A/N: New project. This is something I have mapped out and I don't have any immediate plans to abandon it. We'll see. It's a little dark, but that's the way I like it.


Quinn's discovered that this is an ideal time to write out her flashcards. They don't require a lot of attention to make and the only unfortunate side-effect she's discovered is the occasional bizarre recall association that happens when she's taking a test. In a weird way, it actually helps, because the more she thinks about what she was doing while writing out the card, the more information tends to come back to her. It's unorthodox, but it hasn't put a dent in her 4.0 GPA, yet.

She's between callers, right now, though just as she thinks about taking a quick trip to the vending machine down the hall, the indicator flashes on her laptop screen. She picks up her headset and slips it back on, then clicks her mouse to accept the incoming call.

It's all audio, no visual, so her clientele is generally made up of older guys who are more lonely than anything and still cling to some borderline sense of decency when it comes to simulated intimacy. It's not phone sex, at least not according to the employee handbook. She's a virtual escort, someone who's supposed to give the client the company they want for the amount of time they've purchased. She's supposed to do everything but actually simulate sex with them and if she thinks she actually hears someone jerking off on the other end of the line, she's supposed to ignore it, as long as their credit card is good.

"So glad you called, honey. I'm obligated to tell you that the billing begins after the tone, all right?" That's more or less her standard greeting. Sometimes she tries an accent, but that can put people off if they're looking for something specific, so she attempts to be as generic as possible until she can get a feeling for what the client wants.

"I understand," replies a woman's voice.

Interesting. Women aren't entirely absent from her caller base, but they're definitely in the minority.

She verifies the call and there's a two second tone that signals the beginning of paid service. "So, sweetie, why don't you tell me your name?"

"... Katie."

Totally a fake name. Not that she ever expects the names to be real. And at least it's not Spartacus, because that actually happens more often than it should. "Okay, Katie. What is it y-"

"What about you?"

"Hmm?"

"What do I call you?"

"Call me whatever you want." She's close to saying something like, 'it's your money,' but they aren't supposed to remind clients about the fact that they're paying for this.

"I would... prefer it if you told me what I should call you."

Ah. "You like to be told what to do, is that it, Katie?"

"Yes. And... you, um, don't have to use... my name. I'd rather you didn't actually."

"Oh, you'd rather I didn't?" She's mocking more than asking, because this call is quickly becoming something of an easy read for her. "Why even bother calling, then? I could be doing something else, right now. Or, god, I could at least be talking to someone more interesting."

There's light breathing on the other end of the line, but no verbal response. That's fine.

"I suppose you're still waiting for me to tell you what to call me. Well, maybe I don't want you to call me anything. Maybe I'd rather you just keep your mouth shut." She pauses again, trying to evaluate the situation and ensure that she has the right angle on what this woman wants. If the other end disconnects, the counter will stop and the program will notify her that the call has ended. But it's still counting billable time.

Finally there's a whisper that says, "Keep going."

Perfect. "I thought I just said I wanted you to shut up."

"Sorry."

"Whatever, even your apology is completely pathetic." She has to keep this 'Katie' engaged, though, which means pushing their 'conversation' along. "I guess... I can give you a couple of minutes. But if I feel like you're wasting my time-"

"I- I won't. I swear."

"Yeah, we'll see." There's a beat of silence, then, "Pick a topic, loser, or I'm hanging up."

"What do you look like?"

She doesn't even have to be in character to cue the eyeroll, because she gets this question with just about every single call. "I'm a fucking knockout, what do you think?"

"So, you'd say you're pretty?"

"What part of 'fucking knockout' is eluding you? Or are you lacking capable deduction skills?"

"I was just asking-"

"Well, maybe we should go back to you just shutting up." It's a natural response for her and she quickly realizes that this is only going to in circles but then-

"Maybe you should make me."

"Make you... shut up?" Okay, maybe not circles.

"You seem to think I talk too much."

"You are something of a motormouth." This is entirely untrue, based on the conversation they've had, but this is about selling a fantasy, not dwelling on mundane reality. "So, tell me, Motormouth, do you ever actually put that thing to any other uses?"

"I... would you want me to do something with it?"

"If it keeps me from hearing the ever-irritating sound of your voice, then I definitely want you to do something with it."

"I can- I'll do whatever you want."

"In that case, I would want you to get down on your knees..." This is where the job becomes creative. Especially times like right now, when there isn't even a set scenario in play and she has to improvise. Fortunately, she has a wealth of real life experience that shapes easily into fantasy fodder. "In front of the head cheerleader." She's taking a leap with this, because there's been no basis for this to be a high school setup, but the dynamic's been evident, at least to her. The sharp breath she hears through her headset suggests it was the right choice. "That's what you want, isn't it?"

"... yes."

"And you're going to do exactly what I tell you, right?"

"... uh huh."

"Because, otherwise, you know you'll be getting a face full of slushie when you're not expecting it-"

"Wait, a- Did you say..." The tone from the other end of the line is completely different. There's a long beat and then, "... Quinn?"

The call counter stops and it isn't until she looks down at her hand on the mouse that she realizes she's the one who ended it.

Shit.

No, there's no way. She must have misheard it. But now that she thinks about it, maybe the voice did sound familiar. Or was that just because she was picturing someone specific for most of the call?

She pulls off the headset and throws it on her desk, scattering her neatly stacked index cards. That's it for tonight. Maybe even this week. She's already met her self-established quota of calls for the month.

It's not even her bread and butter money, it's just something extra to put away for when her student loans are due. OSU may not be Yale, but it still isn't free, even though she did all of her general education at Lima Community College and even with the additional grant money she received and the break in housing she gets for her RA status. Her part-time assistant coaching job in Lima, working with the Cheerios three days a week, pays for her car and other general essentials, like whatever book Beth has her eye on when they make their monthly trip to Barnes and Noble together.

She shoves the chair away from the desk, then wheels herself toward the door, wishing the vending machine dispensed miniature bottles of Smirnoff instead of nearly stale snack food.