Chapter 26: Hot Water
Quinn swung her legs back and forth lazily as she sat on the front porch railing of the Berry house.
Hiram had greeted her warmly when he had answered the doorbell and told her that Rachel was still up in her room getting ready. He had invited her inside to wait, but he and Leroy were on their way out, and Quinn thought it would be best if she just remained outside while their teenage daughter got changed in their otherwise empty house. The Berry men were kind and welcoming people, but they were unquestionably and fiercely protective of Rachel.
They hadn't told Rachel's parents that they were dating yet, but that day would come eventually, and when it did, Quinn wanted to ensure that their impression of her was that of an honest, respectable young woman.
She returned their friendly wave as they climbed in their car and pulled away. The summer sun was hot on her shoulders, which were left exposed by the loose tank top she wore over her bathing suit. A warm breeze rustled the leaves of the tree behind her.
She kicked her feet out and let the heels of her canvas sneakers thud against the posts of the railing and checked the time on her phone. The rest of their friends were probably there by now. She perked up when she heard movement on the other side of the front door.
Rachel's voice was out the door before she was. "Sorry, sorry! Didn't mean to keep you waiting."
Quinn's jaw dropped open and her idle movement stilled when Rachel emerged, just starting the process of buttoning up a linen overshirt, leaving her bikini-clad chest out in the open.
Quinn's face grew heated and she was aware of herself staring even as she reached out to take Rachel's string backpack off her hands. She'd always admired Rachel's body, but seeing in front of her like that was a whole different experience. She snapped from her reverie at the sound of amused snickering and her eyes shot to Rachel's face, where she found a smug smirk sitting gently across her lips.
"See something you like?" Rachel asked as she finished with the buttons and put her hands on her hips.
Quinn shook her head as she recovered the ability to speak. "A couple of somethings, actually."
Rachel swatted her playfully on the arm and slid a pair of Ray-Bans up the bridge of her nose. "Alright, gutter brain, we've got a pool party to get to. It's only 'fashionably late' if we get there before it ends."
Quinn slung Rachel's bag over her shoulder, slipping her own pair of circular sunglasses on, and pressed a quick peck to Rachel's cheek before they hopped down the porch steps into open view of the neighboring houses.
"Hi, by the way."
Rachel paused by the front of Quinn's Jeep, lowered her sunglasses an inch, and shot her a wink.
Quinn froze for a second time while Rachel skipped to the passenger side of her car and climbed in comfortably. Her heart rate picked up measurably and she could feel the tips of her ears burn a bright shade of pink.
That was new. Neither of them had ever used pet names for each other.
A surprised smile appeared on her face as it echoed in her ears. That was definitely something she could get used to.
Quinn licked her lips and did her best to control her face as she got into the driver's seat beside Rachel, who looked rather pleased with herself.
Quinn cleared her throat and turned the key to start the engine. She looked sidelong at her girlfriend as she twisted in her seat to face behind her and back out of the driveway. She licked her lips.
"So, 'baby,' huh?"
Rachel's mouth pulled into a poorly suppressed grin. She shrugged, nonchalant.
"Just something I'm trying out." Quinn felt Rachel's gaze on her and adjusted her grip on the steering wheel as she sensed a slight shift in her girlfriend's confidence. Rachel continued, "Is that okay?"
Quinn cocked her head, feeling bold.
"More than okay, babe." She breathed a short, self-satisfied chuckle when she saw Rachel's mouth fall open just a bit out of the corner of her eye. "It's pretty hot, honestly."
She hummed when Rachel reached over and rubbed her fingertips gently on the back of her neck.
They pulled up to Tina's house just a few minutes later and could already hear the music blaring from the backyard while they were still in the car.
They hopped out of the Jeep, and Rachel exaggerated a wince at the volume of the music and delighted shouts that reached them from the pool area.
"Sounds like they got started without us."
"Honestly, so rude of them," Quinn joked and wrapped an arm around Rachel's waist. "You'd think they would have realized the life of the party had yet to arrive."
Rachel lolled her head backward as she rolled her eyes. "Careful, baby, you're starting to sound a little full of yourself."
"I was talking about you!" Quinn scoffed, even as her cheeks turned pink once again. She could tell Rachel was enjoying how the novelty of the pet name was affecting her.
