DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Up through 1.08 "Mash Up".

Sparks To The Flame
By gilligankane


People think she's a bad person. And yeah – she's pregnant with her boyfriend's best friend's kid, but it's not like she, God, hit a mailman while she was learning to drive, or anything like that. In fact, her first time out, she executed an almost-perfect three point turn.

She has a knack for being good at things the first time she tries them. Case in point: she's pregnant.

It's a flawed thought process, she admits, but Finn Hudson isn't some Golden Boy.

People forget that just because she made one teeny, tiny mistake.

Of course, when the Finn Fan Club starts handing out buttons, Rachel is the ringleader. Quinn doesn't expect anything less; one look at Rachel and everyone and their mother can recognize that starry-eyed look in her eyes whenever Finn is near her, or down the hall, or someone mentions his name, or she's just breathing.

It's pathetic. Nauseating. Disgusting.

She's almost jealous she didn't think of it while she was still living in her bubble of bliss.

When Rachel corners her in the hallway on her way out of school with Santana and Brittany though, it's too much.

"He wants to talk to you," she informs Quinn, in a tone that says she's been practicing this in the mirror for at least forty-five minutes.

"What are you, his gopher?" Quinn sneers and looks at Rachel down the end of her nose.

"I'm a concerned party."

Quinn laughs, but it's bitter and humorless. "No, what you are is-"

"Quinn!" Santana's voice is sharp and in her ear, and then Santana is grabbing her and pulling her back a few steps.

"Everything okay here, ladies?" Mr. Schuester knows everything isn't, but he frowns and let's them run off.

She tosses dirty looks at Rachel over her shoulder and even manages to avoid tripping over a trashcan on her way out the door.

"Didn't you get my message?" Finn comes out of nowhere, inadvertently slamming her locker door shut with his swagger.

"Nope," she says brightly, cocking her head to the side. She frowns and pouts. "Oh, Finn, was it important?"

"You're such a-"

"Such a what, Finn?" She leans forward with her hands on her hips and her mouth set in a firm line. "Let me tell you something, Finn," she hisses. He pulls back like he's afraid of her, and he should be. She's angry and pregnant and now she's just another high school statistic and as a result she's a force to be reckoned with. Then again, she thinks, Finn was never that bright. "I'm not your dog, got that? I don't come running when you call and I certainly don't respond to the Smurf-like creature you have doing your dirty work. So if you have something to say to me, spit it out."

She waits, but he's gaping like a fish. "No, then? Nothing? Fine."

Quinn turns on her heel but turns back just as quickly. "Tell your lap-dog that she can pick your things up from my house. They'll be in a box on the curb."

"Pull the stick out of your ass, Quinn!" Finn yells down the empty hall, breathing hard and his face flushed.

She wants to say something witty and catty, but she's hit with a sudden wave of nausea and decides that walking away without acknowledging Finn Hudson's existence is just as effective.

It prevents her from throwing up everywhere, too.

It's officially Hate-On-Quinn week.

First Finn, then her mother – who thinks she's dealing drugs, because of all the time she spends out of the house - , followed by Puck and Rachel and then the rest of Glee falls in line, like little toy soldiers.

Even Mr. Schuester gives her funny looks and it's not because she has morning sickness on her face; she makes sure of that each time she leaves the bathroom.

It's because they all think she's evil.

It's because she won't take Puck's phone calls and because Finn calls her a whore under his breath when she walks by.

It's because she made Rachel cry when she called the wanna-be Liza Minnelli the bastard-child of RuPaul and Courtney Love – or so the rumor goes.

She doesn't try and fix things, or change people's mind. They'll believe what they want to believe; she's always known that. If they want to hate her, they will.

She won't beg.

Quinn Fabray doesn't beg for anyone.

This "having-no-friends" thing though? It sucks.

Having no one to hold her hair back in the morning sucks too.

She's never really been alone alone before.

She decides she wants back in their "good graces" but she's not sure how to do it. Apologies won't work. Flowers never got the job done. Candy won't do the trick.

She'll have to win them over one at a time, working her way up the Glee food chain slowly and systematically, starting small and working her way up to the crowned prince, Finn, because the only way she'll ever truly be forgiven is if Finn can look at her without growling or crying.

It'll take some time, but because she has no friends, time is all Quinn has.

"Uh, Quinn? Listen. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but hanging out with you? It's not good for my reputation." Mercedes has the decency to look ashamed when she says it, but it doesn't take the initial sting out of Quinn's realization.

She's a social liability. Quinn Fabray is a social liability.

"You-you have a reputation," Quinn manages to spit out, but the sentence has only half of her usual bite to it.

Mercedes gives her a "well, duh," looks and then frowns. "I'm really sor-"

"Save it," she growls.

"Don't be like that, Quinn," Mercedes says softly, reaching a hand out to Quinn's shoulder. She jerks back before Mercedes can actually touch her, scowling.

They've all been like this; all the Gleeks are afraid to be around her, like she's some contagious disease they'll catch if they hang around her for too long.

Kurt: "Slushies don't mix well with the new face cream I've been trying."

Santana and Brittany: "Ms. Sylvester told us she'd make us be the base of the pyramid, and Ashley has been cheating on her diet lately."

Tina: "I'm r-r-really sor-r-r-y, Quinn. I alr-r-ready have plans, th-though."

Mike: "Being seen with you is like everyone knowing you still wet the bed. It's embarrassing and gross."

Matt: "The team would use me as a punching bag, sorry."

Even Artie: "I'm already in a wheelchair. I don't need another reason to be laughed at."

She doesn't even attempt to talk to the three Musketeers, who walk around like the world owes them something, because Finn gets freshman boys to spit wads of paper at her, Puck is a whining mess, and Rachel stares at her with wide eyes all the time.

What she needs to do is find their weak link and exploit them, through any means necessary: friendship, seduction, burying them alive (but probably seduction, because friendship takes too long and burying someone alive would result in getting dirt under her fingernails).

She just had to avoid slushies, her parents, and the comments until she can figure it all out.

When Quinn figures it all out, she wants to scream or claw her eyes out or cry, at least.

Rachel Berry is the weakest link; the one always looking for something that can put her above the rest.

She needs to rethink the whole seduction thing.

"I don't understand."

Rachel's eyes are moving quickly between Quinn and the pudding cup on the table.

Quinn frowns. "What is there to understand? Happy Monday!" she says with false cheer. Rachel's eyes dart back and forth again, so fast that Quinn wants to reach forward and hold Rachel's head completely still, because the movement coupled with her morning sickness is making her twice as nauseous.

"You're giving me" Rachel pauses, "pudding?" She drags out the word pudding and looks up at Quinn expectantly.

"It's Monday," Quinn grumbles, sinking onto the empty bench seat in the cafeteria. Rachel scoots away reflexively but Quinn ignores it, because she's tired and grouchy and seducing Rachel Berry is most definitely not something her Christ Crusaders, her parents, her unborn child or Finn would approve of.

