|Seeing You Again for the First Time
Author: DottieP PM
Set in the same universe as "Office Hours," "Easy Like Sunday Morning," & "A Little Shopping," this is the flashback to when Quinn & Santana reconnect, set seven years after high school. There might be a few chapters with a M rating. ON HIATUS (until summer 2013).Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Humor - Quinn F. & Santana L. - Chapters: 29 - Words: 79,968 - Reviews: 206 - Favs: 193 - Follows: 280 - Updated: 06-28-12 - Published: 07-12-11 - id: 7172754
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Seeing You for the First Time Again
Summary: Set in the same universe as "Office Hours," "Easy Like Sunday Morning," & "A Little Shopping," this is the flashback to when Quinn & Santana reconnect, set seven years after high school.
Rating: T (language).
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, yada, yada, yada.
Author's Note: I never thought that I'd write a story with a "T" rating. It's weird. But, I wanted to explore how these two characters got to where they are. This might be multiple chapters. There is more smut on the way; I cannot not write that.
She finally surrendered. Quinn knew that she had to relax at some point, somewhere between the Blind Tiger and some hole-in-the-wall gay jazz/blues bar, the blonde admitted that she needed to loosen-the-fuck-up.
It was her last year of law school—the home stretch as it were. Her success at Columbia earned her a job in the legal department at a large investment firm in Manhattan after graduation. Now, here she was, being dragged through Chelsea by her study group-turned-friends to a bar to watch an open mic night. These things always suck. Some emo homo with a guitar and then some granola chick…with a guitar. Quinn prepared herself for a night of boredom and awful music. I'd rather to listen to Berry sing the phonebook than this. This last thought threw the blonde a bit—she had not thought of Rachel in a while. Excuse me, Tony-nominated, "Broadway's rising star" Rachel Berry. At this thought, Quinn rolled her eyes to herself.
As she followed her friends, she couldn't help but think about how she got to this moment—almost graduating at the top of her class from Columbia Law School. Not too shabby for a girl who got tossed on her ass by a dick for a father for getting knocked up in high school. She was proud of herself, in all honesty. A double major in political science and international relations from George Washington wasn't easy to come by, and she made the dean's list every semester while getting the degrees. She also dropped the HBIC attitude and finally embraced Quinn, the smart young woman who didn't have to rely on her looks or put up a wall of ice to survive. Part of this self-acceptance in college came because she finally accepted that she was gay—really gay.
She dated a bit then finally met Kayla. All of Quinn's friends were convinced that she was Eliza Dushku's doppelganger, which was, obviously, not a bad thing. Quinn fell hard and fast for Kayla and eventually had her heart broken. Like giving up Beth, this experience proved crucial for the blonde's maturity and self-identity. She actually blossomed after the break-up. Well, after the requisite crying, moping around, and binge drinking that came immediately after the termination of the relationship. Quinn certainly was not starved for female attention in college, and this allowed her to figure out who she was sexually, a part of her that had been dormant for so long.
Undergrad was a pivotal moment for Quinn, and she was almost certain that she would go into law, but upon her 21st birthday, she received a healthy trust fund that was set aside for her at birth. Her dad couldn't legally touch it in the divorce, so she decided to take a year off after leaving G.W. and be certain that law school was she wanted. Quinn knew that she'd make a great lawyer; even though, she all but buried HBIC, she knew that she could whip it out when necessary. And, she was logical and levelheaded. The blonde could also negotiate like a pro, which is what she wanted to do. The game, as she saw it, was a challenge, and she relished in the nuances of each of maneuver. Her tattered copy of the Art of War would prove useful in her law career.
But, her year off at dear old daddy's expense (the fund allowed her to pay for law school and live comfortably) would be vital if she wanted to invest intellectually and emotionally in a rigorous law program. So, she travelled across Europe and engrossed herself in literature. She couldn't read during college because of a demanding course schedule. Now, however, she could return to one of her first loves—literature. Yes, underneath the flawless features, perfect hazel-green eyes, and golden blonde hair lived a nerd—a big one.