Rachel's eyes were bright with mirthful giggles. "I know, I'm just giving you a hard time."
Quinn's breath halted for just a moment when Rachel curled her hands behind Quinn's neck and pressed their bodies lightly together. Quinn melted into it when Rachel popped up onto her tiptoes and pressed a searing kiss to her lips.
They broke apart and laughed into each other's necks when Kurt's voice rang out from the other side of the fence, "Get a room!"
Quinn turned her head to see just his eyes peeking over the top of the fence that stood between them. He was then joined by Mercedes, who waved her and Rachel over impatiently.
"Are you two just going to be macking on each other all day or are you going to come get your pool party on?"
"Alright, alright!" Quinn hollered back. She looked down at Rachel and jerked her head toward the gate. "Go on, give the people what they want. I'll grab our towels and stuff."
Rachel smiled back at her sweetly. "If you insist."
Quinn jumped and let out a squeak when she turned back to the car and Rachel gave her a subtle smack on the ass. Rachel shot her a dazzling coy expression over her shoulder before she proceeded into the back yard.
By the time Quinn retrieved their things and made her way out back to the pool area, Rachel was mingling and being urged toward the water by the large group who were splashing around and throwing beach balls at each other merrily.
Brittany was teaching Sam how to do underwater handstands in the shallow end, Mike and Tina were having a cannon ball contest, and Artie drifted about on a pool float shaped like a dinosaur. Kurt and Mercedes joined Santana at the edge and sat with their feet making little ripples in the water. Finn, who Kurt had assured everyone was ready to hang out and be on his best behavior, dawdled by the speakers with Puck, adding songs to the playlist.
The faint scent of chlorine mixed with freshly mowed grass. The group of friends truly embodied the perfect picture of summer pastime.
Quinn took her time setting her and Rachel's belongings out of the way and breathed a sigh of relief when she found sunscreen in Rachel's bag. She had suffered enough bad sunburns to know that she would be needing it. A request for Rachel to help her put it on her back was on the tip of her tongue when behind her, Santana's voice called everyone's attention.
"Holy smokeshow, Berry!"
Quinn whipped around to find that, in the time she'd had her back turned, Rachel had stripped down to just her bathing suit, and her lithe physique was on full display. Quinn watched her girlfriend step toward the pool, and time seemed to slow as she dragged her eyes up the smooth, toned expanse of her deceptively long legs, over the delicate curve of her ass, to her gently defined abs and round breasts. Her tan skin was glowing in the sunlight; the tiny, bright red bikini she wore barely covered any of it. Quinn was hit with a wave of disbelief that someone as beautiful as Rachel was into her.
Everyone's eyes were wide as they took in the sight.
Mike gave a supportive wolf-whistle.
Sam blew out a long breath that puffed out his cheeks then quickly glanced at Mercedes to make sure he didn't get caught staring.
He didn't have to worry, because Mercedes herself couldn't look away, and she uttered a quiet, "Damn, girl."
"Close your mouth, Santana, you're drooling," Kurt stage-whispered as he reached over and tapped her lightly on the chin.
Santana held her hands up. "What? I mean, she's no Brit, obviously, but look at her! Is anyone else just now coming to the realization that mini-Streisand is a total hottie?"
Brittany chimed in then, "Yeah, I always knew she was always kinda cute, but right now she's like, totally bangable."
Quinn surveyed Rachel's face for her reaction. Fortunately, Rachel seemed to be taking their friends' comments in stride.
"I'm flattered, you guys, but I will take this opportunity to remind you all that I'm very happily taken by an equally bangable hottie."
Quinn beamed and strode over to her girlfriend by the poolside, removing her tank top on the way so she was in just her bikini top and shorts. She deftly swept Rachel into her arms and leaned into a deep, slightly possessive kiss.
When she pulled back, leaving Rachel breathing a bit harder, she turned back to the rest of the group. "That's right, keep it in your pants, people! She's with me."
Rachel giggled against her shoulder, and Quinn laughed along, her heart full and warm.
Seconds later, Puck and Finn charged from behind them, jumped in the pool, and created a splash big enough to drench both Quinn and Rachel where they stood.
Quinn's mouth fell open from the shock of the cold water. She squeezed her eyes shut as she shook her hair out like a dog, her hands still holding onto Rachel.