If Rachel was a guy, this would be easier. It would be: flash a little skin (but not her stomach, because the baby bump is a little bigger with each passing day), giggle a little, flip her hair, and smile.

If Rachel was a guy, Quinn could melt her with a simple wink.

Except that the universe is conspiring against her and nothing is working in her favor so screw it; Rachel isn't a guy, but Quinn Fabray has never backed down from a challenge and she's not going to start now.

She rises off the seat abruptly and Rachel stares up at her with wide eyes.

"Just eat the pudding." She resists the urge to call Rachel something, anything, but she swallows her words and gives a half-smile instead. "I'll see you later."

Rachel doesn't say a word.

She'll start easy: friendship first, and if she needs to, and only if she truly, truly needs to, she'll turn it into something more.

Quinn is roaming the halls of the school – because she can't go home and she can't go to Glee and she can't go anywhere near the Cheerios – when she hears Finn talking and Puck answering and Rachel squeaking.

"She gave you pudding?" Puck sounds amused.

Finn, though, sounds panicky. "What do you think the pudding is code for?"

"Dude, relax," Puck says with practiced ease. Quinn lifts herself onto her toes and peeks over the wooden frame of the door, through the foggy glass window. Puck has his feet up on the teacher's desk, reclining in the rolling chair. Finn is pacing across the front of the room, biting on his nails the way he does when he worries about something. Rachel, though, is sitting on the corner of the desk, next to Puck's feet, picking at her skirt.

"I think the pudding is her way of saying, "see guys? I'm sorry," or something." Finn stops pacing and frowns at Rachel.

"No, it's not," he says firmly.

"She might be sorry," Rachel protests.

Puck scoffs and Rachel pushes at his feet so his chair slips a bit. "Rachel," Finn starts, but Rachel scowls and he closes his mouth.

"She's alone now and maybe she realized that being alone isn't as fun as I make it out to be." Quinn wonders if Rachel really knows what she's saying, but she doesn't have time to process it, because a janitor is turning the corner and she looks like a Peeping Tom.

She might be sorry echoes in the back of her mind for the rest of the day.

On Wednesday, Quinn brings Rachel a cheese stick.

"It's the only thing we had in the house," she says with a shrug.

Rachel gives her a tight smile, but takes the dairy product and nods.

"We can't be friends," Rachel blurts out when Quinn approaches her in the parking lot. Quinn misses a step and her knee buckles, but Rachel catches her around the waist and steadies her. They stay stuck like that, Quinn staring straight into Rachel's eyes because they're the same height with Quinn bending at the knees, until Rachel finally blinks and Quinn pulls away.

"What are you talking about?" She flexes her knees, using her car to balance.

"We cannot be friends," Rachel says, a little calmer.

"Sure we can."

Rachel shakes her head. "No we cannot. Finn says we're mortal enemies now, because him and I were friends first and you slept with his best friend, which means you're out of the group."

Quinn laughs humorlessly. "Finn says, huh?"

Rachel nods so hard, Quinn prepares herself to catch Rachel's head when it separates from her neck.

"And you listen to everything he says?" Rachel's mouth opens and closes.

Quinn shakes her head and smirks at the ground, where Rachel can't see her, because she's got a plan and she can spin this to go her way and then adjusts her body language: hunches her shoulders and drops her smirk into a thin line and pulls the flesh of her cheeks in a little and blinks hard a couple of times.

"Well, all right," she says softly, not meeting Rachel's gaze quite enough. "I tried."

Quinn gets ten steps away when she hears Rachel give a sigh and then footsteps coming up over her right shoulder.

"Quinn, wait." She stops but doesn't turn around because she wants Rachel to fight for this. "Maybe we could be secret friends?"

She takes her time thinking it over, and spends a few moments looking over Rachel's face, tracing every line. Objectively, she can see why Finn thinks Rachel's pretty: her eyes are wide and warm and they look like they could go on for miles; her smile is genuine; she even has dimples.

"Well," she repeats in a slow, soft voice. "All right."

Rachel smiles hesitantly, and Quinn turns on her heel victoriously, her head high.

Quinn 1, Finn and Co. 0

She finds Rachel in the library after school. Glee was cancelled for the day – so she heard through the grapevine – and she still can't go home yet and she figured she'd get some studying done, because, contrary to the stereotype, she's aware her looks won't get her far in life, nor will the ability to spell C-H-E-E-R.

Rachel is in the farthest corner at a table by herself, books and papers spread across the entire surface.

"Hey secret friend," she greets brightly. Rachel jumps, but Quinn isn't sure if it's because of the words or the sudden sound of Quinn's backpack slamming on top of the hardwood table. "Don't have a heart attack."

"You scared me."

"Clearly," Quinn says, pulling a chair from the next table over, wincing at the harsh sound of the wood scraping against the floor. "Is this sheet music?" she asks, pulling at one paper with her fingernails. Rachel launches herself across the table, slapping the paper down so that it jerks out of Quinn's hand.

Quinn stares with wide eyes and Rachel coughs nervously, returning to her seat and straightening her sweater vest.

"It's for Regionals," Rachel says almost inaudibly. Quinn doesn't say anything, and Rachel looks up when there's nothing but silence. "Close your mouth, Quinn. You'll catch flies that way."

"You're aware that you just, like, freaked out, right?"

"I'm not sure I know what you're talking about." Rachel doesn't look up and Quinn just continues to stare.

"I mean, that was-"

"Are you going to stand there all day or are you going to actually sit down?" Rachel asks pointedly.

Quinn doesn't sit down. She stands perfectly still and frowns, thinking for a minute before saying anything. "Why can't you show me the music?"

She's not faking the hurt she knows Rachel can hear laced under the words. She might not be in Glee's little circle of fun at the moment, but she used to be one of them and she wants to be one of them again. But they're hiding things from her and Rachel going schizophrenic hurts more than it should; more than she wants it to.

"They're secret," Rachel says dismissively.

Quinn can't handle this feeling: this rejection and stinging in the back of her soul. It's all too much too fast and she can't deal with it on top of everything.

Her hands shake, but she grabs the straps of her bag and pulls until it's on her shoulder and then she leaves, her entire body trembling with something she can't really define; something she doesn't really want to define.

Rachel calls after her, but she doesn't turn around; keeps running until her legs and her lungs burn.

Running feels good, except for the part where she feels like every nerve-ending is on fire and her heart is going to explode out of her chest. It gives her a reason to be out of the house, it gives her something to do after school and exercise is good for pregnant women; it reminds her she still has a heart.

The first day, she runs a mile before her lungs quit on her and she's left on the side of the road, clutching the concrete curb and gasping for air.

The second day, she gets a little farther and decides that's her goal: to go a little further than the day before. It gives her a purpose to running; gives her a reason to put on an oversized t-shirt and some trainers and to wear a watch that beeps every ten minutes.

If all else fails: running will help her lungs for when she gets back into Glee. No one will know what hit them.

