DISCLAIMER: I do not own Glee or anything related to the show. I would imagine all the rights belong to Ryan Murphy & Co. and Fox TV. I'm merely borrowing the characters for some fun. No infringement is intended, nor am I making any profit with this story.
SPOILERS: All aired episodes with my own twists. Written before 'Prom Queen' (ep 2.20) aired. This is how I wish things would have played out.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To jt4702[at]yahoo.com

When the Night Feels My Song


Rachel walks into the gym that holds McKinley's prom with Mercedes and Sam. It had surprised her 'dates' because they were sure they were going to be ditched for Jesse. The boy had returned swearing up and down how sorry he is over the way he acted towards the diva during the time they were together. Jesse had begged for forgiveness and Rachel for once had done the exact opposite of what everyone had expected. They had all thought she would jump back in Jesse's arms, more as a way for make Finn jealous than any true desire to be with Jesse. Instead, Rachel had accepted his apology but politely declined his offer to be his date for the prom, saying she had already made plans to go with Mercedes and Sam as a way to show that being single was nothing to be ashamed of. She had emphasised the point of being single and choosing to remain so.

It had taken some time and a lot of soul searching for Rachel to be able to reach this stage in her life. The events of the previous months all shaping the woman she is slowly becoming. She had been devastated when Finn had officially broken up with her in that Christmas tree lot in what seems to be a lifetime ago. Even so, she had vowed to get him back. The events leading to Valentine's Day and the discovery that Finn had pushed Quinn to cheat on Sam had put a miniscule smudge on the rose coloured glasses she always regarded the tall boy with.

Having him lie about his relationship with Quinn once Sam had ended things with the former Head Cheerio put another smudge. The thing that made the biggest difference though, had been Quinn's words to her that ill-fated day in the auditorium when they were supposed to be working on their original song for Regionals. The words had been harsh, but they had also been an eye opener. They confirmed that no matter what, Finn had issues with honesty. They weren't even together anymore. They were supposed to be friends, and the boy still couldn't give her an honest answer. He would deny any and all involvement with Quinn. Hearing Quinn's description of what the blonde expected her life to be pushed Rachel into action. The idea of being stuck in this middle-of-nowhere, ultra-conservative town scared her more than the thought of being alone for the rest of her life. Because if she stayed behind, it would mean all her bigger-than-life dreams would have died one way or another. After running off, she had used those pent up feelings and penned one of the songs that assured them their berth for Nationals.

What truly prompted her to see what she had become had been what she did during the time Sue revived the school's newspaper in a tabloid-like style. She had been sick to her stomach, literally, when she found out the truth about Sam. It was then that she had realised she had truly lost herself in her quest to find her 'perfect leading man'. She had been willing yet again to destroy someone's life based on nothing but rumours and suppositions. Unlike Quinn, who had endured Finn's accusations because she refused to take the easy way out and betray Sam's confidence.

Rachel had completely surprised the rest of McKinley when she stopped her open pursuit of Finn. Having Quinn state that she trusted Finn but not Rachel had felt like a slap on the face. Knowing she was doing the same dishonourable thing as Finn by pursuing someone who is taken made had made her feel like the biggest hypocrite on the planet. Quinn trusted the boy who had turned lying and cheating into an art form. She had apologised to Quinn and promised her quasi-friend she would back off. Quinn had raised an eyebrow showing her scepticism, thinking it was Rachel playing 'hard to get'. That had hurt as well. Even if everyone thinks, she has ulterior motives, deep down she knows she's being sincere and at the very least, she is working on regaining her self respect.

Taking a step back, Rachel can't believe how cruel Finn's actions had been. She had never hidden the fact that she was still in love with him, yet, he continued to give her mixed signals. Running everything through her mind, she is appalled at how poorly he has treated her since they have met and how she allowed that to happen. She smiles sadly, as she steps further in the gym that hindsight is truly 20/20. Seeing all the couples who are vying for the title of Prom Queen and King, she is surprised to find that she truly doesn't wish to be one of those couples and for the first time ever, she can truly say she means it when she says she is no longer interested in Finn Hudson. Her smile reaches her eyes for the first time in forever.

Rachel nearly jumps few feet up in the air when she feels a hand tap on her shoulder.

