The Change in Pace
Eight years ago, a little girl clad in a pink jumper entered the Fabray household, her plastic rain boots splashing mud all throughout the foyer. Tucked in her arms, safely and securely, was a frog of all things. She almost got away with fostering the stray amphibian in her room if Frannie hadn't squealed at the sight of it.
It didn't take long for Frannie to intervene and toss the frog out into the pouring rain, or for Quinn to thrown an ultimatum: if the frog goes, she goes.
Russell Fabray was sitting in his study at the time, playing with the cigar in his hand and wondering when Judy will head to bed. Meredith had spent the last week pouting over his absenteeism. As if the fact that Quinn's back-to-back therapy sessions with Doctor Sheppard and Judy's never ending list of errands aren't good enough excuses not to meet up for one of their midnight rendezvous. As he inhaled the illicit Cuban cigars, the sound of Quinn's ten-year-old voice rang through the four walls of his office.
"Daddy!" Quinn spouted angrily, hysterical tears running down her pale cheeks. She stomped away from Frannie, who stood by the doorway and tried to feign as much sympathy as possible. She was failing miserably.
"Quinniebee," he stashed his cigar away before he met her halfway through the overly large study.
"She threw Henry out," he raised his eyebrows at Quinn.
"Henry?" he repeats questioningly.
"The frog!" Quinn elaborates.
"It was filthy!" hissed Frannie from behind her, arms crossed over her predominantly red and black cheerleading uniform.
"He needed a home!" protested Quinn. She stomped her leg defiantly against the ground, another layer of rain water tricking down the freshly waxed floors.
"Girls," Russell intervenes, scratching his head with her index finger. Sighing, he turns to Quinn's wide hazel eyes, still spouting tears.
"But daddy!" murmurs Quinn, tugging on his shirt.
"Your sister has a point-"
"All she has is poop up her nose!" cried Quinn desperately, staring at Russell pleadingly with those irresistible hazel eyes. "Please daddy, Henry needs a home," Judy appears right behind Frannie, catching his eye and shaking her head furiously.
"Quinniebee," Russell sighs, reeling from the Care Bear stare of his youngest daughter's, the irritation in his older daughter's and the disapproval on his wife's. And so he did what any man could do in the face of three strong women; he ran.
"Ask your mother,"
He returned to his cigar and thoughts of Meredith, silently calculating how long it would take for him to sneak away from Judy's sleeping form, into his car and all the way to East Lima and back before the sun rises. It was only until he finished his cigar, and the sound of Quinn's desperate blubbers and Frannie's screeching voice diminished, did he make his way through the halls. From what he had gathered, Judy ended up siding with Frannie. He stopped by the grand kitchen, sifting through protein shakes and low fat yogurt, before picking up a glass of skim milk and poured it into Quinn's favorite cup with the letter 'Q'on it.
He first ventured into her bedroom and then the den and then he found her; sitting proudly on the porch at ten in the evening, legs crossed and shivering as she watches "Henry" perch himself against a large shrub. He sat with her, smiling kindly, and wrapped his arms around his little girl. His little Quinniebee.
"No one should be alone," Quinn murmured into Russell's chest.
"It's just a frog, Quinn" unlike Frannie, who's realistic almost to a fault, Quinn's head remains in the clouds or in her story books. A wall is never just a wall, a pen is never just a pen and a frog is never just a frog.
"It could be prince charming," she offered quietly, turning beat red at her admission.
"I don't really like the idea of you kissing a frog, Quinnie. Or anyone for that matter," he knew she was a romantic, down to every tiny bone in her body, but being the father that he was, imagining anyone worthy of her just seemed so unfathomable.
"I don't need him to be my prince charming. It isn't about that," he quirked his eyebrow.
"What's it about then?"
"Just loving, you know?"
It's a dangerous path them hardcore Fabrays follow. Quinn may have gotten her textbook romanticism from her mother, but she got the application from her father. It didn't matter who it was or how it occurred; they just wanted to love and be loved. Isn't that why Quinn was out here, talking to a frog? Isn't that why Russell's betraying the sanctity of his marriage for a thirty-year-old department store manager? They want love to the point that they ignore all rationale and logic.
