DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

There's Nothing Catchy 'Bout The Life Of A Saint
By gilligankane


Quinn stares up at the school unimpressed.

William McKinley High School, she thinks with disgust. He was a terrible president.

Someone brushes by her, pitching her shoulder forward violently and her backpack slips and hits the ground, spilling out. Pens and papers – loose ones and notebooks – scatter out onto the cement in different directions. She slams her foot down on a pile of papers, more to stop anyone from reading it than stopping it from blowing away.

"Hey," she growls at the small blur still moving away from her. Brunette hair whips around and Quinn snarls at the girl who just shrugs a shoulder and turns back towards the building, slipping through the front doors just as the bell rings, echoing through the front quad. Quinn looks over her shoulder but her dad's car is already gone.

He probably didn't even wait until I was five feet away, she thinks bitterly, shoving her papers into her bag, sliding a small book into the back pocket of her jeans. She scowls and hoists her backpack onto her shoulders, pulling the hem of her The Who shirt down over the top of her jeans and for a second she thinks that if she clicks her heels she can open her eyes and be back on the East Coast again, back in Massachusetts, at Cathedral – who cares that it was a Catholic high school? Her parents loved that about it – but she doesn't close her eyes or click her eyes because The Wizard of Oz was just a movie and because she's got to face reality that she's stuck in Lima, Ohio – the birthplace of boredom – and she's going to William McKinley High School and she's already late.

It's going to be a great school year.

"Can I help you?"

She turns at the sound of a child speaking and then blinks and reassess her thoughts. It's not a child – then again, maybe she's an overgrown child with lady-parts and Bambi eyes and a small, perfectly round mouth.

"I, uh," Quinn starts, looking down at her schedule and paperwork, frowning. "I'm trying to find Principal Figgins office?"

The Bambi nods and smiles and it's actually a really sweet smile, but Quinn doesn't focus on it too much because she's suddenly noticing that this woman is holding a large bottle of Lysol. Industrial size Lysol.

"It's down this hall on the left. You can't miss it if you just head that way," she says brightly, motioning down the hall. She looks down at her hands sheepishly and Quinn looks away quickly, embarrassed to be caught staring. "I have a slight problem with germs," she says lightly.

Quinn feels her eyes widen. Slight? She clears her throat. "So, just down this hall…"

"Ms. Pillsbury," the woman fills in.

"Ms. Pillsbury," Quinn repeats. She smiles – or tries to – and nods. "Thanks. I'm late," she says, without really knowing why. Ms. Pillsbury nods and smiles though and Quinn turns back down the hallway, passing offices on the left and right.

She hears someone yelling on the right, just ahead and prays to whatever god is in the sky that it's not coming from the Principal's office, but as she gets closer she sees pictures of cheerleaders and shiny – almost to the point of blinding – trophies lining the walls. A towering blond woman in a tracksuit is jabbing her finger into the air in front of her while two girls in red and black and white cheerleading uniforms – if they even count as clothing – sit on the other side of the desk, seemingly unaffected by the yelling.

The brunette girl looks down and pushes at her cuticles with one hand. The blond, looking at the brunette, starts to do the same.

"These locker room shenanigans," the tall blond – the coach, Quinn assumes – is yelling, "are going to stop now. I can't have you two going at it like bunnies while I'm trying to win a championship. Save it for the off-season!"

The blond cheerleader giggles at the word bunnies but the brunette frowns.

"We don't have an off-season."

The coach grins in a way Quinn can only think of as triumphantly. "So you see my point, S?"

The brunette – S – sniffs delicately. "Sure. Come on, Britt. We're going to be late for Spanish."

Quinn starts moving again, almost unaware that she even stopped, as the two cheerleaders exit the office. The brunette looks over at her and gives her a once-over and must decide she doesn't like what she sees because she sort of sneers. The blond, though, looks at Quinn and smiles brightly.

"Hi," she chirps.

"Brittany," the brunette growls, "come on."

Brittany shrugs her shoulders and loops her arm through the brunette's. "I was just saying hello."

The brunette sighs and moves a little closer to the blond. "I know you were, B. But-"

"But we're going to be late. I know, Santana," she says in way that Quinn doesn't think she means, because she's smiling and looking over her shoulder back at Quinn, still grinning.

Quinn watches, mesmerized by Brittany and slightly afraid of Santana – even if that can't possible by her first name.

"Hey, Rock and Roll." She turns around and the woman in the Adidas suit is standing frighteningly close, peering down her nose at Quinn. She hardly has time to react when the woman reaches out and grabs the end of her shirt, lifting it.

"Hey!" she squeals, ripping her t-shirt out of the woman's hands and pulling it back down. "What the hell?"

"Just seeing if you've got a body underneath that t-shirt you should have burned," she says nonchalantly. "And congratulations, you do. I've got an extra uniform. You can be on laundry duty, for now. But if you show gumption, we'll put you at the post of the pyramid."

Quinn is confused for all of three seconds before she recoils and shudders. "I'm not being a cheerleader."

The coach narrows her eyes. "I wasn't aware I was giving you a chance to decide."

"Well, consider your request denied," Quinn sneers.

For a moment, Quinn fears she's going to be smacked across the mouth, but instead, the woman standing practically over her breaks into a wry grin. "You've got spunk, mouth breather. Sue Sylvester, Cheerios Head Coach."

She eyes the hand stuck out in her direction, but before she can accept the handshakes, Sue Sylvester is pulling her hand back and glaring down at Quinn.

"I'm keeping my eye on you, Blondie."

Quinn shudders inwardly and watches the Amazonic blond march back into her office, slamming the glass door shut behind her, grabbing a giant carton of – from what Quinn can see – protein powder, dumping half its contents out into a large glass.

She continues down the hall and takes the first left, stopping at the secretary's desk.

"Hi, I'm Quinn Fabray. I'm starting school today."

She feels stupid just saying that.

The secretary barely looks up from her computer screen, but points over to a row of chairs and Quinn slumps into one, pulling her book out of her back pocket and propping it open against her knee. She barely gets down the page when the door to the Principal's office opens and a smirking boy in a letterman's jacket shuffles out, looking pleased with himself, an Indian-looking man following closely behind him.

"I will simply not have fornication on this campus, Mr. Puckerman."

The boy shrugs his shoulders, winks at the secretary – who seems to wilt in her seat, Quinn notices – and saunters out of the office.

"You must be Quinn," the man in tweed says, grabbing her by the shoulder and dragging her into the office. She wonders if these teachers and coaches have any boundaries or if she just looks like a girl who doesn't care if people manhandle her, because she does. She doesn't like people she doesn't know touching her at all.

She's tossed carelessly into a hard seat and Principal Figgins rounds his desk and sits, folding his hands together and leaning forward on his elbows.

"Quinn Fabray," he says, looking down at the papers on his desk, reading his notes. "You're from Massachusetts?"

"Two hours outside of Boston," she says, nodding.

"Well, here at William McKinley, we pride ourselves on Diversity."

Quinn actually hears the capital "D" in his word.

"Anyway," he continues with a smile. "We're glad to have you here and I would love to talk some more, but there are other delinquents I have to deal with." He narrows his eyes. "You're not a delinquent, are you?"

She shakes her head mutely and he smiles again, lifting her out of the seat and pushing her into the outer office, thrusting a piece of paper into her hand.

"Here's your schedule. You have Spanish with Schuester first. It's out that door, take a right, down the hall, first right and it's the third door down." He looks at her and sighs. "Just look for teacher with curly hair. He has a Kirk Douglas chin dimple."

Her eyes go wide, but he's already looking past her, beckoning a hulking boy forward.

"Come on, Karofsky," Figgins says, effectively dismissing Quinn.

She wanders into the hallway and can't help but think that Principal Figgins looks familiar; like, maybe she saw him on YouTube once.

She finds the classroom eventually – it's a left instead of a right – and opens the door to a man with curly hair sliding across the floor on his knees.

What the…

"Hi!" he almost yells, cutting off her train of thought. He lifts off his knees, brushes his pant legs and offers her his hand, which she takes hesitantly. As soon as he lets go, he turns back to the class and Quinn can see that she already knows a few kids in the class: Brittany, Santana, the Puckerman kid, and the small blur – dressed head to toe in, Quinn gags, argyle – who knocked her down earlier.

"You must be Quinn," the teacher says, sliding onto the edge of his desk. "Welcome to Spanish class. Pick any seat you'd like."

Quinn picks a seat in the corner, away from mostly everyone.

"I don't usually slide across the floor," he says sheepishly. "I was just showing Brittany a new move I want us to work on in Glee." His eyes light up and Quinn doesn't like the look of it. "Hey, do you sing, by any chance? We need a twelfth member so we can-"

"Mr. Schuester," the argyle blur interrupts. She stands and turns to the back of the room, facing Quinn and she gets her first good look at the girl in argyle. She's shorter than Quinn, with dark hair and dark eyes and a nose that looks like it doesn't really belong on her face. "I think we should try and have a little class when it comes to inviting people into Glee. After all, we already have people of lesser caliber," she says snidely, glancing over at the Puckerman kid.

"Rachel," Mr. Schuester says, patiently, as if he hears these kinds of speeches a lot.

"Yeah, can it, Berry," Puckerman snaps.

The argyle blur has a name: Rachel Berry, and apparently, Quinn's not the only who doesn't seem to like her.

"Puck," Mr. Schuester admonishes.

"I don't sing," Quinn says quickly, slouching down into her seat defensively. "Ever," she adds for emphasis.

"I bet I could make you sing," Puck says, leering.

The Brittany girl frowns and Santana kind of laughs under her breath but Mr. Schuester frowns and ignores him.

Rachel Berry turns around in her seat next to some large, Frankenstein-sized kid and merely stares at Quinn.

After a few minutes, Quinn bares her teeth and Rachel snaps back around.

There's a certain sort of satisfaction in that.

"Hey, New Kid!" is her only warning before she is hit in the face with something wet and cold and sticky.

She wipes Slurpie out of her eyes, mouth hanging wide open, gasping for air and a group of jocks stroll down the hall, laughing and high-fiving each other.

Turning towards the bathroom – because there's no way in hell she's going to Spanish like this – she catches sight of Rachel Berry leaning against her locker, smirking and not even trying to hide it from Quinn. She only lifts her shoulders as if to say "welcome to McKinley High" and Quinn Fabray officially hates this girl she hardly knows.

She's fiddling with her locker again, because she can never get it open on the first time – it's a thing with her and lockers – when a hand grabs her lock and lifts up and it springs open.

"I had that locker last year," the frighteningly tall kid says. She stares at his hands; they're huge compared to the tiny lock he's holding. "Finn Hudson," he says, smiling. "You're Quinn, right?"


"We're in Spanish together," he says unnecessarily. "Don't worry though, every class isn't like that. Sometimes Mr. Schue just goes a little nuts when it comes to Glee."

She smiles, genuinely, because Finn seems like one of those really nice guys who is a little dim most of the time, but an overall sweet person with a heart of gold "I kind of hoped not."

"Nope," he agrees. "So, where did you move from?"

As she opens her mouth to answer, there's a small hand gripping the back of Finn's backpack and then Rachel Berry is standing next to him, a dwarf in comparison, glaring at Quinn with a slightly homicidal look in her eyes, as if she's daring Quinn to keep talking.

She puts her hands up in surrender – because fighting was Rule Number Seven on her parent's list of "Things Quinn Will Not Do" – grabs her Modern Civ book, slams the locker shut, and smiles sweetly at Finn before moving down the hallway.

Just because she can.

"How's school," her mother asks every night.

Quinn just grunts and her mother downs another glass of sherry.

Different place; same people.

"Hey, Quinn?"

She stops with her hand in her locker and turns her head, then looks up. Finn is smiling down at her with a goofy look on his face and Quinn barely hides the grimace she feels molding her mouth.

"Hi," she says.

The less conversation she has with Finn, the less Rachel will be staring at her and the less time she'll have to spend worried that her shirt and pants connect in the back so that no one can see its laundry day and she's stuck wearing really horrendous underwear with Superman boxers – courtesy of her cousin Todd – over them.

"So, a couple of us from Glee are going bowling tonight and I was wondering if-"

"She has plans," Rachel cuts in, sliding into the small space between Quinn and Finn's body. Quinn can feel Rachel's breath against her chin as the brunette looks up at her defiantly and her hands are laced together in front of her so that they're practically wrapped around Quinn's belt buckle.

She's tired of this crap and she was late to first period and she forgot her copy of The Last Night On Earth Poems and Rachel Berry is just pushing all the wrong buttons.

So instead of stepping back – because really, Rachel is invading the personal space bubble inside her personal space bubble – she takes a step forward and she's suddenly created a weird Rachel-sandwich and her chin is almost pressed against Rachel's forehead and she's staring at Finn's mouth, but she tilts her head back enough to look down at Rachel, stealing a quick glance at Finn before she does.

At least both of them look as uncomfortable as she feels.

"Let's get one thing straight, Yeti," she hisses, low under her breath, staring down into Rachel's eyes, smirking at the way the brown eyes dilate a little. "You need to get out of my business and stay out of my business."

She waits until Rachel nods, her chin bumping down Quinn's sternum and then Quinn steps back, still glaring, and slams her locker shut with a little more force than necessary.

"Quinn," Finn starts.

He stops when she turns back and glares. "Can it, Goliath. You're no better than she is."

Sue Sylvester is definitely following her. When she's not following her, she's got her lackeys filling in: Brittany skips behind her on her way to Home Ec and Santana glares at her as they walk from Gym to Spanish and all during Spanish, Brittany draws her pictures of cheerleaders yelling chants and doing, what looks like, headstands.

During the rest of the day, Sue Sylvester stalks her from the minute she gets on the McKinley campus to the minute she gets in her car – the secondhand Taurus her dad found at this place called Hummel's.

It's unnerving, the feeling that her every move is being watched.

When it's not Sylvester or her minions, it's that Rachel Berry girl, or her boyfriend Finn or that meathead Puck.

They watch her as if they've never seen another human being eat, drink, breathe, or exist before; as if she's an alien from a foreign planet or she's a serial killer and they're all biding their time until she snaps and breaks their necks. It's a ridiculous notion. She's from Massachusetts, not Skid Row.

