DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything but the OC characters and the plot. Glee belongs to the people that created it and Fox. The restaurant in this fic is real but I did change some of the things about it to fit my story though the food is also very real and very good. There is a fair amount of profanity in this story to be aware of that. There is not anything in this story so far that I don't think most teenagers see or hear on a daily basses anyway so I'm going to keep the rating at a 'T' until it gets more sexual in nature.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Alright, I'm finally taking the plunge into actually publishing one of my MANY Glee stories cluttering up my "my stories" folder. I'm not new to writing fan fiction but I am new to writing for Glee. Please take it easy on me. This story came to me one day and I really liked the concept and I was convinced to actually publish it. Please give it a chance and just go with the fantasy of it all, that is what Fan Fiction is all about, after all. :)
SPOILERS: Anything up to the episode "Funeral" of Season 2 of glee. Everything after the break up is AU. Though I will be putting some elements that are in later episodes into the this story they may be taken out of context or used at a completely different time or way. You have been warned that this will deviate from cannon right away.
BACKGROUND INFO: I did change the fact that the Unholy Trinity were forced to chose between Glee and the Cheerios for this story. That never happened, Quinn is still Captain of the Cheerios. This story isn't about the struggle to accept their relationship. This story is about dealing with the outside world's effect on our couple. There is a lot of Relationship fluff, with drama thrown in.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To jlg12344[at]gmail.com

Done Pretending
By Jennifer Lee


Chapter 3

I shift in my bed as I look at the softly glowing numbers on my alarm clock. It is about to go off in a few minutes, but I'm already wide awake. We had gotten back from Columbus at around nine last night so I had apparently been able to get plenty of sleep last night. Well, I am also really excited not to mention a bit nervous about how things are going to go at school today. I have practice first thing in the morning so the alarm is set for four a.m., but I'm more concerned about how to deal with the whole, Rachel bullying situation.

Over the weekend we had gotten a bit more worked out about our relationship. Most of it was really good like learning how to be affectionate with each other and things, but others were a bit more difficult. One of the issues that came up surprised and, to be honest, pissed me off to no end at first. Rachel had told me that she wanted to keep the true nature of our relationship a secret from not only the school, but also from everyone in glee as well. I have to admit, hearing Rachel tell me that she wants to hide how we feel about each other hurt. I am ready to be who I am. The rest of the school, including our friends, could go fuck themselves if they couldn't deal with Rachel and me dating. I had spent my entire life pretending to be someone else because of my father. I did not like being asked to go right back to pretending once again; by my girlfriend of all people. Especially, because the reason she didn't want to come out had nothing to do with a personal fear of coming out.

It ended up being our first real fight as a couple. We were getting ready for bed and I had said something about being able to cuddle openly with her during lunch or something, when Rachel dropped that little bombshell on me. We had spent the next hour and a half arguing, at times quite loudly, about how to deal with our relationship in public. Surprisingly, I was the one that broke into tears first. Not because Rachel was being mean. Rachel just doesn't have it in her to be mean like I can be. No, she was being ultra rational and I have to confess that I had just felt like she was ashamed to openly admit to being my girlfriend.

I had managed to not be mean to her throughout the argument, even though I felt like I was being ripped apart at the time. I just couldn't do that to her anymore. I had forced myself to be mean to her for nearly two and a half years. I wasn't about to let my hurt feelings make me start doing that all over again. But that wasn't going to stop me from trying to make my case as to why I felt she was wrong about keeping our relationship hidden. Unless she was just not ready to be out about her sexuality, and from my understanding it didn't.

I had felt, at first, that her argument – centered around Finn's hurt feelings – was complete shit. At the end I was emotional enough to let my irrational fears of losing her come to the surface and I accused her of still wanting to be with Finn; which is what left me in tears and made Rachel stop arguing her point.

She immediately shifted gears and gathered me in her arms and kisses my forehead rocking me slowly as I got what I was feeling fully out without interruption. When I was done speaking, and crying, she reassured me that my fears were just that, a fear. She explained that she had absolutely no intention what so ever to be with Finn in a romantic way ever again. That I really shouldn't worry about that kind of thing, because it just wouldn't happen.

She helped me to understand and finally believe that she really just didn't want Finn, not now and not later. Rachel was very adamant that she finally has the one person she wants, Me. She let me know that she was in this relationship completely and wanted it as much as I was telling her that I did. Then she tried to explain her reasons for why she didn't want to come out yet and I finally just listened to her without letting my anger and fear cloud my judgment.

Afterwards Rachel and I had to concede that we each had completely valid points to our arguments. We also had to admit that we are both entirely too stubborn for our own good. This was brought about by Hiram after we had both calmed down and started to work out a plan to get through our disagreement in a manner that would make us both content.

He had, unfortunately, had no choice but to listen to the whole argument through the slightly cracked door that joined our room to his. We had not completely closed it when we got done working on our song. I was actually kind of impressed that he didn't get involved on Rachel's behalf. I would have thought that he would have come to his daughter's defense at the first signs of distress. Especially, when I realized he did in fact know of mine and Rachel's rocky history at dinner that night.

It had bothered me enough the rest of Saturday night and into Sunday that I had finally asked him when we were shopping, after the show, why he didn't. He had pulled us away from where Rachel was looking at some cute t-shirts and said; 'You and Rachel have to find your own footing in this relationship on your own, Quinn. You both have larger than life personalities, just in different ways, which is something that has to be dealt with at some point in time. If people get in the way when you two have disagreements or misunderstandings, which is an inevitability, then your relationship will never be able to develop the solid foundation of understanding and communication to stand on, when things really get hard. Quinn, every couple has misunderstandings and disagreements. We have, as individual people, our own thoughts and ideas and they don't always mesh with our partner's, but when a foundation of true communication has been developed between a couple, no matter how well they knew each other before hand, then a relationship romantic or otherwise will be able to flourish and survive the real trials that will come in the future.'

