Chapter Eleven- A Fabulous Disaster
Can't someone make it crawl faster?
You shattered my walls
A fabulous disaster
Quinn woke up with fingers in her hair and warm, smooth, soft skin under her palms. She could feel Rachel's deep, even breaths ghosting over her neck, and the tickle of silky brown hair on her cheek and nose. Their legs were tangled and their upper bodies were pressed flush. They had shifted in their sleep somehow so that she was mostly underneath Rachel's soft, sleep warm body. Her hands were under Rachel's shirt, flat on her back, and anchoring the two of them together.
It was perfect.
She lay there in wonderful, Rachel scented, contentment for a while, letting her brain choose whether wakefulness or more sleep would be better. Just as she was tipping over back into dreamland a thought from the back of her mind swirled up between her ears and rattled and shook like a cartoon alarm clock.
There was no way it should feel so perfect.
Quinn's body tensed immediately, following half a second after her emotions. She was automatically preparing herself for the letdown. Nothing that felt this good ever lasted long, not for her. So what if there was evidence just down the hallway that pointed to continued happiness? It didn't matter. It wasn't real. It was all an allusion of what could be, not what would be. Feeling good, loving the moment, expectations. Those things were for fools.
Quinn wasn't a fool. She knew it was easier to never expect too much, that way you could never be disappointed.
An insistent wrap of knuckles on the door drew Quinn's eyes and thoughts away from Rachel, until Rachel groaned unhappily at the noise. "If you two lovebirds aren't too worn out from last night, it's time to go run."
Even though Older Quinn couldn't see them, or their compromising position, Quinn flushed and jerked her hands out from under Rachel's top. She tried to roll away from Rachel, but the smaller girl wasn't having it.
"No," she whined, moving her hold from Quinn hair to her waist and wrapping her arms tighter around the blonde so that she couldn't escape as easily. "Don't go." Rachel hummed and curled closer, which Quinn wouldn't have thought possible if it hadn't just happened. "You're warm."
"It's time to get up," Quinn whispered even as her heart swelled in her chest. She knew Rachel was probably still mostly asleep and groggy, and so she wasn't entirely in control of her actions, but it was still refreshing to hear someone ask her to stay with them. Hope threatened to choke out her wariness.
"No," Rachel whined pathetically. Quinn wouldn't have found that sort of behavior attractive at all usually, but she was warm and Rachel was cuddling up to her and breathing on her neck, and that endeared her to it just enough.
"You're going to miss working out," Quinn tried to point out. It was a weakly fought battle and Rachel could smell it like blood in the water.
She pressed an open mouthed kiss to the side of Quinn's neck, sucking just a little and pulling a squeak out of the throat under her lips. "We could still work out."
The words themselves were innocent, but the hands that had previously just been minding their own business attached to the arms wrapped around Quinn's waist were suddenly under her sweater, tickling gently over the skin of her belly and sides. Quinn was ticklish, but Rachel wasn't exerting enough pressure to throw her into laughter. Only enough to make the muscles of her stomach twitch nervously.
"Uh," Quinn coughed. She hurriedly stilled Rachel's hands under her shirt and then pulled them out from under it completely. "I, um, I'm not…" She couldn't concentrate. Rachel's mouth was doing sinful things to her neck and jaw. She arched unwittingly under the assault and flushed in embarrassment when she moaned from the back of her throat. When Rachel answered with her own low sound, Quinn felt like her skin was so hot it might just melt and slide right off. "Rachel, please," Quinn tried again.
That did nothing to deter her. If anything, it actually made Rachel's actions more aggressive. Her hips rolled and Quinn thought she might just fly apart in a million little pieces.
"Oh God," Quinn groaned when Rachel did it again. "Rachel," she tried to wiggle away but Rachel followed, "stop!"
It wasn't what Quinn said, but her raised voice, that actually got through to Rachel. She pulled away quickly, gasping in big gulps of air. "What? What's wrong?" She was confused. One second Quinn had been writhing under her, moaning and sighing, and the next she was telling her to stop and pulling away.
As soon as Rachel had pulled back, Quinn sat up in bed and turned away, draping her legs over the side of the mattress in case she needed a quick getaway.
After observing Quinn's body language, realization dawned on Rachel and she leaned forward on her knees in order to get closer to the blonde. "I wasn't trying to pressure you, I swear," Rachel insisted.
Quinn looked down purposefully to avoid Rachel's eyes and nodded.
"I'm serious, Quinn. I wouldn't ever, ever do that. You can trust me."
Quinn took a shuddering breath. "I don't have an easy time trusting people, Rachel."
"Do you? You might think you do, but I don't think you really know what that means. I know I've hurt a lot of people in my life. I've hurt you, so much."
"You were hurt a lot too. I'm sure I don't know everything you've gone through, but just what I do know is too much for someone so young."
Quinn's brow furrowed in distaste. "That makes me sound like some sort of badly written inspirational movie. No one's life is easy; I have it better than a lot of people. Having a hard life isn't an excuse. The older you was right. I'm a weak person."
