"You don't belong with Finn or Puck or me or anyone in this stupid ass podunk town! You're going to do great things. We'll just tie you down. We're not going anywhere. You're going up. We'll look you up for our high school reunion and we'll have to schedule it around you and your Broadway shows. Just leave it alone. Go home and get packed. You're getting out of here. We're not."
You stand at the kitchen sink, rinsing off the dishes from dinner. You wonder how your life got like this. This was all part of your plan, but you didn't plan to hate it. You resented the cute little two-bedroom house with its privacy fence. You resent the little silver Honda in the driveway that you drive to work. You resent your job at Lima Real Estate Company where you're the second highest grossing agent there. You resent that that still doesn't make you a lot of money because it's still Lima Fucking Ohio.
You thought children would make it easier and for a while you two tried but after a few months and a doctor's visit you find that he's shooting blanks. You never spoke of having children with him again.
As the water runs down the sink, you wonder what happen to your plans. You were going to stay here for a while and then do something amazing. She weren't quite sure what that was yet, but it was going to come to you in a stroke of genius and soon the whole world would know the name Quinn Fabray.
But you're still standing at your sink, rinsing the teriyaki chicken residue off of your plate. Then you rinse if off his plate. Your teeth clench together because even after all the times you've asked him to, he doesn't stop scraping his fork against the plates your got at your wedding and now it's starting to wear the green flowers off of the tan plate.
You can't help, but think this marriage was over before it started. He was convenient and it was expected of you. Your sister got married straight out of high school and so did you. Now you realize it was a mistake. A mistake that's been festering for four years. You both know it but neither one of you will bring it up. You'll yell and tell him that he's not trying hard enough. He'll yell at you and tell you that he doesn't know what you want because you never want to talk to him.
"This isn't working." His voice is quiet.
You wonder how he could tell what you were thinking, but you're not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. You've been too scared to bring this up and since he did, you sigh and say, "I know."
His voice is tired and emotionless, "Then why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't-" You turn around for the confrontation that has been building up in your mind for years. Then you see that he's holding the mantle clock, tinkering with it - trying to fix it. He's talking about the clock.
You sigh again, this time out of disappointment and turn back to the dishes, "I don't know."
The next day at work they offer to pay for you to go to New York City for a few days for a national real estate agent conference because the top real estate agent came down with mono. Even though it's next week, you jump at it because any chance to get out of Lima is a good one.
The conference is the perfect excuse to get away, to get out of town, to get a grip. Waking up next to him, going to work, coming home, making dinner, and falling asleep next to him... It makes you shudder thinking about it but you do it everyday and you want to vomit.
Once in you're alone in your office you smile to yourself. She's in New York City. You slide behind her desk and shake the mouse to wake up the monitor. You Google her name a couple times a week at work just to see what she's up to, who she's been dating, that she's doing well. She is doing well. She always is.
So you call up Santana and ask if her couch is still open. She tells you that you can sleep in the spare room because they can't keep a roommate (for reasons you know but just smile at). She's been using it as a study but you're welcome to it for however long you want it.
Finn took it well when you told him you'd be gone. A little too well and maybe he was a little relieved. When you get back you decide to put him out of his misery. You'll call one of the few lawyers in town and get the proper papers. You know he'll stay with you out of obligation but you can't do that to him anymore.
He drops you off at the airport and you give him a small smile. He smiles back and tells you to have a good time. You roll your eyes because how much fun can a real estate conference be? He chuckles and kisses you. It's a peck on the lips and it's comforting because you haven't done anything more than this in almost five months.
When he gets in the car he waves before you turn around and walk into the airport. You check your purse for your tickets. The plane tickets and the ones to the show you decided to see. Of course it's her show, but if anyone asks you heard good things about it and had no idea she'd been playing the lead female role for two months and a week. Because that's not something that people know off the top of their heads, you especially.
The play is this evening and you're giddy. You know that you'll be missing the introduction seminar but how much fun can a bunch of people discussing square footage and granite countertops be?
When you land Santana is at the airport, waiting for you nursing a cup of coffee. It's early and you told her that you'd be okay taking a cab, but she insisted. She smiles and gives you a hug. You notice that she looks tired and you tell her so.
