: Same rules apply.
Thank you once again to everyone who has supported me and this fic. I'm inching ever closer to the end of the chapters I've had done for several months now; however, if all goes as planned I will be working on chapter 14 this evening!
Quinn spent several days thinking about the long conversation she and Kurt had in the Lima Bean after she had taken the first steps of coming out. Many nights she spent staring up at the ceiling from her bed in the Puckerman guest bedroom, the sparkling bits of drywall beginning to swirl after long hours of contemplation. She knew she wasn't ready to be out and proud, the idea terrified her, but it felt good to finally admit something she had been trying to repress for such a long time. Rachel had also been on her mind a lot the last few days. Without always realizing it, her eyes would actively seek out the brunette every chance she got, and before she knew it, her eyes were raking over every inch of her body with a deep longing. Rachel, on the other hand, appeared oblivious to Quinn's intense and hungry gaze which confused her immensely.
Why was the diva so intent on getting Quinn to confess her deep seated desire for her in what was an intense interrogation to not only stop, but also to act as though Quinn hardly even existed? The blonde felt her stomach clench every time she thought about it. How was she supposed to make the brunette hers if the girl seemed suddenly so indifferent? Quinn posed these questions to Kurt who attempted to calm her down insisting that Rachel was just single-minded right now as Regionals inched ever closer. The argument was perfectly logical considering how important glee was to Rachel, but Quinn still couldn't shake the feeling that her chances with the brunette were quickly falling away.
It didn't help that she saw her ex-boyfriend hovering over her diva every chance he got. She had heard through the gossip mill that was McKinley High that Rachel had not accepted his invitation to date, but Quinn wondered how long it would be before she decided to go out with him. After all, Finn was the one she had been pursuing so adamantly, right? So why would she continue to refuse his advances if that's all she had wanted all along? Every time the blonde saw the two of them in the hall together she couldn't help the scowl on her face that quickly followed. At times the two appeared happy, giggling away, while others there were longing glances between the two. Quinn was doing everything she could to not make herself sick over this. It seemed like some sort of sick joke for her to finally admit what she wanted, who she wanted, only to have it ripped away from her.
Logically speaking Rachel was never really hers to begin with, but with the diva's insistent pursuit of the truth it felt like she may actually have some glimmer of a chance with the brunette. But now, now that Finn was single and therefore free to date the girl who had captured both of their hearts, not to mention the fact that Rachel seemed so distant towards her, it just felt as though her chances were slipping away faster than she could hold on to them. Kurt, for his part, did everything he could to reassure her that she couldn't give up before she had even begun. If Rachel really was as worth it as she claimed, she owed it to herself to at least try while also assuring her that she too deserves to be happy especially considering everything she was going through right now.
Unbeknownst to Quinn, the seemingly longing glances she thought she was seeing between Rachel and Finn were only one sided. It was true that Rachel did have feelings for Finn, but she was determined to be properly courted not just treated like a consolation prize because he was now single. Another fact that Quinn was unaware of is that Rachel had been fully conscious of the hazel eyes that were continually following her. The eyes never felt invasive, but almost comforting and protective. She knew that with those eyes watching her she never had to worry about being hit by a slushie, something she knew was not the case of when Finn was around. He was a nice guy, that she was sure of and it was true he could be a good leader when he needed to be, but she never felt like she was safe of bullying from his football cronies or the Cheerios even when he was around. Sure he'd say something to them in front of her, but it never had much backbone behind it. On the other hand with Quinn watching her she had a good feeling that were something to happen to her while the blonde was watching, whomever dared even look at her wrong would have a very angry pregnant ex-cheerleader on their asses.
Rachel hadn't been purposely avoiding Quinn, she wasn't really avoiding her at all but rather trying to give the girl some space and allow her to figure everything out. Having grown up with two dads Rachel had a good understanding of how hard it could be for people, especially someone with such a conservative background as Quinn, and therefore she didn't want to push her too hard. Sure she came on strong at first, but that was more due to just wanting the blonde to stop bullying her so much. Rachel knew she was running the risk of making things worse for herself as the retaliation of someone like Quinn could be massive, but at the same time she thought she had a pretty good understanding of the blonde that instead of retaliating she would instead back off because she would realize that the more she objected to Rachel's hypothesis the guiltier it would make her look. No, Rachel didn't want to hurt Quinn, she just wanted Quinn to stop hurting her.