When she blinked her eyes open again, she met Rachel's gaze, which shimmered with a mischievous glint.
She struggled to decipher the expression as Rachel's fingers tightened their hold on her shoulders.
Then Rachel's eyes flashed toward the pool and her lips formed a playful grin. Quinn's face fell as she realized what was about to happen. She eyed the edge of the pool that was approximately a foot from their feet, and she shook her head ardently. Rachel was going to have her fun, but it didn't mean Quinn wouldn't put up a fight.
Rachel nodded, her expression feigning sympathy, then she fully wrapped her arms around Quinn's neck, clutching on so she couldn't get away.
Even as Rachel pushed them both to the ledge of the pool, Quinn shrieked, half laughing, "No, no, no, no, no, no!" until her voice was drowned as she and Rachel toppled into the pool in a tangle of limbs.
Water rushed around them, and Quinn found that it was in fact a nice reprieve from the heat of the afternoon.
When Quinn surfaced, grin firmly intact, she pulled Rachel back to her while she treaded water. She slicked her hair back and shook her head.
"Such a troublemaker."
Rachel shrugged. "I prefer to think of myself as an agent of fun."
Quinn tossed her head back in amusement. "Okay, agent. Mission accomplished."
Rachel wrapped her legs around Quinn's hips, and Quinn dipped a hand onto her ass to hold her in place.
Santana slipped into the water and swam in their direction.
"Damn, Q, and you told us to keep it in our pants."
Quinn raised a lighthearted middle finger. "Watch yourself, San, I hear jealousy gives you wrinkles."
She clenched her free hand on the surface of the water and sent a small squirt flying into Santana's face.
Santana fought a chuckle as she feigned offense. "Oh, so that's how it's gonna be?"
Quinn raised her eyebrows jovially, and Santana launched herself on top of Quinn and Rachel, sending all three of them swirling underwater. As soon as she reached the surface again, Santana paddled away to avoid retribution, and positioned herself behind Brittany, using her girlfriend as a human shield.
Quinn watched with a superbly entertained grin as Rachel grabbed a beach ball that was floating near them and threw it directly at Santana with a lively giggle. It missed by an inch, but Brittany, ever the agent of fun herself, picked it up and bopped it against Santana's chest to a round of laughter from everyone.
Quinn brushed her lips against Rachel's ear and husked, "Thanks for trying to defend my honor, babe."
Rachel let her hand drift over Quinn's thigh. "Anything for you, baby."
Quinn pressed a kiss to her cheek, then swam back over to the side of the pool. "I have to go put some sunscreen on or I'll be a tomato by the end of the day."
She pushed herself up and out of the pool and wrung out the ends of her dripping shorts before shedding them entirely and laying them out in the sun to dry.
She sat herself on top of the patio table where everyone had left their things, patted her wet skin with her towel and squirted some sunblock into her hand as Puck got out of the pool and meandered over to her. He sat on the bench at her feet, reached into his backpack, and produced a water bottle, all while watching her intently. He took a swig from his bottle, glanced toward Rachel, who was happily fending off splashes from Artie and Tina, then turned back to Quinn.
"Let me guess," Quinn cut him off, also darting her eyes to Rachel as she rubbed the sunscreen into her arms and shoulders, "if I hurt her, you'll kill me, right?"
Puck paused then nodded slowly. "That's pretty much the gist, yeah."
Quinn sighed. "Look, I know it can't be easy for you to see us together like this, but I really appreciate how cool you've been about everything." She reached out and put a hesitant hand on his back. "You're a good guy, Puck. Everyone knows how much you care about her. I promise, I want to treat her as well as she deserves."
Puck swallowed thickly, then, without meeting her eye, held out his water bottle to her. "Want some tequila?"
Quinn lifted an eyebrow but accepted and took a swig. She immediately choked when it burned the back of her throat. She coughed as she handed the bottle back to him and spluttered, "That's, ugh, smooth."
"You're a good sport, Quinn." Puck chuckled and patted her on the back. "And for what it's worth, I'm okay with coming in second place if you're the one taking first. You guys have my blessing." He put his hands up defensively and continued before Quinn could say anything, "And I totally acknowledge that it's unnecessary. I don't mean it in a patriarchal permission sort of way. I just wanna, you know, show my support or whatever."
Quinn opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, unsure of how to respond. Eventually, she settled on, "Thank you."