"Sorry Rachel. Didn't mean to scare you, but you've been in your own world ever since we left your place." Sam says with a lopsided smile. "You okay?" He asks when he follows her line of sight and it lands on their exes.

"Surprisingly enough, yes I am. I apologise for being distracted." Rachel says in her usual chirpy way. "Come on, let's go dance." She adds to her 'dates'.

Rachel, Sam, and Mercedes alternate between dancing together, and with Kurt and Blaine. Everyone is surprised that Rachel hasn't once turned her attention to her former exes, even though Finn and Jesse have been trying to get her attention the moment she had set foot in the gym.

"Rachel, is this some sort of ploy to get Finn back? Because if it is, girl, let me tell you, it's working fantastically. I haven't seen Finn so jealous since the first time you were dating Jesse." Mercedes says slightly amused. She had no idea Rachel could be such a good actress because not once, did the diva seem affected by the seemingly unwanted attention, or the overly exaggerated PDAs between Finn and Quinn.

"Believe it or not, I'm done with that drama. I finally took a friend's advice to heart. Only I've modified it a little and decided that I'm concentrating on myself. I figure my focus on my career will follow suit, and so far, I haven't been wrong." Rachel says as they approach the refreshment table.

Mercedes grins proudly at those words. "That's my girl." She says.

Rachel eyes the choices for drinks and frowns at what she sees.

"What's wrong?" Sam asks.

"They have everything but water. After the fiasco I've had with alcohol, I'm not risking that punch being spiked." Rachel says making a disgusted face.

Sam and Mercedes laugh. Soon, the laughter turns to a shudder of disgust. If witnessing Brittany throw up in Rachel's face had turned them off drinking, it's not surprising Rachel refuses to experiment with alcohol in the near future.

"I get what you're saying, but there has been at least one teacher keeping an eye on things. What are the odds of someone being able to sneak something in and pour it on the punch?" Sam asks as he pours some of the funky coloured liquid in a plastic cup. He sniffs the contents just in case. "I don't smell anything, so I think we're safe." He adds as he hands the three-quarter filled cup to Rachel.

Rachel takes the little plastic cup and does her own sniff test. She scrunches up her nose in a way that those around her can't help but think it's adorable. "All right, I'll concede on the fact that I can't seem to detect any traces of alcohol by merely smelling the contents, but, to my defence, the punch is citrus based." Rachel says as if that explains everything.

Sam and Mercedes scrunch up their faces in confusion at that. "Huh?" They manage to utter together.

"Citrus based punches and juices mask the taste and smell of vodka really well. The added sugar to sweeten the drink further masks the taste of it. If someone decided to say, add some orange, lime or lemon vodka into this punch, we wouldn't be able to smell it. Sweet and mixed drinks also enhance the effect of the alcohol. And if you combine all that with the fact that we've been dancing in a fairly poor ventilated area, thus causing our bodies to dehydrate at a faster rate, we'd get impaired a lot faster. Thanks for pouring me the drink though Sam, but I'm not risking it." Rachel says.

The other two roll their eyes good-naturedly at Rachel's ramble. After the whole debacle with the rumours and the truth coming out, Sam has discovered what a great friend Rachel can and truly be. The girl had raided her fathers' closets, and provided Sam and his father with clothing and other things. She had gotten things for his younger siblings. She made sure his entire family ate balanced meals, all the while, managing to do so without making the Evans feel like a charity case. The girl had gone above and beyond in her way to rectify her mistake. One of Rachel's dads even managed to hire his mother to work as a part-time receptionist in his law firm, so at least they had his pizza delivery job income along with is mom's. Things all of a sudden didn't look so dire anymore.

"What do you want then?" Sam asks with a smile.

"Don't worry about it. I'll probably go to one of the vending machines and grab myself a bottle of water." Rachel says as she starts to make her way to the one set of open doors.

"For that you need to leave the gym?" Mercedes asks with a raised eyebrow as her gaze settles on the row of vending machines flushed against one of the walls.

"I do if I want to have any money for the vending machines. You know I left my purse in my locker." Rachel says over her shoulders loud enough for her friends to hear as she weaves her way around the masses of sweaty bodies.