On the sixth day, Rachel is staking out her car, leaning against the passenger door when she comes back from her run, limping awkwardly every time she walks on the blister forming on the bottom of her left foot.

"What do you want, Debbie Scary?" Rachel crosses her arms across her chest tighter and doesn't say anything while Quinn unties her shoes, loosening the laces and sighing in relief. She doesn't say anything while Quinn pulls off her shirt and slips a dry shirt on in its place. She doesn't say anything until Quinn actually turns and looks at her.

She wishes she hadn't, because Rachel is – objectively speaking, of course – really pretty today, in an understated way, and Quinn is pregnant and hopped up on adrenaline and she's old enough to realize that situations like these never end well.

"What?" she asks again, softer this time.

Rachel practically beams. "I talked to Mr. Schuester."

If Rachel finishes that sentence with and he said, "forget what people think, come back to Glee," Quinn just might kiss her on the mouth.


"And," Rachel says, dragging it out. "He said, just because you're not in Glee anymore doesn't mean I can't use you to practice!"

Quinn balks. "Use me?" Her entire body goes rigid and Rachel must see the tension lines of her shoulders and the way her mouth turns down, because she's taking a step back when Quinn takes a step forward. "I don't get 'used.'"

"Quinn, I believe you need to seriously rethink the last few weeks of your life." Rachel is serious, her eyes heavy with the truth. "You have nothing, if you want to be serious with yourself. You don't have Finn, or Puck, or Glee. Ms. Sylvester isn't going to swoop down with angel wings and save you."

"I get it," Quinn grumbles, looking everywhere but at Rachel.

"I'm giving you a chance to do something with all the free time you've suddenly accrued. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Quinn."

"If I say yes, will you stop lecturing me?"

Rachel pauses and smiles. "Sure."

Quinn sighs and rolls her eyes, but she's smiling so it's not as mean as it looks and Rachel is smiling back and then Quinn is reaching forward, pulling at the papers in Rachel's hands and her smile is even wider.


Rachel shrugs. "Mr. Schue wanted to try something new."

"I didn't think it was this…pink," Quinn finished lamely when Rachel cocks one eyebrow. "I mean, I knew it was pink," she rambles, "but I guess I never figured it was this pink."

Rachel opens her mouth to say something but snaps it closed. It opens again just as quickly. "How did you know my room was pink?"

"I didn't," Quinn says hurriedly. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, her inner voice shouts like a fire alarm.

"You just said you did."

She shakes her head violently. "No, I didn't."

"Yes, you did," Rachel insists.

"You mentioned it once. Or twice."

Rachel looks like she wants to say, "no, I didn't" but she doesn't and instead, she puts her backpack in the corner by the desk and arranges the sheet music in precise lines on the edge of her comforter. Quinn drops to the bed and they scatter with the sudden draft.

"I'm sorry." Quinn doesn't offer to pick them up, just settles against the headboard and waits while Rachel puts them back in order, but she realizes that her whole seduction-plan won't work if she uses Rachel as a work-mule; she needs to charm Rachel, not turn the only person talking to her against her. "Here," she offers, scooting to the far side, patting the empty space beside her.

Rachel looks at her questioningly. "You can sing sitting down?"

"Let's, I don't know, talk, first, or whatever."

"Talk?" Rachel rolls the word around in her mouth like it's a swear; like it's something dirty and unfamiliar and disgusting.

"You know, girl talk."

"Girl talk," Rachel repeats flatly.

Quinn frowns, genuinely concerned. "You have had girl talk before, right?" She takes Rachel's silence as a "no" and feels an overwhelming rush of regret and pity for the clearly socially-inept brunette. "Oh God, Berry, what rock have you been living under?"

Rachel steels her shoulders and looks down at Quinn. "Just because I have previously occupied myself with things that will have a significant effect on my future does not mean I have been, 'living under a rock,' as you so nicely put it," she says, finishing the sentence weakly. She gives a sheepish, self-conscious smile and shrugs when Quinn stares pointedly. "Okay, maybe I missed out on a few things."

Quinn pats the bedding again. "So let's start now."

Rachel looks hesitant, but sits down on the very edge of the bed. She looks like she'll fall off and Quinn can't stop the laughter that rises in her throat. It catches her off guard, the laughter, because it's real; it starts in the bottom of her stomach and rolls upward out of her mouth in a loud, deep sound.

It's real laughter.

She reaches forward and catches Rachel's shoulder, pulling intentionally until Rachel lets her body become pliable and Quinn can pull her across the bed so that they're shoulder to shoulder, the entire side of their bodies pressed together on the single frame. "It's not painful," she chides, "just talk."

A thought occurs to her and before she can tell her muscles "no, don't do it," she's trailing a single finger down Rachel's arm, pausing briefly in the crook of her elbow. "Or," she whispers, her breath beating off Rachel's ear and hitting the bottom of her chin, "We don't have to talk."

Rachel freezes instantaneously under her touch. Quinn shifts a little closer and her leg ends up draped over Rachel's and she's practically in the other girl's lap; Rachel remains inordinately still.

They stay like that, Quinn on top of Rachel, until her leg cramps and she realizes Rachel isn't going to move a single muscle. With ease, she leans forward and presses her open mouth against the skin behind Rachel's hair, ending with more hair in her mouth than she wanted, but the effect she gets is enough: Rachel's entire body shudders systematically, starting with her neck and ending with the slight lift of her stocking feet off the bed. Then she slides back to her side of the bed, pops off the edge and smiles.

"So, Mr. Schuester picked 'Free Falling' for a particular reason or just because he liked it?"

Rachel blinks a couple of times. "I don't understand."

"You don't understand the question?" Quinn prompts, tilting her head to left. From this angle, the entire room is turned on its side and it looks better this way, flipped and not upright, so much so that Quinn thinks she might just keep the world this way, tilted on its axis.

"I don't understand," Rachel says again. "You just, you just kissed me."

She sounds scandalized. Quinn wants to snicker, but Rachel doesn't just sound scandalized, she looks scandalized and it's kind of terrifying because her eyes are wide and just a little shiny and her mouth is wide and her lips are dry.

"Oh my God," Rachel whispers. "You kissed me." Then her head snaps up and Quinn doesn't want to snicker anymore, she wants to run. Rachel's eyes are dark and hard and not shiny anymore and her mouth is turned so far down Quinn is nervous it's going to slide right down the end of Rachel's chin. "You should go."

"I thought you wanted to practice."

"I want you to leave," Rachel says in a voice so low Quinn feels it in her toes.

She has the sudden urge to explain, but her 'sudden urges' are getting her in trouble, so she complies and reaches for the door handle. "Rachel, I-" she tries, but trails off.


So she does.

One step forward, two steps back.

Maybe she should have tried Finn; even if he hates her, he's familiar and easy and totally explainable, unlike Rachel, who is none of those things.

One step forward, two steps back, but Quinn has always been good at choreography.

Rachel is leaning against her car again the next when she comes back from her run, clutching her books against her chest so hard she thinks it must hurt, but she doesn't say anything when she stops the timer on her watch and chugs down half her water bottle.