It was late by the time the pool party ended. The New Directions had passed the afternoon and evening with all of the expected silliness and frivolity.
Quinn and Rachel narrowly lost a chicken tournament to Mike and Tina. When Rachel was knocked off her shoulders, Quinn ducked below the surface and fulfilled a long-held kissing-underwater fantasy. It was just as romantic as she'd imagined it would be, despite the fact that their friends had nabbed the title from them. It definitely didn't feel like a consolation prize.
They split into teams and had a rambunctious race, paddling pool floats haphazardly from one end to the other.
They acquired a foam football and competed in trying to catch it mid-air as they leapt into the water. Artie was the designated thrower, and only Puck and Brittany were successful in making the catch, though Brittany was the only one who made it look even remotely graceful.
Tina's parents graciously provided them with dinner, and afterward, the group of friends just lounged around on the lawn.
Sam and Puck had brought their guitars with them, so naturally they all put on a miniature concert for themselves under the rapidly darkening sky.
It was nearly midnight by the time Quinn and Rachel crept into the stillness of Rachel's quiet house. Rachel's dads had clearly already gone to bed.
The instant the front door closed behind them, Rachel shoved Quinn up against it and captured her lips in a steaming kiss. Quinn inhaled sharply through her nose at the suddenness of it but quickly brought her hands up to cradle Rachel's face and kiss her back with fervor. Rachel wasted no time in slipping her tongue between Quinn's lips.
Rachel somehow pushed even closer, and Quinn felt her throat tighten at the contact. Their bodies lined up together seamlessly. Rachel grasped her waist firmly as their breasts pressed together, and Quinn heard a soft moan fill the air around them. It took a moment for her to realize interestedly that it had escaped from her own mouth.
Quinn's breath came in short gasps when Rachel tilted her head and pressed hot, open-mouthed kisses along her jaw and down the column of her neck.
She buried her fingers in Rachel's hair as she managed to rasp, "Should- mmm- should we go up to your room?"
Heat was rising throughout her body from her core. Rachel's hands were slowly dragging their way up Quinn's stomach. When she palmed Quinn's breasts over her shirt, Quinn nearly saw stars. She pulled Rachel back up to her face by the hair, wanting to feel her lips on hers again before she kissed across her cheek on the way to nibble Rachel's earlobe.
"Th-the couch is closer."
They shuffled blindly out of the entryway and into the living room, mouths fused together, and knocked into two different end tables in the process. Rachel whimpered when Quinn nipped at her bottom lip.
Their bodies shifted together like tectonic plates; there was friction, though hardly perceptible on the surface, and Quinn could feel the earth start to quake beneath her fingertips.
Quinn stuck a hand out behind her to feel for the sofa just a moment too late. The backs of her knees connected with the arm of the couch and her legs buckled, sending the both of them flopping spastically off of the nearest cushion and onto the floor with a heavy thud.
Quinn wanted to laugh along with the giggles that instantly burst out of Rachel at their clumsiness, but a paralyzing paranoia stopped that urge in its tracks.
"Do you think your dads heard that?" She glanced at the stairs with wide eyes and listened for movement.
Rachel shook her head. "It's the middle of the night, Quinn, they've been asleep for at least an hour."
Quinn swallowed. "I just… I don't want to get caught. We shouldn't get too carried away."
Rachel chuckled but nodded sympathetically. "Okay, baby. Certainly wouldn't want to disturb the Misters Berry."
She softly kissed Quinn on the temple, and Quinn hummed appreciatively.
Quinn stood and helped Rachel to her feet so that they could settle properly on the couch.
Quinn tucked her legs underneath her and took hold of one of Rachel's hands in both of hers. She stroked lightly over the lines on Rachel's palm with the pad of her index finger. She was still floored by how lucky she was to have Rachel.
Rachel turned on the television, then she nestled snugly into Quinn's side with her feet propped up on the coffee table. They fell asleep like that not long after.
When Quinn woke the next morning, she was lying lengthwise on the couch with Rachel face-down on top of her chest. She smiled softly and craned her neck forward to place a kiss on the top of her head. Her back was stiff from sleeping on the sofa, but she decided then and there, with the warmth of Rachel's body spread over her, that it was well worth it.
The sound of her phone buzzing drew her attention, and she carefully reached out to pick it up, trying not to move too much so as not to wake Rachel.