Puck likes to try and sit next to her in Spanish and write dirty things down so that Mr. Schuester can't see them; dirty vile things that sixteen-year-old boys get off on. She's disgusted and he stops trying after she grabs his leg, near the body part he calls "my masterpiece" and squeezes hard, unkindly, and whispers in his ear that "if you ever talk to me again, I'll castrate you" and suddenly, just like that, he's back in his original seat, leering at Santana who flirts, shamelessly, with Brittany the entire time and acts like Puck doesn't exist.

Finn, who is in a lot more of her classes than she realized, just mostly stares at her, almost with morbid fascination. She sees him open his mouth all the time, like he's going to talk to her, but he ends up just sighing – a long big sigh that sounds a lot more lovesick than Quinn is comfortable with – and turning away.

Rachel Berry, on the other hand, watches her like a hawk, ready to swoop down and tear her to pieces like she's some poor innocent woodland creature. Quinn can't walk down the hallway without being glared at by the Smurf-like brunette and the worst part is that Quinn isn't even sure what she did, beside manage to be born into the world. Rachel doesn't like her? That's fine. Except that it's some sort of unadulterated hate that Quinn didn't provoke – or at least, she doesn't think she provoked. It doesn't stop Rachel from making snide comments in the hallway about her outfit – which is ridiculous, because Quinn is wearing dark jeans and a Grateful Dead t-shirt and the only thing questionable about her outfit is the fact that her black vest clashes with her orange Converse and Rachel, on the other hand, is wearing a pantsuit – or mocking her for not knowing a word of Spanish but actually paying attention in English. Every day she walks into McKinley, she's assaulted with sneers and whispered comments and looks of general disdain.

It's not anything she isn't used to: boys used to stare at her back East too, boys used to say dirty things because they thought they could get away with it, and girls used hate her just because of her hair and her smile and because it was high school and no one genuinely likes each other even if The Breakfast Club makes everyone smile.

Except that she thought – her parents thought, too – that Lima could be a fresh start and she wouldn't be that girl who sat in the back of the room, staring out the windows, scratching lines of poetry into the desktops anymore.

She wants to be that girl who sits in the middle of the classroom – not the front, because she's not that person – and who pays attention and who stops defacing property because she has friends to pass notes with.

Not that she didn't have friends back in Massachusetts; she just didn't have the note-passing kind of friends. They mostly only passed joints.

She lets the looks and the constant vigil continue, because she's just biding her time until she can strike back.

She decides to start small: get Santana off her back.

Thinking about it now, though, Santana Lopez probably isn't a small place to start, because once she's managed to get the brunette away from Brittany, she's not entirely sure what to do to get Santana to leave her alone.

"Did you want something, or were you just going to stand there gaping?" Santana asks snidely, crossing her ankles. Quinn just stares for a moment, her gaze starting at Santana's shoes – tennis white – and traveling up her calves and thighs – firm and toned and tan – across the Cheerios uniform, lingering on the smooth expanse of her stomach and the underlying muscles, up over her chest, tightly wrapped in red and black and white, over her shoulders and her neck and finally resting on Santana's mouth – firm and pink and probably softer than Santana would ever admit.

"Apparently," Santana continues, staring back disinterestedly, "you're just going to gape."

Quinn's hands are wrapped around Santana's hipbones before she can stop herself and she's leaning up on her toes – Santana is sitting on the edge of the desk in the now empty Spanish classroom – and forward, her eyes fluttering closed.

So she's startled when she there's warm hands against her shoulders, pushing her back. Her eyes slide open and Santana is biting her lip and giving Quinn a hesitant smile.

"Listen. I know I'm hot," she says, her voice light and soft. Quinn though, can feel her face flushing and knows her ears are turning bright red. "But I'm kind of in a relationship already."

"Brittany." It's not a guess.

Santana blushes and nods her head, and while her movements are hesitant, her eyes are confident.

Quinn finally realizes that her hands are still on Santana's skin and she pulls them back like their on fire, stuffing them into the pocket of her low-slung jeans, pushing them down a little further, looking down at her shoes, feeling like an idiot. Santana chuckles under her breath and slides off the desk, lifting Quinn's face with a single finger on Quinn's chin.

"But I'm totally flattered."

Quinn blushes again, looks away and takes a step back. "I don't even-"

Santana waves a hand, stopping her apology.

"No, it'll make it awkward," she says, which Quinn thinks is funny, because this is already awkward for her. "Although now that I know you're batting for our team," she drawls with a smile.

Quinn bristles. "I never said that."

"Honey," Santana laughs, wrapping one manicured hand around the doorknob, giving it a pull and looking back over her shoulder, "you didn't have to."

In retrospect, trying to kiss Santana probably isn't the best way to get the brunette to leave her alone.

If anything, Santana starts to pay more attention to her.

Sue Sylvester is her next target and she thinks, as she sitting in math, debating whether or not to take notes then deciding against it, that she doesn't like to make things easy for herself.

When it's finalized, her plan requires a few things: a bucket of red paint, some string, a rewatch of Carrie, nerves of steel, and a perfectly timed routine.

She has four out of the five when she steps into school the following Monday, with her bag pulled tight against her back and her toes tapping when she's not walking. Rachel, for the first time since Quinn started school, ignores her when they pass at the front door, choosing instead to lift her head a little higher and walk a little faster and Quinn is more than okay with that because if anyone says anything to her, she's going to break like the Watergate scandal and just spill the whole plan out like someone is holding a knife to her throat.

Breathing evenly – trying and failing, actually – she waits until the bell rings and the hall clears a little before she starts to step up. Uncoiling the fishing string she brought, because her garage gave her limited supplies, and lines it against the lockers on one side of the hall, tying it tightly around the doorknob to Coach Sylvester's room. She knows the Nazi-like cheerleading coach's routine by this point: she's in the bathroom and will be for another – Quinn checks her watch – five minutes. Stretching on the tips of her toes, she pushes the small can of paint onto the ledge above the door, gently looping the string around the can.

Having never practiced this was a bad idea, because now she's not even sure it's going to work and the angle is all wrong and she's running out of time to fix it.

Three things happen at once: Unknown to her, Sue Sylvester pulls the door open, Quinn falls back, tripping on the fishing line, and Principal Figgins comes out of his office.

The paint can falls with a dull thud, missing Coach Sylvester but spraying across the ground and speckling the wall across the hall with red paint. The tall blond turns, mouth wide in a yell and her nostrils flaring and her hands clenched in fists and Quinn is sure she's going to die in the middle of the main hallway of William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio.

She's only saved from imminent – and probably painful – doom because Principal Figgins starts screaming "delinquent" and pointing his finger at her and she's never been happier to be accused of such a thing in her entire life.

They moved to Lima because she was a delinquent. Her dad took a job in the Midwest because it was a whole 606 miles from Springfield and because 606 miles was just enough distance between Quinn and her looming "third strike, you're out" future and her friends sucking her into a vortex of blackness.

Her father's words; not hers.

They moved to Lima because Quinn had been arrested: once for being in a car with a trunk full of beer and once for defacing public property. Both times Quinn had a been a spectator, swept up in the excitement and the thrill of it and spectators are still arrested because the Springfield Police Department is extremely touchy when it comes to tagging the bricks outside out of their building so they don't really take the time to weed out the doers from the watchers.

They moved to Lima because Sergeant Delany pulled her aside and told her that it'd be best if she got out while she still could, or she'd be just another number in the corrections program and a pretty girl like her shouldn't throw her future away like this.

The Sergeant's words; not hers.

They moved out of Lima because her older sister was already gone and really, her mother can drink in any of the fifty states and because Lima seemed like such a boring place there's no way Quinn could get into trouble here, right?

It's just that her dad doesn't understand: Quinn doesn't really attract the trouble; she is the trouble.

"Completely unacceptable," Sylvester is yelling in Figgins' office at the top of her lungs. Each time she picks up a chair and slams it down, Quinn, in the outer office, staring at Figgins' secretary, flinches, as if the hand of God is reaching down and flicking her in the temple.

"I know, Sue," Figgins says over and over again, giving Quinn dirty looks through the glass. "I'm going to take very good care of it."

She watches Sue Sylvester lean low over the desk. "She's not a puppy, Figgy. She's a rabid beast. You don't take very good care of her. You exterminate her."

Figgins, to his credit, takes it all in stride with a plastered-on smile and nods empathetically. "Of course, Sue. I'll take care of it," he repeats.

Sylvester stares down at the tiny man behind the desk – probably glaring; Quinn can't tell from where she's sitting – for three long, uncomfortable minutes that Quinn counts out in her head and then the glass door is being thrown open and Sylvester is walking past her, making Quinn flinch when she leans forward like she's going to rip Quinn's face off with her hands.

"Consider yourself an ex member of the Cheerios," Sylvester growls.

Quinn decides that this is the time in her life when she realizes it's better to keep her mouth shut than it is to open it.

"Fabray," Figgins snaps.

Quinn is on her feet and already in his office before he even finishes her name.

Figgins is reaching for the phone though, shaking his head. "I have to call your parents."

"No!" she shouts, immediately clamping a hand down over her mouth. She lets go, takes a deep breath, and tries again. "Please. Don't," she says, her voice toeing the line between asking and begging.

"In situations such as these-"

"School policy dictates that you're required to call my parents," she quotes out of the handbook. Her father made her memorize it, as if it would prevent her from breaking the rules listed inside it's flimsy, institutional green cover and back.

He looks a little shocked, but he's still cradling the phone.

"Principal Figgins," she starts diplomatically, clearing her throat and trying again. "I understand what I did was wrong and that you're supposed to call my parents, but if you, uh, not, that'd be great."


"It's just that Lima was supposed to be a fresh start," she practically wails and the whole story – moving and getting here and the numerous lectures night and day – comes out in one giant sob and by the time she's finished the phone is back on the desk and Figgins is shaking his head at her.

"This is the only time I will allow this."

"This is the only time I'll mess up," she promises, crossing her fingers where he can't see them.

He nods like he doesn't believe her anyway and pulls out a drawer, shuffling through the papers Quinn can't see before he pulls a solitary sheet up and onto the desk, turning it and passing Quinn a pen. She frowns down at the paper and looks at Figgins.

"What do you want me to do?"

"It's a liability form," he says, pointing at the big, block-lettered heading that does, indeed, say "Liability Form." He shrugs his shoulders, but he looks a little embarrassed. "It's just a formality. In case Sue attacks you. So we're not liable for that."

Quinn's hand shakes when she signs the paper, but she signs it anyway and Figgins is letting out a held breath and standing up.

"You'll have detention from now until Holiday Break," he announces, grabbing her by the collar and hauling her to her feet. "Since you can't be the water girl for the Cheerios like we'd usually do, you're going to do odd office jobs." Figgins looks over at his secretary and she pats a pile of paper with a discomforting smile that makes Quinn's insides turn over. "You already have some work to do," he says with an equally uneasy smile.

She sits down and starts to sift through one hundred and thirty-seven different proposals for a tanning bed for the Cheerios.

Puck is leaning up against her locker when she comes into school the next day with his hands in his pockets, smirking. She glares and he moves back a locker she opens her own.

"Heard you tried to Carrie Coach Sylvester," he drawls.

She scowls and he hoots a little, cuffing her on the shoulder hard.

"Well damn, Fabray. I didn't think you had it in you." She grins recklessly at him, because sometimes she forgets that these people don't know who she is; they don't know her past, they only know her potential.

He shuts her locker door – she thinks about saying maybe she wasn't done with it yet – and throws a long, heavy arm across the back of her shoulders, in a semi-headlock and walks them down the hall, stopping at his locker surrounded by bulky-shouldered boys in letterman jackets and she thinks about protesting but the hallway is lined with people talking about her and pointing at her and there's a crowd of girls almost crying nearby.

"This," he says, pointing at her, "is the girl I was telling you about."

One of them looks down over the ridge of his nose and grimaces – or maybe it's just a bad smile. "Cool," he says gruffly.

He claps down on her shoulder and like the end of some initiation ritual, they all start cheering and whooping and Puck is leaning against her locker, grinning like a guy who just got laid and she catches his eye, glaring a little, but he smiles wider until she finds herself smirking back.

She's just made her first friend in Lima, Ohio.

Finally, Puck says goodbye at her locker and heads towards the football field for practice, but as soon as his space against her locker is unoccupied, another body is sliding into it and the movement is so smooth Quinn almost doesn't even see it, so when she closes her locker door, she jumps a little.

"Hey, James Dean," Santana coos, reaching forward and tracing the line of the pocket on Quinn's shirt, against where her heart is supposed to be, patting down the fabric, smiling. "How's it going?"

Quinn goes to answer her; to tell her "that's a terrible nickname" but Santana is toying with the end of the top of her Cheerios uniform and she looks like she's biting the inside of her cheek so Quinn crosses her arms over her chest and gives her best what's-wrong-now glare.

Santana blushes. "I told Brittany."

"Told Brittany what?" she asks slowly. Santana watches her closely and waits for the realization to wash over Quinn.

It does, and she's embarrassed.

"You told her," Quinn hisses, grabbing Santana's forearm and pulling her closer, scanning the hallway's quickly, looking for anyone.

Santana pulls her arm back but stays where she is. "Of course I did. She's my, my," she stutters, flushing. "She's mine," she finally says. "Why wouldn't I tell her?"

"Because I tried to kiss you," she says in a low voice.

Another body slides in behind her, trapping her between two cheerleaders and when she turns over her shoulder, all she sees is blond hair and blue eyes and a wide smile. Brittany waves hello and Quinn feels her face pale.

"Brittany," she gulps.

Except that Brittany just smiles a little wider and pats her gently on the forehead, like someone patting a dog on a job well done for going the bathroom outside.

"It's okay," she chirps. "I would have done the same thing."

"But I-"

"She said it's okay," Santana cuts in with a laugh. "Really. Just don't try it again." Santana's eyes narrowed and her forehead furrows and her arms – Quinn thinks that maybe they do this automatically, from years of repetition – cross over her chest in a way that probably should have Quinn shaking in fear. "And don't try kissing Brittany, either," she growls.

