Title: Love is a verb
Word count: 3117
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee or any of its characters. The title and the lyrics used are from "Here in my Room" by Incubus. The quoted passage is from "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. I have no affiliation whatsoever with Incubus, or Dickens, or any of the other authors or literary works mentioned hereunder.
Love is a verb
"If the world would fall apart
in a fiction worthy wind
I wouldn't change a thing now that you're here"
The first time they met, it was short and simple -it could even be said that it was in passing. And Quinn had absolutely no idea of who she was.
She was a freshman at the time, and she had only been a student at McKinley for a very short time -since her mom had got the transfer late in the academic year. And Quinn... well, Quinn had been someone she had unconsciously sought out in the hallways those first few weeks. She had only learned her name at the cafeteria right before prom, and upon finding Quinn's face printed on one of the many prom campaign posters scattered throughout the hallway walls, she had found the senior so inspirational that she had voted for her to win the prom queen title.
Anyway, that first time they met, she was a bundle of nerves, because -for the first time since she'd come to McKinley- someone had actually looked at her face and spoken to her; and that person had been Quinn.
It wasn't just a random happenstance. She had actively searched for Quinn that last week of classes in an attempt to seize that one sole chance she knew she'd have to tell the blonde what she thought of her. So when she did find her -back ramrod straight as she stood by her locker, head bent as she perused a thick tome-, she took a second to observe her from afar -all prim and proper in a white and blue summer dress and a round hat with a low brim-, and then promptly walked up to her.
Quinn looked up when she noticed that she had been standing before her for a few moments -completely silent, because she hadn't even been able to push a simple "hi" past her lips-, and then she suddenly lunged forward to wrap Quinn into a heartfelt hug. She knew the blonde had been shocked to say the least, yet she had been so incredibly kind about it, that she didn't care.
When she did find her voice, she merely told Quinn to never change, and walked away with the brightest bittersweet smile on her face, for she knew she wouldn't see Quinn again.
The second time they met, it was at a secluded café in Lima halfway through the summer.
She had been absent-mindedly moving ahead in the line for a smoothie, her eyes shifting back and forth over the lines of the book she was engrossed in. When her turn came, she resumed her reading -smoothie in hand- while she looked for the perfect table. The only reason she frequented this café was because of the certainty she had that none of the students of McKinley would ever be caught dead in a place like that: all sober and adult, all around silent, where many teachers and retired professors came to catch up or read, and where she wouldn't have to elaborate on the origins of her clothes.
It was precisely because of that that she never thought she'd encounter anyone she knew there -especially not popular Quinn Fabray. But alas, as luck would have it, it did happen by chance this time.
Since her search for a free table wasn't her priority -We The Living was-, she wasn't entirely focused on her path, and thus she bumped into the corner of a table in her distracted state. With a loud yelp, she thanked the heavens that the impact hadn't made her spill her smoothie all over the old -yet pristine- pages of her book, yet imagine her surprise when a hand shot up to curl around her arm in an attempt to steady her, and she looked up into the hazel eyes of one Quinn Fabray.
"Are you okay?" Quinn asked her kindly, and she suddenly found herself at a loss for words, so she merely nodded her assent. She saw a spark of recognition flash in Quinn's expression, and then the blonde's lips curled into a smile, "Hey, you're the girl who came up to me the last week of school," she realized aloud before delicately lowering herself onto the chair she had previously occupied, "It might not mean much to you, but your words to me meant a lot," Quinn spoke sincerely, and then motioned towards the place across the table, "please, sit."
It was then that she glanced down at the table and thought that she was intruding. There were a few large tomes scattered across the table -which Quinn invitingly piled up to the side-, and two tall cups of a light brown beverage that she figured were iced lattes -one of which was empty and discarded at the far side of the wooden surface. Yet Quinn had asked her to join her, and she wasn't about to pass up on that opportunity -awkward smiles and flushed cheeks aside-, so with as much grace as she could muster, she sat down on the opposite side of the table.
"I'm Quinn," the blonde beamed, and she suddenly found all those stories she'd heard about her incredibly hard to believe, for they certainly did not resemble this person before her in the slightest.
"I know," she smiled back as she set her smoothie atop the table, "I'm Marley," she replied simply before glancing at her book to mark the page where she had left off and close it gently.
"Well, Marley," Quinn began as she replicated Marley's previous actions and closed the book open before her -which now Marley recognized as a compilation of Jane Austen's works-, "that is certainly not a book most sophomores would read voluntarily," she added, finger pointed straight at the book resting before the younger girl.