I had thought about what he had told me for the rest of yesterday and it is even on my mind as I go through my morning routine now. Rachel and I knew each other pretty well, but we don't know how to be together as a couple yet. We know our bad sides and our good, which is something not many new couples can say about their partners upon first getting together. We've seen each other at their worst and their best. We don't have any illusions as to how bad it can get after our history together.

Which I think is quite comforting in some ways. Strange I know, but when I think about it, I don't have to put on an act with Rachel and neither does she. We both have very well known faults and we have had to deal with them for years already. Now we just need to learn how to deal with those same faults as a couple and work out our differences in a way that will allow us to become closer together, not push us apart. It is something we will most likely have to work on for as long as we are together, which I fervently hope will be for the rest of our lives.

When all was said and done in regards to the out status of our relationship I had to concede to Rachel's point. As much as I hate the fact Finn has to factor into our lives together as a couple at all, Rachel is right. The main issue to my problem with not coming out is that I know Finn is going to make a play for Rachel and I don't know if I can handle seeing that happen.

After I had confessed that to Rachel, she told me that she would make a concerted effort to make sure she is not ever alone with Finn if she could at all help it. She let me know that she is going to take this precaution for herself not just to ease my own mind. Apparently she really doesn't want to have to fend him off and it's easier to dissuade him when there are others around to see his actions. I plan to help make sure that Finn can't get her alone by getting Santana and Brittany to stay with her when I can't be.

The problem, as Rachel laid it out for me, is unavoidable. We just don't have enough members in glee to chance Finn quitting. Unfortunately the chances are, if he finds out before Nationals that Rachel and I are dating he might be hurt or even mad enough to leave glee, like he had done with baby-gate. True he had come back just in time then, but now, we just can't risk it happening again if we want to have a chance to win, let alone ever go to Nationals.

It's going to be tricky enough dealing with the inevitable tantrum about not being able to do the duet with Rachel, when he finds out. So in the end, as Rachel had said the other night, It's just not worth adding everything else about us dating on top of not only Rachel telling him no to getting back together when he asks, but also being locked out of this new duet. I am happy to say that Rachel did compromise on keeping it a complete secret from everyone in glee though. We both have agreed we can tell two people that will in turn help us keep the secret until after Nationals. Once Nationals is over Rachel has agreed to come out with me as girlfriends.

I have chosen Santana and Brittany. It really didn't take all that much thought on my part. They are my best friends and if I tell Santana, Brittany by default will know about it so it's just easier to tell them both. Besides Mercedes doesn't have enough clout to give Rachel and out if the need arises. I know that Rachel is going to tell Kurt. They have been getting closer since he had left to go to Dalton and their friendship has continued to grow stronger now that he's back at McKinley again.

I even found out that she had confessed her crush on me to him just before Regional's a few months ago, too, so Kurt will not be as surprised at these development as some of the others would be. Hearing that made me smile at her and reward her with a kiss. I like to hear about her feelings for me before Friday. Kind of makes everything make more sense. I mean it shows that we really aren't moving too fast if we are able to put our feelings into a larger time frame, not just this past weekend. Though I did get really upset when I found out that she was only going to tell Kurt, because he was pretty much her only friend and she knew she could count on him to be sure the information wouldn't get out.

That sent me on a whole new apologizing kick, with crying and begging for forgiveness, to which Rachel had to calm me down once again. I was a mess for a while there and when I finally calmed down enough to listen to her I was embarrassed at my outburst. It was alright in the end though. She had told me that her lack of friends was not because of me, though I think to some degree she is wrong.

Maybe in glee club that could be true, but I know for a fact that most people outside of glee club stay away from her because of the ever present proverbial slushy 'free-for-all' sign hanging over Rachel's head. AND that is my fault. I made Rachel even more of a pariah than she would have been and that is the first thing I'm going to change when I get in today. Though I didn't start the slushy attacks on her; I am the one that made them a sporting event for the jocks and Cheerios of Mckinley High.

As I grab some fruit salad for breakfast, I think about my song we are going to sing today in glee. Well not 'in' glee if Rachel can swing it. Rachel is going to see about getting Mr. Shue to listen to us sing it just for him and then we are going to try and convince him that Puck would be the best option to sing the male part of the duet. The hope is, that if we do it outside of Finn's influence then Mr. Shue would be more inclined to go along with it and once it's set up he rarely changes his mind so no matter how much Finn whines or complains he won't get to do the duet. Though if push comes to shove we can pull the song out completely if Mr. Shue does end up giving Finn the part, I mean it is our song. We own it and can dictate who it can be preformed by legally.

When we finally agreed on the music for the piece we put it in a key that would work perfectly for Rachel and Puck's voices. We had thought about Sam but Sam's vocal range was a bit too close to Finn's so Rachel thought it would be best to go with Puck. Not to mention they have sung together before in the past and they sound really good. Puck also has some kind of bond with Rachel. They have a kind of friendship that, even though Puck tries to get into any woman's skirt he can; he doesn't really try that with Rachel. I've not really figured out why Puck treats her differently, but it eases my mind that I don't have to worry about him acting inappropriately towards Rachel, as strange as it is to even think that when I think about Puck's behavior.

The drive to school as always is quick, as I pull into a parking spot I see that Rachel is already here. That shocks me. I know she gets here early most days, but I don't recall her getting here this early. I mean it's only five in the morning. I get out of my car and beep it as I walk over to where she is now leaning against the hood of her car watching me walk over to her.