Brittany laughs behind her, moving over to Santana and laying her head on the brunette's shoulder, looking up at her through her lashes. Santana's stance slumps and she looks down without really moving her head, smirking out of the corner of her mouth.

"You're cute when you're jealous," Brittany says, giggling – a type of giggle that should be reserved for little five year old girls vying for beauty pageants, but one that fits on Brittany well.

"Yeah, yeah," Santana says dismissively but she's grinning a little and trying to stay focused on Quinn, but she keeps glancing at Brittany. Quinn clears her throat and Santana blushes and then regains her posture. "Anyway, what are you doing tomorrow night? There's a party at Puck's and we were thinking maybe you'd want to come?"

She knew about the party, of course, being Puck's new best friend and all, but she was going to say no – because her parents would never say yes; because she knows Puck's friends and they don't seem like they mix well with alcohol; because she didn't want people to think she's Puck's new conquest – but if Brittany and Santana are going, there's no reason to turn down the offer anymore.

"Sure," she says, adding a shrug to seem nonchalant.

Brittany, though, smiles at her like she knows what Quinn means anyway.

The can of beer is sweating in Quinn's hand, but it's still ice cold when it hits her tongue, and she tells herself that's what matters. She's leaning up against the wall by the stereo, mostly people watching and somewhat avoiding Finn whose head hovers above the crowd like a homing beacon, letting her know when he's getting to close; when she needs to find a new place to stand.

A hand grips her waist and pulls her to the left and her thigh connects with the arm of the couch painfully. Before she can think about it too much, she's settled in Puck's lap and he's draping his arm around her shoulders, leaning back into the cushion.

He doesn't seem to think she has boundaries either, but when he grabs her and swings her around, there's something in the way he does it that doesn't bother her.

"Hey, babe," he says with a wide smile. His eyes are a little hazed over and she can smell something harder than beer on his breath. "Having fun?"

She lets one arm slide around his neck, curling around his shoulder. "Sure," she says into his ear over the loud, thumping music. Shifting a little closer, she opens her mouth to say something else when there's a commotion by the front door and it's loud enough that Puck lifts off the couch and heads in that direction, grabbing her hand on the way, pulling her after him.

Karofsky is in the front hall, clutching a Slushie cup in one hand and Rachel Berry is backed up against the front door, her eyes squeezed tight, her entire body visibly tense. Brittany is standing in the middle of the two of them with her arms crossed over her chest, glaring at Karofsky who almost looks a little frightened of the blond.

As soon as they spot Puck, he slows and pulls up at the edge of the semi-circle that's formed around the doorway, moving his hand from hers and lopping it around her waist, tucking his fingers into the pocket on the far side. Santana, on the opposite edge of the circle, but still close enough to Brittany in case – in case of what, Quinn wonders – raises an eyebrow, but Quinn waves her off with a small motion and looks back at Karofsky who's staring at Puck.

Puck's eyes are narrowed, going back and forth from Karofsky to the cup to Rachel to Brittany and back again.

"What are you doing?" Puck's voice is low and hard and cold.

"The freak just wandered in," Karofsky says, motioning towards Rachel, red corn syrup dribbling over the cup lip and onto his hand.

Brittany takes a step forward – it's probably supposed to be menacing, but Quinn can't help but find the furrowed brow adorable. "Puck, he was going to slushie Rachel."

"I got this, Britt," he assures her. He steps forward, unfurling his arm from Quinn's waist and Brittany takes this as a sign that she can step down. Quinn watches the taller blond back up, eyes still on Karofsky, until she reaches Rachel and then she's coaxing Rachel to open her eyes.

Somehow, through the mass of people, Rachel's eyes find Quinn's and Quinn feels a chill from the top of her to the tip of her toes so she looks away, back to Puck stepping in front of Karofsky and wrapping his hand around the Slushie cup.

"Remember what we talked about?"

Karofsky frowns heavily. "Dude-"

Puck leans in close, his voice so low Quinn can't so much hear it as feel it. "Do you remember what we talked about."

"But, dude-"

"I said no Slushies," Puck cuts in.

Quinn looks back at Rachel who is standing a little straighter, a little looser, flanked on both sides by Brittany and Santana who are glaring at Karofsky. She watches Santana lean a little to the left, her forearm resting on Rachel's shoulder and she mutters something Quinn can't catch but Rachel turns her head a little and says "stand down" in a little whisper and Brittany is looking over Rachel's head, catching Santana's eye and frowning a little.

"She's a freak," Karofsky shouts, towering over Puck, throwing his hand up towards Rachel who flinches.

Quinn's not sure if Puck hits Karofsky first or if the tanned fist that connects with Karofsky's jaw belongs to Santana, but when it's over, Karofsky is on the ground and Santana and Puck are standing over him and it's definitely Santana who hit the jock because she's cradling her right hand with her left one and she's frowning while Puck just looks on amused.

Puck looks up and sees that they have an audience and smirks. "Show's over," he announces, grabbing Quinn's belt loop and tugging. Her body collides with his side but he gives with the move and it's mostly soft. His arm around her shoulder, he looks down and smirks. "Where's my congratulation kiss?"

She laughs and gives him a look that says "are you kidding me?" but he's smirking back expectantly. "If anyone gets a congratulatory kiss, it'll be Santana," she says, nodding in the brunette's direction. Puck laughs in her ear because Brittany is flitting around, touching Santana's hand softly and checking Rachel's face for any speck of Slushie.

"You could do that too. I totally wouldn't protest," he says wistfully.

She jabs him in the rib. "You're a pig."

"You know it."

After some convincing by Brittany, Rachel finally decides to stay and Quinn spends the entire rest of the night sitting next to Puck while he points out and describes – in horrendous detail – all of his conquests, watching the smaller girl across the room with Finn's arm wrapped around her protectively.

Later, she thinks it's weird that Puck and Brittany and Santana stood up for Rachel, even if at school, they act like she's the last rung on the social ladder – they, not including Brittany, because Brittany, she quickly learns, likes everyone.

She decides not to dwell on it, because she doesn't really care.

When she asks Santana, though, the brunette mutters something about teamwork and loyalty and what Quinn understands is when Santana finally says she's been waiting for an excuse to punch Karofsky and "plus, I got thank you sex from Brittany, so it was totally worth standing up for Stubbles."

That makes the most sense anyway.

She's been "working" for Figgins a week before he tells her that she can throw out the rest of the proposals and that Glee club needs copies of their sheet music and they need it stat.

Figgins mutters something like "before that crazy gold star gold girl hurts me."

Quinn believes it could happen and, in the interest of her little arrangement continuing, makes 40 different copies in under ten minutes.

Mr. Schuester calls her back on her way out of Spanish.

Santana winks and Brittany waves sadly and Puck lingers in the doorway but Quinn waves him off and he shrugs his shoulders as if to say "your loss" and is gone.

"I just wanted to check on things and see how they're going; that sort of thing." He's blushing a little and the tips of his ears are red, but it's a sweet gesture, so she musters up a smile and tells him things are going fine. "I heard about your detention," he adds as an explanation that she wasn't looking for.

"I don't mind," she says quickly, noticing that he's holding the copies she made. "Really. It's nice, alone in that copy room, without worrying about Coach Sylvester sneaking up on me and kicking my face in."

His mouth quirks up, but he quickly smothers the smile. "I just feel bad making you do the stuff I should be doing."

She waves him off. "It's really not a big deal," she insists.

"Well, I appreciate it."

Quinn nods and smiles, but the bell rings and now she's late for English.

He gestures her forward, grabbing a piece of paper off his desk. "I'll write you a pass."

The secretary in Figgins' outer office doesn't ever talk to her; just sits there and types frantically on her keyboard and whenever Quinn makes a noise or moves, she looks up and frowns as if she completely forgot Quinn was there in the first place.

When the phone rings, it startles them both.

"Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay. Uh huh," the secretary says dully. She puts the phone down and looks over at Quinn. "Mr. Schuester needs some photocopies."

Quinn's already out of her chair before the sentence is even over, shuffling down the hallway. She finds the band room and pauses only half a second before opening it and sliding in.

She stops a couple of feet inside, her mouth open.

Puck stops mid-twirl, on bended knee, and his eyes widen and Quinn tries to stifle a giggle, slapping her hand over her mouth, but it slips out between her fingers and she ends up dropping her hand and laughing out loud clearly.

"Hey!" Puck shouts indignantly, standing up on both feet. "Don't laugh."

"You're, you're, you're dancing," she practically howls.

He frowns and bares his teeth. "Shut up, Fabray."

Quinn opens her mouth but Mr. Schuester jumps into her line of vision, blocking Puck's pout.

"Thanks for coming, Quinn," he says gratefully, holding out a piece of paper. "I just need this copied for tomorrow and I figured you might be bored in Figgins' office. Not that this isn't boring," he adds.

"Sure," she smiles, taking it out of his hand and craning her neck a little around him to wink at Puck. He scowls and she grins a little more, turning sharply on her heel. Finn is behind her, astonishingly close, smiling nervously.

"Uh, hey, Quinn."

She hears Santana snicker behind her, but she gives him a small smile anyway. "Hi, Finn."

"Hey," he says again. Quinn waits a few seconds, tucking her hair behind her ear and she's about to say something but Rachel is suddenly in her face.

"Don't you need to go make copies?" she hisses, her face is twisted in anger.

Quinn merely smiles and tilts her head to the left and shrugs her shoulders. "Sure. I'll let you get back to, uh," she shoots a pointed smirk at Puck, "dancing."

"It gets me more ass than anything!" he shouts defensively as she opens the door.

Before the door closes, she's pretty sure she can hear Santana say "yeah, right."

She's perched on the edge of the table next to the copier, swinging her feet beneath her time with the scanner and the printer and she's bored.

A fresh page shoots out of the copier into her lap, the edges of the paper cutting against her skin. She hisses and sucks her finger into her mouth, tasting cooper.

Her gaze goes down to the offending piece of paper, cursing it internally while she picks it up and thinks about crumpling it up and throwing it against the wall, but instead she lays it against the flat surface of the table and scans it over. The last time she made copies for the Glee Club, she didn't have the time nor the will to see what it was she was copying, and looking down now, she almost wishes she had destroyed the piece of paper.

"The Final Countdown," she scoffs. "Really, Mr. Schue?"

The entire packet is done by the time she looks back up, so she hops off the table, gathers them into a pile and lets herself out of the copy room.

For some reason, she starts singing in her head and when she reaches the hallway, she's singing out loud, tapping her hand against the lockers lining the way as the beat.

"Set me free why don't cha babe? Get out my life, why don't cha babe?" She stops in the hallway and spins a few times, throwing her back against the locker, sliding down. "Cause you don't really love me; you just keep me hanging on. You don't really need me, but you keep me hangin' on."

In her head, she has backup singers crooning "Oh, oh."

She lifts to her feet, and keeps moving down the hall, sliding into the band room and sitting on the piano bench, almost slipping off the edge.

"Why do you keep comin' around, playing with my heart? Why don't you get out of my life and let me make a new start." She puts her hands on the piano, playing out the last bars. "Let me get over you, the way you've gotten over me."

Her hands fly over the keys, pressing down in a fluid motion.

"I thought you said you didn't sing," Rachel's voice rings from the doorway.

She stops playing immediately and the silence is deafening. Back straight, she doesn't turn towards the door, because maybe, she thinks, if I ignore her, she'll just go away.

Rachel Berry, though, has the particular ability to remain exactly where Quinn doesn't want her to be – like that the party, where she sat, melancholy, on the wall the whole night when Quinn just wanted her to disappear, because being watched isn't fun and makes her a sullen drunk – and so instead of the footsteps moving out of the room and down the hall, they move closer until Quinn can see Rachel's reflection in the blackness of the piano top.

"I don't," she finally says, because reflection-Rachel looks like she's waiting for an answer.

"But you-"

"I never said I couldn't sing. I just said that I don't," she corrects, pushing down on C, D, E, F, G, and A.

Rachel waits until the notes die down and then Quinn feels her body being nudged to the left and then Rachel's thigh is pressed against hers and Rachel's shoulder is digging into her bicep.

"Let's see if you can sing this one," she says, sitting up and batting at Quinn's hands until her tan fingers are the only ones on the keys. She tests out a few notes, then settles on the middle left of the range, and begins to playing, singing the first couple bars: "Slow down you crazy child."

Quinn smirks without meaning to. "You're so ambitious for a juvenile. But then if you're so smart, then tell me why are you still so afraid?"

"Ooo Oo," Rachel harmonizes.

"Where's the fire, what's the hurry about? You better cool it off before you burn it out. You got so much to do and only so many hours in a day." Her fingers drum lightly against the polished wood. "But you know that when the truth is told, that you can get what you want or you can just get old. You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through."

Rachel smiles at her out of the corner of her mouth and Quinn is pulled out of the music's daze, like a blast of cold air hitting her viciously across her cheek, back into reality where she's sitting next to Rachel Berry singing "Vienna" at the top of her lungs while they just pretend that Rachel doesn't resent Quinn and Quinn isn't annoyed by Rachel.

The truth is, Quinn has a nasty habit of letting the music take away her problems and Rachel Berry is one of her biggest yet.

Her mouth closes abruptly around the half-sentence "When will you realize" and she's left with her jaw unhinged, not sure what she should do next.


She blinks hard a few times and lifts off the bench almost violently, one of her legs catching. She stumbles, but recovers and reaches down clumsily, grabbing the top of her bag. "I've got to, yeah," she trails off, moving backwards out of the room. "Give those to Mr. Schue," she continues, much more confidently, pointing at the stack of papers scattered across the top of the piano.

Rachel calls after her, but Quinn is already blocking her out.

Choir was something that she simultaneously hated and loved; hated, because it was choir and there were hymnals and the white robe she had to wear was made of polyester and it was itchy and heavy and hot, but she loved it because of the music and the melodies and the rush in her veins that came with it.

She stopped singing in choir when she turned fifteen; when her dad told her that maybe church wasn't a place for her to be anymore.

Sunday mornings became about sleeping away Saturday's drinking and her musical repertoire expanded from hymns to Christian Rock to Post Alternative to heavy metal garage band music played too loud too late at night.