"I have a huge test coming up," she sighs and starts leading the way out to the parking garage.
You rub her arm and give her an encouraging smile. "It's only like three more years right?"
"Ugh," she rubs her eyes, "Don't remind me." She shakes her head, "Anyway, how's Lima?"
You don't really want to talk about it so you give her the shortest answer you can, "It's still Lima."
"When are you going to move out here?" she unlocks her car and opens the trunk for you to put your bags in.
All you give her is a half-hearted shrug. If you thought it was if at all possible, you'd already live here. But Finn can't make a decent living up here and the New York City real estate market is difficult, if not impossible to break into without the proper connections. And your real estate connections out side of Lima total to zero.
"Nice ride," you chuckle when you noticed the butterfly air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror.
"I don't actually own a car smartass," Santana explains with a gentle smile.
You know whose car it is. You just like to tease her. It would be so easy for her to tease you about your situation, but she doesn't and you're grateful. "Where is your better half?"
"She's at work," Santana offers. You see a hint of sadness in her eyes. In your frequent phone calls, she tells you that they almost never see each other. It breaks your heart because you've never met anyone more perfect for each other and who actually love being around each other.
When you get to her apartment, you find it exactly like the pictures she sent you when she was redecorating. She walks to the guest room and you find that there are books piled up everywhere, but the bed and nightstand are clear.
"I'm sorry about the mess," she takes a deep breath, "I meant to clean it, but I lose all kinds of time when I'm studying."
"It's perfect," you smile because anything is better than the disgusting mattresses and sheets of a hotel. You watch way too much TV, mostly because it fills in the silence between you and Finn, and one night you saw a special about how badly hotel rooms actually get cleaned. From then on you've either brought your own sheets or insisted on staying with friends or relatives.
She yawns, but tries to cover it up with her hand. "Is there anything you wanted to see that you haven't seen yet?"
"You say that like I come here all the time," you place your bags by the bed and follow her to the living room, "I haven't seen anything except for the time we came out here for Nationals in high school."
"If you would have snuck out with us you would have seen a lot more," she smirked.
You shake your head and push some of your blonde hair out of your eyes. You would have snuck out with them, had Rachel not been your roommate at the hotel. This was your chance to get to see her up close and watch how she did normal everyday things. You told everyone that you didn't go because Rachel would have ratted on you, but you wanted to make the most of your time left with the rising star. She spent most of the night lecturing you on one topic or another, but you didn't mind contrary to popular belief. You would have listened to her talk for days if you didn't think she would pass out.
"What time is the show?" Santana asks because she's going with you.
You pull the tickets out of your purse like you hadn't already memorized the entire thing. After a beat you answer, "Four."
"I keep forgetting how early weekend shows can be," Santana falls back on the couch and takes another sip of her coffee, "Well we can get dressed and go have lunch before the show. It'll be dark by the time we get out and maybe Brit can meet us for dinner." She picked up her cell phone and dialed who you assume to be Brittany.
You walk over to the window in the living room while she's on the phone. Below you are people walking up and down the streets. You muse that the population of Lima wouldn't amount to the people that you could see out the window.
"You are?" Santana asks, sounding excited. You haven't been listening to her conversation, but when her volume grew you turn around to take notice. She's grinning from ear to ear. Then her eyes flicker up and see you. Her smile fades and her posture slumps a little, "I'm sorry babe, I'm going to a show with Quinn…"
You stride over to the couch and take the phone from Santana. Brittany is saying something, but you interrupt her, "Santana would love to."
"Quinn?" Brittany's voice asks in your ear.
"Hey Brittany," you smile at the sound of her voice. She doesn't sound like she's changed at all. You're happy that even the Big Apple couldn't jade the bubbly blonde.
"Are you sure Q?" she asks innocently.
"Of course," you answer. It's not even a question. Just because you're relationship sucks doesn't mean theirs should too.
"Maybe we can meet for dinner," Brittany suggests and you immediately agree. You hand the phone back to Santana who says a quick goodbye.
Santana looks you over and you can feel it. You love and hate her extremely scrutinizing eyes at all at the same time. "Are you sure? I mean, you're only going to be here for a few days."
"You never get to see her," you shake your head, leaving no room for argument, "You need some quality time. This way I'm gone for a few hours so I don't have to hear the reason you two can't keep a roommate. We can meet for dinner or something."
