Disclaimer: I own nothing, and Quinn is not actually a character.
HERE'S TO US
He wondered if perhaps talking to the head of NYADA for Rachel Berry could be his one selfless deed of the year. He was due after all. As a bonus, it also happened to be one of his more romantic deeds. Particularly since Rachel would never know about it, and there was always something to be said for unrequited love. It was depressing, and depressing was what sold. Besides, he was due for one of those as well. Spending the year frivolously dating former Carmel graduates was simply not working for him.
Jesse pushed the down arrow and waited for the elevator to arrive. Around thirty seconds later, the doors parted and he was met with a familiar face. Not necessarily someone he'd ever be looking forward to in this situation but at the same time still had potential.
"Quinn Fabray." He greeted, stepping into the elevator.
"Jesse." She returned as he pushed his floor of choice. The moment probably would have resonated more had she used his full name as well.
Jesse didn't inform her of this, however, and instead he frowned at the empty bucket she was carrying.
"The ice machine on our floor is broken." She explained, following his line of sight.
"Oh." Jesse hummed. It made sense that New Directions was probably celebrating their victory. Maybe he should try and be professional here. "Congratulations on placing first."
"Thanks." Quinn smiled. Jesse did not return it. Instead, he waited until the silence had an effect on the conversation before speaking again.
"I'm sorry, but I thought you were supposed to be in a wheelchair." He watched as Quinn shifted uncomfortably. It didn't deter her, though. He imagined she had a rehearsed response to this sort of statement. He'd have a rehearsed response if the positions were reversed.
"Well through physical therapy and good faith, I was able to meet my goal of dancing again by Nationals."
"How…accelerated." He had heard that Quinn had only regained the ability to walk two weeks ago at her prom, but he was beyond asking questions he didn't care about the answers to. "I had expected and prepared different chorography for Vocal Adrenaline as I was under the impression that our main competition would have to had organized theirs to incorporate two wheelchair bound students. Imagine my surprise that by the time we got here, that was no longer the case."
"Is that what you're going to blame coming in second on?" She joked. Jesse did not seem to understand this concept.
"Don't flatter yourself, you're not that talented. In fact, I'm surprised you were used as much as you were."
There was more silence as the elevator came to a stop on the next floor and two more people got on. They scooted over a foot to make room. Jesse hoped this would be one of those notorious awkward elevator rides that screenwriters like to pretend are real. He had yet to experience one.
"You know, I was actually going to contact you after I got wind of the accident." These words regained Quinn's attention. "Perhaps send a gift or one of those five dollar 'Thank You' cards that open up and have four lines of inspirational rhymes written in them that make you question what the point of everything was to begin with." He became serious once again as he got back on track. "Thank you, Quinn, for preventing Rachel's marriage to Finn. Even if that was not your intention at the time or that they're still engaged, it's something to be celebrated."
Quinn frowned. If she didn't know better, she'd say he actually sounded…sincere?
"Let me buy you a drink."
"That's not necessary." She brushed off politely.
"While I'm sure it was hard for you at the time, you're fully recovered now. You hit most of your steps on stage. There's inexplicably not a scar on you. It's almost as if you were never in an accident at all." He reached ahead to press the button for the lobby. "So while you rejoice over the fact that your life is back to whatever was normal for you, I will drink to the fact that this supposed accident of yours kept Rachel from making one of the biggest mistakes of her life."
Quinn momentarily ignored his button pushing. She could still get off before then anyway. "She's still set to marry him."
"Yes, but no 'I do's' have been spoken yet." He reminded helpfully but then quickly lost his smile. "Oh don't tell me you're someone who actually supports teen marriage. While I can understand and appreciate the temporary clandestine romance of it all, nothing good can come of it." He frowned. "I thought you were going to Yale. Aren't you supposed to be smarter than this?"
"And weren't you the guy who got a scholarship to UCLA before flunking out?" She shot back. "I support what makes Rachel happy. And Finn too of course." She hastily added as the elevator this time came to a stop on her desired floor.
"So the three of you are friends now." He noted as she exited to the hall. He waited a beat before following out after her. "That must not get awkward at all."