There's something about it, though, that Quinn first heard in the church hymns – that she still hears in bubblegum pop and through bald-headed, tattooed men screaming into microphones – that makes her feel a little more alive than anything in her entire life.

When she sneaks out of Figgins' office the next day and peers through the window of the Glee club room, she can tell that Rachel feels the same thing too: the rush of it all, coursing through her veins at warp speed, grounding her to something she can't see, but she can feel.

It might be the one thing they have in common.

"I've talked to Mr. Schuester about you joining Glee."

Quinn looks up at the interruption and glares at Rachel and then focuses back on maneuvering her Spanish book out from the back of her locker.

"He says he just needs to hear you sing, but that you'll probably be adequate," Rachel continues. Quinn quirks an eyebrow. "Well, okay," Rachel amends. "He said it'd be really cool if you joined and that you're probably an 'awesome' singer, but the way I said it makes him sound more like a grown man and less like a hormone-riddled adolescent."

Quinn breathes out a laugh and covers it up with a sigh. "Do you actually hear yourself talking? A 'hormone-riddled teenager'? Who says that?"

"I do," Rachel says, straightening up defensively. "Regardless-"

"Regardless," Quinn scoffs.

Rachel ignores her. "Mr. Schuester can talk to Principal Figgins about completing your sentence in Glee."

Quinn puts her hands up, abandoning the Spanish book, and turns towards Rachel. "I'm not joining Glee."

Rachel blinks. "Of course you are."

"No," Quinn says slowly, "I'm not."

"Well, why not?"

"Because I don't sing. Remember when I told you that?"

Rachel frowns and slumps a little, but not enough for anyone other than Quinn to notice. "But you have an impressive voice. It's not as good as mine, but it's impressive. We could really produce beneficial results if you joined us. Plus, you wouldn't have to sit in Principal Figgins' office anymore."

Quinn opens her mouth to speak – to say something about Rachel pulling her head out of her ass and listening with both ears – but Puck's hand is slamming her locker closed. She turns to him and frowns. "I wasn't done with that."

"Who cares," he says dismissively, narrowing his eyes. "I heard you're joining Glee?"

Quinn looks back over her shoulder and glares at Rachel. "I'm not," she says through clenched teeth.

Puck actually looks a little let down. "Oh, come on."

"Absolutely not," Quinn says firmly, spinning the dial on her locker again, popping the door back open. "I've got better things to do with my time."

"Yeah, so do I."

Rachel makes a strangled noise in the back of her throat, but both Puck and Quinn ignore her.

"You sure do seem to like it," Quinn says causally.

Puck grimaces. "Just join. If you do, then Mr. Schue will pair us together and I won't have to dance with Brittany anymore. Not that she's not a good dancer, because she's actually the best dancer we have," he says quickly, stumbling over his words. "It's just that Santana gets a little angry when we dance. And," he lowers his voice, leaning in, "she kind of scares me a little, when she gets angry." He straightens back up. "Do it. You know you want to."

She finally wrestles her Spanish book out of her locker, shuts the door and turns to Puck and Rachel with a fake, sympathetic smile.

"Thanks for the offer," she says lightly. "But my answer is no."

Finn steps behind her in the lunch line while she's trying to decide what's less likely to kill her. He smiles and reaches over her, snagging a plate with something that looks like the meat surprise on it, but she's sure it's moving – that might be the surprise! part – and chooses a pudding cup instead.

"That can't be all your eating," he says in disbelief. "Want to share?"

She looks at his tray and tries to swallow her disgust. "Uh, no. Thanks for the offer though."

His smile fades, but brightens instantly and for a moment, Quinn wonders if that's why Rachel likes him – he doesn't let much get him down."Well, that's okay. Want to sit with me, though? Usually Rach has this lunch, but she cornered Mr. Schue and probably won't be back for a while."

"Sure," she says, because Puck has this lunch, but he's out smoking a joint in the parking lot with that weird guy who isn't a teacher, but hangs around the school anyway, and Santana and Brittany ran off after last period without really saying anything. "Pick a seat."

He grins and weaves his way through the crowd, his build creating a rift through the wall of students and Quinn follows closely, afraid to get swallowed back up. He stops in the far corner of the room, sitting with his back to the cafeteria.

"This is where Rach and I sit when we eat together. People don't throw things at her when she sits with me," he explains, digging into his food. He speaks with his mouth full. "So how are you?"

She chews daintily, taking her time eating the sandwich she added to her lunch. "So good so far."

"You hang out with Puck a lot," Finn says bluntly.

Quinn blinks. "Yeah," she says slowly.

Finn shrugs. "I was just saying."

"Should I not?" she asks, curious. She's heard things about Puck since she started hanging out with him, and she's well aware of what that Christina What's-Her-Name says behind her back, and it's true that he can be a real jerk, but she finds that almost appealing about him. Plus, she argues with herself, he takes shit just as good as he gives it.

"Well, no. I mean, I guess not," Finn says, sounding unsure. "It's just that he has a reputation and it would suck if you got swept up in that."

He's a genuinely sweet guy, Finn Hudson is, and that's one of the reasons Quinn thinks he's a little bland. He seems plagued with the "good guys finish last" vibe and she's sure, more by the look in his eyes rather than the tone of his voice, that he resents Puck's the bad guy; the guy all the girls want.

Finn is the kind of guy you settle down with, when you're thirty and your biological clock is ticking away loudly.

Puck is the kind of guy you have fun with until you settle down.

"I know about his reputation," she assures Finn. "And we're just friends, I promise."

Finn's face kind of lights up at this, and she almost wants to reach out, take the words back and cram them down her throat.

"Cool," he breathes out, taking a large gulp of his soda.

"Yeah," she echoes absently. There's a flash of movement across the room and she looks up to see Rachel at the doorway to the cafeteria, scanning the room to find Finn. The brunette sees Finn first and her face lights up – Quinn can see it from here – and then she catches sight of Quinn and the smile is gone instantly.

"You know," Finn says casually, oblivious to Quinn staring over his shoulder at Rachel whose arms are crossed over her chest. "You should totally join Glee."

Quinn smiles at Rachel and leans forward, putting her hand on Finn's arm. "I think that sounds like a good idea."

His face brightens at the same time Rachel's face falls.

It's not the worst lunch period she's ever had.

It's not that she doesn't like Rachel, she later decides. It's just that she knows – knew, she corrects – people like her who are so focused, who have so precise tunnel vision, that they tend to step on everyone in their way and push down anyone who tries to rise against them and she has a particular distaste for people who feel the need to show they're the boss, that they own things (like Finn), and that they'll do what it takes to get ahead (like trying to get her to join Glee because her voice is "impressive" which really just translates to "you'll help me further my career").

Quinn used to be that girl, once upon a time, and when she opened her eyes and realized that she was headed for a life exactly like her sister's, she hated who she was.

Except that it's more than that with Rachel. Rachel just seems to genuinely not like her, for reasons Quinn hasn't figured out but she can take a guess at.

There's Finn, for one thing, even though everyone (except Finn and Rachel, of course) can see she's clearly not interested in; Puck and Santana and Brittany, Quinn would also guess, because she kind of just fell in with them and it seems like Rachel has a hard time making friends.

It's like Rachel hates her because she has the attention of the quarterback and cheerleader friends – which is terribly cliché – and Rachel doesn't have either of those.

She changes her mind: she kind of doesn't like Rachel at all.

The next day, she bypasses Figgins' office and pauses at the door to the band room, taking a deep breath before she turns the doorknob, slipping in quickly.

Finn sees her first and his eyes light up and he sits a little taller behind the drums and waves at her like a little kid in Disney World on a ride, waving at his parents who smile back and take pictures. She tips one hand in his direction and hides her smirk when Rachel immediately bristles and says something to Finn that Quinn can't hear. It has Finn looking at Rachel though, and she sighs gratefully, catching Santana's eye on the other side of the room.

Mr. Schuester, leaning against the piano, turns at the look on Finn's face and he breaks into a wide smile. "Quinn! You made it."

She resists the urge to say "well, duh" and roll her eyes. Instead, she smiles back and ducks her head a little, taking a seat next to Puck. He immediately reaches over, grabs the leg of her chair and tugs until he can rest his arm along the back of her chair. Santana leans forward, taps her on the shoulder and rolls her eyes in Puck's direction and Brittany waves from where she's wrapped around Santana's arm.

Maybe Glee won't be so bad.

"So, we can start now?" Rachel asks, glancing over at Quinn. "I mean, since we're all here, finally."

"Well, I don't know if Quinn knows everyone here, so let's do some introductions."

Quinn looks around the room and Mr. Schuester is right – she doesn't know a lot of people here. She knows Puck and Santana and Brittany and Finn and Rachel, but there are six other kids scattered on the risers that she hasn't even seen.

The boy fiddling with a guitar, sitting in his wheelchair by Finn's drum set, looks up and smiles at her. "I'm Artie."

The girl next to Artie, sprawled across two chairs, lifts a gloved hand and gives Quinn a quick smile. "T-Tina."

Artie, Tina, Quinn repeats in her head.

"Mercedes," the next girl snaps, looking Quinn up and down with a look of mild interest.

Artie, Tina, Mercedes, she says again.

A tall, gangly boy staring at Brittany pulls his head back around. "I'm Mike, and this is Matt," he says, pointing at the boy sitting on his right who merely lifts a hand.

"Are we ready to start now?" Rachel asks impatiently.

Mr. Schuester nods so hard Quinn thinks his head is going to fall off. "Sure. We're going to start with just a warm up song. But I think this might be our clincher for Sectionals, now that we have enough people to compete." He passes around the sheets that Quinn photocopied at the end of last week and when she groans as she reads the title again, she's glad she's not the only one.

Even Rachel looks a little put off by "The Final Countdown."


Quinn looks up from her paper and notices that everyone is looking at Mr. Schuester with faces that say "are you kidding me?" Santana might be growling behind her.


Rachel clears her throat. "I think I speak for the whole team when I say that this song-"

"Sucks ass," Puck cuts in. Someone – Artie, Quinn reminds herself – murmurs "yeah" and Finn is nodding.

"Puck," Mr. Schuester admonishes. Rachel frowns.

"What? It sucks and everyone here knows it," Puck says defensively, jerking his arm forward against the back of Quinn's neck. "Oh," he mutters. "Sorry."

She waves him off and focuses instead on Mr. Schuester, who looks like someone just punched him in the stomach and kicked his dog at the same time. He gulps, visibly, and nods his head resignedly.

"Sure," he says. The room explodes in noise: Puck hoots and Finn hollers and Brittany claps while Rachel frowns even deeper. "I guess we could choose another song."

Puck shifts in his seat next to her and something tells her – something that kicked in a mere four days after she met Puck; something that kind of sends off a warning signal in her brain that says "danger, danger, Quinn Fabray!" – that whatever he says, she's not going to like.

"I think Quinn should pick it."

Santana snorts. "Please."

Quinn glances back over her shoulder with an "excuse me" look on her face. "Mr. Schuester," she says, turning back around. "I think that's a stupid idea."

"I agree," Rachel says instantly.

Now Quinn leans forward, down the row of Glee kids and glares at Rachel. "What?"

Rachel shrugs. "I'm merely saying that you picking the song would be an unwise choice."

"An unwise choice?"

"Yes," Rachel gulps.

Quinn stares defiantly and crosses her arms over her chest, leaning back into her seat, feeling Puck's forearm pressed into the back of her neck, and she smiles at Mr. Schuester.

"I'd be honored," she tells him.

Puck smirks at her and she makes a note to punch him for this later.

She can't think of a song. There are more than a million songs in the world and she can't think of a single one to have Glee club sing.

In the library, she scours the stacks in the back, trying to find some long-lost sheet music that is going to prove she's not completely incapable, when she rounds a row of autobiographies on Elvis and runs into Rachel sitting at a table in the corner, flipping through what looks like a yearbook.


"What are you doing here?" Quinn asks snidely.

Rachel looks around. "It's a library, Quinn. I'm sitting quietly and reading. Which is one of two things you do in a library."

Quinn lifts an eyebrow and thinks. "Only two?"

"Sitting quietly and reading, or studying. What else is there?"

She decides to lift her other eyebrow suggestively and smirk and nod towards the darkest corner of the room. Rachel understand her a few seconds later, going red in the face.

"Oh," she says quietly. "I wasn't thinking about that."

"You've never made out in a library before?"

Rachel's face grows darker and Quinn sits in the seat across from her, her smirk growing wider. "Some of us use the library with the intent of results."

"There's results, all right."

With a loud bang, Rachel slams the yearbook shut and pushes her chair backwards, rising out of it. "That's disgusting, Quinn," she spits out, but her face is red and Quinn can see she's flustered.

"Not if you do it right," she quips. "Ask Finn next you two sneak off somewhere," she adds.

Rachel ignores her and shoves the yearbook back onto the shelf, turning quickly on her heel and marching out of the back of the library and Quinn lets her smirk fade away to a frown.

She still doesn't have a song to sing.

Santana peers into her brown paper lunch bag, tilts her head and then grabs Brittany's bag, swapping the two while Quinn watches in amusement. Brittany has her back turned, making wild arm motions at Tina across the cafeteria and when she turns around and grabs her lunch, she empties the bag and looks around excitedly.

"Look! My mom packed my Cheez-its! I thought we were all out," she says thoughtfully, a frown tugging at her smile before it shines a little brighter.

She holds the bag out as evidence to Santana who smiles warmly and grabs one of Brittany's flailing hands, tangling their fingers and resting them against the tabletop.

Quinn wants to gag, it's almost too cute.

Brittany looks over as Santana is dumping the contents of her lunch bag onto the table and frowns. "Oh. You have celery. I hate celery."

Santana shrugs her shoulders. "More for me, then," but she's smiling. She turns to Quinn and offers her a stick of celery. "By the way, Q, Finn was asking about you. He wanted to know if you were seeing anyone. Besides me, I mean."

Quinn chokes on her bite of celery. "Excuse me?" she manages to ask between gulps of air.

"She meant you almost kissed her once so-"

"Not that part," she says, almost hissing, but she remembers, at the last second, that it's Brittany she's talking to, and says it almost in a whisper. "He was asking about me?" she asks, directed at Santana.

