Disclaimer: This is entirely a work of fiction. These characters are not mine. I own absolutely nothing, and I hate that fact, seriously.
A/N: This is for my friend's birthday, Amie (marshmallowhobo). But that was a month ago. I know I'm so late. Sorry! I hope you like it. xD
A/N2: Big thanks to my ninja!beta. You know who you are. :)
Quinn Fabray hates the subway.
If you ask her why, she can give you a whole series of reasons in record time. In fact, she has them all written down on a list; The Pros and Cons of Taking the Subway is scrawled there somewhere behind her Chemistry notes, with only the cons column filled up. (Though, it was more to pass the time than anything else because her Chem class was just that tedious, and she only has ten bulleted reasons. But still…)
One bullet states how much she detests the New York City Subway System, and the scary, ultimately unfriendly guards who check passenger bags, and the people behind the ticket booths and their 'I woke up on the wrong side of the bed again' attitude.
Another says how much she finds their rules vague and quite unreasonable. (So, it's totally fine to grope fellow riders but coffee is not allowed to be brought inside? Ridiculous, isn't it?)
But then, it's not like she has a choice, since it's the most practical mode of transportation she can take on her way to New York University.
So at exactly 8:00 am, she jostles her way through 137th Street Station and stands dutifully at her usual spot.
Quinn doesn't have to wait long before she hears the familiar chug-a-chug, and she takes a few deep breaths as she watches the train come to a halt, murmuring here we go as it finally does.
The doors ding open, the passengers align; she braces herself.
Quinn starts to feel the impatient nudging as soon as the last passenger to get off exits the train car, and fights the urge to push back—or snarl at the very least—at that one person who keeps on poking her back with whatever he's carrying in his hands. (Whoever he is, he's extremely lucky.) It's the first day of the month; she really doesn't need the bad vibes.
She makes it inside, squeezing her way through until she takes her place by the nearest window from the door, and shifts her black Umbrella Corp bag a little to her front when she's comfortable enough, to keep an eye on her things. (She had lost her wallet and cell phone once; she isn't going to take any chances.)
The doors are closing as she's plugging her earphones on. She has never liked the sounds of bustling and cranky people in the train, so she turns up the volume of her iPod up and drowns out the rest of the world.
The drum beat drops at the same time the train starts to move. Rolling in the Deep should keep her company, and she thinks it'll do, at least for now.
One stop later, she spots an empty seat a mere five steps away from her place.
She's on her way to take the seat when a teenage boy cuts her and claims the spot, dropping himself unceremoniously. He perches his small bag—compared to hers—on his lap and starts to play with the football he's holding in his hands, tossing it back and forth. He must have sensed her looking because he turns his head and gives her a bumptious grin.
Her face twists violently in disgust, and all he ever gets in return is the biggest scowl she can muster. (And the resounding thought of her shoving the football in his smirking face, amongst other unpleasant orifices.)
Now, she can't wait to write this as reason number eleven on her cons list.
Three stops from City College Station, the one thing that is keeping Quinn's patience intact for the whole ride rushes inside.
She instantly perks up at the first sight of argyle and brown hair, her thumb pressing her iPod on pause instinctively. Her fingers quickly unhook the earphones off almost with practiced ease, carelessly stuffing the entire thing inside her bag.
Knee-high socks, argyle sweater and skimpy skirt, one would think this girl is an easy catch, except, she isn't really. Nowhere near easy, if you ask Quinn. (If she was, it wouldn't take Quinn two weeks and three days to scrounge up the courage to ask for her name.)
Though maybe, that's just her.
Quinn watches as the girl looks around for a vacant seat, and the small yet adorable frown she makes when she can't find any coaxes an unconscious smile from the blonde's lips. Quinn's eyes trail the girl's every move, until she's able to settle in on that small space at the nearest corner.
The girl's back is to her, and they're about three steps apart or so. Perhaps it's the music she remembers last playing, the line to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die—and she just really, really loved 500 Days of Summer and how Tom and Summer first spoke to each other—that she feels a sudden surge of bravado coursing through her veins.
With a deep breath, the fingers of her right hand wrapped securely around the train's many stainless steel poles, she begins to make a move.
Well the pleasure- the privilege is mine.
A deep breath then two, syncing with her slow, deliberate movements. One more, and she's almost ready to let go of the pole, her comfort zone, and Quinn thinks, she can do this. The girl is almost within her reach that she can't stop herself from smiling widely.
To die by your side, well the pleasure and the privilege is mine.
Her heart is pounding its way out of her chest, with anxiety, anticipation and a whole lot of other things Quinn is finding difficult to name.
She swallows the lump she feels fast building inside her throat. With a few jagged breaths, and beads of sweat probably forming on her forehead, she moves forth.
One last step. Almost there…
But the train does at the same time, so she ends up being hurled back into place, and her 'Hello, nice day isn't it?' turns into a little squeak.
A few heads turn in her direction to stare, and Quinn honestly can't find it in her to risk embarrassing herself a little more.
She rests her forehead against her hand still on the cold pole in defeat. Make that two weeks and four days now.
Quinn wordlessly slips inside the café booth, dropping her bag on the empty space beside her in the process. "Subway," She deadpans.
Across her, Santana Lopez—her best friend since birth or maybe even way before that—doesn't ask further. She knows how much Quinn hates the train, from the many rants she's suffered from her all year long. Although, a part of her wonders why Quinn's mood just seemed to have escalated from slightly displeased to full blown miffed for the past two weeks.
"You said eight am sharp," She adds, yet it's mostly to irritate Quinn further. Quinn hates the idea of being late, and the look alone that she gets from her—the way Quinn's face twists into a grimace—kind of makes her day already.
"I know," Quinn breathes through her nose, the air heavy. She pulls out her Anatomy textbook and flips it open at the bookmarked part a little forcefully; it almost tears the entire page apart.
"You seriously need to get your mack on."
She looks up from the book and glares at Santana. If she only knew.
Fifteen minutes later, Mike Chang slides inside their booth and gives Santana's things a little shove to make some space for his own. "Hey."
Quinn nods at him briefly, as a way of greeting, while Santana glowers at him in response.
Mike simply shrugs the reprimand off and asks, "What are we studying for?"
"Anatomy," answers Santana, still looking unimpressed at how her newly bought textbooks were just shoved to the corner. "You know the bitch comes with pop quizzes every damn time."
"And you fail, every damn time," Quinn chimes in without looking up. The way her head is angled just about hides the amused smirk gracing her lips.
Santana leans against the table and fakes a grin. "Oh, I'm sorry. Not everyone here is a straight A student," she says. "Besides, that is what our early rendezvous are for."
"No," Quinn replies in a playful tone, "it's an excuse for you to get out of your house."
Santana picks a breadstick from the plate next to her and points it at Quinn, then starts munching. "That too."
"Doctor Sanders is like the female version of Mister Crocker," Mike muses as he carelessly flips through the pages of his book. "I swear. I think it gives her some sort of nirvana every time she sees her students fail."
Quinn snorts out unwillingly, clearly amused. "Nirvana?"
Mike's response to that is a fast spreading blush. He fixes his glasses back into place and ducks away from Quinn's curious eyes. "I would've said the o word, but you know…"
The way he trails off snaps Santana's attention back to him, and she stares at him like he's suddenly sprouted another head. "You're kidding right?"
He shoots her a puzzled look in turn. "About what?"
"Cartoons, Chang," Santana drawls out. "Are you serious?"
"What? What's wrong with that?" Mike says, feeling quite relieved that she doesn't ask any more about his inability to say that word—or any word for that matter. (It isn't his fault that he flushes like mad whenever it comes to those things.)
"What are you? Twelve?" She jeers, leaning against the table towards Mike.
He doesn't take any offense, and instead mimics Santana's tone earlier as he says, "Oh, I'm sorry. Not everyone here appreciates Jersey Shore."
The smirk that grows on his face is something he knows Santana would never forget. (And something she would get even with, eventually.)
Quinn laughs along with him when they see her horrified expression; she laughs even louder when Mike effortlessly dodges the crumpled piece of paper Santana throws, and Santana ends up grumbling out loud. "Fucking ninja."
At least her day is starting to look brighter.
The next three mornings she spends on the train are just the same, although that makes it exactly three weeks of Quinn attempting to get to know that girl. (Or make her look her way, at the very least.) And that fact is just a little bit disheartening.
It doesn't strike Santana as odd at first, since she pretty much has gotten used to the mood Quinn comes in with every morning. (She once thought of making a joke about it being pregnancy mood swings, if not for the obvious fact that Quinn's gayer than Ellen DeGeneres and Melissa Etheridge combined. It's pretty pointless.)
But then, Santana doesn't really mind since Quinn is back to her usual self before their morning class starts. That doesn't mean though that she doesn't want to strangle her those first few minutes she gets off from Penn Station.
Monday rolls in and Quinn makes a promise to herself that she'd strike a conversation with her today; maybe meet her finally, if she's lucky—or brave enough to do it.