Rachel came to her; Rachel wants to be the one to talk.

It's not until she's trading her trainers for flip-flops (the blisters now scarred over and healed) that Rachel moves, slipping into her passenger seat and closing the door. Quinn stares, but Rachel keeps her gaze straight ahead and doesn't acknowledge that Quinn is still on the outside of the car, unmoving, mouth open.

She gathers her water bottle and sneakers and her sweatshirt into a pile and opens the back seat door, dumping them on the floor before she takes a deep breath and slides into the driver's seat, resting her hands on the steering wheel so that she doesn't do anything stupid, like fiddle with the radio dial or touch Rachel's thigh, right above her knee where her skirt doesn't quite reach her knee-highs.

"Did you want me to drive you somewhere or are we just going sit here?" Rachel doesn't answer, just fiddles with her folder on her lap.

"I need," she says finally, "someone to practice with."


"Oh," Quinn repeats out loud. "And you want me?"

"I want to practice with you," Rachel says firmly. "It's not like you have anything else to do."

It's a cheap shot and Quinn thinks about screeching and clawing, but Rachel deserves to get in a few good low blows for all that Quinn has put her through, so she ignores the barb and purses her lips.



"All right." Quinn pauses and waits. "You can get out of my car now, Hijacker."

Rachel opens the door and swings a leg out. "Tomorrow, after Glee, in the band room."

"Yeah, yeah, I'll be there," Quinn says to Rachel's leg, her eyes coveting the bare skin there. She looks up when Rachel doesn't move and looks pointedly at the parking lot.

Before Rachel is even out of the car, she turns the engine over and as soon as the passenger door slams shut, she's hitting the gas, stalling the engine briefly before rocketing out of her parking space.

She doesn't slow down until she hits the brakes in her driveway.

Her mother asks how her day was and she says "great" in a way that's so fake she can't believe her mother smiles and nods and says they're having chicken for dinner.

Quinn resists the urge to say that protein is good for unborn children.

She hides in the shadows until they all leave Glee practice and thinks that maybe she'll just stay in the hiding place she's found, because they all look so carefree and happy and she's, well, she's not.

"Hey, Glee jam session, my house, tomorrow night!" Finn shouts down the hall, his arm hanging across Mercedes shoulders. Puck slides out the door, grinning wolfishly and prods Finn in the back. "Where's Rachel?"

Puck shrugs. "Said she wanted to work on her solo a little."

Finn turns back towards the band room. "I'll go help her out," he says, and Mercedes rolls her eyes. Puck stops Finn with a hand to his chest.

"Dude, she wants to work on her solo. That means alone." For the first time since this mess, Quinn has the tiniest silver lining: this kid will never inherit Finn's lack of brain power; if anything, she'll develop Puck's common sense and her book smarts.

Finn nods like he knew that all along and whoops down the hallway, passing by Quinn pressed flat against the wall. She doesn't move until the double doors close loudly and then she pushes off the wall and into the band room, pausing in the doorway.

Rachel is sitting at the piano bench, punching keys alternatively, seemingly without a particular order. It's a haunting sound: a lonely piano in an empty room and Rachel doesn't help the picture much, with her head down and her dark sweater. Quinn waits a minute, to see if Rachel will look up, but the brunette doesn't, so Quinn moves a little closer.

"Hey," she says softly and Rachel's head snaps up.

"How long have you been standing there?" she asks accusingly.

Quinn lifts her hands in surrender. "A minute, tops."

Rachel considers it and nods, then pats the piano bench next to her. "Sit down so we can get this over with."

"I'm offended," Quinn says jokingly. "I'm not something people 'get over with.'"

But it's too early for jokes like that Rachel frowns instead of laughs. "Sure, Quinn, whatever you say," she says distractedly. "Can we just get to it?"

There's another joke – sexual innuendo – she could make, but she's not Puck so she knows where to draw the line.

"What do you need me to do?"

"Sit down, first of all," Rachel snaps. "Then you can sing Finn's part."

Quinn doesn't sit. "Why can't you just practice this with Finn?"

Rachel grumbles something under her breath but Quinn doesn't catch it so she moves a little closer and leans forward. "I said, 'he's driving me crazy,'" Rachel hisses.

She lets out another one of those real laughs, and then slaps a hand over her mouth, but the damage has already been done; Rachel already looks offended.

"Welcome to the last years of my life," Quinn says, still laughing.

Rachel deflates. "How did you put up with all of it? I mean, he's smothering me!"

"Sleep with his best friend," she says without thinking, her laughter breaking off. "Worked for me."

"I'm not you."

Quinn smiles humorlessly. "Thank God for that. The world can only handle so many repressed, uber-hetero, Bible-thumping, pregnant cheerleaders."

"You weren't so 'uber-hetero' when you were practically licking my ear," Rachel grumbles.

"Moment of confusion. The pink blinded me."

Rachel doesn't say anything, but Quinn can see something shift. She goes from deflated, exasperated, slightly human Rachel to tense, stiff-upper-lip, robot Rachel and the almost friendly environment vanishes into thin air, leaving them with suffocating tension.

"No, it didn't," she says softly.

Quinn finds herself nodding her agreement. "No," she repeats. "It didn't."

The tables have been turned and she didn't even see it happen because she was too busy trying to convince herself that Rachel really isn't as pretty as she looks and that the feeling in the pit of her stomach is just indigestion, not butterflies.

The tables have turned and Rachel is sidling up to her and taking her backpack off her shoulder and speaking: "We don't have to talk," she whispers.

Rachel's mouth tastes different than Rachel's skin – it's the first thought that pops into Quinn's mind, because Rachel's skin, behind her ear, tasted salty, like sweat mixed with some type of shampoo she couldn't put her finger on. Rachel's mouth – when Rachel pulls back and Quinn licks her lips – tastes like citrus; like orange-flavored jujubes.

She wants to say something witty or funny, but all she can think is that Rachel tastes like the orange jujubes and she's never liked that candy so much in her life. So she pulls Rachel back to her by the hem of her sweater, and decides to figure out if it's just Rachel's lips that taste like sweet acidic fruit, or if the back of her teeth taste the same, and her tongue and the roof of her mouth. She slides her hands on the inside of Rachel's sweater, locking the tips of her fingers together on the small of Rachel's back and it's such a perfect fit – she doesn't have her neck tilted up at an awkward angle, like with Finn, and everything her hands touch is soft, not muscle like Puck – that she wonders why she hasn't done this before; why she didn't start by doing this.

But the guilt settles in the bottom of her stomach as soon as the butterflies take off and each time Rachel's tongue touches her bottom lip, she feels dirty in a bad way.

Just as Rachel's hyper-cool hands slip under her faded McKinley gym t-shirt (because now since she has no image to uphold, she can finally dress in clothes she can breathe in), sliding upward, Quinn's conscious kicks in and when she blinks, she's back at the door and Rachel is standing in the middle of the room, her sweater crooked and her mouth hanging open, eyes wide.