Rachel didn't know what to say. In the first place, she wasn't entirely sure how the conversation had gone in the direction it had. She also didn't know how to respond to others' self-deprecation. On one hand, Quinn didn't seem to be fishing for compliments, she wasn't the type in general, and usually one reacted by denying the self-deprecating statements of the other person. She couldn't though, not in good conscience. She knew what would become of Quinn and it did make her seem weak. But she could also very clearly see what Quinn was apparently unable to. Quinn had strength inside her, buried deep under insecurity and self-doubt. She settled on sliding her hand over Quinn's clenched ones and squeezing gently. "You're really better than you know, Quinn."
Quinn just sighed. She tried not to feel flattered, but with Rachel's big honest eyes boring into her soul it was hard not to.
Rachel watched the emotions flicker through Quinn's eyes for a long quiet moment. When the blonde's shoulders had relaxed a significant amount, Rachel felt comfortable enough to push Quinn down on the bed and cuddle up next to her. She ignored the surprised squeak that Quinn let out and settled with her head under the taller girl's chin. "Talk to me about books."
They didn't go running. They didn't make out either.
Instead they lay there in comfortable companionship and Quinn talked about some of her favorite books when she was growing up. Rachel hadn't read very much recreationally, and she kind of regretted not being as well read as Quinn obviously was.
She was more than happy to admit that watching Quinn get so involved in talking about something she clearly had an interest in was a bit of a turn on. Quinn being a real person was a turn on. Rachel almost laughed, but she didn't want Quinn to think she wasn't paying attention (she was, she was!). It made sense that she was most attracted to Quinn when she was being honest. When her face was open and her eyes were shiny and her words held vulnerability, that's when Rachel felt most connected to her. It's when she felt like Quinn was an actual human and not an angel.
"Are you even listening?"
Rachel started. "Of course!"
"What did I just say?" Quinn laughed at Rachel's wide panicked eyes. She wouldn't have expected that she would be able to use the same tricks on Rachel that she did on all her boyfriends. Rachel stammered for a few seconds before Quinn took pity on her. She leaned forward and left a quick kiss on Rachel's left cheek, and then the right, and then her forehead. "I'll forgive you this time."
"I'm sorry," Rachel apologized anyway.
"They're going to be back soon. We should occupy the showers before they get a chance to use all the hot water."
Rachel shook her head fitfully and burrowed against Quinn's side. "No, no, it's cold out there. Let's just stay right here and be warm and that way Alice won't bother us and we can do that kissing thing again."
Quinn smiled shyly at Rachel's suggestion. Her big, shiny eyes made a good argument in her favor. "I'm okay with the kissing thing."
Rachel bit her lip. She leaned in slowly, her eyes flicking between Quinn's eyes and lips. Quinn felt her breath hitch suddenly. She didn't know how she could be so affected by the tension between them still, but it set her heart racing just the same.
Their lips met softly. Rachel took the lead in a gentle exploration that felt, to Quinn, like it spanned only seconds and a decade at the same time. When Rachel pulled away, with a quiet popping sound, Quinn was so dazedly pleased that she didn't notice Rachel get off the bed.
"I get first shower," the brunette announced as soon as she was free of the tangle of covers.
This announcement startled Quinn into awareness and she lurched off the bed, caught around the ankles with the sheets, after the other girl. "Hey! No, that was my idea!"
Rachel just giggled and bolted from the room with just enough head start that she made it to the bathroom and had the door fully closed before Quinn made it into the hall.
Quinn lay in wait, totally ignoring Alice and Older Quinn's return in favor of skulking around the bathroom door. Alice stared at her like she was crazy, and insisted that she get the next shower. Quinn didn't care. She just knew that she was going to pounce on Rachel as soon as she exited.
She did. Rachel squealed so loudly that Quinn dissolved into a fit of laughter that nearly made her wet herself. Rachel was not amused or impressed by Quinn's amazing control of her bladder.
Breakfast, in comparison to the pre-breakfast shenanigans, was fairly quiet. Alex was mostly asleep, with his nose dipping dangerously close to his breakfast, as usual. Shannon was equally as tired, but she just slouched in her chair. Everyone else was awake, but Morgan and Alice were far less chipper about it. Stacks of pancakes disappeared quickly. Nicole had gone on the morning run, but was missing from breakfast, since her house was on the route that Quinn and Alice ran.
Older Rachel and Carmen dominated the conversation, with occasional quiet input from Older Quinn. Most of them were just focused on delicious pancakes.
"What time are you leaving?" Older Quinn asked suddenly when a lull fell over the conversation.
"Eager to get rid of us, are you?" Morgan caught on.
Morgan laughed. "I'm hurt."
"Don't ask questions you don't want answers to," Quinn replied, jabbing at the air in his direction with her fork.