She hates the thought of a three-week losing streak, since it kind of puts a dent in her charmer reputation. Regardless if no one knows about the train girl, it still genuinely feels that way. She has never failed to strike a conversation with someone who has tickled her fancy before, and Quinn certainly doesn't want this to be the first.
So with a new found confidence that she clings to, and Mindset playing in the earphone plugged in her right ear, she sets foot on the car and waits patiently until the train stops on Cathedral Parkway Station.
She begins fidgeting in place when 125th Street comes, and by the time they finally get there, she's almost a goner.
She unwraps her hand from the pole and flexes her fingers, the sight of the print left by her clammy palm on the silver surface making her grimace. (It's quite unsanitary, and most likely embarrassing.)
But her eyes light up as soon as she sees her, and she can't help but look above to murmur a silent thank you when she catches sight of an empty seat right beside said girl. Like, right next to her, and if it isn't a sign from Heaven then she doesn't know what else to call it.
The smile she tries so hard to contain is wide and bright as she maneuvers through the throngs of people scattered all over. She swears she can feel it in her bones. This is it.
She doesn't want to look overeager to get there but her feet are betraying her by taking huge strides. She wants to keep it cool for the sake of a good image and impression, but three weeks of waiting and trying (and the littlest bit of moping) has probably taken its toll, because all she ever feels like doing now is to throw herself onto that seat and get her name. Get this over with.
And maybe make her smile too in the process, because that would really be nice.
The thing about Quinn is, when her mind is set on something, she loses focus on everything else, and her brain sort of automatically tunes out anything that isn't related to her object of attention—including operator announcements and the gradual shift in speed.
The train jerks into a stop, and it's already too late for her to realize that she's right in the middle of the car holding onto absolutely nothing. Her arms shoot out for a blind attempt to grab onto any firm handle, but she's already falling forward and the only thing within reach is someone else's loose scarf.
Quinn lands with a solid thud, her face connecting with the cold, hard floor, and she genuinely feels like crying because her nose hits something hard and it fucking hurts.
She stays still for a few beats, trying so hard not to groan in pain, until the throbbing on her nose subsides a little. There are already unshed tears in her eyes when she looks up, but she feels like crying harder because the seat she's aiming for has been taken, and then she catches onto the different looks everyone is throwing her way, including the train girl.
The doors have slid open though no one seems to be moving—except for that damn guy in a funny business suit who stole her seat—like they are all waiting for her next move with bated breath, or if she's going to embarrass herself even further. She swears she can hear some snickering somewhere and stifled laughter. (Like she needs any of that right now.)
She gets up to her feet, dusting her pants off in the process as well as the red scarf tangled on her hand, and she shyly gives it back to the middle-aged lady standing in front of her. She gets a sympathetic look from her in return, although the quirking of the lips pretty much gives the lady away. (In situations like this, she knows, the most common reaction is to laugh, really.)
She mumbles an apology and thanks her too, before fading as quickly as she can into the furthermost corner. Far, far away from the girl she's crushing so hard on and everyone else's eyes.
On the bright side, hey, at least she caught her attention.
Thankfully, it's Mike whom she first runs into when she gets to the campus.
"What happened to your nose?"
Quinn sighs, one hand protectively covering the offended part which slightly muffles her words. "I bumped into the train door."
"Ouch." Mike grimaces. He can't even begin to imagine what it must have felt like. "Tough luck huh."
"That is an understatement."
"Wanna skip class then?" He wiggles his eyebrows playfully, his glasses going along with the movement, and raises his right hand, revealing a Nintendo 3DS game card resting in between his fingers. "I just got the Pokemon game I ordered by mail this morning."
She doesn't have to think twice and snatches the object from Mike's grasp. Sometimes, she can't help but wonder if it's him she's best friends with since birth.
Lack of safety handles gets written as her thirteenth reason under the cons column, with its bullet point noticeably larger and darker than the others.
Santana misses their entire morning class on a Friday, but shows up in the afternoon with a shimmering red car and a proposition for her two best friends.
Mike already has a fist pumping in the air as soon as he sees the car; shouts, "Check that out!"
Santana's smug grin stretches so wide, Quinn honestly feels like her face is going to tear apart. "Yes," She says, and taps the roof of her brand new Camaro twice. "Check this out."
Quinn chuckles softly. "Nice car."
"I know," Santana answers flatly, "which is why we're taking this baby out tomorrow for a spin." She raises her hand and jiggles the key right in front of Quinn's face, proudly showing the customized head and half of the metal part. It's evidently longer than the usual car key.
"We can take a drive for as long as you want. I don't care." Mike continues to stare in awe as he walks towards the car a little absentmindedly. "I can even live in this car."
Quinn's mind quickly goes through a debate. She still has one mission left to finish Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and she's been putting it off for weeks now in exchange for more study time, but the prospect of driving around sounds refreshing, so she acquiesces. "Sure."
She eyes the key, studying the silver patterns intricately carved on the upper half, along with the bronze handle shaped as the key's head. She smirks as soon as she recognizes it. "Cloud Strife's sword huh?"
Santana closes her fingers around the object and drops her hand. "Of course."
"What did you have to trade for that?"
She shrugs. "Good grades."
"Better ace your pop quizzes then eh?"
"Whatever." Santana rolls her eyes. "Tomorrow Q, got that?"
"Okay." Quinn nods.
But then, Santana tells her that she'll pick her up early, probably at around eight in the morning, and no—just no. Quinn thinks it isn't a possibility, for reasons she can't quite disclose to anyone yet—Santana especially—so she firmly shakes her head. "Wait! I don't think I'd be able to make it."
Santana's almost growling in protest. "Why the hell not? I'm picking you up. All you have to do is wait. Slouch in your couch or whatever it is you do to pass time."
Quinn falters a little, having been caught off guard, but she manages to say, "I can't S. I've got classes."
"No you don't," Santana barks. In turn, it snaps Mike into attention and makes Quinn flinch. "It's a weekend. And we share the same classes."
Her suspicion only grows when Quinn's face turns a little paler, and Quinn's ducking her head to avoid her questioning gaze.
"I took some other classes, and I probably forgot to tell you guys about it."
"Oh please. That's the worst excuse," Santana presses, arching one brow. "You expect me to believe that, Fabray?"
"Yes!" Quinn shrieks, her pitch high and obviously strained. "Because I really did! Plus I have some grocery shopping to do!"
Santana lifts her weight from resting against her car, crossing her arms above her chest. The defiance in her posture makes Quinn take a fumbling step back. She smiles inwardly at that because situations like this are rare for her, before opening her mouth to speak and call out Quinn on her obvious lie.
But the bell rings at the same time and Quinn jumps at the chance, hightailing out of her sight.
"God damn it, Fabray! Come back here!"
Quinn only planned on riding during weekdays and school days.
She swears she did, but after that one Saturday she took the train to go grocery shopping—there was a vehicular accident, which left her no option but to take the subway if she didn't want to be stuck in traffic in her mom's precious car—and she saw her, well, as most people say, the rest was history.
She takes the train the whole week now, though she has only seen her once on a weekend. (That Saturday.)
It's not at all bad, she thinks, since she's discovered that the subway isn't as ridiculously filled as it is during weekdays.
It's not because of a pathetic crush, nor obsession. It's just—the feeling of not having to fight for a spot inside the car is sort of nice. Yes, that's absolutely it.
When Quinn sees her again, it's on a Sunday this time.
The girl sits right across her, falling asleep almost instantly as soon as her back hits the chair rest. She looks absolutely tired. There are dark circles forming under her eyes, her hair disheveled though not in an unpleasant manner, more like hurried.
Sheets of paper are sticking out of her books, and her bag is slightly unzipped. One of her knee-high socks is a little lower than the other. She doesn't look hideous or anything, just exhausted—maybe too much.
Her head is lolling to one side from time to time, and she'll wake up in a daze whenever the train makes a jerking motion, only to go back to closing her eyes as soon as they start traveling smoothly again.
At this, Quinn finds herself asking how someone can look so worn out yet still so beautiful and precious; she finds herself thinking how much she wants to gather this girl in her arms and protect her from every little tiring thing in this world. Like how Hercules did with Meg—or something like that.
She finds herself wanting to take all of her things, and offer to carry them for her—maybe walk her to class just to make sure she gets there safe and sound, even though she absolutely has no idea where this girl is studying.
She cringes right after when she realizes what is actually running inside her head. It's borderline creepy, well, somehow it is, because, really. Walk her to class? They're not friends, and she doesn't even know her name, so the idea is somehow rather frightening in another's point of view.
She shakes her head at that and laughs weakly. Sometimes, Quinn doesn't really get herself either.
Five minutes and a couple of stolen glances later, the weirdest idea strikes her.
She fumbles with her cell phone and lets it rest against her lap, steering it into certain directions as subtly as she could, until the lens' aim settles into a satisfying angle—directly at the sleeping girl. She can't thank the heavens enough that it's a weekend and the train car is almost empty, though she makes a few adjustments and sets it to silent, just in case.