Quinn sighed to herself as they walked down the dimmed hallway together. Oddly, things weren't awkward between the three of them this year. Maybe it's because they were in fact friends with each other. She and Rachel specifically. She and Finn didn't talk much. There was really just prom, and that probably wasn't something either of them should try remembering.
"Look, I don't support the idea of them getting married or anything. Rachel has a great future ahead of her and a marriage may stand in the way of her achieving some of it. But for whatever reason, Finn Hudson is the one who makes her happy." Quinn stopped walking, and Jesse stopped with her. "Everyone deserves to be happy." She called back Rachel's own words on the matter.
"That's a nice sentiment." He complimented and then paused for a moment. "You should write it on a card."
Quinn lost her smile with a roll of the eyes as she picked up her pace again. She got to the cubby that hosted the ice machine and tried not to show her frustration when Jesse leaned against it to continue their conversation. Instead, she just focused on getting her ice.
"I know you may not believe me, but I am happy for her. She's in a relationship that makes her happy. Great." She looked back over at him, slight frown in place. "But the thing about it is, in a year from now, she won't be happy with him anymore. Everyone knows Rachel's destined to go on and become a star. It doesn't matter what path she takes to get there. But Finn will be nothing more than the guy who holds open doors for her. And they will crumble. It will be devastating, and that happiness you're talking about will have disappeared." He stood up straight now. Quinn did the same and stopped filling the bucket. "So let me buy you a drink for delaying this rather tragic outcome."
"Have you ever had a sea breeze?" Jesse asked her as they walked through the hotel's bar and lounge. "It's to my understanding that the grapefruit is what makes them worth drinking."
No, Quinn had never had a sea breeze nor did she know what one was made of, but it sounded nice enough so she just let Jesse order for her.
"We'll take two sea breezes." Jesse told the man tending bar as the pair took a seat.
"Seriously?" Jesse returned blankly. Was this barkeep unaccustomed to how Show Choir Nationals worked? Jesse missed New York.
"I can't serve you without knowing you're legal."
"But I'm an instructor."
"Actually, Jesse and I here just won Nationals." Quinn's hand stroked over Jesse's shoulder as she gained the bartender's focus. Jesse's focus was also drawn to the blonde, albeit in a different manner, as her smile beamed and her eyes fluttered at the other gentleman. "I've been dreaming of this since I was a freshman. This night is four years in the making, and it kind of requires a celebratory drink since it's something I never want to forget." Jesse frowned because what she said essentially did not make sense, but Quinn missed this as her faux-attention was still on the bartender. "And it's not like anyone's really here to notice. And we definitely won't tell anyone, right?" She finally glanced back at Jesse.
"Of course not." Jesse played right along.
Quinn immediately looked back to the bartender. "So see no one has to know. You can even overcharge us. Him." She amended with a nod at Jesse.
Jesse continued to look back and forth between the two. He had no idea how their ever useless bartender could possibly fall for this completely unsubtle display.
"I'll see what I can do." The bartender smiled at Quinn before moving to the other side of the bar, presumably to make up their drinks. Amateur.
"Impressive." Jesse told her once they were alone.
"Men are predictable."
Rude. "Not all of us."
Quinn paid no mind as their drinks were being set down in front of them shortly after.
"Thanks." She smiled sweetly up at their server. Jesse watched as the earlier eye flirting continued until the bartender left them again as he was needed elsewhere. Quinn lost the look as soon as she turned away and faced Jesse again. He found this to be a bit rude as well.
"Well," he lifted his glass instead, "here's to your accident and subsequent recovery. And here's to me for toasting you."
There was silence for a while as they drank. He eventually set his glass back down. The grapefruit was not all it was touted up to be.
"So…" Jesse trailed off, looking for a topic. "Why Yale?"
"Because it's a great school." She shrugged, not missing a beat. "And it has an amazing drama program."
This piqued his interest as he looked back over to her. "Even with your at times Classic Hollywood allure, I've never pictured you as an actress."
"I enjoy performing."
