Author's Note: Hello there, for all of you that would like a hand in deciding what it is you get out of this story, would you like a little more Cherry or are you okay with everything being mostly evenly split across the board? Right now, we've reached the half (or was it quarter?) way mark, and new chapters have to be written up (we were sure if people would be interested in this story at first, but I'm pretty happy with the response), so we need to know what to keep in and what to push further back. Feedback on this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading~! - aprettyfacelies.


Quinn's eyes, full of perceptual depth, measured the new guy's characteristics in comparison to the rest of her friends and exes. Overall, he was attractive. His bright eyes seemed to lure her in, which was cliché enough if she didn't already believe that he beat out his competitors in a matter of seconds. The few times his eyes flicked to her direction as he sang, she felt the corners of her lips turn up in a small smile, one that didn't show her other side. It was an innocent smile, one of stranger seeing somebody for the first time.

Although she noticed his eyes glanced around the room equally, even to her friend. Somebody she might even consider her best friend. That small action made her wonder, as this boy had true potential, she could hear it in his voice. She also believed, not only would he excel in the choir room, he would be able to launch them forward in the school hierarchy, which seemed to be her main focus as of late.

She pursed her lips slightly as he strummed the guitar with ease, like he'd been doing that all his life. And who knows, maybe he had, even Mike admitted to dancing alone in his room before joining New Directions. His voice was smooth and fun at the same time, the song being catchy already, him just aiding in its presentation.

She pushed her feathered hair back from her eyes and glanced over to Mercedes, who also held a smile, but hers was much brighter and more energetic. She, as well as the rest of the Glee club, knew that this would be Mercedes' partner for the assignment. There was no questioning it, she needed one, and he showed up.

Such a damn odd pairing and damn his blonde hair and damn his toned arms.

The song ended and Quinn blinked herself out of her daze while claps sounded through the choir room, her own hands having lifted of their own accord and copying everybody else's actions. Mr. Schue, in appreciation, did his signature slow clap as he meandered to the front of the room and everybody else's hands fell back to their laps.

"Very nice, Samuel," he said and Quinn noticed the boy wince at the formal version of his name. That always came with names of that sort.

"Sam," the blonde corrected and his speaking voice sounded just as fluid and lithe as his singing voice.

"Right, of course, Sam," Mr. Schue nodded and then clapped him on the back before doing the inevitable action of implying he was in the Glee club, by pairing him with his duet partner.

"We're in the middle of a…" and you could see his words hesitate for a moment, trying to explain it to him in a way that he would understand. To outsiders, it was hard to understand the concept of battling within the cohesive group, but after the first round, it made sense.

"Project," He simplified. "Your partner is going to be one of our strongest vocalists, Mercedes Jones," he gestured for her to stand up and with beaming confidence and a bright persona. Quinn could practically hear Rachel's snaky remark of how she was indeed the strongest vocalist. That's what happened when you spent too much time around Berry. Luckily she was too busy murmuring to Matt about their duet to be concerned with the introduction of the new mediocre Glee club addition.

Same seemed taken aback by Mercedes' immediate reaction. Then, Quinn noticed the split second act that numerous guys had attempted in her presence; a swift flicker of the eyes over their potential target. She had been used to those eyes on her, but not nearly as often lately.

He was checking Mercedes out.

Quinn immediately felt that ache that she hadn't acquired since she saw Puck chatting ups girls in the hall. And though she was used to, she no longer felt that way towards Finn's interactions with Rachel.

She was…jealous.

The bell ran and people were filing our, Mercedes and Sam still talking idly about a topic she would rather not linger on. Not because it wasn't interesting, she enjoyed Mercedes' company; she just wanted them separated as soon as possible.

Mercedes arm looped through Sam's, which stiffened for only half a second before he accepted the warm gesture that wasn't at all overbearing. Okay, maybe Quinn was just a little bitter.