Though Rachel may not have actively made eye contact with Quinn she always knew of the whereabouts of the blonde. At her locker, she knew Quinn was down the hall at her own watching. On her way to the auditorium for lunch, she knew Quinn was watching on her way to the cafeteria. In glee sitting down front with Finn at her side, she knew Quinn was watching from the back row. To some it may seem creepy, but to Rachel she felt safe knowing someone who no longer held any ill will toward her was watching. At least someone seemed to show genuine interest in her and her well-being even if it did come in the form of someone who claimed to have once hated her. Rachel spent a lot of time thinking about this fact. What does it say about a boy who supposedly wants to date her yet doesn't appear to be as interested in her life as someone who stands off on the side lines just watching? Did she really want him, or was there another choice?
These questions brought her to glee equipped with a song to express just how she had been feeling with regards to Finn and perhaps even to the girl who had been shadowing her from afar for a couple of weeks now. Never in all of her greatest daydreams did Rachel ever think she would find herself in this situation with the quarterback and most popular guy in school wanting to date her, nor having the head cheerleader (even if she wasn't currently) and once most popular girl in school interested in her as well. She felt like she was in limbo without a reason to move forward, and what better way than to explain her thoughts than through music. After all, she was still Rachel Barbra Berry - future Broadway sensation and EGOT winner.
While Mr. Schuester discussed his thoughts on song choices for Reginonals, Rachel sat fidgeting in the front row. She was doing her best to remain patient while he talked all the while completely in her head about singing for the group. Besides, regardless of what he chose she knew she would be challenging him later to get it changed. Yes he was their teacher and yes he was once in an award winning glee club, but that didn't mean he had the best choices in music selection.
Sitting forward slightly in her chair waiting for her opening to interrupt Mr. Schue, she could feel hazel eyes gazing at her. Glancing slightly over her shoulder she caught the other girl's stare. Quinn had an unreadable look on her face as she looked back at Rachel, only looking away when Kurt whispered in her ear. Rachel turned her focus back to the front and realized that Mr. Schuester had stopped talking and was looking at the group with an inquisitive look on his face. Thinking this was the perfect opportunity to request a chance for her solo, she made eye contact with young teacher.
"Mr. Schuester!" she sternly said while her hand shot up with determination.
"Yes Rachel?" He appeared reluctant to call on her thinking for sure she was going to disagree with everything he had just said. Little did he know that for once Rachel hadn't really heard anything he had been talking about since he walked in the door.
The young diva stood up and gently smoothed down her skirt - her very short Quinn noted as her eyes took in the girl's long legs. "Be careful, you're drooling" Kurt whispered next to her.
Without taking her eyes off the brunette she elbowed him in the ribs whispering, "Shut-up."
Rachel walked up to the young teacher and turned around to face the rest of the club. "Mr. Schuester, if I may, I have put together a mash-up of two songs that at first may seem contradictory of one another, but are actually a perfect match for how I've been feeling lately. If it would be ok with you and the group, I would like to present it now."
Two pairs of eyes bore into her with great intensity - one with over confidence, while the other's held hesitancy for fear of being shot down before even making a move.
Mr. Schuester smiled lightly with relief washing over his face with the fact that all she wanted to do was sing. "The floor is all yours" he replied as he walked to an empty chair off to the side.
Nodding to the ever present Brad and the rest of the band, Rachel composed herself in preparation to begin singing. Finn sat forward in his seat smiling with a dopey look on his face for what he was sure was going to be a mash-up of a couple of love songs. Quinn, on the other hand, sat as far back in her chair as possible and nearly strangled her own fingers fearing it really would be a love song medley. Kurt casually placed his hand over hers in an attempt to settle her nerves, all the while Santana and Puck looked back and forth between each other and this sudden new friendship. They knew something was up but neither could figure out what. Brittany, however, appeared oblivious as she began swaying to the music, the ever present dancer within feeling the need to move.