Shedding some of her earlier awkwardness -she was sure it was Quinn's effect on her-, Marley tilted her head, "I'm not most sophomores," she answered, fingers curling around her smoothie and sliding sloppily over the cool condensed drops that had formed on the plastic surface of the cup, "I actually enjoy literature," she added with a shy crinkle of her nose, and she instantly berated herself mentally for being such a dork.
"So do I," Quinn agreed with a throaty laugh, and from then on, the conversation flowed effortlessly.
By the time Quinn stood up and stuffed her books inside a battered satchel, Marley realized that it was actually dark outside, and that she had spent the entire afternoon learning about McKinley legend Quinn Fabray -that was how Sue Sylvester had referred to the blonde on the last day of school in the middle of the hallway with a very scary looking megaphone.
As Quinn stood beside her, Marley tilted back her pageboy hat to look up at the blonde, "I'm really glad I ran into you today, Quinn," she said genuinely, and she was surprised to hear a certain serenity that she hadn't expected her own voice to hold.
The older girl smiled down at her before biting down on her lip -and Marley was sure she was imagining things, because there was a faint pink tint to Quinn's cheeks-, and rested her hand on Marley's shoulder, "Me, too. We should do this again sometime," she admitted softly and walked away when Marley nodded with a goofy grin.
She chalked up the butterflies fluttering in her stomach to mere admiration for the older girl.
The third time they met, Quinn had called her to make plans, and Marley had come up with everything else -but much to her delight, Quinn had actually wanted to hang out with her.
They met at the same café, although at nighttime, so the setting was slightly different. Even though it was considerably more crowded than it was during the day, it gave Marley a sensation of intimacy that she couldn't quite shake off.
She wasn't sure whether it was due to the atmosphere or to the girl beside her.
Most of the awkwardness of their first official meeting was gone, although Marley still felt rather shy around the blonde the first few moments after they found each other at the bar of the café. Although the clientele was more or less the same, some of the teachers had switched their highly caffeinated beverages for pints or bottles of beer, but it was clear that no one would be doing any heavy drinking there that night.
For the first hour or so, they continued their conversation on literature. Marley learned that Quinn didn't just read, she actually delved into the books so deeply that she could talk easily about details and subtext and even find seemingly invisible connections between two entirely different pieces of work. She learned that Quinn took her lattes with soy milk, because her best friend was a devout vegan and had forced her to give up dairy -although she'd never admit that she actually preferred soy milk to regular milk-, and that she chose caramel over sugar, because it was apparently not as thoroughly processed chemically. She told Quinn of how she rarely interacted with her peers because of her mom's job, and she couldn't help but smile when the blonde blatantly told her to forget about them because they didn't deserve her time.
Marley wasn't sure she deserved Quinn's either.
It was during their second hour there when one of the baristas set up the small stage for some light karaoke the frequent customers liked to indulge in in order to unwind. And that development had prompted them to exchange the names of their favorite artists and their favorite songs. She found out that even though she had been in Glee club, Quinn's musical preferences lay in genres the group of misfits practically never covered. Some artists they had a common liking for -like the xx or Massive Attack-, and some artists Marley had never really paid attention to -like Incubus or 30 Seconds to Mars-, but Quinn talked so excitedly about the intricacy of the latter's lyrics that Marley made a mental note to check them out once she got home.
When Quinn wouldn't stop rambling on and on about how Glee club had been the most positive addition to her teenage life and had changed her for the better -which Marley thought was incredibly adorable-, the younger girl insisted that she go on stage and sing something.
It took a few times, but Quinn finally relented and gave Marley a look that made her lower her head to gaze at Quinn from behind the brim of her hat and made insides twist warmly; and she decided that Quinn was definitely the reason behind the intimacy she had detected before.
Yet it wasn't until Quinn sat gracefully on the lonesome stool on the stage -microphone in hand- and began singing Here in my Room that Marley thought that Quinn was the human form of the addictive smell found in old books that have seen the expression of a million readers throughout their lifetime.
And there was nothing Marley loved more than singing and reading old books.
The fourth time they met, two weeks after the first time, Marley was running late.
She had lost track of time while she helped her mom prepare some canapes for a small catering gig she had scored, so by the time she'd jumped into the shower, she knew she'd be late. She stopped singing at the exact same second she closed the water off, and moments later she walked out of her bedroom -pageboy hat in hand- to find Quinn standing by the front door, hands clasped behind her back.
"With a voice like that, you should join Glee club," Quinn greeted her with a small smile as she swayed playfully back and forth on the heels of her shoes.
To be honest, Marley didn't know whether to blush at the obvious compliment -no one had ever heard her sing except for her mom-, or pull Quinn out of the shabby apartment she called home.
She ended up just standing there with a shy smile until Quinn handed her a brand new library card and tugged at her hand to go outside.