While at Columbia, her brains and beauty attracted a number of women, but Quinn was driven and focused, so these were nothing but casual encounters. She enjoyed them, actually. They would go out for dinner, talk, and then have sex—like adults. No drama (well, not all the time). No bullshit. Just fun. This fit perfectly with the demands of a top-tier law program.
So, now Quinn found herself at the front door of some shitty bar about to face a night of bad beer and bad music. She and her friends entered the dimly lit establishment that was nothing more than a couple dozen tables and chairs, a small bar, and a stage. A baby grand took up half of the stage, but it, at least, was intimate for an open mic night. She was trying to find the positive. Quinn immediately noticed that women occupied all of the front tables except one; in the corner was a table of three guys who were intently watching the young man strapping on his guitar on stage. Oh great, emo homo.
Her friends found a table near the back and close to the bar. Thank god. The M.C. announced the first performer, the first of three, and Quinn immediately tuned out. Katie, her close friend for all three years of law school, leaned over, "You want anything from the bar?"
"Yeah, good beer if they have any," Quinn said, followed by, under her breath, "which they probably don't." A few moments later, Katie returned with an eye roll as her response.
"Fine, a Belvidere martini, extra dirty," Quinn sighed. To which, Katie gave her an incredulous look.
"What? If I'm going to be a lawyer, I might as well start drinking like one."
"Good point." Katie returned to the bar and came back a bit later with a round of drinks. This is going to be a long night, Quinn thought.
After singer number two left the stage to a smattering of applause, a rustle started among the harem of women (as Quinn saw them). A brunette, whose back was to Quinn the whole evening, stood and was followed to the stage by two other women. One picked up the guitar and the other took a seat at the piano while the brunette, who still couldn't be seen clearly because the spotlight was down, was getting adjusted on the stool, fidgeting with the mic.
The M.C. came back on the stage. "Finally, we'll close out the evening with a house favorite, who needs no introduction at all." At that, the harem in front went wild. They hooted and hollered as the spotlight flipped on.
Quinn still had yet to look up from her fascinating, and then she did.
"Oh. My. God." On stage, sitting on the stool, looking relaxed and like a pro was someone who Quinn thought she'd never see again. She knew they lived in the same city but had not seen or heard from her since freshman year of college. What are the odds now?
"Santana?" Quinn whispered to no one. But, Katie heard her.
"You know her?" her friend asked.
Absentmindedly, still staring at the stage, Quinn replied, "We went to high school together."
Then, Santana spoke. "Hey everyone. Normally, Keith only lets people do three songs for open mic, but he has been gracious enough to let me do four, so thanks Keith." The harem cheered. And, a humble smile graced the brunette's face as she lowered her head and tucked some thick black hair behind an ear.
Quinn canted her head in surprise at whom she saw. This was not "I'm about to go all Lima Heights" Santana Lopez; this was someone she nearly didn't recognize. Her features had softened, but her beauty had not faded in the least. In fact, if Quinn had known any better, she'd say that Santana had grown more beautiful since high school. Gone was the hardness, the anger, the pain from those deep chocolate eyes, and Quinn instead saw light, peace, and joy. Quinn shook her head as if to refocus because she couldn't believe what she was seeing. Looking down at her martini, she took a deep breath, and as she was about to exhale and look up, Santana started singing.
Quinn's jaw dropped at what she heard. Santana was singing Adele's "Make You Feel My Love," and it was just her sultry, unique voice and a piano. "Jesus," Quinn whispered. Katie inched her head towards her friend, "Damn, she is hot and can sing. No wonder she has all those chicks fawning over like fan girls."
Quinn just watched in awe and listened intently. Even her singing was different than she remembered. Now, there was more confidence that replaced the cockiness. Raw emotion subsumed the cold front of ice and near-rage. And, now, Santana wasn't just hot; she was beautiful. She oozed sex as she sang but with a healthy doze of sensuality layered in, which was missing the last time Quinn watched the brunette sing.
The blonde also had a new perspective; after coming out, she could Santana as a woman, not as a rival or even as a friend. And what she was seeing was mesmerizing, intoxicating, and intriguing. The last note and the uproar of cheers from not only the ladies in the front but from her table as well broke her reverie. She joined in and clapped but was still entranced. Quinn got up, almost unconsciously, to get another drink and to clear her head a bit. She was at the bar when Santana spoke again.