Russell could only sigh. He kissed the top of that perfect blonde main before whispering in her ear, telling her to come inside after thirty minutes, and retreats back to his study.
That's when Russell knew that Quinn, for all of her privilege and stereotypical femininity, had a heart of gold to match her golden tresses. But that heart of gold, sadly, was too captivated with ideals and fairy tales to truly see what's before it.
And now, with Quinn standing before him, history repeats itself. But instead of a slimy frog wrapped in her arms, it's a boy, of all things. They stand side-by-side and linger at the large cherry wood doorway of Russell Fabray's study, anxiously staring him down.
"I don't think this is a very good idea," he overhears a voice murmur huskily in Quinn's ear. He watches his Quinn closely. No longer is she clad in that ridiculous pink jumper or wearing muddy boots all throughout the 1.8 million dollar Fabray estate, but she still has that childish wonder jumping around her wide eyes. It's the same cow, different beef.
"It's a great idea," Quinn stops him immediately, placing her hand against his shoulder. He gives in, his shoulder slouching slightly. If it weren't for their predicament, Russell would have found it rather amusing that this boy held no argument against his daughter.
"What's a great idea?" he cuts into their conversation.
"Daddy," Quinn's voice is high-pitched, the same voice she used prior to coaxing him into buying her a Volkswagon Beetle for her 16th birthday.
"Sweetheart, please, don't sugar coat it. I'm a businessman," Russell quips plainly. He sits on the decadent leather chair, legs crossed, as he rolls one of his cufflinks along the expensive mahogany desk. That's another similarity he and his youngest daughter have; their ability to sugar coat almost everything.
"Okay… Daddy, this is Mike," Russell releases the cufflink, moving his eyes up to stare at the boy by her side.
"As in, the Mike?" His name lives in infamy in the halls of the Fabray household. Every other word that falls from his daughter's mouth is Mike. He bites down on his lip, taking a good long look at the boy. He has seen pictures and caught glimpses of him on days when he'd pick Quinn up from Cheerio practice, but he has never really evaluated him up close.
At first glance, its apparent that he doesn't fit the 'boyfriend' ideals Russell had for Quinn. He had envisioned someone statuesque, a good six feet, with a strong, muscular build. Someone who radiated confidence and charisma right off the bad. Someone who would match Quinn's swagger and recklessness.
"Yes, the Mike," Quinn confirms all too proudly, grasping his arm even tighter.
"I'm the Mike?" he questions, searching Quinn's eyes.
"Let me do the talking, honey, you can just stand still and look pretty," Quinn coaxes him smoothly.
"Quinn," Russell hisses, recapturing the blonde's attention.
"Right, sorry," Immediately, she pulls her hand away from his arm, facing the ground.
"Good evening, Mike" Russell says to Mike, ever the polite businessman despite the growing, some may claim undeserved, distaste for the dark-haired boy. He's a witness to Quinn's constant, slightly shallow, heartache over him to the point that viewing him as anything but an undeserving, spineless bastard proves to be a challenge.
"Hello, sir" Mike replies quietly, quirking his lips up slightly as he extends his hand.
"My daughter tells me a lot about you," Russell flickers his eyes down at Mike's hand, staring it down until it eventually falls back onto his side.
"Oh?" he's egging for more, Russell can detect. As if his daughter's constant badgering and adoration isn't enough of an ego boost.
"Yes," murmurs Russell curtly, turning towards Quinn. "Is Mike staying for dinner or something?" he asks her, barely hiding his distaste.
"Well…" she trails off, playing with the tip of her hair. Rolling his eyes, Russell turns to Mike. "Are you, son?"
"Well, that all really depends…"
"Mike's staying," Quinn confirms, barely fighting the urge to place her hand at the small of his back and rub it tenderly.
"Well I suppose that's alright. We're having grilled salmon, Quinn's favorite,"
"It's mine, too" Mike interjects.
"Ah, that's-" he's just about to cut the boy off, take him down a peg or two, when Quinn intervenes.
"Staying for awhile," she clarifies slowly.
