A/N: Disclaimers from Chapter One apply.
I apologize for the delay—the insane delay. I appreciate any readers who remain and always enjoy hearing from you. Thanks to ScorP and thanks to Tourist Season, who I don't know from Adam's house cat, as we say in the South, but she always makes me laugh.
Rachel met Santana's burning gaze when she opened the door and didn't know exactly how she should be feeling. She'd never met a friend who absolutely knew she'd had sex the night before. She looked at her shoes even as Quinn said, "Hi, Britts," as she moved back a step to allow her guests entry, turned to Santana and said, "We're ordering pizza, bitch."
Santana gave Rachel a questioning second look before replying, "And here I was thinking etiquette was so last year."
"Ooh. Another gem falls from your lips. Be still my lapidarian heart."
Brittany enveloped Rachel in a tight hug. "Being mean with big words is their way of hugging. Don't listen, Rach. I don't."
Rachel smiled into Brittany's sweatshirt, which smelled like maple syrup and her, and didn't let go. "I know that. We're surrounded, Brittany."
Brittany kissed the top of Rachel's head and winked at Quinn, "Right? Totally."
Quinn kissed Brittany on the cheek and punched Santana in the arm. Hard. "Dunch, fucker."
Santana looked down at her arm and back to Quinn. "Whatever."
Okay. Rachel felt it. Something was very wrong. Brittany suddenly gently manoeuvred herself so that Rachel was behind her. And that's when she realized the aggression of Quinn and Santana's normal way of interacting wasn't teasing this time and so much so that Brittany was protecting her from it. Her anxiety level, which was already extremely high, ratcheted up exponentially.
So she spoke up. "Everything's fine, Santana. I'm going back into therapy!"
Even as the words left her mouth, she understood that hadn't been perhaps the most placative thing to say.
"Okay. That's what I was—the fuck? One fucking night?" Rachel cringed when the girl got right in Quinn's face, her voice cold and low, "I warned you about your crazy shit with Rach so before I beat your ass down you want to explain that, Cap?"
Quinn sneered down at her. "What, exactly? That awkward moment when a guest in your home makes you want to rain down a fire so bad you'll end up on the fucking news? That?"
Brittany pulled an obviously terrified Rachel to her and said, "Santana Maria? Quinn? Dial it down NOW. You're totally super scaring me and Rach."
Santana and Quinn sprang apart like they'd had scalding water thrown on them and immediately turned to their partners, speaking at the same time in their haste to reassure them.
"Aw Britts, don't be scared."
"Rachel, it's okay sweetheart."
Brittany blinked at them and just let that reaction sink in before saying. "You guys are so whipped."
They both stared at her and then...their shoulders fell almost comically in unison. No scaring Brittany and now no scaring Rachel. Brittany, unlike Rachel, had lived under this rule nearly all her life and was used to using it.
She smiled brightly at them. "Q, San's just crazy nervous for you and Rach and I know you are too but you don't get to fight about it, okay? You guys don't have to worry at all because I thought about all of us lots last night while San was asleep and I've got it all worked out. I've sort of made an executive decision. Let's have pizza and I'll tell you when I'm ready so don't start asking."
Even Rachel blinked at this. But she noticed this announcement instantaneously forced a renewed camaraderie between Santana and Quinn as they looked from Brittany to each other and almost visibly asked what the fuck that might bode for them.
Rachel was wildly impressed to see Brittany must have known this because she casually headed into the kitchen for the pizza menus. And why, she supposed, should that surprise her? They'd been at this for years.
They followed her into the kitchen and Rachel heard Quinn hiss at Santana. "I hate you."
"Back atcha with salt and lime, bitch."
Yet it was infinitely less volatile and much more them.
Rachel felt that buoy her and she smiled. Progress!
"Uh oh. Did I just see a bounce there, Rachel?"
"Never you mind, Quinn."
"Definitely a bounce in that gait, little pony."
"I hate you both."
"No you don't."
Rachel suddenly turned and pulled a startled Santana into a prolonged hug. When it was over, she said, "Thank you, Santana. I truly appreciate your concern but I'm perfectly fine. Last night was the loveliest night of my life. Quinn and I just have to learn how to be with each other and sex is really the least of our problems. Give us a break and let us, okay?"
Santana nodded and shot a glance from her to Quinn. "Understood. I'm truly sorry. Sorry, Cap."
"Whatever, S. And she gets a hug and I don't because?"
Rachel rolled her eyes, "Quinn, I swear." She pulled her into a hug and held her tightly until the girl relaxed completely in her arms. "There. No worries, baby. I love you so much."
Quinn sighed, "I love you too."
Santana kissed Quinn's shoulder on the way past, saying, "Geesh. Get a room."
Quinn half-smiled and whispered, "Asshole."
