A/N: lol why do i even hope for quick on the show anymore

Her locker is slammed shut and she jumps back a little to see who did it.

Puck grins at her. "Hey, baby, I think I wanna marry you."

Quinn reopens her locker, firing him an unamused glance, and gathers her books in her arms. "Cute." She manages a smile. "A little unoriginal, though. I think Finn and Rachel have that copyrighted or something."

"So?" Puck hurries down the hall to catch up with her. "Fair use policy. Maybe I mean it."

Quinn pretends to focus very hard on the slight chip in her nail polish. "Do you?"

A beat, then; just a tiny pause, so quick Quinn could have imagined it. "Of course not." She watches his face for a sign of hesitance, but if there's any, she doesn't see it. "Marrying is for chicks and the Finn Hudsons of this world."

Quinn doesn't smile. "You're such a romantic, it kills me."

There's another beat then, and Quinn remembers that "romantic" is one of the Forbidden Words, like "child" and "baking." They don't talk much - relatively speaking, they fall in the same social category, yet they avoid each other much more than they're willing to admit - but there's an unspoken rule that there are words they simply shouldn't say, not to each other.

Puck quickly changes the subject. "What's with the ring?"

Quinn jumps at that and glances at it on her finger. It stands out more than it should, like it belongs to someone else, and she's only borrowing it. It doesn't look right. Sometimes, she lies in bed at night and twirls it over and over in her hands, wondering why it doesn't feel like love.

Love, love, love. When Sam's done with her, she thinks she'll become a nun.

"It's nothing," she lies immediately, absently hiding it from view. "Just a - something Sam got me."

Another forbidden word: Sam.

She feels like everything comes to full circle in the hallway, so when the bell rings and leaves them virtually alone in the corridor, she faces him, daring him to say something.

He always rises to the challenge. "Why would he get you a ring? You guys have been dating for like a day."

Quinn searches his tone for hurt. Maybe he doesn't care, or maybe he's good at pretending. "He lo -"

"He loves you?" Puck actually laughs aloud. "Bull. He just got here like six weeks ago."

Quinn wishes he stopped doing that - stopped saying every thought she's ever had, every doubt she's ever pondered, as his own. He knows her so much, only because he knows himself just as well.

Ever-so-subtly, they're slipping into uncharted territory. They've tried to stay neutral on neutral grounds, but Quinn can feel all that's left unsaid bubbling to the surface, and finally she just says, "And where've you been? Juvie?"

There's a sour look in his eyes. "You don't know anything about that."

"You're right." She holds up her hands. "I don't. I know nothing about it because you haven't told me. And I haven't told you about Sam, either. So just -"

She inhales desperately.

"Just leave me be. Okay?"

Puck snorts. "You think it'll all go away if you're at the top of the Cheerio pyramid again?" he jeers, moving his face just a little closer as if to scare her. "You think everyone's just gonna forget, just like that, that I knocked you up?"

"Stop it. Stop it."

Puck scowls. "They aren't," he tells her pointedly. "They aren't going to forget just because you want them to." He pulls back just a little. "No one's going to let it go just because you're trying to."

Quinn takes a breath that he stole from her. "Maybe I'm trying to get on with my life," she shoots back. "Maybe I just - maybe it has nothing to do with wanting people to forget."

It was a mistake. Quinn can feel the words on her tongue, but she doesn't say them. Full circle, indeed.

"Then why do you keep forgetting what I said to you -"

"You didn't mean that -"

"Yes I did!" Puck looks at her as if she's someone else, a totally different person. "I meant it. Why would I say it - I don't say it to anyone - I love -"

The bell rings again and Quinn reminds herself just in time to get to lunch. As the sea of students pours over the hallway, it takes only a moment to lose Puck, and only a second to escape the area altogether.

She can never escape him. What he almost said - what he almost meant - still rings in her ears.