"I beg your pardon?" Quinn's mouth lays agape for a good five seconds before she quickly scrambles for an adequate response.
"He needs a place to stay," she murmurs.
"And I thought that…" Quinn begins to trail off hesitantly.
"You thought you could just invite a boy to stay in our home?" Russell asks, scowling almost immediately at the thought of it all. It's the curse of giving your daughter everything that she wants-she learns to ask for everything.
"Quinn, that wasn't your call to make," snaps Russell, cutting her off.
"I know, but-"
"Do you know how inappropriate this is?"
"Mike, excuse you," he gestures to the door, shaking his head irritably. If Russell knew that rejecting Henry from their abode would lead to Quinn dragging in a boy, of all things, eight years later into their home, he would have long bought that damn frog an aquarium. Mike glances nervously down at Quinn, who rubs her thumb against his nape once more, before moving towards the door. As the door shuts behind Mike, Quinn's hazel eyes immediately light up with determination.
"Daddy," says Quinn soothingly, rushing to his side.
"I'm not hearing this anymore," Russell stands up from his seat, sliding past Quinn and towards his mini bar. The taste of good ole Bourbon is exactly what he needs to forget Quinn's insolence.
"His parents kicked him out," she says despite his protests.
"I don't see how that's your problem," he points out, opening the cupboard for his untouched bottle of Bourbon. There's no way he can recover from Quinn's idiocy without alcohol in his system.
"His parents kicked him out! He has nowhere to go," she points out, as if him saying no is such a shock.
"Doesn't he have any other friends?" Russell inquires pointedly.
"Be reasonable," Russell begs, resting his head along the cupboard rim, cringing as he realizes the Bourbon to be nowhere in sight.
"I am being reasonable,"
"Hm?" she asks, feigning innocence. There's no way her manipulative, chess playing mind could ever remain in the dark about Russell's underlying questions.
"Why was he kicked out?" he turns to Quinn, who now stands directly by his side.
"He didn't do what his parents want him to," Quinn answers warily, picking her words with the utmost care.
"That isn't exactly making his boy out to be any better in my eyes,"
"He wanted to follow him dream and they wouldn't let him," she adds brightly.
"Again, Quinn, how is this your problem?"
"He's my friend,"
"We both know that isn't what this is," he turns to her, heaving a heavy sigh. Calculating, she may be, self-aware, she is not.
"What is it?" she asks him demandingly.
"It's you and your little crush on him," he places his pointing finger on her nose.
"Is that why you're saying no?" she asks him quietly, pulling it away.
"There's malice behind it! He's a boy! A boy you like, by the way,"
"Well so what if I do like him?"
"The 'so what' is that you liking him makes this wrong. He'll see you in your knickers and you'll be sharing a bathroom-"
"The guest room has its own bathroom," Quinn murmurs simply.
"My point is that it doesn't look nice, it doesn't look nice at all,"
"So you're saying no because he's a boy?"
"Basically, yes," he snaps, leaning against his large desk.
"So what about the Sam thing?" Quinn crosses her arms defensively against her body, eyeing her father's reaction carefully.
"Sam was homeless," answers Russell firmly.
"So is he!"
"He has a choice. He could always go home" argues Russell.
"And be their little bitch," Russell raises his eyebrows. "Ahem, sorry" she corrects herself.
"All I'm saying is that Sam is a boy, too, and you let him stay with us for a week," Quinn continues, staring desperately into her father's eyes.
"His father is a good friend of mine, and a good friend of yours. They were in a difficult position," he coaxes her, pressing his pointing finger and thumb together in the gap between his eyebrows.
"So is he,"
"I barely know this kid!"
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. The book of Matthew," a flame goes off in Russell's head. It's one thing for Quinn to kick and scream out of desperation, another for her to use his bible-quoting methods against him.
"Don't you dare quote the bible at me!"
"I'm sorry, I just… Daddy, please. I'm begging you," she stutters, cringing as Russell only sneers at the idea.
"What's this really about, Quinn? Is this just another one of your ploys?"