Rachel smiled into Quinn's neck and Brittany smiled down at her menu.
Four Hours Earlier
Where in the hell could they be going? It seemed like they'd driven into the wilds of Ohio.
"David, you do understand that I'm wearing a GPS device cunningly hidden in this marvelous coat, don't you?"
"It's not all that cunning when your dad pulls me away for a little talk and tells me about it and threatens me. I mean, I'm just sayin.'"
"Then I suppose I should just ask. Where are we going?"
"To have lunch, like I said. It's not a big place but it's unusual and nobody goes there except locals."
Kurt looked around him at the passing fields and trees and fields and trees. "Alright. I'm not detecting the presence of humans. But if you're saying we'll be joining animate trees as they lunch, this date is looking up."
David smiled at the road. They hadn't called it a date. He'd asked if Kurt would like to go to lunch and Kurt had agreed.
They finally pulled onto a long dirt and gravel drive off a secondary road. It looked like a farm to Kurt and yes, a farmhouse...and barns...and barns and then a large covered building that seemed perhaps like an enormous covered football enclosure and yet announced itself on a small sign as "Eden's Chicken Shack."
Kurt mouthed the words silently in disbelief. David said, "I know what you're thinking but it's not a chicken shack. It's a joke about what they do. They're farmers and I only know about this place because I helped deliver ten tons of manure here one summer. They keep a garden under that enclosure and a ton of peacocks."
"Okay. I know I'm leaving myself open for a gay joke but, for the record, I will not eat a peacock. For so many reasons."
David snorted, "Won't have to, K. C'mon—I hope you'll like it. You have to understand it's a little crazy to keep peacocks because they aren't really good for anything economically. But they like them because they're pretty so it's sort of cool what they've done."
They walked into the building and Kurt's mouth dropped open. The restaurant was a very small part of the building glassed off from the rest, which was a sheltered beautiful garden that couldn't possibly exist in Ohio's climate. To create it on this scale couldn't be anything but a labor of love. Sure enough, there were peacocks and many other birds he didn't recognize wandering through it. He walked to the glass wall and watched them. It was literally the most shockingly astonishing thing Kurt had ever seen. Someone had actually made all of this beauty bloom in god knows where Ohio. He put his hand on the glass.
"We can walk in the garden later if you want but I think we need to beat the crowd. It gets busy in here."
Actually, they were nearly the only people there but as they ordered from a small but upscale menu, Kurt watched the place fill to capacity and with, as David had said, farmers. Locals. And all of the roughness and jeans and work boots made Kurt suddenly feel very, very out of place.
David saw that and smiled, "Chill. They're not even caring. You're wearing designer but they're eating in a fucking peacock garden by choice. They can't exactly talk, dude."
At The Same Time
"Where are we going again?"
"I said it's a surprise."
"You're not even my friend but I'm riding so excuse me for asking."
"And thanks for nothing, bitch."
"And no problem."
Matt could have fallen out of his chair when Mercedes Jones had texted him the day before and said she needed a brotha to help a sistah out and to be ready and she'd pick him up and to bring his fake ID.
With a time and that was all.
So there they were. Riding.
He put up with it for a long time. Figured maybe she knew he would because he never talked but just damn!
He finally broke and said, "'Cedes, where we going because you know what? That t-shirt? 'Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies?' Person of color to person of color since you always drag that shit out? Glee first but I am not moving a body."
"Hush up. We're bungee jumping."
"What? Just—what? You—what? Hell to the no!"
She only laughed but she didn't stop the car. Which made him feel like a girl who'd been picked up by some unsub in a horror film. For what seemed like a long-ass time before he just couldn't stand it. "Can we at least delete the silence?"
She hit her iPod and the first thing on it was Rachel. She held up a hand and said, "Don't even."
The rest was Glee stuff heavily featuring herself.
It was nice enough but after a while, of course, there was the question. "Bungee, huh? Why am I along again?"
"It's like a vision quest or something, Matt. I bought a bungee jump and I don't want to be the only African-American person to do it."
"Why would you think you would be?"
She side-glanced at him as she was driving.
He agreed. "Got it. Black folk got sense."
He hadn't wanted to believe her but yeah. They were bungee jumping and yeah, they were the only African Americans doing it in this space in Ohio on this go-round.
The whole signing off on life in writing shit terrified him but Mercedes had bought him a jump and so it was the last thing he wanted to do because he was more frightened than he'd ever been but he was a guy and no way was he saying no when this girl was saying yes.
They could do two at a time. So there they were, handlers waiting. He couldn't believe it. He stood there begging himself not to crap his pants but shouted at her, with cold wind whipping his face and all this crazy gear on...on top of a bridge...over a river, "Why the fuck are we doing this!"
