the middle of her living room, with Santana and Brittany, and now both of them were staring at her like they had just caught her moaning out loud and humping random objects. Quinn had gone so far back into memory that for all she knew, that might have been exactly what she was doing. "Nothing," Quinn sighed. "It was nothing." "It looked like a good memory," Brittany said. "Tana makes that face when-" "And we're not talking about my face, babe," Santana said through gritted teeth, giving Brittany's knee a rougher squeeze that caused the blonde to giggle. "Some secrets are good things."
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"Yeah, consider those words, Lopez," Quinn said with a soft chuckle. "We're trying to help you," Santana said. "And while I don't really need to know details about how good Berry threw it to you, you have to give me something to work with." "I like her," Quinn said simply. "God damn, alert the media," Santana exclaimed sarcastically. "You were doing your impression of a dead man's float in your fucking pillows this morning over the girl. I think that's a little more than like. Jesus, Q. You're supposed to be the smart one." Quinn steeled herself, focusing on the feelings in her memories more than the images. She examined them, feeling as though she were doing a science experiment, dissecting something on a table. She could see the parts and pieces, and now just had to catalog them, categorize them. There was no romantic quality to this part of the aftermath, but it was a necessary part all the same. "She makes me feel" Quinn said, making her way over to the couch and sitting on the other side of the couple. She threw her head back against the couch and closed her eyes. "So much. So fucking much, but mostly, all I can come up with is that she makes me feel." "So you're not dead inside," Santana stated. Quinn punched her lightly in the shoulder, and Brittany instantly moved to make it better. "Apparently I'm not," Quinn replied. "I've never felt that with anyone else. It was more than touching, you know. There wasn't all the preamble and the lust, although that was there, it was muted. After, when we finished I felt like Rachel Berry was what had been missing from my life, somehow." "That's how it feels with Santana," Brittany said gently. "She actually told me that last night, after we" Santana covered the blonde's mouth with her lips, silencing her with a brief kiss. "Secrets, Britt Britt. We keep those things secret from people, and from Quinn," Santana warned gently. It wasn't that she was running anymore, but she still had an image to retain. Which was ridiculous to Quinn, since she already knew the girl was a closeted sap.
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"Rachel likes romance," Brittany said. "Have you seen those musicals she watches?" "Oh, fuck no," Santana groaned. "Those things are not coming in my house or clogging up my Netflix queue." "You said you wanted to help," Quinn pointed out. "Fuck. My. Life," Santana whined. "One time, when Rachel was really drunk, she said that all she knew of love was from those movies, and she was afraid that it would never happen to her or something like that," Brittany said. Quinn's eyes went wide, and she wrapped her arms tightly around the now stunned blonde and partly around the grumbling brunette. "You two have just given me the best idea," Quinn said. She jumped up off the couch. "Now, I have some research to do." Quinn ran into her bedroom, and the door slammed a second later. Santana held her head in her hands. "Corazon, what the hell did you do?" Brittany smiled and rocked back and forth in Santana's arms. Quietly, she began to sing. "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match"

The crying had finally worn down, and Kurt made a mental note to buy more Kleenex later. He held a now quiet Rachel Berry in his arms. From over the brunette's shoulder, Kurt looked at his boyfriend and offered a soft smile. Blaine really had been wonderful, what with his skills handing tissues and wiping tears. His strong hands had helped rub Rachel's back and his soothing words of encouragement were what probably pushed her over the edge to the lull she was now experiencing. She had regaled the both of them with feelings. It was a waterfall of feelings, from her trepidation and insecurities to excitement at the new prospect, the fear that her
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eyes were open, and mostly, and this was the part she kept stressing through wave after wave of fresh tears, her desire to no longer be alone. Kurt understood her fear, especially about being attracted to another woman and what it might mean-he had gone through his own identity crisis, after all. He understood the possibilities of what it could mean, and he understood how Rachel was freaking out. Although she was no stranger to homosexual lifestyles, and had no tinted glasses to the subject; they were no commodity in her eyes, just people like everyone else, Rachel had been quite certain of her own identity. Growing up with two fathers had ensured that she be comfortable, or at least mostly so, in her own skin. She was heterosexual, just as Kurt and Blaine were gay, and solidly so. Or at least, that was what she thought. "Blaine?" Kurt asked quietly, not wanting to disturb Rachel, as he sensed that she had fallen asleep. The emotion had won, and exhausted her. "Yeah, babe?" Blaine whispered back. "If for some reason, I found myself attracted to well, to a woman would that make me bisexual?" Kurt asked. Blaine seemed to ponder this over for a moment, shifting his jaw to the side and stroking his chin. He glanced up at the sky, searching for answers, then smirked as he met his boyfriend's eyes. "Why, are you going to tell me that you're secretly harboring desires for a member of the opposite sex?" Blaine asked, keeping his whisper. "Oh, honey no," Kurt said, his volume raising before he quickly lowered it again, feeling Rachel stir ever so slightly in his arms. "I'm just trying to understand Rachel, to sympathize where she's coming from. I mean, you and I are both secure in our sexuality, but so was she, and now" "I think Rachel has always been very open-minded, because of her experiences and her upbringing," Blaine replied. "And? What the hell does that mean?" "She may have been secure in her sexuality, but I don't think she rules things out. Especially emotions, or things with an emotional prospect. Rachel's very intense. She feels things differently than most of us, I think, so maybe it's transcendent of sexuality. I guess. I don't know," Blaine said, shrugging his shoulders. "What she needs, though, is support. To know that you and I are here for her, no matter what."
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Kurt smiled fondly, tucking a strand of Rachel's hair behind her ear. "You know, even though she used to annoy the hell out of me, in many ways, she's the only girl I've ever loved," Kurt mused. Blaine raised an eyebrow, obviously amused. "You mean that in a platonic, happy friends way, right?" Blaine asked. "Feeling insecure, love?" Kurt asked, winking at his boyfriend. Blaine blushed and crossed his hands in his lap. "No, definitely in a friends way. Rachel Berry understands me in a way I never thought anyone would until you came along, and in a way, it's been her and I saddled with each others' crazy. She's just never found anyone else to love the crazy the way I have. I adore her." "I wish I would have been there to watch you two sing at the Gershwin," Blaine said, swooning a little. "Oh, it was magnificent," Kurt said happily. "If I do say so myself." Rachel stirred slightly, and shifted in Kurt's arms, resting her head in the center of the boy's chest. Kurt smiled. "We'll just, you know, help her through it," Kurt said. "Be there for her, even if she does end up raising little tap-dancing, starry-eyed Cheerio babies with Quinn Fabray." "Would that be the worst thing in the world?" Blaine asked. "Only if Quinn hasn't really changed," Kurt replied. "Then, I'll have to kill her. And you, dearest, will have to help me bury the body. You have more upper arm strength." "I'd do my best to be handy with the shovel and all that manual labor," Blaine said with a soft smile. "After what happened with Finn, I just don't want to see her destroyed like that ever again," Kurt whispered. "I'm surprised she bounced back from that one." "Finn was her first love," Blaine said. "You never forget it, and in a lot of ways, I think your first love molds the way you are forever." "That sounds so final," Kurt said.
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"Eh, it doesn't have to be bad final, though," Blaine replied. He reached over Rachel's body and let his fingertips rest on the top of Kurt's hand. "You're right. And not everything turns out as perfectly as you and I," Kurt replied. "Most times it doesn't," Blaine confirmed. The two boys exchanged a smile, then resumed their watch over Rachel, guarding her as they slept and preparing themselves for whatever drama would emerge when the tiny diva awoke. Both of them kept a hope in their heart for the best, but prepared themselves for the worst. Just in case. Kurt let his eyes drift closed, and envisioned Rachel and Quinn walking down the street, hand in hand. They really would be a beautiful couple. Kurt recalled the night before, from what he could remember, and saw that Quinn couldn't keep her eyes off Rachel. All her smiles seemed to brighten when the brunette said something funny, or even something that was flat-out ridiculous. Kurt grinned. Yes, this might work out in everyone's favor. Who knew Quinn had it in her, to send my Rachel all up in arms? Kurt squeezed his boyfriend's hand, and sent up a prayer, even though he hadn't prayed in years, that his best friend would get a taste, even a small taste, of the happiness he had known. Because if anyone deserved some kind of joy, he knew it was Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray.

A/N: As I said before, it was filler. Still, your reviews are awesome, and I await your thoughts/comments as always. And, if you've been reading and haven't reviewed yet, I'd love to know what you think. It just takes a second, and means so much. And that ends my begging. Hope you all enjoyed!

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Chapter 17
Rachel woke in a daze, her head no longer throbbing. She noticed that Kurt and Blaine were positioned on either side of her, both focused on the television, which was turned down to a respectful volume. She looked up, bleary eyes focusing on the TV - of course, it was a Bewitched marathon. "Could you be any more stereotypical?" Rachel groaned softly, her smirk betraying her attempt at sarcasm, letting the two boys in on the joke immediately. Kurt reached down and patted her head, helpfully brushing a few strands of hair out of her face. "Welcome back to the world, sleepyhead," Kurt said quietly. "And I don't know what you're talking about - everyone loves Bewitched." "But even more if you're gay," Rachel replied curtly. Blaine chuckled and nodded. "The lady does have a point," Blaine replied. Kurt narrowed his eyes at his boyfriend, and Blaine smirked in his direction before turning his attention back to the slowly waking brunette. "Are you feeling any better, Rachel?" "You mean, do I feel less hungover and ashamed?" Rachel asked, rubbing her eyes and shifting so she was upright in the center of the couch instead of sprawled over Kurt. After a moment, she made a mental note to remind Kurt how awesome he was as a best friend, coffee perhaps, or a proper luncheon. Maybe she'd have flowers sent to him at random. He did love a good floral arrangement. She looked back and forth between Kurt and Blaine. "Less hungover, yes. Ashamed, however that's not going away any time soon." "Oh, honey," Blaine cooed, wrapping an arm around Rachel's small frame. "There is nothing to be ashamed about." Blaine looked at his boyfriend, nodding purposefully, feeling the need for backup. Kurt smiled and rested his hand on Rachel's knee. "Of course there isn't! Experimenting with any number of substances is perfectly acceptable in the world of today's modern youth, and you've known Quinn for a very long time. Having a night of hot, passionate-"
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Blaine cleared his throat loudly and stared at his boyfriend. "What Kurt is trying to say, Rachel, is that Quinn is safe. Well, safe being that you know her. You have known her, for a long time, and it's not like there hasn't been any sort of history between the two of you," Blaine replied, rubbing circles on Rachel's back. Her eyes stared forward, slightly glazed over, and it was apparent that she was likely about to go into another fit of spontaneous emotion. Possibly tears. Kurt, however, found himself newly enlightened and crossed his arms. He raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow and cleared his throat. "No, you'll damage your vocal chords," Rachel protested weakly. "What is this history of which you're speaking, Blaine? I know my boyfriend and my best friend wouldn't leave me out of the loop where important matters are concerned," Kurt asked. "Kurt, let's not make this about something else. This is about Rachel, we need to support-" Blaine said, and Kurt continued to stare defiantly at the other boy. He was obviously statue-still and firm on this issue. Blaine hung his head and looked helplessly at Rachel. She swallowed and rolled her head on her neck, allowing the muscles that had seized up slightly during her slumber to relax and relieve some of the underlying tension before speaking. "You realize that while I love you dearly, there are certain things that I cannot tell you, unless I want the entire city, perhaps even the entire world, to know about them," Rachel began. "Don't you?" "I am a bit of a gossip, yes," Kurt replied. "But that doesn't mean you can't-" In true diva fashion, Rachel raised a hand and sat up straighter, her impeccable posture on full display as she fixed the boy with a fleeting stare. Blaine chuckled, but silenced it quickly when he received two deadly glances from his boyfriend and Rachel. "You're my best friend, Kurt. This is in no way an insult to your character, because of how much I care about you. Really, you must know that. However, the history that Blaine is referring to is in reference to an incident that happened right before we parted ways with Lima," Rachel continued. "And, what, you think I couldn't handle knowing about it or something? That's
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mildly insulting, and I'll have you know that I'm perfectly-" Another hand raise, and Kurt fell silent again. "I know you couldn't handle it, because after it happened I couldn't handle it. It wasn't until recently that I even told anyone. Brittany was very understanding about it, given her history with Santana. And Kurt, if you don't close your mouth right now, I'll slap you. I will," Rachel said, addressing Kurt's urge to interrupt before it happened, effectively nipping it in the blood. "Anyhow, there is a history with Quinn and I, albeit short and benign until recent events forced us to re-evaluate and open another chapter on our little history book. Questions?" Rachel moved her hands back to her lap and crossed them politely, looking back and forth between Kurt and Blaine. After a moment's pause, Kurt raised a hand shyly. Rachel smiled at him and nodded amicably. "What was the incident, exactly?" "Nothing, you know, overtly sexual. As memory serves, the exchange was remarkably innocent. Only a kiss, and yet, two years later, I still remember every detail," Rachel said wistfully. "That should tell you something," Blaine replied. "I find that the special moments, meaningful ones, are the ones I remember vividly." "You kissed Quinn Fabray?" Kurt asked, still slightly in shock. "Before last night, yes. However, she kissed me. And, for lack of a better term, she was a perfect gentleman," Rachel explained. "We all know how I handle alcohol, and she was more sober than I, yet she was still considerate and gentle very kind." "Stop, please," Kurt replied. "As much as I love romance, and I do, the idea of a sweet and gentle Quinn Fabray laying you down like a princess and gently no, you know, I just can't." Rachel chuckled darkly. "Well, it didn't exactly happen that way," Rachel replied. Blaine rested his hand on top of Rachel's. "I think it's sweet," Blaine replied. "Quinn's a changed woman. Kurt and I saw that
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last night, and perhaps what happened between you two at that party set things into motion. The change." "So, does this mean you are opening the doors to female suitors?" Kurt asked. "Or is it just a Quinn thing?" "I'm currently undecided on that front. I can say honestly that I can appreciate the beauty of women from an aesthetic standpoint, but was never attracted to a woman before Quinn," Rachel replied. "However, I will say this for girls if Quinn is considered 'normal' in her prowess, women have the up on men for passion and technique." "In this house, that could be considered blasphemous," Kurt addressed. "Oh, hush," Rachel said, swatting at him playfully. "You know the type of men I've dated. They're not soft, or gentle, and they certainly don't moisturize. I can't speak for gay men in that field, just the straight ones, and in comparison to females females win." "I do admire Kurt's devotion to proper hygiene," Blaine replied. "Right back at you, handsome," Kurt said, flashing his boyfriend a debonair smile. "And I appreciated that last night, Quinn wasn't grunting and sweating and hairy or making baboon noises," Rachel noted thoughtfully. "That was certainly a welcome change." Kurt wrinkled his nose. "See, that? Too far," he returned. "Like, light years too far." "What are you going to do about Quinn, Rachel?" Blaine asked. "I'm not trying to pressure or anything, but didn't you just kind of leave?" Rachel's face fell. "Oh, God," she exclaimed. "Quinn. God, I'm such an inconsiderate but I couldn't have stayed. No, she probably wouldn't have even wanted me to stay. No, leaving was for the best," Rachel babbled, then turned helplessly again to her two friends. "Wasn't it?" Kurt and Blaine both shrugged and offered sympathetic smiles.
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"Well, you're no help," Rachel snapped. "This is quite the predicament. And what time is it, anyway?" Rachel leaned forward and grabbed her cell off the table, unlocking it and glancing at her clock. It was the afternoon already, nearing one o'clock. She took another glance at her phone and noticed that she had a text message icon in her notification bar. "When did I get a text message?" "Your phone vibrated while you were asleep, and it didn't wake you up, so we weren't going to," Kurt replied. "Is it anything terribly important?" "I haven't even read it yet," Rachel replied, opening the message. She took in a deep breath, hearing the audible result of the gasp as she read. You left before I could say good morning, so I'll say good afternoon instead. Also, good night, because last night was incredible. And I'm not afraid. -Quinn "How eloquently charming," Rachel breathed out. She looked up, remembering that she was not alone and found herself fixed with two searching stares. "Well? What did she say?" Blaine asked. "Now, why would you make assumptions as to-" Rachel said, this time finding herself cut off by Kurt's diva hand. "Please, Rachel. You're a good actress, very good, and your facial expressions? Very telling. Never play poker." Kurt said simply. "What did Quinn say?" Rachel turned her phone so both boys could read. Soon, Kurt was swooning and Blaine was grinning and handed her phone back. "Who knew that Quinn Fabray had that in her?" Kurt asked, wonderment lacing his voice. "Oh, trust me, she's full of surprises," Rachel drawled. "You're bordering on light year territory again," Kurt said. "You have to reply," Blaine pressed. "You are going to reply, aren't you?"
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"I wouldn't know what to say," Rachel replied honestly. "Wait, she has the ability to render you speechless?" Kurt asked. "I changed my mind. Marry this girl. Immediately." Rachel snorted with laughter, and Blaine joined in. After a moment, and Kurt's repeated insistence that he, in fact, was not joking, Rachel stared down blankly at her phone screen. "I still don't know what to say I'm the world's biggest idiot. Imbecilic, childish, perhaps. She doesn't deserve to be kept waiting. I don't think she deserves to be kept waiting, and that text was so thoughtful, and charming, and" Rachel said, resorting to her nervous babbling yet again. "Well, other than the character limit issues, it sounds like you have a good opener," Kurt replied succinctly. Rachel glared, then locked her phone, setting it down on the coffee table. "That's not going to help you, either," Blaine said. "Avoidance." "Why do you both have to call me out on everything, huh?" Rachel pouted. "I'm surely allowed to make mistakes on my own, without my problems continuously being brought to light in such glaring, hideous detail." "And you have," Kurt replied. "We're like your fairy godmothers. We're really here to help." Rachel pressed her fingers to either side of the bridge of her nose. "Now you've gone too far. I'm picturing costumes." "Oh, please no," Blaine groaned. Rachel reached for her phone again, going through the process of unlocking and letting it automatically lock several times before she swiped and pressed rhythmically. She typed, brow furrowed, and then clicked the lock button after a second's pause. She set her phone back down on the table, a satisfied smile covering her face. "And?" Blaine asked. "Sent," Rachel said proudly.
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Quinn sat back on her haunches, staring at the small electronic device. She waited, prayed, hoped, felt a sick feeling in her gut. Santana smirked. "Chica, just give it time," the brunette stated. "You're going to give yourself an aneurysm staring like that." "That sounds painful," Brittany replied. "It is," Santana said. "You had one? Why didn't you tell me?" Brittany asked, suddenly panicked and curling up closer to her girlfriend. Santana chuckled and stroked her hair. "No, baby. I never had one, but y'know, spontaneous brain bleeds? Can't really feel great," Santana cooed. "Shush, I'm fine." Quinn heard Santana and Brittany mutter sweet nothings to one another, she heard the sounds of gentle kisses, soft murmurs, and continued to stare. Then, as if she had somehow willed it so, summoning a great, unknown power from the universe to grant her every desire, a remarkable thing happened. A miracle. A great, benevolent gift. It vibrated. Quinn's hand darted forward like lightning, and she quickly opened her inbox. "What's it say, Q?" "She liked it, didn't she?" Brittany asked. "Would you both shut up and let me fucking read the thing?" Quinn growled. Brittany whimpered softly, and Santana stroked her hand. Quinn wasn't angry, they knew, but frustration tended to bring back what they only slightly lovingly referred to as "old Quinn" back. And "old Quinn" was fierce. The definition of fierce. Charming. Here I thought you'd be angry with me. I'm happy to read you're not. Xx Rachel Quinn's heart soared at her signature. XX. That meant kisses, right? "X is a kiss, O is a hug, right?" Quinn asked, needing sudden verification. A hug was platonic. A hug was kindly, perhaps even placating, to ease the blonde's worry,
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and let her know that sure, Rachel wasn't unhappy with last night, but she wasn't thinking about it constantly, either. "Yeah, x's and o's. Kisses and hugs," Santana explained. "Why, are you thinking about channeling your inner twelve year old to win her over?" "I thought she was talking about tic-tac-toe," Brittany drawled. "But I don't know where there's any paper." "I've never been so excited about a damned cyber kiss in my life," Quinn said. "I wonder if she'd keep talking to me. You know, if I texted her back." "That's not really part of the plan, Quinn, maybe you should-" Brittany said. "Let her fuck it up if she wants, babe. My plan is epic," Santana replied. "I just want to see how she's doing," Quinn replied simply, moving back onto the couch and tucking her knees to her chest. Brittany and Santana shrugged, then cuddled more closely and resumed watching the dance show Brittany had suggested. Quinn held her phone carefully in her hands, cradling it, and punched out a reply. So, I didn't scare you away? Quinn didn't have to wait long, a minute, maybe two passed, and the phone jumped in her hands. You weren't the one running. Quinn frowned. Would it scare you away if I told you that I missed you this morning? I'm starting to think you're wanting to scare me off, Quinn. No! No, definitely not. And you're avoiding the question. :P Busted. Well, in that case, no. No, it wouldn't scare me off. That's a relief, because I did. And if I asked to see you again? Quinn's mouth went dry.
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"You look like you just ate bad Chinese food," Santana said, throwing the barb off her shoulder like it was nothing. She chuckled, then reached over to pat Quinn's knee. "Stop making that face. And stop worrying. She fell for Hudson, remember? You've got way more game than that ogre." "Please don't bring him up," Quinn said. "There was a certain charm to his oafishness, until he became a giant controlling asshole." "Also, he's not a chick," Santana said. "That was probably his biggest flaw to you." "That's beside the point," Quinn said, waving her phone and smiling instantly when it vibrated. "Hold that thought." "This is really sweet," Brittany cooed. "It's kind of sad and pathetic," Santana recanted. "I think it's sweet, Tana," Brittany said, her smile growing as Quinn furiously typed a reply, unable to keep the smile off her own face. Brittany hooked her index finger under the Latina's chin and pulled her close for a soft, chaste kiss. "Love is beautiful, and look how happy it's making Quinn." "Quinn's not in love," Santana said simply. "Not yet," Brittany sing-songed. Santana groaned and exhaled heavily, then wrapped her arm around her girlfriend, a word that still made her heart soar every time she used it internally in reference to the cheerful blonde. "Would you just watch the show? You picked it," Santana said, her teasing taking on a more gentle tone since it was pointed at Brittany. "And you, over there, keep us posted?" Quinn grunted out a monosyllabic reply and kept typing. If you really wanted to see me again, I'd hope that you would just ask me. I want to see you again. Would that be okay with you? Your shy persona is still charming in the light of day and while I'm sober, so you know. Yes. Excellent! I was thinking about getting some coffee at this caf in The
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Village Text me the address. "Crap," Quinn stated. "I may have messed up." "Shit, what did you do?" Santana asked, reaching for the phone. She browsed through the last few messages, a frown on her face. "Way to seem desperate." "It's sweet. She wants to spend time with Rachel, so she just told her. Girls like that kind of thing," Brittany replied, chiming in with her opinions as she craned her neck to read the texts. "But now she wants to meet me, like today, and that was not supposed to happen," Quinn groaned. "No, you were supposed to play hard to get, flirt from a distance, then do the grand romantic gesture," Santana said. "We went over this like nineteen times." "Three times," Quinn corrected. "Three times. But still!" "So, what do I do?" Quinn asked. "Blow her off? Send her a 'whoops, my bad, I can't meet you today' and be done with it?" "Just text her the address," Santana shrugged. "We'll devise a new plan while you're gone." "That reminds me!" Brittany said, clapping her hands excitedly. "There's movies in my bag. You know, for us to watch." Santana bit down on her bottom lip and looked curiously at her girlfriend. "Britt, this goes under the category of 'Things We Don't Tell Quinn About'. Remember?" Santana said, talking quietly through her teeth. "But these movies will help," Brittany said plainly. "We need them." "No, we don't need them, B. It's fun to watch them sometimes but need. We don't need them," Santana said. She turned to Quinn, crossing her arms defensively. "We don't need them, and why the fuck are we still talking about this with Q?"
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"So, I should give them back to Rachel?" Brittany asked. "Why did you borrow those movies from Rachel?" Santana snapped. Quinn tilted her head to the side. She knew she could probably stop the train wreck, but decided to let it continue. She sent Rachel a reply text while her two friends were getting back on the same page. It's just off 3rd Street. The Jumping Bean. Dark green awning, tables out front. And when will you be there? It would be rude to keep you waiting. I live in The Village. How much time do you need? "Britt, I thought you were talking about sexy movies," Santana replied. "Not singing and tap-dancing shit." "Rachel doesn't own those kinds of movies," Brittany replied. "How would you know?" Santana asked, horrified. "I was bored one night. You always kept a collection under the bed, and I figured maybe Rachel" "Why would Rachel keep that kind of a stash? The girl reminds me of a freaking Care Bear," Santana exclaimed. "She's not a Care Bear," Quinn argued. Quinn's phone vibrated again, and she instantly moved to check it. Not long. Give me 45 minutes to make myself beautiful, and I'll meet you there. Xx Quinn's heart did the tango in her chest. Twice. She sent her kisses via text message twice. That was flirting. Quinn wanted to reply, wanted to tell Rachel that it wouldn't take much effort, if any, to make herself beautiful. That her heart couldn't take it if she tried and really tried to put in work and effort and styling. God, Quinn would be a goner.
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"What the hell are you tap tappin' about over there?" Santana asked, eyebrow arched dangerously high. Quinn slowly lowered her phone and grinned sheepishly. "Rachel," Quinn said simply. It was an answer that could go in many directions, for perhaps Rachel was the most simple answer to so many of her problems. "Uh-huh, what about Rachel?" Santana asked. "No! Oh, no - to Rachel. I'm texting Rachel," Quinn back-pedaled. "Figures," Santana said with a smirk and roll of her eyes. "I'm not, you know, like obsessed or anything. Don't look at me like I'm a crazy freak getting ready to stalk the girl's apartment," Quinn replied defensively. "I could tell you where she lives," Brittany suggested helpfully. "Say her name again?" Santana asked carelessly, as if it wasn't a test. Quinn had been Santana's friend for years. She really should have seen that one coming. "Rachel," Quinn breathed out. Santana chuckled and turned to Brittany. "Look at our dear friend Quinn here. Glazed over eyes, dopey grin, staggered breathing smitten," Santana said in a radio announcer voice. "She's fucking smitten with a half-pint human who can probably unhinge her jaw like a snake." "She really can't, that's ridiculous," Quinn defended. "You've seen her sing. It drops like a fucking snake. She's good, sure, but that? Creepy." "Are you ever going to stop insulting her?" Quinn asked. "When you name your first-born after me, we'll talk," Santana said. "There needs to be more badass awesome in this world, Q. Especially if the brat comes out looking like a Lilliputian." Quinn rolled her eyes and looked at her phone again. "Got a hot date?" Santana said knowingly.
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"Not a date. I'm meeting Rachel at The Jumping Bean for coffee," Quinn said. She stood up and started to head back to her bedroom. "God, I have to change. And no comments from you, peanut gallery. Coffee is harmless!" "Not if you're eating the whipped cream out of her-" Santana started to say, chuckling when Quinn put her fingers in her ears, rushed to her room, and interrupted with a loud, emphatic slam of her bedroom door. "She does that a lot," Brittany commented. "What?" Santana asked. "Slams the door. Poor doors," Brittany mumbled. Santana grinned and wrapped her arms tighter around the blonde. Santana shushed her, and they went back to watching their TV program. "You think things will work out for them?" Santana asked Brittany quietly. "I think they'd be awesome for each other," Brittany replied. "Don't you dare say this to Q, but I agree."