"It isn't about that. It isn't about the fact that I love him," Russell flinches. "It's just about… Loving. Loving your neighbor. Loving your friend. Loving someone who desperately needs it," and there it is, the Quinn Fabray philosophy. Hell, the Russell-Quinn philosophy really. It's all about the love, all about loving. It doesn't matter who, what, when, where or why, it's their thing. They thrive on affection and attachment. They fall in and out of one plot to the next just to get the love they so yearn for: the unwavering, unconditional and irrevocable love.
He understands it, lives it and is tormented by it. Any reasonable father would say no. He would shut her down, raise his authority and lead that damn boy with the lanky figure to a close relative's. But he isn't a reasonable father, he's her father. He is the tree in which Quinn's dangerous romanticism roots from. Sighing, he shakes his head in defeat.
The Fabray household takes up an estimated two acres on Dewy lane at Uptown Lima. Much like the rest of the homes on Dewy lane, its perfectly manicured from the well cut shrubs to the strategic, outdoor lighting scheme. Inside isn't any different. The marble floors spread throughout the first level, adding an air of elegance to the already elegant Fabray home.
In Mike's opinion, it looks every bit like a magazine home or one of the Ikea floor plans than an actual home for an actual family. A lot like the Fabrays, really. He doesn't amuse himself with petty gossip. It isn't him, really. But from his mother's off-handed comments about the Fabray family, they're a Sims simulated family: perfect in every way possible.
They dress in pastels, excel in matters of societal politics and the art of snobbery, and live in the lap of luxury. It would be easy for anyone to cast them off as just another White Anglo Saxon family with strong faith and even sharper tongue, much like Quinn. But seconds into staying with the Fabrays, and he reconsiders his disposition on them.
First, there's the matter of Mr. Fabray warming up to the idea of him staying with them. He may not have smiled and may have refused to accept his gratitude, but he did assist Mrs. Fabray in setting an extra place setting. Unlike her husband, Mrs. Fabray seemed thrilled to have him around, if only because it would provide inspiration for her current romantic, short story about two young lovers. She thrust herself into his arms, rubbing his back soothingly and whispering how everything would be all right. She said it with such sincerity that Mike almost believed her.
Mrs. Fabray, or Judy as she begged for him to call her, had the same slightly suffocating yet endearing charm as Quinn. It's easy to peg where that trait roots.
Second, there's the entire hour they spent at the dinner table. He expected some expensive porcelain plates and gourmet dinner. He expected them to sit in what they claim to be comfortable silence, only speaking up to spread harsh gossip or ask to pass the saltshaker. Instead, the entire evening was a bundle of laughter (on their part, anyways) and inside jokes.
Suffice it to say, Mike is taken aback by the difference between societal perception and reality.
He sits numbly on the four-poster bed in the Fabray's guest room, soaking in the scent of peppermint spray and his predicament. He wishes so desperately that a heavy weight is resting on his chest, the weight consisting of guilt and fear. But there's no guilt or fear in his heart and no regret in his mind. He isn't over-analyzing every word said and every movement made in the center of the Chang's living room. He isn't flooded with numerous thoughts, just one; relief.
What does that mean? Is what he did right, then? Was stepping outside of his house, a single bag in hand, and barely looking back healthy? Did it mean that, in the grand spectrum of life, it's a life changing decision for the better? Or did it mean that Mike has lost it completely?
He's shaken out of his thoughts by a light knock. Mike sits up from the king-sized bed, sighing heavily as he hovers near the door, about to twist the knob and open it.
"You don't need to open up," Quinn's distinct, silky voice whispers. "You aren't allowed to, anyways. I should be in my room right now,"
"But you aren't." Mike says knowingly.
"You know me, a big troublemaker," he lets out a low chuckle, sliding down the wall as he rests beside the door. From the way he hears her body shuffle, she mirrors his actions.
"How are you?" she asks him.
"Is it wrong that I'm… Okay?" asks Mike warily. The thought has been passing his mind ever since he has arrived at the Fabray's estate. Did it mean something that he didn't feel that heart sinking, mind reeling feeling you should when you move out of your parents' house?
"I think that's a good thing." Mike can't see her face, but from the sound of her voice, she seems to mean it.