She looked as frightened as he knew he must—as in like sheer sweating animal fear. She shouted back at him, "I want to feel like Rachel Berry! Don't you? Pound!"
He pounded his fist on hers and they jumped.
Dunch was relatively carefree for a while.
"It does, Britts. You know I'm so going to have to ask this, alright?"
There was a look in the girl's eyes Quinn knew meant trouble. "Why do I suddenly feel a yellow card in my hand, San?"
"Just a question about last night."
Quinn's eyes were steely. "Careful."
"Promise. Just wanted to verify that you guys talked and talked until you were blue in the face."
"Communication is a vital part of a sexual relationship, Santana."
"Thanks for that newbie. Just admit it—you talked half the damn night."
Because Rachel had obviously just verified it, Quinn merely said, "Among other things. Yes."
"Fine. That's all except for that word lovely. Rach? Lovely? Really. You had a lovely night?"
Rachel huffed. "Yes, we did. But fine. It was smokin' hot. Is that description more to your taste?"
"Infinitely. Thank you."
The look of smug satisfaction on Santana's face was too much for Rachel to stomach. "You don't know everything, Santana Lopez! For your information, Quinn is the top so put that in your pipe and smoke it!"
Quinn stared at her in horror and then simply covered her face with one hand.
Rachel lowered her voice, "I'm sorry."
"No problem, Rachel."
Santana didn't laugh. She looked exactly as if she were chewing something delicious in her mind but she didn't know what she could say to that except, "Okay."
"And I don't top from the bottom, thank you very much!"
"I'm sorry. But I do have a question about that issue. May I ask Brittany, Quinn?"
"Oh my God. Why?"
"Who else would I ask?"
Quinn threw her hands in the air. "I guess? Okay."
Rachel cupped Brittany's ear and whispered her question. Brittany thought about it, shrugged, and said in a tone everyone could hear. "No. That's like—everybody says stuff like that."
Rachel stamped her foot on the floor and smiled at Santana in triumph. "I definitively do not top from the bottom! Brittany says so!"
Santana was, at that moment, feeling such a tsunami of wild laughter threatening to burst forth that she had to bite the inside of her cheek. She didnt laugh solely because she could see Quinn was predictably mortified. She only said, "I stand corrected, Rachel."
"Are we finished embarrassing me now?"
"I'm sorry Quinn."
"No worries, Rachel."
Santana looked at Rachel fondly, turned and said, "Jesus, Quinn. I hope at least you took the chance to spank her last night for your trouble." It was a throwaway remark. It was.
Quinn looked like she'd been hit in the face. She barked "No!" as Rachel flushed scarlet.
Santana felt like she'd stepped into a minefield and tried to step right the fuck back. "O-kay. Moving on now."
"I did not spank Rachel, Santana."
"She didn't! Why would you even say something like that?"
Santana shrugged as a bluff because how the fuck was she getting out of this? "I don't know—I sort of want to spank you about five times a day just on G.P. I don't know anyone who doesn't."
Quinn glared at her.
"Not in a sexy times way. Jesus, Quinn! And I wouldn't spank you cause I'd never hit you and I'd punch the shit out of anyone who did. Chill, people. It wasn't even a serious remark. Your response is sorta serious but there you go."
Brittany looked at her friends and said, "I think it's time for my executive decision now."
All of them sagged in relief at the topic change.
"I know it's boring when I talk a long time but I guess you sort of owe me. And I don't want to be mean but I'm doing this so we can all be happy, okay?"
They nodded because they literally had no idea what Brittany was talking about.
"I stayed awake a lot thinking about why you guys were all so nervous about last night and it's totally obvious why but maybe we could do something beside fighting and saying stuff we don't mean. And what was weird is I couldn't come up with anything but one thing so that's what's going to happen. This next part might seem mean, Rach and Q, but I have to say it so you'll understand, okay? So I'm sorry ahead of time, okay?"
They nodded again.
"You're crazy in love with each other but it's going to be super hard for you guys to be together. You're always like...the more you love each other, the more messed up you get thinking about what the other one's thinking and saying something so the other one will think what you're trying to make her think or guessing what she's thinking and getting it all wrong and saying things you don't really think because you're all insecure or jelly and it gets confusing watching for me so I don't even know what it's like doing it."
She went blank for a second.
"That was maybe the longest sentence I've said ever." She shook her head. "Anyway, we're all going to New York and since I know we'll get married and you guys probably will, too, we should just decide today it's a foursome."
Only Santana answered that. "Britts?"
Brittany shrugged, "I don't mean a sex foursome, San, and I'm sorry I didn't tell before we got here. I mean we'll always be two and two but I think we should always be four so Quinn and Rach will have a chance at being two. It's not like I don't think you guys will really try and I'm sorry if it's sore for me to say it but I'm not super positive you guys can do it alone."