A/N: So, that took longer than I thought to update. My work schedule has been crazy, and since I live in the US, the 4th of July (and surrounding time) tends to be a little crazy as well. I hope you all can forgive me for the gap. But I'm hoping to have another (longer) chapter with lots of Faberry goodness up within a few days. I'm shooting for Wednesday at the VERY latest. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews, let me know what you think!

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Chapter 18
A/N: I finished this one quicker than I thought! Thank you, everyone. Enjoy!

Quinn stood in line at The Jumping Bean, having timed everything properly so she would get there just a few minutes earlier than scheduled, in case Rachel was running on a faster schedule than she had originally predicted, but not allowing herself enough time to freak herself out and bail. She couldn't do that to Rachel, she decided. Although skeptical Quinn, the tiny, berating voice in the back of her head, had all sorts of horrible things to say. Why can't you, Quinn? She left you, didn't she? Quinn shook her head and looked at the menu, taking a moment to decide. She stepped up to the counter and offered a friendly smile to the barista who was waiting at the register. "Can I get a medium iced caramel latte?" Quinn asked. The barista rang up her order, and Quinn paid and tipped generously, moving aside for the next person in line to take her place, and found herself drumming absently on the counter. She glanced around, noting that the place was quieter than usual; lots of tables were left unoccupied, and she had her pick of the litter as far as seating was concerned. There were a few tables in the middle that were in the midst of it all. There were booths against a window with a great view of the surrounding neighborhood, but those tended to fill up quickly. There were tables outside, so they could have some fresh air, but they'd likely be secluded. Left to their own devices. Quinn drummed harder, feeling her breath start to come short. Seclusion? Was that the right choice to make? Don't think you flipped her sexuality switch overnight, Quinnie. Rachel's never been that into girls. Quinn swallowed hard. It was just a one-night stand, wasn't it? And there had been alcohol acting as a precursor to the strain of the evening, but mistakes happened. Drunken mistakes happened. She was living proof of that, being a lesbian who was once a survivor of an untimely teen pregnancy with a boy who she slept with because of low self-esteem issues. There was no love there. There was certainly
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no love, and no real desire except what the alcohol caused, and the need she felt for validation. Puck was more than happy to validate her. She swallowed again; was that what she was to Rachel? A need for validation, brought to a head by too many drinks and insecurity? Quinn had tormented the girl for years, maybe it was arousing to Rachel to now be the object of her bully's desire. Quinn had needed her, in more ways than just the physical, she realized. Which made it hurt even more when that little voice spoke up and spoke loudly. Rachel does love the attention, and you were more than happy to give it to her over and over and over and over "Stop," Quinn whispered out loud, wincing and blinking her eyes rapidly. She took a step back from the counter, realizing that there were eyes on her. She smiled sheepishly. "Iced caramel latte?" the barista asked, sliding her drink and a straw across the counter and into her hands. "Thanks," Quinn said with another smile before she stepped away. She stabbed the straw into the lid a little too emphatically and again was left with her previous dilemma. Where would she seat them? There was a message to everything, every aspect of every decision, and most people weren't smart enough to read into context clues, to analyze another person's thinking and see exactly why they were acting in the way they were. But Rachel was. Quinn knew that, because even though she had been a bitch for years, Rachel had always seen through it. It was why she never retaliated. Why she never stood against Quinn and made her feel an inch tall in return, never showed her faults in the spotlight, tore her apart at the seams that were threaded and bare, unraveling under a microscope and waiting to break into the open. Quinn knew Rachel saw her faults, her shortcomings-she caught onto Quinn's pregnancy, the real father of her child, the insecurity-driven actions there. She had been kind about it. She probably had known what Quinn was hiding behind when she jumped from guy to guy and craved more power, more fear, more tears, more blood. It was a ruse, a wall, a castle. It was her only disguise, and it meant nothing to Rachel. The brunette probably knew how Quinn wanted her. Maybe she had even planned the kiss.
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Rachel Berry could be a brilliant mastermind, so Quinn had to choose, and choose wisely. Fuck it. Quinn's thoughts turned powerful, brave, and she headed outside, feeling the door shut behind her, bells clanging as she closed it. Door closed, she took a deep breath of the city air, confidence boosting her. She picked the table at the furthest corner. If she was going to talk to Rachel, if they were going to have a coffee date, if she had worked up the courage to even ask Rachel to meet her, she was going to do this right. She was going to take a chance, because there couldn't be any reward, any culmination of positivity, any karmic shift if a little risk wasn't involved. If no chance was taken. Quinn took a sip of her drink, allowing the bitter tang of espresso and sweet back of caramel to hit her taste buds and calm her nerves. She sighed and relaxed against the back of the chair, but it didn't last long as long legs swiftly propelled a tiny, yet perfectly formed, perfectly proportioned body up to her table. Quinn's eyes looked everywhere all at once, and a nervous smile spread on her face. "Hello, Quinn. You already ordered," Rachel pointed out. "Uh, yeah sorry." Quinn apologized instantly, feeling like an idiot. Where the fuck were her manners? Why didn't she wait. Quick, Quinn. "I just wanted to find us the perfect table." "No, don't worry about it. And good choice," Rachel said with a sweet smile. "I much prefer to be outdoors when I can. I just love this city, and I don't get to the Village enough." Quinn's smile grew. "Well, maybe I can give you a reason to visit more often," Quinn replied. What are you doing, Fabray? Too forward! Too forward! "You know, because the coffee is amazing here. Might even beat the downtown stuff." "Or something," Rachel said knowingly. Quinn stood up, trying not to knock her chair over in the process and swayed in
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her spot. Rachel was standing awfully close, wasn't she? Quinn could just reach right out and touch her if she wanted. And she wanted. Oh, she wanted. But she didn't touch. Quinn smiled and nodded toward the caf. "Shall we?" Quinn asked. Rachel nodded, and her eyes darted down in this demure way that made Quinn's stomach flutter. Rachel started to move toward the caf first, and Quinn followed before she realized that she had forgotten her coffee. She darted back for a moment, grabbed it, and headed back to the door, opening it for Rachel on pure instinct. "How chivalrous of you, Quinn Fabray," Rachel purred. Quinn cleared her throat. All her confidence, all her foresight, everything was gone when Rachel spoke to her like that. "Um, you know, I do what I can," Quinn stuttered, cursing at herself internally for being such an idiot with her words. She was used to being a little more confident than that, at least. Or, old Quinn was more confident than that. But old Quinn was also bitchy, and nobody really liked her, so maybe idiot with words Quinn was better. Quinn nodded to herself. Rachel was smiling, which was a vast improvement to the tears and mortification caused by old Quinn. Yes, she'd take idiot with words Quinn over bitchy Quinn. And, maybe if she was lucky, Rachel would take her, too. The barista smiled as they stepped up to the counter. "Oh, I didn't mess up your drink, did I?" he asked nervously as Quinn fixed him with a stare. Quinn's eyes softened immediately. "No, no. It's great. My, um, my friend she needs a drink," Quinn said, stumbling over her words again. What was Rachel, exactly? Her lover, technically. They had been physically intimate, so per dictionary definition, they were lovers. But she couldn't, wouldn't introduce the stunning brunette next to her as "my lover." It seemed wrong, somehow. Too personal, too soon, too striking for whatever it was that they were, whatever they were going through. They had never really been friends. Maybe they were headed that way, but it had never been official. Quinn had never been certain of calling Rachel her friend, even though she wanted the girl as more than a friend. Maybe as a lover. The distance and lack of communication had dropped them to acquaintances, at best. Rachel was her acquaintance. An
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acquaintance that she fantasized about, kissed at parties when they were drunk, and now knew her body in an intimate way. But how do you word such a thing? Rachel must have sensed her mind was racing a million miles an hour, because she placed her hand on Quinn's elbow gently and smiled at her. Friends was okay. They could be friends. Hopefully more than friends, but they'd cross that bridge later. "Great, what can I get started for you?" the barista asked. "I'll just have a small vanilla soy latte," Rachel ordered. "Do you use vanilla syrup and plain soy, or vanilla flavored soy?" "There's a difference?" Quinn asked curiously. "Slight, but I'm particular," Rachel said, whispering conspiratorially. "Plain soy, vanilla syrup," the barista answered expertly. "Perfect," Rachel said with a wide smile. "I'll have that, then. Also iced." He rang up Rachel's order, and Quinn saw Rachel reach for her money. Quickly, Quinn slid her debit card across the counter. "No, it's fine. I can buy my own coffee," Rachel said. "I've got this, really. It's not a big deal," Quinn replied. "You bought drinks last night," Rachel argued. "For everyone." "Santana was working the bar. She probably altered the prices. Really, it's not a big deal," Quinn continued. The barista looked at them both, confused. "But I insist on-" Rachel said, then Quinn turned to the young man behind the counter and flashed him a perfect smile. "Don't take her money. Seriously. Don't take it," Quinn said. "Just scan the card." "No, because this one," Rachel said, motioning to Quinn and offering the young
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man a devastating smile of her own. She slid a crisp twenty next to Quinn's card. "She's entirely too charming, and needs to stop spending money on me when I'm perfectly capable of-" "Don't take her money, I'm not kidding," Quinn said, letting a little bit of old Quinn come out to play, for good measure. The boy looked at her curiously, and Quinn arched an eyebrow. He sheepishly reached for Quinn's card and swiped it. "Sorry, miss," he said, apologizing to Rachel. "Why don't you two just plan the second date? Let her pay for dinner or something." He directly the second part at Quinn, who furrowed her brow with confusion. "Date? We're just" "Oh! Oh," he apologized profusely, handing Quinn her card and receipt when it printed out. "I was wrong to assume you two were, you know." "Lovers?" Rachel asked, a sly smile on her features. "Yeah. Sorry," the boy said, apologizing again. "I'll have your coffee done in a minute." "You made him all nervous," Quinn said softly, when they stepped aside to the other counter to wait. Quinn tucked her card and receipt back in her wallet. "Says the girl who carries a rainbow wallet," Rachel said. "It's nice, by the way. To see you so comfortable with yourself. I'm really happy for you." "Thanks," Quinn replied gently. "Paying for coffee was no trouble, by the way. I work a lot. A lot, a lot." "But you have bills, don't you? Rent and such?" "Yeah, but we've got it. And if we don't, you can just buy me coffee next time," Quinn said with a killer smile. "Next time, huh?" Rachel asked. "Shit," Quinn cursed. "That was forward of me, wasn't it?" "No," Rachel beamed. "I was actually going to take his suggestion and offer
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dinner." "But this isn't a date," Quinn said. "Coffee. It's just coffee. Coffee's not a date. Not really." "Well, it can be," Rachel said gently. "Vanilla soy latte," the barista said. "Plain soy, vanilla syrup." He smiled, and Rachel smiled back, thanking him, then grabbing a straw of her own. She gently poked the straw into her lid, took a sip, and released a little moan that made Quinn's knees quiver, but she didn't show it. At least, she hoped she hadn't. Quinn led them back outside to their table, and Rachel sat down, then Quinn sat across from her. They looked at each other, feeling instantly comfortable with each other, and traded smiles. "Coffee can be a decent date?" "I've lived in New York for two years, Quinn," Rachel said. "Coffee, or at least, good coffee, can definitely quantify date material, if the mood is right." Quinn took another sip of her drink, needing the chill to cool her down when Rachel's dark eyes started smoldering. She remembered that look. She remembered it really well. "Dinner can be a date, too," Rachel continued. "If you'd like it to be." "You're asking me on a date?" Quinn asked, obviously floored. Thankfully, she wasn't in mid-sip, or she would have choked. Rachel smirked and nodded. "Well, I might be. I'll let you know later," Rachel said confidently. Quinn felt her cheeks flush. Sober Rachel was just as intoxicating as drunk Rachel. No pun intended. Rachel hummed happily on the other side of the table, sipping her drink. Quinn fumbled with her words, yet again, wondering how exactly she was going to handle the lull in conversation. They had been fine with talking last night, words had come easily other things seemed to be quite easy for them, too. The dancing. The kissing. The touching. Everything. They just fit, and now, Quinn could barely even
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talk to the girl. Why did alcohol have to make things difficult? She hadn't even been that drunk. She hadn't even been drunk at the party. Maybe she was just drunk on Rachel. Quinn thought about that for a moment, counted and cataloged her symptoms, and then came to a conclusion. Maybe it was just Rachel. "What are you thinking about?" Rachel asked curiously. "You make this face, like you're a thousand miles away. I've always wondered what goes on in your head." "You really want to know what I'm thinking about?" Quinn asked. It wasn't sly, it wasn't flirtatious, but it was honest. She was surprised that Rachel took such a close check on her; that she knew so well and truly wondered about Quinn. About the ramblings in her head, even. Rachel smiled, and Quinn steeled her nerves. "You. I was thinking about you." Rachel's cheeks darkened slightly. Quinn knew the brunette showed blushes differently than she did with her fair skin, so they weren't nearly as visible when they happened, but she still knew what was happening, and it flattered her. Quinn smiled back. "That's a very good answer," Rachel said softly. Her voice was hushed, awed, barely a whisper. Quinn felt the butterflies kick-start again, continuing to fly their forged paths through her limbs and veins, taking over and bringing her nerves back in full. "It's just the truth," Quinn said. "You asked." "I did." Quinn shrugged and took another sip of her drink. Rachel fiddled with her straw and looked at Quinn in a way that Quinn swore was differently than she had ever seen. It wasn't lusty, from last night. It wasn't scared, like in high school. It wasn't curious, like Rachel was wondering and doubting her motivations. It wasn't friendly, even. It was like Rachel was looking at her and taking stock, really seeing the different parts of Quinn Fabray and maybe even loving them. "Good coffee?" Quinn asked, breaking the other lull as it started. "Excellent. Now I have a reason to visit," Rachel said. "Yes, you do."
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"We don't have to be awkward with one another, Quinn," Rachel said simply. Quinn felt her throat seize. Her vision blurred. She might have been having a heart attack. She took another long sip of her coffee and continued to just gape at Rachel, possibly like a fish out of water. Not her finest moment, to be sure. "I mean, the lulls in conversation, the small talk, don't you think we've moved past that? You've seen me naked, after all." Quinn sputtered, almost choking on her coffee, and brown eyes widened quickly with concern. "Oh my God, are you okay? I didn't mean to" Quinn cleared her throat, then took another, slower sip that made it safely down before speaking again. "No, it's just you should warn a girl before you fire off things like. Well, like that. " "You've always known me to be an open and honest individual, haven't you?" "I have, it's admirable," Quinn replied. It was. "So, why shouldn't I be open and honest about this? We've established via text messaging that it doesn't scare you. Those were your words. And, it's not like what I've said was untrue," Rachel explained. Quinn felt an awkward sense of security lift over her. At least Rachel didn't seem to be totally upset about what happened. But, as patronizing Quinn in the back of her head liked to remind her, what transpired between the two of them could have been lots of not positive things for Rachel, and for them. It could have been an ego boost, or a means of revenge screwing your tormentor to feel beautiful. It could have been a lot of things. "And now you're far away again." Quinn broke from her thoughts and smiled apologetically. "I do that a lot," Quinn replied. "I've noticed in the short time we've been around one another again," Rachel said. "It's intriguing, but you should share. I promise not to judge you." "If you did, I really couldn't blame you," Quinn replied. "Or hate you." Rachel's hands reached across the table, and were warm, soft against her own.
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Rachel was holding her hands. Quinn looked down, but Rachel moved up and lifted her chin with a single finger, forcing her to make eye contact. That smile was going to be the death of her, and Quinn smiled shyly back. "Quinn, I'm over high school. I'm over the name calling, the teasing, the misplaced feelings, the insecurity, even the need to be better than everyone else. Well, I'm not completely over that last one, but that's just a character flaw." Quinn laughed softly. "What I'm trying to say is that I'm over it. I'm over our history. Well, I'm over the bad parts of our history, and the bad parts of my story," Rachel said gently. "I'm over it, so I think it's past time that you were as well. So we can move on perhaps even together." "Together," Quinn said, testing the word on her tongue. Rachel smiled and nodded. "You mean, you're not afraid?" "I'm very afraid," Rachel admitted with an emphatic nod. "Oh." Quinn felt her heart sink in her chest, but noticed that Rachel didn't pull her hands away. She didn't move. She didn't budge. Quinn couldn't even feel her breathing. Rachel Berry was like a rock, and it was unnerving and comforting all at once. "Not of you," Rachel said. Then she paused. "Okay, maybe a little bit of you. You just have to prove me wrong." Rachel smiled again, and Quinn found herself smiling back. "What are you afraid of, other than me?" Quinn asked. If she was going to prove her wrong, if she wanted a real chance, if she wanted a shot with Rachel, and she did, then she had to know what she was working with. Quinn was good with fear. She wasn't proud of it, but she knew a lot about it, so maybe she could use that knowledge for good once, and capitalize on taking said fear away instead of building upon it and making it worse. "Commitment," Rachel admitted honestly. "I used to want nothing else. I wanted a lover, a partner, someone to come home to at night until I lost it, and lost him, and
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then realized that it could be a handicap to my career. And then, I convinced myself that if I lost my career, if I lost my shot, my big shot, I'd lose everything. Awards don't keep you warm at night, and Broadway goes dark eventually, but they're accomplishments you keep forever. People go away." "You're amazing, Rachel," Quinn gushed. "If anyone could have it all, deserves to have it all, it's you." "You're sweet for saying that, but my head is kind of crazy sometimes." Quinn nodded. That much, she could understand. All of it, she understood on some level or another. "So, commitment, anything else?" Rachel looked down, thinking. She gave Quinn's hands a squeeze, probably instinctual, but sending a message of warmth through the blonde from head to toe. "Love," Rachel said. "I've dreamed about it for years, for my entire life, but it terrifies me. Part of me wants nothing more than to fall in love, to find eternity in the eyes of someone else like people write songs about. I want the great love story, but I want nothing to do with it at the same time. Is that crazy? God, that's crazy, isn't it?" Quinn shook her head viciously. "No, it's definitely not crazy. Love fucks everything up. And when you love something, or when someone loves you, and then they leave they take everything." "Have you ever been in love, Quinn?" "No," Quinn replied honestly. "But I know what it's like not to be loved anymore. That was enough." She was referring to her parents. The harsh finality in her father's eyes when he slammed the door in her face, leaving her sobbing on their front porch, bags surrounding her, the rest in her friends' cars. They never called. They never wrote. They never asked about her. They never even sent friends to ask about her. Her name was non-existent, like their child had died in a fire. Like she had died, when truthfully, she was living at the Lopez's house across town. That's how much they hated her. That's how much they hated who she was. And they had created her. But somehow, their creation, their piece of flesh and blood, born from their own bodies,
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was too much of a monster. They'd rather speak of her in silence, in the corners of their minds, or pretend she was a ghost. A ghost and a memory of a pregnant girl, perhaps, but not a gay one. Not a sinful heathen. Not a dirty homosexual. Rachel's hands squeezed Quinn's again, and when the blonde looked up, she saw acceptance. She saw understanding. She saw warmth and life and breath and Rachel was so beautiful. She shook herself out of her trance and squeezed Rachel's hands back. "Have you ever been in love, Rachel?" Quinn asked, working up the courage, even though she knew. She knew it had been Finn. He had hurt her so much, that was obvious, so she had to have loved him. He was her first love, she'd never forget him. His leaving had devastated her, had weathered the storm into her eyes she'd carry him around like her baggage just as Quinn toted her parents and their hatred. "No," Rachel answered finally. Quinn's eyebrows raised. What a surprise. "But Finn?" "I thought I loved Finn. I probably wanted to love Finn. Actually, I know I did. I desperately wanted to, because when I was a that young, I wanted to feel love. I felt a lot for him. I felt a lot of deep care, a lot of obsession, perhaps, but it wasn't love. It couldn't have been." "Why not?" Rachel smiled, and her thumbs snaked across the back of Quinn's hands. Then, they pulled away, and Quinn felt the stinging chill of the air, even though it wasn't that cold. Rachel sipped her coffee calmly and dark eyes met Quinn and held. They held her tight like a life preserver. They brought her to shore. "Because when we kissed, everything I knew changed," Rachel said. "Wait, what?" Quinn asked. Maybe it was a little insensitive. A little too sharp. Rachel's eyes reflected that. She should have stopped talking. She should have. "No,
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no way. We were drunk, and we were young, God, we were so young. How could that have possibly?" But she wasn't mad, because now those hands were back, and Quinn felt the peace once again. "I don't know, exactly," Rachel replied honestly. "I don't know, because there's some clarity, and even more gray areas that are just blank, and I've felt like I was swimming in that memory for years. And then last night happened, and I have even more questions, and now I do know one thing." "What's that?" Quinn whispered. "You have the answers," Rachel said with a bright, cheerful smile. Quinn shook her head. "Hell no, I don't," Quinn said with a disbelieving chuckle. "Answers and I are not friends. Really, we don't get along. I don't invite them to dinner. I don't call, they don't write. I don't have the answers, Rachel. I don't even know my own questions." "I think" Rachel said. "I think we'll find them together. Questions and answers." The lull that passed between them was comfortable, for the first time, and both girls finished their drinks in silence. When they finished, and Rachel's straw made a loud slurping sound that caused Quinn to laugh at the brunette's need to finish up every last caffeinated drop, Rachel spoke up again. "Thank you for the coffee, Quinn." "Anytime," Quinn replied. "No, because next time, I'm paying. And it'll be dinner, not coffee," Rachel insisted. They stood up, recycled their cups, and stood awkwardly in front of the caf. "So, you decided for the second date," Quinn stated. Rachel shoved her hands in her pockets and beamed. "It would appear so," Rachel replied. "When were you thinking? You know, so I can be sure to pencil you into my busy,
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busy schedule of working at the bookstore and taking up space at Santana's bar or watching Tivo." Rachel laughed. "God forbid I take you away from Tivo." "Well, you have my number," Quinn said. "Just keep me posted." Quinn swayed on her heels, realizing that this was the goodbye portion of the show. She and Rachel would go their separate ways, and then Rachel would (hopefully) call and they'd have that second date. And then maybe a third. And then maybe "Keep you posted?" Rachel asked, brow furrowed. "Yeah," Quinn said. "About the second date. You know, so I can set up the shows I'll be missing on Tivo." "You're trying to say goodbye to me?" Rachel asked. "Um no?" Quinn asked, unsure of where Rachel was going. Again, answers. Not her forte. "Yes? I don't know. Do you want me to say goodbye, because I totally will. Or, I could just run back to my apartment like a buffoon and try to avoid traffic. Whatever you want, really." Rachel laughed musically, obviously amused. "No." Quinn frowned. "Once more, but with adjectives and more nouns, please." "You're not saying goodbye," Rachel said simply. "But we're done with coffee," Quinn said. "I know we are," Rachel said. "I didn't have any other plans. If you don't, either, I'd very much like to spend the day with you." "I'm not um, no, I'm not working. I don't have plans today. You what?"
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"I wanted to spend the day with you, Quinn," Rachel said, taking a step forward and subtracting more of that distance that Quinn was becoming less and less attached to. "Awesome," the blonde breathed, honestly unable to think of anything better. "Great!" Rachel said happily. She linked their fingers together and started moving forward. "Now, I haven't spent much time here, as I said, and since you're a local, there are so many places I'd love to see, so perhaps you could create some form of itinerary" Rachel Berry had a tendency to babble. But Quinn was nervous, and found that smiling, nodding, and letting the brunette lead was a winning combination that scored her lots of points. Lots of points. Also, the hand holding thing? Awesome.

