You can all thank Anon for this one. I didn't have any plans to write another Quinntana story, but the idea that "I Do" happened and then they go their separate ways for a while gave me an idea. Here it is. This is a grown-up story and there will be definitive angst. I hope you all like it.
It was so much smaller than I remembered. These halls used to dictate my entire day. Walk down the right one with the right guy on your arm wearing the right uniform and you were the most important person in this place, in this world. High school seemed so long ago now, but being back in these halls and walking past old classrooms toward the gym made it seem like it was only yesterday. Cheerios championships, New Directions winning nationals, kissing boys against the lockers… the memories were all coming back to me and I couldn't process them fast enough to really take them all in.
I could hear the noise level increasing the closer I got to my destination. With the noise came an increase in my nervousness. I hadn't seen many of these people in ten years. I had carefully chosen the friends I kept after high school. There were a select few for a while and then there were none.
I needed a new start and a break from everything that had gone on here during my formative years. I needed a chance to find myself in a world where no one knew me; where no one had an impression of me as… well, anything. I needed to get away from people. Well, I needed to get away from one person.
As I turned the corner, I saw the sign-in table and a couple of people I didn't recognize standing behind it ushering my classmates through the doors with their nametags on their chests. People were exchanging greeting and hugs with friends long ago forgotten.
I began to reconsider my decision to attend this event, but before I could make a move to turn around unnoticed, I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned around to see the girl I'd thought about so often all these years.
"Hey," I greeted with severe nervousness.
"Hey? That's all you've got to say to me, Fabray. Where the hell have you been?" She questioned.
"Santana, can we at least get checked in and go inside the actual reunion before you hammer me with questions?"
"Fuck that, I haven't heard from you in like a million years, Quinn. You fell off the face of the earth, which is fucking hard to do these days. You're not online, you changed your phone. I had to ask your mom if you were even still alive."
I started walking toward the door figuring she'd walk with me and we'd continue this conversation inside the gym, but she took my arm and pulled me back in front of her instead.
"If you talked to my mom then you know where I've been. Let's just go inside, San. I promise I will answer your questions, but I need alcohol. This is going to be a long fucking night."
"Fine." She let go of my arm and walked toward the table in a huff. "Santana Lopez and Quinn Fabray." She gave both of our names to the guy checking people in. He made a check mark on his list and handed her our nametags. She walked back toward me and pushed mine into my hand. "Here. Now, let's fucking get this over with and I'm not letting you out of my sight until you answer my questions."
She took my hand and pulled me through the open doors. I had to laugh at her reaction to seeing me because it was just how I pictured it. I hadn't exactly sent in my RSVP until the last minute so I was pretty sure no one I knew thought I would be here.
I tried to take in the sights of the gym and the people. Some of them I recognized right away while others took me a second and most just went unrecognized entirely. Let's face it. I had spent most of high school surrounded by the same small group of people.
Earlier in the evening when I was getting ready, I pulled my hair still blonde, straight and long back in a ponytail and completed my look with my favorite little black dress and boots. I thought the look made me look accomplished and elegant. Even though I knew I had nothing to prove to anyone, there was still this pressure. I was the most popular girl in this school for years and there's that belief that the most popular ones usually peak during those years. I guess I was just hoping my look complete with my biography of accomplishments would tell everyone here that I did something with my life. I'm not entirely happy with some parts of it, but I could at least fake that for a few hours here.
Santana continued to pull me past people who tried to get our attention, but she wouldn't allow it. We arrived at the bar, which was off to the side of the pushed back bleachers that I recalled making out with Puck behind sophomore year. Why does that seem so gross now?
"Rum and coke." She ordered and looked at me. "What do you want, Fabray?"
"That's fine," I told her.
"Make that four then," She told the bartender.
"Four? Who else are we ordering for?"
"No one. I'm guessing we're going to need at least a couple of rounds for you to get through details of your disappearing act, David Copperfield."
We sat at a table away from the crowd that she picked. We set our drinks down and she looked around taking in the faces of the people as they arrived and danced on the makeshift dance floor. She met my eye as I took a drink.
"Any minute now, people are going to notice us and they're going to pull us in a thousand directions for the rest of the night. As your former best friend, I demand to know what the fuck happened to you before the old lackeys start forming circles around us," She took a long drink of her rum and coke and stared at me with those eyes that always kind of seem like they're silently judging you.
"What do you want me to say, Santana?" Honestly, I figured her initial reaction correctly, but I thought she'd just be pissed at me for breaking contact and run off looking for Brittany. I knew the girl didn't graduate with our class, but I figured they'd either be together again by now or Santana would at least bring her since she should have graduated with us, but San had arrived alone like me.
"Start at the beginning, Quinn. What happened to you after college? Why the hell did you drop off the face of the earth? Where are you living? Who are you living with? What's your fucking job?" She rattled all those questions off before pausing and looking at me more sincerely for a moment. "Are you okay?"
"Do you want me to go in order?" I joked with her and smiled so she would know I was only kidding and hopefully wouldn't lash out at me.
"Answer the last one first," She ordered.
I downed the remainder of my first round and pushed the glass aside.
"I'm fine. I'm good actually. I live in London. I'm a market research analyst there."
"Leave it to Quinn Fabray to invent a career for herself."