Damn she looks good today. Not that she doesn't look cute most days in her slowly improving school fashions, but standing there in a pair of worn light blue jeans – that hug her hips like a glove – a cute little light pink baby doll scoop neck t-shirt with, dare I say, black and white converse on her feet, she looks absolutely sexy in a casual kind of way.

"Hey what are you doing here so early?" I say as I get close enough as to not shout. She smiles and flips her hair back over her shoulder as she shrugs at me. The smile she is giving me is shy and beautiful. I love seeing it. It's the one she only gives me.

"I missed you." She says simply and I melt right there on the spot. I know I'm the only one here this early because it's my job to go over the equipment and make sure everything is ready for the squad to use, so the parking lot is empty but for me and her along with a few other cars belonging to the few dedicated teachers left in our school. So I step up very close to her and lean in, we are now much closer in height as we are both wearing sneakers so I don't have to lean down far to brush my lips over hers gently.

She hums softly with pleasure as our lips touch, her hands moving to spread over my stomach and to my back until we are hugging, her cheek resting comfortably on my shoulder. I draw gentle random patterns over Rachel's back as we stand there holding one another without any desire to let go. This is something that has also changed after entering into a relationship with Rachel. I found out I can touch, cuddle, and hold Rachel for hours without needing to do anything else and be completely happy and content. "I love having you in my arms." Rachel murmurs softly against my neck before she plants a feather soft kiss against my pulse point.

I nod and bury my face into her luscious hair. Over the weekend I got to hold her in bed and smell her hair for as long as I wanted. It was wonderful. We had some pretty hot make-out sessions too, but we never let them get too far. Our weekend of constant togetherness has really helped us to move our relationship much further in relation to how comfortable we are with each other physically, than we would have been normally. "I missed you too, Rachel. By the way you look amazing this morning. Is that the shirt you bought while we were in Columbus?" I say quietly as I place a little peck on her shoulder right where the collar of her shirt shows her skin.

"Mmm-hmm, thought I would chance wearing it today. I thought you might like to see me in it." Rachel tells me as she leans back away from me to look me in the eyes. I take the opportunity to look her up and down then give her a sexy smirk. To which I get a shy smile in return when my eyes finally move back to hers.

"Well I adore it and you, Rachel. You look beautiful." I drop a little kiss to the tip of her nose to which she reaches up and rubs it giving me a little glare. "Also, don't worry about it getting missed up. I will make sure it won't, I promise okay?" I continue when she drops her hand again.

"Quinn, don't do anything that is going to bring retaliation back onto you. You know I was a target long before things between you and I got bad." I stop her with my fingers lightly pressing against her lips. She's right, it was happening before I slushied her for the first time. I know now, but when we first started school I never really understood why she was slushied and picked on the way she was at the time.

It wasn't her clothes in the very beginning because she dressed normally then but by the second week of school in our freshmen year the argyle and other horrible clothing choices started and then she was openly picked on for that. Up until that point she was just slushied and left alone even some of the names like man-hands and tranny had been in use before me. I now know it's because it's followed her from school to school because she is the daughter of two gay men.

"It doesn't matter why or who started it, Rachel. What does matter is that I will not tolerate it happening ever again." I tell her, my HBIC attitude firmly in place. No one messes with the girl I love. I know I love her, and I know that I'm falling more in love with her every day. I also know that it's too soon to say as much, so I keep that little bit to myself.

She sighs and nods with resignation. She knows I will have to do things she will most likely not like in order to get people to stop slushing her. She also knows that there is no way she will be able to stop me from doing it either. Whether people know it or not yet, Rachel is my girlfriend and I will do nearly anything within my power to protect her.

I brush her bangs from her eyes, and playfully say, "So you got here this early just because you missed me, huh?" This causes her to laugh and hook her fingers into the waist band of my Cheerios' skirt, which sends a delicious shiver all over my body.

"Mostly yes. I figured I've never gotten the chance to watch you do your thing... and I'm kind of interested in seeing you – yell umm – I mean do your thing as Captain of the Cheerios." I can't help but laugh at Rachel's comment. I can see the appeal to watching me yell at the girls that have picked on her day in and day out at school. Not that it's going to be happening any more, but it will most likely be very therapeutic for her none the less.

"Come on then, I have to set everything up before they all get here." I say while still laughing. We are in the gym today as we are working on our tumbling and stunts this morning. We walk in silence to the gym hand and hand. I frankly don't care if anyone sees us, but it helps that no one is really ever here this early.

As we move into the gym I hear the distinct sound of a body hitting a mat, hard. Rachel leans against my shoulder and kisses it softly before disentangling her fingers from mine as we round the corner to see into the main portion of the gym. Damn, I can't wait for Nationals to be over and we no longer have to hide.

Just as I get a full view of the gym I see one of my male Cheerios, James, attempt a double layout. Both Rachel and I wince as he lands knees down on the mat not quite making the full second rotation. He smacks his hand down on the mat and growls in his frustration. By the looks of him he's been at this awhile. He's all sweaty and flushed from his exertions.

James O'Connell is a massive but surprisingly flexible and agile guy. He's nearly six feet two inches tall, with sandy blond hair and kind of pale skin, a massively large chest and equally massive arms. He is one of the few guys that can lift a flyer by himself and is often used just for that purpose. He is also one of the few people I trust completely to lift me safely when Sue has complex lifts and throws planned in her routines. He's a nice guy over all and works really hard.