Santana nods.

"But what about Rachel?"

Santana stops nodding and narrows her eyes. Brittany stops digging through her back of Cheez-its and stares at Quinn in confusion. "What about Berry?" Santana asks slowly.

"Don't call her that," Brittany says lightly.

The brunette frowns. "Fine," she says softly, gritting her teeth. "What about Rachel now?"

Quinn waves a half-eaten celery stick in the air. "Why would he be asking about when he's got his hands full with Ms. Personality?"

"Hands full? Like, his hands are full of-"

"Wait," Santana says loudly, interrupting Brittany's sentence. "Do you think that Finn and Rachel Berry are dating?"

Quinn's hand falls limply to her lap. "Well, aren't they?"

Brittany giggles. "No, silly."

"They, they aren't?"

Santana shudders. "That mouthbreather and the quarterback? I don't think so."

"But she-"

"Yeah," Santana cuts in, "she wishes. She trails after him like some long lost puppy. It's pathetic. Did she tell you she was with him?"

Quinn shakes her head. "She never really said she wasn't, though. And whenever he talks to me, it looks like she wants to kill me."

"Or sleep with you," Santana says casually. "I mean, the rumors were, she slept with some girl named Suzy Pepper girl right before Pepper lost it over Mr. Schuester."

Quinn can feel herself pale and she puts her celery stick down, suddenly devoid of an appetite.

A pale hand reaches over and pats her on the forehead gently – it's endearing, but mostly annoying that Brittany treats her like she probably treated her dolls when she was younger, and she'd say something, but she suddenly feels sick to her stomach and doesn't want to risk opening her mouth because Santana would kill her if she threw up on those Cheerios uniforms – and she sinks a little in her seat.

Looking up through her lashes, she sees Brittany frowning at Santana, but the brunette just shrugs.

Quinn really hopes that Rachel is just into Finn.

"I need to know what song you chose for us to sing," Rachel demands, first thing Monday morning.

Quinn rolls her eyes. "Well, hello to you too."

"Hello, Quinn," Rachel says through gritted teeth. "What song are we going to be singing."

"I haven't actually picked one yet," she admits in a soft voice, praying that maybe Rachel heard "I'll tell you about it later" instead of what she actually said.

"Excuse me?"

So Rachel heard what she said. Awesome, she tells herself.

"I'm working on it," she says defensively.

Rachel looks pissed though; if her life were a cartoon, Rachel's ears would be steaming and there'd be a whistle going off and her feet would be off the floor with her hands clenched in fists. "Glee," she says slowly and deliberately, stepping close into Quinn's breathing space, "is a very serious thing to the rest of us, Fabray. And if you don't feel the same way, then I suggest you quit while you're ahead."

Quinn squares her shoulders, rising up over Rachel. "I don't know what your problem is with me, Berry, but get over. Pull the stick out of your ass and try behaving like a civilized human being." She steps down and glances around the hallway, but only Brittany is blatanly staring at them; Santana looks away a little quicker than Quinn can turn her head.

"Have a song ready by Glee today," Rachel threatens.

"Or what?" she throws back, but Rachel is already down the hall and around the corner.

Santana sidles up next to her and twirls an end of Quinn's hair with her finger. "She so wants in your pants."

"Go blow something," she huffs angrily, but she sinks back into her locker.

Santana just laughs.

Puck slides into his seat in Spanish, grinning ear to ear. Quinn merely glances over, but doesn't say anything until he pokes her hard in the arm.

"What?" she whines.

"I got you the perfect song," he says, clearly proud of himself. "Well, songs."

She sticks her hand out and he slaps down multiple pages into her hand.

"Even photocopied them for you."

She looks down at the papers, reading over the words, looking up at him, and then back down at the page. "Puck-"

"I know. You totally want to go down on me for this, right?"

Santana makes a gagging noise as she sits down. "Please. Don't do that."

Quinn thrusts the papers at Santana, smiling widely. "Look at what he gave me," she practically squeals.

She bounces in her seat excitedly as Santana takes her time looking it over. "So? What do you think?"

"Who'd you rip this off of?" Santana asks, looking at Puck.

He shrugs. "The internet is a wonderful and awesome place, Lopez. There's more on there then lesbian porn, you know."

Quinn flicks his ear before Santana can do anything, and takes the pages back, smoothing them out on the desk in front of her. "Shut Up and Take Me Out," she reads under her breath.

"It's got a little bit of Aretha Franklin in it," Puck points out, leaning on the two back legs of the chair with his arms crossed over his chest, his mouth set in a smug smile. "Am I not the best, or am I the best?"

She can see Santana's leg reaching towards Puck's chair; knows that Santana really just wants to kick the chair so Puck falls on his ass, but she grabs Santana's arm and pulls her closer, pointing. "I need you to help me sell this to Mr. Schue."

"I'm not taking off my clothes," Santana says seriously.

Brittany – who tends to just show up, out of nowhere, Quinn notices – leans forward, almost sitting in Santana's lap and looks at Quinn with her most intimidating expression. "She's not taking her clothes off."

Quinn sputters. "Why would she – No. No, there will be no removal of clothing," she stutters, grimacing. "Is sex all you guys think about?"

"Yes," Puck says confidently.


Brittany frowns. "I like to think about rainbows."

Quinn gapes; they're certainly not the friends she had in Massachusetts, and they'll probably get her into some trouble in the future – mostly just Puck and Santana – but they're pretty good replacements for the kids she grew up with, and Brittany always makes her smile.

I could do worse, she decides. At least they're not Rachel Berry.

She pulls at the hem of her shirt nervously and waits until Mr. Schuester says "whatcha got for us, Quinn?" before she stands and moves to the front of the room, leaning casually against the piano top.

"It's a mash up."

It's the right thing to say because Mr. Schuester's eyes light up like a Christmas Tree and Finn sits up in his seat and Mercedes – whose looking at the copies of the song she passed down the line of chairs before she stood up – shouts "Aretha Franklin! That's my girl!" and Artie's chair rocks excitedly.

Quinn grins, winking at Puck. "It's kind of an odd arrangement, but Piano Man over here," she says, throwing her hand back in the direction of Brad at the keys, "told me that he can totally work it out." She fiddles with the edge of her pullover sweater and looks up at Mr. Schuester through hooded eyes. "So, what do you think?"

"It's great," he almost shouts. "I mean, it's perfect, Quinn."

She thinks he might even be crying, which is awkward and unsettling, so she sits back down and tries to ignore that Rachel is glaring at her with nothing but hatred in her eyes.

Finn waits around the doorway of the Glee room while she finishes putting her stuff in her bag, and Rachel waits for him, like some convoluted love triangle that Quinn wants no part of.

"Hey, Quinn, I was wondering if-"

Puck dives back through the doorway, cutting him off. "Sorry, Hudson. You missed the last train out of the station with this one," he says, lifting Quinn around the midsection and tossing her over his shoulder, holding her with one arm while the other tries to stop her legs from kicking him.

"Put me down, Puckerman!" she hollers, but he laughs louder than she yells and runs back into the hall.

She hits her head on Finn's arm and the doorframe, but watching Brittany reenact it – trying to use Santana as Quinn – for the next hour is worth it.

Glee is better than choir ever was.

For one: no polyester albs. Mercedes and Kurt actually invite themselves over and catalogue her wardrobe – "Quinn," Kurt says seriously, "your figure is far too hidden under this punk-rock crap you choose to wear" – saying that they have an expanding list of the wardrobe of everyone in Glee so that they can pick appropriate outfits with as little people buying new clothes as possible.

Then there are the people. In choir, she was the youngest person; the only one who didn't have false teeth or ten-year-old kids at the soccer camp next door during rehearsal. In Glee, she's almost the youngest, except that Kurt has her beat by three months and two days and the only thing they're worried about is Slushies – Rachel – the Victoria's Secret Runway Show – Puck and Kurt, but for entirely different reasons – and Sue – all of them.

Glee is just about the singing, not about the audience in front of them, or above them. It's about the music coming together and their voices harmonizing on a level she's never even dreamed of before. They sing "True Colors" one day without choreography and she gets chills, sitting on that stool, letting the notes wash over her.

It's almost too philosophical, especially because it's only Glee, but there's a mystical property about Glee Club that Quinn can't put her finger on.

After a while, she stops trying to figure out what it is, because it'll probably lose some of its appeal if she does.

"I know it's Thanksgiving Break this weekend, so we won't be having practice on either Tuesday or Thursday this coming week," Mr. Schuester says, pausing. All of Glee looks to Rachel, but the girl shrugs her shoulders and murmurs "whatever" softly. Mr. Schuester tries to hide his surprise, but everyone sees it anyway and lets him continue talking. "I do want you to keep working, because we've come so far, thanks, mostly, to Quinn."

He beams and she ducks her head shyly.

"Anyway, I've broken you guys into partners and I want you to work together over the break on a song. It doesn't matter what it is, just make it mean something to you." Quinn finds it mildly adorable how passionate he is about Glee and also mildly disturbing, but decides not to dwell on it. "So the partners are: Artie and Tina, Mercedes and Puck, Santana and Brittany, Kurt and Rachel, Matt and Mike, and Finn and Quinn."

Puck groans, Santana and Brittany squeal, Finn gets this goofy grin on his face and Rachel glowers.

Kurt stands abruptly, gracefully jumping over Tina's chair and skids to a halt in front of Mr. Schuester. He's whispering harshly, but low enough so they can't hear him, but he keeps pointing and glancing at Rachel and finally Mr. Schuester nods and glances at Quinn.

"It's been brought to my attention-"

"I can't sing with you," Kurt says shrilly, pointing at Rachel with a trembling finger. "I want Finn."

"We all know that," Santana says under her breath.

Quinn lifts up out of her seat without realizing. "But that means I have to sing with Rachel."

Mr. Schuester nods slowly. "Quinn-"

"That's not fair." She sounds like a five-year-old, but it's really not fair that she has to sing with Rachel, because Mr. Schuester picked the names and she got Finn, fair and square.

She turns to Kurt. "Come on."

He shrugs his shoulders. "That's just two much diva for two people."

Mr. Schuester is giving her puppy dog eyes, the kind she can't say "no" to and she sighs heavily, crossing her arms over her chest angrily, before slumping back in her seat. "Fine," she hisses. "Just fantastic."

He dismisses them and Santana says she'll wait for Quinn in the parking lot – her car needs the brake pad fixed – and Puck asks if she wants him to stick around, but she shakes her head mutely and lets him leave, her eyes narrowed and focused on Mr. Schuester.

"You can't just do that," she says.

He looks up from his sheet music and frowns. "Quinn, Kurt was right. And I can't have them killing each other, or Kurt locking Rachel in a closet."

"So switch her with someone else."

"I can't," he sighs.

She almost stamps her foot. "But you're being completely unfair. I mean," she scrambles for words, "You let Santana and Brittany work together!"

"If I didn't pair them up to start, Santana would beat up whoever she needed to until she ended up with Brittany as her partner. We both know that," he explains. He gives her a small, sympathetic pat on the shoulder. "I know Rachel can be a little-"

"She hates me," Quinn says dully.

"I'm sure she doesn't-"

She shakes her head. "She does. And if she kills me while we're practicing, I'm going to haunt your ass until the day you die."

He doesn't call her out for swearing a teacher; just nods seriously and goes back to flipping through his book.

Rachel appears on her doorstep the next morning, ringing the doorbell incessantly until Quinn opens the door – because while she may be out of school, her father is on a business trip and her mother is back East, visiting her sister, leaving Quinn the house with the firm warning that if anything unsavory were to happen, Quinn would never see the light of day again – and yanks Rachel inside.

"It's not even eight-thirty, Berry," she sneers, wiping sleep out of her eyes and patting down her hair.

Rachel shrugs her shoulders. "If we're going to do this, I'd rather get it over with sooner than later."

Quinn can't help herself. "If that's how you talk to Finn, I'm can't believe you two aren't married yet."

"Screw you, Fabray."

"Screw you," Quinn hisses back.

She steps forward, towering over Rachel, and she thinks – but only for a moment – about punching Rachel right in the stomach, but she sighs heavily instead, running a hand through her hair again and points to the living room.

"Go," she says wearily. "Go sit and wait while I get some clothes on."

She puts clothes on, brushes her teeth, washes her face, checks her email, and turns on the coffeemaker before she goes back into the living room.

It's a psychological ploy: make Rachel sweat a little in that room, surrounded by statues of Jesus and Mary and Saints Rachel probably wouldn't be able to name – but that Quinn could recite in rapid fire. She leans against the doorframe of the living room, watching Rachel sit on the edge of the "bad couch" – so deemed for its back and stiff cushions – with her hands folded primly, resting on her knees, her back ram-rod straight, her eyes straight ahead.

If she had blond hair and hazel eyes, she'd fit right in the Fabray Family Collection.

"Did you have a song picked out," she asks, finally stepping into the room.

Rachel jumps a little, but regains her composure. "Of course I did."

"Of course you do," Quinn mutters under her breath. She jerks her head to the side. "Let's go. There's a piano in the back room."

In the back room – the far back, as far from the front door as possible without actually being outside – is where Quinn spends her time when she's locked inside the house, if she's not sleeping. Instead of beige, like the rest of the house, it's "Sun Shower" yellow with big windows lining one side of the room and posters filling another wall. Her piano – a way for her parent's to keep an eye on her – is in the corner by, opposite of the stereo, next to the "good couch" and the armchair.

"Wow," Rachel breathes out.

Quinn smirks; it is an impressive space.

"This is all yours?" Rachel moves into the room, towards the piano. She trails one hand across the surface, turning back to Quinn with a look of awe on her face. "All of it?"

"It's my parent's way of saying 'we think you're a screw up, stay out of our way'," she says, voice free of venom. It's something she's come to accept over the years. Rachel frowns, but looks at Quinn expectantly before looking back at the piano.

Quinn sighs. "By all means, have at it."

"It's beautiful," Rachel whispers, hitting a couple chords.