"Thanks. This next song is one that I haven't done in a long time, but I was feeling it tonight. I sang this to my high school sweetheart, and well…" She paused and wistfully ran her fingers through her long hair, a gesture that hypnotized Quinn all over again. "Well, I wanted to sing it again…to no one special," this earned her a disappointed "Awww" from the harem. Santana laughed in response and continued, "But, I think it's a beautiful song and a classic."
Quinn was curious now. She doesn't remember Santana singing any song to Brittany in high school. She shrugged and sat down just as Santana started singing "Songbird." It hit Quinn like a semi-truck—the rawness and vulnerability of the song. "She sang this to her?" Quinn whispered once again. The blonde was once again struck by how different the woman singing was. She had no idea that Santana, even then, was capable of this. Quinn was sucked into the song immediately, and because she knew the history of the relationship, tears fell—out of sympathy and for the beauty of the song and its singer. On the last note, Quinn started clapping so quickly that she nearly knocked over her drink.
Katie had been watching Quinn's reactions the entire time and decided to keep any comments to herself. But, she could see how affected her friend was by the brunette on stage, and she had to admit that she had never seen Quinn react like this to anyone.
Quinn was slowly running her finger along the rim of her glass as she contemplated what she was feeling at seeing Santana again. She's so different and I know without even speaking to her. What the hell is going on? I know I've changed, but I guess I just never thought of her changing. I figured she'd be a huge bitch until she died or someone killed her. The shock still wasn't wearing off.
After some movement on stage, the performers settling back in. "Okay, so," Santana began. "First, I want to thank Mel and Amy here for helping me rearrange this song. I wrote it with some friends a number of years ago, and I always liked it, so the three of us played around with it until we came up with this acoustic version. It's called Light Up the World."
"Get outta here," said Quinn with a smile. The whole table turned to look at her, but she never acknowledged it because she was too busy grinning at the brunette on stage. The acoustic version carried more sentimentality than the more upbeat version that New Directions performed at nationals. The goofy grin stayed plastered on Quinn's face throughout the song, which Santana, of course, sang beautifully.
At the end, Quinn clapped like a fan girl, and Katie placed another martini in front of her. "Thanks," Quinn nodded to Katie, barely paying attention to her friend. Katie just shook her head and smiled at the clearly smitten blonde.
Santana made a funny little bow-like gesture before grabbing the mic again. "Thanks again. The last song," which garnered "boos" from harem, "is actually for you, assholes," she said pointing the women who just jokingly "booed" her. "A couple weekends ago, we had a party and much drinking occurred. We ended up singing, of course, and I may have started singing some ridiculous song that the aforementioned high school sweetheart wrote. Well, these dipshits up here freakin' loved it and thought it was the best thing that they ever heard, so I've decided to close with that tonight." Her friends broke out into both laughter and cheers.
The guitar started with Santana, "I've got you in the palm of my hand/I wanna put something hot in you…"
Quinn almost spit out her extra dirty vodka when she heard the opening lyrics. Katie slapped her back a few times, but Quinn waved her off. As Santana continued, Quinn tried desperately to hold in the laughter as her friends sat with jaws agape at the song. She knew that look well; she had that look on her face a number of years ago in a hotel room in this very city. The harem was actually singing along, too.
On the last "My cup-ahhhh," Quinn hooted like a tween at a Justin Bieber concert. As the cheering from the harem died down, the alcohol took over Quinn, and she yelled, "Sing Trouty Mouth" at the top of her lungs. Immediately, she slammed a hand over her mouth, and her friends wore the same expression that they did during "My Cup" but now directed at her.
Santana's head shot up, and she tried to block the spotlight, so she could see the source of this request. "I'm sorry. Did someone just ask that I sing Trouty Mouth?" The harem was in disarray; they were looking around and their eyes finally settled on Quinn's table. Some pointed in the blonde's direction; the hand over her mouth still didn't help her look innocent. There was a moment of silence before Santana spoke, "Umm, well, that was weird. Anyway, thanks for coming, everyone. Good night." Polite applause followed because everyone was still wondering who the hell yelled "Trouty Mouth" and what did that mean?
