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Chapter 3: 22

The two became fast friends, as sometimes happens when you're stuck beside someone for hours upon hours with nothing to do. They never really talked much about themselves, for obvious reasons, but they kept finding something to talk about.

Rachel was happy that she had somehow managed to sit next to probably the one person at the airport who didn't know who she was. It was nice having a conversation with someone who didn't treat her differently; it hadn't happened in a long time. And for that person to not only be interesting and funny and charming, but insanely beautiful.

Well, happy early birthday to her.

All too soon, the 'fasten seatbelts' light came back on and she knew that it was about to be over. She would have to make a move before it was too late, or leave the airport without a lasting link to Quinn.

"Quinn?" Rachel said as she felt the plane hit the ground. Quinn had been staring out the window, watching their descent. The two had changed seats sometime during the flight because of Rachel's constant trips to the restroom.

"Hm?" she asked, looking away and back toward Rachel.

"I know we just met and you're probably very tired from all the traveling, but I'm not and so I was wondering if maybe you wanted to go get a drink or something after we get off this plane?" It all came out in a rush, and Rachel knew she was rambling just like she used to in high school. Most of the time, she could keep herself in check. Then there were those rare moments when she got so excited or nervous, or in this case both, that she would be reduced to a teenager again.

Quinn flashed her a smile, causing her stomach to flip. "I'd love that, actually. Do you have a place in mind… or I could recommend somewhere?"

She shook her head. "I'm not that familiar with London, or, well, any party scene. I've never been one to go out."

Quinn cocked an eyebrow. "Then why would you want to go now?"

"I guess with you I want to," Rachel stated, chancing a glance at Quinn's eyes.

It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters

And make fun of our exes

It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight

To fall in love with strangers.

Quinn wasn't sure why they kept getting strange looks as they walked through the terminal, but she didn't let it bother her. She noticed it was, however, bothering Rachel. Rachel looked highly uncomfortable at the stares, so Quinn decided the best thing to do would be to wrap an arm around her waist, to pull her in close to let her know she wasn't alone.

If Quinn wasn't so used to picking up American girls in the airport, she probably would've considered it overstepping boundaries. At the moment, though, she didn't think anything of it. She really and truly wasn't trying to flirt with Rachel, just to comfort her. Rachel gave her a small smile in thanks.

"So do you want to go to a club or a bar?" Quinn asked, partially to distract Rachel from the attention they were getting, but mostly to figure out where to tell the cab driver they were going.

"Um," Rachel pondered over the choices in her head for a little while. "I don't… Surprise me."

Quinn nodded. Rachel probably didn't have any experience at all with either of them. She would surprise her, all right.

We're happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time

It's miserable and magical, oh yeah

Tonight's the night when we forget about the deadlines

It's time.

Rachel was about to die from cuteness. Quinn was being so nice, and it had been a long time since anyone had been this genuinely nice, her employees excluded. Not to mention her every move was endearing. From the way Quinn was holding onto her waist to the way she pulled Rachel's bag off the conveyor belt for her.

He had never been this nice.

It wasn't until they got Rachel's bags that the paparazzi appeared. And Rachel was so wrapped up in Quinn that she didn't even notice it until the flashes started going off.

Poor Quinn looked so confused. She glanced over at Rachel, looking for an explanation, and then it dawned on her. Rachel watched as Quinn's face went from confusion to recognition to hurt all in a matter of seconds before finally putting on a neutral, guarded expression.

Rachel expected her to say something. She expected her to make a scene. But Quinn defied her expectations and did nothing but continue on outside to hail a cab.

The second they were loaded up and zooming toward Quinn's flat (they needed a place to drop off their things before going out, and Quinn's was closer), Quinn spoke.

"So you're her."

Rachel sighed. "I am."

"I'm really sorry about the things I said. I didn't know…" Quinn said, shocking Rachel. Quinn was the one apologizing? If anyone, Rachel felt that she should be apologizing. She was the one who had deceived her.

"It's completely alright. I didn't want you to know. It was actually a relief that you didn't know," Rachel confessed.

"That still doesn't make it okay. The things I said… You must think I'm a horrible person," she said, looking down.

"Quinn," Rachel said, trying to catch her eye. "Far worse has been said about me. So let's not dwell on it any longer."

Quinn sighed. "Okay, I just feel really—"

"Quinn," Rachel glared at her, cutting her off. This caused her to giggle, and Rachel couldn't help but smile. Damn, she was adorable.

"Let's just have fun tonight," Rachel suggested, taking one of Quinn's hands in hers.

Quinn smiled at her. "Okay."

I don't know about you

But I'm feeling 22

Everything will be alright

If you keep me next to you.

It was painfully obvious to Quinn that Rachel had never stepped foot in a lesbian club before that night. The look on her face when they entered the room was priceless. She chuckled, and pulled Rachel closer. They seemed to be literally joined at the hip since the airport.

"You never told me it was exclusively lesbians!" she hissed into Quinn's ear after they ordered their drinks.

"Is that a problem?" Quinn asked, and then it dawned on her. "Oh shit, I completely forgot. This probably wouldn't be good for your image if they found you here, would it?"

"It's not that, well it kind of is, but it's also the fact that I'm not exactly a lesbian," she whispered the last part, as if it she would automatically get kicked out if anyone else heard it, even though the music was so loud that no one would overhear them, even if they were talking at normal volume.