Her heart skipped when she peered at the screen and saw that she had nine missed calls from "Momster."
She sat up abruptly, sending Rachel hurtling into the back cushions of the couch. Rachel blinked sleepily and rubbed at her face.
"Hey, wha's goin' on? G'morning."
Quinn grinned affectionately at her girlfriend's half-awake, confused mumbling.
"Morning, babe." She got to her feet and fired off a text letting her mom know that she was on her way home. "I'm really sorry, but I have to go. I have a ton of missed calls from my mom. Not sure if I'm in trouble or if there's some kind of emergency, but either way, I have to get home."
"Oh." Rachel pouted a little but nodded understandingly. "Okay. Do you want coffee or anything for the road?"
"No, that's okay, thank you." Quinn leaned down and kissed her sweetly. "Talk to you later, okay?"
Rachel nodded, and Quinn hurried out the door to her car. She didn't know what reasoning her mother had for trying to call her so many times, but everyone knows that when your mom is that persistent in attempting to reach you, it can't be good.
She raced through town, blowing past a couple of stop signs once she reached her own neighborhood, and practically sprinted from her Jeep into her house.
An apology was already flying from her tongue when she ran frantically inside.
"Hey, I'm sorry, I just saw you called-"
She was cut off when her mother rushed forward and engulfed her in a brief hug. Both of her parents were waiting for her just inside the door. Neither of them looked happy.
"Oh, honey, thank goodness you're safe." Judy took a step back and a stern expression snapped into place. "Now where in God's name have you been? I got a call from Tina's mother. She wanted to let you know that you are welcome to pick up the towel you forgot at their house when you left yesterday evening. You told us you and your friends were all staying at the Cohen-Chang residence. Where were you all night?"
Quinn glanced back and forth between her mom and dad, caught in her lie. Judy looked vaguely disappointed, and Russell's aggravation was clear in the deep-set downturned state of his mouth.
She scrambled internally to come up with an excuse, but before she could even try to say that she had gone off with Santana and Brittany, her father rumbled, arms crossed tightly across his chest, "Were you with that Hudson boy?"
Quinn had to stifle an inappropriate ripple of laughter at that. The anger in her father's eyes quelled that impulse rather quickly.
"I- no! Of course not!"
Russell's face got red as a deepening frown contorted his features. "Do not lie to me!"
Judy stepped in and placed a calming hand on his chest. "Russell, honey, Quinnie's a good girl, I'm sure this is all some misunderstanding."
Russell took a few deep breaths then muttered, "You're right." He turned to Quinn. "It's those kids you've been hanging out with so much this year, they're a bad influence on you. Exposing you to all sorts of… ideas. Staying out with some boy is just the tip of the iceberg."
Quinn felt like the air had been let out of her body. It didn't take a genius to figure out what he meant by "ideas."
All her life, she had heard his off-handed remarks. He and his buddies at the country club loved to sit around, several drinks deep, and gossip about pretty much any marginalized community. She'd even heard him talk about Rachel's dads specifically. Of course, he referred to them as "those gays" who were so fruity and queer, even their name was a fruit. Then he'd go on about how they were allowed to raise a child and then "set it loose in a school with everyone else's kids," as if Rachel were some sort of animal carrying an infectious disease.
Even through the layers of memory, Quinn could physically feel the disgust and disdain that colored his voice when he would get into it.
"You're grounded. One week, no seeing any of those little delinquents."
Quinn grimaced and directed her gaze toward her shoes. A few tense, silent moments later, Russell fumed out of the room, grumbling something about "should've sprung for private school" and "Franny never gave me this kind of trouble."
Quinn's chest felt heavy. She thought of her friends and the harmless, up-standing fun they had together. She thought about Rachel and how she was, without a doubt, the biggest force of growth and positivity in her life.
She thought about how much she craved her father's love and approval, and how any semblance of that would be ripped away if he were to find out who she was and how she had really spent last night.
When Quinn looked back up at her mom, she found that her vision had blurred with unshed tears.
"My friends aren't bad people, Mom."
They were good people. And Rachel, she was the best of them all.
Judy said nothing, but gently squeezed Quinn's hand before she headed off into the kitchen. Quinn watched her go, and she brushed, frustrated, at the tears that began to fall.