The book is worn. Its cover is creased, so that it's almost bent double. She's tried stacking other books on top, to no avail. She's considered buying a new one, but she's had this one since she was eight, and it's carried her through almost everything. Her name is on the first page, along with the date: small, looping script – her father's. She remembers her excitement, that day; she remembers her father's bright smile, her mother's twinkling eyes as she tipped back a glass of scotch. Her white dress would billow out as she twirled, and her father had laughed when she pretended to be a tap dancer in the bathroom, because her little-girl heels were just too tempting; he'd picked her up and swung her around, then put her feet on his and they danced around the living room. Then her mother cut in and Quinn danced off to the side with her sister as her parents waltzed.

It was the last time they ever danced together, as a family.

The beads are cool in her hand, entwined around her fingers and creating little purple impressions of chain. They are red, red like blood, red like love, red like pain. Jesus hangs for her redemption on the cross at the end, dangling from her side onto the pew. She can't look at him, but she can't escape him: he looms large and judging on the wall ahead of her, so she turns her attention back to the book on her lap, and opens it.

There are passages underlined, outlined, highlighted in varying shades of pink, purple, and green. Notes are scribbled in the margin, there are bookmarks at every ten pages, it seems. The binding is coming loose, and she smiles wryly. The book mirrors her life: torn, marked, coming apart. But she's here on a mission, and in the darkness of midnight at a church whose doors are always open, she turns to the first verse.

Do not lie with a man as with a woman; that is detestable.

Detestable. It comes to her in a flood, then: soft lips and even softer touches, brown hair trailing over her face and quiet moans in her ear. The rush of blood to her head, red like the beads in her hand. The heat she never knew existed, in places that should fill her with shame. Sweat and slick, caress and kiss…


She turns pages.

They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

"You're better off dead."

It had come out in a snarl, and for one brief moment she was an eight year old, wanting to dance with her daddy again. But his eyes were wide and pale with anger, and there was a vein bulging in his head as he turned on his youngest daughter. Whatever tenuous relationship she had hoped to retain after the birth of her daughter had vanished as soon as the words left her lips.

"I'm in love with her."

The sound of the door slamming behind her echoed in her ears for hours. Rachel had held her hand as they sat on the couch, saying nothing. She'd left without a word, to the one place that she hoped would help her or punish her, to make the decision for her.

She turns more pages.

Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.

Natural relations. Her hand traces idly over her stomach, the beads stroking over space that once held the product of natural relations. She misses the baby, but knows it was the best thing she could have done. She doesn't want her child growing up with a 16 year old uncertain-maybe-lesbian as a mother. She thinks of that word, natural. Natural as breathing, natural as water to a thirsty throat, natural as a hand in hers, a warm body next to her, as natural as the sun rising in the morning to reveal brown eyes clouded with sleep and care. As natural as coming home. As natural as finding the one person who can take you in all your meanness, all your pettiness, all the confusion of your "past life" that really existed only ten months ago – and love you as naturally as if you'd known each other all your lives.

As natural as her heart beating, and the little way it stops whenever she smiles at her.

Someone slides into the pew behind Quinn, and she tenses. She has no idea who else would be here at a few minutes past midnight except for the priest, and she knows she can't talk to him. But the voice behind her is familiar, and she relaxes, even if she is surprised.

"First Peter," Rachel rests her hand on Quinn's shoulder. "Chapter four, verse eight."

Quinn quirks an eyebrow, but turns the pages anyway.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Her breath catches in her throat like a sob, and Rachel's hand squeezes gently. The beads drop to the pew and Quinn's hand closes over hers, clutching tightly as she cries.

"First John, chapter four, verse eighteen."

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Quinn is sobbing now, shoulders shaking, and Rachel scoots in beside her, wrapping the rosary around her wrist and her arms around Quinn. "Love never fails," she whispers into Quinn's hair, kissing her face, her lips, not caring that they're sitting in the dim light of a Roman Catholic Church at minutes after midnight.

"How… how did you know I was here?" Quinn sniffs out, raising her face.

Rachel wipes her tears away and smiles when Quinn does the same for her.

"The best thing that an almost-superstar can do is follow her hunches." This gets an eye roll from Quinn, and Rachel's smile widens.

"Then how did you know…?" Quinn gestures to the bible in her lap. "Or are you a secret ninja Christian?"

Rachel snorts. "Hardly. But," and she captures Quinn's lips again, "I knew that it would… hurt you. So, I did my research." She shrugs. "I ended up reading it."

Quinn stares at her, shocked. Rachel Barbra Berry, Jewish teenager, read the whole Bible? It seems almost… too freaky to be true.

Rachel huffs at her, as if she can read her mind. "Rule number one of competitions, Quinn: Always know your opponent. You are in love with me, yet you are also Catholic. Ergo, the Bible was my opponent. It was quite a logistical mission: I found the evidence against, and beat it like Michael Jackson with evidence for."

It was so strange, so exactly Rachel, so sweet that Quinn was crying again, even as she shakes her head and laughs in disbelief. Rachel once again wipes her tears, and once again kisses Quinn with enough love for both of them.

"One more. Song of Solomon," Rachel says. "Chapter eight, verse six."

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

It wasn't a statement, Quinn knows: it's a request. Rachel is asking her, then, sitting next to her with tears and fear in her eyes, not to give up. Not to give up on her, not to give up on them, not to give up on love. She glances up at the crucifix on the wall for the first time that night, and she understands, for the first time in her life understands, what her redemption was for. For Rachel, for the way she smiles, for the way she laughs, for the way Quinn feels when she's in her arms.

For love.

They walk out of the church hand in hand, together.