"Why can't you just grab a drink out of the water fountain?" Sam asks slightly confused once she catches up with the diva.

"I hate the way unfiltered water tastes." Rachel says, very much aware of how snobbish she sounds.

"I'll go with you." Sam says.

"That's very chivalrous of you, Sam, but why don't you keep Mercedes company instead?" Rachel says with a smile.

"She already made her way to Kurt and Blaine, and I wouldn't put it past idiots like Azimio or the Jacob dude from bothering you." Sam says. He can't help but wonder why it is that people pick on Rachel so much. In all honesty, the girl isn't that different from any of them. She has her own style of dress, she wants to be liked, she has dreams, and she's working hard into making those dreams a reality. Just like every other human being on the face of the planet.

"You're really gallant this evening, and I appreciate it, but there's no need to. Azimio is busy trying not to look like an uncoordinated buffalo in the midst of a seizure on the dance floor and Jacob is trying his hardest to look inconspicuous as he get shot down by yet another member McKinley's female population. Not to mention that it looks as if Kurt and Blaine would rather have some time alone while trying very hard not to be rude in that quest." Rachel says with a light chuckle.

"Will you really be all right?" Sam asks, still not convinced.

"Yes, I will be. My hearing can really use a break, and I'd like a bit of fresh air. It's really getting stuffy in here." Rachel says with a gentle smile.

With that said, Rachel once again makes her way to the double doors and sweet freedom, even if it's just for a few minutes. She sighs audibly as she takes in a deep breath of cooler and definitely less stale air from the corridor. As she walks along the eerily silent and solitary hallway, she thinks that perhaps she was being a bit hasty when she declined Sam's offer to come along. It feels so strange with only half the lights on, getting quieter the further away from the gym she gets. She shakes her head at her own paranoia. Everyone is back in the gym, and only Sam and Mercedes know for sure she's off wandering the hallways by herself.

Rachel can't help but think of Quinn as she walks by one of the many posters proclaiming her the perfect choice for Prom Queen. Out of all the people she has met in her short life, no one has managed to get under her skin quite like the former Head Cheerio. Her insults and the few compliments have had the most effect on the young diva as well. It had surprised Rachel to realise how much she actually values Quinn's opinion.

Rachel had been ready to go through with her nose job. Not even Puck and Kurt had managed to talk her out of it by bringing up Barbra Streisand. After she had gotten a second opinion from an ear/nose/throat specialist confirming that a different shape and size nose would not have a negative effect on her singing voice, she had been all set. No more feeling self-conscious about the size of her nose or having to endure all the teasing. One heart-felt conversation with Quinn was all it took for her to change her mind.

"Rachel, are you really sure you want to go through with the plastic surgery?" Quinn asks joining Rachel in the choir room.

Rachel looks up from the piano and shrugs her shoulders. "As sure as I'll ever be, I guess." She admits, doubt clouding her voice for the first time since the subject was first brought up.

"I never thought that you would ever cave to peer pressure and alter your looks in such a permanent and dramatic way." Quinn says as she situates herself on the edge of the piano bench.

"It's not as simple as that. You'd never understand. I mean, here I am, making my dads pay a plastic surgeon a fortune so I can have him make my nose look like yours. You'll never know what it's like to have every single person tell you how ugly you are. How you'll never be enough. You don't know what it's like to be laughed at because of how you look." Rachel says fighting back tears.

"Yes I do." Quinn says.

"Your body recovered and now you're even more perfect than before. The slight widening of your hips after childbirth makes you even more alluring." Rachel says, thinking Quinn is talking about her fall from grace the year before. "No matter what I do, I'll always be the freak. Maybe if I don't look like one I'll be left alone. I won't even attempt to be liked anymore. I just want to be left alone." Rachel admits.

"And you think changing the way you look permanently will achieve that?" Quinn asks.

Rachel is surprised by the bitterness of Quinn's voice and she looks up from the piano. She is taken aback by what she sees in what are usually the most beautiful hazel eyes she has ever seen. Right now, they resemble two pieces of amber reflecting the usual pain and insecurity Rachel is only used to seeing in her own chocolate gaze.

"How do you know the teasing won't get worse because everyone will know you've altered the way you look?" Quinn asks in the same tone of voice. "That you altered the way you look because you're giving in to them, proving that you're just another sheep." Quinn adds.