A/N: Yay Faberry! Gosh, I love these two. If you do, too, and you have thoughts/comments/anything, please let me know. I love to hear it.

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Chapter 19
Rachel and Quinn had made their way from the Village, where they spent a good chunk of time exploring little shops, vintage clothing stores for Rachel and antique stores for Quinn, they eventually made their way to the part of New York City that Quinn referred to as "the other side." Specifically, Central Park, where they took the blanket that Rachel had purchased at one of the vintage clothing stores (and that Quinn had to carry the entire way) to good use on the freshly mowed grass. There, the girls laid side by side, looking up at the clear blue sky, oblivious to passers-by except for on the random occasion where a Frisbee would go whizzing by Rachel's head, causing the girl to jump or squeal. Every time this happened, she got a little closer to Quinn, and the blonde found that she didn't mind one bit. She found herself wishing for Frisbee. More and more Frisbees, so there would be no distance left between them. Except clothes. And Quinn found herself wishing for less of those, too. "I love days like this," Rachel said. "So much sunshine. A healthy dose of Vitamin D. It's the best medicine, really." They were so close that Quinn could almost feel the hum of the brunette's body when she spoke. Quinn could feel her breathing, especially when it changed from deep to shallow, then back to deep. It made the hair on Quinn's arms stand up, gave her goose bumps and would occasionally spark an involuntary shudder. She hoped Rachel didn't notice, but suspected she did. Every time the goose bumps surfaced, Rachel's fingers would gently trace along Quinn's forearm, and every time she shuddered, she swore Rachel moved a little closer. Almost like they were snuggling on that blanket. Almost. "This reminds me of those scenes in romantic comedies where the two main characters sit and describe the shapes in the clouds. I'm kind of tempted to do that," Quinn confessed. "That's really lame though, isn't it?" Rachel laughed, and Quinn felt every bit of it. Her smile widened; how had she never noticed how lovely Rachel's laugh was before? Really noticed? It's perfect. She's maybe perfect. "You're talking to a bit of a hopeless romantic here, Quinn. I don't think it's lame at all," Rachel replied. "Although, I will say that I never pegged you for the romantic
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comedy type." Quinn laughed. "Oh, really? What did you peg me as then?" Rachel stilled, and propped up on her arm. Dark hair fell slightly over her shoulders, acting as somewhat of a curtain, and brown eyes bore down on her. Quinn always loved dark eyes. She had found comfort in Santana's on more than one occasion, and even though the vivacious Latina wasn't always warm and welcoming, Quinn found comfort knowing that she saw warmth where few others could. Rachel's eyes, however, were lighter, possibly from her sunny personality and natural warmth. There was a spark within them, Quinn had noticed that long ago. A spark and a gentility that made her feel warm, like she had just spent the last hour sipping hot chocolate while wrapped in a blanket on a cold night. It was a different warmth, and it felt incredible. Quinn felt her cheeks flush, and fought the urge to look away. Instead, she held fast, bringing her eyes up to Rachel's and trying not to focus on the fact that the brunette was nearly on top of her. "I feel an urge to plead the fifth," Rachel said coyly. I frowned and sighed heavily. "Oh, come on! Is it that bad?" Quinn asked, feeling a part of her feel heavy and sink. It was morbid curiosity, perhaps, and perhaps it was just useless trivia that really didn't matter, but she found herself waiting, wanting to know like it was some best-kept secret. "Okay, okay," Rachel said, nodding a few times to center herself and contain her thoughts. "But I'll have you know that you asked. You pushed, even. So, you can't be upset with me for the honest answer." "Am I gonna be upset with the honest answer?" Quinn asked slyly. Rachel pursed her lips and adopted an innocent look. "No?" "Spit it out, Rachel," Quinn said in a commanding voice. She watched the brunette shiver ever so slightly, and knew that with movements like that, subtle and hypnotizing, there was no way she could be mad regardless of what Rachel said. Especially since she caused that reaction. "Fine. But you asked for it," Rachel said, still stalling.
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"I'm waiting," Quinn replied. Rachel blushed slightly. "Horror movies." Quinn laughed, releasing it from the pit of her stomach. Rachel frowned, and bit her bottom lip shyly. "No! God, no. That's Santana territory," Quinn assured the brunette. "Although it's funny you'd think that, though. I'm not even going to bother to ask why. I hate horror movies." "Me, too," Rachel said. "I'm glad to hear that you agree. Now I won't have to worry about us never being able to have a movie date." "You thought about us having a movie date?" "Yes, at your apartment, on your couch. You'd have to kick Santana out for the night, though. And, if horror truly was your favorite genre, you'd have to defer to something of my choosing," Rachel explained seriously. "Good luck getting rid of Santana," Quinn said, releasing another hearty laugh. "Especially if she suspected it was a date. She'd probably wedge herself between us on the couch, just to be difficult." Rachel's expression fell. "You're joking, aren't you?" "I wish I was," Quinn admitted. Rachel laid back down, allowing their arms to brush as she did so. Quinn's mind was still racing, more quickly now because of the skin to skin contact, no matter how slight it was in actuality. They laid in silence, content with the sounds of each others' breathing. Quinn found herself looking back up at the clouds, falling back into her movie moment. "She has a job," Rachel pointed out helpfully. Quinn chuckled again, and turned to look at the brunette. "You're stuck on this movie date thing, aren't you? I thought we were doing dinner first," Quinn said, still happy to talk about the fact that there would be a second date at all. Especially when she hadn't expected this first date to happen. She hadn't expected the night before to happen, either. Not in her wildest dreams, and yet here she was, in the middle of Central Park, which was arguably one of the more
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romantic places the city, or any city in the United States had to offer, with Rachel Berry laying next to her. Their forearms were touching. Everything was amazing. Her mind was officially blown. Rachel paused, then replied in a small, almost self-conscious voice. "I don't know if I want this date to end." Quinn leaned up this time, separating her arm from Rachel's only because of her change in position. That, and she felt that it would be slightly suspect if she moved away slightly, but insisted on keeping them pressed together. Even though she figured Rachel was probably more in-tune to her inner turmoil, her inner longing than she was, she didn't want to take any chances. Well, any more chances. "I'm not in a rush to leave," Quinn stated plainly. "You know, in case you were wondering." Rachel tucked a stand of hair behind Quinn's ear and just stared at her, a light smile playing on her lips. Rachel felt herself falling deeper, getting lost in endless pools of hazel that just kept swirling from brown to green to gold to green to bronze to Rachel was lost. But, Quinn's mouth was moving, so she couldn't get lost for much longer. No, she could just stare into those eyes and try, try to focus on what the girl was actually saying. Rachel's hand rested on Quinn's cheek, her fingers staying a beat too long, a mere moment of unprofessional, completely past platonic happenstance that caused Quinn to take her hand in her own and lace their fingers. She set their conjoined hands between their bodies on the soft blanket and beamed down at Rachel. Her lips started moving again, then paused. "Rachel?" Rachel blinked twice, her attention held. She ducked, needing space from those mystical eyes that lured her in like a siren. Like a helpless sailor, she was, and she was caught. Oh, she was in trouble. So much trouble. "Hmm?" Rachel hummed, hoping that her simplistic answer wouldn't give away how dazed she was. How helpless she was. How enamored she was.
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"You're beautiful," Quinn sighed. Rachel felt her heart seize, then start beating again, stronger than before. "I'm not trying to scare you. I don't want to scare you. That's the last thing I want, but after last night, well, this morning, really I don't know where we stand. What you're feeling. I can't imagine what you're feeling. I went through a gay panic, and I'm doing" Rachel decided that Quinn had to stop talking. She moved up quickly, bracing her hand on Quinn's thigh, and connected their lips. And then they were kissing in the middle of Central Park, and Quinn moaned into her mouth. Rachel opened her lips, willingly parting them to allow Quinn's entrance, and she took the lead marvelously. They swirled their tongues together, and then Quinn was lowering, lowering until they were both laying on their sides, kissing like they needed one another to survive. Quinn's hand found its way onto Rachel's side, then traversed the short distance to the small of her back, and that strong hand pulled Rachel closer. Rachel's hand cupped Quinn's cheek, and she tilted her head just so, allowing Quinn to kiss deeper, kiss harder, and possess more of her. Take all she had to offer, and leave her with nothing left, if such was her desire. Quinn moaned and blunt fingernails worried the hem of Rachel's shirt, moving it up just a half an inch so she could be touching skin and not cotton. Rachel gasped and kissed Quinn's full bottom lip, sucking it into her mouth gently as they parted ways. Their eyes fluttered open simultaneously, and they were both panting softly. Quinn didn't pull away, Rachel wouldn't let her. Rachel didn't run, but she smiled. She smiled proudly at Quinn, and she knew her eyes had darkened, but did not lower them when Quinn went searching. Quinn's hand stayed on the small of her back, caressing gently with her fingertips. Rachel saw a million questions, a million little wonders race through her mind behind the hazel window she was facing and placed a finger to Quinn's lips. Quinn placed a soft kiss to that fingertip and lowered her gaze. "Rachel?" Quinn whispered. Rachel felt her heart swell, for the whisper wasn't concern, or fear, nor was it shyness. She felt as though this was Quinn's attempt to keep them suspended and secluded in their little bubble, tucked away where nothing else in the world mattered. Where they could just be. Where they could be anything they wanted. This endeared Quinn to her, pressed the blonde a little tighter into her heart, just like she had that night on her going away party when Quinn had been so tender, so gentle, so concerned that maybe she was a little too drunk, that she'd maybe have regrets, that maybe Quinn Fabray was the last person she'd want to be kissing in such a vulnerable state. In any state. Quinn had never
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been further from the truth. Because if she could have looked at Rachel a little closer, taken a little more time, and perhaps been a little braver, she would have figured out that alcohol or no, she was the only person Rachel would have wanted to be kissing that night. Even more than Finn. Always more than Finn, although it had taken Rachel too long to figure that out. Back then, it would have been useless anyway. But now, they had a bubble. They had a them. "Yes, Quinn?" Rachel asked, adopting the same gentle whisper. "Now this feels like a date," she replied. Rachel giggled and moved closer to the blonde. She forced Quinn onto her back and laid with her head on the blonde's chest. Their hands stayed laced together, and they looked up at the clouds. Shapes began to form before her very eyes, and Rachel smiled. "Why did you leave?" Quinn asked. "That looks like a rabbit," Rachel mused. Then, she paused, and realized that Quinn was trying to pop the bubble. Or, maybe, she was trying to fend off the outside forces that were leaking in. Or trying to leak in. Rachel wasn't sure. "What?" "This morning. You could have stayed. I wanted you could have stayed," Quinn repeated. "I couldn't," Rachel confessed. She expected Quinn to burst their protective bubble, to go screaming across the fear, angry and bitter and hating her guts. Quinn didn't budge. She breathed, a series of gentle, slow in and out patterns. Her heartbeat thudded under Rachel's ear, and it still seemed calm. She couldn't hear it breaking. "Can you tell me why?" Quinn asked, back to the gentle whisper. Rachel listened harder; she wanted to hear the cracks. So far, there weren't any. She had to tread carefully, but she had to be honest. "I didn't know what it would mean, to wake up in your arms. I don't I haven't
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really I don't know what mornings after should be like." "But you watch romance movies," Quinn stated. It raised the mood, ever so slightly, but didn't detract from the overall seriousness. Quinn was releasing pressure, but pressure still remained. It was still a volatile situation, and again, Rachel listened. "I do," Rachel admitted. "But it was only Finn and I. We never had mornings. It was always his place or my place, or once in his car, and that was terrible. It was always rushed and we were constantly looking over our shoulders, wondering if our parents would be home. Worrying and never with enough time to really be, or really have a morning after." Quinn nodded, but said nothing. She knew there was more to be said, she sensed it, and she let Rachel continue. "After Finn, it was always casual, no-strings attached sex. But I'm not I'm not that kind of girl, you know? Even if I wanted to be slutty, I could never follow through. But there were no feelings there, except lust, so there certainly were no mornings after. I always kicked them out as soon as everything was said and done, horrible as that sounds," Rachel continued. "How many?" Quinn asked, morbid curiosity sparking again. "Just one," Rachel said. "Andrew. He goes to Julliard. I see him every now and then. It's still awkward." "I'm sorry," Quinn said, although it wasn't pitying. It was concerned, and Rachel's heart started to swell again. "You deserve so much more. You always did." "So I don't know what a morning after should feel like. What I'd expect. And you you're so much more than I expected, Quinn," Rachel finished. "Also, I'm a girl," Quinn said simply. "You should know that doesn't bother me," Rachel replied curtly. "My dads taught me about the Kinsey scale before we even took a Sex Education course in school. It was a chapter of our formal 'birds and the bees/bees and bees/birds and birds' conversation." "You had a conversation?" Quinn asked.
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"I come from a very progressive family," Rachel said. "I had Celibacy Club and Bible verses," Quinn groaned. "I'm sorry," Rachel replied, using the same non-pitying, compassionate tone that Quinn had showcased earlier. It was a mutual understanding. They both had their shortcomings, but neither saw such things as shortcomings in the other; it was only another facet of a beautiful whole. "Why does it bother you? Just because of the morning after thing? You're not gay panicking? Having an identity crisis?" Quinn asked. "I am not close-minded in love as it relates to gender," Rachel explained. "I'm nave in love as it relates to love. To existing. I don't know what it means." "Neither do I, really," Quinn confessed. "I mean, I accept myself. I know I'm gay. I know I was fooling myself for years, and I've forgiven myself for my past and my mistakes and all of the horrible things I did, for the most part. I learned from them. But before you Rachel, before you, I was celibate again." Rachel's jaw dropped. "Wow," Rachel said. "You could have fooled me, hot stuff. Color me impressed." Rachel added a cheesy little wink to her statement and squeezed Quinn's hand. Quinn sighed heavily; this was her moment. It was a beautiful day, there was minimal foot traffic, she felt a stirring in her stomach, but it wasn't fear. She looked deep into those warm brown orbs and found her peace. She found her sanity. She found herself. "Rachel," Quinn began, testing the girl's name out on her lips again. She loved it. She loved calling Rachel by her first name. It sounded amazing, better and better every time she said it. "I have feelings for you. I don't know when they started exactly, I can't pinpoint an exact moment. I can't spell it out in skywriting, but I would if you asked me. I don't know what those feelings mean, and you say I have all the answers, but I don't. I want to learn, though, and unless I've scared you off completely, I hope you'll be willing to learn with me." Rachel laughed softly. "I already asked you on a second date," Rachel replied.