He pulled a puppy-dog face and clasped his hands over his heart. "We'll be leaving at two, so this is good bye Mother."
Quinn snorted. "Bye, don't come back until you're famous."
"I'll have you know that three paparazzo have accosted me since I moved to LA," Morgan claimed with pride.
"Wow, three," Carmen mocked. Morgan stuck his tongue out at her.
"Anyway," he continued, "we won't be here when you get back for dinner. I'm assuming you just wanted to know if you were making us dinner."
"You assume correctly, sir."
Alice hummed happily. "It's so nice that you won't be here when Seth comes by."
Older Quinn scoffed. "You would like that."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I'm not going back to the shop after dinner tonight," Older Quinn announced. Alice scowled immediately.
"Oh? And to what do we owe this pleasure. Do you just want to tease poor Seth with the gun? Because I can do that just as well as you," Older Rachel informed her wife.
Morgan snorted into his milk. "Uh, Mom, you're really pretty terrible at it."
Older Rachel smacked the back of Morgan's head, not taking her expectant gaze off her wife.
"Actually," Older Quinn began slowly, with a forkful of egg hanging in the air, "I've been thinking of cutting back my hours now that Landry is done with training."
All action at the table halted and all eyes shifted between Older Quinn and Older Rachel, just waiting for something to happen.
"Are you serious?" Older Rachel asked quietly.
Older Quinn finally ate the bit of egg she had speared and nodded silently. Younger Quinn was already tensed and waiting to see if Older Rachel would just rocket right over the table and tackle hug her older self, but she didn't. She just smiled, beamed, and ducked her head toward her breakfast again. All the kids were smiling too and no one said anything more about it.
When breakfast was done the children were put on clean up duty and the older women escaped the kitchen. Young Rachel was not attempting to find them. She had been sent to the laundry room to throw the used rags in the hamper and she didn't see anything on the way there. On her way back to the kitchen she heard voices coming from Older Rachel's office/ trophy room.
She wasn't a nosy person.
Okay, that was a lie, she was very nosy. She didn't even try to reign in her curiosity. When she pushed the door to the office open a little more she found the older women engaged in a heavy make out session against the side of the desk.
"Oh!" she covered her eyes and turned around immediately. "Sorry to interrupt." Curiosity did kill the cat, or scar her for life. Whichever.
Loud laughter behind her gave her the courage to take a peek at what was happening. Older Quinn had removed her hands from under Older Rachel's top, and had them resting innocently on her parted thighs. She hadn't moved otherwise.
"Don't worry about it," Older Quinn insisted. "I need to go get ready for work," she finished, placing one more kiss at the corner of her wife's mouth. She patted Younger Rachel on the shoulder as she left and winked at her.
"I didn't mean to interrupt anything," Rachel iterated.
Older Rachel hummed happily and kicked her feet. "Like Quinn said, don't worry about it. We'll have plenty of time for that later. Come here."
Rachel ended up sitting beside her older self on the desk, also kicking her feet. "Did you want something?"
"I know you've been carrying around a few questions. I thought now would be as good a time as any to answer them."
Rachel didn't reply for a few minutes. She did want to know some things. The other day, spending time with Finn after everything that had happened, it worried her, and made her curious.
"What's it going to be like when we go back? How can I just forget all of this?"
Older Rachel sighed heavily and ran a hand through her hair. "I don't even know. I remember going back and it was just like nothing had happened. I can also remember the way you feel now. It's just so confusing and…heart wrenching. Feeling all of it again…I don't know, it makes me very anxious and upset."
"I've already rearranged my entire future plan because of all this. It's not fair that I have to forget it."
"Ah, but since when is life fair?" Older Rachel nudged her shoulder playfully. "When you go back, all this feeling you're feeling will just…go away. You'll go right back to how you felt before. Madly in love with Finn and with no thoughts of anything else."
"It sounds so stupid when you say it like that."
Older Rachel laughed again. "It was stupid. It just takes perspective to see it that way. You're going to briefly turn into one of those girls we hate. The kind that lives only for her boyfriend and hangs on his every word and only has worth in him." Rachel looked at her in horror. "It's not for long though. You'll snap out of it. Now that I've remembered everything, I know it was just because everything felt so awkward. I kind of forced myself to feel the way I felt that I was supposed to."
"I can't even comprehend that sort of behavior. I don't understand how I can feel all of this and then suddenly not. It's so counterintuitive."
"I don't think the human brain is built to understand it. For all that it does for us; it's a very simple machine in comparison to the whole universe."
"When do we break up with Finn?"
"Not until the end of the year. It'll get to a point that you just can't pretend everything is wonderful anymore."
Rachel ducked her head into her hands in frustration. "What is the point of all this? I don't understand."
Older Rachel reached out and rubbed her younger self's back. "I don't know what the point is. Maybe there isn't a point. Maybe the point is for me and not you. I don't know if we're going to forget everything too when you leave. I just don't know."
"This is awful."
"Well, I feel like it's turned out alright so far."