He's also my go to guy for keeping track of the other males on the squad. Often letting me know if there is a problem, between my guys that takes place out of my sight in the boy's locker room, that requires my attention. I keep a tight rein on my Cheerios and that means I need eyes and ears everywhere, including in the boy's locker room.

"O'Connell? What are you doing?" I call out to him as I walk closer. I pull Rachel, gently, along by the sleeve of her shirt when she slows down. She is most likely unsure if she should be around when I talk to the boy. The boy in question looks up at us surprise clearly showing on his face when he see's us.

He stands up and steps off the mat he had obviously pulled out so he can practice, still breathing heavily. "Mornin' Captin' I was workin' on my double layout." Though it sounds perfectly reasonable, it's not. He shouldn't be doing it without someone around in case he gets hurt. The safety of my team is my top concern.

"O'Connell, do I have to restate the rule in regards to tumbling practice?" I can see in his face that he knows perfectly well that he's not suppose to be doing this with no supervision.

"I know Captain but... but Coach has been riding me hard to get this down and I can't get it!" He shouts in frustration at the end. I know he's not shouting at me, he's just frustrated with himself. Though I do growl and step closer to him when I feel Rachel flinch next to me. "Sorry Captain, I didn't mean to shout." Rachel's hand on my arm stops me when I go to rail into him about shouting and I sigh softly rubbing the bridge of my nose with my fingers. I should punish him immediately for disobeying one of our top safety rules, but I decide not to do it right now. It wouldn't help him learn the stunt and knowing his determination, I would end up finding him right back in here another day trying it on his own again.

"You know the rules O'Connell; you will be doing suicides until you pass out this afternoon. For now help me get the mats out for practice and we will try and work out why you are under rotating the layout." It doesn't take James, me and Rachel long before all the mats are out along with the other equipment we will need for the morning. I tried to tell Rachel she didn't need to help but she was insistent so I let it go.

It seems that James and Rachel have Geometry together and they spend the time while we worked chatting about how the teacher never seems to give them enough time to get a concept down before she moves on to the next one. I smile as Rachel and James chat easily. Rachel doesn't often have good interactions with those outside of the glee club and even in it most of the time. I've always liked James; he's never mean and mostly keeps to himself when given the chance.

Like most of my male Cheerios he is dedicated to the sport and even though they get some immunity, from being bullied, for being a Cheerio. Though it's not easy being a male cheerleader and I know they get flack from the guys of the other male sports teams. They just never talk about it.

The only things they are really immune from is slushies – as that would ruin their uniforms and Coach Sylvester will not tolerate that – and outward physical hostilities as I would make anyone that hurt one of my Cheerios, male or female, pay dearly. Unfortunately, I can't control all the name calling and overall general misconception that any guy on a cheerleading squad is gay; just like I can't for the guys that are in glee.

Once done, Rachel takes a seat next to my bag that I put on the bottom row of bleachers and I start to stretch. James also works on re-stretching so that he doesn't pull anything from having to stop his workout in the middle of it. I smirk over at Rachel as I hear her stifled gasp when I sink down into full side split. When I look over at her I can see that she is pressing her fingers over her lips her eyes, on me, filled with desire that she either can't seem to, or just doesn't care to, hide. I watch her eyes for as long as I can as I walk my hands out along the floor until my arms are stretched out as far as I can reach and my forehead is mostly touching the mat.

I can still feel her eyes on me when I sense James kneel behind me and then his weight pushing down on my back to force me further down. I'm not sure how Rachel will deal with how much James will be touching me during the next few minutes, but it's all necessary. With as much tumbling James will be doing in a bit, I will be doing twice as much and I will be one of the ones being tossed around in the air too. I need to be as limber as I can. Which means Rachel's going to have to deal with James getting pretty close to me during my warm ups.

It's fine for the next few stretches, but when James moves to nearly lay on top of me to put enough weight on my leg that I have raised over my head. I hear a soft growl from the general location of where I last saw Rachel sitting. I can't see her around James' frame, so I force myself to not tense up at the sound. I can see the confusion in James' eyes as he looks down at me after his eyes flick to the side as though to look behind him to see where the sound had come from.

I just shake my head at him, silently telling him to ignore it. When he moves so I can lower my leg I turn us so that I can see Rachel this time. When I rotate on the floor I can see Rachel sitting on the bleacher staring daggers into the side of James' head with her arms crossed over her chest and her back ridged. Well it seems Rachel is most definitely the jealous type.

When her eyes finally land back on mine she drops her arms and looks apologetic about her behavior, to which I just smile and shake my head at her. I mouth that he's not doing anything and she mouths back with a sigh that she knows. I lift my other leg and use my hands to pull it as far up over my head as I can on my own like I had done my right one beforehand. Once I reach my personal limit James moves close again and uses his weight to push my leg that much further.

I wince a bit at the first bit of pressure, but he knows to ignore it. I breathe through the pain and when I exhale he pushes down a little bit further. I let my mind focus on relaxing and letting my body stretch out completely. Cheering is full of pain and stretching to ones personal limit in every way. It's why I love it so much. It challenges me to be constantly better. Once done with those we move on to a few more stretches and then we move to work on his layouts.

I see the problem pretty quickly once I'm watching closely. I explain to him about getting more height after his last hand spring, to have enough time to make the second rotation. He's got the power but it's going into pushing him out, not up, but he still can't seem to get it. That's when I decide to just show him what I'm talking about. I don't have a trampoline to spot him on while he's doing it so this is the next best thing.

I end up doing the three hand springs into the double layout the first time. Telling him to watch the height and how I angel myself so I will spring up more from the third hand spring. That I will gain the height I needed to flip my body two complete times and land on my feet again that way. I end up having to do it four times, with him trying after each time I do it, before he is able to figure out where he is going wrong and fix it. After that he seems to get the rhythm of it down and more often than not he's able to get full rotation so that he lands on his feet upon landing, more often than not.