"Hmm." He took a sip of his drink. "Well I for one hope fate brings you and Finn back together to costar in a romantic comedy alongside Katherine Heigl. She'll be cast as your older, more sophisticated sister." He tilted his head to inform her.
Quinn laughed. "I don't know whether I should be insulted or not."
"Don't be. Despite her filmography, Katherine Heigl has an Emmy."
"Not what I meant but good to know. I was talking more about Finn being serious about becoming an actor."
He chuckled. "I hope you're not suggesting that I'm the only one here who has laughed at the idea of Finn Hudson aiming to be the next George Clooney." He watched Quinn bite her lip. "See. I may not understand your own attempt at going into show business, but at least you've already gotten into the school of your choice. What has Finn done? Nothing. Why? Because nothing is what he's capable of. He hasn't a reputable skill to his name."
"Finn's a good guy." She defended glee's male lead. It wasn't like Jesse St. James was some standup guy who even had the place to be throwing stones.
"I'm sorry, didn't he out your club's lesbian quota earlier this year?"
Okay, so she didn't actually have a defense for that. "Why do you know these things? How are you informed on so much that has happened at McKinley?"
"I'll take that as confirmation."
She shook her head. "Why am I even talking to you?"
"I'm talented. Good-looking. Older thus more experienced which adds an air of mystery to me."
This was also true, but he recognized that she was not being serious. Ignoring this, he went on to answer her earlier inquiry. "I have eyes and ears inside McKinley. All competition schools, actually."
Quinn frowned. "Shouldn't there be rules against this sort of thing?"
"Are you going to pretend that New Directions never spied on Vocal Adrenaline?"
"You mean back when you were also a member of New Directions? To spy on us?"
Jesse almost forgot that collectively that's what New Directions still believed. But Quinn had supposedly given her baby to Shelby or something so weeding through everything in its entirety probably wasn't the smartest idea. "Water. Bridges." He waved off, sitting back. "Besides, I transferred because of Rachel anyway." See, and now he technically wasn't lying.
"Right." Quinn drawled out slowly. She didn't believe him obviously, and all this turn in the conversation has done was to remind her that she was talking to somewhat of an enemy. "I should probably get back upstairs."
He groaned. "Yes, I probably should as well. I have three hotel rooms filled with disappointed teenagers. I'm sure their tears have soaked through the carpet by now."
"But Second Place isn't exactly something to be embarrassed about, and you have the MVP."
"Yes, but Wade was nothing special before my own genius shined through with Unique." Nothing wrong with a little indulging. "They expected much more, and I really should console them. Most of them are underclassmen." He lowered his voice here and continued on affectionately. "Their egos are still growing."
"Ah so New Directions should be expecting a bunch of Jesse St. Jameses next year."
"Next year." Jesse sighed heavily, stirring his straw, trying to make it all notable. "I always thought I deserved better than Ohio. That I was better than Ohio." He paused. "I'm not sure I plan on continuing to coach Vocal Adrenaline."
"So then what is it you plan on doing?"
He shot her a grin. "You care. That's sweet."
She narrowed her eyes in a glare. And wow, she hasn't actually done that in a while. "More like curious."
"I think I'll write a one-man show. It will be produced, directed, and starred in by me." He answered. "You can have a role too if you'd like. Perhaps I'll write you in as my own tragic love interest. It will look good on your résumé."
"Doesn't that relegate it to no longer being a one-man show?"
"I'd be willing to make the exception."
"I'm flattered." She wasn't really and got up to finally go back upstairs. She did actually need to return to New Directions' room with ice at some point.
"You haven't finished your cocktail." He noted, stopping her from leaving. "You should. When we get back home." Quinn hesitated as it was clear what was being asked of her. "We can celebrate ourselves some more."
Quinn laughed lightly. "I think I've shared enough boys with Rachel Berry."
"But it's such a timeless tale. And who knows. Maybe the four of us could role-play the film Closer. Since we all want to take on thespianism and everything."
"That's…horrifying, actually, and I do have a party to get back to." She began walking away again.
"But Natalie Portman's respected now." He called after her.
Quinn turned back around. "Natalie Portman was always respected."