"I don't. But anything has to be better than what I go through every day." Rachel counters.

"You can't undo it if you change your mind. It won't be like that failed makeover Kurt tried to give you last term. Once the plastic surgeon cuts and reshapes your nose, the changes will be permanent. And I can guarantee you that no matter how many compliments you get after the operation, they'll never make you feel good about yourself because deep down you know they're not praising you. They're praising the skills of the plastic surgeon." Quinn says as tears fill her own eyes.

Rachel once again is taken aback with the intensity of Quinn's eyes. The words having a greater impact than anything else anyone has said to her since she first uttered the words 'nose job'. "Again, how would you know? You've been perfect since the moment I've met you. You think you were less than perfect the year before, but you were flawless throughout your pregnancy. Anyone who said otherwise was blind and jealous because no one has the right to look so pretty and beautiful without even trying." Rachel says with a sad smile.

"The only way you'll ever stop the name calling and the teasing would be for you to transfer after your nose job. And then when your new peers look at you and compliment on how beautiful you are, you'll feel hollow because it's not you they're complimenting." Quinn says as the first tear rolls down her cheek. She lifts up a hand to stop Rachel from commenting or replying while she wipes her eyes with her other hand.

"I know because I didn't always look like this. Before I attended William McKinley, when I was still in middle school, and before my dad got transferred to Lima, I went through my own phase of awkward growth. My full name is Lucy Quinn Fabray. I was overweight, I had braces, and my face resembled the moon. Needless to say, I was teased mercilessly by just about everyone. I was constantly shoved aside and pushed into lockers. During one of the shoving incidents, I had my arms full of books and I couldn't drop them fast enough to break my fall. I ended face first against a metal locker that resulted in a broken nose. I wasn't as lucky as you were. It wasn't a clean break. When my nose healed, it was slanted to the side with a nasty bump on the bridge. The teasing only got worse.

"I thought I had found my salvation when my doctor recommended a nose job to fix a serious case of sleep apnoea that resulted from that break. It happened during Christmas break. According to my doctor, that was more than enough time for everything to heal properly. All bandaging, stitches would have been removed before my return. I of course, had not counted on the raccoon-eyes that were even more pronounced on my pale complexion. I was never so grateful when my dad was transferred and we had to move to Lima, because it meant a brand new start. I managed to lose the extra pounds during the summer, and thankfully, my teeth had straightened so my braces were off by the end of eighth grade. I talked my dad to take me to a dermatologist and after a month or two of prescription meds, my skin was all cleared up. By the time I started freshman year I look very much like I do right now. I've been praised non-stop about how wonderful I look and how perfect my nose is, but in the end, it's all hollow and empty because this isn't the nose I was born with. Don't make the same mistake I made." Quinn says before she gets up and leaves a stunned Rachel behind.

Soon after that conversation, they had worked on their mash-up and Rachel had finally changed her mind on her nose job. She had been sure that after that, she would be able to call Quinn her friend, but it seems life enjoys throwing her the proverbial curve balls. She had tried to talk to Quinn about that conversation in the choir room, but the blonde flat out refused to. Then the entire clusterfuck of non-stop rumours and mudslinging took place within the walls of McKinley. That was when Lauren had somehow gotten a hold of and leaked Quinn's past for the entire school to see. That was when she had realised what a hypocrite Finn had been and how hurtful the boy could be. She could see how much his words and actions had hurt Quinn. No matter how hard she tried, even through her rose coloured glasses, he looked like nothing more than a jerk. It had floored her how much she had cared about Quinn's feelings.

By the time Rachel returns to the gym, she discovers everyone running around like headless chickens and all of a sudden all eyes turn to her when they realised she is back. Before she can freak out, Sam and Mercedes are by her side.

"What's going on? What happened to the music and why is everyone looking at me as if I've grown a second head. Do I need to fix my make up?" Rachel asks.

"The music system conked out while you took your sweet time getting your water. They're trying to get the jazz band together, but everyone is getting restless. They want us to sing, but no one is willing to go first because they haven't figured out how to get the amps going." Sam answers.

"That doesn't explain why everyone is staring at me though." Rachel says.