"Did we start even earlier and I didn't get the memo?" I turn to see Santana stepping up beside me as James does the double layout again.

I shrug turning my head back to make sure he's doing alright as I answer. "He was here when we got here, working on his own." I look back at Santana as James moves back to his starting position to have another run. She is looking at me with surprise.

"And he's not running suicides or laps right now?" She asks me in shock. Normally that is what I would do first thing. I shrug as I turn my gaze back to James tuning out the chatter behind me of the rest of the squad coming in and more than likely starting their own stretching routines.

"Oh he will have them this afternoon. I wanted him to get the stunt down first, and then make sure he never forgets to have a spotter in the future. That reminds me, don't let me forget to make sure he either passes out or throws up before he can go home." I reply with all seriousness.

Santana chuckles softly and nods at my side as she too watches James successfully land the layout again. "You got it Captain." I can tell by the way she says it that she will be more than happy to see it done. She loves to torture rule breakers. It's not like our rules aren't in place for a very serious reason. This is the reason I will let her work James over this afternoon just to make sure the lesson is that much more memorable.

"So I noticed a certain wayward reject hobbit fro-" I grab her bicep in a tight grip which brings her focus back to me, cutting off her insult before it is fully out of her mouth. When she looks back at me she leans back and away from the anger that I'm sure she can see in my eyes. "What the-"

I yank her closer to me, cutting her off again as I hiss in her ear. "You are my best friend San, but you will no longer insult Rachel, am I clear?" I pull back to look her in the eyes again so that she would know how serious I am about this. I find her staring at me with wide, confused, and slightly angry eyes. Santana doesn't like to be told what to do.

Before she has the chance to say anything or allow her anger to overtake her confusion, I continue to bring my point home. "I help you protect Brittany, Santana. I never insult her. I only ask for the same courtesy in return not only as my second in command but best friend, San." I look her straight in the eyes to let her fully understand what I'm not saying out loud right now. We are too public to speak about my relationship with Rachel openly. When I see her mouth fall open in surprise I know she got my meaning.

Santana takes a deep breath as she closes her mouth. She looks away from me and back to where I can hear James making another run at the layout. I let go of my grip on her arm and give her the time she needs to process, not only what I just told her, but what I'm asking of her. Santana has actually known Rachel longer than I have. They've been in the same schools since they were in the third grade. She doesn't like to talk about it but they use to be friends up until they entered into junior high.

I had asked Santana about it once but she cut off anything regarding what ended their friendship or even the fact they were friends to begin with at all. After that fight with her I've never asked again. Whatever it was it was bad enough that not even Rachel will talk about it. I had asked her what the issue was between her and Santana when something about her came up while we were waiting for Hiram to come back from the bathroom during the intermission of the play.

She would only say that she and Santana had a falling out and that she didn't want to bring up old irrelevant memories. I left it alone like I did with Santana. It's technically none of my business, but it obviously fuels Santana's continued hostilities with Rachel. Which worries me in regards to whether or not Santana will be able to accept the role I'm asking of her now.

After a few moments of just seemingly starring off at the back wall of the gym Santana turns her head back towards me and looks me in the eyes. I can't get a handle on all the emotions that I'm seeing in my friend's eyes in the moment it takes for her to get them under control. I do see there is a bit of anger and maybe fear, though I'm not completely sure. What I am sure of is a quick flash of sadness.

Before I can say anything about it she nods and places her own hand lightly on my shoulder, "I hear you loud and clear Captain. Don't worry Quinn I've got your back, ok." I sigh with relief that Santana is on my side and will make sure she protects Rachel on my behalf as I protect Brittany on her behalf when she can't.

"Umm Captain... I think Rachel is having a problem." James' voice gets my attention and I look to him to see him frowning in the direction of the other Cheerios behind me and Santana. I turn around to look back at the other side of the gym, where I had left Rachel sitting on the bleachers.

When I do, my eyes quickly take in the situation of some of the freshmen Cheerios ganging up on Rachel. I start to head over to them quickly, but when I see one of the girls actually reach out and yank on Rachel's new shirt – so that her whole left shoulder is exposed – I see red, turning my quick strides over to my girlfriend into a near enraged charge.

"What the Fuck do you think you are doing?" My growling voice makes everyone turn around to look at me, all but Rachel that is. She is looking at the floor trying to fix her shirt and her hair. It seems the girls had obviously messed with it at some point before I had turned around. Rachel flicks her eyes up to meet mine quickly before she moves them back to the floor and what I see there tares my heart out.

She is trying very hard to fight back the tears that are threatening to spill over. Rachel has never given into bullies in her past. It's one of the most frustrating things about dealing with Rachel as a bully. She seemingly can't be broken down. Whatever these girls had done to Rachel, it was bad enough to nearly make her cry where the bully could see and that had never happened before.

Tiffany Hanson – the girl that I saw nearly rip Rachel's shirt off – steps further way from Rachel, and through her group of friends – more towards me – placing her hands on her hips obviously trying, poorly I might add, to imitate one of my more intimidating poses I use when I talk to people, before saying. "Tranny Man-hands Berry over here, is in here ogling us, Captain. I was just teaching her a lesso-" When Hanson starts to speak I nearly fly the last bit of distance between us until I was right in her face.