Right before she sang the first note, Rachel's eyes glanced over to the two people whose interest in her performance was so intense it could be cut with a knife. Her hips began to move to the rhythm, hazel eyes drinking in her every movement. Even from this distance, Rachel could feel the heat coming from the blonde in the back therefore giving her the sultry turn in her voice she needed for the first part of her mash-up. Letting her eyes slip closed she began to sing:
I lie in an early bed thinking late thoughts
Waiting for the black to replace my blue
I do not struggle in your web because it was my aim to get caught
Her eyes opened to focus on the boy in front of her who was drinking her in as she used her pointed gaze at him to assert that she was trying to convey this message to him.
But daddy longlegs, I feel that I'm finally growing weary
Of waiting to be consumed by you
Oh, your love give me a heart contusion
Adagio breezes fill my skin with sudden red
Lifting her gaze on Finn her eyes raised to the back of the room where she knew she was being carefully watched by another set of thirsty eyes.
Your hungry flirt borders intrusion
And I'm building memories on things we have not said
Quinn's entire body tensed up as she locked eyes with the singing girl in the front of the room. She could feel Kurt, Santana, and Puck watching her carefully but she tried not to pay any attention to them. Instead her focus remained on the front as she tried to decipher if what Rachel was singing could actually be meant for her as much as it was for Finn. When the song first started her heart sunk realizing it was probably just an attempt to get Finn's attention, but now with the brunette looking at her and seemingly singing to her she thought maybe she had a chance after all. And with the change to the second song she knew for sure that though the first song was essentially a love song, the second was a warning to the boy down front.
Give me time to care, the moments here for us to share
Still my heart is not always there
What more can I say to you
Could I lie to you, I'm just too weak to face the truth
Now I know I should make a move
What more can I say
As Rachel sang the courses of the two songs her eyes glanced back and forth between the two who were still watching her with bated breath. Finn looked confused while Quinn looked slightly hopeful. Rachel also noted that during the course of the song, Finn had slid back in his seat while Quinn sat forward.
Give me the first taste
Let it begin, heaven cannot wait forever
Darling just start the chase
I'll let you win, but you must make the endeavor
Rachel's eyes fluttered back and forth between the two who were paying her such close attention leaving little to no doubt who the song was intended for.
How can I fall, how can I fall
When you just won't give me reasons
When you just won't give me reasons at all
Just won't give me reasons
Just won't give me reasons at all
As Rachel finished the last few notes of the song, Finn had an almost sick look on his face while Quinn had a hard time reigning herself in from standing up and applauding. Kurt cheered for Rachel while shooting Quinn knowing looks that she was definitely still in this. Rachel smiled widely due to the appreciative cheers she was being showered with. Taking one last glance at Quinn, she swept around to her chair, her skirt lightly twirling up much to the blonde's pleasure. Kurt giggled in his seat next to Quinn as he caught the pleased yet frustrated look on her face as she crossed her ankles tightly. For Rachel's part she smiled casually at Finn in a noncommital fashion while tossing her long lightly curled locks over her shoulder sneaking yet another quick glance at the blonde in the back row who was eating up every last bit of this display.
Though the song and the follow up show may have been for them, Finn and Quinn weren't the only two who appeared to know what was going on. Puck had a smirk on his face as it dawned on him why his baby mama had been looking at the pictures of girls in short skirts the other day, while Santana had a shit eating grin that told the story that she too had figured out who was getting Quinn so hot and bothered lately. Though Puck thought it was hot that the object of his desire was clearly desiring another female, it still burned him that his chances with Quinn were quickly dissipating in front of his eyes and he couldn't help but feel sad about it. Santana started nodding while mumbling something under her breath that the blonde couldn't quite catch but it sounded something like 'I knew it.' Regardless of the look on Puck or Santana's faces, Quinn was not going to let it kill her buzz.