"We gotta go. Now," Quinn insisted, getting up from the table.
"Sit your drunk ass down. We're not going anywhere. First, you're going to explain what the outburst was. What the fuck is 'trouty mouth'?"
"I'm not drunk. Buzzed maybe, but not drunk," Quinn replied.
"Doesn't answer my question."
"It's some dumb song that she sang in high school. Whatever." As Quinn talked with her friend, a very curious Santana excused herself from her adoring, and rather tanked, friends to go find the source, as it were. She spotted her as she maneuvered around one last table and stopped dead in her tracks. The blonde hadn't noticed her yet. A genuine and gorgeous smile spread across Santana's face. She closed the gap with a few more steps.
"Well, well, well. Quinn Fabray," Santana smiled warmly, as she leaned a hip against the table in front of the blonde. Quinn's head shot up, and hazel-green eyes met rich brown once again but with an entirely new set of rules and understanding, at least on Quinn's part.
"Hi," Quinn replied softly. They never broke eye contact as they just, well, stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity until Santana finally interrupted.
"So, Trouty Mouth, eh? I knew I should have written that second verse!" Quinn graced the brunette with a throaty and honest laugh that grew contagious as Santana joined in, ending with that running-her-fingers-through-her-hair gesture that now stirred something bordering on lust in Quinn.
The blonde rose from her seat finally to envelope Santana in a hug, one that did not have ulterior motives behind it and was not a sneaky move to toss the other into the lockers—a genuine, rather long as Katie noticed, hug. Quinn pulled away first noticing how her body instantly reacted to being that close to Santana and trying to suppress all of the confusing emotions swirling in her as a result.
"How have you been? You were absolutely amazing up there. And sorry for the Trouty Mouth thing. Three martinis in and…," she chuckled to herself and bashfully looked at her feet.
Santana softly laughed with her while gently placing a hand on Quinn's upper arm in a gesture of comfort. The touch was warm and friendly, so not the Santana that Quinn once knew.
"I'm well. How are…? How did you end up here? I knew that you were in New York, Kurt and his damn blog," Santana responded. The two women couldn't look away from each other. It seemed that Santana was looking at Quinn through new eyes as well. There was no judgment or front from the brunette, just a genuine openness and receptiveness that was inviting. In that moment, Quinn thought, that all of the high school bullshit and their tortured history fell away, and they now had a clean slate. Unbeknownst to the blonde, Santana was thinking the exact same thing.
Quinn smiled at this, "I'm well, too. I'm actually here with some law school friends," she gestured to her friends who were engaged in conversation. Except Katie, who had her elbows on the table, head in her hands, looking up at the pair with rapt attention. Quinn looked down at Katie and immediately turned a curious shade of red. "Can I help you?" the blonde asked.
"Aren't you going to introduce me to your very talented friend?" Katie shot back with a smartass smile.
"Oh gosh, yeah, I'm sorry. Katie, this is Santana." Katie extended her hand to the brunette, and they exchanged "hellos" before Katie made a B-line for the bar.
Santana turned her attention back to Quinn, "I gotta say, Q, you look amazing, better than you did in high school." As she said this, she raked her eyes slowly over Quinn, slightly pausing at the curve of Quinn's hip and breasts and a certain spot on her neck. The blonde flushed under Santana's open scrutiny. Their eyes met again.
"Thank you. And you," Quinn replied, beginning her own appraisal, "have only gotten more stunning." She graced Santana with a bright smile to punctuate her compliment.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think that you were flirting with me, Fabray," Santana quipped with a wink. Before Quinn could respond, Santana shifted the conversation, "Can I get you a drink? Well, another one. And maybe we could sit and catch up. I'd love to hear what's been going on with you." There was that sincerity again. It was really throwing Quinn for a loop, but the wink, the near sultriness with which Santana accused Quinn of flirting jarred her as well. What the fuck is going on?