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Quinn's heart sank. Did Rachel not think she was being serious? Was she too verbose? Too emotional? Moving too quickly, too soon? There was something wrong with her, clearly. I mean, sure, they slept together. Lots of people did that. Casual sex wasn't unheard of, after all. Rachel even admitted to participating in such acts before, before her. How lesbian of you, bringing the U-Haul already. God, Quinn, back up. "Yeah," Quinn said, collecting the pieces of her pride. Rachel shifted closely and placed a gentle kiss to Quinn's collarbone and looked up at her with those breathtaking eyes, and Quinn felt her resolve fade, and take her worries and questions along with it. "I like you, too, Quinn," Rachel answered. "I wouldn't have allowed you to take me home last night if I didn't, no matter how much I had to drink." "Really?" Quinn asked, feeling the weight lift itself off her chest and float away, like a feather on the breeze. "Really, really," Rachel replied. "And I certainly wouldn't have kissed you in the middle of Central Park if I didn't. In case you've forgotten, New York is sort of magical to me. And I'm a sucker for romance." "New York is sort of magical to me, too," Quinn replied. "I didn't expect it to grow on me this much, but it has." "Dreams come true here," Rachel sighed. "Mine did." Quinn looked over at Rachel, who was staring straight up into the sky, at the clouds. Her brown eyes were fixed on something, her lips were slightly parted, and her breath fell shallowly, causing her chest to barely move up and down. Quinn was content to watch her, to stare and take in every detail. This staring, openly, caused a lightness in her eyes, a captivation in her soul, and Quinn started to believe that perhaps captivity, or at least this specific breed of it, wasn't such a bad thing. "Mine might," Quinn replied gently. "Jury's still out." Rachel's eyes flickered away from her original focus back to Quinn, and the blonde felt her breath catch in her throat. There wasn't a surplus of emotion behind the look. It was truly just a look. Just Rachel's eyes meeting hers, but there was still some electrical charge just lingering beneath the surface.
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"This place always keeps surprising me," Rachel explained. "It's never boring, and every morning, I wake up and I still feel like I'm in a movie. Granted, I don't have a romantic lead at least, I haven't cast one yet." "Do you have a callback list?" Quinn asked, raising an eyebrow. "I have a line around the block," Rachel said confidently. "I'm Rachel Berry, and even though that didn't work for me in Lima, Ohio, it works wonders for me here." Quinn's heart sank a little, but she fought her initial pause and fought forward. "So I have competition." "I wouldn't say competition. Some roles are meant to be played by certain people, and you, my dear, might just have exactly the qualities I'm looking for." "'My dear?'" "That was my impression of a casting director," Rachel said with a beaming smile. "Did you like it?" "I like Rachel Berry better," Quinn said softly, leaning in a little closer to the smiling brunette. "Oh, you do?" Rachel asked demurely, looking up at Quinn through long eyelashes. "So, you want to know what Rachel Berry thinks about you?" "Naturally." "I think that this is the part in the movie where the charming leading man, or in this case woman kisses the stunning young ingnue and makes her realize why there's no other choice than him her. Naturally," Rachel said with a smug smile. "If we were in a movie," Quinn said, pulling back a little and trying her best not to laugh at the disappointed look that immediately crossed Rachel's face. "Yes. If we were in a movie," Rachel said, frustration obvious. Quinn hummed silently and laid on her back, shifting her gaze back to the clouds above. She felt Rachel stirring beside her, restless. She felt the brunette's gaze, hot and wanting, perhaps, as it raked over dips and curves, settling finally on her face. Quinn laced her hands neatly on her stomach and kept looking upward, waiting for
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Rachel to break the silence. To do something. Rachel's breathing became audible, and Quinn could practically taste the tension between them. The diva cleared her throat. "Quinn?" "Yes, Rachel?" "Why aren't you kissing me?" "Because we're not in a movie. You said that type of thing would happen in a movie. And we've established that you are the hopeless romantic here." Rachel paused again, shifting uncomfortably next to Quinn on the blanket. "Quinn?" Her voice sounded a little more desperate now. Quinn continued to hum quietly. "Yes, Rachel?" "Would you just fucking kiss me already?" Quinn moved so quickly, she could have been made of lightning and laid on top of Rachel. Seamlessly, she connected their mouths, tracing her tongue along Rachel's full bottom lip, asking for permission that she apparently didn't need. Rachel's mouth opened instantly to welcome her, and her hands found the small of Quinn's back, flirting dangerously with the space just above the curve of her ass. Quinn's kisses departed from Rachel's mouth to her neck and bestowed nips and gentle, tender kisses all over the brunette's neck and throat, causing slow moans and quiet murmurs to escape the smaller girl. Quinn's hips ground down, and a deep moan escaped Quinn as Rachel's thighs parted instantly to allow her to lay between, to have more contact, to be closer. Quinn's mouth found Rachel's again in a passionate, lustful kiss that trapped them both in sensual heat that was rising around them, and then broke seconds later, crashing somewhere on the shore and sending them both back down to reality.
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"Rachel?" "Yes, Quinn?" "I'm so glad this is real life, because that was awesome." Rachel sighed happily, stroking up and down the blonde's back as she still laid on top of her. Quinn paused. "Am I crushing you?" "Not a bit," Rachel replied. "Don't you dare move." "Didn't want to," Quinn admitted. "Quinn?" "Yes, Rachel?" "I lied." The blonde's head snapped up, and she tried not to panic. She forced it down, steadied her breathing, and wished for control. She grasped it by a thread that was unraveling quickly, and stared down into endless brown eyes. "About what?" "I'm not considering other people for my romantic lead," Rachel confessed. "You're the only one I want." Quinn's heart danced and leaped in her chest, nearly bursting with joy. "So, you're not afraid anymore?" "No, I'm still terrified. But you're worth it. And whatever this is, wherever we're going, we'll figure it out together," Rachel finished. Quinn placed a gentle kiss on the brunette's lips, then pulled away, adopting a shit-eating grin.
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"So much for Santana's plan," Quinn murmured. "What?" "Nothing! We're in Central Park, and it's all romantic, and you're beautiful, so there should be less talking and more of this." Quinn's hands traversed gently up Rachel's sides, and she lowered her lips to Rachel's once again, feeling the brunette's body give in instantly to her questing ministrations. There may have been someone whistling at them. There might have been cheers. Hell, there might have been fireworks and a big band playing the theme music from some old romance classic, but they wouldn't have known. They didn't know anything, except each other, which was really all that mattered.

A/N: Sorry this one took a little longer! Hopefully the content made up for it. My life's been a little crazy with work and everything else going on, but hopefully the next update will be up by Saturday (at the latest). That would be the plan at least. As for the duration of this story, I'm thinking ten or so more chapters to wrap it up. I have a few more surprises in store, and a lot more fluff, so hopefully that's not going to keep anyone away! Thanks again for reading, and I'd love to hear your thoughts, as always. They really keep me going, and let me know what to write for you.

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Chapter 20
One week later After their first date in Central Park, Rachel and Quinn had to go back to their normal lives. However, what they hadn't counted on was the difficulty it would be to go back to daily functioning with so much on their minds. Rachel was shocked to find herself daydreaming about Quinn in her classes, picking songs that reminded her of the charismatic blonde instead of ones that showcased her voice best, and sometimes even leaving workshops early to trek to the Village to bring Quinn coffee or lunch at her workplace. Quinn was always happy to see her. Quinn broke her on rules on many, many occasions, texting Rachel off and on during her slower work days, just to see what the other girl was doing. They hadn't gotten much time to spend together other than brief little meetings where Rachel showed up with surprises, or Quinn surprised Rachel with a late-night phone call so the brunette could tell her all about her day. Santana was starting to notice Quinn's emotional presence a little less, but didn't give her too much trouble because she had Brittany to occupy a lot of her own time. Kurt and Blaine watched Rachel step a little more lightly around the house, and she was a little less demanding of their time for her stories, which gave them an opportunity for more frequent alone time. The changes in Quinn and Rachel were good for everyone, and everyone had become slightly invested in how this coupling would turn out. Quinn smiled more, Rachel became less obsessed with her career and started to think more like a young woman who was, quite possibly, falling in love with another person. Rachel stressed over and over, especially when pressed, that it didn't matter that Quinn was another girl, it only mattered that she was an amazing person. Santana liked to pick on Quinn, throwing little barbs here and there that were decidedly less stinging than they were pre-Brittany about how Quinn was going to end up whipped and a girlfriend in a matter of time. Quinn didn't want to count any chickens before they hatched, even though every time someone mentioned the words Rachel and girlfriend in the same sentence, she felt her heart skip a beat. She thought about their second date on an increasingly frequent basis, especially when Rachel started dropping hints that it would be happening soon. And then soon became tonight.
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And Quinn found herself staring at her closet, nauseous in that nervous way, completely indecisive on what to wear. "Santana?" Quinn asked, her voice strangled with frustration and panic. "What now, Quinn?" They were yelling at each other from other sides of the apartment and probably pissing off the neighbors, but that was them, and nobody had filed a noise complaint yet. Which was a miracle. They did the yelling thing a lot. "I can't find anything to wear!" Santana's laugh echoed through the apartment, and found its way to Quinn's ears. The blonde braced herself against the closet door, staring forward helplessly, and sighed. "Did all your clothes run away or something? Because last time I checked, your closet looked like you robbed a vintage hipster store. There's got to be something you can wear." Santana leaned against Quinn's bedroom door, eyebrow raised, and Quinn turned around to face her friend. "But this is different, Santana," Quinn argued. "Not really," Santana offered. "Girl's already seen all there is to offer under the clothes, so she's not going to be put off if your socks don't match your tie." "I'm not wearing a tie," Quinn stressed. "I never pegged you for that kind of lesbian anyway, Q." "A dress?" "No, I don't know if it's that fancy," Quinn said. "I do not want to be overdressed." Santana crossed her arms, walked across Quinn's bedroom, and all but shoved the blonde out of the way. She stood in the very center of the closet and looked at the rows of clothing. "Sit on the bed," Santana ordered. "If I'm going to help you, I need to focus on
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this, and this jittery bullshit you've got going on is going to make me tear my hair out. And I just paid for extensions." "Extensions, really?" Quinn asked, looking a little closer at her friend's hair. You couldn't tell, really. "Shut up," Santana barked. "Sit there, stay quiet. Pretend you're a mannequin or something." "Mannequins are creepy." "I'll put you in a tie, I swear to God." "Do you think Rachel would like it if I-" "Quinn." Santana shoved a few shirts down the row, scoffing with distaste. "There's so much plaid!" "But it's comfortable," Quinn whined. "You used to be all sundresses all the time," Santana said. "What happened?" "I bought it in the women's section. It's not like I'm wearing men's clothes," Quinn said. "Not that there's anything wrong with that. Those pants you bought last month with the side pockets-" "Shut. Up," Santana said. "I can't work with this noise, Q." "You've been watching too much Bravo," Quinn commented. Santana turned around, fire in her eyes, and Quinn remembered the Lima Heights Santana that was still just slightly under the surface and felt a chill race down her spine. "I'm going to stop talking." "Finally." Santana pulled a large, floppy straw hat down off the top, held it above her head and looked at Quinn with shock. "What the fuck is this? Did you steal it from Mary Poppins?"
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"I burn easily. It keeps the sun off my face," Quinn explained. It was a perfectly logical explanation, in her opinion. She was a natural blonde, but she was still fair-skinned and had to be diligent about sun exposure. "No wonder you haven't seen any action in years." Santana threw the hat back in the closet, making sure it lodged itself in the back corner before moving on. She grabbed a pair of black skinny jeans and tossed them on the bed. "Those. Those are classic, they go with everything. Now I just have to find a top that isn't plaid." "I might have a couple near the back, from before you worked at the bar and we'd go out," Quinn said. "Before you retook your vow of chastity?" "Um I think so, maybe." "So, they were from when you actually thought about getting laid?" Quinn's eyes narrowed, and she tilted her head. "Don't be crude." A sly smile crossed the Latina's features, and she started searching toward the back of Quinn's closet. "Those will be perfect." "I don't want to look like I'm easy!" "You gave it up before you had your first date with this girl, amigo. I'm trying to help it happen a second time," Santana explained. She slid a few more shirts down the bar and threw her hands up with joy. "Eureka." Santana held up a blood red, halter back red top in one hand and a deep blue baby doll shirt with a shimmering, plunging neckline and smiled. "Pick your poison, sex kitten."
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"I don't know if I like what those shirts are saying," Quinn said skeptically. "Shouldn't I be a bit more demure?" "Okay, listen to me on this one," Santana began, holding the shirts down a little bit. She gestured to the closet, putting on a little bit of a show. "These shirts say, 'I'm a lonely, brainy hipster I'm cute, but probably go home and watch John Hughes movies because I have a nonexistent sex life.'" "I don't think a shirt really says all that, Santana." Santana turned back to the shirts in her hand. "Yes, they do. And these ones say: 'I'm Quinn Fabray, I'm hot as hell, and you know you want a piece of this.'" "That's pretty forward," Quinn argued. "Berry will love it," Santana said. "Trust me. She may be a weird girl, but she's still a girl, and apparently, Broadway wanted some of the Fabray before, so you need to make her wants some more." "You think so?" Quinn asked timidly. "Do you want to get laid or not, Fabray?" "I I wouldn't mind if the evening went that way under the right circumstances," Quinn replied. "Great," Santana said. She held the shirts up again. "Now, are you gonna pick one, or do I have to make you try them on and model first?"