"Figgins and Mr. Schue want us to sing while they sort things out. Sing without musical accompaniment." Sam says, hoping Rachel would catch on.

"None of us is good enough to pull it off without background music and without the aid of a microphone in such an open space. You're the only one with good enough vocals to pull it off. You're the only one who knows how to project your voice and not damage your vocal chords in the process." Mercedes says. "We weren't kidding last year when we said you're the best we've got. The masses are getting restless and we're expected to save the day." She adds.

Rachel looks between them, and manages to catch the rest of her teammates staring at her expectantly. Once again, she is supposed to be the sacrificial lamb and accept it without complaint. They expect it of her. She should return to her locker, grab her things and text one of her dads to come and pick her up. Instead, she sighs and once again, and starts to make her way towards the makeshift stage.

"Give me a few minutes to warm up properly. I can't risk damaging my vocal chords by singing cold." Rachel says as she walks towards the girls' locker room, and starts a rapid-fire succession of exercises.

Rachel makes her way to the makeshift staging area the DJ was working from and she can hear the collective sigh of relief from just about everyone before it becomes so quiet, she swears she could hear a pin drop and bounce on the floor. She is about to start when she's joined by Sam and Puck, each armed with an acoustic guitar from the choir room.

"We weren't going to let you face the firing squad on your own. We grabbed the guitars while you were warming up. We're a team, so what you go through, we go through." Puck says with a smirk.

Rachel nods and after talking over a few things, the boys start on the guitar chords of City and Colour's 'hello, i'm in delaware'. Soon, Rachel's voice fills out the entire gym. Everyone stares in awe, not just her teammates because the girl makes it look completely effortless.

Quinn can't help but admire the beauty of Rachel's voice. Tonight, it sounds different. The diva's voice had taken on a huskier tone than what they're used to. The effect is nothing short of bewitching. She's not sure if it's the song choice or way Rachel rushed through her usual and very methodical way of warming up. Regardless, she loves it, and judging by the open-mouthed stares, she isn't the only one.

When Rachel is done, she sends a look at Schuester in a silent question. He shakes his head letting her know they still haven't figured out a way to get the amps working. She turns back to Sam and Puck and with a nod of her head; they start the chords to 'the sounds of silence'.

Rachel is shocked when Jesse joins her by the time she's uttering the third word of the song in a near perfect harmony. She absently wonders how much better they would sound if they had time to actually practice together. Judging by the slacked-jawed stares of her teammates, they're probably thinking something similar.

Rachel smiles when half-way through her song someone is wheeling in the baby grand piano from the choir room. When Rachel and Jesse are done, she immediately takes a seat by the piano and fiddles with a few keys to make sure the sudden and fast move hasn't jostled anything loose and the piano is still tuned.

Rachel starts the chords to 'jar of hearts' when she gets confirmation that they're still trying to figure things out. Rachel directs her gaze between Finn and Jesse so no one is sure who the song is meant for. Soon, the string section of the school's orchestra joins Rachel's soulful piano and voice.

By the time Rachel is done, Jesse realises that no matter what, the brunette is done with him romantically. He feels nothing but regret over everything that he has done to her. He can't help torturing himself with 'what ifs' of a life together. He approaches her and after a few words, both smile and face the expectant student body.

"Ready?" Jesse asks.

Rachel nods and starts an acappella version of 'rolling in the deep'. By the second verse, the rest of New Directions join them for the chorus. It's a cathartic song for Rachel. It sends a clear message across that she's done with all the drama in her life.

The entire gym jumps with the feedback from the amps and mics. They all breathe better now that they have managed to get the equipment working.

Rachel thinks that by now the rest of her teammates will take over. She is surprised when she is told she needs to keep going while a few of them decide who is singing and what. Rachel shakes her head, but continues on. Like she would ever decline a chance to shine.

During the time, Rachel manages to sing 'gives you hell' and 'go your own way'. If the message Rachel tries to send to Jesse and Finn isn't clear before, it should be crystal now.

Rachel surprises everyone yet again when electric guitar rifts reverberate through the gym, soon to be joined by her voice as she does her own take on 'all that i am'.