She hesitates at first, thumb hovering above the camera button because she knows that what she's about to do is crossing the line. It's an invasion of privacy, and clearly something below her—or anyone's—moral standards.
But then, the idea of taking something with her to wherever she goes—without working hard for it—is more than tempting, especially after weeks and weeks of absolutely nothing but failure. Plus, no one knows, no one has to know.
It feels like an easy way out for some reason. Just one shot.
The girl shifts a little and smiles in her sleep, leaving her lips a tad open. She looks so (sinfully) innocent, which leaves Quinn a huge mess, and slightly incapable of doing something other than gawk at her (and wonder what she's dreaming of that is making her smile).
Yet, Quinn thinks, she's not the kind of girl who deserves to be violated (maybe in some other ways but not this) as well as her privacy, and Quinn doesn't want to be the kind of person who does that, so she hits the red button and tosses her cell phone inside her bag.
With a sigh, she props her elbow against her leg and tucks her fist under her chin. The real thing is nothing compared to pictures anyways.
The train is packed as usual the next day, though Quinn is lucky enough to find a decent seat near the door. She goes through the same routine like she usually does, and fidgets with the sling of her bag as soon as they get to Cathedral Parkway,like always.
Her breath hitches when the lady next to her stands up and leaves, and she sees the petite girl quickly heading her way, looking relieved. It's the only vacant seat left and the girl's carrying quite a lot of things. She has to hold her breath entirely when she figures what it means.
Maybe, maybe, it's God's way of punishing her for being such a creep.
She keeps her head low, because she can't afford to even spare her a glance without blushing deeply in chagrin, although she's hyper aware of everything. When her vision gets filled with black socks and black loafer shoes, she's honestly torn between feigning hyperventilation till someone notices and takes her away, or staying firmly in place.
She settles for a mixture of both, shallow breaths while the toes of her feet curl up to keep her from dashing like a mad man. (She's already a creep; she doesn't need to look like a lunatic in the girl's eyes.)
"Excuse me," She hears the girl say, and Quinn swears she dies a little on the spot. "Is someone currently occupying this seat?"
Her voice is nothing like she has ever imagined, Quinn thinks, like a hybrid of fairies, angels and undoubtedly Aphrodite. (She dies a little again at the thought.)
Quinn lifts her head up upon remembering that she's being asked, and she suspects she's probably gawking like an idiot, judging by the amused, stifled smile gracing the girl's face.
She doesn't really have anything to say, because her words are all left bundled in her throat, so she shakes her head in response.
The girl's answering smile is warm and appreciative. "Thank you."
It's probably the third time Quinn has felt like dying and going to heaven. Were she counting.
Somewhere along the stops 79th Street and 72nd Street, she realizes she needs to jump on this chance.
The girl you're dying to meet is sitting right next to you. What do you do?
Ask for her name.
So Quinn does what her mind has told her, and momentarily forgets about the picture thing. She'd even confess about it later to ease her guilt. (And pray a dozen prayers if the priest tells her to.)
She heaves a lungful of air, breathing out confidence when she exhales. Shifting a little, she faces the girl and opens her mouth to speak; to finally ask for her name after long, grueling weeks. She knows that this is the best chance she has gotten so far.
"Do you know what time is it?"
The girl shuffles to face her, obviously a little startled. The movement causes Quinn to catch a whiff of her scent, and Quinn has to dig her nails on her thigh to stop herself from leaning closer.
"I'm guessing your watch has stopped working?" The girl says in answer, eyes darting between Quinn's slightly staggered face and the watch wrapped around her wrist.
Quinn's mouth opens and closes a few times, mentally berating herself in the process. Damn med students and their 'constant need to check the time' habit.
"Y-yeah," She finally stammers, beats after. She can feel the tips of her ears start to burn in chagrin. "It did, just this morning."
The girl bobs her head in understanding. She moves her things—pads of music sheets, Quinn notes mentally—to one arm and raises the other to check the time. "Well, it is half past eight o'clock."
Quinn is almost mumbling when she replies, "Thanks."
"You're welcome," The girl says, and leaves Quinn a small smile before standing up to get off on the 66th Street Lincoln Center.
Quinn, in turn slaps her forehead with her Anatomy book. The perfect chance is gone, just like that.
But maybe, it's not all bad, since she's managed to catch a glimpse of the name written in front of the music sheet.
There's a bounce in her step when she exits Penn Station, and Santana's a little bit disconcerted about her suddenly good mood. Though, Quinn really can't bring herself to care.
The pros column finally gets a bulleted entry, with a huge Rachel Berry filling up the entire space.
The next time Quinn sees her, she's less nervous compared to how she was before. Probably because she actually got to talk to Rachel, and she figured that Rachel's not the type of person who shuns people at first try. (And it feels a little bit weird because she refers to her as Rachel now, as if they're old time friends, but, whatever.)
So when the train rolls in on Cathedral Parkway, she's quite confident. She easily spots Rachel amongst the crowd, her eyes never leaving her form in hopes that she'd catch Rachel's attention in some uncanny way, and Rachel would recognize her.
Though, she has no idea what exactly happened, because the next thing she knows is that Rachel's turning around, facing her direction, and Rachel's smiling and waving and bouncing excitedly, that it makes Quinn's heart skip a beat.
Quinn bites her lip to keep herself from blushing, even though she knows she's utterly failing because she can feel the hotness fast spreading across her cheeks. She raises her hand and waves back, a little hesitantly (more like awkwardly).
Then Rachel starts beckoning, and Quinn's eyes go wide. It's such a huge surprise that the thud-thudding underneath Quinn's chest almost doubles.
Rachel shifts her weight onto her other leg, but waits patiently on her spot. Quinn's heart is almost on her throat now, and it genuinely feels like she's going to spew it out if she ever throws up. She has to swallow hard at that.
Slowly, she stands, shifting her books to one side in the process. But she's met with a sudden bump on the shoulder. When she looks, a guy is rushing from behind her and his eyes are trained on somewhere else, which is probably why he didn't see her moving.
He quickly stops to apologize, but he doesn't wait for any form of reply before he's off to wherever he's going.
She's about to say that it's fine, but the thought dies at the tip of her tongue since he's already gone. So she just re-adjusts the sling hooked around her shoulder and proceeds to smooth her clothes, brushing invisible lint off along.
When she brings her head up again, Rachel isn't looking at her anymore, but is instead talking to the guy she just bumped into.
Her face falls quickly as soon as realization hits her, and she honestly doesn't know what's worse: the heavy feeling of embarrassment she feels dropping at the pit of her stomach, or that the smug guy she once wanted to shove a football into wherever has already taken her previous seat, just because.
He's cocky, is Quinn's first impression, and he grins a lot—in a not so friendly way—and his eyebrows wiggle way too much, well at least, too much for her own liking.
Quinn can clearly see that they're close, both physically and metaphorically. Perhaps really close, she notes as Rachel run her fingers through his hair while he chuckles.
She shoots him her sharpest glare, but then, like it matters. Rachel doesn't even know she exists. She probably won't even remember that she was that stupid girl-who-has-a-broken-watch from three days ago (and the one who face-planted on the floor—although, maybe Rachel does remember that).
But the thought doesn't diminish her desire to shave off his mohawk with a scalpel any less.
It's during one of their impromptu game nights that Quinn decides to tell Mike about Rachel, because she feels like she's going to explode if she keeps it to herself for one more day, for known and unknown reasons.
She shows up in front of his place with a box of pizza and probably the biggest scowl he has ever seen, and she's blabbering something about kill strikes, turrets and just fucking blowing things.
So like the dutiful and awesome friend that he is, he puts on CoD Black Ops and plugs the spare controller, throwing it into Quinn's waiting hands.
He doesn't bother to ask as he flops down the couch, since Quinn will most likely tell him what's up after blowing off some steam—and some random noob who dares to get in her way.
In the middle of their third game, he ends up staring at Quinn in amusement because he has never heard her spew this much profanity the entire time they've known each other.
She would totally beat Santana, he thinks as he quickly pushes his glasses back with a finger, and he's pretty sure he heard her say screw you, fuck, ass, damn, shitload all in one breath.
"Get a fucking move Michael Han Chang!" Quinn shouts without looking at him, and unloads another round of bullets at her target for the twentieth time. (He's quite sure it's a whole magazine she's spent on the poor thing.)
"That's for taking my turret," She grumbles at the screen. "You fucking take everything."
Mike swallows hard and gets his character moving. He's absolutely convinced Quinn chose mohawkedb0y as her target for a reason.
His first reaction when he finally hears everything about the girl on the train: he laughs.
He laughs so incredibly hard that he accidentally swallows the piece of pizza he's chewing and it almost gets stuck in his throat. But he's still laughing even after seizing Quinn's Coke (it's the nearest form of liquid) and emptying the can to its last drop.
Quinn shoots him the sharpest glare in turn, both for stealing her drink and his unceasing laughter. "I'm going to rip you to shreds if you don't stop laughing."