Ten Minutes Later Santana was seated on the couch, waiting for Quinn to emerge from the bedroom wearing her choice. Quinn's door opened, and the brunette sat up a little straighter. "Come out and strut your shit, home girl," Santana catcalled loudly. Quinn walked down the hallway, hands shoved deep into the pockets of the skinny jeans. Her bare feet padded along the floor, and she tried her best to straighten her
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posture as she rounded the corner. She stood in front of Santana, feeling the air hit her cleavage, acting as a constant reminder of the fact that it was there, and very present. "What do you think?" Quinn asked. "Hands out of your pockets," Santana said. Quinn obeyed, and they fell loosely at her sides. She straightened her posture, tilted her head to the side, and smiled. "The blue one is a nice choice. I approve," Santana said. "These jeans are maybe a little small. I've kind of got" Quinn said, gesturing to her thighs and curves. "You've got some junk in the trunk. It's not a bad thing. It's kind of hot, actually," Santana said nonchalantly. "You've got a rockin' body. Berry- sorry, Rachel, would be an idiot not to tap that." "Did you just call me hot?" "We're friends. Friends can compliment each other. Even Lesbifriends. Doesn't mean I want to bang you. Have you seen my girlfriend?" Quinn nodded. Brittany was pretty phenomenally gorgeous. Anyone with eyes would notice that. "But I'm thinking I'm going to have to induct Rachel into the 'Brunettes with Hot Blonde Girlfriends' Club soon enough," Santana continued. "You think so?" Quinn asked, her confidence clearly rising. "I know so," Santana said, standing up from her comfortable reclining position. She took a few more steps toward Quinn and glanced her over again, head to toe. Then, she opened her arms, and pulled the blonde in for a hug. Santana finished with a kiss to the top of Quinn's head. "You're a catch, Q. And Rachel's not so bad." Quinn pulled back a little, keeping Santana's at arm's length. "You just said Rachel was 'not bad.' Did we have a change of heart?"
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"Don't push it," Santana said. She offered Quinn another smile before releasing their embrace and flopping back down on the couch. " Now go put some make-up on your face and get some shoes on. Not Chucks, Quinn. I'm serious. I'll cut you." "I was thinking a pair of sensible black flats." "That works," Santana said with a nod. "Where's she taking you?" "Some restaurant. It's a surprise," Quinn said. "I'm expecting a text with the address any time now." "Wherever it is, you'll look amazing. And you'll be fine. Just don't sweat it. You're Quinn fucking Fabray." Quinn smiled. Santana had an odd way about her sometimes, but there was a reason why they were best friends. "I'm Quinn fucking Fabray. Thanks, Santana. You're an awesome friend." Santana raised a hand and smirked. "Bitch, please. I know."

Twenty Minutes Later "Okay, I'm leaving," Quinn said, grabbing her purse, her keys, and sliding on her black peacoat, prepared for the brisk New York City evening. "Try not to miss me." "I won't, trust me," Santana called from the couch. "Where are you going, anyway? You know, in case you go missing." "Right," Quinn replied with a smirk. "There's no way I'm falling for that one." "What?" Santana asked innocently. "I can't be concerned for my roommate now?" "Uh-huh. You'll totally Google map the address and cruise by like a creepy stalker." "I will not!"

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"Santana, I'm your best friend. I know how you operate," Quinn said. "I've got my phone. Use only in case of emergency. I'm not kidding." "Takin' my fun away," Santana grumbled. "Love you," Quinn said. "Seriously. And don't wait up." Quinn threw a little wink over her shoulder, adding a little bit of cheese to the flirtatious gesture, and Santana groaned loudly. Outside of her apartment, when Quinn found herself standing in the hallway, resting against the sturdy wooden door, she felt the butterflies start up in her abdomen. They were ruthless and aggressive little bastards, fluttering and tearing her insides apart. Quinn wasn't sure what she was so nervous about. Things with Rachel had been going better than she would have ever expected. They worked together surprisingly well, and the other girl had the crazy ability to make her forget everything and just feel, which was something Quinn had never expected to be possible. Except the fact that there were feelings, growing feelings, even, was what made her rest and breathe a little deeper. What caused the butterflies to be so damn relentless. She wasn't sure what her own feelings meant, and she knew that Rachel was feeling them, too. Rachel was afraid of them, and she was tentative even in her passion. Quinn felt suspended, up high, clinging to a railing. Part of her wanted to jump, and wanted to trust Rachel to catch her, but the other part was still questioning how safe it really was to fall for Rachel Berry. Because maybe, just maybe, Rachel would get scared and leave her falling, unable to catch her. And Quinn just couldn't bring herself to risk that. She took her cell phone out of her purse and sent Rachel a quick text. See you soon. -Q She tucked her phone back into her purse and walked toward the stairs. They'd play it by ear. They'd see where things went. She'd test the waters, instead of convincing herself it was too scary, too risky, and wait to see an opening to let go. She'd wait to see Rachel's shining brown eyes, and she'd wait for Rachel to tell her to jump. And then she'd let go.
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Twenty minutes later Quinn found herself approaching the street where the restaurant was, and looked around. It appeared to be a residential neighborhood. A nice one, with brownstones, townhouses, and nice apartment complexes. She didn't see many other people walking on the streets, and couldn't see any building that looked like a restaurant. She didn't see people looking like they were headed to a restaurant or coming from one, or coming from anywhere, really. She continued watching street signs, and found the street that she was supposed to be on. More townhouses. Her stomach lurched. What could this mean? Rachel had an auto-correct fail? Rachel had a terrible sense of direction? Somebody moved the street? Quinn was an idiot? Rachel played her? No. No, Quinn decided she couldn't let herself think that way, and sped up her walking pace. She started to watch the numbers on the house, realizing a more logical conclusion. She found herself at the bottom of a staircase that led up to the front door of one of the townhouses. She pulled out her cell phone again, and double checked the number. She was positive that she had the street right. 2204. She looked back up at the building, and saw the number. 2204. A match. So it wasn't a restaurant. But Rachel hadn't said that Quinn was picking her up. Her text had been a direction to meet her at a restaurant. But there hadn't been a name of the place, just a street address. Quinn shook her head and trudged up the steps. She moved her hand up and knocked twice. Any more, she thought, would be
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persistent and impolite. It only took a few seconds, and the door swung open. Rachel was standing on the other side, dressed in a casual, but still beautifully put-together black dress that was thin-strapped, even across her chest, tied with a black ribbon around the middle, and had a flowing skirt down to her knees. Quinn looked at her shoes. Sensible black flats. She smiled, and found Rachel's eyes. "Hello, Quinn," Rachel said softly. "Won't you come inside?" "Rachel, I thought I was supposed to meet you at a-" Rachel covered Quinn's lips with her finger and made a soft shushing noise before ushering the taller blonde inside the house. Quinn looked around, and felt her heart start pounding wildly in her chest. The living room was set up with dim candlelight, soft music, and a gorgeous looking feast set out on a medium sized fold-out table that was disguised with an elegant tablecloth. Rachel had really outdone herself. The brunette closed the door behind Quinn and placed her hands on Quinn's shoulders, gently tugging to remove the blonde's jacket. Quinn allowed her to remove her coat, take her purse, and tuck both items away. "Rachel, you" "So I lied," Rachel said with a bright smile. "It's not a restaurant. This is where I live. I cooked. Actually, I was nervous about it. Not about the cooking part. I think you'll find that I'm an excellent cook. I used to cook all the time with my dads." "You cooked for me?" Quinn asked, her voice betraying her by showcasing itself in a breathy whisper. Rachel bit down on her bottom lip and nodded. "For us," Rachel said. "Which, as I realized after thorough research online, is a bit forward for a second date with someone new in your life. But since we have quite the history, it's not uncommon at all to have this kind of intimacy. Sometimes, it's quite enjoyable." "Where are Kurt and Blaine?" Quinn asked. "Oh, they took the opportunity to have a night out on their own. I may not have given them a choice, really. But they could use a decent date night so we can have a
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date night." "It's beautiful, Rachel." "No, you're beautiful, Quinn," Rachel insisted. "And I love that top." Quinn felt herself blush, and knew that it was likely showing on her pale skin, since so much was exposed in her chest area. She hoped the candlelight would hide it, then made a mental note to buy Santana a nice bottle of whiskey as a thank you. "What did your research say about kisses happening before the meal?" "Mixed reviews, I'm sure. I, however, am all in favor." Quinn wrapped her arms around Rachel's waist and pulled the shorter girl in for a slow, tender kiss. Rachel sighed into the embrace and wrapped her arms around Quinn's neck, cupping her cheek with one hand as the kiss continued. It wasn't overly sexual, but it smoldered and surged for a few seconds before they broke apart. "Wow," Rachel breathed out. Quinn watched Rachel's tongue sneak out to wet her bottom lip, then watched those lips turn into a slow smile. "So, can I offer you some wine?" "Absolutely," Quinn said, pulling back from the embrace reluctantly, knowing that this was Rachel's show now, and allowing the brunette to lead her to the table by the hand. Rachel grabbed a bottle of red wine and poured some of the dark liquid into two wine glasses, then lit the final two candles on the table. "Please, sit. I'll be right back," Rachel instructed, and Quinn took a seat at one end of the table. Rachel scampered off in one direction, and returned with a pan of lasagna, which she set in the middle of the table next to a lovely looking salad and some breadsticks. "You cooked all of this?" "Yes. It's vegetable lasagna, cheese breadsticks, and a Caprese salad," Rachel said, pointing out each item. "And the wine's in a bottle," Quinn marveled. "The wine is in a bottle," Rachel concluded.
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"Fancy," Quinn said, raising her glass. "And deserving of a toast. To a beautiful woman, a beautiful meal, and a lovely second date." "I'd be a fool not to drink to that," Rachel said, clinking her glass against Quinn's and taking a sip of the wine. "That's delicious," Quinn said after she swallowed a dainty mouthful of the wine. "I'm glad you approve. Now eat," Rachel said. The conversation was sparse as they ate, because Rachel's food really was delicious, and Quinn was way hungrier than she would have ever guessed as she began to eat. The flirting was mostly done through lingering glances, smiles, and once, Quinn thought she felt Rachel's foot tracing her calf, which sent pleasurable jolts all over her body. After her plate was clean, Quinn leaned back in her chair, and Rachel made quick work of the dishes. Quinn offered to help, twice, and Rachel refused her both times. Quinn poured more wine for both of them, and stood up, handing Rachel her glass when the brunette returned. Rachel took the glass, had another sip, then blew out the two candles on the table, leaving the room lit by the candles surrounding the perimeter. Quinn took another drink of her own wine and found herself getting lost in the romance, in the soft jazz, in the slow, warm buzz she was getting from the wine, from Rachel's smile. "You're going to spoil me with your cooking," Quinn said softly. "Or, you know, risk me having to purchase a whole new wardrobe." Rachel's eyes scanned her figure appreciatively. "Oh, Quinn, you have absolutely nothing to be concerned about." Quinn felt herself blushing again, and took another sip of wine, hoping to use it as a bit of an alibi for her rosy cheeks and flushed chest. "Says the beautiful woman standing before me, who I absolutely cannot take my eyes off of," Quinn confessed, dropping her gaze to Rachel's lips. "And I really want to kiss you, but I'm pretty sure those bold flavors had garlic in them, and there's really nothing worse than garlic breath." Rachel laughed.
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"Well, we did eat the same thing, so I wouldn't mind, but I had the foresight of getting some mint gelato for dessert. Would you like some?" "That sounds delicious," Quinn said. Rachel smiled and finished her wine, carrying her empty glass to the kitchen. Quinn finished hers off as well, and followed Rachel, rounding the corner in time to see the brunette scooping bright green, rounded scoops of gelato into a white porcelain bowl. Quinn set her empty glass on the counter and took the bowl from Rachel when she topped it with a spoon and set it between them. "We're sharing, huh?" "Problems?" Rachel asked, quirking an eyebrow. "It is still a date. Could be romantic." "No problems," Quinn said with a gulp as Rachel took a spoonful of the gelato and guided it to Quinn's mouth. Quinn took the offered bite and moaned at the taste of mint cooling her palate and refreshing her taste buds. Then, she took the spoon from Rachel and repeated the action. This went on a few more times, and when Quinn got the spoon for the third time, she left it in the bowl, moved forward with one quick step, and crushed her lips to Rachel's. The brunette moaned and felt her body slump against Quinn's as the blonde's hands made quick work over her curves, trailing up her stomach to cup one of her breasts as their tongues met and the sweet mint flavor of the gelato lingered. Their mouths were still slightly chilled, adding another element to their passion. Rachel's fingers tangled in Quinn's hair, and her hips bucked forward of their own accord. She heard a scraping sound, and saw Quinn move the bowl aside, making room on the counter, then hoisted Rachel up on the countertop. Rachel's thighs parted, and Quinn stood between them, rocking her hips against the perfect spot. Rachel moaned loudly and her head fell back, welcoming Quinn's heated kisses all over her pulse, throat, and collarbone. A sharp nip from Quinn's teeth, and Rachel knew there would be marks in the morning, but she didn't care. Not one bit. Quinn's hand was strong and insistent as it moved up her inner thigh, then shifted toward the center of her underwear that were already drenched when Quinn's fingers found her hot center. Quinn pressed against the lacy fabric of Rachel's thong and Rachel moaned. "You're so wet," Quinn commented. "You're just you're so sexy, Rachel." Quinn's fingers started tracing slow circles on Rachel's clit through the fabric, adding friction and causing Rachel to literally see gold stars on the inside of her eyelids as she shut her eyes harder and tighter. Her leg began to quiver, and Quinn traced soft circles on her other thigh, reveling in the soft skin. Rachel was so ready to throw caution to the wind and allow Quinn to have her, to take her, to own her
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right there on that countertop, but then she realized what they were about to do, and where. "Quinn" Rachel moaned, trying to reach her thoughts that were floating all over in the atmosphere. Quinn's clever fingers snaked along the edge of Rachel's panties, nearly ready to dip underneath the elastic, and Rachel tried again, before it was too late. "Quinn, stop." Quinn froze. Her hands ceased, her mouth pulled back, and she looked at Rachel, but couldn't help the moan that escaped at the sight of Rachel. The brunette's hair was mussed, her lips were swollen, a purple bruise was already starting to form in the hollow of her throat, her skirt was bunched up around her waist, the muscles in those lean legs were trembling, and she was breathing so hard. Quinn felt a rush to her lower stomach, then a warmth in her panties, and fought for control. "Are you okay?" Quinn asked. "We can stop. It's okay, we can stop." Rachel was scared. Rachel looked at her, and Quinn looked closely, expecting to see trepidation, confusion, fear, maybe. She didn't see any of those things. Rachel smiled at her, and reached forward to stroke Quinn's cheek. Quinn leaned into the touch and placed a gentle kiss to Rachel's palm. "I don't want to stop," Rachel assured the blonde. "That's not it. Kurt will kill me if you take me on his countertop, in our kitchen. And don't ask me how, but I know he'll know." Quinn smiled, and laughed. She was surprised at how husky her laugh was, how husky Rachel's voice was, and how aroused they both obviously were. Quinn leaned forward and kissed Rachel gently, then helped the shorter girl hop off the countertop. Again, Quinn's arms circled Rachel's waist, and her fingertips began to gently trace along the exposed skin of Rachel's upper back a few seconds later. "What do you propose, Miss Berry?" Rachel smiled wickedly. "Well, you haven't seen my bedroom"

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A/N: I didn't mean to tease. Sorry! Sorry! But, to make it up to you, the next chapter will definitely be very, very much "M" rated. I just need to write it. Hopefully this chapter was still, erm, enjoyable for everyone. I mean, who doesn't love some sexy/cute/sweet Faberry, right? As always, I'd love to know what you think, and I'm so, so grateful for all the great reviews I've gotten so far. You all deserve some gold stars all your own. Thanks again!

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Chapter 21
A/N: This chapter is all sex. I'm pretty nervous about writing things like this, even though I (confession time) read a lot of it. I, for whatever reason, however, cannot write gratuitous smut, so there's some fluff and emotion *gasp* in there, too. I hope you enjoy reading, and please, let me know what you think. I'm trying to figure out how to wrap up this story... I've got some ideas floating around in my brain. Which is a dangerous place for ideas, because if I run out of plot bunnies, I just kill everyone and call it a day. But I'm not killing anyone in this story. I promised myself. So, your reviews are super helpful. With that said, enjoy.