It's the first time anyone has heard Rachel use this lower register in her singing. They are all used to her belting things out and hitting high notes. This song though, Rachel sings it in a way that gets everyone. They have never seen Rachel show so much genuine emotion before.

Quinn wonders if Rachel truly has a sixth sense because the moment Rachel utters the lines 'And the lights hits those eyes as she's dying to say, just take me away from all that I am'. It feels as if Rachel knows exactly that's what Quinn wants because Rachel couldn't seem to keep her eyes off of Quinn as she sang the entire song.

Rachel is startled to find everyone applauding when she is done. She had expected a similar reaction and reception to what they got during the whole Christmas carolling debacle. She bows and thanks everyone before she slips off the stage, shocking everyone even more. They had expected the diva to bask in the attention and continue to sing.

Rachel makes her way to the vending machines and grabs herself another bottle of water. When she hears Mercedes and Santana singing 'dancing queen' she sneaks out the double doors for some alone time again. She has never felt quite as vulnerable as when she was singing that last song. She can't deny that the entire experience had been cathartic. Rachel makes her way back to her locker, grabs her light coat, and makes her way to the football field. She settles herself on the bleachers and stares at the stars. The sight of hundreds of stars will probably be the only thing she will miss once she's settled in New York.

Rachel is startled to realise she has managed to spend next to an hour lost in her own world with nothing more pressing than trying to identify the constellations she can see. She sends a quick prayer of thanks for whatever deity that was kind enough to allow her brain to shut down. She sighs as she makes her way back to what is left of prom.

Mercedes and Sam make a beeline to her once they see her.

"What are you still doing here?" Sam asks the moment they reach her, surprise very evident in his voice and body language.

"Uh, I came with the two of you. I wouldn't have left without notifying both of you first." Rachel answers slightly confused.

"Finn broke up with Quinn and then proceeded to duke it out with Jesse over you. They both got kicked out." Mercedes adds.

They were sure Finn had found Rachel and had managed to get the girl to take him back.

'Well, that certainly explains Quinn's murderous expression towards me.' Rachel thinks to herself.

Any further conversation is cut short when Figgins starts the announcement for Prom Queen and Prom King. He waits for all the couples (minus Finn) vying for the title to join him in the makeshift stage. He reads the results on the little card in his hand and does a double take. That has the students buzzing because he would only get such a reaction of the winners are unexpected.

A pin could be heard dropping right after the moment Figgins had announced Rachel and Sam to be the winners. A split second later, all hell breaks loose as Rachel is guided towards the makeshift stage to receive her tiara and sash. Rachel is finally brought out of her stupor when she sees Quinn run off to the nearest ladies' room. Before anyone can say anything, she takes off after the blonde.

"Quinn, wait!" Rachel says as she enters the restroom.

"I've never been so humiliated in my life. You sang those stupid songs that got Finn to break up with me in front of the entire school. You took my crown. You made the laughing stock of the school. You did this to me." Quinn says the moment she sees Rachel, slapping her as hard as she can the moment the diva is close enough. "How could you? I believed you when you said you weren't going after Finn again." Quinn adds.

"I was telling you the truth. I'm no longer interested in Finn. Those songs were me telling Jesse and Finn I'm over them. I'm done. I'm picking up the pieces of my shattered heart and I'm moving on." Rachel says, cradling her now burning cheek.

"Then how do you explain what happened?" Quinn asks.

"I have no idea. I never even considered running for prom queen. As for Finn's behaviour, you're going to have to ask him. If you had been paying closer attention, you would realised I've stopped any pursuit of him exactly fourteen days, eight hours and thirty eight minutes ago." Rachel answers as she steps closer to Quinn, not caring that she's setting herself up for another slap.

Quinn looks into Rachel's chocolate gaze and can see nothing but honesty there. She deflates as she takes a stop closer to Rachel, eyes never wavering. "Why? What prompted your sudden change of heart?" Quinn asks, a lot calmer now. There is something about Rachel's eyes that she finds soothing.

"I finally managed to see him for what he truly is, an immature, dishonest coward who covets what he cannot have. I deserve more than that. You deserve more than that. But before that, I had realised what a hypocrite I had been because I was doing the same thing he did to you. He pushed you to cheat on Sam. I was pushing him to cheat on you again. I'm really sorry for my past behaviour Quinn." Rachel says.