The empty threat—he knows this because Quinn would never hurt anyone purposely—only coaxes Mike to throw his head back and cackle. "You face-planted," He says in between laughs, "I can't believe you face-planted!"
"Shut up!" Quinn groans as she buries her face on her hands, and she feels like her head's going to explode with embarrassment and many other things. She starts to worry a little, dreading the day Santana ever finds out. Mike's almost dying of laughter, what more if it's Santana?
"Ugh. Stop laughing!"
"But you face-planted! In front of everyone! And you thought she was waving at you!"
"I wish I was there to see you waving back." Mike breathes out before laughing again. "Hi, train girl," He mimics, his voice a fair imitation of Quinn's. "I like you."
Quinn feels her face flush, more out of embarrassment than anything, but she manages to say, "If you don't shut up, I swear I will delete every single saved data you have, on every single console you own," in a threatening tone of voice that clearly tells him she means it.
Mike's laughter dies abruptly in his throat, one hand instinctively wrapping around his 3DS as he throws Quinn a stern look. "You wouldn't."
"Try me, Chang."
The three of them, they take these things seriously, because they've woken up to deleted saved data and hacked Call of Duty accounts at least once after nasty fights. (Santana had once overwritten Quinn's Final Fantasy XIII saved game on purpose to get back at Quinn, because Quinn had deleted Santana's Dead Space 2. Though, she will never admit it.)
He presses his lips together in fear; murmurs a few beats later, "I'm sorry."
Quinn heaves a deep, heavy sigh, letting her fingers run through her hair. She knows she can't take it out on Mike because he's got absolutely nothing to do with all of this. It isn't right to be mad at him because it's not his fault that she feels startlingly upset—and frustrated—because she hasn't managed to meet Rachel yet.
But, it isn't her fault either that she's feeling too many things, or that she's confused because this is only supposed to be just a crush. She shouldn't be upset over the thought of seeing Rachel be with some guy.
Yet, in the end, Mike's one of her best friends and Rachel's just some girl she's crushing so hard on, so she apologizes as well. "Sorry Mike. I'm just—I don't know either what's going on. I'm probably just having a bad day I guess."
"Starting from the subway…"
"Yes," Quinn snaps, feeling a certain flare ignite at the memory. Though, she quickly throws him an apologetic look when she sees him flinch. "Thanks for reminding me, you jerk," she continues with a half-smile.
The smile that Mike reciprocates is comforting and kind. "Let's see if mohawkedb0y is still online?" He asks, though he's already thrusting the controller back into her hands.
He pauses the game in the midst of her throwing a grenade at some random player named iamfrankenteen (mohawkedb0y isn't around anymore, too bad), and she almost kills him for that.
Quinn turns on her seat to shout at him, but the look on Mike's face stops her from doing so, and she ends up confused—and probably a little scared.
Mike looks like he's having some sort of epiphany, and with the way he's grinning and wiggling his eyebrows, Quinn knows she's right to feel scared.
"I have an idea," Mike says enthusiastically. "I have a brilliant idea. It's going to be epic!"
Quinn genuinely feels like asking if she should be scared about this, but Mike has already resumed their game and the sound of the explosion that reaches her ears is like hearing her favorite song play. She returns her attention back to the screen, smirking at the sight of the player falling.
Maybe she just needs to trust Mike. They're friends after all.
They ride the train one weekend—all part of Mike's plan—though Quinn says that the only reason she agrees to it is because Mike has promised not to tell Santana. Besides, she still could use his help with her groceries even if his idea doesn't work. (She wasn't entirely lying when she told Santana she had grocery shopping to deal with on weekends.)
She has agreed to meet him at City College Station. He arrives about ten minutes early, and the first thing she notices is the hat he has donned on his head.
"Mike," Quinn squeaks, eyes a little wide as she points to the red thing, as if it's offensive. "What is that?"
"What is—" Mike doesn't feign surprise upon hearing her words. His jaw drops in complete shock. "I can't believe you don't know what this is. It's Ash Ketchum's hat Quinn!"
"I know what it is," She hisses. "I meant, why are you wearing that?"
"Oh," comes his reply, "it's my lucky hat remember?"
"Whatever." Quinn just rolls her eyes and grabs one of Mike's arms as he drags him towards her usual spot.
She starts to feel antsy one station before Rachel's, and by the time they roll in to Cathedral Parkway, Mike's practically holding her knee to keep it from bouncing.
"Quinn, you need to relax, seriously."
She wants to say that she can't relax, that she has never been able to whenever the train stops at this station, ever since that day she noticed Rachel; she wants to shout at him and ask him how she could be calm when she doesn't even know what's running through his clearly disturbed Ash-Ketchum head. (Mike refuses to tell her about his plan, because he believes Quinn will just turn it down even though it's incredibly brilliant.)
Quinn bites her lip when she hears the doors open, fingers wringing together so tightly it almost hurt. She disentangles them as soon as she spots her, and points subtly. "There she is."
Mike follows the direction of her finger, gives a little nod of approval when he sees Rachel. "Wait here."
The doubt is still there in her, but she doesn't get the chance to voice it out in protest because he's already on his way, and all Quinn can do is watch with wide eyes.
Mike rearranges his cap, fixes his glasses as he walks, runs one hand to smooth his shirt; and when he finally reaches Rachel, he clears his throat.
"Excuse me. Is this seat taken?"
Rachel, though quite unsure, looks at him and answers 'no' with a polite smile.
He returns it with a soft 'thank you' as he sits, whipping out his 3DS into full view as soon as he gets settled comfortably. He switches it on, fiddles with the buttons first and plays with the stylus, before he turns to Rachel again, grinning.
"Do you play Pokemon?"
From her seat, Quinn watches in bemusement as Mike continues to get Rachel's attention, obviously using his console as the topic of conversation.
She pinches the bridge of her nose in embarrassment, trying to remember if she forgot to tell him that Rachel's passion is most likely music, not hand-held games or any other, well, nerdy stuff.
She almost falls off of her seat when she sees Mike point towards her direction, and she has to pretend to look around and to not know they're talking about her, that she completely misses the knowing smile Rachel gives.
She returns her attention to them as soon as she feels Rachel's eyes leave. What gives her relief though—and probably the only thing stopping her from marching down and yanking Mike out of his seat—is Rachel's polite smiles and the way she shows at least a little interest in whatever the hell Mike is blabbering about.
Mike is back at Quinn's side as soon as Rachel bids him farewell to get off at her stop.
He's still about a step away when she pulls him a little callously, causing him to almost trip on the seat, and he can hear her hissing, "What the hell was that?"
"I was executing my plan!" He hisses back.
"What was your plan exactly, Chang?"
"I was thinking that," Mike pauses on purpose, to place his 3DS inside its case as careful as he can.
But Quinn doesn't have the patience to wait for anything at this point. "Was thinking what?"
"You know, that I could chat her up. Find out if she likes Pokemon, and if she does, I can talk to her and eventually bring you into the conversation," He answers. "Kind of like a bridge or something."
Quinn's face softens at his words. His intentions were pure, really, and he was just trying to help. She can't be mad at him for trying. "Well, what did she say?"
A hesitant look crosses Mike's face, which quickly turns into a grimace. "Well," He lifts a hand, scratching the back of his head. "She said the only things she ever played were Nintendogs and Mario Kart."
For some reason, Quinn can't help but laugh at that.
"But I did bring you into conversation," Mike adds, this time with a proud grin. "She knows who you are now."
At that, Quinn is honestly torn between kissing Mike or passing out.
"But, you may have to start playing Nintendogs. I kind of told her that you're an expert."
Or, she might end up killing him instead.
The day she finally meets Rachel, like, officially, is the day her alarm clock decides not to work.
It's totally unexpected because she's running late for class, fidgeting inside her mom's car as she wills the damn thing to move; Rachel's actually the farthest thing on her mind.
Her mom drops her off at 103rd Street Station, her 'Thanks mom! Have fun in the office!' hardly heard since she's closing the car door as she's walking away.
Quinn is panting when she reaches the train, barely squeezing through the doors as they close. It is half-past nine already when she checks the time, and she's probably missed a few quizzes or so.
Why was it again that she refused Santana's offer of a ride to school?
"I suppose your wristwatch is working now?"
Quinn whips around, and almost loses her footing when she sees Rachel standing next to her, clad in a dress that isn't argyle. She blinks twice, as if trying to see if this is real, that Rachel is indeed there right in front of her. (A part of her thinks she's losing it, and that her mind is conjuring things because she's that desperate.)
Rachel's smile wavers, until her lips press together when Quinn still doesn't answer.
Quinn then figures out that she isn't seeing things, and that Rachel probably thinks she's a freaking weirdo by now because she's not saying anything, just, well, looking spaced out. "Yes," She blurts and follows through with a laugh, though it sounds forced. "The battery died. I had it replaced."
"That is good," Rachel says with a slight nod. "I highly doubt I would even last a day without a working wristwatch."
"Same here," rasps Quinn.
Rachel just smiles in response before training her eyes back to the window.