Mr. Schuester continued to ramble on about his plans for Regionals, but the only people who appeared to be listening anymore were Tina, Mike, Matt, Mercedes, and Artie. Brittany wasn't really paying attention to anything except maybe the ladybug that was making its way across the wall. Knowing he'd get called out by Mr. Schue for talking during his lesson, Kurt casually pulled out a notebook and pen from his bag and began to quickly write a couple of things down. Out of the corner of her eye, Quinn saw that the note was to her but she was unable to fully remove her eyes from the small girl down front. The boy next to her softly tapped the paper on his lap to get her attention to read what he had just jotted down.
1) Just a fair warning - you have had an audience since her song started.
2) I have a perfect plan to get Operation Woo 'R' in motion.
Quinn's eyes briefly fluttered to the paper, then back to the brunette, then off to the side to catch two pairs of eyes watching her, and then finally back to the paper. She held her hand out palm side up to indicate that she wanted to borrow the pen Kurt was twirling in his fingers.
1) I had a feeling they were watching me.
2) Meet me at the Lima Bean at 4:15 - I'll buy.
She handed the pen and notebook back to Kurt then immediately looked back to Rachel. The girl looked like she was buzzing with ideas and was just waiting to interrupt Mr. Schue. Honestly Quinn was surprised she had lasted this long and a small grin peaked out from her lips. Something that would've annoyed the crap out of her before she just found endearing now. She realized now that regardless of what one thinks of Rachel, one absolutely could not deny the incredible determination she had to get the hell out of Lima and make her dreams come true. Light tapping dragged her out of her thoughts as she glanced back at the paper.
Before we meet, you need to talk to Rachel. I'll distract 'Frick and Frack' sitting next to you so they can't get in your way.
Quinn read the message over and quickly jotted her answer down with a look of panic on her face.
What should I say to her? And what about Finn? You know he's going to get in my way.
Instead of going back to her staring, Quinn made a quick glance at the brunette then watched as Kurt took the pen and notebook back.
Just make direct eye contact with Rachel and ask if you could talk to her. Give Finn one of your HBIC glares if you have to, but be sure to make Rachel understand you're not looking for a fight, you just want to talk to her. Keep your voice light. As far as what to say to her - tell her how much you enjoyed her song. Tell her she looks nice today. Charm her - I know you've got it in you, Fabray.
Quinn looked from the notebook to where Rachel was sitting. She actually did look nice today in her simple form fitting blouse in a rich red hue and matching stockings under her signature pleated short skirt in black. I bet she'd look smoking hot in a pair of strappy heels and minus the tights Quinn mused to herself. Beside her Kurt cleared his throat as he noticed the faraway look on her face. When she looked at him he nodded towards the clock and the fact that glee was almost over. 'Get ready' he mouthed to her.
Casually she shifted her position that would allow her to dart off the second Mr. Schuester dismissed them. To her right she could see Kurt preparing to move out of her way so she could head that direction while he could cut off those to her left who were watching the two new friends closely. At least she knew that Rachel wouldn't take off immediately as she almost always had something to say to Mr. Schuester after glee which would give Quinn ample time to catch her before she left. She looked up to the clock, then to Mr. Schue, and then finally back to Rachel. She was ready, she just needed the green light.
"Don't even think you're going to get out of talking about what the hell is going on," Santana hissed beside her. "You may be planning on escaping this time, but don't think I won't be showing up at Puck's later," she warned.
Rather than allow herself to be affected by the Latina's words, Quinn just rolled her eyes as she continued her steadfast watch over the brunette. Her whole body tensed as Mr. Schuester said the words she had been waiting for, "I'll see you all tomorrow then."
A flurry of blonde hair took off past Kurt with fierce determination. She was both excited and nervous and though part of her was looking forward to talking to Rachel, the other part was scared to death as they hadn't really spoken to each other for quite a while other than the occasional 'hi' in the hallways. Her eyes were fixed on the brunette as she made her way towards her target. As predicted, Rachel was talking to Mr. Schuester whose body language seemed to say 'get her away from me' to anyone who may be paying attention. For a startling moment, Quinn finally realized just how poorly Rachel had been treated not just by her classmates, but teachers as well. She still could see how Rachel's behaviors could inspire annoyance, but those behaviors came from a deep sense of passion for what she held so sacred to her. Though Mr. Schuester may view Quinn's interruption as saving him, she viewed it more as saving Rachel from such disdain to her proposals for the club.
