A/N: Okay, I've changed this first author's note. So… Something always strikes me about writing in the fall. As far as this fic goes (which I started juuussst about a year ago: I had an odd inspiration that kept shooting off in tangents quite far from my original little flash of…whatever muses flashes us with. Apparently a more tawdry (okay tawdry might be a bit strong a word) muse flashes me later on, eventually. My point? I still have fun telling this morphed tale. So I keep at it, whether you like it or not...?

Anyhoo…..Just so you know: canon I have not been so hot with as far as time lines go. If I tried to keep up all the time with everything, well, it would push my story in even more directions than I can keep up with. Characters do (I like to think anyway…) keep to the 'spirit', if not the letter. Glee characters are such broad (and fun) strokes that I think there is a lot of room for the in-between to fill in. And they're crazy inconsistent for the most part, right? And... if I can't have fun with them, well then writing fic would be far less enjoyable.!

!A/N: new note on rating I've added retroactively. I've waffled on this. I think overall this is a T (or R if that was an option). However, there are a few M chapters. I shall warn you well in advance of these. If you skip them, you will not miss much plot. I promise.

Quinn made her way through hallways to her first class, chilly as usual this time of year. She enjoyed donning her hard won Cheerio armor well enough at the beginning of the year, and through some of the crisp football season. But as the weather turned colder, it was nice to be able to look forward to being able throw on some jeans and a sweater now and again. Not that it had been easy to get Sue Sylvester to agree let them don 'civilian clothes'.

"You think that's hard? Try running the Iditarod, two of your dogs gimpy, and Sarah Palin taking aim at your ass with an AK-47. THAT'S hard!"

Quinn listened to another half dozen Sue-isms before calmly stating the obvious. "Try winning Nationals again with half the team recovering from walking pneumonia just when we need to be at our best."

The tall coach shook her head with a grimace, and let out a growl. "Damn it Q. When you're right, you're right. I hate it when you're right. Don't do it again."

Quinn didn't even try to keep the small smile of victory from her lips as Sue leaned forward on her massive desk towards her, slapping her palms on the mahogany.

"Okay Q. You may spread the word to the rank and file. Civvies are allowed on NON-game days, and non-game days only. Game days, Spirit Days, and my birthday, you will suck it up. And you will like it. This is effective…" She paused pulling her mouth to the side as she mulled it over. "Effective whenever the hell that Daylight Savings Time begins. Or ends. Whatever it is. Talk about your bunch of wussies. You're all a bunch of coddled wussy pants! Why back in my day, Q, we were lucky just to…"

Quinn barely kept the grimace off her face as she dared to cut into the no doubt classic Sue Sylvester rant that was about to be spewed at her. "Coach Sylvester, I really need to get to class…"

The Coach slapped her hands down, shocked at the interruption. "Quinn, that was dangerously close to being right again. Knock it off. Oh, and Q? Just so you know, you're all back in full uniform again every day when Daylight Savings Time ends. Or begins. Again. Whatever. In the Spring. You know what I mean. Dismissed!"

Quinn smiled again, turned on her heel as her skirt flared, and left to spread the good news. It meant a few more decisions in the morning, instead of always knowing what she was going to put on. But during the year of Babygate, and her subsequent return to 'the fold' of the Cheerios, she had developed a love/hate relationship with that uniform. It was a protection certainly. But she had no problem now seeing how restrictive it was. It was also was still her most obvious ticket out of Lima, so she didn't go so far as disrespecting it.

The news about wardrobe options had mostly been a hit. She'd caught up with her de facto lieutenants on the way to AP English. Her Number 2 had been all for it after she thought it through. First, however, her eyes had narrowed in suspicion when she realized Quinn had made a team decision without consulting anyone. But as Quinn hoped, after pondering the possibilities, Santana was soon looking forward to further expressing her bad-assness through fashion. Frankly, Quinn was a little worried about what she might turn up in now.

Brittany was another problem entirely.

"But what will I wear Q? You'll help me, right S?"

Santana nodded and smiled at her in the way that she only did for Brittany. Which was to say genuinely.