Quinn calmly took a sip of her drink, and then smirked. "Really? I kind of just assumed seeing as you flirted with me the entire plane ride."

"I did not!"

"And you asked me out," she added. "So I think you might want to reconsider your sexuality."

Quinn couldn't deny that Rachel looked insanely cute when she was infuriated. "Fine! You caught me! I'm bisexual! But if you leak that to the press, I swear"

"Chill, Rachel," Quinn cut her off. "I'm not going to tell anyone. Though it will kind of be obvious if those pictures of us leaving the airport get out."

"Fuck!" Hearing Rachel curse had Quinn laughing. She just didn't seem like the type that cursed that often.

All of a sudden, Rachel downed her drink. Then she turned to Quinn with a grin. "Fuck it all to hell. Kurt's going to kill me in the morning already. Do you want to dance?"

Quinn smiled, taking Rachel's hand. "It would be an honor."

You don't know about me

But I'll bet you want to

Everything will be alright

If we just keep dancing like we're 22.

Rachel felt free. She felt free and loved and safe. Quinn brought about all the best feelings. Well, it was either Quinn or the alcohol, but she was pretty sure it was Quinn.

As the night wore on, she had more and more drinks, but she didn't care. She was dancing with the prettiest girl in the world in London where no one could find her on the weekend of her birthday. Everything was perfect. She felt like she was in college again, partying with her friends after a failed Broadway audition to feel better. Only this time she was dancing with someone she was immensely attracted to instead of with Blaine or another one of her gay male friends.

"Do you want to sit down?" Quinn asked all of a sudden.

Rachel was about ready for another drink, so she nodded in agreement. Quinn took her by the hand and led the way off the dance floor over to a circular booth before going to fetch them some drinks. Rachel honestly couldn't believe her luck with finding someone as nice as Quinn. This was how a birthday was meant to be spent.

"What're you thinking about?" Quinn questioned, bringing Rachel back from her thoughts.

She looked over at Quinn and grinned. "How spectacular you are."

"What, because I brought you a drink?" Quinn took a sip of her water. She had had enough alcohol already. "Because if that makes a person spectacular, then you've been hanging around the wrong type of people."

"That's probably true," Rachel replied, thinking of all the people she associated herself with at the present time just because they were good for her image. They certainly weren't very nice. She hadn't had genuinely nice friends since college. "But I meant it in more than a way of you just getting me a drink."

"I know," she admitted. "I just want to hear you say all the wonderful things about me."

Rachel swatted at her playfully. "Well for starters, you're so modest!"

Quinn smirked. "I never claimed to be anything else."

"I'm sure you get all the ladies, then."

"Well," she replied, pausing for emphasis, as if she had to think to make sure there wasn't a single time where she wasn't able to win over a girl. Rachel rolled her eyes. "Yeah pretty much."

"So I probably shouldn't break your winning streak then, huh?" Rachel asked, leaning in closer. It was probably the alcohol, but Rachel was feeling flirty. She hadn't felt that way in a long time.

"Mm no, that wouldn't be ideal," Quinn murmured, turning her head in preparation.

Normally when she was about to kiss someone, Rachel would be looking in every direction to see if someone had a camera phone out, but with Quinn she didn't care. Let them take a picture if they want, she thought, fuck it, it's my birthday and I'll kiss a beautiful girl if I want to.

Their lips were mere centimeters from each other when Rachel heard her phone ringing. She groaned and pulled back, knowing from the ringtone it was her manager. It was like he had sensed her saying "fuck it" to everything in her mind. She looked over at Quinn, who was looking equally as disappointed and frustrated as her.

"I need to take this," Rachel sighed, standing up.

Quinn gave her a half smile. "Important superstar stuff?"

She rolled her eyes. "I doubt it. I'll be back in a minute."

"If you're not, I'm coming out after you."

"Please do."

With that, Rachel took off back to the exit. There was no way she would be able to hear anything Kurt was saying if she was inside due to the music, and while this would probably be a blessing, Rachel knew he wouldn't appreciate it.

The second she was outside, she hit accept. "What?" she asked, irritated.

"Well hello to you too," Kurt said, sounding just as irritated as her. "May I ask what's got you in such a foul mood, as I haven't even told you the news yet."

"It's none of your business," Rachel replied. "I told you before I left that this is my birthday weekend and I didn't want to be bothered with work."

"Fine, then as your friend, I hate to inform you, but you're going to be on a tabloid tomorrow thanks to your PDA in Heathrow."

"Is that all? Not going to yell at me?" Rachel was suspicious. No way would Kurt let her off this easily.

"No. I'm your friend right now and not your manager. The yelling can wait until Monday," he answered. "However, we do need to discuss the woman in question."

"Kurt…" Rachel warned.

He ignored her. "I've done a bit of digging, and do you have any idea who she is?"

"She's the nicest and most genuine person I've met in a long time, and that's all I need to know."

Kurt laughed. "She's a famous painter, Rachel, and she was so easy to find with the help of the internet. Though in every article I've found of her, there's always another name beside hers."

"So she's a collaborator. Lots of great artists are, Rogers and Hammerstein for example," Rachel defended.

"I thought that might be the case too, until I found a picture," Rachel felt her heart sink. "Would you like me to send it to you?"

"No," she whispered. With the slam of the door, Rachel looked up to find Quinn there, smiling at her.

"She's a player, Rachel. All the message boards say so. She's dating photographer Zoie James, and sleeping with every girl she can on the side."

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