Clearing her throat, Quinn took a deep breath as she nervously spoke up. "Excuse me, Mr. Schue?" Two pairs of eyes immediately landed on her, one with relief, one with surprise.
"Yes Quinn?" Will's face instantly lit up having been saved from Rachel's suggestions and criticisms.
Quinn watched Rachel's face closely for a sign that she was out of line by interrupting this conversation, but the brunette's eyes remained gazing at her with a startled look. Glancing back at the expectant teacher, Quinn politely replied, "I apologize for interrupting, but may I have a moment with Rachel?' She had to bite her lip to suppress a giggle when she noticed the eyebrows of the girl next to her raise even further. Thankfully instead of looking scared or apprehensive, Rachel looked ever the more surprised. On one hand it made Quinn feel bad because they had never really been friendly, all her own fault, but on the other hand it made her feel good because it meant that their newly formed tentative friendship was putting the petite girl more at ease at being around her.
Will for his part could barely contain his excitement. "Yes, of course! Take all the time you need." With that he quickly removed himself from the two girls and made a beeline for the other side of the room. Quinn's eyes squinted in quiet contempt as she watched his fast retreating form. Barely containing a growl, her eyes soften as they landed on the expectant girl now in front of her.
"You wanted to speak with me?" Rachel hesitantly, yet partially excited, asked as she practically strangled the sheet music she clutched so tightly in her hands.
The blonde's nerves quickly resurfaced as she fought to keep her eyes on the other girl's instead of traveling up and down her body in a hormonal fit she would later blame on the pregnancy. "Uhm, yes I did. Uh that is, I do. Want to speak with you." Rachel smiled shyly as her eyes twinkled with anticipation. She had never seen the other girl get flustered before. She found it rather charming.
Lightly clearing her throat again, Quinn continued feeling slightly embarrassed by her sudden inability to properly speak. "I just wanted to tell you how much I liked your song." Rachel's eyes lit up and her smile instantly grew. "I wouldn't have guessed those two songs could be mashed together, but I thought you did a really great job interlacing them in order to get your message across."
Quinn breathed out slowly as she watched Rachel's growing smile reach her trademark mega-watt status as her pristine white teeth peaked out from her soft perfectly shaped lips. Her lips had Quinn nearly transfixed as she realized several beats had passed since Rachel quietly and extremely shyly whispered out a 'thank you, Quinn' and she hadn't responded. She quickly looked down at her hands to regain her thought process, then slowly raked back up Rachel's legs until she reached her deep brown eyes still watching her carefully. "You look really nice today, too" she added softly. Again she had to suppress a giggle when Rachel's smile threatened to crack her jaw at the sheer magnitude of it. Silently Quinn congratulated herself for being the one responsible for such a joyous expression in the other girl. She drank the presence of Rachel in, finding herself very content to share this quiet moment with her.
Little did she realize that a very skeptical pair of eyes was watching the exchange very closely, just waiting to pounce the moment a chance presented itself. Unable to hold back any longer, Finn stalked toward the girls with a grimace on his face as his eyes caught Quinn's. Because she was still wrapped up in everything that was Rachel at that moment, her return stare was blank as she watched his expression quickly switch to a tacked-on smile as Rachel turned to look at him.
"You were great, Rach!" he said over enthusiastically. "You always are" he quickly added with a smirk to the blonde. With this, Quinn's eyes instantly narrowed as she easily deciphered that look as one of a challenge. Ok, so he has recognized her as an official participant in the quest for Rachel Berry's heart. This is ok, no reason to panic or attack.
Rachel for her part seemed oblivious to the looks the other two were giving each other as she brightly replied, "Thank you, Finn. That's very sweet." Finn smiled widely at her while smirking again at Quinn. She, on the other hand, noticed that though Rachel's smile was sincere it wasn't as big as the one she received just moments before. Oh yeah, she was definitely in this. It is so on. You're going down, Hudson.
2nd A/N: Songs used in this chapter: The First Taste by Fiona Apple, and How Can I Fall by Breathe - both can be heard on YouTube.