Quinn squirms where she's standing, uncomfortable with the look on Rachel's face and she thinks that maybe she shouldn't have even brought Rachel in here. Last weekend, Santana and Brittany came over and after charming her parents, Santana demanded to see every room in the house and they finally settled in the back room. Brittany liked the yellow paint; Santana liked the couch and declared that they would start hanging out here, for the couch alone. Puck, even, thought the room was cool and offered to bring his guitar over sometime and quickly covered the sincerity in his voice with a cough and "maybe I could bring a couple chicks too, and we good wow 'em with our music skills."

"It's nothing," she says loudly. "Let's just do this, okay?"

"If that's how you talk to Puck," Rachel mocks.

Quinn glares. "Puck and I are not sleeping together."

Rachel straightens up defensively. "Yeah, well neither are Finn and I."

She waits a minute to see what happens next and then Rachel is blushing and looking down at her hands. Suddenly, the brunette pushes the bench back across the floor and stands, her eyes dark.

"I should go."

"But we didn't even practice," Quinn says lamely.

Rachel nods her head, but she's pushing past Quinn anyway. "We'll do it tomorrow."

"You woke me up at the ass crack of dawn just to leave?"

She steps in front of Rachel and the back of her knees are pressed up against the wooden door separating them from the rest of the house. "No. You woke me out of a dead sleep. You don't get to just leave."

"Quinn, I'll come back tomorrow," Rachel promises.


The brunette slips around her and slides through the door. Half a minute later the front door opens and closes and then a car starts.

She's not sure what happened, but now she's awake and if she's awake this early on a day off of school, she doesn't want to be the only one.

Santana isn't happy about it.

"I still hate you," Santana says in between bites of her French Toast.

"Did you want butter on the next batch?" Quinn asks sweetly, smiling widely.

Santana rolls her eyes but shakes her head. "Coach Sylvester is already threatening to weigh us hourly. Besides, the coffee makes these halfway edible so you don't need to slather it with butter."

Quinn scoffs. "You totally love my French Toast."

"You better watch it," Santana warns, eyebrow raised. "B might think you're hitting on me again."

She sits down next to Santana at the breakfast bar, taking a sip of her coffee. "What's with you two anyway?"

Santana swallows. "What do you mean what's with us?"

"What's up with you two, is what I mean. Like, are you two dating, or just hooking up, or whatever?"

The brunette almost looks panicked and Quinn regrets asking the questions – because, she suddenly thinks, what if no one has said anything about it and now that I have it'll end all 'cause I opened my big mouth?

"Well," Santana says slowly, "we haven't really labeled it. I mean, we don't, like, date other people, we just haven't-"

"I shouldn't have asked," Quinn cuts in, waving away the rest of Santana's explanation.

She seems relieved and after a moment her mouth quirks up and Quinn starts to get nervous at the expression on Santana's face.


"Don't what me, Fabray. You said Berry was here this morning. So what happened? You kick her out bed or something?"

Quinn glares, grabs the frying pan off the stove and dumps the contents onto Santana's plate. "Just eat your French Toast," she grumbles while Santana laughs.

Like an alarm clock, Rachel is at her door at precisely eight-thirty the next morning, but Quinn is ready this time and she's already sitting on the front stairs with the door open, greedily gulping down coffee. If Rachel looks surprised, she hides it well and enters the house in stride, coming to rest in front of Quinn.

"You don't need that," Rachel says, but there's something different about her voice that Quinn can't quite put her finger on.

She reaches slowly for the coffee cup, her hand closing around Quinn's and she tugs gently, smiling a little out of corner of her mouth. "Give it," she murmurs.

Quinn lets go and finds her body lifting off the stairs in front of Rachel and when she rises to her full height she's standing almost on top of Rachel and the brunette isn't stepping back, but she's moving the few inches forward until the tips of her shoes are against Quinn's bare toes. Rachel looks up at her and smiles fully, and before Quinn can pull back, Rachel is kissing the corner of her mouth and tilting her head a little bit more to the right and finding Quinn's bottom lip.

Her arms slide around Rachel's middle, pulling their bodies together and her knees feel weak and she thinks about falling down but Rachel is pushing down on her shoulders and she's sitting back on the stairs and Rachel is grinning.

Quinn feels butterflies.

"I told you," Rachel mutters, smiling coyly at Quinn. "You don't need the coffee to wake you up."


The alarm clock has her shooting up in bed, gasping for air, sweat pooling at the top of her forehead.

"A dream," she whispers to herself, trying to catch her breath. "Just a dream."

Still, she texts Rachel and says that maybe they should skip today's practice and just work on it tomorrow.

"We're almost too far behind," Rachel says, storming past Quinn into the house.

She didn't even try to fool herself into expecting a normal greeting, but she sleepily hands Rachel a cup of coffee and shoos her off to the back room, following after getting the coffee pot from the kitchen and a mug for herself.

"I was thinking we could first choose a genre and then a song."

Quinn takes a minute to process the words, rubbing her eyes. "No Streisand," she says firmly. Santana warned her that Rachel might try to get her to sing Barbara Streisand and that the Glee Club would murder if she let that happen.

Rachel pouts for a mere second. "Fine, what are your suggestions?"

"Well, do you want to do a duet, or break a song into sections?"

"You and I will never find a duet," Rachel says, sniffing at her coffee delicately before taking a sip.

Quinn snorts. "I didn't poison it. What kind of person do you think I am?" She watches Rachel's face twist and sneers. "Don't answer that. No showtunes, either," she adds.

Rachel frowns. "Well is there something you do want to sing?"

"We could do something by Stars?"

Rachel only blinks a few times.

"You know," Quinn prompts, "Stars. Canadian band."

"I have no idea who that is."

"No, no idea?" Quinn sputters. "Are you serious?"


Quinn sighs. "Well, okay. So that's out. What are your ideas?" She frowns a little and then smiles. "I have one," she says excitedly, already moving to the stereo, flipping through a set of marked CD's.

"I don't think-"

"Don't start," she warns. Rachel's mouth closes audibly. "Ah ha," she cheers softly, finding the right mix CD and inserting it, skipping to track eleven. "It's different and slightly unconventional for two people, so don't shoot it down right away, got it?" She doesn't press play until Rachel nods and then the first few notes of "Reelin' In The Years" starts. Quinn's eyes slide closed and she feels herself smile a little. "We can break it into parts."

"I know this song," is all Rachel says, crossing her arms over her chest.

Quinn presses pause. "Okay," she says slowly.

"You implied that I didn't know this song."


Rachel nods tensely. "You should be. I listen to more than showtunes, you know."

Quinn puts her hands up defensively. "Sorry. I didn't know if you would know this one, is all."

Rachel ignores her apology and sits down on the couch, pulling a laptop out of the bag Quinn didn't notice before. "Do you have a printer anywhere around here?"

"I have a printer and a computer, so put that, that thing away." She eyes the laptop warily, wondering if the giant gold star came with it, or if it was an addition. "Come on." They leave the back room and go up the stairs, down the hall into Quinn's room.

Rachel looks around and for the first time in a while, Quinn is embarrassed by the Spartan decorations and her mother's affinity for beige. "It's-"

"Ugly," Quinn deadpans. "Go ahead and say it."

"Do you actually live in this room?" Rachel asks in a rushed breath.

"I sleep here."

Rachel looks around, touching the bedpost gently. "It looks like a guest room."

Quinn nods her head slowly, because while she never really thought about it that way, that's exactly what her room is, and that's who she is to her parents: a guest, living in their house to fill the empty space at the kitchen table where their golden child used to sit.

"I'm sorry," Rachel says softly. She must see the frown Quinn knows is on her face, but she clears it immediately and shrugs her shoulders like it's no big deal and types a few words into the Google search bar.

"It's whatever," she says dismissively. "There. I just need to print two copies of this and we're good."

Rachel checks her watch and mumbles something Quinn doesn't catch her under breath, so she asks Rachel to repeat herself.

"I said that I have to go in a half an hour."

"Go where?" she asks, as if it's any of her business.

Rachel shrugs. "I just have to go."

The printer spits out two copies of the lyrics and Quinn grabs them, two highlighters and a pen off her desk.

In the back room, she hands Rachel a copy and starts blocking off sections of the song for herself. Rachel, though, is sitting, staring at the page, as if she's unsure what to do. With an exaggerated sigh, Quinn uncaps the other highlighter and grabs Rachel's hand, molding it around the highlighter. "You put the tip of it to the paper and drag it across the words you want," she explains slowly.

Rachel's eyes narrow. "I know what to do."

"You don't look like it."

"I just don't like this song."

Quinn throws her arms. "Well, do you have any better suggestions?" She takes Rachel's silence as a no. "I didn't think so."

"I should go."

"This whole running away thing is kind of pathetic, don't you think?"

Turning back – because she was already halfway out the door – Rachel glares. "I'm not running away. I told you I had somewhere to be."

"Yeah," Quinn agrees, "but you said you had to leave in a half hour. It's only been ten minutes."

Rachel shrugs. "Maybe there's traffic."

She looks Rachel over, from the top of her head to the bottom of her toes and tries to keep her gaze objective. Rachel's not unattractive physically, in any means, besides her peculiar liking of knee socks. Quinn would guess it's more her personality that keeps her suspended in the bubble she's created around herself. Her mother always told her: "make yourself personable, Quinnie, or no one will ever love you." Rachel probably never received that memorandum.

"Where are you going?" she asks again.

"Why do you want me to stay?" Rachel counters.

"I don't. I'm just a curious person by nature," she bluffs.

Rachel crosses her arms over her chest and looks away. "I told Finn I'd help him with his math homework," she finally says.

Quinn swallows her urge to say "throwing yourself at him isn't going to get you in his pants" and smiles blandly instead. "You're blowing me off for Goliath?"

"Don't call him that," Rachel says, bristling.

Quinn shrugs. "Just come sit back down and go over the song with me."

It's not until she turns down her bottom lip ever so slightly and tilts her head to the left that Rachel sighs heavily and settles back on the couch.

Rachel starts singing. Quinn isn't sure if it's intentional or not, but there she is, her mouth half-open, almost humming, singing the words to the song.

It's like nothing Quinn has ever heard before.

It doesn't even look like Rachel is trying – she actually only looks like she's getting ready to speak – but something that sounds like magic is coming out of her mouth and Quinn can feel it from her toes to her ears and her fingers and it feels like a perfect summer day – not too hot, just warm enough.

Something changes.

She looks down at her paper and looks back up at Rachel whose singing in a whisper and something changes because Rachel looks different and happier and prettier than she did five minutes ago.

Something changes and Quinn almost doesn't like the way it feels.

"He likes you, you know," Rachel says suddenly.

Quinn looks up from the sheet music, pausing in mid-arrangement. "I'm sorry?"

"Finn," Rachel clarifies. "He likes you."


She already knows this. Santana and Puck and even Brittany have all told her; Santana gets some sort of sick satisfaction out of reminding her on a daily basis.

"He's not really my, uh, type," she says delicately.

"Tall, handsome, sweet boys aren't your type?"

"Boys aren't my type," she murmurs, just low enough so that Rachel can't hear her.

"Or is it because of Puck?" Rachel asks.

Quinn rolls her eyes. "I'm not dating Puck. And I'm not interested in dating him, either," she says for emphasis.

"He seems like he's interested in dating you," Rachel scoffs.

Quinn knows this too; he told her two days after he stopped being that guy who wrote graphic ways to defile her that she was "banging" and that he'd like to take her to the movies. She had laughed at him and patted his arm gently and told him she was almost flattered, but he shouldn't waste his time, because she didn't feel the same way. When he asked why, she spent a couple of minutes dodging before she finally blurted that she liked girls, and then spent the next couple of minutes yelling at him to "shut up! I don't want to know what you're thinking!"

"We've talked about it," she admits, watching Rachel's eyes widen a little before the brunette looks away.

"You should cut Finn loose."

Quinn looks up from her paper and almost gags. "Cut him loose? I'm not stringing him along."

"You are," Rachel insists. "Every time you don't tell him you're not interested, you're stringing him along."

"What? So you can swoop in there and claim him?"

"He doesn't want to date me," Rachel says, almost too calmly.

"You want to date him."

Rachel nods. "He's good leading man potential. His voice is good and he's handsome and any girl would be lucky to have him."

Quinn's mouth drops open in disbelief. "You want to be his girlfriend because he has good leading man potential? Are you crazy? That's not why you date someone."

"And why do to you date someone, exactly?" Rachel challenges.

"Because," Quinn sputters. "Because you enjoy being around them. Because you want to hold their hand in the middle of the hallway. Because kissing them is the best part of your day!" She's breathing heavy and her hands are pushed into the couch, lifting her lower body almost off the fabric and Rachel is actually kind of leaning away, like she's afraid Quinn is going to sprout claws and spring forward and kill her.

"So you're a romantic then," Rachel says, softly.

Quinn lets out a strangled laugh. "Yeah, you could say that."

Rachel gets a look in her eye that Quinn immediately doesn't like and settles back into the armchair. "So if you're not into Finn and you're not dating Puck, then you must like someone else."

"What makes you think I like anyone?"

"You're a self-professed romantic," Rachel says dully. "You have to like someone at all times. It's a rule."

"It's not a rule."

"It's a rule," Rachel says insistently.

Quinn rolls her eyes. "Well, it's not a rule," she says quickly, "but it doesn't matter. I'm not interested in anyone."

She's really not. Santana, sure, for about three and a half seconds, but there's no one she spends her day thinking about.

Rachel, though, looks unconvinced. "There's got to be someone." Her mouth drops and her eyes go wide in horror. "It's not Karofsky, or someone gross like that, is it?"

Quinn feels sick to her stomach and grimaces, her entire body shuddering. "That's-"

"Gross," Rachel finishes. "I know. I just wanted to make sure. Glee can't be associated with that."

"Glee," Quinn repeats. "Right."

She's not sure why she suddenly feels like someone sucker punched her in the stomach, but she has an idea that it might have something to do with the easy way Rachel laughed. Or maybe it's because there was actually conversation there for a minute and Rachel had to go and kill it with a sentence.

Something – later, when she's telling Santana the story and she's kicking herself for opening her mouth, she'll decide that the something is the result of being up this early and having nothing but coffee in her stomach and being around Puck too much, who really doesn't have a filter – has her opening her mouth again and saying something she probably shouldn't.