She leaves her backpack and her sanity on the floor of the band room, right next to her self-control and Rachel's Mary Jane's.

Her back pack shows up on her doorstep hours later and her father brings it inside with a expression Quinn can't put a name too, telling her that someone rang the doorbell and it was just on the stoop.

"Quinn, do you," her dad pauses, because he's not the greatest at the emotional 'stuff,' as he calls it. "Is there anything you need to talk about?"

She could tell him everything if she wanted to; it's the perfect opening.

Instead, she shakes her head. "Just a long day, daddy. I'll be fine," she says brightly.

He doesn't look convinced, but he smiles and leans down to kiss her forehead, his unshaven cheek scratchy against her smooth skin. "I'll be downstairs if you need anything."

"Quinn!" She turns and there's Mr. Schuester, running down the hall after her, dodging students left and right. "Hey, I'm really glad I caught you."

His smile is infectious and Quinn finds herself really smiling back at him; smiling like she hasn't since Rachel admitted that Finn drove her crazy.

"What's up Mr. Schue?"

"I'm going to be honest with you, Quinn," he starts, placing a hand on her shoulder and steering her off to the side of the hallway, out of the way of swelling crowd. "They're a great group."

"The Glee kids?" she asks, because she's not sure she's following.

He nods enthusiastically. "Right. They're great. But they lack, uh, what's the word?"

She'd supply one if she knew what he was talking about.

"Ah!" He snaps his fingers. "That thing, the thing that lets them pick the right songs to sing? They don't have that. But you do."

"I do?"

"Sure you do. Your audition song? Perfect. You've got good insight." She feels a little of her frozen heart melt at his compliment. "So I need you to come to practice and pick a song for Regionals."

Quinn frowns. "I thought you were singing 'Free Falling' though?"

"Well, we were going to, but Rachel," he pauses and furrows his forehead in thought. "How do I put this nicely? Rachel had a hissy fit and ripped up her copy of the sheet music into a hundred tiny little pieces she refused to pick up, yelling so loudly and quickly about why we couldn't do it that we just decided to humor her. But," he flashes his puppy dog eyes at her, "we can't decide on a song."

"Mr. Schuester," she begins, her voice tight and clipped. "I think you're forgetting that they hate me. I think they hate me more than they hate Ms. Sylvester."

Mr. Schuester's face falls, and his eyes droop into his sad face. "Quinn-"

She cuts him off. "Don't act like you don't know what's going on Mr. Schue. None of them even want to be seen with me. I can't just waltz in there like I'm not pregnant with my ex-boyfriend's best friend's baby. It doesn't work that way in real life."

"Now, Quinn-"

"This isn't Pleasantville," she hisses. "It doesn't just fix itself because we want it to."

He doesn't try to stop her when she storms down the hall, but his face lights up when she turns back around begrudgingly. "Try 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart.' Rachel's voice," she stops and takes a breath. "Rachel should be able to handle it and it's easy enough so that even Finn can't mess it up."

"Thanks, Quinn!" he shouts down the hall at her retreating back.

She doesn't turn around.

"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" sounds better than she thought it would. Finn's voice is marginally decent, but it's Rachel who nails every note with frightening precision. Quinn's sitting in the last row of the auditorium, in the very last corner seat, watching them sing and dance like some after-school special.

This is what her life has been reduced to: shadow dwelling.

Idly, she wonders if that boy always hanging around Rachel – someone called him JewFro once – has ever sat here, stalking the brunette.

They break on stage, laughing and smiling and enjoying themselves, and Quinn gets lost in her own thoughts, imagining that this whole baby thing is just some cosmic prank and she just needs to be pinched, really hard.

"It was a good song choice," Rachel says, breaking her cocoon of silence.

Quinn clutches her hand to her chest. "Jesus-"

"At first," Rachel continues, as if Quinn isn't really there, dropping down into the empty seat on Quinn's left, "it was if-y. I wasn't sure Finn would be able to master it. But you knew."

"He's a caveman, not musically-challenged," Quinn says shortly.

"And you saw that. No one else did." Rachel tilts her head to one side. "You should come down there; Brittany is having trouble with her turns."

"Explain it like you're talking about putting on make-up. It's the only way she'll get it."

Rachel turns so that her knees are pressing against the outside of Quinn's thigh and they're too close together; closer than they need to be and Quinn can't really breathe, but Rachel seems to be doing it enough for the both of them.

"See? You know that; Mr. Schue doesn't. And even he's getting frustrated with her."

When Quinn doesn't smile, Rachel leans forward and pokes Quinn's bicep, hard. "Hey!"

"I wanted to make sure you're still alive."

Quinn growls. "I am. Now don't you have a rehearsal to get back to?"

"Just come down there, please?"

"Absolutely not."

"Oh, so you'd rather sit here in the dark and just watch us? Do you realize how, how creepy that is, Quinn?" Rachel's face is pulled back in mock disgust. Then it melts away and Quinn can see the pity in Rachel's eyes and it sickens her. "Listen, Quinn, I know we're not friends-"

"Thank God for small favors," Quinn grumbles, breaking eye contact and focusing instead on the small hole in the knee of her jeans.

"But," Rachel says, ignoring Quinn again. "We did make out in the band room once."

Quinn snaps to attention, straightening up in her seat so quickly she feels her neck snap. Rachel seems pleased with herself and it makes Quinn furious. "I don't know what you're talking about," she hisses.

Rachel smiles even wider. "I'm not above letting that little slice of information slip out. You think your life is hell now? Imagine what it would be like if I accidentally told Finn about it."

"You wouldn't," Quinn snarls.

Rachel's mouth drops into a serious, firm line and she leans forward so that Quinn can smell the sugary sweet tropical fruit drink Rachel must have had at lunch today.

"Make no mistake about this Quinn," she says, in voice so low that Quinn shivers all over. "I will do whatever it takes to win. And you are what is going to help us win. So yes, I would."

Quinn believes it – that Rachel would do anything. Because the look in her eyes – the dark, twisted truth – tells Quinn that Rachel has never been more serious in her life. She tries at one last attempt to regain her dignity. "Even blackmailing me?"

"Especially blackmailing you."

"What's she doing here?" Finn's voice doesn't carry half the venom Quinn thought it would, but maybe it's because he's just as tired of this whole thing as much as she is.

"We need her." Rachel doesn't say anything, but she doesn't let go of Quinn's wrist either – if anything, she tightens her hold around the bone and pulls Quinn a little closer.

"Speak for yourself," Finn grumbles under his breath.

Rachel bristles. "I'm speaking for everyone, Finn. She's the one who picked the song, and she's the one who can fix our steps. We need her Finn, and you're going to have to get over it." Or get out is left unsaid, but Finn swallows noticeably and nods.

Rachel eyes every one of the Gleeks. "Anyone else got a problem with Quinn helping us win Regionals?"