She moved into the space between them.
"Like I said, it's my decision. Q, ten years ago you said be mean to Rachel and we all went with it even though it made all four of us super unhappy. I've never made a decision for us but I'm making this one and you have to go along because that's like totally the rules and I followed them so now you guys have to too. You too, Rachel."
There was a long, long pause before Quinn said, "I agree."
San sighed, "Totally. You're in, hobbs. No choice."
Rachel shook her head, "I don't even—what on Earth are we agreeing to?"
"Catch up, short-stack. We're two-and-two-and four. The four's the frame that makes you two lame-asses rein your crazy in. My baby's a genius. We can all be happy this way. Tell me you two don't feel so much better now we're here—except for the bitchslap scare and that was my bad."
Rachel could admit that she was but offered what must be another solution, "But surely it'd be healthier to continue therapy to the point where—"
"You're not a self-absorbed diva? Not happening. And sorry, Q, but I don't even know what to call what you are—but fuck. After a point, therapy's management and lifeskills and shit. You guys are batshit for ten thousand reasons including you got born that way. But we love you and we're going to do this bitch together. Put your fucking hand in, midget."
Quinn said, "Literally."
Rachel put her hand forward, Brittany topped it. Santana topped hers and Quinn said, "Done," before placing hers on top. All at once it was over. Whatever this meant, which seemly frankly surreal, Rachel was thrilled to be part of a bonding ceremony or perhaps a secret covenant. "So what do we do now?"
"What do we do?'
"I don't understand. Shouldn't there be something we should do?"
What an earnest, thrilled and gorgeous face, Quinn thought as she looked at Rachel. Suddenly she understood. It had been real inclusion in something that had already been a defining part of her life, even when she'd been outside it but she obviously hadn't understood what it had meant. Not her fault. She'd just joined the club.
"Sweetheart. Our friends just pledged their friendship, love and fidelity to us. And pretty much just to support us."
Rachel replayed the last few minutes in her mind and stamped her foot again. "I demand a repeat!"
She thrust her little hand forward happily and Brittany covered it. Santana covered theirs and Quinn looked at Rachel as she said "Done." And placed her hand on top.
Rachel beamed. "That's incredible!" But then she smirked and said, "Santana? From now on, I'm calling you my life partner!"
Santana looked so appalled that Quinn doubled over with laughter.
"I just...don't...you'd better corral that shit, Q."
"Like we can? She's yours now, too."
Brittany said, "Movie, guys."
And just like that. They watched a movie and things were okay.
After the movie, Brittany said, "We have to talk about something because I sort of think it's super important. Q, tell me the truth?"
Quinn felt something incoming and like she couldn't handle any more but she nodded. "When don't I?"
"Okay. Did you spank Rach? Honestly?"
If the aftermath of sex was always like this, Quinn didn't know if she wanted to ever have it again. But she answered her friend. "No. I didn't."
"Okay. Just sayin' from earlier, I'm thinking you both think that might be hot. And I'm just saying and I'm not going to be sex police with you but you shouldn't do that yet. It can be fun but it can hurt in a super intense way and make you really feel like you're bad doing it or wanting it. And that's like totally the point, really, but you get me?"
"That's okay if you're okay with it but I don't think you are yet. So wait for it and talk to your doctors and it's something that can be sexy fun later. Do it now and it could turn out you'll need lots of help to be anything else to each other, okay? My opinion. Just how..." She made a hand sign, "B sees it."
Rachel and Quinn understood exactly what she was saying but didn't even know what to feel or do about that. And maybe they didn't have to. Because...Brittany offered, "Another movie guys?"
"Yeps—and next is Thai on me, hobbs."
They watched it and, as they did, Rachel sighed with satisfaction. They were The Four Musketeers and she was D'Artagnan! The star!
Halfway through the movie, she was beyond flabbergasted when Santana said, "I totally hear what you're thinking, little pony, and you can be D'Artagnan all day long but that doesn't mean you get to interrupt my movie. Stop thinking so loud."
Rachel smiled and settled down peacefully into Quinn's neck.
"The power of four!"
"It was the power of three, hobbsanonymous. That's what made Charmed charmed."
"I don't care. Four."
"What? I have to sleep with this woman."
"Forgot that part for a sec. Granted, Frodo. Four. But fuck you guys."
They were four. She was finally, finally, finally one of the guys. She vowed to herself never to tell a soul but it felt like everything she'd ever thought winning a Tony would.
Later, late into the night after they'd texted their parents and sorted everything, Brittany and Santana slept in the guest room and Rachel and Quinn made love without talking about it first. Simply and joyfully.
"Okay! What'd you guys do over the weekend?"
Every one of William Schuester's students looked at each other.
Many of them smiled.