Quinn heartily agrees with Rachel's assessment of her now ex-boyfriend (again). Then the entirety of her words register. "What do you mean cheat on me again?" Quinn asks.

"You mean he didn't tell you? That just proves my point further. Last year, before we found out you were pregnant; I had arranged a little picnic-like thing with the excuse of helping him with this singing. I told him he could kiss me because it looked like he wanted to. I didn't even finish the sentence and he was almost on top of me. He only stopped because of, uh, his early arrival issues. I heard him mutter 'mailman' once and then he begged me no to say a word before he ran off the auditorium. He then led me to believe he had broken up with you when I had quit Glee. He took me a few dates in the hopes of getting me to return because I was his only hope of getting a musical scholarship." Rachel says as she takes another step closer to Quinn.

"Why are you telling me all of this now? There's no need to anymore. He dumped me in front of everyone, remember?" Quinn says getting agitated again.

"One, you just asked me to clarify. Two, I told you already. I'm no longer interested in him. I wasn't in the gym when it all happened. I only found out after the fact because Mercedes and Sam told me the moment I returned from my little break. I was even more surprised by Figgins' announcement than anyone else. I know how much that title meant to you, so I would have never done anything to jeopardise that for you." Rachel says in a much calmer tone that she actually feels.

"Why? After all that I've done to you, it's no less than I deserve." Quinn says, all her anger gone and replaced by guilt.

"Because believe it or not, I consider you my friend." Rachel says, taking one of Quinn's hands.

They both shudder the second their skins make contact. Quinn moves her free hand and gently caresses the red mark on Rachel's cheek. Her breath catches when she feels Rachel lean against her touch. For the first time ever, she feels that maybe her feelings towards the petite diva aren't as unrequited as she has thought since she had that epiphany during the whole nose job debacle.

"Rach?" Quinn says barely above a whisper.

"Yes?" Rachel replies equally soft. All of a sudden, their antagonistic relationship makes sense. Above all, she finally understands why Quinn affects her as much as she does. She finally understands why she holds Quinn's opinion higher than anyone else's.

"I'm sorry for everything I've ever done. I finally understand." Quinn says, stepping even closer to Rachel.

"What do you understand?" Rachel asks, hoping that for once she's not seeing something that isn't there. That maybe, just maybe this pull that she feels towards the blonde is mutual.

"This." Quinn says before she closes the small gap between them and captures Rachel's lips with her own in a kiss that has them both seeing the ever expanding universe behind their closed eyelids.

Rachel pulls away before it can deepen into something more. She is very much aware that they are in a restroom and that anyone can walk in on them. She smiles when she hears Quinn let out a small whimper.

They shift so that Quinn has one arm draped possessively on Rachel's waist while the other is still gently caressing the diva's cheek. "I'm so sorry." She whispers over and over, as she punctuates each apology with barely there pecks.

"I've always forgiven you." Rachel says. "What happens now?" Rachel asks as her arms snake around Quinn's neck.

"We explore this thing between us." Quinn says before she leans down and captures Rachel's lips in another heart scorching kiss.

This time they only pull apart when breathing becomes an issue. "Come on. We have a lot to talk about." Rachel says as she guides Quinn towards the door. She reluctantly lets go of the blonde once they're about to push the door open. "No matter what happens, I want you to know that if it were up to me, I'd hold your hand and walk out with you with nothing but pride. But I also know how small minded most people are here and the last thing I want to do is cause you even more grief." Rachel says when she sees the pain of rejection flutter across Quinn's eyes.

"Thank you." Quinn says before she pecks Rachel's cheek again. She takes Rachel's hands and laces their fingers, causing the small diva to look on surprised. "After what happened earlier today, there's nothing else they can do to me. As long as you're willing to face the unknown with me, I'll be proud to walk out hand-in-hand with you as your friend, and perhaps something more." Quinn adds with a smile.

Rachel takes their laced hands and places a series of kisses on top of Quinn's fingers. "It would be my honour and my privilege." Rachel says as they push the door open.

They both know it is way too soon to exchange words of love and promises of forever, but they both feel it's only a matter of time. After all, they have had the longest and strangest courtship ever.

The End

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