Somehow, the kitchen became Rachel's bedroom. Quinn meant to take better note of her surroundings. She was generally pretty observant, and liked dcor. She actually considered doing something in interior design as a career, and had pretty well made all the executive decisions as to furnishing her apartment with Santana. She enjoyed the spacious interior of Rachel's home. The effort she had put into setting everything up for their romantic dinner had not gone unnoticed. Quinn wanted to be complimentary, polite; she wanted to gush over Rachel's eye for detail and perfect placement of all the little candles that seemed to even line the hallways, all the way to the bedroom, almost as if she had planned this, too. However, Quinn threw courtesy and politeness out the window because as they made their way to Rachel's bedroom, Quinn could not separate their faces enough to speak. She found herself struggling with basic things, like throwing Rachel up against walls and random surfaces and taking her there, even though there was a high possibility that she'd do something stupid like knock a candle over and burn Rachel's house down. She fought her base impulses, she fought her overwhelming desire even with her sense of integrity cast aside like yesterday's rubbish. Rachel Berry deserved better than being taken against a wall or a dresser. Rachel Berry deserved to be made love to completely sober, and in a bed. And damn it, Quinn was going to give her exact what she deserved, and not a tiny bit less. Quinn closed Rachel's door, sensing that if it wasn't closed immediately, they'd forget about it later, and when Blaine and Kurt came home, they'd end up seeing
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something that they never, ever needed or wanted to see. "This is my room," Rachel moaned against the blonde's mouth. Rachel had her arms wrapped around Quinn's shoulders, and allowed herself to be guided to the bed, feeling her knees hit the edge of the bed before she was unceremoniously thrown down on her comfortable, clean bedspread. Quinn's body followed, and the blonde stalked up her frame like a proud lioness, eying her the entire way. "Great room," Quinn said, never taking her eyes from Rachel. Rachel knew that Quinn hadn't noticed any of their surroundings. Quinn had checked out before they left the kitchen. Rachel could have led her out of the house entirely and the former cheerleader probably wouldn't have noticed. "I have the best view," Rachel said, smiling broadly and giving away the location of her eyes, which were all over Quinn. When that happened, Rachel watched Quinn's strong bravado fade a little, and a blush started in the center of her chest. "I could argue that easily," Quinn retorted once she regained some of her ground and her confidence. She leaned forward, balancing her weight easily on one hand, her arm muscles flexing to support her weight. Due to the sleeveless shirt, each and every muscle, from her defined forearms to her sculpted biceps and triceps were showcased, beautifully on display. Rachel licked her lips and raked her gaze down the smooth ivory skin and the strength just beneath it. "You'd be wrong." Quinn's free hand moved forward and traced along Rachel's jaw line, darting over her full, swollen lips that Quinn had been kissing relentlessly, and down her neck. She indulged in the immediate shiver that followed her touch, and watched Rachel's lips fall open to release a gentle moan. It caught on the wind and flew around them, but the sound of it still lingered. Quinn thought it would always linger. This girl had been on her mind constantly. Being with her felt like heaven, and even though she had savored her opportunity the first time, now that she had been granted a second, Quinn was going to make the most of each and every touch, commit every moan to memory, and learn, then re-learn every inch of the brunette's body. "I can't believe I'm here," Quinn whispered. She was fixated on her own hand, blown away by the fact that she was touching Rachel Berry. Finally. That she was causing the soft moans to escape her lips, that she was causing the shivers and the goose-bumps. That the pleasure Rachel was feeling, the desires she needed to be quelled within her, were all due to Quinn.
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"I'm so glad you are here," Rachel replied. The brunette leaned up and mewled softly as their lips connected again. Each kiss seemed to stretch on and on so it lasted forever. Their lips were already bruised, so each continuous pass against one another sent a new surge of heat through their bodies. They had grown quickly accustomed to the feel of one another, from the press of their hips, to the glide of their stomachs and the way their arms sort of fell easily around one another when they laid like this. Rachel watched the space between them move, grow, and shift. She watched Quinn's hips cant forward, and felt the instinct to part her legs, to allow Quinn closer, take over immediately. It was beyond thought. It was beyond need. Rachel felt like a slave to her own body. She listened to her emotions as they directed her next move. Her hands slid down Quinn's back, caressing the fabric and knowing that the blonde could feel the heat from her palms seeping through, a promise to the skin underneath that she would return. Quinn sighed, and smoky hazel eyes turned gently onto Rachel's face. The blonde smiled, and Rachel gasped. Every time, that smile took her breath away, but at close proximity, it was practically lethal. Quinn's lips descended on Rachel's neck, and Rachel felt it everywhere. The heat of Quinn's breath against her overheated skin coupled with how every now and then second and fourth kiss, as the pattern was established, Rachel felt the flicker of Quinn's tantalizing tongue, and it sent her into the stratosphere. Rachel felt her back arch, and then felt Quinn's reply in the form of a husky chuckle pressed into the nape of her neck. "Want something?" the blonde teased. "You," Rachel replied simply. "Elaborate. You're so good with words," Quinn continued. Her hands moved down Rachel's torso, directly down the center of her body so they bypassed her breasts, but still allowed for delicious friction, and Rachel bit down on her bottom lip. Her eyes closed for a moment, and she forced them open only to find that Quinn's eyes were darker and more intense than before when she caught the other woman's gaze again. "I want your mouth on me, Quinn," Rachel began, her voice almost unrecognizably low. "I want your hands on me, everywhere. I want you to make me yours." "That's that's a lot of want, Rachel," Quinn said, swallowing hard. Her confidence had obviously taken a tumble, and her eyes looked away.
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"You opened the door," Rachel teased. "You should have known I'd have dirty talk mastered." Quinn nodded furiously, and Rachel crooked a finger underneath Quinn's chin and used that leverage to tug her closer, forcing their lips together again. Quinn nibbled on Rachel's bottom lip, and Rachel tangled their tongues together as their hips followed with the pattern, thrusting and bucking against each other. Quinn's hand, which had settled on Rachel's stomach, moved upward, underneath the fabric of her dress this time, and cupped one of Rachel's breasts. "Take it off," Rachel demanded as soon as she felt the touch and decided that it wasn't enough. Quinn nodded, content to remain wordless as she not only removed Rachel's dress entirely, but her own shirt, moving forward so more skin touched now that they were both clad in only their bras from the waist up. Quinn still had the advantage, as she was wearing pants, but they were too caught up in each other to recognize the more trivial details. Yet. Quinn's hands teased along Rachel's ribcage, delicately making their way to the clasp of Rachel's bra, and when Quinn asked silently for permission, Rachel replied with a simple nod and a tender smile. Quinn's fingers worked quickly, and Rachel was pleased to find that she extended the equal gratitude further by removing the lacy garment that kept her upper half covered as well. Quinn leaned forward once their torsos were both bare and pressed their breasts together. Two sets of rock-hard nipples grazed each other, and their moans harmonized perfectly as they explored the new, yet still slightly familiar territory. It wasn't completely new, but it felt new. It felt exciting. It felt like everything they had both always wanted. To Rachel's dismay, Quinn rolled off of her slightly, and smiled reassuringly at Rachel when the smaller girl protested with a soft whimper. Quinn shook her head and kept Rachel at bay when she sensed the brunette was about to move, and kept their eyes locked. It didn't last long as her fingers took the same path as before, down the center of Rachel's body. Both of them watched the movement of her hands, watched Quinn's strong hands and long fingers trail across Rachel's bronzed skin and taut muscle to her small, firm breasts. Quinn took one in her hand and danced her fingertips against the pebbled peak. Rachel's head fell back against the pillows, and she was entirely lost to the sea of pleasure when Quinn resumed the action of her mouth on Rachel's neck while still touching her chest, her stomach, her hips, everywhere. Quinn was worshipping her. Rachel was sure of it. But she still wanted more. Which was greedy, and she realized it, but she had
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never wanted so much in her life, and now that she wanted in this way, she didn't know how to contain it all. She didn't know how to control it. She wasn't sure she even wanted a grasp on such control, when it felt this good to be out of it. "Don't I get to touch you, too?" "You'll get your turn." "Hurry up, then," Rachel whined slightly. "I want my turn, damn it." "Be patient," Quinn demanded. Her mouth trailed lower, kissing over Rachel's breasts, starting with the outside and the underside before working her way to the center of each one, where her tongue darted out to play, and her mouth took up a gentle suction. Rachel whimpered brokenly, and her hips shot up off the bed. "I feel like I'm imploding, Quinn," Rachel whined again. "That's normal, I think." "It feels good, but I want more." "Be patient," Quinn demanded again. "I don't want to be patient. I want you to touch me." Quinn smirked against Rachel's breast and placed another slow, sweet kiss to the dark nipple. "But I am touching you," Quinn insisted. Rachel whined and reached blindly for Quinn's hand. Sometimes, it was okay to be forceful. As a woman, she understood the needs of her own body. And since Quinn was a woman, she surely understood these needs as well. She just needed direction. She needed inspiration. She needed to hurry it up. Quinn moaned loudly when she felt her hand shoved between Rachel's smooth thighs, directly against her underwear. So much for the advantage that Quinn thought she had. By being more completely dressed, she had tricked herself into thinking she had the upper hand. The control.
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She felt the crotch of Rachel's panties, feeling the soaked fabric against her fingers, and realized that this was absolutely not the case. "Take me, Quinn," Rachel insisted. "Now." Quinn had never removed her pants so quickly in her life, but she understood that Rachel was getting impatient, and the need for foreplay was no longer necessary. She wanted to feel their legs tangling together. She wanted to feel wrapped up in Rachel before she was actually wrapped up in Rachel. She wanted things she didn't know how to want. She found herself asking for things internally that she didn't know existed. She possessed so much feeling in her body that she expected complete consumption at any moment. Quinn's hands pulled the last of Rachel's clothing, that destroyed scrap of fabric, down her impossibly long legs and looked at the magnificent beauty beneath her. She looked for seconds. Then minutes. Then Rachel squirmed a little, a result of being under such direct scrutiny, although it was all praise and no critique, then spoke up. "Quinn? Quinn, just talk to me. What's wrong?" "Nothing's wrong. Nothing's wrong in the entire world," Quinn mumbled. "I'm here, with you, and you're so beautiful, and so naked, and nothing hurts." Rachel smiled. "Such a way with words you have," Rachel teased lightly, moving her own hand forward to gently caress Quinn's thigh. "Well, I'm no Rachel Berry," Quinn retorted. "No, you're Quinn Fabray," Rachel breathed. "My Quinn, and thank God." Quinn froze. "Your Quinn?" Rachel smiled shyly.
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"You know, if you want to be." Quinn leaned up, dragging her body across Rachel's, and slowly removed her underwear. She laid against Rachel for a moment, indulging in the feel of their damp, naked skin pressed together. She tucked a strand of dark hair behind Rachel's ear, then kissed Rachel's pulse and smiled at her. Quinn wrapped her hand against Rachel's hipbone, tracing the protrusion with her thumb. "I'm everywhere I could ever want to be," Quinn breathed against Rachel's lips. Rachel kissed her, and Quinn pulled back after a moment. "And I'm yours." "Finally," Rachel proclaimed. Quinn squeezed her hip, and their laughter made way to more kissing as their bodies continued writhing together. The passion and desire between them grew, and Rachel wrapped her leg around Quinn's lower back, then inched it upward so they were hugging more intimately. Their lower bodies touched, and went Rachel felt Quinn's wetness pooling against hers, she completely lost control and dug her blunt nails into Quinn's shoulders. Quinn moaned and bucked her hips down into Rachel's, grinding their cores together. Rachel pulled back when she felt the spring in her lower stomach tightening. Quinn looked at her, slightly concerned, a question etched on her face. "What is it, baby?" Rachel beamed. "You just called me baby." Quinn blushed. "Yeah, I did." "That's incredibly surreal," Rachel commented. "That couldn't have been what stopped you. Because you're kind of blue balling me here," Quinn teased. "I just that felt amazing, but I just" Quinn nuzzled her neck and waited for her to find the words. She kept up the rocking of her hips, continuing to join their sexes slightly, but not enough to be distracting. Or, at least, she noted when her clit started throbbing furiously, any more distracting.
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"I want to be inside you," Rachel confessed. "And I want you inside of me." "Together?" Quinn asked. Her heart raced against Rachel's, with Rachel's, and then she nodded. Leave it to Rachel to be brilliant when they were both teetering on the edge of sexual frustration. Quinn took the lead, guiding her hand down Rachel's stomach, feeling some of her essence on her lower abdominals, and then moved up Rachel's inner thigh, which quivered under her touch. Quinn moved to the side slightly, then moved them both to their knees. Quinn wrapped one of her arms around Rachel's waist, bringing them hip to hip on one side, with space for their hands between. They looked into each others' eyes for a moment, and resumed kissing when Rachel's hand found its way up Quinn's inner thigh, and caused Quinn to gasp into her mouth, into their kiss, when Rachel took the lead by touching first. Her fingers teased Quinn's wet, swollen folds, content with just tracing and learning. Quinn followed suit, feeling the hot liquid dripping onto and between her fingers as she repeated Rachel's motions. Rachel's body slumped forward slightly, and she rested her forehead on Quinn's strong shoulder for a moment, then regained her ground and shifted so their stomachs would touch and slide together. Together. That's what they were now. That's what they needed. Rachel's eyes looked to Quinn once more, and a question passed between them again. The final question. The final boundary. The last hurdle. Quinn nodded, and Rachel sank two fingers deep inside the blonde, moaning loudly when Quinn's walls gave slightly, then tightened to accept her inside. Quinn moaned in reply, then followed suit, feeling her own body respond to Rachel's fingers as well as the pleasure she felt from being squeezed by Rachel. They rocked
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together, only stumbling a few times before finding the perfect pace. They drove each other higher and higher, and when Rachel curled her fingers, Quinn curled twice. Rachel followed by circling Quinn's clit, which would have made the blonde's knees go weak had she not been kneeling already. They found strength in each other's bodies, and locked eyes as they began trembling. Quinn's triceps quivered, and Rachel's legs began to shake as they sped up, pounding harder, curling deeper, needing to feel more. Needing to reach the precipice as one. "Quinn," Rachel gasped. "Oh, yes, Rachel," Quinn moaned. They didn't kiss, but their lips remained inches apart as their hands continued furiously between each other's legs. Rachel looked down between them, saw Quinn's pale wrist moving against her most intimate area, then saw her own fingers disappearing into Quinn and felt a jolt of extreme, white-hot pleasure hit her suddenly. "So close," Rachel warned. "You, too?" Their words were broken, and Quinn nodded. Rachel curled her fingers up once, hard, and Quinn began to shudder in her arms. Rachel felt the lightning strike against, and it hit home that time, because she was screaming, moaning, praising Quinn for her efforts and never, ever letting up the thrusting pattern of her own hand until Quinn sank forward, nearly knocking Rachel down with her boneless weight. Rachel kissed the blonde's sweaty forehead, and didn't move her fingers. She enjoyed the tremors, the gentle pulse around her fingers, and knew that Quinn must have been experiencing the same thing. Rachel waited another few moments, then extracted her fingers, instantly regretting her decision when Quinn whimpered. Quinn followed, causing Rachel to feel the loss for herself, and she sighed gently. They tumbled to the clean sheets, and Quinn mindlessly reached for the blankets to cover them. Rachel giggled and snuggled into the blonde's strong arms, tracing her muscles as Quinn covered them completely. "Tired already?" "I'm resting for a second, and then you're in for it," Quinn said, even though her eyes were closed. Rachel prodded further, raking her teeth over the blonde's collarbone. She had never been like this. She was insatiable. She found herself craving Quinn, missing the feel of those long, elegant fingers buried inside her already and fantasizing about the heat of Quinn's mouth even though her body was
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still recovering from her powerful orgasm. "Whatever you say," Rachel said. "I'm not kidding," Quinn replied, opening one eye. "I'll believe it when it happens, Quinn," Rachel continued. "You don't want to question my mad skills." "What are you going to do?" Rachel asked, using her acting skills to sound like she didn't believe in Quinn. Like she was questioning her "skills." She wanted to see if it would play to her advantage. "Keep it up and you won't walk tomorrow." "That would be an interesting thing to explain to my roommates." Rachel snuggled deeper into Quinn's embrace, and felt her body tremble when she literally felt the devious smile against her throat. Quinn chuckled. "You know, now that you've brought that up, perhaps it's time I remind you that I have two things: an ego and a competitive streak," Quinn taunted. Rachel's body shuddered. Quinn's hand moved lower. Within seconds, Rachel felt her still throbbing clit being traced rapidly by skilled, relentless fingers. Rachel whimpered helplessly. "Quinn?" "Yes, baby?" Quinn sounded smug. Rachel felt her legs quiver. She was already building, and she was quite positive that this time, Quinn was determined to break her. But she had to be sure. "I'm in trouble now, aren't I?" Quinn nodded.
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Rachel had never been so excited to be broken.

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Chapter 22
A/N: Okay, so this took me a while. Two reasons: 1) I'm addicted to writing "The World Through New Eyes," which is a terrible excuse, I realize. But, if you haven't read that one yet and want to be totally confused and possibly hate me for so many cliffhangers and open questions, feel free to give it a read. Ending shameless plug. 2) I'm kind of lost on where to take this story. I'm not a fluff writer. I'm not a happy, everything is wonderful, canon fic writer by trade. I'm a darkness, angsty, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/the more weird shit the better writer, so this is kind of killing my brain. Which is where you come in! I'm thinking of capping this baby off at 25 or 26 chapters. What would you like to see happen? What haven't I done yet? Give me ideas, please. Also, reviews... so wonderful, totally helps me. And I love you all for the praise and comments I've gotten. With that said, I hope you enjoy this chapter. Thanks so much.

The sheets were a tangled mess. Quinn was sweaty, panting, and her arms felt rubbery and useless. She moved her neck, popping it gently and felt the joints release, offering her some semblance of relief, and sighed. Who said the aftermath of destruction had to be a negative thing? Quinn laid back against the mess of sheets, moved to cover her naked body, at least a little, but decided against it when cool cotton stuck to her sweaty skin. Rachel crawled up next to Quinn, and the blonde could still feel little droplets of moisture from Rachel's body sticking to hers, but wasn't displeased. She didn't think it was gross, and she didn't find Rachel's excess body heat due to their shared exertion to be uncomfortable or overwhelming. Actually, she found it to be a welcome reaction. This made the aftermath even better, she decided. Her hazel eyes met Rachel's slightly cloudy brown pools, and Quinn cracked a smile when Rachel's fingers resigned themselves to tracing hapless patterns over her upper chest, slightly underneath her collarbone. Quinn felt herself shudder, even though her body was far from cold. Her eyes closed for a brief moment, then they opened again. "You don't think you've gotten your fill of touching me?" Quinn teased. Rachel blushed, but it was still visible, despite the semi-darkness of the room. Rachel had insisted that they carry the theme of lighting a few candles, so the
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flickering flames were all that illuminated their tired bodies. Quinn, however, had grown to be in tune with Rachel enough that she could tell that the slight duck of the head coupled with a lip bite was Rachel Berry's blushing, demure face. She loved it. "I don't think I ever could," Rachel confessed. Her fingers continued their circling, and her lips dropped onto the top of Quinn's shoulder, kissing gently and possibly, from the feel of her tongue on skin, tasting a few drops of what lingered on Quinn's body. Quinn moaned, then crushed her lips to Rachel's for a slow, exploratory kiss. Their passion had fueled, fizzled, and continued to burn, but they were too tired to engage in another full round of lovemaking. They had already completed four? Quinn recalled losing track after four, if there had been more rounds. Quinn's hand snaked around Rachel's tiny waist, clutching possessively at the girl's hip and giving her a gentle squeeze. "I've told you that you're beautiful, right?" "You could always tell me again." "I don't want you getting a big head," Quinn stated. Rachel pouted playfully, and no matter how hard she tried, Quinn could not bring herself to ignore the way that delicious bottom lip jutted out, commanding attention like every other part of the tiny diva. She kissed it, and Rachel sighed happily into her mouth. They broke, panting softly into each others' mouths. Quinn smiled and nuzzled Rachel with her nose, eliciting a giggle from the brunette. "Okay. I'll say it again. You're beautiful, Rachel." Rachel's eyes dropped to Quinn's abs, noting how those perfectly chiseled muscles contracted with her breathing, hypnotizing her and simultaneously providing a sinful feast for her vision. "You're God, Quinn, you're glorious." "You and your big words," Quinn said, her chest growing hotter and flushing from the compliment. From the attention. From the closeness of Rachel's gaze, along with the heat it contained. From all of it, really. "Truer words were never spoken," Rachel said. "I disagree. I just called you beautiful, which clearly, you are."
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Quinn followed this with an exaggerated, sweeping gesture of her hand and a playful nip to Rachel's shoulder. "When did we get like this?" Quinn blinked, finding herself stunned for a moment at the shift in their banter, the change in the line of questioning throwing her for a loop. "Huh?" "We're sappy," Rachel reiterated. "We're like a couple, Quinn. All afterglow cuddling and pillow talk and shameless, shameless compliments about how beautiful slash glorious the other is. When did this happen?" Quinn's eyes dropped to Rachel's lips as she spoke. They would always drop there now, she realized, because they could. Because she had kissed those lips, known their softness, known their touch all over her body. Over every inch. She didn't have to be ashamed of it now. Then, with a display of sheer willpower, Quinn pulled her eyes back to Rachel's. Because this was a serious conversation. It wasn't planned to happen, but somehow, it did, and now she had to deal with it. "Does it matter when it happened? I mean, do you really need the exact date and time? Because I'm not sure I can give you that, Rachel." Quinn's tone was gentle, completely devoid of any negativity or insulting caliber. Rachel blushed again. "I was mostly thinking out loud," she confessed. "That's all right. I like to know what's going on in your head." "I'm surprised it happened," Rachel said. "I never thought it would. I never thought of myself as being able to be intimate with or have feelings for another woman at all. But never in my wildest dreams would I have considered the possibility that said woman would be you, Quinn Fabray." "You know I've had feelings for you for a while." "I know that now," Rachel said. "Recently, I've known this. But before, I hadn't a clue. Even at the party, I figured that you were just I don't know looking for a
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connection, and were content to find it with anyone. Even me." "After what happened with Puck, I didn't go looking for that kind of feeling ever again," Quinn explained. "You were different. That was different." "But it was me, Rachel Berry, the girl you hated. Man-hands. Why did you want to find any sort of anything with me?" Rachel's words held no menace, either. They were even, clearly spoken, and laced with curiosity, which provided the only gray area. Luckily, Quinn knew exactly what she meant. Old Quinn would have gone on the defensive, looking for an out, fighting her way, tooth and nail, out of the ring and rearing back to roar like the powerhouse she was. New Quinn, however, wasn't hurt by Rachel's curiosity. After all, Rachel's thoughts were nothing she hadn't entertained in her own mind. And she had answers for those questions, because she had asked them to herself millions of times. "You were leaving," Quinn replied softly. "I didn't want to risk never seeing you again without feeling you, just once, and getting a taste of what I was always too afraid to want." "You wanted me?" "Yes, Rachel," Quinn said, stronger than ever. "I wanted you probably since I first saw you, I just smothered the feelings and worked my ass off to see you as something horrible, instead of an object of my desires. It was easier." "But it wasn't what you wanted." Quinn moved her arms in, pulling Rachel closer to her body, and allowing the brunette to drape herself over her body. Their breathing synchronized immediately, and Quinn laced their fingers together, both hands, and held Rachel completely. "This is what I wanted. What I've always wanted. I just never knew how to get it. I still don't. I'm still afraid that I'll fuck things up somehow, or that you'll realize that you can do better than me, because you are better than me." Rachel smirked. "Do you want to know what you can do to keep me, then?" Rachel asked. "Is that what you're asking me, Quinn?"
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Quinn paused. Was it really that simple? Maybe it could be. "Yes." Rachel smiled. "Kiss me," Rachel commanded simply. "Just kiss me. Because every time you do, I feel everything. I feel everything that you are, everything you have been, could be, and it it completely destroys me, Quinn. And when you kiss me, I can't see or feel anything but you. You blind me." "Kiss you?" Quinn asked. "That's it?" "Kiss me, and never, ever stop." Quinn grinned, ear-to-ear. She grinned like a child who had just been given everything they could ever want for Christmas. She grinned like she had just seen the sky opening, revealing a sea of heavens, all for her own enjoyment. She grinned like she had won an award, the freakin' Pulitzer Prize. She grinned like she had won the lottery. She smiled, and she leaned in, and she pressed her lips to Rachel's. Rachel moaned and tangled her slim fingers in Quinn's golden tresses, using this new leverage to keep them delightfully intertwined. They kissed, and kissed, then kissed some more, only parting when their lips ached from contact. They parted when breath became necessity. When they had to break because they would literally give each other their last breath if they did not break. And then they shared a smile. They both grinned like they had won the lottery, because in a way, they had. Rachel yawned, then covered it with her hand, even though it was still partially covered with Quinn's. "So if I fall asleep, you're not going to get any funny ideas about paying me
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back, are you?" Quinn smirked. "I might be hurt that you'd even suggest such a thing, Rachel Berry. Because someone who could leave you naked and satisfied in bed is a complete moron, and I do not associate with morons." "I'm a moron," Rachel stated. "Why are you a moron?" "I left you." "You were afraid. I've forgiven you." "So you won't leave when I fall asleep?" Quinn moved up against the headboard and held Rachel a little closer, idly stroking her fingertips up and down the smaller girl's back. "I won't leave. I won't even move." Rachel's hand curled against Quinn's hip, and she breathed in the unique fragrance that was purely Quinn, then released that breath with a happy sigh. Her eyes drooped, then closed. Her breathing steadied. "Don't move." "Never." "Mm, promise?" "Promise."