Older Quinn ran down the hall not long after, yelling about how she couldn't find any matching socks. Older Rachel rolled her eyes and wandered out to help and Rachel went back to the kitchen where Morgan was entertaining Quinn, Shannon and Alice with impersonations.
Quinn didn't see her enter and so there was no reason for her to think before offering her own impersonation of Sylvester Stallone. It was terrible, but that wasn't all that disappointing to Rachel. Instead she found it endearing.
Older Quinn bounced into the kitchen, alerting Young Quinn to the fact that Rachel had been standing there. While the younger flushed from her roots to her neck, the older was busy depositing sloppy kisses all over Morgan's face. He didn't bother trying to escape.
"I knew you were sad to see me go."
"Don't gloat. Now where's your sister?"
"Right here!" Shannon cheered, jumping in place and then tackle-hugging her mother around the waist.
"I meant the eldest, but you'll do too."
Older Quinn made her rounds with goodbyes, spending more time with Carmen when she finally found her, and then rushed out the door when she realized that she was running late.
As soon as her red car pulled out of the drive way, Older Rachel turned to the room at large where they had all gathered. She put her hands on her hips and declared, "Time to decorate," and the room flew in to a flurry of activity.
"What are we doing?" Quinn asked.
"Christmas decorating," Alice supplied as she rushed by.
"Thanksgiving just ended."
"Yeah, but Morgan won't be back until Christmas Eve, and Carmen is getting out of school two days into Hanukah."
Morgan and Alex brought in huge boxes of Christmas decorations and a gigantic fake Christmas tree that they had to drag in together. Carmen, Alice and Older Rachel rearranged the furniture in the living room to make room for the tree. Young Rachel and Quinn helped Shannon take down the current décor and store it away in some empty boxes that the youngest child had pulled out of the hall closet.
The tree went up first. Carmen and both Rachels were meticulous in the spreading of the branches while Morgan attempted to untangle the plugs and figure out which sockets they met up with. The branches were done first and so young Rachel made her way over to where Quinn was looking through the ornaments on the other side of the room. Alex and Shannon had been sorting them with her, but they had dissolved into a squabble at some point, and Alex was busy trying to keep Shannon's fists away from his face.
"How do you feel about Christmas?" Rachel said, in lieu of a greeting.
Quinn jumped and nearly dropped the ornament she was holding. Rachel grinned apologetically. "I like it okay. Why?"
"I just wondered. Finn loves it, as I'm sure you're aware. I'm not too crazy about it. When I was younger I didn't think it was fair that we got out of school for Christmas and not for Hanukah. I'm slightly less petty now."
Quinn took a moment to fiddle with the ornament. It was a little glazed snowman. "I used to really love it, when I was a kid. I guess that was before I understood how awful my family was to each other. I kind of learned to dread any holiday that involved the extended family gathering." She hung the snow man. "I like the message in general though, a time of giving."
"What's your favorite then?"
It took Quinn a second to realize that Rachel was talking about holidays in general. "Halloween."
Quinn swallowed down the immediate urge to deflect Rachel's attention away from the topic. It was a conscious effort to keep her walls down. No one would hurt her here. "I'll take any excuse to not be myself for a while." She looked up to see Rachel's wide soulful eyes focused on her. "Also, candy."
Rachel stepped closer to Quinn and gently led her into a hug. Quinn returned the embrace and rested her cheek on top of Rachel's head. "I like you as Quinn the best," Rachel confessed quietly. Quinn squeezed her tighter.
Alice, the eternal 'moment ruiner' had to appear next to them a few seconds later. "What are you doing over here? Come on, we only have a few hours before Morgan and Carmen leave."
The tree was decorated in a specific pattern every year. First they worked out the lights, and then everyone put on the regular ornaments. Then the specials came out. These were the ones that had been made by all the kids in school and that were specific to each of them. They all had their own boxes, all the same size, but Morgan and Carmen's were stuffed while the others had more room. They went in order of birth, so Morgan's box was first.
"Oh!" Older Rachel exclaimed happily as she carefully lifted the first ornament out of the box. It was a silver baby rattle. She touched Morgan's arm with her free hand. "Your first Christmas," she said in a tearful voice.
Morgan chuckled quietly and rubbed her back comfortingly. "I was a month old."
Older Rachel nodded and wiped a tear from under her eye. "I'm sorry. I just get so nostalgic when we do this."
"I know Mom."
"My little boy is all grown up." She began to cry in earnest and Morgan allowed her to cling to him, shooting an amused smile over her shoulder at his siblings and the time travelers.
"Does she do this every time?" Quinn asked Carmen in a nervous whisper.
"Yep. At every single ornament." She laughed at Quinn's horrified expression. "It's one reason she waits until you're gone to do this. Hope you're comfortable. We're going to be here awhile."
They were there awhile. At least an hour, but it turned out to be a little fun for Quinn and a lot of fun for both the Rachels. Every ornament that the children had made in school was put on the tree until the well-ordered tree was a riot of color. Hardly any branch was bare except the point.