Quinn nodded. "B, sure S will help you out. You can wear whatever you want now unless it is a game day. Or unless we tell you otherwise, okay?"

Brittany bobbed her head, and then phased out for a moment. Quinn smiled fondly at her friend, and her faraway look. Then she realized it paid to be a little more specific with the other blond cheerleader sometimes.

"Uh, B, you still can't wear you bunny slippers. That is a school rule, not a Cheerio rule, you know that right?" Santana shot Quinn a grateful look over Brittany's head, giving her a thumbs up for thinking to clarify that. And for saving Santana from having to be the one to tell her 'best friend' no.

Quinn watched her friend's face fall, and then light right back up again. The once again bouncy cheerleader continued moving down the hall with a smile. "That's okay Q."

Quinn walked with her towards class wondering what the other girl had dreamt up that was better than her bunny slippers.

The trio headed on to the class she shared with a few Gleeks, Santana, and (amazingly) Brittany-who made it much more entertaining, whether on purpose or otherwise.

She watched Brittany and Santana take their usual seats in the back row, leaning together giggling. She nodded to Kurt and Rachel and Mercedes in the middle section on the side. Under Kurt's reluctant social tutelage, the diva had finally moved from the front 'kiss ass' row to something more socially neutral. Naturally she still paid rapt attention, and raised her hand a few too many times, but she was altogether better. Quinn was neutral on the topic of Berry these days. They were never at each others throats anymore. There was nothing to fight over. And the pleasure she used to take from torturing the girl just wasn't there anymore. This empathy crap she unwillingly developed over the course of her drama last year had changed her fundamentally, whether she liked it or not.

She grabbed her spot next to Sam who gave her a happy smile. She smiled back, easy and warm.

That boy was always happy. He was easy to be around, like Finn in some ways. But he wasn't dumb as a box of rocks like Finn. As was evidenced by the fact that there was no Finn in this AP class or any other for that matter. She enjoyed the fact that they weren't serious, and she enjoyed his company. But she was still determined to make this year about herself, and figuring herself out. It was not going to be about boys. Or any one boy. And she while she found Sam very appealing and cute (for a blond boy), and she enjoyed the attention, she was not having any trouble keeping things light. She needed to study hard, and work hard for the Cheerios. After all, she needed a scholarship. Either for academics or cheering. She didn't care which, but she had to get one. A scholarship was her only way out, now that her dad had moved out. Her parents paying for college just wasn't much of an option for her anymore, if it had ever been.

So. She allowed herself to date Sam, keeping it casual and fun. And she allowed herself Glee. She knew it wasn't going to be a vehicle for her like it would undoubtedly be for Rachel Barbra Berry. But, it was something, and it made her happy. She found that being liked, and not JUST feared made her happy. Or happier.

Of course she could still whip out HBIC when she felt she needed to. But she seldom felt like it anymore, except when it came to exerting her influence in the Cheerios arena. She'd be damned if she let Santana on top of the pyramid.

She'd also stretched her newly recovered social muscles on behalf of her fellow Gleeks as best she could. Handing out wind sprints to any out of line Cheerios was something she still wielded with no remorse. And she used it mercilessly. Sure there were still comments and laughter directed at the Gleeks or other pariahs occasionally. She wasn't the thought police after all. But there were no slushies thrown by her girls, on pain of wind sprints and whatever else she and Santana could come up with. True, Santana only reluctantly backed her up on that. But back her up she did. And Santana could be very inventive when it came to punishments.

But of course she couldn't control the whole school, and all the cliques. She knew that dillhole Karofsky and his asshat friend targeted the Gleeks. But she felt that was more for Sam, Finn and Puck to man up and deal with. Boys were just idiots sometimes. She'd done her good deed for the decade making the Gleeks off-limits as best she could within her own sphere of influence. She was disappointed they hadn't had yet.

She looked at the slate sky outside. It looked cold. They were barely at Halloween, but Daylight Savings Time and jeans and sweaters couldn't come fast enough.

She sighed inwardly, and vowed to quit going Dr. Phil on herself for the moment and got ready to take notes on whatever writer they were going to be studying today.