She nearly falls over backwards in surprise by my sudden nearness, causing her to squeak in distress. I can feel Santana quickly stepping up next to me, most likely staring down the other girls that were also picking on Rachel. Santana can be as terrifying as I can but in a completely different way. It's common knowledge that Santana would beat the ever living shit out of someone that got on her bad side. Me on the other hand, I will not hesitate to dismantle someone's entire world if I feel they deserve it. I am not a nice person and I have no problem with being absolutely ruthless and sleep guilt free at night, if I feel it's needed.

"Let me make this perfectly perspicuous, so that your small minded lilliputian cell of a brain can fully comprehend what I am about to articulate, Hanson." Her eyes go very wide as she looks back into mine. I purposely use my normally hidden high vocabulary just to make her feel as stupid as I can. I'm so close to just kicking her ass from one end of the gym to the other, my fists are shaking at my sides. I cross my arms over my chest and lean in just a bit in order to have something to do with my hands so I don't haul off and hit the slut.

"You will never call Rachel Berry anything other than, Rachel or Berry in the future. Am I clear? If I ever hear of you or anyone insulting Rachel Berry I will make sure you regret the day you ever thought you could cross me." I finally look away from her cowering form so that my eyes land on all the girls that are standing around. My eyes flicker over to where Rachel is to see that Brittany has arrived and has my girlfriend wrapped up in a comforting hug, which I'm completely grateful for.

I return my eyes to my squad and say loudly. "This ban goes for slushies, name calling, tripping, or anything else you might come up with to torment her. Rachel Berry is under MY protection and therefore completely off limits. If you have a boyfriend, friends, or whatever, that has picked on Rachel in the past – or you even think might have plans to do so in the future – you had better let them know of the new rules. Otherwise you will be having your share of said person's punishment should I find out. Do I make myself completely clear on this matter?" Everyone in the gym nods vigorously and/or says that they understand in some form of affirmation. I look back at Hanson pinning her to the spot with my eyes when I continue. "Hanson you stay. The rest of you start your run. Now go!" I shout the last command and everyone but Santana, Brittany and Tiffany Hanson scatter to do as they were told.

I move past Hanson without a word trusting Santana to keep her where I told her to stay as I walk up to Rachel. Once I get close she steps out of Brittany's gentle hug. I can tell she has successfully fought back her tears, but there is still a hint of her battle as her eyes are slightly red still. I just want to take her into my arms and make it all better. Brittany leans in to me and whispers into my ear, "She says that Tiffany was picking on her for trying to fit in with the popular kids by dressing normal now." That bit of news enrages me all over again.

Outside of school Rachel normally dresses like she is today. She dresses like she did at school as a means to control what she was being – for the most part – picked on about. She figured if she was going to get slushied no matter what she did she might as well play it up and make her being a target about something she could control than just letting the bullies bring her down about her fathers or something that is really true. Her clothes are cheap and easily replaced and as she had said 'ugly as sin' so people couldn't help but pick on her about it. Today, she just had the desire to dress nice for me and now she was getting crap for it.

I nod to Brittany and take the last step towards Rachel. "Did she hurt you?" I ask, in my most gentle and loving tone, looking her over carefully. I reach up and lightly brush my fingertips along the collar of her shirt when I see a line of red peeking out from her shirt. She tries to shake her head no but when I hook my fingers into the collar of her shirt she stops and looks away. I very gently pull it down exposing three parallel welts along her shoulder and collar bone.

This had to be where Hanson's nails had obviously raked over Rachel's skin when she yanked the collar of her shirt. I lightly trace my fingertips over the raised marks wanting to kiss them away, to make it all better, but I can't right now. I also notice once the shirt is moved that the back part of the sleeve, where it attaches to the torso of the shirt, is ripped a bit. That's it... I had promised that her brand new shirt would not get ruined, but I failed. I gently move the collar of her shirt back in place and look at her for a moment until her eyes finally focus back onto mine.

"I shouldn't have worn this to school. It's fine Quinn. I knew it was a bad idea." I shake my head as she talks. I don't want to hear that. I want her to be able to dress nice for me and for herself whenever she wants to without having to be afraid that something will happen to her good clothes.

"No Rachel. You are right to want to dress how you please and not be picked on for it. It will not happen again, if I can help it." I take Rachel's hand in mine, Brittany has moved to stand between us and the rest of the gym so I feel it's still within the 'rules' of keeping our relationship a secret from the rest of the school. I give her hand a little squeeze. Before she can say anything else I move very quickly around Brittany and back over to where Hanson is standing nervously with a glaring Santana. With one quick move I grab the slightly taller girl by her dirty blond high pony and yank her with me back over to Rachel.

Hanson shrieks in surprise and I'm sure pain at the sudden move. Santana cackles as she follows behind us, and Rachel gasps in shock. I can see Rachel shaking her head and looking upset at the violence I'm displaying, but before she says more than my name Brittany is whispering in her ear quickly. I don't know what she tells Rachel, but she stops shaking her head and stands up straighter and looks me in the eyes before shifting her gaze to Hanson as I pull the girl to a stop in front of the small diva. "Apologize for calling her rude names, for insinuating that she is some kind of peeping tom, for ripping her shirt, and last but certainly not least..." I growl out letting her stew in my obvious anger. I reach out and pull the collar of Rachel's shirt aside very gently so the marks can be seen clearly "for hurting her." That last part was said with such deadly calm that Hanson's whole body shakes in fear.

Hanson is a coward without her friends around her as back up so she quickly stumbles over herself to get out the apology. Needless to say I'm not satisfied with her obvious lack of any real sincerity as she stumbles through her apology, but unfortunately Rachel nods in acceptance, her arms loosely wrapped across her chest and around her stomach; I know she is just accepting it because that is just how Rachel is. With my grip still on Hanson's ponytail I pull her away from Rachel and nearly fling her away from us. "Santana, make sure our newest base fully understands the meaning of being apologetic." I see the glee on Santana's face and Hanson's shocked disbelief as the fact that I just made her a base in the pyramid sinks in fully. Then before Hanson can even find voice to protest Santana is yelling at her to run.