Quinn, in turn, jogs her memory for anything worth talking about, yet her brain doesn't seem to be capable of thinking about anything else other than Rachel's presence, and holy sweet jebus, Rachel's standing right next to me is dangling on the tip of her tongue. (She refuses to take His name in vain, hence the jebus thing.)
Thankfully, Rachel saves her from the effort—and the possibility of blurting out something really mortifying—stating, "By the way, I met your friend a few days ago."
She feigns surprise, masking the nervousness in her voice. "Oh, really?"
"Yes." Rachel gives a soft nod. "I believe his name is Mike? Am I right?"
"Yup, that's him alright."
"And he likes this game called Pokemon?"
Rachel smirks. "And you are Quinn."
It isn't a question, more like a statement of fact, and that coaxes a grin to break out of Quinn's lips as she nods.
This is why she turned down Santana's offer in the first place.
"I should perhaps introduce myself as well, since we have been coming across each other's paths on this train often, which I find highly amusing if I may add." Rachel extends a hand. "My name is Rachel Berry."
Quinn wants to say that she already knows, has known for quite a while now, but that's just down right creepy so she settles for accepting Rachel's hand. "Quinn," She says. "Quinn Fabray."
She steps off Penn Station with a beaming smile, and has to fight the urge to break into a dance like how Tom Hansen did, when Hall and Oates' You Make My Dreams comes up on her playlist.
She does skip a few steps though.
"You missed a major pop quiz, Fabray," Santana greets her as she meets them at the campus green on their free period.
She signals for Mike to scoot over, squeezing herself in between the two. "Oh. Did I?"
Santana's a bit thrown off by her tone, since she doesn't sound like she's worried about it, at all, and not pissed either (which is sort of the base mood Quinn comes with). The girl twists around to look at her quizzically, but the grin she's been wearing is wide and pleased, and clearly something she'd be having for quite a while.
"Yes, you did," Santana states. She studies Quinn unblinkingly, and feels the compelling need to ask, since she's the best friend after all. "Okay, what happened?"
Quinn fakes a frown and shakes her head. "Nothing."
Santana's eyes, in turn, narrow into thin slits. "Your smile is creeping me out. That doesn't look like nothing."
Beside her, Mike laughs, which he quickly disguises into a cough when he feels a hard elbow against his side, coming from Quinn.
"It's nothing S," Quinn replies. "Just the subway being less annoying today."
"Mhmm," Santana hums, clearly not amused nor swayed by Quinn's reasoning. But the phone sitting on her lap buzzes, and as surprising as it is, she drops the supposed to be inquisition.
A fond smile shapes on Santana's lips and her whole demeanor sort of changes into something soft, and Quinn hardly sees her look like that so she turns to Mike to silently ask. But he only gives her a shrug; he honestly doesn't have any idea either.
Though the look they share afterwards pretty much tells her that Mike knows what really happened on the train.
She makes a point to thank Mike properly; after all, she owes it to him.
Mike doesn't even wonder who the Triumphant Mew Ultra Rare Pokemon trading card is from when he finds it in his mail one day.
A tentative friendship forms between Rachel and her.
They don't hit it off at once like perhaps most people would, because Quinn still has this huge crush on Rachel, which roars inside her—she swears it does—whenever Rachel stands too close, or just when Rachel's there, regardless. She's finding it a little hard to control.
So they start off first with shy smiles—well Quinn's are—and small waves, little conversations about the most random things if they find themselves standing near each other, or if the space on the train permits it.
They don't hit it off at once, and Quinn's a little surprised that she's perfectly fine with it. Besides, friendship is a good foundation for any romantic relationship, right?
One Tuesday morning, Rachel boards the train before Quinn, and she's already there inside when Quinn squeezes her way in.
She spots Rachel at once, since the girl is seated right across the door. She greets her with a smile, albeit being a little surprised, which Rachel returns in kind, maybe even brighter.
Next to the girl is a vacant seat, which she pats twice in gesture for Quinn to take, and Quinn realizes that she's wasting precious time by being all hesitant and timid about things. She's already acquainted with Rachel by now, so how hard could it be to initiate a proper conversation?
With a deep breath as a vote of confidence, she walks towards Rachel and greets her with a soft 'hi'.
"Hello Quinn," Rachel replies.
"Nice day, isn't it?" Quinn says. She can't help but laugh inwardly at that, because finally.
Rachel wets her lips first before answering. "Yes, a very nice day indeed."
"Yeah, really nice." Quinn starts restlessly tapping a finger on the book lying on her lap. Rachel is looking at her expectantly, and the glitter in Rachel's eyes doesn't help at all in clearing the suddenly formed cogs in her mind. "So, uhm…"
"You like music, huh?" She says, her head gesturing towards the pile of music sheets Rachel is cradling in between her hands.
"I do." Rachel nods. "I study music as a matter of fact."
"I see," Quinn trails off. The speakers come to life, announcing the train arriving to the next station, and she thinks, she's still got enough time to find out something, well, useful. "Where do you go to? What university, I mean, if you don't mind my asking."
The grin that stretches along Rachel's face is unmistakably proud, though not in a bad way. "I am taking a degree in music and voice at Juilliard."
"Wow," Quinn breathes out. "That's just…yeah, wow."
The complete surprise on her face makes Rachel giggle. "It is not as amazing as you think it is. Well, of course it is amazing to be there and study. It is such a great opportunity for aspiring Broadway artists like me, but, you know what I mean."
It takes a couple of moments to get over her surprise, but Quinn manages. "So I'm assuming you're not a Justin Bieber fan?"
The horrified look quickly settling on Rachel's face is enough of an answer, and Quinn finds herself wanting to snag and burn the magazine that has caught her eye.
"Do you like going to concerts?" Quinn asks Rachel on another day.
"No. I'm not really a fan of bands."
She presses her lips together and gives a quick nod. "Got that."
In a span of three weeks, Quinn has managed to find out a couple of things:
That Rachel is unmistakably not a Bieber fan.
That Rachel is not a fan of concerts or bands either.
That Rachel absolutely loves plays, and musicals and show tunes. Broadway is her ultimate dream.
That Rachel's middle name is Barbra, although she's not really surprised about that.
That Rachel has two gay dads; the one named Leroy is a doctor, and Elijah is a chef.
That Rachel is vegan, which she found out the hard way when she offered her a bite of her BLT sandwich, thus earning her quite a long lecture about animal cruelty.
That Rachel talks and rambles in long, intelligently constructed sentences, and she uses big, uncommon words; things that normally would scare people away, though she finds it absolutely charming.
And lastly, that she really, really needs to ask her out, or that Finn boy from Rachel's neighborhood will.
She takes out her laptop as soon as she gets to NYU, camping inside the silent comfort the library offers. A quick Google of famous Broadway shows brings her to a couple of top ten lists, with Wicked, Spring Awakening and Les Miserables as the common ones amongst each. She clicks on Wicked, and momentarily gets lost in the world of witches, Elphaba, Glinda and the citizens of Oz as she reads.
Then Santana walks in, of freaking course. "What are you doing?"
Quinn jumps in surprise, and she instinctively slams her laptop shut. "Nothing."
Santana, dubious, reaches for her laptop like it's hers, and actually has the nerve to ask. "Were you watching porn, Fabray?"
"What?" Quinn's eyes go wide in surprise, blushing at the accusation. "No!"
Santana arches one brow, then smirks at the way her face is reddened. "Really."
Quinn doesn't even waste her breath in trying to convince her otherwise.
She waits until Santana drops the relentless teasing and leaves—actually, she was thrown out by the librarian—before opening her laptop again to save the tickets page of .com on her bookmarks.
"What do you think of Wicked?"
"Oh," Rachel breathes in, gushing already before she even begins. She puts a hand on her chest, then, "It is my absolute favorite."
"Really?" Quinn smiles, more at the way Rachel is almost beaming, and her eyes are sparkling with undeniable high praises. "Have you seen it? The play?"
Rachel nods enthusiastically. "I have. Countless of times in fact. But, you could not really blame me for watching it over and over, could you?"
"I guess not," The taller girl mumbles. "Is there any show you haven't seen yet?"
"I…I don't think so. Why?"
"Nothing," Quinn lets out a strained smile. "Nothing. Just asking."
"Hey, your stop's here," Quinn announces when the train rolls into 66th Street and she notices the familiar Exit to Broadway sign.
They've been talking endlessly for the whole ride, and Rachel's genuinely surprised that she almost missed her stop. (She never misses, because well, she's Rachel Berry.)
"Oh. Yeah," Rachel mumbles under her breath as she looks around. Her eyes land on Quinn, and there's a fond smile on Quinn's lips which coaxes her to give one of her own.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" Quinn asks in a hushed tone, and Rachel has to regard the butterflies, suddenly fluttering inside her stomach at the hopeful tone underlying Quinn's voice, as something else.
Rachel chews her lower lip, stifling the smile that's threatening to break out. "Of course."
"Well, have a good day then."