"Do you think I screwed up?" he asks, shutting his eyes as he waits for her response. She hears her sigh from the other end of the door.
"I think you did what you needed to do." Quinn answers simply.
"Even if it means losing both my parents?" he squeezes his eyes shut further, the reality of his situation slowly settling in. That being said, he has yet to feel complete remorse or regret. He almost wants her to convince him to be upset, to feel guilty. That way, maybe he can talk himself out of this life altering decision he made. He's the most anticipating, predictable human being in the planet, and in an instant, he walks away from his perfect life for a dream.
"Even then," agrees Quinn.
"I like your family," Mike continues, playing with the denim of his jeans.
"Makes one of us," she jokes, before quickly adding. "I'm glad they're mine," Mike nods passively, before realizing she can't see the gesture of acknowledgement.
"You're a lot like your mom," he watched, with much interest, as their mannerisms and facial expressions mirrored each other's. She's the spitting image of Judy Fabray.
"The hair?" Quinn inquires.
"That and the way you scrunch your nose whenever you don't like something," he visualizes Quinn's soft, raspberry lipgloss covered lips curling into that characteristic smile of hers. He can just visualize her head cocking itself to the right side, just as she does whenever he says something that betrays his inner emotions. "Or when you thumb through your hair when you're thinking about something," now he imagines her coy smirk, her little HBIC smirk, from the other end of the door.
"I didn't know you enjoyed watching my mom." Quinn taunts saucily after a brief pause.
"I enjoy watching you," slips from his tongue, much to his surprise. He tightens his grip around his jeans, his large brown eyes widening further. Damn Quinn Fabray effect.
"I should head to bed," excuses Quinn. He frowns. The queen bee that he knows would have pounced through the door and dropped into his welcoming arms after hearing such a thing.
"I need to put a foot in my mouth," she continues further, the sound of her shuffling her body around penetrating through the wooden door. Mike's about to ask why that is before she responds, as if reading his mind.
"I don't want to suffocate you,"
"Maybe you don't suffocate me," says Mike a little too quickly. She snorts.
"No, I do. But it's okay, I won't anymore," there's this wave of fear that overcomes Mike. It comes in a second so fleeting and passing, he barely realizes it. But for that tiny second, he fears that he pushed her too hard, squashed her spirits a little too much and now she's relenting. Mike doesn't enjoy Quinn's over-enthusiastic pursuit of him, he doesn't enjoy the lengths in which she goes to for him. But to imagine Quinn without that fiery spirit… It's just unimaginable.
"Not to the extent I used to, anyways" a tiny breathe of relief passes Mike's lungs at her words.
"Why's that?" asks Mike curiously.
"I think you like me," you've got to give this girl props for her gal. "It's an entirely different strategy once the person you like starts liking you, too." Mike wants to tear the door open and take a good long look at what her face and body is doing. He doesn't know her the way he knows Rachel, his ever predicable ex-best friend. Mike wishes he does. He likes knowing everything, observing anything. And to be in the dark about the unsolvable puzzle that is Quinn Fabray is just so damn irritating.
"Goodnight, Mike" the sound of her straightening her body, followed by footsteps down the hardwood floors, indicates her departure.
For some unfathomable reason, the image of her body retreating away from him irks him in a way he can't describe.
Quinn lazily rubs her wrist over her hazel eyes, yawning loudly. Sleep is never a difficult thing for Quinn to achieve. But sleeping soundly for an extended amount of time proves to be of much difficulty. The only tolerable thing about her sleeping habits is that it's mildly predictable. She stirs awake around two thirty in the morning, fools herself into believing she'll fall back asleep for a good ten minutes before she gives up and walks downstairs for a glass of skim milk and a sugarless cookie.
Tonight is no exception.
She's dressed in her favorite, light grey sweater from Columbus and plaid sleeping pajamas. Her feet are bare, and freezing along the hardwood floor. She tucks the warm glass of skim milk against her chest, walking up the large fleet of stairs in silence. As expected, the sounds of her mother's light snores ring through the large estate. It's hardly bothersome, but district enough for Quinn to realize she's fast asleep. Right as she's about to enter her own room, she notes that the guest bedroom door is slightly ajar.
