She's up by nine. To her, it's sleeping late.
By the sound of his voice on the other end of the phone, he doesn't keep the same schedule.
"What the hell? I thought I was calling you."
"But then I realized that you'd take 'before noon' to mean eleven fifty-nine' and I don't have time for that."
There's a groan. "This sucks. Give me a half hour."
"As in call you back in a half hour or you'll be here by then." She's already at his mercy if she wants to get her car running, and she doesn't want him just going back to sleep.
"I'll be there."
He's not there by nine-thirty, but he shows up before nine forty-five, which is honestly earlier than she expected. As impressed as she is with his near-punctuality, he immediately loses points for texting her from the truck instead of coming to the door.
im out front is the message she receives.
She doesn't even bother with a reply and takes an extra two minutes to finish eating her Nutri-grain bar before finally exiting the house.
"You look good," he says when she climbs into the the truck.
"Shut up." She's wearing sweatpants and a hoodie. Her hair's shoved back in a headband and she's barely wearing any make-up. It's not a date, it's a trip to pick up her car.
"What? You do." He shakes his head and looks out the windshield as he navigates the driveway.
The cab of the truck smells like Old Spice, so she figures he must have at least taken a shower before coming to pick her up, which is considerate of him. "Thanks, but I look like crap," she replies.
"Why do you do that?"
"Act like you don't know you're hot."
"It's different when you're a girl."
"Santana doesn't seem to have a pr-"
"Santana's a sociopath," it's a sharp response and it shuts him up.
The radio fills the space, but neither of them feels compelled to sing along, this time. She stares out her window while he drives, and the only time she feels compelled to look over at him is when he pulls into the Walmart parking lot.
"What are you doing?"
"You're buying jumper cables."
"They don't sell 'em at Starbucks."
"But can't we go to, like, a car place?"
"You want to pay three times as much?"
She doesn't. She also doesn't want to go inside. "Can't you just get them and I'll pay you back?"
There was probably a point in time where he'd agree, but they weren't in that place, anymore. "Just come in. It's Walmart, no one cares what you're wearing."
As much as she wants to deny that that's her exact reason for wanting to stay in the car and as hard as she glares at him, she knows he's right. "Whatever."
For most of her life, she barely set foot into the discount store. Occasionally, she'd come with Finn whenever his mom sent him to pick up stuff or if he needed to buy socks. Some kids came late at night to kill time, but when she did have friends, they always had better things to do. Recently, she'd been by with Sam a few times so Stevie and Stacy could play the video games in the electronics section for a while.
She follows Puck to the back of the store, straight for automotive. At least he seems to have a plan. Her head stays down, because she feels gross and frumpy and definitely doesn't want anyone to recognize her. She considers pulling the hood of the sweatshirt up, but that seems like a little much.
Anyway, they're already in front of the jumper cable selection. Puck twists his mouth in consideration and she's actually glad he's here to help her out, even though she's sure she could make this purchase just fine on her own. He picks a set that isn't the cheapest, but it's still under twenty bucks.
"Okay." She takes the cables from him.
"I just want to see if they have the new Madden for Xbox." He doesn't wait for her, because he probably knows she'll make some comment or roll her eyes at him.
He's right about the eye roll, anyway. She considers going up and paying while he looks for the game, but she'd rather not lose sight of him, because then it could be hours before they leave the store.
Puck's actually pretty quick about finding what he wants, but the associate has to get the key to open the case, so they're forced to wait while someone tracks down the manager. Quinn wanders away from the video games and pokes through the five dollar DVD bin for something Sam's siblings might like. She's holding copies of The Sandlot and The Neverending Story when she hears a baby crying and it pulls her attention to the section across from the electronics department.
The aisle directly in front of her is filled with soft blues and pinks, yellows and greens. There's a crib on display at the far end. She's staring right into the Baby section.
She's fine. She's seen baby things plenty of times since Beth.
But all of those other times, Puck's hand wasn't suddenly on her shoulder and she didn't hear him asking if she was ready to go.
The DVDs clatter as they hit the ground while the cables thump against the floor just missing her foot. Her hand grips the edge of the wire bin as her eyes shut tight as she tries to hold on to her balance, her emotions, her sanity, all of it. It's not enough, though and she's pretty sure she's about to hit the floor, but a strong arm wraps around her waist and keeps her upright.