I move back over to Brittany who is still standing next to Rachel. "Thanks Britt, go on and get your laps done I will join you in a moment." Britt just beams at me then squeezes Rachel's arm lightly and takes off. I step back close to Rachel and gently pull her arm to get her to sit back down.

"I think I should go... I don't want to cause problems, Qui-" I look at her with wide panicked eyes. She stops speaking when her eyes move to mine and starts to chew on her lower lip clearly in distress and uncertainty.

"Please Rachel, don't leave. I love having you here. Don't let them get to you... You never have in the past." I plead softly, but before she could answer I gently pull her off the bleachers and lead her away from the view of the rest of the squad. Once we are in a corner out of everyone's view I wrap her up in my arms and lightly kiss her temple. "Please Rach, I want you here."

She sighs heavily and wraps her arms around my waist nuzzling her nose into my neck. "I don't know, it was different this time... I mean, I dressed right today, Quinn, and they still messed with me. She ripped my shirt and scratched me Quinn... That has never happened before. I'm rarely ever touched in school. It scared me." I tangle my fingers lightly into her thick hair as I hold her to me. I can, now, understand how this incident nearly brought Rachel to tears. She's right. People have picked on her, called her names, threw things at her, but they have never really touched her physically.

Rachel is a non-violent person. She does all her fighting with words and attitude. Even at our worst with each other we limited it all to words, even Santana for all her threats towards Rachel, had never laid a finger on the girl in a negative way. I don't think she ever would to be honest. In the very beginning when everyone in glee thought it was Santana that leaked our set list Rachel believed her. Santana, for all her bitchiness, bluster, and bravado, respects Rachel for believing in her. Even with their shared past or maybe because of it Santana will always have respect for Rachel Berry.

I pull back to look her in the eyes to see the confusion and a bit of fear that is staring back at me in hers. I cup her cheek and kiss her lips lightly. "It will be alright Rachel, I promise. I won't let that happen again and anyone who tries will pay for disobeying me." I promise firmly then lean down as I pull her shirt aside again and kiss the red and white welts as I had wanted to do when I had first seen them. "No one will get away with hurting my girl." I say softly as I trail my lips up from the scratches to her neck leaving behind soft kisses in their wake. I hum softly when I feel her pulse jump under my sensitive lips. I can tell she is biting her lip to stifle a moan that wants to escape her throat by the way her breath hitches and her hands grip onto my hips.

"God Quinn, you feel so good." She whispers against the side of my head as I suck gently on her neck. Her own fingers coming to grip my bicep and the back of my neck since my hair is up in a pony tail.

I pull back and look at her again my eyes pleading. "Please stay?" I ask again. Hoping she will. She sighs softly and nods saying that she will stay. I beam at her showing her how thankful I am for agreeing to stay. "Come on I need to get at least four laps in before I have to get practice really going." I say dropping a kiss lightly on her lips once more before leading her back to the bleachers. "By the way, what did Brittany say to make you not question what I was doing with Hanson?" I ask curiously.

She looks over at me and starts to fiddle with her fingers, I'm not sure if she is nervous or just unsure, but I don't have time to ponder it much because she begins to speak. "She told me that you are the Captain and that you had to maintain control over the team. If I questioned you that would more or less cause dissension in the ranks and lead to them questioning your authority. If that happened then people could get really hurt, because they will not be listening to you when they really should be. Of course she didn't say it like that, but that is what I ascertained from what she did say." I listen carefully nodding the whole time. As Rachel sits back down on the bleacher I see that she truly did understand even if she didn't like it.

"Brit's right Rachel. What we do here is very dangerous and I can't have anyone questioning me. I run these practices. Coach over sees them on occasion, but I run them, Rachel. It's my job to make sure people don't get hurt. I don't always succeed, but I have the best track record out of all the other Captains of the past, including Santana. It's why I was given back my Captaincy. I know it seems harsh but the control I maintain over my squad on and off the floor is what keeps them safe." I explain further to make sure that Rachel sees that I don't do what I do with my squad just for a power trip. There is a reason, it makes doing what I say a habit so that they will listen when it really counts.

"I understand, Quinn. I promise I will not openly undermine your authority." Rachel smiles up at me as she sits down and I can tell that she means what she is saying. She does understand and she respects my role as Captain. I smile back and nod as I take a few steps backwards and away from where she is sitting. I want to blow her a kiss but I stop myself, turn around and sprint trying and get my laps over with as soon as possible. I already know that I will only get in maybe three laps before the rest finish their ten. I will have to make up the difference after practice.

Practice goes well for the most part. We were working on all of the various stunts that we have planned for our Nationals routine. Rachel indeed got to see me yell at members of my squad. I had decided to work on a maneuver that really needed some tightening up. There was a continuous timing issue that I wanted to get fixed before we ran that part of the routine this afternoon. One of my flyers ended up being dropped and that pissed me off to no end. She wasn't really hurt but she could have been. I'm going to have to talk with Coach about just getting rid of Hanson. I don't care how pissed she is at becoming a base she can't put someone in danger like she did today. If not for the fact we were working on mats Lacy would have had more than just a mild headache she might have had to go to the hospital.