She wishes Quinn the same, and tries not to jump when the back of her hand accidentally brushes against Quinn's as she moves. But she can't simply ignore the jolt that shoots through her spine at the contact.
Something has changed.
Quinn knows that something has, and it's enough for her to bolt through the train's closing doors and tread in Rachel's direction.
"Rachel!" She calls out as soon as she spots her among the crowd, raising her voice when she bellows again.
The girl whips around, completely caught off guard, and her eyes are wide with confusion when she sees Quinn sprinting towards her. "Quinn?"
"Hey," Quinn says as she finally catches up, in between short, ragged breaths. "I just—I wanted to—"
"I was going to—"
Rachel starts rocking on her heels, as she tries to get rid of the tugging feeling at the pit of her stomach that she can only associate with anticipation. For what exactly? She honestly doesn't know.
Quinn screws her eyes shut, taking a few deep breaths to slow down her racing heart. "I just wanted to, uhm, ask—tell you that—"
"As much as I would love to stay here and chat with you," Rachel roams her eyes around, and she feels quite thankful that the lines are almost empty, so she doesn't have to suffer from the long queues to get off the station. "I am afraid I'm going to be late for my first class."
"Yes," Quinn breathes out. "Yes, of course. I just wanted to say that, you know, it's really nice commuting with you."
Rachel opens her mouth to speak, but it honestly felt like it came out of nowhere that she can't find any words to form a coherent answer. "I…" Her lower lip trembles, but no words are coming out, and there's this feeling of utter disappointment that she can't seem to shake away.
In the end, she settles for, "The feeling is mutual, Quinn."
Somehow, Rachel realizes before she gets to leave that this isn't Quinn's stop—it's far from here actually; therefore Quinn absolutely doesn't have any other business here. So, as the ever curious one, she asks. "Quinn, you did not get off the train just to tell me that, did you?"
"Wha—no!" Quinn shakes her head, almost too animatedly. "No. My mom's workplace is near and I was planning to drop by her office anyway."
Rachel sighs, though it sounded more of defeat than relief. Or maybe, Quinn thinks, she's just hearing things and going crazy. Sometimes she can't help but suspect that she really is.
"Oh, well, I have to get going," says Rachel, hands clutching her music sheets instinctively tighter. The tugging feeling that drops at the pit of her stomach is heavy with so many things. "Say hi to your mom for me. I mean, if you don't mind."
"No," Quinn rushes, "not at all."
"I'll see you around, Quinn."
As soon as Rachel's gone, Quinn starts pounding her head with the heel of her palm, all the while wondering how the hell her can we go out and have coffee some time aspect of a thought turned into it's really nice commuting with you in that short span of time.
The worst part? She's late for class and the next train doesn't come for another five minutes.
Quinn is practically dragging herself towards the meeting place Santana has texted her about. (From the sound of it, Santana wants them to meet this girl she met during one of their blood donation projects.)
Mike is already there when she arrives, and apparently, her demeanor's too noticeable to ignore that he has to pause the game he's playing to ask. "What happened? Are you alright?"
Quinn drops herself on the bench. "I was so close," She whines as she turns to him, "so freaking close. I was about to ask her out."
It makes little sense to him, yet he decides to go with the flow. "But?"
"I panicked," She groans. "And then I started spewing out random things."
Half of his snort comes out before he manages to cover his mouth with his hand, trying desperately to hold back his laughter. However, Quinn is too dejected to even glare at him for it.
"I wanted to ask her to have coffee with me some time," She mutters in frustration, dropping her head in between her hands propped against the table. "I tanked, as usual."
Mike's quiet for a long second, seemingly weighing the words he's about to say. But then he knows that there's only one thing left to do—since apparently Quinn can't do this alone—whether she likes it or not.
"Quinn," He calls out, pushing his glasses back in place, and sighs. "I think it's time to tell Santana."
He swears the sound of Quinn's groan could be heard around the whole vicinity.
Santana finally arrives after half an hour, fashionably late as she would so like to put it, with a tall, blonde girl in tow.
She pulls the girl by the elbow, guiding her at the same time to sit beside her on the park bench. "Q, Mike," She starts, then, "this is Brittany."
The new girl, Brittany, tears her attention away from Santana's 3DS to greet them both, but is back to playing as soon as she receives their pleasantries.
Quinn feels Mike elbow her side, and when she turns to him, he's cocking his head towards Santana.
For a brief moment, she considers running away, but then, it's probably for the best.
As expected, Santana cackles like there's no tomorrow when Quinn tells her everything.
"Seriously?" The girl says in between boisterous laughs. "Do I need to enroll you to Dating 101 or something?"
Quinn lifts her head from the table and shoots Mike a pointed look. "What is the good thing about this again?"
"I need to meet this Rachel," Santana wheezes. "If you're losing all your tricks then she must be something."
"Why should I let you?"
"Come on Quinn," Mike jumps in. "Santana can help you with asking her out."
At that, Santana almost stumbles backwards from the bench in laughter, if not for Brittany's legs resting on her lap. "Come on Q. This is a lot more interesting than memorizing veins."
Quinn, in turn, presses her face against her hands even harder. "Why, why, why?"
"Did you even remember to get her number?"
The way Quinn's face twist into a grimace is enough of an answer, and Santana's laughter grows impossibly louder, while Mike tries to hide his behind the screen of his console in sympathy.
"San," Brittany calls out, trying to catch Santana's attention. "Which one is your saved slot?"
"The first one. Why?"
Slowly, Brittany puts the console down and pushes it further into the table. "I may or may have not saved my game over yours."
The laughter quickly dies in Santana's throat, her face blanching, and Quinn swears it's the sweetest revenge she can ever have. 147 hours, 34 minutes and 48 seconds of playtime, all wiped out.
It takes them another hour of arguing whether or not Quinn should let Santana intervene, but Santana wins, eventually.
Although, how she convinced Quinn involved more threats than promises to help her in asking out the girl of her dreams.
The weekend after, Quinn drags Santana to her station, though it's actually more the other way around since Quinn still has her reservations regarding all of this.
But then, they are already there, waiting for the train, and she knows that Santana will relentlessly badger her about it, which kind of leaves her with no other choice.
She introduces Santana to Rachel as soon as the girl boards the train, and Santana has to raise a curious eyebrow at the way Rachel practically bounces towards Quinn. (Yep, she's totally signing her best friend up on that Dating 101 class she once saw.)
Rachel's come with two of her classmates, which she introduces to them in return as Mercedes and Tina respectively.
Thankfully, Santana keeps the snide comments to herself, and Quinn is genuinely relieved at that. (Although the uncharacteristic courtesy may have something to do with how Brittany has told her to play nice, as Quinn had overheard earlier.)
Still, it's a good start.
Rachel's stop comes, and she waves them good bye to get off, with Mercedes and Tina following behind. Quinn gives her one last smile, which drops as soon as Rachel's out of sight. She feels a little upset about not being able to talk to her during the whole ride, but then, like, she can blame Santana for it. She'd just get her head chewed off.
Santana, for her part, would've smacked Quinn right on the head if not for Brittany's arm looped around hers, to somehow knock some sense to her, because she's sure Quinn has totally gone blind if she doesn't see the way Rachel acts around her.
But then, she's a bitch, and one of her favorite things to do is messing with Quinn's head.
"I should have known," says Santana, with a smirk that Quinn doesn't particularly like. "After all, you liked Suzy Pepper back in high school. If only she wasn't mooning over Mister Schuester, you would've jumped on her."
Or maybe, Quinn spoke too soon about it being a good start.
"I didn't like Suzy Pepper."
Santana snorts and makes a disapproving noise. "Yeah, keep telling yourself that."
"I didn't," Quinn growls dismissively. She hears Brittany hiss something in Santana's ear which eventually gets the latter to stop, unsurprisingly.
"Look," Santana says, a little later. "Just pull your head out of your ass and ask her out already."
Quinn snaps her head and glowers at Santana in response. "That's the problem. I freak out whenever I try."
"God, you are such a wuss."
"Are you going to help me or not?"
Santana can only roll her eyes. "Call Mike and tell him to meet us during our free period. We need him."
Mike comes up with an idea five minutes after meeting him, but Santana's fighting to claim it as hers, though he and Quinn knows it's just an act to make Brittany swoon.
(Like Santana even needs to.)
(Or that Brittany's even paying any attention to them at all.)
Quinn has never been to Warren Weaver Hall, where NYU's Computer Science Department is, but then medical students like the three of them don't get lost in there that often either, so the looks the rest of the students are giving them makes her feel kind of, well, badass.
(The thought alone adds a little more to her swag, though it's almost nothing compared to Santana's.)
Mike leads them to a computer laboratory on the first floor, with a small guy sporting a fro greeting them when Mike knocks on the door.
"Hey Jacob," Mike says. "Is Sam here?"
The guy with a fro—Jacob as Mike has called him—looks over his shoulder and beckons to someone from inside the room, probably this Sam person.