Apparently, Quinn's idea for their non-date (or was it a date? Marley wasn't sure. There were way too many things she wasn't sure of these days) was to bring her to the library to use her card for the first time. She didn't know how Quinn had managed to do it or how she had even known to do that, but Marley was incredibly thankful for the fact that Quinn had given her a present that was not only perfect for who she was -because she truly loved her new library card- but also hadn't cost her anything, so Marley wouldn't feel guilty about it later.
There was a certain childlike excitement that took over Marley as they ran along the empty library halls hand in hand -no normal teenager would spend a second in that place during summertime-, and when they stopped before a row of dusty Russian Literature tomes, Quinn snatched her hat from her hand with a giggle and set it atop her own head crookedly.
"Hey, give it back!" Marley laughed and reached out to half-heartedly try to snatch the hat back from Quinn's head.
The blonde chuckled as she smacked Marley's hands away from her face, "No," another chuckle, "No, as cute as it looks on you, you just can't wear this after a shower, Marley," she said casually as Marley relented and lowered her hands -yet Quinn's fingers remained coolly curled around her wrists. "Besides, you have a gorgeous face, you shouldn't hide it behind a hat," Quinn admitted softly, thumb tracing circles on the inside of Marley's wrists, eyes cast down and cheeks slightly pink in the dim corridor.
Marley had to bite her lip to keep from squealing loudly even as her lips spread in a wide, contented grin, "You think I'm pretty?"
Quinn licked her lips as she breathed in and out calmly, and the next thing Marley knew, her back was pressed against a bunch of Russian Literature classics, "No," the blonde whispered playfully before turning earnest, "I think you're gorgeous."
When Quinn's lips brushed her own between Crime and Punishment and Lolita -Marley's hat still sitting crookedly on her head-, and stage lights danced behind Marley's eyelids, she thought that Quinn tasted like summer and tragic characters.
And it was definitely a date.
The last time they met, it was the week before Quinn was due to leave for Yale.
The night air in Quinn's backyard smelt like gardenias and windmills, and Marley thought she'd gladly pull a Quixote if it meant getting to go on reading Quinn like an open book.
The night was rather chilly, signaling the proximity of autumn -of foliage the color of ancient book pages, of Quinn's scent in borrowed WMHS hoodies, of Quinn buried in Keats and Shakespeare, in Milton and Bacon, and ordering soy lattes on her own.
They were cuddled on Quinn's rooftop as the blonde read them passage after passage of Great Expectations, and despite the warmth that shot upwards from her hands and spread throughout her body as Quinn played with Marley's fingers -twining and stroking them softly-, Marley couldn't help but feel like the older girl was already miles away living a much brighter future than what Marley could offer her.
It was that night, on that silent rooftop, that Marley gave herself completely to Quinn surrounded by the first fallen orange leaves. And the morning after, when Marley woke up tangled in honey colored sheets and Quinn, and surrounded by the smell of worn book pages, she decided that she didn't have the heart to be Quinn's summer and an eternal delay of her autumn.
She left her favorite pageboy hat behind and walked out without looking back.
The next time they saw each other, they didn't exactly meet.
Marley had thought she could get over the taste of summer and she never wanted to turn Quinn into a tragic character, yet she had spent her every day at the library amidst the smell of old books that reminded her of Jane Austen and JD Salinger and Quinn. And she had joined Glee club, just like Quinn had suggested.
What she had never expected, however, was to find Quinn -along with another few ex members- in her weekly Glee club meeting.
There was a certain melancholy in Quinn's eyes when their gazes met as Mr. Schue went on and on about their nationals win and whatnot, and Marley gave into the urge to hide her eyes behind the brim of her second favorite pageboy hat just to avoid the churning in her stomach that Quinn's presence brought. She absent-mindedly kicked her backpack farther away from her chair as she remembered the faded red WMHS hoodie folded neatly within its confines, and she occupied her mind with thoughts of rooftops and almost spilled smoothies, of her old hat and Vladimir Nabokov, of Quinn's reading glasses atop her bedside table as she slept peacefully -summer morning sunlight crowning her head in gold.
When the meeting was over, she skipped the process of shoving her books into her locker and went straight home to sob uncontrollably on her mom's lap.
The following morning, her mom brought her a tray with breakfast and her library card. Marley wore Quinn's WMHS hoodie to school that day.
When she opened her locker to pull her books out -lips downturned and legs heavy on the linoleum floor-, she found a neatly folded note sitting atop her unfinished tome of We The Living. The scent of old books and summertime invaded her senses when she opened it:
"You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read (...). You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since (...). You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be."
Marley decided she'd apply to Yale for a scholarship when the time came. She'd find her eternal summer eventually.