Kurt snickers and Mercedes cants a hip out and Tina opens her mouth but closes. Rachel narrows in on Puck, her hand still wrapped around Quinn's wrist and he seems to take a minute before he can pull his eyes up from that, but when he does, he's smirking and Rachel makes a noise in the back of her throat that makes Quinn's stomach flop.

No, Rachel isn't her friend, but suddenly, Quinn wishes she was.

So she's not back in Glee completely, but it's a start.

At least Finn has stopped calling her the Whore of Babylon to her face.

She frowns. "That's wrong."

Mr. Schuester pauses in the middle of his conducting to look over his shoulder. "What's wrong with it?"

Pushing to her feet, Quinn rounds the table she's sitting behind and perches on the edge of it, her arms wrapping around her stomach. She can't really put her finger on it, but it's wrong.

"I," she starts, but stops, sighing. "It feels wrong."

Mr. Schuester frowns – or at least, Quinn thinks he's trying to frown, but it comes off comical and all wrong and she's not the only one snickering, because Artie is stifling his laugh with one hand.

She grins recklessly and her gaze catches Rachel smiling back at her.

It hits her: that's what's wrong.

"Got it," she says under her breath, climbing the stairs onto the stage.

It doesn't even hurt when Finn jumps back as she brushes by him; it only stings a bit but she doesn't think about too long because she's grabbing the sleeve of Rachel's sweater and tugging until the girl is where she wants her.

"Here," she says proudly. Looking over her shoulder, she beckons Finn with one finger. "Come over here."

Finn looks to Rachel, who nods, before stepping forward and it's tough maneuvering him without touching him, but he understands verbal directions enough to end up where she wants him.

"There!" she says proudly, jumping off the stage and landing next to Mr. Schuester. He studies the arrangement solemnly, and then smiles wide.

"It's perfect. There's so much more-"

"Central energy," Quinn cuts in. "I know, right?"

"You know, Quinn, you're really good at this."

Old Quinn would have rolled her eyes, buffed her nails against her Cheerios uniform and said "duh" but New Quinn looks at Rachel, ducks her head, smiles shyly and says "thank you" so softly it's almost a whisper.

Clearly taken aback, Mr. Schuester can only smile dumbly and say "You're welcome."

Assembling her lunch out around her brown paper bag, she can't decide what to eat first.

"Oh, I'll trade you," Rachel says from behind her. "I don't like Vanilla pudding."

"Stop doing that," Quinn snaps, not bothering to turn around.

Rachel sits down next to her smiles brightly. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Quinn sighs and slumps, but Rachel continues smiling, pulling her own lunch out of her sunshine yellow plastic box. "What are you doing here," Quinn asks belatedly, but it comes out muffled by her sandwich.

Rachel understands her anyway. "Eating lunch."

"The Glee kids are over there," Quinn says without really pointing. "And they're glaring at me. You should go back to the right side of the line there Benedict."

"Benedict," Rachel repeats, snorting. "Have you always been this funny?"

"Of course," Quinn says, offended.

Rachel smiles sweetly and bumps her shoulder against Quinn's. "I guess I'll get to find out, huh?"

Quinn's not sure what it means, but she likes the way it sounds.

"Did you want to talk about it?" Rachel asks causually as they're sitting in the empty auditorium, enjoying the silence Quinn has come to covet.

"Your hair? Yes, because it looks like you did it with one of those 'whirring' things."

Rachel quirks an eyebrow. "A 'whirring' thing?"

"Yeah, one of those Magic Hair Beaders. All you're missing is the actual beads."

This is new for them; this is friend territory and they've been toeing the lines on all sides of it: lunch during school, giving Rachel a ride home last Tuesday when it rained, lingering after Glee rehearsal just to linger.

"I'm going to ignore that and ask you again."

Quinn huffs and stretches her back muscles, reaching over her head and arching back. "Don't ask me again. Just tell me what you mean."

"The whole kiss thing."

Oh. She slumps back into her seat, her muscles cramping again instantly. That.

"What about it?" she asks, feigning innocence.

Rachel slides a little closer. "It happened, for one thing."

Quinn nods and scoots away. "Sure, if you say so."

"Quinn, kissing is nothing to be ashamed of. It's human nature. But if it's the fact that we're both females that scares you, you should know-"

Quinn waves her hands wildly. "Don't start in on some equality rant there, Princess Rainbow. I could care less that you're a girl." She pauses and frowns. "Well, actually," she trails off. "No! I don't want to talk about it – there's your answer."

"We have to talk about it eventually," Rachel says, in that annoying way when she knows she's right.

"We don't have to talk."

The sentence hangs heavily in the air between them, a weighty pendulum swinging back and forth steadily. Quinn watches Rachel's eye go from warm to dark and then her own chest is rising quickly. Her hand, on its own accord, slides from her armrest to Rachel's arm, clutching mismatched argyle.

"We don't," Rachel says almost inaudibly, and then Quinn's mouth is pressing against hers and Quinn's hands are in her hair.

Quinn can feel Rachel whimper under her and it's like holding a china doll: one wrong move and Rachel will break in her hands. She should hold on tighter, but she relaxes her grip and just cups the bottom of Rachel's jaw, sliding her thumb back and forth across smooth skin. Rachel's body tenses and Quinn thinks she might have done something wrong – maybe she bit Rachel's lip, or her teeth scraped against Rachel's, or maybe she forgot to cut her fingernails and she accidentally scratched Rachel's skin – but then Rachel is pushing at Quinn's zip-up hoodie and her kisses are harder and hotter.

It's moving too fast too soon and Quinn can feel her head spinning.

Rachel was, is, without a doubt, the worst Glee she could have chosen to seduce.

She's not sure if she's doing the seducing, or if she's the one being seduced.

In the middle of the band room – again, and it's cliché, but it doesn't really matter because Rachel can kiss like she can sing, and it's good – she can feel herself losing control as Rachel's hands touch the sensitive skin covering her once protruding hipbone, now covered over with baby weight. It's the good kind of loss-of-control, the kind she craved with Finn and got with Puck and the fact that it's coming from Rachel should be something to make her stop and think, but she can't do much of either.

She can't stop because she wants this too much.

She can't think because Rachel does this thing with her tongue and Quinn can feel her eyes roll into the back of her head.

It's all wrong though – this wasn't the plan. The plan was to get back into Glee; the plan was to use whoever and whatever she needed to in order to get back into the one club she actually wanted to be a part of. Her tongue down Rachel's throat and her hands tangled in the process of removing Rachel's sweater – God, who wears this much argyle – isn't part of the master plan she constructed in her mind.

But God, is it good.

She pulls back with an audible pop and wishes she hadn't because Rachel is leaning forward from the waist and she's taking deep breaths and her eyes are wide and a good kind of glassy.

"Rachel, I-"

"If you try to say that meant nothing," Rachel starts, pushing Quinn's hands away when they try to reach for her, "or that you're some 'uber-hetero' girl, then you're a liar, Quinn."

"We can't," Quinn pleads, trying to make Rachel understand.