"I'm actually not all that fond of guys."

Rachel nods and smiles and looks back down at her paper and Quinn watches – almost in amusement, mostly in horror – as Rachel's nodding stops and she goes still and she looks back up at Quinn slowly.

"You're, you're not?"

Even though she wants to take it back, Quinn shakes her head. "No," she says, wavering, but resolute. "I'm not."

"So," Rachel says slowly, "you're-"


"And you and Santana?"

Quinn shudders. "No. Her and Brittany, though-"

Rachel nods and Quinn doesn't need to finish her sentence.

Then the awkward silence that Quinn almost forgot existed in those moments after she makes big reveals of this kind settles around them.

"I'm late to meet Finn," Rachel says. To anyone else, it's a seemingly out of the blue and legitimate statement, but Quinn's gotten good at this and sees it for what it is: avoidance. So when Rachel starts to pack her stuff into her bag and mumbles something about meeting tomorrow, Quinn nods gracefully and lets her leave.

Santana tosses another magazine into the pile she's created and looks over at Quinn. "Why would you tell her that anyway?"

Quinn shrugs, legs splayed over one side of the armchair. "Word vomit."

Brittany, on the floor in front of the couch, nods sympathetically, like she knows exactly what Quinn is talking about. "It happens sometimes. It's okay. Rachel is super nice, so she won't tell anyone and pretty soon, you guys can be friends."

Santana rolls onto her stomach on the couch and gives Quinn a look that says "ignore her" but reaches over and grabs the bottom of Brittany's chin and tugs until she can lean forward a little bit and press her mouth against Brittany's. The blond lets her hand cup Santana's jaw for a minute before she pushes Santana away and blushes.

"We can't. Quinn doesn't have anyone to kiss. It's not nice."

Santana pouts. "Just because she's not getting any," she mumbles.

Brittany frowns. "Be. Nice."

Quinn smirks, but drops it the moment Brittany turns back around and nods contritely.

"We should have a party," Santana grumbles. Her head pops off the couch again. "We should have a party!"

Quinn's already saying "no" and shaking her head. "Not here, we shouldn't."

Santana rolls her eyes. "Well, no, not here. Your mother would drown me in her alcohol."

"She wouldn't waste it on you," Quinn says cheerfully.

"We can call Puck," Santana continues, ignoring Quinn. She's already punching numbers in on her cell. "His mom is going out of town this weekend."

Brittany turns back towards Santana. "How did you know that?"

The brunette pauses for a quick second – so quick, Quinn thinks, that Brittany might not have even noticed it. "He asked what we were doing this weekend."

"Oh." Brittany frowns a little. "He didn't ask me."

"I told him we were busy."

Brittany's frown fades and she smiles widely. "That makes sense."

When Santana looks up at her, she immediately ducks her head and avoids Quinn's glare. "He said he's up for hosting one. We just need to bring the people."

Santana looks like she's already on it. "Trust me," she says confidently, throwing a glance at Quinn that doesn't linger. "A party is just what you need."

Brittany gets up the go the bathroom and as soon as the door shuts behind her, Quinn is across the five feet from the armchair to the couch and she's pressing Santana's shoulders into the cushions with her forearm.

"Whatever you're doing with Puck," she starts.

Santana looks up with wide eyes. "I'm not doing anything," she says loudly. "He keeps trying, but I'm not, I, I have Brittany."

Quinn narrows her eyes. "I swear to God, Santana."

"I love her," Santana hisses, gaining a sudden burst of strength and pushing up against Quinn. "So, just, relax, okay?"

She nods shakily and slides to the other side of the couch, propping her feet up on the arm of the chair.

"Sorry," she murmurs.

Santana rubs at her shoulders, but smiles a little anyway. "If anything were to, uh, ever happen," she says hesitantly, "I give you permission to kick my ass, okay?"

"You better hope it doesn't come to that," she says, dropping her hand over her eyes.

She thinks she hears Santana whisper "I do."

So maybe a party was a good idea. The music is loud and there's so many people packed into Puck's house that's she literally touching everyone she walks by and Puck slips her a flask the minute she walks in the door so she's already feeling a little fuzzy around the edges by eleven.

Puck pulls her into him, sitting on the couch again and the minute she's perched on his knee, she turns around and slugs him hard in the shoulder.

"Dammit," he hisses. "What was that for?"

"Stay away from Santana."

She watches as he tries to pretend he doesn't know what she's talking about, but then his cheeks flush and he ducks his head. "Quinn-"

"I don't want to hear your excuses," she says, surprisingly not slurring her words."Just stop whatever it is you're trying to do."

He looks past her and his eyes gloss over and his mouth drops over. "Sure. I'll just watch instead."

She follows his gaze and sighs heavily, rolling her eyes. Someone catcalls and Santana pulls out of the kiss she's in, her hands tangled in Brittany's shirt and glares threateningly while Brittany blushes and buries her face in Santana's neck.

"Hey," Puck asks, pulling her attention back. "You're not totally against guys, are you? Because I was talking to Christina, the cheerleader, and she said that she'd be up for her, me, and another hot girl."

She punches him in the shoulder again and goes to refill her glass.

"Is that a 'no', then?" he hollers after her.

Somewhere in between her second and third refill of the flask, Puck sighs and motions towards the door.

"Homo explosion has arrived," he drawls, frowning at Finn and Rachel waltzing through the door followed by the rest of Glee.

She goes to punch him in the shoulder again, but this time she misses and when he laughs, she just laughs along with him.

"Is this the line for the bathroom?"

Rachel Berry's voice shakes a little of the fog out of her head and she nods, closing her eyes again and letting her head drop back against the wall she's leaning up against.

"Are you okay?" A hand touches her forehead and she flinches.

"Watch it," she warns. "You might catch the gay."

Rachel scoffs. "You can't catch a sexual preference. And anyways, didn't anyone tell you that I have two dads?"

No, she thinks with as much bitterness as she can muster. No one ever told me that.

"Well I do," Rachel says, interpreting Quinn's silence correctly. "Your forehead is really warm."

Quinn lazily pushes Rachel's hand off her skin. "Cause there are so many people in here," she says slowly, cracking one eye open. "Hey, what are you doing here?"

Rachel's eyes widen momentarily. "Finn said there was a party."

"And where a Finn goes, a Rachel follows," Quinn sings in a melody vastly familiar to "Sweet Carolina."

"Don't start," Rachel says in a low voice.

Quinn opens her other eye and frowns. "Don't yell at me."

"I'm not yelling at you."

"Not yet, you're not. But you're going too soon. I can see your eye twitching." She lifts her hand – it's heavy and hard, but she does it – and pokes towards the general direction of Rachel's eye. She hits her cheek, but its close enough. "See? Twitch, twitch."

Rachel wraps her hand around Quinn's finger and pushes it down so that her hand hangs awkwardly between their bodies and it makes Quinn take a step forward so she doesn't feel like her arm is going to pull out of its socket.

"My eye doesn't twitch when I yell."

Quinn nods seriously. "It does. And I would know, you know? Cause you're mostly yelling at me." She tilts her head to one side. "Why are you mostly yelling at me? I'm not the one who talks about nailing you until the stick up your ass falls out. That's Puck."

Rachel's face pales and Quinn giggles as she realizes what she's said. "I mean," she tries to say.

"No. Don't say it again."

The door to the bathroom opens and Quinn perks up, her shoulders jumping up to her ears. "Score," she cheers. She's halfway across the threshold when her arm jerks a little and she realizes her finger is still caught in Rachel's hand. She sighs like it bothers her. "Well, come on in, then."

Rachel looks like she wants to say no, but Quinn gives a hard tug and the brunette is stumbling into the bathroom, keeping herself upright by grabbing the doorknob.

She leans over the sink, peering at her reflection in the mirror, pulling down on the skin beneath her eyes and frowning.

"I can feel myself growing old."

Rachel's reflection shrugs. "We get older every day."

"Well, duh," she says, turning and lifting herself onto the counter a little. She puts her hand against her own forehead and smiles widely. "Hey, feel. No more temperature." She grabs for Rachel's hand and presses it against her skin.

"Yeah," Rachel says softly. "No more temperature."

"I told you," Quinn coos. "It's all the people. They make you hot and sweaty."

Rachel's hand drops and lands on her knee and Quinn looks down, watching the tan fingers against her pale skin. Wearing a skirt hadn't been her idea, but Santana kept talking until she finally said yes, and now, she almost wasn't regretting it. She slides forward a little, the top of her knees hitting Rachel's waistline before they slip off the side to Rachel's hips, catching Rachel where she's standing.


"I'm drunk," she says, shrugging her shoulders.

Rachel shakes her head. "I'm not."

Quinn's already leaning forward, her forehead dipping down against Rachel's, their eyes too close to see each other properly. "I'm okay with that," she whispers before she dips her head again, her mouth against Rachel's.

There's one tense moment where's she's completely still and Rachel isn't moving or breathing and maybe she broke her, but then there's a low whimper that Quinn mostly feels and doesn't hear and Rachel's hand on her knee is gripping tight and her mouth is moving against Quinn's, opening and closing and greedy.

When she pulls back, it's only to breathe for a minute, and then she moves back in, ignoring how wrong making out with Rachel in the bathroom of the Puckerman's house is.

She almost doesn't care.

Hands push at her, incessantly, until she groans and rolls over, opening her eyes a little before slamming them shut again. "The light," she says, her voice hoarse. "It stings."

Puck's laugh is deep. "I'll tell you what stings," he says, shoving a mug of coffee under her nose, waving it around. She grabs for it clumsily and hisses when some of it splashes onto her bare shoulder.

Her bare shoulder.

She sits up, clutching her arms to her chest, relieved to find she's wearing a bra. "Where the hell is my shirt?" she hisses.

Puck laughs again, but quickly sobers up when Quinn glares at him. "Relax," he says soothingly. "There was alcohol all over it. But I didn't take it off you," he says quickly.

"Well, who did?"

He ducks his head and smirks. "Funny story."

"Puck," she growls.

"So I'm in the middle of an awesome game of quarters, and I'm kicking Karofsky's ass, when Christina comes over and starts talking dirty to me. I'm like 'let's go find a room' and so we head over to the bathroom and," he pauses, as if he's checking to see if she knows where this is going, but she wraps her hands around her cup of coffee and remains still. "I open the door and there you are, with your tongue in Berry's mouth, and one hand down her pants!"

She blinks hard, her mouth gaping, but she finds her words. "And, and the alcohol?" she stammers.

Puck looks vaguely disappointed that she didn't have more of a reaction. Oh, if only you could see me freaking out on the inside, she thinks. "Christina kind of freaked out and threw her drink." He shrugs. "Guess she's not really up for guy-on-girl-on-girl action, after all."

"Just get me a shirt," she demands, holding her hand out expectantly.

He scoops one off the floor of his room and throws it at her face. She slips her arms through it as she keeps talking. "How did I get here, then?"

He smirks. "After your Smirnoff-shower, Berry hauled you off the counter, dragged you in here and locked the door. Three minutes later, she comes back out with your shirt in her hands and asks me where my washer and dryer are, then tells me, me," he bellows, hitting himself in the chest, "that I'm not even allowed to go into my own room while you're passed out."

She raises one eyebrow.

"Yeah, I just waited until she left before I snuck in here and perved on you," he admits.

Quinn groans and throws her head back into the pillow, closing her eyes. The bed sinks on her left and then Puck's arm is draped low across her waist.

"Puck," she starts.

"Shut up, Fabray," he grumbles, pulling the comforter at the end of the bed up over them. "I'm not going to feel you up, but I spent the night on my own couch, so man up and don't hog all the covers."

She doesn't protest, but only because her head is still spinning and when she licks her bottom lip, it tastes like Rachel.

The next time she wakes up, Puck is snoring in her ear. She pushes him off her side and rolls over onto her back, burying her face in his pillow.

She's actually disappointed Rachel didn't stick around.

It makes no sense, because clearly, Rachel despises her – or maybe she doesn't anymore. Maybe that lump in the back of Quinn's throat, the one that keeps growing and growing every time she looks at Rachel, is something Rachel feels too.

Maybe this sick, terrible, awkward infatuation Quinn has isn't something only she is feeling.

Maybe Rachel feels it too, and that's why she left.

Her parents are gone the day after Thanksgiving – something about some cruise, but Quinn doesn't really care – and she's sitting in the back room, playing practice pieces loudly and messy when the door opens and Rachel is there, watching her play.

Quinn doesn't stop; she moves onto something else that sounds a little bit like John Mayor and Rachel comes further into the room, settling on the edge of the couch.

Rachel's mouth opens and Quinn braces herself for the worst: for the yelling and the screaming and the confusing questions.

"We need to finish our song," Rachel says quietly.

She was braced for anything but that.

Santana rolls over on the couch, looking up at Quinn at the piano. "You still haven't talked about it?"


"That's gonna be a little weird, huh?"

Quinn looks up over her copy of Les Misérables and gives Santana her best look of disgust. "You think?"

"So who wants to go first?" Mr. Schuester looks excited, to say the least, and he glances around the room waiting for someone to volunteer. His eyes land on Rachel and light up.

"Rachel, Quinn," he prompts. "Why don't you guys give it a go?"

Puck kicks the leg of her chair and she rises out of it, staring at Rachel at the other end of the room.

"Let's go, Celine."

Brad starts the introduction and Quinn stands awkwardly in front of the piano, not sure if she should sway or swing or hold hands while she sings, but Rachel just kind of stands next to her, and Quinn wonders if everyone can see the awkward between them, or if it's something only she can feel.

Judging by the look on Santana's face, everyone can see it.

"We did 'Reelin' In The Years' by Steely Dan," she says quickly before the opening line.

"Your everlasting summer you can see it fading fast," Rachel starts.

They broke it up almost line by line for the first verse and Quinn's so busy staring at Rachel that she almost misses her cue. "So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last."

"Well you wouldn't know a diamond if you held it in your hand."

Quinn is sure she's not imagining Rachel's narrowed eyes and furrowed brow, but unconsciously, her own mouth dips down into a frown. "The things you think are precious I can't understand."