Two hours later "Rachel?" Rachel snorted a little in her sleep, then hummed. Quinn fought back a giggle,
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because a sleeping Rachel Berry was quite possibly the most adorable thing she had ever laid eyes on. "Rachel?" Quinn nudged the sleeping girl with her nose. "Mm," Rachel groaned softly. She shifted, moving a hand up to grasp Quinn's breast. Her fingers idly shifted against Quinn's nipple, unintentionally arousing it to a stiff peak. That was not what Quinn wanted, but her body apparently was changing its mind. "Rachel," Quinn gasped. Quinn placed a series of open-mouthed kisses to the girl's neck, changing her strategy. Rachel moaned in her sleep, then shifted, and those brown eyes fluttered open, regarding Quinn with curiosity and delight, and her face lazily shifted to a sleepy smile. "You didn't move," Rachel stated. "No, I didn't. I promised I wouldn't." Rachel blinked twice, then analyzed their position. She ducked her head, bit her lip. "My hand is on your breast." Quinn smirked. "That it is." Rachel grinned slyly, like she had just been given the answer to an age-old secret. "Was that why you woke me up?" "Actually, no." The smile dropped, but Rachel didn't remove her hand from its perch. "I wanted to ask your permission to move, actually," Quinn continued. Rachel arched an eyebrow.
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"To leave?" Quinn shook her head. "To use your restroom." Rachel's lips pursed, and she smirked. "Well, I suppose I would be a terrible girlfriend if I didn't allow you to leave bed in order to do that," Rachel stated, then rolled off Quinn. She didn't comment on how her body instantly missed the heat and feel of Quinn's, nor did she mention that she was already wanting to be back in the blonde's lithe, strong arms. "I'll be right back," Quinn said, then got up out of bed. She shuffled around, then realized that she didn't have proper clothes, and certainly couldn't walk around Rachel's apartment naked. "But I need clothes." Rachel pointed to her dresser. "Borrow whatever you like," Rachel said. "You'll just be wearing it down the hall and getting naked again as soon as you come back. I'm officially making this room a 'no clothes zone' for anyone named Quinn Fabray." "For both of our sakes, I hope I'm the only one in this city with that name," Quinn retorted as she began searching Rachel's drawers. The girl was significantly smaller than she was, with an entirely different build, but Quinn found a pair of tiny sleep shorts and a tee shirt that looked like it would be much too large on Rachel. When she slipped it over her head and found that it fit her quite nicely, she patted herself on the back for her selection, then moved for the bedroom door. She paused, and heard one of Rachel's previous statements echo through her head. She turned and watched Rachel try to get comfortable in her own bed without her there. Then she found her words. "Girlfriend?" Rachel's head popped up.
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"Yes?" "We're we're putting labels on this?" Quinn asked. "Do you not want to?" Rachel's tone suggested that she might want to backpedal quickly, so she did. "I thought you'd be the one who would perhaps want to wait a little while before doing such a thing," Quinn said. "Me, I'm fine with whatever you feel is right." "Go use my bathroom and hurry back," Rachel replied. Quinn still kept her hand on the doorknob, and couldn't find the strength to turn it. That was not the answer she wanted. She waited. Rachel giggled. "I want to be your girlfriend, Quinn, now go." Quinn refrained from jumping up and down, but she did run to the bed and kiss Rachel sensually for a split second before racing out of the bedroom and down the hallway to the bathroom. After washing up, she headed back out to the hallway, and found that she was thirsty. Surely if she was Rachel's girlfriend, the brunette wouldn't mind if she raided her fridge a little, to bring them back something to drink. Quinn made her way to the kitchen in the dimly lit hallway and opened the refrigerator, pouring some apple juice into two short glasses and balanced them in her hands. She kicked the fridge door shut with her foot, and turned. "Hello, Quinn," Kurt said, crossing his arms and smiling gently. However, it was a slightly crooked smile that made her insides feel funny. She tightened her hands around the glasses and managed a smile of her own. The boy was lingering in the doorway in sleep pants and a button-down shirt and was content to just watch her stand there awkwardly, apparently, since he didn't speak right away. "Blaine thought you'd stay over," Kurt continued. "I thought you'd head for the door as soon as you got a chance. But here you are, in our kitchen, getting juice for
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Rachel." "I was thirsty," Quinn said. "I thought she might be, too. It's my attempt at chivalry." "Mm-hmm," Kurt said, forming a thin line with his lips. "Listen up, Quinn. I love Rachel. I love Rachel more than is probably healthy, because we kind of both tend to obsess over little things, and when I'm not obsessing over the sexy hunk of man that is my man, I obsess over her." "She is pretty amazing," Quinn murmured. "That's not my point," Kurt said sharply. Not in a cruel way, not in a threatening way, but in a way that commanded attention. "My point is that I've seen Rachel get her heart broken. It was terrible, and when it happened the first time, I made a promise that I would never, ever let it happen again. I'm realizing that you could be the next in line to cause her heartbreak. So, with that said, I give you my blessing to drink our juice and stay overnight at our house with Rachel, because it makes her happy. But, if you break her heart like my idiot of a stepbrother did, Quinn, I don't care if you're friends with Santana Lopez. I will pay someone bigger and scarier to do unspeakable things to you." "I won't break her heart." Kurt stared at her for a moment longer, then took a few steps forward and embraced Quinn, juice glasses and all. "Just so you know, I'm already thinking of color schemes for your wedding," Kurt whispered in her ear. Then he pulled back, full of energy and emotion that made him look more like Kurt and less like a scary, gay version of Scarface. "Now, I know Rachel, and she's probably already getting antsy that you've been gone this long. So, have a good night, enjoy the juice and please, if you decide to go another round, remember that there are gay men trying to sleep just down the hall." "Sleep well, Kurt," Quinn said, then made her way down the hall. Quinn opened the bedroom door and set both glasses of juice down next to Rachel on the bedside table, then stripped her clothes, folding them neatly and setting them down on top of the dresser and climbed in the other side. "That took longer than I thought it would take you," Rachel stated.
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"I brought juice." "You ran into Kurt, didn't you?" "No wait, how'd you know?" "You have a look on your face like you were just given the 'don't hurt my best friend' talk by the fabulous Kurt Hummel," Rachel said with a shrug. She grabbed the juice and took a sip, obviously happy with Quinn's thoughtfulness. "He's kind of intimidating," Quinn said. "But I get where he's coming from." "He didn't step out of line, did he?" Rachel asked seriously, looking at Quinn from the lip of the glass. "No, it was all warranted," Quinn replied. "He loves you." They finished their juice quickly, then found their way back into each others' arms. This time, Quinn was situated behind Rachel, acting as the "big spoon" and nuzzled into the middle of Rachel's back as they relaxed and prepared to actually get some sleep. "He's just overprotective." "He doesn't want to see you getting hurt again," Quinn said quietly. "I can't blame him. I don't want you to ever be hurt again." "You could easily hurt me, Quinn," Rachel confessed. Quinn placed a gentle kiss against Rachel's neck, then smiled into the brunette's skin so Rachel could feel it. She wrapped her arms around the smaller girl a little tighter, and felt Rachel relax into her touch instantly. "I'm not going to hurt you." Rachel's breathing evened, and Quinn knew she was starting to fall asleep again. "Mm, promise?" "Promise."

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Chapter 23
A/N: I know you all have been waiting a really long time for this. I apologize profusely, but I kind of hit the wall with writer's block on this, and then real life and vacation got in the way. Anyway, this chapter is LONG. Like, 15 pages, size ten font, single spaced long. I decided that this is (probably) the last chapter, and because of that, I decided to do something a little different. Chronologically, I knew that there was a lot of coverage left to do, so I wrote snapshots. Yes, snapshots. Some Faberry, some Brittana, and some of just all of them being friends that we all know and love. I really hope you enjoy it. I've loved writing this fic, although it was incredibly challenging at times. As I've said, happy, mostly canon works are not my forte. Thank you so much for taking this journey with me, and I appreciate all the thoughts, comments, and excellent reviews. Until next time, my friends. A/N The Second: In case you want to play the listening along game, the song I used in this chapter is "Question" by The Old 97s.

Three months later "Santana!" Quinn called, stepping up to the bar counter and giving her best friend a playful glance. "Stop flirting with your girlfriend and help paying customers get their drink on." Santana's eyes narrowed, and she reluctantly untangled her hands from Brittany's. Santana's lips twitched, then formed a straight line smirk across her face, causing a slight smile crease to accentuate in her right cheek. Quinn would never point this out, but that crease had been forming recently, since Brittany came back in her life. She had known Santana for many years, had seen that smirk many times, but the smile lines those were definitely new. "Fabray, use regular English. The one and only time you came to Lima Heights Adjacent, you ran away like a scared little girl because you thought my neighbors were going to take the hubcaps off your daddy's new car," Santana said, raising her eyebrow. "You don't know how glad I was that your parents finally decided to move across town," Quinn said with a smirk. "I would have never been able to explain missing
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hubcaps." "Yeah, yeah. What the hell do you want?" Santana asked with a smile, letting Quinn know that she was joking and not irritated. Even though the move had affected some of her "street" cred, Quinn and Brittany both knew that Santana was happy to move to a better part of town. "The usual for me, and my girlfriend will have" Quinn said, moving aside for Rachel to step up to the bar. Rachel was almost too short to stand there properly, but she could still make eye contact with Santana, and the fact that she had to stand incredibly close to the counter gave Quinn plenty of room to wedge in behind her and wrap her arms around the smaller girl's waist. "It's been three months, we know she's your girlfriend, you don't have to keep emphasizing it," Santana said with a smirk. "What can I get you, Rachel?" "I'm feeling bold. Tequila sunrise?" Santana got a devious grin on her face, and Rachel looked back at Quinn, who was getting ready to open her mouth to protest, knowing what that look meant as well. But, Brittany stepped in and placed a kiss on Santana's cheek, moving to whisper in the Latina's ear. "Be nice to Rachel," Brittany chided. "Don't put the whole bottle in her drink, okay? She can't handle tequila like we can, and if she gets sick later, Quinn will probably try to kill you." Brittany pulled back with a smile when Santana acquiesced with a nod and began making the drinks. A minute later, Santana sent one drink sliding across the counter into Quinn's hand, only causing two drops of the liquid to slosh out onto the counter. Then, she gingerly handed the other drink to Rachel and turned back to Brittany. "Thanks, Tana!" Quinn called, even though she knew that her best friend was lost again in her world of Brittany. "She's very responsive tonight, isn't she?" Rachel asked, eyeing Santana closely. "Don't push it, we can probably get free drinks all night because of this mood," Quinn said with a smirk. "Although, now that you mention it, you're right.
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Something's totally up with her." "It's like she's thinking really, really hard about something, but doesn't know how to deal with it. It's probably something emotional," Rachel said. "Oh. Do you think she's planning some sort of grand romantic gesture for Brittany?" Quinn almost choked on her drink at that question, then looked at her girlfriend. She grabbed Rachel's free hand, then leaned down to peck the brunette's tempting lips. "Rach, Santana barely has emotions. I really don't think she's got it in her to pull something like that," Quinn said with a shrug. "But, you know, it works for her. For them. Brittany loves her for who she is, and once you get over the fact that Santana Lopez isn't going to sing you to sleep and greet you with rose petals, she's really a great person. I can see how she could make somebody happy." "She's gotten much better toward me," Rachel said, taking a first, tentative sip of her drink. "Oh, thank God." "What, babe?" "Santana finally realized that five shots in a drink will kill me," Rachel said. "This is delicious." "Come on, let's go find a place to sit down, and then we'll dance," Quinn said, placing her hand on the small of Rachel's back and leading them to a booth in the far corner. She tossed her head back toward the bar, watching Santana and Brittany talking quietly. There was something different in Santana's eyes, and for a moment, it worried Quinn. Then, she watched Brittany catch her eye, and the blondes smiled at each other. Quinn smirked and mouthed a 'thank you,' figuring that Brittany was the reason her girlfriend wouldn't have alcohol poisoning tonight. "Quinn!" Rachel called, snapping the blonde out of her internal processing. "If you get too far away, somebody else might whisk me off to the dance floor." It was teasing, Quinn knew that, but her possessive streak fired up, and she was instantly behind Rachel, shooting eyes to anyone around them and then kissed the smaller girl's shoulder. Sometimes, the HBIC glare had its perks.

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Later that night Santana and Brittany were walking hand-in-hand, instead of just holding pinkies like they used to in high school. They had been walking for what seemed like forever, and Santana was being freakishly quiet. She insisted that Brittany stay until the end of her shift, and they'd walk back to Brittany's apartment together. The reasoning made sense to Brittany; Quinn and Rachel would likely be at Santana's place because Kurt and Blaine would be at Rachel's, and Brittany was still without a roommate. Brittany had considered asking Santana to move in with her, because then Rachel and Quinn could just have their own place, but Brittany knew that even though Santana loved her, had always loved her, there were certain steps that needed to be approached with caution. "San, you're being quiet," Brittany said to her girlfriend. Santana looked up, shook her head like she was trying to chase thoughts away, and squeezed Brittany's hand, using that as an answer, telling the blonde that she was still there. She wasn't far away, not really. "And I still don't know where we're going. This is the wrong way to my apartment. I think." "It's the wrong way to your apartment," Santana clarified. "But you said we were going to my place," Brittany said. "You know, to get our sweet lady kisses on in private because Quinn and Rachel will probably be using your place." "I know that, Britts," Santana said quietly. "We got in trouble last time we did things outside," Brittany reminded the brunette. "Remember, that cop thought one of us was hurt, because of all the sounds you were making?" Santana sighed, then laughed quietly. "Thank God we're both hot girls, right?" "I'm sorry I got tree bark in your back," Brittany said, even though she had apologized for this incident many times before. She wanted her Santana back, not the withdrawn, stoic Santana that she was currently walking with. And she still didn't know where they were going. "It's okay, babe," Santana said with a small grin. "I liked it."
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"Next time, I can be the one against the tree," Brittany said. Santana coughed, stunned, and then pulled a little bit on Brittany's hand. Sure enough, they were headed toward a park, with trees. "Um, but not tonight, because it's kind of really cold and sort of dark, and there might be creepers lurking around." "I have a switchblade, it's fine," Santana said, as if it were the most logical thing in the world. "Santana, what are we doing?" Brittany asked, allowing her girlfriend to lead her, still without saying a word, over to a park bench. Santana stopped them right in front of it, and pushed gently on Brittany's shoulders, urging her to sit down. "That's probably somebody's bed. What if he or she sees us here and gets mad because he's super tired after a long day at the office?" "Brittany, it's just a detour. There's just just just let me do this, okay?" Santana asked, her voice moving to pleading words that Brittany had never heard before. "If I don't do it now, I'm not going to be brave enough to do it later. I've been agonizing about this, planning it in my head for I don't know, weeks now, and something about tonight, and here, seemed perfect." "It's a surprise?" "Yeah, kind of," Santana said. "Remember when I sang for you in Glee club, but it wasn't a happy song?" "You're going to sing me a happy song?" "I know it's just you and me again, like when I sang Songbird to you, but this is kind of kind of a private moment. Just, listen to the words, okay?" She woke from a dream Her head was on fire Why was he so nervous? He took her to the park She crossed her arms And lowered her eyelids
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Some day somebody's gonna ask you A question that you should say yes to Once in your life Maybe tonight I've got a question for you Santana's voice started to break in the middle, and Brittany's blue eyes stayed trained on her, like it was her job to watch her girlfriend. Like before, when Santana had sung to her, the brunette's eyes were becoming misty, showing emotion in ways that she couldn't show when she was limited to the spoken word. Brittany knew that even though Santana used to pick on the other kids in Glee club for their intensity and love of music, she felt it just the same. Brittany tried to get out of her own head, to focus on the words that she knew Santana had likely struggled over, attempting to choose the perfect song for whatever she was trying to relay. She wanted Brittany to hear these words, above all others. She'd had no idea Started to cry She said in a good way He took her by the hand Walked her back home They took the long way Santana's eyes watched Brittany, and while she was singing, she got so lost in what she was doing, where she was going, and where she needed to be with this song. They had waited so long to get to this point, to get where they were, currently. Even the park had been one of the longest walks of Santana's life because she had meticulously planned it. She saw Brittany as perfection, so she knew that something as important as what she was about to ask, what she was preparing to do, had to be something straight out of Rachel Berry or Quinn Fabray's handbook. Because Brittany had bent for her so many times, made so many exceptions for her bad behavior, and now, she had to show growth. She had to show the blonde that she was in this, forever. For keeps.
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Santana moved to the bench and knelt down, one knee to the cold ground, and then the tears fell freely from Brittany's eyes. Now, they both knew what was happening; there was no turning back. This was the beginning of their future, and they'd have to commit every second to memory. It was a huge step for Santana, and Brittany knew it. They both knew it, and Santana felt the constriction in her chest, the nerves she had been feeling release her. Finally, she was free. She found those blue eyes and held them tight, locked her gaze like cross-hairs on a moving target, and sang the last lines with abandon, pouring her heart, her soul, and all the years between them into her words. Some day somebody's gonna ask you A question that you should say yes to Once in your life Maybe tonight I've got a question for you I've got a question for you Brittany had tears rolling down her face, fat and wet when Santana finished, and instantly, the Latina sat up slightly to kiss them and wipe them away. "Brittany S. Pierce," Santana began, hearing a choked sob come from the blonde. "Please tell me those are happy tears." "Yes," Brittany said, knowing that this was the only word she'd need, for it was the truest she had ever know. She couldn't say no to Santana, not now, and not ever before. "So, you got what the song meant, right?" Santana asked quietly. "That one day, somebody important is going to have a question for me," Brittany drawled, and then they both burst into laughter. "Yeah," Santana said, then she took one of Brittany's hands. With her other, she fished out a black box and cradled it gently. "So, tonight, I've got a question for you. I've been in love with you since we were kids, and I've done stupid things to lose you and even stupider things to keep you, but all of it has brought us to right here, so I
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can't regret any of it. I never thought I'd need to settle down, build a family, do the marriage and kids thing, but ever since you came back, I realized that I want nothing more than to parade you around as my wife and have little bubbly, blue eyed babies that we can take to the park and watch the ducks with." "Santana" "Shh, let me finish," Santana said. "You know how scared I get, but you don't let my fear overpower me. You always know how to bring me back down to earth when I lose myself. You're my best friend, and if I could tolerate anyone for the rest of my life, it's you, and I'm damn sure I can't spend the rest of my life without you. So, if you feel the same way, I'd really like to marry you. Will you marry me, Brittany?" "I'm so happy they legalized same-sex marriage in New York," Brittany sighed. "That's a yes?" "Yes," Brittany squealed, wrapping her arms around Santana's neck, causing them both to tumble onto the ground. They rolled around, kissing each other and giving everything they had. "Do you want your ring?" "Of course," Brittany said. "But I'd kind of like it if you put it on me later, so it's the only thing I'm wearing" "We should go home now," Santana said, feeling arousal start to coil in her lower stomach. "Yeah, it's pretty cold out here," Brittany said, placing another soft kiss on Santana's cheek.

Two months later "Quinn, I know Berry's crazy, but you love her, so you can deal with this," Santana said. "I don't know that I can, Santana," Quinn said, bracing her hand against the counter.