She stands up and pulls you into a hug, "Thanks Q. We need this."
You nod understandingly and hold Santana to you. This is probably the most human contact you've had in months. It's nice.
You two meet Brittany at the deli down the street for lunch. She wraps you in a fierce hug and you laugh because you love Brittany and the way she hugs.
"I've missed you so much," she tells you and pulls back to look at you, "You really need to come up here more often."
"Or you guys could come back more often," you joke. Brittany scrunches up her nose and Santana chuckles.
"I'd rather cut off my-" Santana paused and shook her head with a laugh, "I almost said something really nerdy."
"Phalanges?" Brittany teased her and gently bumped Santana's shoulder. They kiss and you smile wider because you love the look of love. You wonder what it feels like before they direct their attention at you.
Brittany asks you questions about anything and everything that's going on in your life. You carefully sidestep the ones about your marriage and try not to make Lima sound like the hellhole that you feel it is. You know Santana has noticed and is thoughtfully swirling a French fry in her ketchup.
After Brittany entertains everyone with stories of work and just her general life, you tell them that you have to go. They both hug you and Brittany waves off your offer to pay.
When you pause at the door to make sure your purse is closed, you glance back at them. They're smiling at each other, pure love in their eyes. You smile sadly and walk onto the busy street.
You've learned from your many phone conversations with Santana the proper cab hailing technique and you're sitting in one within minutes. New York City amazes you in a why that you can't describe. The buildings and the people are just superficial fascinations. You love the colors of the city. The dull building in contrast with the bright signs. You love the street performers peddling their talent and the mini boutiques set up on the side of the road where you can buy just about anything for the right price. You love that you don't know what those two guys are doing when they walk into the alley because it lends to the mystery of the city. The place where anything could happen.
You arrive at the theatre almost an hour early, but you're eager and can't stand to think of what would happen there was an accident and you were late. You're allowed to take your seat when you arrive and are glad to find that you have the perfect view of the entire stage.
You're whole body is buzzing with the knowledge that she's somewhere behind those curtains. Perhaps doing a pre-show ritual. Perhaps lounging around backstage, joking with her co-stars. Perhaps reclining in a chair while people fuss over her make up and hair. It's like you can feel her.
In fact, you become so wrapped up in this feeling that you don't notice that everyone else has taken their seats until the lights go down.
Excitement surges through your whole body. You hope that you'll recognize her. You hope that the people around you don't talk because you'll have to punch them if they interrupt one of her lines.
Then she walks out into the stage and everything else fades out. You can't actually make out the little details of her face because you are just a mere Lima, Ohio real estate agent and these tickets were expensive to begin with but you know it's her. Her voice is unmistakable. You're rapt with her entire performance. You probably didn't blink while she was on the stage. It was all so magical for you.
When she show was over, you were among the last to leave the theatre. You didn't want to break the spell of the play, but when the janitors started to sweep up, the moment was gone. You guess you should call Santana and see if the two are ready for dinner. Then you realize what you'd be doing if the love of your life that you only saw here and there was home early from work. You decide to do something that you weren't sure you had the guts for yet before interrupting them.
You stand across the street from the backstage door that you know she'll be walking out of. You see the people crowded around the gate and let out a smile. It's hard not to be proud of her. She made her dreams come true and you like to think you showed her the way out of black hole that is Lima.
When she walks out your heart stops. The years have done nothing harsh to her. If nothing else they have given her a beautiful maturity. Her long black coat waves with the light wind and the people that walk out behind her fan out to either side of her. She's more stunning than you remember and it takes a minute for you to realize that she's staring back. Her pen is poised to sign an autograph, the breeze blowing her hair out of her face, while her brown eyes are staring right back at you.
Everything around you turns surreal. It blurs and the sounds melt into one whirling noise that fills your ears. You know at that moment that you don't have the guts to do what you wanted to do.
You watch her quickly finish the autograph and break away from the crowd. She can't stop your feet from starting down the sidewalk. It's too much so you do what you've become so good at, walk away.
Unfortunately you get disoriented at the next street corner and you feel a hand on your sleeve. You know its her even before she says, "Quinn, don't think you'll get away without saying hi."