A tall, blond boy jogs down to them, pulling the slightly ajar door wide open. "Hey, Mike," he greets with a wide grin, which makes Santana turn to Quinn at once and hiss something about fish lips.
Quinn only catches the last two words, that being fish lips, but she nudges Santana's side with her elbow, and hisses, "Shut up."
"What's up, doc?" Sam asks, seemingly not aware of the quick exchange between Santana and Quinn, much to the latter's relief.
Mike lets his gaze fall to Quinn first, as if asking for permission, and he proceeds when the girl nods at her in response. "We need your help."
As it turns out, Mike met Sam at one of those video game conventions he went to last summer.
(And as Mike is explaining this, Santana can't help but stare at Sam's well, trouty mouth. Quinn has to nudge her again, hissing at her to knock it off.)
"Okay." Sam rubs his hands together as he flops down on the bench. They've decided to take the conversation to a quieter and less crowded place. "What do you guys need?"
"You modify video games right?" Mike asks, going straight to business. "I mean, you can change certain levels or something like that? Put glitches here and there?"
A shrug rolls off Sam's shoulders. "Yeah. I can do that."
"I sense a but coming," Quinn jumps in, eyes narrowed skeptically.
"It comes with a price," answers Sam, his stare lingering longer at Quinn. "And it isn't money."
Quinn winces at that, and she can only hope that it isn't a date either.
"No, no no, no no. I am not doing it!" Quinn shrieks. She throws her hands up in frustration and starts pacing around Santana's room. "No! I refuse."
Santana swings her legs off the bed to let Brittany lay her head on her lap. "Calm down, Fabray," She gripes, and then focuses on guiding Brittany's left hand to help her choose the right pocket monster to beat the opposing trainer.
"Hey!" Mike shouts from across them. "That's cheating."
"Bite me, Chang."
The small squeal Brittany makes when Mike's Pokemon faints coaxes Santana to smile fondly at her.
Quinn stops pacing; she props one hand on her hip and makes some sort of noise to remind them that she's still there and that they are currently discussing important things. "How am I supposed to calm down? He wants me to promote his Sci-fi club!"
"It's not as hard as you think it is." Mike hits the pause button and lowers his console.
"But he wants me to wear an Avatar costume!" She snaps. "Avatar, Mike. I can't do that!"
"It's just a costume. Besides, no one will recognize you."
"No Mike. It's not just a costume—"
"Look," Santana cuts them off, obviously annoyed already with all of these shenanigans, "Fish lips isn't going to do it if you don't help him; which means, you don't get to ask Rachel out. And it's pretty obvious that you can't ask her out yourself either because you lose your shit every time."
"But it's Avatar!" Quinn yells again, "I can't do that!"
"I can ask her out for you, but that's not gonna happen. You have no other choice."
Mike nods his head in agreement. "You can do this Quinn."
Quinn's pretty adamant at first, because well, it's her reputation that's at stake here. But Santana's got a huge point, as much as she hates to admit it, and she remembers Rachel mentioning that Finn has already called her again two nights ago. (It seems to have done the trick.) She sinks onto the nearest empty seat, huffing gruffly. "Alright, fine."
"Knew you'd see it my way."
"But I'm not going to wear an Avatar costume. Anything but that."
"Yeah, yeah. Tell him that." Santana waves dismissively. "Now get out of my room."
She tells Sam the next time they meet, and he's clearly not pleased about it. (Quinn honestly doesn't know if it's one of his fantasies, but, whatever.)
Eventually, they come to a compromise—after hours of bickering—and settle for Star Wars, because Quinn refuses to wear Trinity's black suit in the middle of a hot, sweltering day in July.
Mike offers his help too, which Sam gladly accepts, although Santana says she'd rather be caught dead before she even thinks about doing it.
Sam sends Jacob to fix their booth while he leads Mike and Quinn up to his room to help them get ready for the day.
Quinn's already not looking forward to it, sulking and groaning at the sight of their supposed costumes. (Sam has to show her a part of the game he has already worked on just to lighten her mood, or make her look not murderous at the very least.)
"Why am I Han Solo?" Mike muses when he skims through his costume hanging by the window. "I've got ninja skills! I should be a Jedi."
"You said you were named after him," Sam frowns, dubious. "It was an obvious choice."
Quinn turns away from the queue of monitors lined on top of Sam's study desk and walks over to the two. "No," She says. "He likes to believe he was named after him, and he tells people that. But his mom told me that his middle name is actually his given Chinese name. He just thinks it's way cooler."
Mike gasps in surprise, his eyes narrowing towards her. "You just broke our bro code."
"I didn't." Quinn rolls her eyes. "Sam's your friend. He's not an outsider. And I never told you to stop telling people that you weren't named after Han Solo."
"But I was!"
Quinn opens her mouth to answer, but Sam is abrupt on breaking her off. "Look, I don't really care about the name thing. It's none of my business. But it's settled Mike. You're Han Solo." He turns to Quinn, giving her a quick nod. "Now Quinn, get Leia'd up."
"Just so we're clear," Quinn replies as she grabs her costume from the stand. "I am not kissing Mike."
Santana's having a field day when she visits.
Her cell phone gets full of photos, mostly of a glaring Quinn clad in white, with Leia Organa's gun replica hanging loosely from her grip. (Quinn wishes she could throw it like a boomerang, but the damage it could cost probably wouldn't even be worth it, so she settles on scowling.)
Jacob and Sam are obviously happy with the amount of good reception they are receiving, and there's already one whole page of sign-up sheet filled; though they both know it's mostly because of Quinn's presence, and the fact that if George Lucas sees her in this costume, she'd star in a new Star Wars franchise in no time.
That Rachel girl sure is lucky.
Sam tells Quinn this when he gives her the game card, once the day is over.
Quinn blushes in turn, and although she may have lost some of her reputation by dressing up and promoting his nerdy club, she figures he's still a good guy. (And clearly someone she'd like if only she's not gay and is head over heels with Rachel.) "Thanks Sam. It was really nice of you to help."
"You helped me too, so we're kind of even," Sam says, giving her one of his cute, dorky smiles. "Good luck."
She nods and bids him good bye. The jittery feeling in her nerves only goes stronger as she walks. She absently considers that she's definitely the pot, and he'd be the kettle she's calling black, as she grips the modded video game with which she would use to ask a girl out.
The day finally comes and she's almost a wreck.
Mike gives her the best pep talk he can offer when she stops by his place to borrow his hand-held; Santana just simply yells at her 'to stop freaking out' when she calls, because she feels like jumping right out of the train window, so yeah, that doesn't really help much.
The 3DS is shaking violently in her hands, and she has to fight to keep breathing. There's a mantra going on inside her head to somehow keep her calm, and really, she's barely going to say anything, so the chances of her messing the whole thing up is slim.
It's nice, it's thoughtful and Rachel would like it. She'd say yes, she remembers Mike telling her, and both he and Santana have reassured her that this is going to work, no matter what. Mike with his optimistic view in life, and Santana with her this is my idea, of course it's gonna work attitude.
But that doesn't bring her enough comfort, and the thought that she's going to ask Rachel out through a video game is sounding ridiculous to her right now. She doesn't know what brought it on, but she's suddenly finding it foolish.
Rachel barely plays video games, she thinks, so the chances of her appreciating this are almost close to none. Why didn't she go the traditional way again? With flowers and chocolates and other traditional things?
Despite Quinn telling herself to not play the what if game in this crucial moment, she can't really help it. Perhaps, it's the nerves, or maybe just the general fear of being turned down and the possibility of her losing whatever kind of relationship she already has and could have with Rachel.
The train operator's voice blares through the speakers, breaking her thoughts; Quinn swears it's louder than ever. She hears the muffled final chug from outside, followed by the familiar ding. The doors slide open, and Quinn's grip tightens further, so tight it can honestly break the console's LCD screen into pieces.
"Good morning, Quinn."
Quinn snaps her head up at the sound of her name, and is greeted by Rachel's ever bright smile, and somehow, it reminds her of why she's doing this in the first place; why she's sitting there with beads of sweat forming on her forehead, looking like she's going to throw up and be sick. (Except, she really does feel like throwing up with anxiety.)
It reminds her of why she didn't choose to go the traditional way, because Rachel deserves more than that.
Rachel takes in her appearance, and is by her side at once. "Quinn? Are you not feeling well?"
Quinn swallows thickly, wincing at the taste of acid at the back of her throat. Rachel mistakes it for something else, and she quickly pulls a handkerchief from the pocket of her dress. Quinn's hands are full with her things, so she takes responsibility and dabs the piece of cloth on Quinn's forehead.
"You honestly don't look like it," She whispers. There's a blush that quickly taints Quinn's cheeks, which ensues a blush of her own.
"But I am," rasps Quinn. The corner of her mouth is tugging into a shy smile. "Thanks though."
"Are you sure?"
Quinn just continues to smile at her. Rachel responds with one in kind, and she settles comfortably in her seat when the train moves.
Halfway through the next station, Quinn realizes, she needs to make a move or she'll run out of time, which means, the plan would not be complete, which also means that she'd have to do this again, and she really thinks she can't go through this a second time.