Quinn grabbed a table on the other side of the bar and waited for Santana. Quinn fidgeted in those brief moments, the sea of emotions crashing within her. She tried to calm herself—her mantra tonight was "go with the flow." She decided this with a confident nod just as Santana returned with two martinis.
"Thanks," Quinn said softly. She took a sip immediately. "How'd you know?" pointing to her drink while looking up at Santana.
"Thank Katie. I asked her while I was up there. Looks like we drink almost the same thing. Though you like yours a little dirtier. Who would have thought…" smirked Santana as she took a long drag of her martini.
Quinn chuckled. She leaned forward towards Santana and pointed playfully at the brunette. "I knew it! I knew that the old Santana was hiding under this new mature, sultry, soulful Santana." The "new Santana" looked rather surprised and just shook her head and smiled bashfully, looking down at her drink.
Smiling back, Quinn ducked her to try and catch Santana's eye, "I'm right, aren't I? About the new Santana?" She said this softly, sincerely.
Santana raised her head to meet Quinn's sparkling hazel-green, and she graced the blonde with another (new) genuine smile. A slight nod was the only response. Then a smirk, "Now I'm convinced that you're flirting with me, Fabray." Another wink. Santana took another long sip of her drink as she waited eagerly for Quinn's reaction.
It was Quinn's turn to glance down at her glass bashfully, softly laughing to herself. She snuck a peak at Santana, "Well, you were flirting with me, so…."
"I never said I wasn't," Santana quickly quipped. They hovered there in this weird unfamiliar space, lingering with all of the new information, trying to make sense of it but really not wanting to do so. Just wanting to be.
Quinn was the one this time to grace Santana with a genuine smile, at which the brunette blushed. Actually blushed. Another revelation for Quinn. She's blushing. Oh my god, Santana Lopez is blushing. This is unreal. This whole night is fucking surreal.
"Wow, I never thought I'd see that—a blush from the badass Santana Lopez. This night keeps getting weirder," Quinn said shaking her head and sitting back in her seat with a more confidence, possibly getting the upper hand with Santana.
"People change, Q" was Santana's only response, again with sincerity and openness.
"No one has called me Q since high school," Quinn confessed. There was more to this disclosure than revealing a simple fact. Santana knew. Only a few people called Quinn this, and she was one of them. There was an intimacy shared here, even with something as simple as a nickname.
"Well, I feel privileged. The inner circle as it were," Santana responded, gesturing to Quinn with her glass in a half-hearted toast. Silence fell upon them once again, but this time the silence was not awkward but comforting and familiar yet novel.
Their actions mirrored each other: heads bowed, fingers tracing the bottoms of the glasses.
"So…" the two said simultaneously. They laughed softly at their awkwardness.
"Law school, eh? Makes sense. The HBIC would be perfect for the law," Santana stated softly, looking over the rim of her glass before taking another sip.
Inhaling a necessary breath, Quinn responded, "Yeah, G.W. then Columbia. I'm about to finish up this year. I'll be working in the legal department of an investment firm after graduation. How about you?"
"Wow, Quinn. That's amazing. Not that I'm surprised. You always had the brains to do anything that you wanted." Santana paused to collect her thoughts. "Oh me," forgetting that she was supposed to respond. Quinn smiled at this slight falter. "Let's see….I went to NYU, majored in history, minored in Spanish. I became fast friends with a bunch of lesbians, and they were into music, so I got a chance to continue singing. Last year, I started my master's program at Columbia," Santana smiled as the blonde perked up even more at this, "in history. I'm debating whether or not to pursue my PhD."
"So you'd be Doctor Lopez, then?" Quinn inquired with a sultry smile, not hiding her interest very well.
Santana leaned in, "Absolutely." The seductive Santana smile slowly spread across her face, responding in kind to Quinn's flirting.
Quinn couldn't shake the oddity of the situation, the simple weirdness. I'm flirting with Santana. The Santana who threw me into the lockers and called me Tubbers. What? But I don't see that Santana anymore. Don't over-think this, Fabray.
She decided you couldn't hold out anymore, "So is this weird to you or is it just me?"
Santana quirked an eyebrow, "What's weird?"