The tree topper, a bright golden star, was put on by Shannon. Morgan lifted her up by the waist and the youngest child carefully settled the ornament and made sure it didn't shift around.
They all stood back to proudly admire their work.
"So," Young Rachel glanced down the line, "do we sing carols now or what?"
After a few giggly (courtesy of Shannon and Alex, who were getting along again) renditions of classic carols, the family split up to do different things. Morgan and Carmen went to finish packing; Alex was put in charge of putting the empty boxes back in storage. Shannon begged, with a pout and a whine that would make even the hardest heart melt into a puddle, for Quinn to play with her dollhouse again. Alice disappeared to do homework and Older Rachel wandered off, still a little teary over the decorating. Young Rachel managed to escape Shannon's wheedling by hiding out in Rachel's office. It wasn't that she didn't want to spend time with the youngest child; she just didn't really see the appeal of playing with dolls. Even when she was young all her Barbies had been just as obsessed with future stardom as she was during the rare times she actually played with them. They also made up part of her audience, along with her stuffed animals, when she gave amateur concerts.
Rachel jerked around in surprise and nearly elbowed Carmen right in the stomach. The other girl managed to step back fast enough to avoid getting hit. "Uh…hi."
Carmen raised an eyebrow and stepped up beside Rachel to look over the trophy case too.
They stood in silence for what felt like a long time to Rachel, just looking at the case. When the curiosity got to be too much she decided to let it out. "Did you need something?"
"I was looking for my mom, actually."
"Do you need help looking for her?"
"No, she's probably just up in Momma's studio trying to find out what she needs for Christmakkah."
"I thought no one was allowed in there."
"They're not, not even Mom. She's just breaking the rules." Carmen winked. "Don't tell." Rachel shook her head franticly and Carmen chuckled. She leaned over and put her head on Rachel's shoulder for a few seconds before she stood up straight again. Rachel felt like she had been granted some sort of honor. "You're pretty cute, past Mom. Sorry I was such a bitch when we first met."
"Oh no! It's not a problem at all! The situation was very surprising. We do look quite similar."
Carmen shrugged. She took a few steps back and then walked around the desk to sit on top in a position that closely mirrored where her mother had been sitting earlier that morning. Rachel cut that thought off quickly so she didn't start to blush and then followed Carmen's lead and sat beside her.
"I want to tell you something," Carmen said suddenly.
Rachel jerked in surprise at the forceful tone, but nodded.
"Don't ever tell anyone I said this," Carmen warned seriously and then waited for Rachel to nod again, "but I'm really jealous of Alice sometimes." She looked down in shame, twisting her hands together in the only show of nerves that Rachel had seen from her. "I mean, we all have these huge expectations on us, not just from you…or, I mean our parents, but like from the world. I know it might not seem like it in Ohio, but my mom is pretty well known. She wasn't just on Broadway, though that's what she did mostly. There were some movies and a television show or two. We kind of grew up in the spotlight. I was always really mad that they didn't let me do any acting or anything while I was a kid. I'm kind of still mad about it, actually. Anyway, we were kind of like the new Jolie-Pitt kids, only they called us the Fababies." She rolled her eyes and Rachel giggled. "So everyone is kind of looking at us to be the next big thing or something, and it's just a lot of pressure. Don't get me wrong, I love performing. And one of my biggest goals is to somehow outshine my mother, which will be difficult. But I feel like Alice has it a little easier sometimes. She doesn't give a fuck about expectation, ya know? Like, she's not going to be some sort of bum or anything, but she's living her life for herself and she just makes it look so easy." Carmen sighed heavily.
Rachel tentatively put her arm around her future daughter's shoulders. Carmen relaxed against her right away and Rachel was able to be surer of her actions as well.
"I know she hates me," Carmen whispered after a moment.
Rachel felt Carmen's words hit her right in the heart. The tone, the message, the way she held on tighter as she said it, it was like she was talking to herself. She knew how Carmen felt exactly. Hadn't she even said something similar to Quinn on the day they arrived in the future. "She doesn't hate you," Rachel insisted. "She loves you. You're her sister. She just doesn't like you as a person very much."
Carmen snorted in laughter. "Being famous is definitely going to help you grow some tact."
Rachel flushed. "I'm sorry."
"No, no, you're right, of course." She grinned at Rachel. "I'm going to go find my mom now."
"Maybe you should stare at the awards a little less. I think you're starting to wear through the glass."
Rachel jumped up and stared closely at the glass. "Am I really?" Carmen's bark of laughter startled her away from the case.
"If you want to touch them, you just have to ask. We've all held them. Mom just keeps them locked up so they don't get lost or broken."
"Let's go find your mom right now!" Rachel grabbed Carmen by the arm and dragged her out of the room. There was no way she was going to wait any longer to hold those priceless statues.