So with one last, deep breath, she puts her things down on her lap and powers the 3DS on.
"So, uhm, you once asked me how Pokemon worked, right?" She says, eyes darting nervously between the other girl and the lit screen.
"Yes," Rachel replies with a soft nod. "I did. Why do you ask?"
"Well," Quinn pauses, swallowing visibly. "I brought the game. I thought you, uhm… you'd understand better if you play it."
"Better than me trying to explain, right?" She exhales an anxious laugh.
"Good point." Rachel concurs, and accepts the console with a strained smile, but it's more to disguise the sharp gasp that escapes her throat when her fingers accidentally brush against Quinn's.
The opening credits come on, and Quinn feels her heartbeat start to race. But she fixes her eyes on Rachel's thumb hovering above one button, as a form of distraction, or else she'd start to hyperventilate, worse, pass out and mess up the plan entirely.
"Should I choose new game?" Rachel's voice breaks her thoughts. "Quinn?"
"Y-yeah," She stutters. "New game."
Rachel does what she's told and pushes the button. She reads through the introductory part, partly understanding what Pokemon is about—and she's quite amused that it's actually a coined term for pocket monsters—although she's still confused for the most of it. But, she gives herself enough credit since this is her first time to play.
She punches her name in when the game asks her for it. There's a welcome message from the supposed Professor, introducing more characters named Mike and Santana, which Rachel is fairly sure are also the same names of Quinn's friends.
She shoots Quinn a quick look, but the girl seems to be busy fiddling with her phone, so she decides to continue; she'll ask Quinn about it later.
From the corner of her eye, Quinn can see the game progressing, and her hands are so clammy that she has to hold her cell phone tight just so it wouldn't slip out of her grasp. (It almost did when she received a pull your shit together text from Santana, and the gadget vibrated in her hand.)
Her throat is dry, and drinking something would really be a good idea right now, if not for her inability to move a single muscle. So she settles for swallowing, just to alleviate the hoarseness.
The game heads on to what seems like the main character's house—well, technically, Rachel's, since Rachel named her character that—and Mike is with her upstairs, waiting for Santana.
The Santana character comes up, and Rachel reads through the bubble: Am I a little late again? Sorry! (Quinn snorts at that, already laughing inwardly at the supposed next bit despite the nervousness.)
Rachel hits the button, which leads to Mike berating Santana. Santana… I've known for ten years that you have no sense of time, but… seriously…
Beside her, Quinn is snickering quietly. It may totally be a coincidence since Sam doesn't know a single thing about their friendship, but it surely is a hilarious one.
But she quickly stiffens when she sees Rachel get to that part, and her heart is pounding wildly beneath her chest, because she knows what's about to come up. (She may or may not have played the game several times before boarding the train.)
She can almost taste the acid of anxiety building up at the back of her throat.
Rachel arches one brow when she reads the text.
Choose your date:
Which only rises higher when the box opens, revealing three half-red, half-white balls inside. She swears her eyebrow reached the top of her forehead when she goes through each ball and three adorable-looking yet distinct monsters appear respectively.
The first one's a turtle. Rachel's quite sure of that, despite the misleading tail and, well, color. But it's a game, she supposes, so a lot of things would be misleading. Though, its name, Quinn Fabray, doesn't seem to sit well with its appearance.
The second one, Rachel can't quite decide if it's a toad or a young dinosaur with randomly shaped spots and a huge green bud—is that a flower?—on its back. It's standing on all fours, with red eyes and what seems like a smile, if possible. Still, it being Quinn Fabray—there's two Quinn monsters now, she notes—something's missing.
She's absolutely certain that the third one is also named Quinn Fabray even without looking, and she has to turn to look at Quinn—the real one—to tease her about it. But Quinn honestly looks like she's about to heave right on the floor, and she's looking everywhere except at her while she fidgets in her seat with her obviously trembling hands, so teasing Quinn about it would actually be a little mean.
Rachel then decides to drop the idea and returns her attention back to the game. The third monster—yes, still named Quinn Fabray just as she has expected—looks like a small mouse with long and pointy bunny-like ears, each of its tip colored black. It has yellow fur with a thunder-shaped tail, and its red cheeks kind of remind her of Quinn's for some reason, whenever she catches Quinn blushing furiously.
Just like now.
She shoots Quinn one last amused look, and catches the girl staring at her, and her amused smile only grows wider when Quinn fumbles and fixes her eyes elsewhere in a flash.
Rachel chooses the third option, though whatever her option is, it's quite irrelevant since they're all Quinn anyways.
Do you want to give a nickname to Quinn? The game says next. She ponders over yes for a few beats, but then she's quite fond of Quinn's name—actually thinks it's uniquely beautiful, so she chooses no.
The screen goes black after she presses the button, and for a moment she panics, thinking that she's broken it or something. But it flashes white and there in the center is a block of text that Rachel has never expected to read, even in her dreams.
Will you go out on a date with me?
Surprised, she shuffles in her seat, facing Quinn, and she feels the strong urge to shake the girl upon seeing her eyes screwed shut. Rachel's honestly torn between laughing and swooning, and just—she may not be an expert on video games, but she's not completely clueless about these things, and technology either, so she knows the extent it takes to make something like this.
She ends up wanting to kiss Quinn instead.
They're almost at Rachel's stop, and Rachel hasn't said anything yet, so Quinn figures that she probably has failed.
Really though, she thinks, when did having two gay dads get to be an indication of one's sexuality?
She berates herself for jumping to conclusions. Clearly, that wasn't the best move, but then, like she could ask it straight either or drop it casually in one of their conversations.
Still, the bottom line is she has failed and she probably has ruined any chances of a deeper friendship.
Quinn is quite certain that the disheartened feeling she feels settling at the pit of her stomach is something she'll be feeling for weeks.
When the operator announces their arrival at 66th Street, Quinn starts typing a text to Mike about the result.
She stares blankly at the 'I fucked up' written on her screen, but she quickly erases it just because it sounded well, too negative, even to her. (It's Mike's idea after all.)
In the middle of debating how she'd reword her apparent rejection, she gets distracted by Rachel calling out her name.
"I'm sorry," Quinn blurts out, even before Rachel can utter another word. "I'm sorry for assuming things, and, and, doing this, and ruining our friendship—"
"Quinn…" Rachel is struggling to keep a straight face, and no matter how good of an actress she is, she can't help but be swayed—and touched, definitely—with Quinn's genuine remorse about the whole thing, not to mention the effort it took.
She hands the 3DS back just before the last batch of passengers exit the train, and gathers her things into her hands.
Quinn's entirely sure she's going to be shot down, and though she knows she'd get over the rejection in a few months, she's not quite certain she can handle it at this point. But, it's not like she has a choice.
But then, Rachel's lips shape into a grin, and Rachel's stooping down to look her in the eyes, and to press a quick kiss to her cheek; she almost fails to catch Rachel's words, because her brain seems to have stopped functioning at that point and it's the only thing she can think of.
"Pick me up on Saturday. Eight o'clock sharp."
Quinn watches Rachel go in a daze, one hand clutching the cheek where Rachel's lips had just been.
It's only until the train jerks to move that she snaps out of this particular stupor, that she remembers she doesn't even know where Rachel lives, nor had she asked for her number.
She's about to close the lid of the hand-held in haste when she notices the game, and it's paused, with the game memo occupying the lower screen.
Written in the pad is Rachel's complete address, her number below, and Quinn has to clutch onto the console like her life depended on it.
This time, when she sets foot on Penn Station, she plays You Make My Dreams on her iPod and doesn't hesitate to break into Tom Hansen's dance routine in the movie.
Only, she does it way better than Joseph Gordon-Levitt did.
Four dates later, one of Rachel's friends that they bumped into on the train—Kurt as she remembers—tags her as the girl who has managed to steal the heart of the ever elusive Rachel Berry.
It's a title she will gladly live up to, she tells Rachel this, mostly because she feels like ever elusive is clearly something of prestige. (Plus, it's Rachel, so, yeah…)
"Don't be so full of yourself," Rachel says, giggling. "You managed to ask me out months after we first met."
"I wanted us to be friends first," Quinn reasons, though they both know it's just a playful excuse.
"I know you have been dying to ask me out since day one, Quinn."
Quinn arches one brow, but the smile tugging at the corner of her mouth gives her away. "Now who's being full of herself?"
They reach Rachel's front door, and Rachel slows down up to their cobbled top step while Quinn settles for the second so that they're of the same height.
"Besides, you like how I asked you out."
Rachel rolls her eyes, but just so she wouldn't come out as completely charmed. "You are such a dork."
"Dorks are hot though." Quinn laughs. "I'm a dork. Do the math."
Rachel sighs dramatically for effect, and pulls Quinn by the hem of her jacket, swallowing the rest of Quinn's resounding laughter in a kiss.
(Rachel likes dorks anyways.)
(And Quinn still hates the subway. Rachel's the only good thing that has come from it.)