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Santana placed a hand on Quinn's shoulder, and smiled at her best friend. "Moving in with somebody is never easy," Santana said. "I've lived with Britts for most of my life, in one way or another, and when we first moved in, it was still an adjustment." Quinn rolled her eyes. "Please," Quinn said. "You guys adjusted by having sex on every surface in her apartment." Santana smiled lasciviously. "Well, there was that," Santana said with a shrug. "Maybe you should try that with Rachel. It'll make it easier." "Rachel has certain areas where she won't you know," Quinn said. "And there's the height difference, so sometimes it's awkward" "There are books we have, at our place," Santana said. "If you promise not to speak a word of it to anyone, especially your girlfriend, I'll let you borrow it next time you're over." "When did you get so grown up?" Quinn asked as Santana grabbed a granola bar from an overhead kitchen cabinet and tucked it into her pocket. "I'm getting married in three months, Q," Santana said. "That's sort of sobering." "You mean incredibly exciting," Quinn corrected. "Good," Santana said. "As my best man, you're totally supposed to be the eternally optimistic one." "Wait, best man?" "Kurt wanted to be Brittany's maid of honor," Santana said. "Something about place settings and floral arrangements. I figured picking strippers, ordering booze, and securing decent table service would be an easier job for you." "You know Brittany's going to kill us both if we get strippers," Quinn said. "Q, Brittany's a dancer," Santana said. "And believe me when I say that even if
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there were a hundred strippers all up on this, she'd know that there's no way any of them have her beat." "Rachel's gonna kill me," Quinn whined. "Or, you know, think positively; it could shake something loose from the Berry tree, and y'all will end up playing stripper/client on the kitchen table in no time." "You're ridiculous," Quinn said, giving her best friend a hug before she made a move for the door. "And thanks for coming over." "Nah, it's cool. I know when your neuroses get all up in arms," Santana said with a shrug. "Text me later, keep me posted." "I will," Quinn said. Santana moved for the door, and paused when her hand was on the handle. "Oh, and Quinn?" "Yeah, Tana?" "If Rachel wants to get monogrammed couples' towels, just let her. That's probably her way of showing eternal devotion or something."

Two months and three weeks later "Quinn?" Rachel asked, nuzzling into her girlfriend's side. The blankets were wrapped around them, and sunlight poured in on Rachel's shoulder, causing a pleasant warmth to surge through the brunette. Rachel traced small circles on Quinn's hip bone. "Yeah, Rach?" "Do you think it's productive to be making love in the middle of the day?" Quinn laughed, and placed a kiss to the top of Rachel's head. "When it's a Saturday, absolutely," Quinn replied.

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"I feel surprisingly pleased with this kind of productivity," Rachel sighed. Quinn began placing soft kisses along the brunette's neck and jaw line, smiling with satisfaction at the little mewls and whimpers they brought forth in Rachel. "After three hours, I'd think 'pleased' would be at the top of your list of feelings," Quinn mused, continuing to pepper affection over the singer's vocal chords and down to the hollow of her throat. "There are lots of feelings battling for the top spot on my list right now," Rachel confessed. Quinn looked up from her position and Rachel turned slightly in the blonde's arms, moving so they were inches apart, face to face, breathing each others' air, but not connecting their lips. This way was more intimate, and was the type of conversation they enjoyed most. They barely had to raise their voices. They could feel every little thing, amplified to an exponential degree. It was heavenly. "Are you going to tell me, or do I need to start guessing?" Rachel grinned. "Maybe I should make you guess now." "I could just start by listing off the ones on my list, and see if any of those match," Quinn suggested. Rachel smiled even wider, then nodded and curled up into Quinn's side. Her arm draped loosely underneath Quinn's arm, like they were hugging, but sideways, and her fingertips traced the muscles on Quinn's back and shoulder. "I'm listening," Rachel murmured softly. "Okay," Quinn said, taking a deep breath and moving both of their bodies with the motion. "Content." "Check." "Happy." "Definitely check." "Satisfied." Rachel grinned, and took the lull as an opportunity to place a searing kiss on Quinn's lips.
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"Before we get too carried away, check that one off the list, too." Quinn swallowed, then looked down, gathering her thoughts for a second. She wanted to say the last word on her mind, but felt like she was treading on possibly dangerous ground in doing so. She looked into Rachel's eyes, and felt her heart constrict. Quinn shook her head internally. This was stupid. They lived together. They occupied the same space. They had been together for a while. For a respectable amount of time. Seven months. Almost eight, really. Love had been implied, but never vocalized. Quinn could see it in Rachel's eyes, and she didn't know if the words hadn't been exchanged because Rachel was afraid to say them first, or if she expected Quinn to break the ice. Either way, it hadn't hindered their relationship. They got so caught up in sheer contentment that it was almost like the words weren't necessary, since the actions spoke loudly enough for both of them to be happy. However, Quinn decided that actions only worked as a free, solo agent successfully for a given period of time, and now that time was up. "Loved," Quinn said confidently, even though on the inside, her body was nearly wrecked with nerves. Rachel's eyes widened, and her breath fell short. "Quinn Fabray, are you trying to say that you?" Quinn smirked; Rachel was totally waiting for her to say it first. "That I love you?" "Yes, that." "Are you surprised?" Rachel grinned. "Maybe"
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Quinn leaned in and kissed her slowly, and Rachel's thumb moved to stroke Quinn's cheek as they kissed. Then, Quinn felt tears hit her cheeks, and pulled back to see Rachel smiling at her, her face a picture of nearly delirious happiness. "I love you, Rachel Barbra Berry," Quinn said. "I'm not sure when exactly it happened, and it kind of took me by surprise, but I've learned that you are full of surprises." "So, in essence, it wasn't a complete surprise," Rachel teased. "I guess it wasn't," Quinn replied, grinning back. "I love you, too, you know," Rachel said. "Now I know." "Hush, you already knew," Rachel said, then paused. "Didn't you?" Quinn nodded, and Rachel responded with a low sigh and a slow trailing of her leg up Quinn thigh, to finish by wrapping around the blonde's hip. Rachel purred, threading her fingers in the hairs at the base of Quinn's neck and shot her a seductive look. "Would it be incredibly unproductive if we spent the rest of the day making love?" "After what just happened?" Quinn asked, nearly breathless, sparks flying all over her skin, traversing over every piece Rachel was touching. "Not a chance."

Six days later "There are going to be strippers, aren't there?" Rachel asked, arms crossed and an adorable pout fixed on her lips. "I mean, it's kind of obvious what you all are going to be doing at the bachelorette's version of a bachelor's party." "I'm not allowed to give details, just like you aren't," Quinn told her girlfriend. "And if there are strippers, it will be because of Puck, not me." "But you're the best man," Rachel argued. "In name only," Quinn argued. "You'd know better than anyone that I'm nowhere
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near a man." Rachel pouted and stamped her foot a little. "There won't be strippers at our party," Rachel said. "Uh-huh. Unless Kurt hired them," Quinn argued. "He wouldn't. Blaine will be there," Rachel insisted. "Well, when the cop shows up, you make sure to avert your eyes, okay?" "Quinn Fabray, you know that I'm in love with you and-" Rachel's arguments were impassioned, as always, and it was one of the things Quinn loved most about her. Which was why Quinn cut Rachel off before she could even finish with a scorching kiss. "We're going to a dance club, because Santana likes that kind of place. Just a dance club," Quinn said, panting against her girlfriend's lips when they broke apart. "And even if strippers do end up happening, you know that I'll just end up feeling bad that they felt the need to choose that type of career instead of really enjoying it, anyway." "You're so compassionate," Rachel sighed. "I'm just hopelessly in love with you," Quinn replied. "If I were single and faced with strippers, my compassion might falter just a little." Rachel smacked her on the arm, and Quinn chuckled softly. Santana walked around the corner and brushed past them, grabbing Quinn's arm and giving her a gentle tug toward the door. "Domestic abuse," Santana drawled. "Saw it with my own two eyes. Have fun at the more boring party, Rachel. My best man and I are going to gets our party on." Quinn gave Rachel a sympathetic look and an awkward little wave as she was in the process of being whisked away, and Rachel smiled gently, saying everything that needed to be said in a single, fleeting look between them. It was strange, how they had grown to know each other so well.
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Some might say it was because they were perfect for one another, in their own way. "For the last time, Santana, it's 'get', not 'gets'," Rachel corrected playfully. "Nobody asked you, Oxford English," Santana called before the two girls disappeared out of Quinn and Rachel's apartment. Rachel sighed and slumped slightly against the wall behind her. "I love that girl," she said aloud, to the empty apartment. But it didn't matter that nobody heard, because Quinn knew, and that was what mattered most.

A few hours later... Brittany cheered loudly, then knocked back another shot of tequila. "I'm getting married tomorrow!" Blaine cheered and raised his glass of whiskey, and Kurt cuddled into the curly haired man's side. "I'm so happy for the two of you," Rachel said, clutching her glass of wine. "You should drink more," Brittany said. "Simon says." "We stopped playing Simon Says with you four rounds ago, Britt," Kurt slurred drunkenly. "You're a beast." "I really don't want to be hungover tomorrow on top of emotional," Rachel replied. "Wine is good for me." "Fine," Brittany said, tapping her hand against the table, signaling for another round. "I'm thinking I can probably get free jello shots." "Really?" Kurt asked. "How do you figure?" Brittany smirked.
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"Oh, Kurtie - because I'm hot," Brittany said with a lopsided, drunken grin. Kurt leaned in to Rachel and dropped his head, fighting a wave of nausea to whisper in the brunette's ear. "We need to start switching her drinks with water," Kurt suggested. "Are you kidding?" Rachel asked. "You really think she wouldn't notice?" "Honey, she is so far gone," Kurt replied. "And I say it's worth a try. I'll send Blaine. I'm pretty sure he's steadier on his feet than I am right now." Rachel felt her phone vibrate in her pocket, and snuck it out to check the text message, knowing without looking at it who it was from. She hid it under the table and quickly typed out a reply. "Who are you texting? Quinn?" "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am texting Quinn," Rachel replied. "I didn't know that was some sort of heinous crime." "We're at Brittany's bachelorette party," Kurt slurred. "And that matters, Rachel Berry. This is her last night as a single lady." It was when he busted out spontaneously into giggles and referencing Beyonce that Rachel realized that she and Blaine needed to switch both Kurt and Brittany's drinks to water. "Santana Lopez put a ring on it," Kurt giggled, huddling closer to his boyfriend. "Can you believe it, Blaine?" "Yeah, babe," Blaine said, wrapping his arm around his intoxicated boyfriend. "I know she did. It's really beautiful. And the wedding is going to be beautiful, and you are going to be so hungover and miserable if you don't sober up that you're not even going to enjoy all your hard work." "You've been so wonderful, putting up with all my crazy," Kurt said. "I knew Brittany didn't have it in her to be a Bridezilla, but I kind of played that role for her. I was a bitchy queen, and I'm sorry if it pissed you off." "You weren't that bad," Blaine said, kissing Kurt's forehead gently.
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Rachel looked up from her phone for a moment and arched an eyebrow at Blaine. "Really?" she whispered. "You are such a nice guy." "Shh," Blaine said, waving Rachel off with his free hand. "Go back to texting your lady love." Brittany made another loud whooping noise, and Rachel looked up from her phone. Sure enough, the blonde was making her way to the bar, preparing, no doubt, to jump on top of it. "Oh no," Rachel said, eyes wide. "We cannot have the return of stripper Brittany." She slid her phone across the table to Blaine. "If Quinn texts back, tell her that I'm taking care of Brittany and keeping her from doing something that would make Santana crazier than she already is." Blaine smirked, then looked at the last text message that came through before Rachel even stood up. "From this most recent text, it seems like Santana's doing just about as well as her fiance," Blaine replied, hiding the laughter. "And I'd bet money Quinn is quite thankful for auto correct considering she used about six extra periods for two sentences." "What are we going to do, Blaine?" Rachel said with a sigh. "This is a disaster." "No, darling, this is a bachelorette party," Blaine replied. "And you know what they say when in Rome, drink up." "That's not what they say," Rachel insisted. Blaine tapped his hand on the table and flashed his best knee-weakening smile at the closest waiter. "Another round, please," Blaine said. "And can we get some jello shots?"

The next day

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"I love how everyone in my wedding party is wearing sunglasses," Santana said, eying all her friends once they arrived at the venue. Neither she or Brittany had ever wanted a church wedding, so they decided on Central Park, which seemed appropriated, since it was where she proposed. Her mother and father had both flown in the day before, and Brittany's father had made it to the ceremony. Brittany's mother had respectfully declined, but neither girl chose to dwell on it. Brittany's mother had never been incredibly supportive of their relationship, recently or in the past, but she had never been outspoken and negative about it. She was more neutral, and took a stance of being completely uninvolved, except in matters that concerned Brittany as a solo person. However, Brittany's father informed Santana that Lord Tubbington was to be his plus one, which delighted Brittany to no end. "The Puckasaurus doesn't need sunglasses," Puck said, puffing out his chest a little. Santana smacked him, effectively knocking some of the hot air loose, and Quinn smirked. "My liver is made of steel, yo." "Or, you know, it's crying out for help," Quinn remarked. "Hey, be nice," Puck replied. "I'm a legendary friend of the gays." "Don't push it, Puckerman," Santana said. "Now, if you'd kindly exit so Quinn and I can get dressed." "Nothing I haven't seen, but if you insist," Puck said, smirking lasciviously. Both girls rolled their eyes, obviously not impressed, but not to the point where they were angry with him, either. They had realized that Noah Puckerman was just the way he was, and there would be no changing him. Actually, in a world of constant change, some dependent variables were refreshing, to say the least. "Get out," Santana said, waving emphatically toward the door. "And that doesn't mean you can go into the other dressing room, either." "I'll just go hit up the open bar," Puck said. "Surely there have to be some lonely ladies lurking there. Weddings are always full of those." "Yeah, ours will be full of lonely lesbians," Santana said with a wink. "But, if you're considering switching teams, I might be able to help you out"
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"All right, all right," Puck said, raising his hands in defeat. "I get the message. Retract your claws, Lopez." "See you in a bit," Santana said. "Don't get wasted." "Don't walk down the aisle in sunglasses," Puck retorted. "I wasn't going to," Santana said, glaring beneath the dark plastic shields. It was very much ineffective with the barrier, but the message was still clear. Puck laughed and closed the door behind him. Santana looked at Quinn, who was also wearing sunglasses. "I think I can probably take these off," Santana said, slowly lowering the sunglasses and wincing in pain immediately when the light hit her eyes. "Shit, no. Too fucking bright. Why did you let me drink that much last night?" "Nothing stops Santana Lopez," Quinn retorted. "Your hand was fused to that bottle, and there was nothing I could have done about it." "Oh yeah? Well, Smugly McHolierThanThou, take off your sunglasses," Santana challenged. Quinn crossed her arms, then lowered the glasses and immediately pushed them back on. "There's no way the sun is always this bright," Quinn whined. "We're walking down the aisle in sunglasses, aren't we?" Santana asked her best friend. "It appears so," Quinn replied. "We'll rock it." Quinn smiled. "We will."

That evening Quinn was leaning against the open bar at the reception hall, drinking a glass of
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ginger ale and watching the festivities. People were dancing, the band Santana had booked was amazing, and everyone was having a great time. The wedding had been beautiful, and even though Rachel kept trying to hold back hiccupping sobs, everyone held themselves together quite nicely overall. Blaine and Kurt were slow-dancing in the middle, and Quinn felt a proud smile creep onto her face. This was really her life, these were her friends, and her two best friends had just tied the knot, legally, making a lifelong commitment to each other. Finally. Finally. Rachel snuck up behind Quinn and kissed the blonde's shoulder. Quinn spun around, looked at Rachel, and felt her heart flutter with the wings of a thousand butterflies. Even now, Rachel could still give her butterflies with a single look. "All by yourself, beautiful?" Rachel asked slyly. "Not for long," Quinn said smoothly, her voice a low rumble. "My girlfriend probably got distracted by pretty flowers or her best friend. She'll be back soon." "Oh, so I should probably go, right?" Rachel asked, the grin never fading from her face. Quinn shook her head, then kissed Rachel. "Silly," Quinn said against Rachel's lips. "I thought you were an actress." Rachel pulled back, scoffing. "I'm an amazing actress, thank you very much," Rachel protested. "I know, baby," Quinn said. "Which is why I'll be in the audience at your first Broadway show next week." "Wicked. Who knew?" Rachel mused. "I knew," Quinn said. "Kurt probably knew. And you guys already sang on that stage." "It's almost like old hat," Rachel said, playing off the sheer importance of this, a huge landmark in her life. In their lives. "Promise me fame won't change anything?" Quinn asked, suddenly insecure.
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"Between us?" Rachel asked, raising an eyebrow. "Never, Quinn." Rachel leaned up and smoothly connected their lips again. They could feel people watching them, and somewhere, Santana was probably griping to Brittany about them stealing a little bit of their well-deserved spotlight, but neither girl cared. Because this was everything. "And so you know," Rachel said, "I'm kind of hoping that one day, we'll get to this point, too." Rachel's eyes skimmed the room, even for just a brief moment, and Quinn knew exactly what she meant. "Kurt and Blaine are totally going to beat us down the aisle," Quinn said. "And rightfully so. They've been together forever." "We'll see about that," Rachel said with a smirk. "Rachel Berry doesn't like to lose. Especially to Kurt Hummel." "So, there's something I want to tell you," Quinn said. Rachel nuzzled Quinn's neck, then looked up into the blonde's perfect hazel eyes. "Tell me anything." "I'm I'm going back to school. I think I want to teach. English, maybe." "Quinn, that's" Rachel started to say. Her body felt lighter, and she was overwhelmed with pride. She had never pressured Quinn into her decisions where school was concerned. She knew that part of the reason Quinn hadn't gone was due to financial situations, but she had been saving up, looking into grants and scholarships, and she had done very well academically in high school, so her options really were open. "I'm so proud of you. And you know that I'll support you, one hundred percent. Every step of the way, whatever you need." "I love you," Quinn said. "I love you, too." "Rachel, there's something else" "Rachel, Brittany's getting ready to throw the bouquet, get your ass over here!"
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Kurt yelled from across the room. Rachel looked at Quinn sympathetically, apologizing with her eyes. "It's okay, go. We'll talk about it in a bit," Quinn said, leaning down to give Rachel another kiss. Rachel nodded, then scampered away with her best friend. Quinn leaned back against the bar and continued to drink her soda. She tried watching the happenings, but couldn't see in the crowd of people and their frilly dresses. She heard screams, then saw a fuss and a rustle in the crowd, and then heard cheering, but she didn't actually see anything. Until moments later, when a very disappointed Kurt Hummel was vomited out of the crowd of screaming women. "What happened, honey?" Quinn said, comfortable to use this term of endearment now. Kurt was like family. They had grown close, and now she considered the young man to be a permanent, absolutely necessary, irreplaceable fixture in her life. Kurt frowned, then adopted a patented, nearly bitchy smirk. "I'll have you know that your girlfriend just caught the bouquet," Kurt spat out. "And you know what that means." Quinn smiled when Kurt stalked off, no doubt to find Blaine. She was expecting Rachel to come bursting out of the crowd at any minute, wielding the bouquet like a trophy. Because to Rachel, it would be. She would start teasing Quinn about what it meant, and what it should mean, what they should do but to Rachel, it would just be teasing. She wouldn't expect that Quinn had a hidden file on her laptop (because Rachel might snoop a little, here and there, but not to a crazy degree) devoted to bookmarked pages of rings that Rachel might like. Rachel wouldn't expect that Quinn was already consulting Santana about ideas for the perfect proposal, since hers was sort of legendary within their circle of friends. Besides, the first time Quinn had asked Santana for help with Rachel, she sort of abandoned ship on that idea. And it was a really good plan. Rachel wouldn't see it coming, and maybe it wouldn't happen for a while. But when it did happen, it would be perfect.
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And Quinn would make damn sure of that. Because a while back, Rachel had spoken to her of movie romances and fairy tale endings. Rachel, of all people, deserved everything like what she had seen in movies and then some. So, Quinn was determined to make all her dreams come true. After all, if Rachel's dreams came true, hers would follow right along, just as she followed Rachel.

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