"We could," Rachel counters. "You just don't want to."

She doesn't jump to disagree, but she doesn't say yes either and Rachel eventually sighs, throws her hands up in the air and turns to leave.

"What about Finn?" Quinn asks desperately. "And what about Puck? And Glee? Do you understand how much we'd be throwing away, just because we don't want to keep it in our pants?"

Rachel turns back and grins wickedly. "We could keep it in our pants, if you want."

"Stop," Quinn commands when Rachel takes a predatory step forward. "It's wrong."

"Because you're straight and pregnant and yadda, yadda, ya."

"This isn't a joke, Rachel."

Rachel shrugs and rolls her eyes at the same time and Quinn finds it bordering the line between annoying and adorable so much that she has to bite down on her bottom lip to stop herself from doing anything too stupid.

"No, it's not," Rachel agrees. "But you're only young once and as humans, it's our job to experience as much as we can before we die."

"I'm not your pseudo-college experiment, Rachel Berry." Quinn feels insulted; it's an odd feeling because that's exactly what this was supposed to be.

"You're everyone else's," Rachel points out rudely. "You were Finn's and Puck's – why leave everyone else out?" Rachel buttons her sweater haphazardly and grabs her bag off the piano, her knuckles white around the straps. "What do I have to do to make you see me? Be the doting, monosyllabic boyfriend? Or do I have to get you pregnant?"

Quinn's not sure where this is coming from, but she doesn't like it and she didn't sign up for being someone's verbal punching bag.

"Go to hell, Rachel," she snaps.

The brunette smiles humorlessly. "You first."

She turns and leaves and Quinn is left standing in the band room alone. She lets her phone go to voicemail when her mother calls.

"What did you do to Rachel?" It's be funny if Finn wasn't serious, but he is and she's backed into a corner with no one to call for help.

She plays dumb. "Finn, I don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh, really?" Finn says, in a mockingly skeptical voice. "Because she came to Glee yesterday and didn't sing, at all. And when I asked her about it, you know what she said to me? She told me, and I quote, 'Finn, don't talk to me, don't look at me, and if you mention Quinn Fabray I will castrate you.' So, yeah, I think you know what I'm talking about."

"She wants to castrate you?" Quinn can't smother the laugh erupting from her windpipe.

Finn looks like he wants to growl. "Is that all you got out of that? Quinn!" He stomps his foot like a five-year-old and Quinn's jaw drops. "She's threatening my manhood! So I'm going to ask you again: what did you do to her?"

Quinn relents, because Finn looks so tiny and confused and he really is just a good guy who wants to help. "We flirted with the idea of being friends. Clearly, it didn't work as well as we both hoped it would." She tries to sound disinterested, but Finn must see the flicker of regret – or something – in her eyes because his face breaks into a wide grin. "What?" she asks defensively.

"I know that look." He pauses dramatically and she's just about to grab him by the collar, yank him down to her height and poke him in the eye when he opens his mouth again. "She totally kissed you, didn't she?"

Her silence and her wide eyes answer his question and when he stamps his foot this time, it's more of an "I totally got it!" stamp than it is a "I can't believe you did that!" stomp.

"Oh, stop behaving like a child, Finn. It was a fluke."

He ignores her and frowns. "But, if she kissed you, why aren't you the one who's angry?"

Quinn closes her eyes slowly and takes a deep breath. "I might have kissed her first?"

Finn pulls a facial move that looks like Kurt that one time he saw a pair of pleather pants on a middle-aged, balding man. Something like abstract horror and realization all rolled into one and spread out across Finn's fleshy face. "You might have?" Except his voice is squeaky and high-pitched. "What does that mean?"

"It means," she huffs, "that I kissed her first and she kissed me back but I freaked out and said 'no' so that's why she's threatening to go Norman Bates on you."


"Yeah, oh."

Finn's still for a moment and then he shrugs amicably. "Well, if you could, I don't know, clear the air or something? Because Glee is already tense with you there and everyone ignoring you. If you're there and Rachel is ignoring everyone and you, it'll be like when Kurt changed in the middle of the locker room."

"Awkward, huh?"

"Awkward, unsettling, all of the above,' Finn says, smirking.

"I suppose I could try," she says, because she doesn't see why she can't – she actually wants to.

She's halfway out the door when Finn's heavy feet come up behind her. "Hey, Quinn." When he has her attention, he nods. "I was thinking, maybe we could call a truce?"

She keeps her face a mask, complete calm and cool, but fireworks are going off inside of her and there's a giant metal bell ringing in her head and someone is screaming YES in her ear.

"I suppose I could try," she says evenly, then turns on her heel, smiling the whole drive home.

Maybe things could be looking up.

They aren't. Things are looking down; down so far that she's sure things are coming up out of the ground somewhere in China.

Rachel won't take her calls and she won't answer the door when Quinn knocks and she basically disappears off the face of the earth. She even stakes out the Berry house, all secret agent in her car until one of Rachel's dad – who is more like a dad than she thought he would be – comes out and taps on her window and says that "Rachel is one step away from calling the police and I'm sure that you're a nice girl, but my daughter is something just short of hysterical and you should be getting home now, I'm sure your parents are worried."

She's running out of options and patience and if she keeps coming home at odd hours of the night with red-rimmed eyes, her dad's gentle questioning is going to turn into abrasive demands and her mom is going to have to stop ignoring her.

Quinn doesn't want either of those things to happen.

"Take a hint," Rachel sneers, brushing past Quinn violently.

Quinn smiles humorlessly and grabs Rachel by the shoulder, spinning the brunette in a circle as her skirt lifts with the motion.

Down the hall, she thinks she sees that Jacob kid bend at the waist and then faint.

"You first, Man Hands," Quinn throws back, her grip on the crook of Rachel's elbow tightening. They maneuver down the hall, everyone stepping back to let them go by, because this is fun for them; this is entertainment.

"Quinn, let go of me."

She pushes Rachel through an open door, into an empty classroom and sits her down in a chair. "This is called an intervention. You are going to sit there and I am going to tell you to pull your head out of your ass and stop acting like the world owes you a break."

"You should work on your people skills."

"If I kiss you again, will you stop being a brat?"

Rachel stands abruptly and the desk clatters to the ground with the force. "If you kiss me again, I'll kick you in the shin."

It's like talking to Finn; if this weren't such a serious conversation, it'd be entirely adorable.

"Rachel," she says gently, slumping back against the teacher's desk. "How do I fix it?"

"You don't." Rachel slouches back against another empty desk. "We've gone this far without being friends, or anything other than enemies. We can get through a couple more years without our paths crossing. If they do, we can insult each other. Just like before."

"And what," Quinn starts, then stops. "What if I can't? What if I want to be your friend? And more."

Rachel doesn't say anything, but she lifts her hand like she wants to reach out and Quinn feels her entire body tensing in reaction.

"I told you not to fall in love with me," Rachel finally says, almost silently.