One peek. She wills herself to only take one peek.
She's reached this point with Mike, the point where he actually likes her. Where he actually sees her as more than the annoying blonde with a crush. She can't blow it because she suffers from Mike Chang withdrawal symptoms.
Inching slowly and carefully towards the door, she takes a peak inside. Mike's long body is jammed together, his arms wrapped around his knees and his head tucked in between. He looks like a cat. Or maybe an unborn baby. Both send jitters down Quinn's spine.
She's so taken with the adorable sight that it takes sometime for her to realize his body quivering. He's clad in a muscle tee and shorts, not exactly appropriate weather for wintertime. His blanket has fallen to the ground, leaving him exposed.
New game plan: go in, cover him with his blanket and go back to sleep. Surely she can stick true to such a simple plan. It's enough indulgence to soothe her needs, but not enough to break her newly constructed strategy. She tip toes into the guest bedroom, much like a ninja in a hoodie with a cookie and warm milk. Quinn gently places it along the desk before picking up the blanket from the ground. She stares further, noting the peaceful state Mike's in.
The quayhem often mock her for her obsession with him, but how couldn't you obsess over such a beautiful creation? It's impossible, is what it is. She stretches the blanket before leaning over his body, the heat of his body lingering along her own. Quinn lets out a low breathe, covering first his legs and then his chest.
"My Quinn," yawns Mike, grabbing her body instinctively and tugging on it. Her eyes practically budge out of her sockets. This isn't part of the game plan. She cusses under her breathe, attempting to pull her body away from his when he speaks up again.
"Thank you," his eyes flutter open slightly, meeting Quinn's own large orbs with apparent gratitude. She wants to kiss him. She wants to lose herself in those lips, in that body and in his warmth.
"Cookie?" Quinn offers, picking it up from the desk and extending it to him. Something tells her that a cookie is far safer an offer than to take him right then and there. Mike lifts his head, munching on the cookie. Quinn notes that his hands are still wrapped around her waist, much to her intolerable pleasure.
"Come to bed," Mike says lazily, tugging again.
"Wait, shit… No," it kills her to say it, but she can't. Her dad will kill her. Her instincts will take over her. She can't be trusted in the same bed with Mike Chang. That's just too much for one girl to handle, even a girl like her.
"I want you to sleep here." Mike states with no shame. It's a far cry from the boy who contains his emotions and words. It seems that Mike, when unconscious and unknowing, is far more open to his needs and wants than he is when sober. He tugs again, and this time she gives in. Quinn rolls into his arms, tucking herself into the crook of her neck, and she has to curse under her breathe.
This is where she wants to be, where she should be. This is heavenly. This is perfect.
Mike's arms snake around her body, covering her with the very blanket she did not long ago.
"This is wrong," whispers Quinn worriedly. What if her parents woke up before her? What if she ended up dry humping him in his sleep? What if he regrets this? What if she does?
"It feels right to me," he runs his hand along her outer thigh, motioning for her to wrap her leg along his. It's the exact way she sleeps, and she can't help but wonder if Mike watches her at the motel and knows exactly how she sleeps herself. She doesn't fight it, but goes further into it.
"Me too," Quinn admits breathlessly. Mike nods along her scalp.
"San, Puck and Sam are coming over tomorrow," she continues. Mike nods again.
"You can hang out with us," Mike nods again.
Moments pass, moments of bliss and moments of perfection and she's surer now than ever-she has to have him. Yes, she has always wanted him. But now, he wants her, too. He subconsciously knows it already. But she knows the man who makes her heart sink and speed up, and knows that he can never pursue it himself. So it's up to her to make him conscious of the fact that they belong together. They're dead on.
He's the missing pieces of her puzzle piece that makes for a completed jigsaw puzzle.
Author's Note: I know, I know, this update took forever. I've been missing the muse for this fic for awhile, but I've recently found it again so good for us! Yes, this is the angst I was talking about. Not as angsty as I led it up to be, I'm aware, but the turbulence comes later in the story.