I walk over to where Rachel is sitting after I finish my last cool down lap. She smiles at me as I draw close. "Help me stretch out?" I ask as I pull my leg back by the ankle to stretch out my quadriceps. Rachel helps me out over the next few minutes by adding a bit of extra pressure or balance when needed in order to fully stretch out from the workout this morning. Rachel doesn't have as much weight as the guys or even Santana or Brittany so she is not able to give me as much as I would have normally had, but its way more than I could have done on my own. Once we are done she helps me back up off the floor and I settle down on the bleachers next to her when she takes a seat again. "Thank you for letting me help you, Quinn." I shrug and lightly bump my shoulder against Rachel's as I smile warmly at her.

I ask her what's wrong when I see her bite her lip and look down at her hands for a moment then looks back at me. "I can't say I'm all that happy that you are one of the girls that gets thrown around now that I've seen what can happen." Rachel says softly her eyes looking me over as though I was the one that had been dropped. I really should have realized this might happen. Rachel had gone all protective on Finn about the dangers of playing football when they were dating. In all honesty I think there is more danger in cheerleading than in football in some ways. Not that I will ever say as much to Rachel, but knowing her she will draw that conclusion at some point if she keeps watching our practices.

"Have you never seen one our routines before?" I ask wondering how she couldn't have had any idea before now that it was dangerous.

"I have once." She admits with a blush and starts to fidget with her fingers resting in her lap. I wait to see if she is going to continue, "I was mostly just watching you at the one football game I had attended, and you didn't get thrown around like you were this morning." She does continue after a moment of silence. I blush a bit at her confession. My mind racing to remember what game that could have been.

"The Homecoming game." I say and place my hand over her fidgeting ones, once the game she is referring to pops into my head. She looks at me giving me that special smile and nods with confirmation. "I remember that game. I wasn't being thrown around that game because of a knee injury from a few days earlier." I say quietly. I hated needing to say it, but Rachel really needed to know that I have and most likely will get injured at some point again as a cheerleader.

"That's not helping, Quinn." She says sternly. I can't help the soft chuckle that escapes at her mild glare. It's just so much apart of what I do that I don't give it much thought anymore. I've never had to think about how someone I was dating might feel about the danger I was in everyday.

When Rachel's eyes shoot back to our hands in her lap I raise that hand and cup her cheek applying a little bit of pressure to get Rachel to look at me again. "Rachel, I'm not disregarding your concerns, it's just not something I've ever had to think about before. I mean no one but my mother has ever cared if I was injured while cheerleading." I can see I have her attention now so I continue. "Rachel, my mother was a cheerleader herself, as was my older sister. She understands the dangers so even though I know she worries, she knows the dangers are all part of what we do here." I lean in and lightly kiss the tip of her nose, which results in her reaching up again to lightly rub the spot I kissed with her fingers. "I swear I wasn't laughing at you Rachel or making light of your concerns it's just not something I've ever thought about before and I found it endearing."

She sighs and leans in to rest her forehead on my chest. I rest my chin on her head and gently massage the back of her neck slowly with one hand and link my fingers of my other hand with hers. "I'm sorry Quinn. I shouldn't have gotten upset. I-I just want you to take your own safety seriously I guess. I know it's not fair or right, but I couldn't help but let my experience with Finn's almost cavalier attitude about the dangers of his sport, influence how I dealt with you in regards to the dangers of cheerleading."

I have to admit that, that made a lot of sense. Though I don't think Finn was ever really as cavalier about the dangers of football as he might have seemed. He never liked to talk about it, but I know he was fully aware of them. "Rachel, I understand that you can only draw from your past dealings with Finn, as he and Jesse are your only real relationships, but I'm not him." I kiss the spot my chin had just been resting to take the sting out of my words just now.

I keep going when she takes a breath to most likely apologize or something of the like. "I know you didn't mean to do it. That really doesn't bother me, Rachel, but I need you to realize that I have more understanding of all the things that can and more often than not do go wrong in Cheerleading than anyone else, other than Coach Sylvester. I'm the Captain of this squad, their safety is my responsibility. Even when the Coach is here, it's still my responsibility to make sure my squad is as safe as I can make them. I will never take theirs or my own safety for granted, Rachel. I promise you."

Rachel raises her head and gives me a gentle kiss on the lips. It is lingering and sweet. We keep it chaste and when we pull back we smile at each other. "I understand, Quinn, and I will keep all that in mind. I can't say I will ever be completely thrilled with people tossing you up in the air like I saw today, but I can accept that this is important to you and you will do everything in your power to remain safe. Though I will say I trust the boys with your safety more than I do any of the girls, other than Brittany and maybe Santana. Though she is in the air as much as you are so I don't think her being really responsible for lifting you is all that realistic of a possibility."

I smile and nod in acceptance of what Rachel is saying and to be honest I have to agree with her. "I will take that under advisement sweetie." I say with amusement and continue, "Thank you, Rachel for believing in my skills and your acceptance." Rachel gives me a beaming smile and I lean in and hug her tightly. "I need to get my shower Rach, and make sure my girls aren't doing something they shouldn't be doing in there." I say when I pull back from our hug.

"Ok, I will wait for you here and we can go get our books for our first class." Rachel says as I stand up to head over to the locker room. Just before I head off I cup her cheek gently with my hand, which she promptly covers with her own hand before she turns her face into my palm and gently kisses it.

"I will be back shortly, Rach. If anyone gives you trouble you come on in and get me, okay?" I say as I start to back away my hand moving from her cheek to gripping her hand. She nods her understanding and tells me that she will do as I ask if it becomes necessary. Once our hands are at their limits we finally let go and I wave then turn completely and jog easily over to the locker room door and slip inside. All the while thinking about how much of a romantic sap I'm turning into and how much I don't care in the least any more. It's amazing how light and free I feel already. I can't wait to feel how it will be after we are able to come out completely.

Part 4

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