"Yes, and not a soul knows why." He moved a couple bar stools down so she was standing in front of him again.
"Do you have to have a response for everything?"
"Tell me, what would be so terrible about going out with me? As mentioned, we're attractive and know several of the same people. We both want to perform. That's something in common. I was not expecting that with you."
"I'm not looking for a boyfriend."
"Good. I'm not offering to be one."
"I've had a long year." She continued. "A long couple of years, and I've finally got something to look forward to. In a few short months, I'll have a whole new life in New Haven so I need to continue focusing on myself right now."
"I fail to see what this has to do with me."
"I don't want any distractions or something to tie me to Ohio once I leave. I want a free break."
Jesse waited until this abrupt little outpouring was over before releasing a genuine laugh. Thankfully, he was someone who could appreciate the dramatics in jumping to conclusions. "It's a casual date on the cusps of summer that will lead to nothing. It may even be fun."
Quinn frowned, puzzled. "Why do you even want to take me out? We barely know each other."
"Practice." He answered, sounding as obvious as it was.
"So now I'm a, what, trial date?"
"Aren't all dates until you find that special one?" Quinn really wanted to smack the smirk off his face. "What? Do you not enjoy the art of dating? Getting dressed up in clothes that aren't ever something you'd wear on a day to day basis. Dining in an overpriced restaurant at a table, not in a booth. Following it all up with an evening show of some sort." Jesse observed her change in demeanor. "Or have you never been adult dating? You are still in high school. Silly of me to assume." The nonchalance added nothing to the smirk in her opinion, and Quinn hated that he was right.
She had been on plenty of dates, all nice of course, but they were at her home or the movies or Breadstix and the Lima Bean or babysitting and attempts at Color Me Mine. Then there was the ever special Lima tradition of going to the bowling alley or roller rink slash karaoke bar. Actual dating or, as Jesse had put it, adult dating had yet to be experienced.
She retook a seat next to him. "We don't even like each other."
"Does anyone like each other?"
"You'd just be using me."
"The beauty of it is that you'd also be using me." He grinned. "What is the problem here exactly? Do you need me to serenade you? I wouldn't mind. I haven't actually gotten the chance to serenade a girl in over a year. I'm sure there's a piano around here somewhere." Jesse looked around from his seat until Quinn was pulling on his arm, trying to regain his attention.
"No, I-" God, this was so not what she needed right now.
"Look, Quinn, as I know you're more than aware, you're breathtaking. And also smart enough to keep up a conversation with. And yes, I've grown excessively bored with dating Carmel girls. Not to mention that the online dating profile I set up for myself has only garnered unwanted attention from older gay men belonging to a category entitled Silver Sugar Daddies. A category, mind you, that I still wish I had no knowledge of." He frowned right along with her. "Although, I'm sure I could get one of them to finance my show." Jesse shook this thought off. "My point being is that I would love to take you out as you're leagues ahead of what has unfortunately become my standard."
"Thanks. I think."
"And I'm sure I'm above your standard as well given that it's McKinley."
A beat. "You're a jerk."
"One you've been talking to now for about a good twenty minutes." Quinn checked the clock behind the bar. Crap. "Besides, honesty is just a meager form a bravery which is an attractive quality to have. It's why people acknowledge firemen. Perhaps you should try it. You might find yourself admitting that you're wondering what our date would be like."
She planned on disputing this even if it wasn't a complete lie. She had no feelings other than a mild annoyance and distrust for Jesse St. James. Dating him in any capacity, "practice" included, was not on the table.
That is not what happened.
"Let's, for the sake of argument, say that I am." Honestly, what was she doing?
He perked up. "Oh a hypothetical. I'm good at those."
"When exactly would this date of ours be taking place?"
"I was thinking Wednesday at around six. I figure this way there will be no interference with any graduation preparations you may have."
She chuckled again. "Thoughtful. I'm going back upstairs now."
Jesse watched her walk away over his shoulder before calling out, "Don't forget the ice." She lifted the ice bucket in response. He turned to face forward in his seat.
Well, at least now he had one night in the next week to come guaranteed without boredom. This may even turn out to be something worth commemorating.