"No you didn't," Quinn hisses almost automatically, and then she frowns and pulls back, because she's heard that before. "Did you just quote 'A Walk To Remember'?"

Rachel throws her hands skyward and lets out something that sounds like a growl. "I don't know what you want me to say!"

Quinn is moving before she can control her bodily functions and Rachel remains stock-still. Her feet take her the three feet distance and her hands are tucking an errant strand of shiny brown hair behind Rachel's ear and she's leaning in close.

"We don't have to talk."

Rachel pulls back the tiniest bit so that Quinn's mouth ends up pressed against Rachel's chin, but she makes the most of the situation, tracing over inch of skin she can reach without moving her left hand from the back of Rachel's neck and her right hand from the curve of Rachel's hip. "Quinn," she feels, rather than hears, against where her temple and her hairline meet.

"Rachel," Quinn answers, tracing the letters into the soft skin of Rachel's neck.

"We should."

Quinn lifts her left hand and sweeps Rachel's hair to one side and then Rachel is gripping Quinn's hips, pulling their bodies together from tip to toes and there's fire rushing from every nerve to the center of her body.

"Should what?" she asks breathlessly.

"Talk," Rachel groans, her nails cutting into Quinn's skin, like a burn, but she doesn't care.

They don't talk, because Quinn's hands slip down and underneath Rachel's skirt and then it's nothing but gasps and whispers and Rachel biting down on her bottom lip to stop the screaming building up in her throat; nothing but pressing and circling and a bite mark on Quinn's shoulder that stings in a way that feels so good; nothing but Rachel's head tilted back and the thinnest film of sweat coating her neck so that Quinn can taste salt and Rachel's perfume, and then Rachel's shaking and shuddering and Quinn feels like she can't hold on, but she manages to because she's the only thing between Rachel and the floor and because school is still in session and they could be walked in at any moment.

"Please don't say anything," Rachel pants, pulling at her skirt and her sweater while Quinn wipes her hand discreetly on her jeans.

So Quinn doesn't, even though she wants to grab Rachel by the collar and make her understand that this isn't something that was supposed to happen; none of this was supposed to happen the way it did and now everything is going to be even more screwed up than before. She wants to make Rachel understand that this didn't go according to plan.

Nothing in her life has lately, though, so she shouldn't expect anything less.

Finn gives her a hopeful look when she comes into Glee, but she shakes her head subtly and his shoulders drop back down. Puck sighs – loudly – and Kurt groans from the piano bench.

"Great," Kurt grumbles. "She's going to be angry and sullen and div-al."

"What's deevel?" Artie asks as he joins the conversation, rolling past Quinn, followed by Tina.

"It's diva and devil combined," Mercedes explains, like Artie should know.

Artie slumps in his chair. "Oh, Rachel again?" Everyone nods and he pouts. "Awesome," he says dully. "Why is Rachel being such a-"

"Such a what, Artie?"

No one moves, or breathes. Finn has his hand raised above his drum set, drumstick poised over the symbol; Puck stops mid-strum; Kurt's jazz hands falls to his side. Quinn turns her head slightly to the left and Rachel is right there, hands on her hips, wide, angry eyes and a scowl on her face.

She's gorgeous.

"Such a bitch," Quinn finishes flatly. Over her shoulder she thinks she hears Santana gasp – or maybe Finn, but she can't really tell.

Rachel pushes out of the doorway and steps into Quinn's personal space, which isn't a smart idea because Quinn can't really focus with Rachel this close. "Excuse me?"

But Quinn closes her eyes and takes a deep breath and steels her shoulders. "You're excused."

Finn – definitely this time – gasps.

"Quinn," Rachel says, voice low. Her eyes aren't really angry this close; they're sad and tired and red in the corners, like Rachel's been crying and suddenly Quinn wants to know why and she wants to know who she needs to talk to, to make it better.

It's blindsiding, but maybe it shouldn't be, because there's been this itch on the inside of her skull she can't reach and it feels like it's been digging into her brain stem and infected her heart on the way.

The itch's name is Rachel and while there used to be a time when Quinn would have kicked and screamed for it to go away, now she just wants to keep it and hold it and never let it go.

"Go," Quinn urges, her hands ending up on Rachel's hip, spinning the smaller girl and pushing her out the door. She doesn't want to do this – whatever it is – in front of Glee, in front of Finn. She doesn't want to have Rachel breakdown in front of their friends because it's not fair to anyone; it's not fair for Rachel to be the only one falling apart.

"Go," Quinn says again, and Rachel goes.

Quinn follows.

They end up in another empty classroom – the same one from before – and Quinn stares at the scuff marks on the floor where the desk pushed hard against the floor.

"You ruined everything," Rachel mutters bitterly, arms crossed over her chest, her head turned towards the window.

Quinn laughs, but it's humorless and as soon as it leaves her mouth she stops so that it's cut off; it sounds strangled and abused. "I did, huh? How about you?"

Rachel doesn't turn from the window. "You're the one who got pregnant."

"You're the one who started being nice to me."

"Oh, and if it had been someone else, say Artie, things would have ended the same way?"

"Sure it would have," Quinn says, her mouth twitching.

Rachel turns now, eyes narrowed, but there's less of an impact because her upper lip is sort of hitched up in a smile. "That's not funny."

She's moving again before she realizes it – it happens too much, she's beginning to understand, whenever she's around Rachel, like the other girl is capable of making her forget the world even exists. Her arms are looping around Rachel's neck, forearms pressed against the skin where neck meets collarbone and the toes of her flats are pressed against Rachel's Mary Janes and she only has to look down an inch or two to see into Rachel's eyes.

"I'm not a very funny person," Quinn admits. "I'm just-"


Quinn smiles – genuine, the way she always does with Rachel. "Well, I was going to say 'catty,' but cynical works fine too."

"We're not done fighting," Rachel reminds her when she starts to drift in, arms sliding further around Rachel's neck.

"Of course we aren't," Quinn murmurs. "But what do you say we put off the whole fighting thing for an hour or two?"

Rachel lets herself be tugged into Quinn's body, the flat of her hips molding to Quinn's. "Glee would take up most of that time period."

Quinn rolls her eyes. "Of course it would."

"But," Rachel emphasizes, her hands firm pressure on Quinn's waistline. "We could start the two hours after Glee, I suppose."

"Of course you do."

Mr. Schuester smiles at her and for a second she pauses and watches the way he's so carefree in this room, surrounded by the music and the kids and – she checks the corner – Ms. Pillsbury, and she can understand why he never wants to go home; why he always says the music, these people, are the most important thing anyone can have in their life.

"Welcome back, Rachel," he says, and it breaks whatever spell Glee was under because the room breaks into noise and Finn starts banging on the drums, Artie plays a few riffs, Santana and Mercedes hum a few bars.

When Rachel grabs her by the wrist and pulls her up on the risers, so she can learn the dance moves – because "God, Quinn! There's so much to learn and Sectionals are really too soon for comfort right now" – Quinn can feel her world right itself.

"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" never sounded so good.

The End

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