Quinn came home on time and had already picked up pizza before Young Rachel was ready to stop picking up various awards and pictures and asking for the stories behind them. Morgan and Carmen ended up leaving late because they got engrossed in hearing the stories again, but they had gone and made it to the airport on time.
Young Rachel reluctantly parted from the first Tony she would win with a final pet.
It wasn't necessary to set the table that night. Dinner on Fridays was eaten in the living room in front of the TV with less conversation and on paper plates. There wasn't even an argument about what to watch. Two episodes of Paranormal Circus with Sam Evans were the custom.
It was a little anticlimactic for Rachel and Quinn, who had curled up on the loveseat together.
After the episodes were over and everyone was done eating there was only a little clean up that Alex volunteered to take care of.
Shannon scampered off to play some more and potentially bother her older brother.
When Alice was the last one left Older Rachel decided to let out her excitement that had been building up over dinner. "My little baby is going on her first date tonight!" She squealed happily. She held Alice to her side and rocked her back and forth. Alice allowed this for about ten seconds before she broke away laughing.
"Really?" Rachel asked. "You've never been on a date before?"
"Nope," Older Quinn answered for Alice, popping the 'p' at the end. "Alice has never gone on a date before."
"I've never really had any interest in anyone before," Alice admitted quietly. "Most people just don't bother asking though. I made it clear that I didn't really trust anyone's motives when they had interest in me. Seth is different. I've known him for a really long time. And," she gestured at Older Quinn and Rachel, "they're friends with his dad, so we have family dinners and get-togethers sometimes."
"I had dates for Homecoming and stuff, but they were just my escorts. I usually took guys from Glee club that didn't have girlfriends. Never Jericho though." She shuddered.
"Thank God for that. Alice is definitely the one we don't have to worry about. Morgan always had really questionable taste in girls," Older Rachel told them.
"As much fun as this is," Alice drawled, "I have to go get ready for my date," her voice rose into an excited squeak and she jumped in place.
"You'll be home by eleven."
Alice's happy smile dimmed. "Midnight."
"You're not being fair." She stomped a foot.
"You're such a jerk."
"You're not too old to spank, young lady."
Older Rachel, perhaps sensing the impending useless argument, climbed onto her wife's lap without warning. She sank her fingers into shaggy blonde locks and sealed her mouth over Older Quinn's before the woman could protest. "Am I too old to spank?" she husked when she pulled away.
Older Quinn's eyelids drooped and her hands rose to cup her wife's ass. "Nope."
"Oh, gross," Alice muttered. She took the distraction for what it was, an opportunity to escape, and marched out of the room with a scowl.
"Be home by eleven," Older Rachel called to her retreating daughter.
Young Rachel had been close enough to hear the conversation and flushed scarlet at the implications, alerting Quinn to the fact that something was going on and she hadn't noticed it.
"What?" She looked between the older couple and the younger brunette in confusion. They're position was compromising, but no more so than what they had already been privy too. "What's going on?"
Rachel stood suddenly, her face still bright with color. "Nothing!"
And then she followed Alice's example and left the room in a flurry.
Curious, and not exactly eager to watch the older women make out shamelessly, Quinn followed Rachel's flustered exit and caught up to her in the stairwell. "What was that all about?" she asked in honest curiosity with nothing else coloring her tone.
Which is why she was surprised enough to stumble down several steps when Rachel rounded on her with fiery eyes. She corrected herself when she noted that Rachel didn't seem angry, just flushed, and stopped on the stair right below Rachel so they were at eye level.
Rachel launched into what was sure to be a long rant as soon as Quinn had steadied herself. "I recognize that we have tentatively entered into the kissing stage of our relationship," here they both blushed and Quinn had to keep her eyes busy with the wall next to them so that she could actually pay attention to what Rachel was saying instead of just staring at her mouth. "But that doesn't mean that I'm entirely comfortable seeing the future of our physical relationship displayed in front of me like that. Older Rachel told me, the first day we arrived, that I would feel this way, but actually feeling it is just…" she trailed off and flailed her hands in the absence of the appropriate words. "I know," she continued before Quinn could say anything, "that we've had sex. I mean, we have five children so of course we have." She paused and Quinn's complete mortification settled in quickly. She wasn't much better off than Rachel was if the deepening flush on the shorter girl's cheeks was to be trusted. Rachel took a shaky breath. "Well actually, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. It's quite within the realm of possibility that we haven't, but I'd hate to think that I would stay in a sexless marriage for nearly thirty years."
"We've had sex," Quinn blurted. There was so much blood in her face she felt a little bit like she was a pressurized container. The memory of what she had listened in on the other day was still fresh and highly traumatizing.
Even though they had worked through a lot, even though there had been kissing, a lot of kissing, Quinn was still so worried about saying too much, or the wrong thing, or moving too fast and scaring Rachel away. The truth of the matter was that she just had so much inside of her, beating like her pulse, just under her skin and aching to get out. She's never been good with feelings. Talking about them, exploring them, actually feeling them. It's foreign to have them so thoroughly evoked and for her to be relaxed enough to allow it in the first place.