Quinn walked out the door once all of her peers had departed and she went to her locker, head ducked down as to avoid contact with people who didn't really enjoy her presence. She spun the lock and her eyes couldn't help but flick over to the newly acquainted friends. She let out a heavy sigh and shoved her books in before checking herself in the mirror connected to her locker door by a magnet. She pursed her lips together for half a second when meeting the reflection that didn't smile back as often as she used to.

Quinn turned the corners of her lips up into a forced smile, but one that could pass for now, and then closed her locker, immediately heading over to Mercedes, her dress swishing as her hips swayed with each step.

She then tapped Mercedes on the arm, only seeing her mouth moving and not paying much attention to if their conversation had held much substance.

"Hey, Mercy, can I talk to you for a minute?" She asked with her feigned happiness, her eyes straying to the taller blonder male and noticing his bright eyes as they met hers.

"Sure, Q," Mercedes agreed, unaware of Quinn's intentions and turned to Sam with her more genuine warmth. "I'll see you at lunch, right?" Sam smiled that smiled Quinn knew already had a permanent place in her memory. The male nodded and then spoke once more.

"Spanish teacher's office is this way, right?" He asked and pointed down the hall and that goofy smile seemed to melt the cold pericardium Quinn had grown to develop during her period of lower confidence. Mercedes let out an uncharacteristic laugh, one mostly reserved for the likes of Quinn or Kurt, and pointed down the opposite direction of the hall.

"Keep walking until it dead ends," she instructed and Sam nodded, as he began walking away in that direction, still facing her as to catch her directions. "Then, take a left and Mr. Schue should have gotten to his office by now." She waved shortly before turning her focus back to her friend, who spoke immediately.

"So, have any duet songs in mind?" Quinn asked, not even sure why the words blurted out and she wish she would have thought of a different topic to go on about.

"Well, I just met my partner," Mercedes stated matter-of-factly with a warm smile still on her face.

"You two seem to have clicked, so I only assumed you would have touched on the topic. The walk from the choir room to your locker is long enough for it. I'm sure you'll find one," she attempted to cover up and reassure simultaneously.

"Well, I guess we'll see what happens, then," she shrugged and Quinn sighed with a small smile, trying to keep a calm attitude.

"Just promise not to kill the boy once you two are alone?" Quinn forced out the playful words.

Mercedes could only roll her eyes at the girl beside her, her eyes lingering down the hall at styled head of blonde, before nodding in the direction of the exit to get Quinn's feet moving so they wouldn't be late getting home. "Wouldn't dare," she replied almost bitterly. "I don't want the football team giving me one of their complimentary slushy facials."

The confused look Quinn gave her prompted Mercedes to explain.

"Didn't Britt and San tell you? Sam is apparently the newest and hottest thing on the football team right now. San says he's giving Finn a run for his money." Mercedes said, her brightness seeming to return in moments.

"Football team, huh?" Quinn said her tone being more of being impressed, rather than actual questioning.

Quinn pursed her lips together to keep herself from smiling too wide as she hooked her arm around Mercedes and proceeded to the parking lot.

Perfect.

Glee club for Quinn recently had included the usual factors: people already tugging over undecided solos for Sectionals, Rachel being…well, Rachel, singing from all corners of the choir room and a less than mediocre rehearsal time for her. Though she enjoyed the time to express feelings and be open, she was also immensely frustrated with the lack of cooperation of the group and the ultimate breakdown of its team nature. She wants to blame summer, but she realizes none of them were really as close as she had thought. It was the beginning of the year and her mother had been pouring alcohol down her throat like there was no tomorrow and everything suddenly lacked the comforting warmth that used to aid her during times of conflict. Mostly the pregnancy and sequential consequences of said event.

She guesses this also has to do with Puck showing up at her doorstep one afternoon and telling her he was sick of her not trusting him with things, particularly them as a whole, and then breaking up with her when she argued with his point even though he was right. She tried not to mull over it, though, and convinces herself it was for the better. She felt so vulnerable (and in love) around him, so weak (at the knees) and unflatteringly clammy whenever he'd send a smile her way. It reminded her too much of her year with Finn, and that didn't turn out well. She was ultimately saving herself from further humiliation and having to go through the pain of heartbreak again, so fuck Puckerman if he didn't want to stick around.