Her hands cling to his jacket while her face presses into his shirt. She can smell the Old Spice, again. It's overwhelming but calming all at once. She's crying and she can't stop and she hates that this is even happening. She's stronger than this, isn't she? Quinn Fabray can walk through fucking Walmart without having a breakdown.
It's that thought that forces her to suck in a breath and push herself off of him. She dries her eyes on the sleeve of her sweatshirt and doesn't even look at him before bending down to pick up the dropped merchandise.
As much crap as she's given him in the past for being stupid about things, she has to give him credit for the fact that he's smart enough not to ask her any questions.
"Where are we going?" she asks, when he makes a right on Main Street and heads away from the direction of the school.
"So eat after you drop me off."
He shakes his head. With Quinn, he knows to pick and choose his battles. He's picking this one. "You're hungry, too."
"I ate something before you picked me up. Puck, really. I just want to get home."
"You probably ate some dried up granola bar. It's Saturday morning, we're getting bacon and pancakes." It's still a risk, even with the mention of her favorite breakfast foods. But he's hoping her stomach will override whatever's going on in her head.
"Fine. But you're buying."
His natural response is to question whether or not that means she's putting out, but this is Quinn and she'll bite his head off or pinch him really hard or both. Also, he's maybe been trying to not say that kind of stuff. Lauren didn't really put up with it and he figures most other girls must not like it, either.
Instead, he finds a parking spot on the street and shuts off the ignition.
After they're seated, she hides behind the menu even though he's sure she already knows what she's ordering. When she finally sets it down, she doesn't look at him at all while she dumps a Splenda and barely a splash of cream into her coffee. She stirs it once, then sighs and pours more cream into the cup until it the light brown mixture reaches the rim.
"Wanna talk?" He already knows the answer.
Her mouth's already hidden behind the coffee cup. "No."
"Doesn't have to be about," her, "what happened. We can just talk about... anything."
"Since when do you even care?"
"I always care about you."
"Right. Like you have me two glances last year when you were dating Zizes."
"Just because I wasn't trying to get under your skirt doesn't mean I don't care. And, you hate when I do that, anyway."
She doesn't respond to him. Great, now it's a breakfast full of the silent treatment. But after the waiter takes their order, she finally says, "How'd you fuck that up, anyway?"
Any other moment of any other day, he'd be impressed by her use of "fuck" in a sentence. Today, though, he knows she's just trying to make a jab at him and he doesn't really appreciate it.
"I didn't. She's a cool chick but she wanted to do other stuff this year."
"So, she dumped you."
He shrugs. It sucked, but it was a while ago and he's fine. "Gives me a chance to play the McKinley field one last time."
She rolls her eyes. "That's all it is to you, isn't it? Just a game to play to pass the time before trade school?"
He knows she's emotional, that it must be rough to deal with all the crap about Beth and the adoption. He's had his own share of nights where he thinks too hard about what could have happened versus what did happen. He gets it. But he also has a limit.
"You don't have to be such a bitch to me, you know."
Her eyes stay focused on the table. "It's not personal."
It's his turn to scoff. "Whatever." He sheds his jacket and pushes himself up out of the booth, heading toward the bathrooms without a word as to where he's going. When he returns, she's writing something on the paper place mat.
She's not putting out any extra effort to be bitchy toward him, so he leaves her alone and checks
his Facebook messages on his phone. Their waiter delivers the order and Quinn tears away the relevant part of the paper mat before tucking it into her hoodie pocket.
"What's that one about?" he asks around a mouthful of bacon.
"None of your business."
"But you're expecting me to help you put it to music, right?"
She shrugs. "It's not anything, yet."
"Q, I know these songs are personal shit, but if you're going to sing them for other people, you probably should talk about them."
"How do you know they're even about me?" He can tell she doesn't even expect him to believe that for a hot second.
"Uh, the one we're working on is called 'Not Your Prom Queen'? So, I kind of guessed."
"Lots of people aren't prom queens. You're not one." It's flat, the way she says it, totally dry.
Somehow, it's the funniest damn thing he's heard all week. The fact that he almost chokes on a forkful of pancakes is kind of worth it because, at the very least, she cracks a smile.