"Right." Rachel pursed her lips in hopes of keeping any other embarrassing things inside her. She shook her head. "Anyway, it was uncomfortable."
"We can just…not go in there for a while."
"What did they say anyway?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Okay." Quinn went down a few steps and sat. "Would you like to join me on my step? Maybe we can check every so often to see when they're separated again."
Once the living room was deemed safe, Rachel and Quinn joined themselves in watching some sort of reality show about the true lives of octogenarians. Quinn found that her automatic reaction was to tilt her head and squint. She couldn't ever remember her grandparents being so feisty and ready to throw potted cacti at people.
As it got closer to seven, the tension in the entire house seemed to rise, but it wasn't until five 'til that Alice actually came downstairs to add her anxiety to the mix. She walked in to the living room with a nervous smile fixed on her face and her fingers tugging at the hem of her dress.
"So? What do you think?" She did a twirl to show off her outfit. "I asked Nic, but she's been acting weird lately, so I asked the people that follow my blog and they liked this one best."
Alice was wearing a sleeveless green and white plaid dress with a sweetheart neckline that stopped just below her knees, a matching green belt to cinch in the waist, white tights and a pair of tan oxfords that had, oddly enough, purple soles. She had a dark denim jacket over her arm that she tossed on the back of the sofa while she waited for a verdict.
"You look really nice," Rachel offered first. Alice beamed at her.
"You look great, Sweetie," Older Rachel agreed. Older Quinn didn't say anything, but Alice was avoiding looking at her anyway.
"Aren't you going to be cold, though?" Quinn asked, pulling at the hem gently.
"Probably, but here's hoping that Seth isn't a total idiot that has planned something for outdoors."
"Seth is a good boy," Older Rachel admonished. "I'm sure he's planned something very thoughtful."
Alice rolled her eyes playfully. "Yes, Mom."
The next two minutes were tense. Alice didn't actually pace, but her attempts at conversation with Older Rachel and the time travelers was painful. It was a relief for everyone to hear the doorbell ring right on time.
Alice was the first to the door and she threw her jacket on quickly, shaking out her hair, while younger Rachel and Quinn settled on the bottom step. Quinn heard the sound of quiet footsteps overhead and turned around in time to see Shannon and Alex creeping down the stairs so they could hear what was happening but also stay out of sight.
Alice reached for the door knob but was stopped by Older Quinn collaring her and leading her away from the door.
When she was let loose she stumbled but didn't fall. Older Quinn pointed at the stairs commandingly. Alice scowled but retreated to stand next to the time travelers silently, her arms crossed over her chest. Older Rachel rolled her eyes at the scene and opened the front door.
Seth Puckerman stood about five feet from the door, as if he had anticipated needing to defend himself from attack. He was of average height, lean and clean cut. He was dressed sharply for a fifteen year old boy, and all his clothes matched.
"Hello Seth," Rachel greeted warmly.
"Good evening, Mrs. Fabray. It's always wonderful to see you."
"Seth, honey, you can still call me Rachel," Rachel told him as she patted his back. He smiled bashfully and looked at his feet for a few seconds before turning his gentle gaze to Older Quinn.
She didn't look impressed. "You can call me Mrs. Fabray."
Seth swallowed hard. "Yes ma'am."
Older Rachel slapped Older Quinn's arm. "Quinn! Really."
"Okay, I think you've scared him enough," Alice broke through. She grabbed Seth's upper arm and steered him back to the door. "Let's get out of here, shall we?"
"Eleven!" Older Quinn yelled after her. Alice waved flippantly without looking back, but Seth actually tried to turn around without removing himself from Alice's grip and nodded franticly to show he understood.
Both of them stood at the open door until Alice climbed into her car, Seth following her quickly and fumbling with his seat belt. This satisfied Older Rachel and she turned away, leaving Older Quinn in the door way with a comforting squeeze to her shoulder. Older Quinn didn't move. She just stood there with her arms still crossed and watched until Alice's car had disappeared from sight, and then just a little longer.
Rachel and Quinn watched her from the bottom step, their fingers linked and Rachel's head on Quinn's shoulder.
Story time was a very sedate affair. It was supposed to be Alice's turn to pick the story, but since she was absent, Alex was moved ahead and they all listened to another few chapters of Harry Potter, once again dressed for the part.
Quinn wasn't exactly sure why she was in Ravenclaw. There wasn't really much in what they had read so far that even mentioned the house, so she didn't really feel any pride. Why Rachel wanted to be known as a Slytherin was also beyond her. It was clear that Slytherins were the bad guys. Shannon swore by Gryffindor, and she was just as fiery as the lead characters. Alex was also supporting Gryffindor, he seemed a little too quiet and easy going to really fit there, but then she remembered the way he had stood up to her the first day she arrived. He was definitely brave.