Thankfully Mercedes was there, she had been for a while. Even so, it seemed like there was a tension there that was very apparent, like giant elephant in the room that neither wanted to acknowledge, because neither was going to admit things were changing. As well as her friend, the rest of the Glee club seemed to be slowly deteriorating, becoming less and less of a team with every rehearsal. She missed being able to sing a song and an entire group of people would understand how she felt. They tried, they really did, but it just wasn't the same.

She gathered her books and clutched them tight to her chest, blonde hair flowing over her shoulders that were clad with a small cardigan while her fringe skimmed her brow bone. She walked tight against the walls, less likely to get pushed, or noticed, there. In route to her next class she walked past the bulletin board, a sheet of paper catching her eye, bright and colorful at in the top corner was a gold star. It was the Glee Club signup sheet Rachel had designed, screaming for attention.

Two people had signed up.

And that's only if you're counting:

Hugh G. Rection,

And a poorly drawn penis.

Meaning, once again, nobody cared about the Glee club. When had anybody ever cared? It had been reduced to the option of either swaying on the left or right of the soloist, be that Berry or Finn. She raised an eyebrow, an identifying trait of hers, and her eyes scanned the bulletin board. She caught sight of another list, that had much more attention, which seemed was on the other end of the board and as she tilted her head slightly to examine it, she realized why. It was for the Cheerio's tryouts. She understood exactly why.

If you were a freshman, transfer, or foreign exchange student, you either wanted a Cheerio or wanted to be a Cheerio.

Quinn let out a heavy sigh, tucking her hair behind her ear as she saw the multiple sheets tacked on to the page, as the list had extended past the minimal amount of paper Coach Sylvester had the energy to put out. It was at this moment that Quinn realized there was a big difference between New Directions and the Cheerios, the difference between her second family and her first.

One accepted everybody and attempted to treat them fairly, which ultimately failed when she thought about it. While the other, though not as accepting, was a tighter knit group of people who actually had a chance to have their talents displayed and appreciated, not to mention success that was actually recognized by the school and…football players. Not shoved into a box and pushed in the corner to collect dust. If you worked hard enough, you were rewarded, and if you hadn't, there was a place at the bottom of the pyramid waiting for you.
And after someone had spent an hour stepping on your back and dirtying your uniform, they'd step off of you and offer you a brief smile before helping you up and leaving you as is.

Quinn pursed her lips in thought, eyebrows knitting together and it was one of those light bulb moments. One of those moment where she would have had a bright yellow light flashing above her head had she been a cartoon character. She went straight to the restroom, dropping her things by the sink, placing one hand on each side of the porcelain.

"Come on, Quinn, think about when you've been that happiest," she spoke softly to herself, remembering freshman year with Finn, captain of the Cheerios and…Being popular girl extraordinaire.

There were times in between then and now that were good, that mostly related to that, but she recalled that ultimate bliss of walking down the halls and knowing people were looking at you, not debating whether you were going to get a green or a purple slushie that day.

She remembered what it felt like to be a leader, to be wanted and needed as a part of a group and not seen as somebody who could be replaced. She remember being in control of something in her life when everything around her was crumbling to pieces. The security of knowing the pyramid wouldn't stack if a lying brick had been lost. If New Directions lost a member, they just struggled to replace them with whoever could totter from one foot to another. She looked at herself in the mirror for a moment, and made up her mind.

She bent down, digging through her bag and found small thin rubber band. Using her nimble, practiced fingers to run through her hair, she pulled it all back into a high ponytail. She smiled at her reflection, suddenly recognizing who this person was again.

She picked up her bag, heading straight for the office of the only person she knew that could help her at this moment.

Not even knocking, she opened the door, confidence in her actions and laced in with each word.

"Coach Sylvester, we need to talk."