The chorus is a little steadier than the first verse, but it's choppy and Quinn's voice breaks at the end of the last line. Rachel turns to her, blatantly, and frowns heavily. Quinn glares back and this time she's ready when her line comes.

"You've been saying you're a genius since you were seventeen. In all the time I've known you, I still don't know what you mean."

Now Rachel is the one who almost misses her cue. "The weekend at the college didn't turn out like you planned."

"The things that pass for knowledge I can't understand," Quinn cuts in.

They do another chorus, but then they stop.

Mr. Schuester is mostly just staring. "That was," he tries, but stops and twists his face in a look of confusion. "Well, it was worth a try, right?"

He sighs and asks Mercedes and Puck what they're singing and even though Quinn hasn't known Rachel too long, she knows disappointment and self-loathing when she sees it, and Rachel Berry looks like her world just ended.

Waiting around for Santana and Brittany to be done with Cheerios, she wanders the halls of William McKinley High aimlessly.

"What are you still doing here?"

She doesn't turn around at the sound of Rachel's voice; it stops being a surprise when Rachel Berry pops up behind her.

"My car broke down so I'm waiting for Santana." She quirks an eyebrow. "What are you doing here?"

"Mr. Schuester lets me use the practice room to, uh, practice," Rachel finishes lamely. There's a heavy silence for a moment and Quinn contemplates turning and going back to the bleachers to wait – where Coach Sylvester tries to "accidentally" throw a bullhorn at her, but Rachel is opening her mouth again.

"Yes?" she asks, cutting off whatever Rachel is going to say. "What?"

"We have to talk."

Quinn knows she's right, but she doesn't want to do it now. She wanted to be the one to bring it up and Rachel has gone and stole her thunder right out from under her. "Yeah."

"Well don't sound so excited."

She sighs. "Can we maybe not fight about talking about this?" She takes a deep breath. "I kissed you."

Rachel nods slowly. "You assaulted me."

Quinn feels her face flush. "I don't remember you protesting too much," she says through clenched teeth.

It comes back in a rush: one hand sliding across Rachel's jaw while the other curled around the brunette's shoulder and then her hand moving down Rachel's arm and across her hipbone, up under her shirt; up and up until she was pushing her fingers under lace fabric. Then her hand moving down, hooking behind the button on Rachel's jeans, popping it open smoothly.

She remembers Rachel stepping into the counter, her upper body leaning forward until it was pressed against Quinn's chest and then Rachel's hands were in her hair and she was wrapping the loose strands around her fingers, tugging Quinn closer. She remembers hearing Rachel whimper into her mouth and her body moving forward on the counter just to get closer and she remembers pushing aside Rachel's underwear and then…

She remembers Puck throwing the door open and Christina screaming and that's where it ended.

Rachel ducks her head. "I didn't want to offend you."

"So you're telling me now that I pretty much forced you make out with me."

"No," Rachel says slowly. "I'm just saying-"

"Because the way I remember it," Quinn says over her, "You were just as involved in it as I was."

"I don't kiss girls," Rachel says, almost desperately.

Quinn scoffs. "Not what I heard."

"Excuse me?"

"You, Suzy Pepper," Quinn prompts.

Rachel sputters and blushes. "No, I, that never, I don't, nothing happened."

"Whatever. Just don't blame this all on me."

Rachel shifts onto the balls of her feet and rocks back to her heels. "That's not why I came to talk to you."

"Then why did you come here."

"Because we were horrible in Glee and that's unacceptable."

It bothers Quinn, for some reason she can't understand, that all Rachel is really concerned about it Glee and she probably doesn't even care that Quinn's been spending almost every night since staring up at the ceiling, wondering if Rachel's sleeping, or if she feels something off too; like something broke in the five or six minutes that they had, something that Quinn can't name or put back together.

"Glee," she scoffs again. "Is that all you care about."

"It's going to get me places."

"And ruin your social life in the process."

Rachel stands a little taller and tries to look intimidating, but Quinn just can't see it. "A social life will not fuel a career."

"Maybe not," Quinn admits, "but you'll die a very lonely person."

"I just wanted to come talk to you about forgetting it ever happened, okay?" Rachel's shoulders drop and her eyes are pleading with Quinn.

Except that Quinn feels this irrational need to never forget it. "No," she says simply.

Rachel's mouth drops open, her jaw unhinged. "No," she repeats. "No what?"

"No, I'm not going to forget it," she says calmly. Rachel looks furious.

"This isn't funny, Quinn."

She shrugs. "I'm not laughing."

"There's a lot at stake here."

"Like Glee."

Rachel steps forward, slamming her foot into the floor. "Yes, like Glee! Like me entire life. High school is the first stepping stone to becoming the person you want to be!"

"You want to be lonely for the rest of your life?"

"I want to be good at something!"

Quinn leans back a little, from the waist, and stares at Rachel: her eyes are wide and she's breathing heavy and it would be cliché to lean in and kiss her right now.

Quinn isn't cliché, except when she is.

Rachel has to know this is coming, because Quinn feels like she's moving in slow motion across the hallway, but the brunette just sort of freezes where she's standing and stares at Quinn with even wider eyes and watches.

Quinn stops though, halfway there and waves her hand in Rachel direction.

"You're going to have to come over here, because I'm not going to be the only one doing the reaching out," she says gently, pulling nervously at a loose thread on her Underground t-shirt. "You have to meet me halfway."

When Rachel takes a step forward, there's a sudden rush of relief that surges through Quinn's body.

Except that Rachel steps forward to step past her and the relief that rose in her is quickly tempered down and turns into mortification and embarrassment and sadness and anger.

She's left standing in the middle of the hallway, staring at the lockers, like the idiot she knows she is.

"I could beat her up, if you want," Santana offers idly.

Quinn just keeps staring out the window, watching Lima pass in a blur.

"Don't touch her," Brittany says at Santana. Out of the corner of her eye, she can see Brittany turn and look over the passenger seat. "I could talk to her if you want."

Santana laughs a little. "Babe, I don't think she'll listen to you."

"Yes she will. We're friends, even if you don't like her."

Quinn closes her eyes and groans. "Guys, I don't want to drag you into this."

She feels the car stop at the traffic light she knew was coming up and then a seat belt unlocks and she opens her eye in time to see Brittany clambering over the console between the front seats and settle gracefully next to Quinn.

"Christ, B!" Santana shouts, looking over her shoulder to glare into the backseat. Brittany glares back – completely ineffective, because she mostly looks adorable doing it – and Santana sighs and rolls her eyes and faces forward again.

Brittany's arms wrap around Quinn's shoulders and pull her close. "You can't drag me. I'm too tall and I'm strong than you," she says cheerfully. "But I want to help, so I'll help, okay?" She leans forward and presses a chaste kiss to Quinn's temple.

The car next to them – filled with boys, of course – hollers and honks their horn.

Santana flips them off and spends the next stretch of road trying to drive them off of it.

Apparently, Brittany "helping" is locking them in a supply closet not too far from Coach Sylvester's office.

"What does she think she's doing?" Rachel hisses while Quinn hides her grin and settles on top of an old desk. "I have to be in class right now."

"Relax. It's not like you can't afford to miss class once or twice."

Rachel turns towards Quinn with a glare that could rival's Santana's worst attempt. "Not all of us are delinquents," she hisses.

Quinn lifts off the desk and steps forward so far that Rachel backs up against the door. "I am not a delinquent," she says in such a low voice she can feel it grate against her stomach.

"Touch a nerve?" Rachel asks, smirking.

"Go to hell, Streisand."

Rachel waves her arms widely, narrowly missing Quinn's face."I'm already there. You, me, a locked closet? It's just like I imagined hell would be."

"You imagine me and you in a closet?"

Rachel flushes. "No."

"Yes you do," Quinn sings. "You want to hug me. You want to love me. You want to hug me. You want to smooch-"

"Shut up," Rachel hisses.

"Why should I? You gonna stop me?"

"If I need to."

Quinn isn't cliché, except when she is.

She steps back in, avoiding Rachel's outstretched limbs and dips her head down. "So stop me," she barely whispers before Rachel's mouth crashes against hers, stealing her breath and her words.

The arms punching at empty air now grab her hips and spin her so that her the doorknob is digging into her spinal cord, but Rachel's kissing an invisible line down her neck and her hands are moving from her hips up under her shirt and then the buttons of her shirt are disappearing in one fluid motion and she's breathing a little harder than normal, but it's okay.

Rachel's hand is moving lower and it's okay.

She tries to catch her breath and simultaneously pull Rachel up off her knees, but she only does one of them correctly and then Rachel is wrapping her arms around Quinn's waist and pressing her face into Quinn's neck. She feels her legs start to slide, but Rachel grips a little tighter.

"Don't slip," she says with a little bit of a laugh.

Quinn puts her head down until she find Rachel's forehead. "I could say something cheesy like 'I won't with you holding me' but I'm going to refrain." She grins into Rachel's skin.

"Oh, well thank God you stopped yourself, huh?" Rachel says mockingly. "We should see if we can try and get out of here. We've missed two classes already."

Quinn sighs, but it's more of an indulgent sigh than an angry sigh and she reaches for the doorknob, ready to make noise. She lets out a loud laugh. "She didn't even lock it."

Rachel gapes. "What?"

"She didn't even lock the door," she repeats, turning the knob to prove her point. She throws the door open and smiles widely at Santana and Brittany leaning against the lockers on the opposite side of the hall. Santana's waggles her eyebrows and Rachel stiffens slightly at her side, but Quinn slides her hand into Rachel's and squeezes gently and Rachel looks away from Santana's knowing grin.

Brittany shrugs. "I didn't know where the lock was, so I just didn't do it."

Santana smiles warmly. "That's my girl," she says fondly, wrapping an arm around Brittany's waist, pulling the blond closer. Brittany smiles brightly and sticks her neck out a little. Santana sighs like she cares and leans in, kissing Brittany quickly.

"You two totally did it," she says when she pulls back.

Rachel flushes. "Do you have to be so crass, Santana?"

Before Brittany can ask what that means, Santana is rolling her eyes and spinning into the middle of the hallway, her arm still wrapped around Brittany's waist. "If she's going to be with you, she's not going to talk like that," she says over her shoulder.

"Hey!" Rachel squeaks indignantly. "I resent that."

Brittany is already poking Santana in the side. "Don't make her resent you. I don't want to choose between you two."

Santana stops walking, still in the middle of the hall, but Brittany looks over her shoulder at Quinn and winks and Quinn is kind of blown away by Brittany.

They're moving through the halls as the bell rings and kids flood out of the classrooms into the central hallway, swallowing them in a sea of people. She untangles her hand from Rachel's and spins the dial on her locker, grabbing her Spanish book before she sidles up to Rachel's locker, peering in at her directions.

A giant picture of Liza Minnelli is staring back at her and she grimaces. "Remind me to get you something to replace that."

Rachel scoffs. "Like what?"

"Like a picture of me."

It's cheesy and maybe too much but Rachel's skeptical facial expression fades into a smile and she looks around quickly before lifting on her toes and pressing her mouth quickly against Quinn's. Maybe there's still a haze over them and soon it'll go away, but for right now, the fog surrounding them lets Rachel do things like that.

"Well, well," someone says behind them.

Quinn looks over slowly and wishes she hadn't. Sue Sylvester – in another navy blue tracksuit – is standing over them with her hands on her hips, glaring disapprovingly.

"I had such high hopes for you, Blondie," she says, clucking her tongue.

Quinn smiles amiably and shrugs her shoulders. "Sorry to disappoint you."

"I'm sure you disappoint a lot of people," she sneers.

"It's true."

Rachel nods. "She's a disappointer."

"And you, Gold Star. I always knew there was something hanky about you."

Quinn stands a little closer to Rachel, almost stepping in front of her, but Sylvester is clucking her tongue again and turning on her heel.

"Disgusting," she spits over her shoulder.

Quinn shrugs; Rachel just stares.

Puck throws another party and when she slides through the door to his house and he grabs for her, she smiles and shakes her head.

"I've got a date, stud," she says into his ear, on her tiptoes.

He pulls back and frowns. "You can't bring a date to my party. That's against the rules."

She laughs and reaches back through the door, grabbing air before Rachel's hand finds hers and she gives a good tug.

"You brought her?"

She punches him in the shoulder. "Yeah, I did. But," she drawls, "I got you a surprise."

His eyes light up. "Really?" He leans in and drops his voice to a lower register. "What kind of surprise?"

"A good one," she promises. With Rachel in one hand, she grabs Puck's forearm with the other and spins him around, pointing in the direction of the living room. "Christina is in there and-"

"And she's up for that threesome?" he asks excitedly.

Trying to keep a straight face, she nods and he breaks her grip like a kid who just got a bike for Christmas, pushing past people to get to the living room. As soon as he clears the front hall, Quinn turns and laughs, pulling Rachel to her and burying her face in Rachel's neck.

Rachel's hands are automatically on her waist. "What's so funny? Christina really said she'd have a threesome with him?"

Quinn nods into the crook in Rachel's neck, presses a single kiss to the skin there and pulls back. "Sure she did. Her, Puck, and her friend Greg."

It takes Rachel a second to process, but when she does, her eyes widen comically and she's laughing and Quinn's laughing and they're struggling to stand up they're laughing so hard. When Puck's roar rips through the house, Quinn laughs harder.

"We should hide."

Rachel nods. "He's going to kill you."

Quinn starts moving through the crowd. She stops and looks over her shoulder, trying to seem stern. "If you fall behind, I'm leaving you."

The great thing about Rachel is that she nods and says "Every woman for herself" seriously.

"You know, standing here against this wall makes you seem like you have terrible leading lady potential," she says, sliding up behind Rachel in the bathroom line.

Rachel looks a little offended, but rolls her eyes. "I thought you were in it for the kissing."

Quinn pretends to think about it, but smiles and leans forward, nipping at skin behind Rachel's ear. "Good point. Hey," she whispers. "Wanna make out in the bathroom?"

As if on cue, the door opens and its Rachel turn. She walks into the small room and when Quinn doesn't follow she pokes her head back around the doorframe. "Are you going to just stand there? Because if you are, I'll invite Puck in here."

Quinn grimaces. "Like hell you will."

The End

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