I laughed and she smiled, which made me smile because it was the first time I had seen her do that in so long.
"It's a real thing, Santana. I help companies market themselves to consumers. I'm pretty good at it actually. I've got a nice, corner office and a team under me."
"You had to go to London to do that?"
"I chose to go to London to do that. Remember my semester abroad?"
"Dimly," she lied. I knew she remembered it. She leaned in a little so I matched her body language. Also, the music was getting louder as more and more people arrived so I kind of had too.
"I spent the semester at Oxford. I liked it. So, I moved there after graduation."
She leaned back and I could see hurt in her eyes now.
"Why didn't you tell anyone?"
"Why didn't I tell anyone or why didn't I tell you?"
"What happened to us, Q? We were good there for a while. We got our friendship back after Schuester's no-go wedding. You graduate and then you drop off Facebook, lose all our numbers, and apparently move to another country and nothing for like 6 damn years. I didn't even know you were coming tonight."
"I didn't even know I was coming tonight. I was in town for another reason."
"What's the other reason?"
"You can't keep adding to the list for questions, Santana. Give me a minute to at least answer the ones you've asked already. I mean, Jesus fucking Christ."
She laughed, which made me laugh and we both took a much-needed drink from that second round she was right to order.
"Fuck you, Fabray." I could tell she was joking. Well, she was half-joking. She definitely meant it though too.
I took a look around and noticed the tables were filling up quickly. Soon we would be discovered and would more than likely be torn apart. I could choose to stall and wait for that to happen so I could avoid her barrage or I could just get this over with.
"You of all people should understand this, San. I needed to get away and I liked London when I was here for school. I applied for a position and got it. The move happened quickly and once I was there, I just wanted to make a life for myself. I needed to be a new Quinn."
"I didn't drop everyone I knew to move to New York, Quinn."
"I didn't drop you guys. It wasn't like that. I didn't lose your number, Santana. I had to get a new phone, which I actually put your number into by the way. It's just that things happened. I got busy, there's a big time difference and honestly, I missed you, but I needed to break from everything I had known. I didn't mean to hurt you in the process."
"Please, you didn't hurt me. This is just my curiosity talking here." She crossed her arms over her chest.
"Same old, Santana. Living life emotionless and fancy free."
"How would you know? You've pulled a Madonna moving to England. Have you picked up kabala or started talking with that terrible hybrid accent?"
"You can be mad if you want too, Santana. There's no big mystery though. I just did what I did. I guess I thought that's what people do in their twenties. I mean, how many people stay friends with their friends from high school?"
"We weren't just friends in high school, Quinn. We were best friends in high school who also happened to be best friends in college. We also had sex once or twice in case you forgot that part."
I swirled the ice around in my glass hoping I could make more alcohol appear in it with my mind.
"I'm sorry, Santana. I really am, but I had to do this for me."
"Did I answer all your questions? Can I try to say hello to a few people now?"
"Are you happy?" I had almost forgotten how easily she could shift from fiery to someone who has genuine concern for others.
"I'm getting there," I decided to answer her honestly.
"What's the other reason you're in town?"
"Oh, my mom had an accident. She was hanging up a picture on the staircase and somehow managed to fall. She broke her ankle and sprained a wrist. She didn't have anyone else to help her so I came back to take care of her until she could get up on crutches. The reunion just happened to coincide with my visit."
"How long are you staying?"
"About another week. I've got to get back to work."
"How long have you been in Lima?"
"I got in about a month ago and don't be mad, please. I didn't call you because I was taking care of her and you're in New York and…"
"You knew, huh?"
"My mom told me you were still living there."
"It's a phone call, Quinn."
"I know. I'm sorry." I looked around again. I noticed Rachel and Finn walk in and Rachel immediately met my glance and began walking over clutching his hand as she pulled him along. "Rachel's on her way," I explained to Santana. "You've got time for one more. Better make this one count."
"What about… love?" She stared at me with squinted eyes.
"I think that's a much longer conversation, Santana."
"Tomorrow? Lunch? Just you and me? None of these wack jobs and I'm including Berry in that group."
"I can't do lunch, but-"
"Fuck, Q. You're here for like a week."
"Can you just let me finish a sentence before you jump all over me? I can't do lunch because I'm having lunch with my mom. I can do dinner though."
"I'll pick you up," She offered.
Rachel was in front of us within seconds of Santana's response and I was standing quickly and wiping the front of my dress down to straighten it. I looked over at Santana who was still sitting. Always classy.
"Quinn? I didn't know you were coming. Where have you been?" Rachel asked before letting go of Finn's hand and hugging me like her life depended on it.
"Let her breathe, Berry." Santana interjected and Rachel pulled away.
Finn hugged me next and it was still awkward seeing him even after all this time. It took me back to the horrible things I did to him; convincing him he was the father of my child, telling him he needed to make something of himself or he would be a terrible father, getting back together with him solely because of how it would look on a prom queen ballot. It was for these reasons and for so many others that I had decided to leave this all behind for a while.
I looked down and caught the ring on Rachel's finger and took a glance to my right to see that Finn also had a ring. I guess they finally did it. Good for them. I turned around for a second to check on Santana. She was tipping a glass back and downing an ice cube. I took a look at her hand and saw a vacant space where a ring would be.