Shannon was sent to bed at the usual time, but Alex hung around in the living room playing some sort of handheld game while Older Rachel told the time travelers about the shows she had been a part of. He shuffled along to bed just before Alice was due to get home, and when they noticed the time, Rachel and Quinn moved to sit in the window seat so they could watch for Alice's arrival. They didn't have to wait long.
They were shoved out of the older women's way as soon as they announced that Alice's car had pulled up. They were both peering out the window, not at all trying for subtlety. The two time travelers took their attempts at spying to the front door. There was a panel of glass along the top of the door, and Quinn was almost tall enough to see outside if she stood on her tiptoes. She gave up after a few attempts at jumping up to see through the glass and instead turned to Rachel and picked her up around the waist, ignoring the quiet squeal and the smack she received to the back of her head. She lifted the diva up until her face was high enough to see outside.
Rachel gave herself a little extra lift by digging her foot against Quinn's hipbone.
"Ow, bitch," the blonde muttered against the fabric of Rachel's shirt. "What can you see?"
"They're coming up the walkway. I don't think they can see me. He's holding her hand!" Rachel bounced in excitement and Quinn nearly dropped her. She had to scramble to both stay standing and keep Rachel from falling and splitting her head open. She ended up with one arm wrapped behind Rachel's knees and her free hand halfway under her skirt.
"Get your hand off my butt!"
"Shut up and tell me what's going on," Quinn rebutted, ignoring the order completely.
Rachel thought about being snarky and asking how she could do both, but she felt like Quinn might drop her if she didn't fill her in. "They're on the porch," the brunette hissed. "They're talking; can you hear what they're saying?"
"No, this door is like two inches thick!"
"Ok, ok, be quiet." She peered silently over the sill for a moment and then gasped. "He's moving in. He's going to kiss her." She wiggled a little. "Ok, you're seriously giving me a wedgie now."
"Shut up and narrate," Quinn demanded, flushing as she rearranged her hands. She was going to miss having an excuse to grope the Rachel's ass like that.
"They're kissing! They're kissing!" She giggled and bounced again and Quinn snarled at the actions. Rachel sighed above her. "It's so cute Quinn. I wish you could see it."
"Well switch places with me."
Rachel patted her head patronizingly. "Oh Quinn, you're so funny. I wouldn't be strong enough to lift you."
"Yeah right," Quinn muttered.
"Oh! She's coming in! She's coming in! Move away from the door," Rachel told her franticly, wriggling against her hold.
Quinn tried to back away from the door while still holding Rachel up. She tripped over her own feet and sent them both sprawling with Rachel landing heavily on top of her. Quinn had the air knocked out of her lungs and lay there gasping as the front door opened.
It was pretty obvious what Rachel and Quinn had been up to before Alice walked in, but the girl didn't seem to care. She just beamed at them and leaned back against the door for a few seconds, taking deep breaths.
Then she squealed. Loudly. While jumping in place and flailing her arms and shaking her head manically. When she stopped after only a few seconds of frantic activity she beamed at them again and ran into the living room, squealing again and setting off a riot of laughter in her mothers.
Quinn groaned and rolled over onto her stomach and then forced herself up on her knees. Rachel was definitely heavier than she looked. All muscle and sharp little elbows.
She was also feeling no pain apparently. She just sat straight up and stared at Quinn for a second, bemused. "I guess it went well then."
Quinn huffed out a laugh. "Yeah," she wheezed. "Maybe better than well."
Rachel stood and brushed invisible dust off of her legs and butt. She noticed Quinn tracking the movement of her hands, and the slight flush on the other girl's cheeks, but she didn't say anything. When she offered her hand to Quinn, she seemed to snap out of whatever daze she had been in, and bright hazel eyes quickly moved from their previous target to Rachel's face. "Come on, let's go hear about it."
Any trace of Alice's remaining bitterness with her mother was apparently forgotten in the wake of her successful date with Seth. She had tackled the older blonde in a full body hug and was chattering happily against her neck about how perfect it was and how much she loved everything. Older Quinn was chuckling and rubbing her daughter's back, commenting when necessary. Older Rachel was sitting beside them, running her fingers through Alice's hair and smiling softly. Quinn and Rachel both just peered around the corner unobtrusively for a few minutes and occasionally traded smiles. When Rachel placed her hand on top of Quinn's on the doorframe, Quinn just turned her hand over, twined their fingers together and smiled.
I was withdrawn
But never ever after
Can you really turn me on
Immersing me in laughter?
A/N: Only two months wait this time!
This chapter is dedicated to the following: Mermaidandthedrunks, ElsBells, TS, and Kben.
Hmm, let's see…there's only one more chapter and the Epilogue after this. Alice has a blog ( .com) if you care. I posted more smut during my brief hiatus. This semester of school isn't nearly as difficult as last semester was.
I nearly got 100 reviews on the last chapter alone! That's crazy. Do it again!
Chapter Song: A Fabulous Disaster by Fair and Kind