"This. Us…with the…"
"Oh the flirting? Nah. I'm not surprised."
"What? Seriously? How are you not surprised? We were….what in high school? Frenemies, I guess? And now we're flirting with each other over martinis in some dive bar. That's weird."
"This place is quaint, c'mon," Santana tried to lighten the mood. But, she knew that Quinn wanted a real answer. "It is a little odd, yeah. But, it feels like we have a clean slate. I can tell that you've changed just like you can see that I have. That's really eerie, by the way, that you could see that just from me singing a few songs."
The blonde could only smile at the truthful words from Santana. "I have changed; you're right. The queen, the princess, the bitch, whatever you call her, has been laid to rest. I've embraced who I really am, realized that the façade is unnecessary and only makes you unhappy. I take pleasure in simplicity now, not the drama or manipulation or the bullshit." She shrugged and took another sip of vodka.
Santana looked at her with an intensity that unnerved the blonde. "The façade is unnecessary; it took me a while to figure that out. I'm glad you did." The shared smiles returned, and they enjoyed another cloud of silence. Each woman considered the other silently. An avalanche of thoughts flooded each conscience.
It was at this moment that Katie chose to interrupt. "Hey Quinn, I'm sorry to bother you, but we really should get going. We have study group early tomorrow morning." She shook both women from their respective thoughts.
"No need to apologize, Katie. And you're right, we should head out. Gimme one second."
"Sure thing," Katie responded and returned to the bar where she and the others got ready to leave.
"I guess that's my cue," Quinn directed to Santana.
"Looks like it. I should getting going, too. I have tons of reading to do for class."
"I'd like to hear about it…what you're studying, I mean. Maybe we could grab coffee sometime? Or, if you're interested, maybe we could check out the new photography exhibition at The Met?"
"Coffee and art? Wow, a woman after my own heart," Santana replied, tacking on a wink at the end. "That sounds like fun, both of them actually. Why don't you give me your number," she said pulling out her cell phone.
Quinn smiled at the retort from the brunette. "I knew coffee was a sure thing, but I never thought you'd go for the photography. Another surprise." She gave Santana her number. "Call or text me when you're free. I'm looking forward to it," Quinn said, standing up from the table.
"So do I. It's been really good seeing you, Quinn," Santana responded matching Quinn's movements, now facing her. Santana hesitantly moved in for a hug and Quinn responded in kind. The hug lingered a bit longer than both women expected, but neither wanted to break it because they're reactions mirrored each other—warmth, a spark, something altogether new.
When they slowly broke apart, Quinn shyly said "bye" and Santana nodded and barely eked out a "good night." Santana's eyes never left the blonde as Quinn joined her friends and left the bar. Nearly, thirty seconds after Quinn had left, Santana grabbed her phone and composed a text.
Santana: Even though we have lived in the same city, I never thought I'd run into you. It truly was a pleasure seeing you again. I like this new Quinn, at least from what I saw tonight. I can't wait for the Met…and caffeine. ;-). And, now you have my number.
The brunette exhaled as she hit send, hoping she did the right thing. She turned back to the stage to start getting her stuff together to head home, leaving everything up to fate now.
Quinn's phone buzzed, and she pulled it out of her jeans pocket. She read Santana's text, smiling in silent response.
Quinn: Tonight was certainly a surprise, running into you. A pleasant one, though. How does next Thursday sound for our little field trip? I assume you don't have classes on Friday.
She sent the message but then looked down at the screen. Field trip? What the fuck? Am I some elementary teacher now? I hope she took it as humor and not me a loser. At least I didn't say date because then….well, that would have been weird. Even though it feels like a date.
Santana didn't text back right away, not for a while. Both women were in bed reading when Santana did finally pick up her IPhone again.
Santana: Field trip, eh? I was going to say date but field trip is much cuter. I know this great restaurant near the museum if you're interested in grabbing something afterwards.
Quinn: I'll never say no to food – well good food, at least. Btw, how did you know that I was gay?
Santana: Awesome gaydar, Q ;-). J/K – Kurt and his gossipy little ways. Sleep well.
Quinn: I should have figured it was Kurt. Good night, Santana.