Title: Way Off Line
Pairing: Quinn/Juno, Quinn/Rachel
Summary: Quinn Fabray and Juno MacGruff meet in university.
Note: Crossover crack. crackfoxx's very very very belated wishlist present.
This was just as weird and challenging and exciting to write as you’re imagining it was.
So where was the passion
when you need it the most?
- Bad Day by Daniel Powter
It's not so much that it smells horrible. Just the fact that it does at all. The stink of the residence's cafeteria's managed to travel through the halls and permeate through to the beds upstairs. Quinn shuffles through some pale-faced jocks tossing a football around on fifth floor and makes it up to the sixth, lugging her carry-on through the stairs and half-heartedly thanking a brunette who keeps the door open for her with her foot. Room 615 is at the end of the hallway of course, she laments, deciding to push the arm down the luggage and just bring the thing down. It's a quiet one, the corridor is filled with hushed discussions in each small room, and sparkly names are glued to each. Tina + Jamie. Laurie + Kayla. Taylor + Nona. She reaches her room, squinting at the horrible silver star with her name Quinn written in black sharpie. Beside it, an equally loud silver blotch with Juno. It’s all too New Directions, and the star’s reminding her of someone who promised to make them – albeit gold stars - her mark. She rips her name off the door.
When she gets into the dorm, she lets out a sigh of relief. Two beds, one on each side of the room, both bunk beds, with the bottom half missing to fit a few large cupboards, a desk, and a wheelie chair. At the center of the room, the makeshift kitchen and small dining table. This’ll do just fine, she thinks to herself with a smile, dumping her luggage and coat off on the right hand side. It comes out of habit.
The door opens again a few hours later, well past check-in time, and a disheleved short brunette stumbles in with a wooden pipe in her mouth, her hoodie hanging off her shoulder, and three large worn-out duffel bags in hand. “Oh,” she says upon locking eyes with Quinn, and, blowing her bangs out of her eyes, she shifts her way inside. “Well I’d greet you by your name but it doesn’t seem like there’s a spiffy little star for you out there,” she says with a dry smile. She shucks her bags down on the left side of the room, and takes a scrunched up silver star out of her pocket, clearly having ripped it off as well. She unfolds it, just barely, and flashes it to the blonde with one hand. “I’m Juno.”
It turns out Juno MacGruff is her full name, and she graciously allows Quinn to tease her about it.
“So how difficult is it to solve mysteries in such a hideously bright hoodie, MacGruff?”
“What’s it like being constantly compared to the Grammys?”
“I’m actually uncomfortable being even loosely related to Sarah Palin.”
It tapers off after a few days and Quinn’s surprised by the girl’s complete and utter comfort around it, an air of nonchalance and maturity with still a willingness to poke fun at herself. The girl’s got this low, low voice that’s so unlike Rachel’s, so rigid and seemingly uncaring, not to be confused with exposed. And that sarcasm. That gosh darn sarcasm.
They barely speak to one another the first couple of weeks, slowly growing into university and wandering about campus. Tufts is busy, and soon enough, they’re both out doing extra-curricular activities or, if home (home. That’s what she has to call their room now) they’re studying or eating. Every now and then they nod to one another, or say goodnight. Juno spends the majority of her time either out with friends or inside playing guitar.
“What’s that smell?” Juno awakes one Saturday morning with a yawn, lifting her covers off her body and carefully getting out of bed, not to hurt her head. Too many times they’d both woken up by banging a forehead against the ceiling, only to yell out in pain and wake the other.
“I’m making eggs,” Quinn replies, flipping one sunny side up. “Would you like some?” she asks. She doesn’t really want to make her any, but considering the girl’s just getting up to the smell of fresh eggs and really, there one’s more that she was just going to throw back into the fridge anyway, she figures it’s the least she can do.
“Yeah sure, I’d love some,” Juno replies with another yawn, rubbing her forehead, then her nose, and finally just running her hands through her hair completely before grabbing a stray hair elastic and tying it into a loose tail.
“How do you like them?”
“You know back at home, my mom used to boil them and them slice them in half so they’d make these sweet little like...boat things.” Juno makes them with her hands.
Quinn arches an eyebrow at the hand representation. “Devilled eggs?”
“Devilled eggs,” Juno confirms with a smile.
She clears her throat. “Devilled eggs need to be boiled. I only have a pan here. I can do sunny side or scrambled.” It comes out, as things always do, ruder than she’d intended it to.
Juno raises her hands in mock innocence. “Sunny, then, it’s all good.” She walks over to the window, moves her guitar out of the way, and opens the blinds, silently lamenting the rain outside. “It’ll do us some good.”
Sometimes she comes back, wanting to study, only to find Juno procrastinating as always in her wheelie chair, leaning back with that familiar devil-may-care lean, playing some sappy song on her acoustic. Other times Quinn’s home alone studying, and finds herself longing to hear the pluck of taught strings, that oddly comforting squeak of fingers sliding across the strings from one tab to another. It’s a reassuring sort of glow, she’s found. To be surrounded by music. Music that isn’t a capella, music that doesn’t remind her of brunette divas singing gorgeous high notes. Music that isn’t about teamwork, or group dynamics. Music that was just music. And lovely all on its own. She’d forgotten how beautiful a single voice and acoustic instrument could be.
“So like, do you have a guy back home or something?” Juno asks one night when she’s tuning up and Quinn’s just cleaning her side of the room.
“N-no,” Quinn replies. They’re talking. They never talk. Especially not about their love lives. Well, Quinn thinks to herself, ‘love’ lives. She climbs up into bed.
“I just thought I should ask,” Juno shrugs, “I mean not like it’s something I need to know, you know, it’s just like...we’re roommates. I know we don’t sit around and paint each other’s toenails but I just figured...”
Quinn looks at her.
She shrugs again. “We should get to know each other or something.”
Quinn hesitates. Shrugs her own shrug. “Nothing to know.” She turns off her light, fully aware of how rude it is when it encases the other side in shadow, but throws the covers onto her face, faces the wall.
Juno plays in the dark. Quinn secretly likes it.
Sometimes Juno interrupts her during prayer. It’s bound to happen, because Quinn says one after she’s made her bed, and one right before bed, and she’ll mumble one before lunch, or sometime during the day. And sometimes she’ll hear Streisand or Garland and she’ll take some time to think on her past, and murmur a prayer for those she loves, and hopes with everything she is that they can hear her. It happens once or twice a week, and after the first times, Juno’s grown used to it and learns how to enter slowly and stand respectfully until Quinn’s done.
And then there are the prayers that no one hears. The ones she says in her mind, from her heart, because God can hear those the strongest, feel those hardest. There are the prayers for the tiniest person in the world she knows, and the only bundle of joy she’d ever beheld, and loved, and lost. But no one needs to know about that. Not in university, when some have barely even gone to second base, and others are more worried about graduate school or finals than contractions. Not when she’s supposed to be building a new life. Not when she’s actually been lucky enough to get out of that town.
“This came for you today.”
Quinn looks up from her papers. “What?” A brown parcel falls into her lap.
“This came for you today. I signed for it, cos the dude said he’d come back and honestly, I don’t think he would’ve, he definitely looked like he was on something or just sparked or something, whatever. I signed for it.”
“Thank you,” Quinn replies absently. It’d been absent since she saw the return address.
“Yeah no problem, it made me feel like a spy anyway. Who knows, if I get good enough at forging things maybe I could just drop out of school and like, just do that for a living, you know? Plagiarize.”
Quinn opens the envelope slowly, sliding a letter into her hand first, then a face-down picture. She puts that aside, not ready to see it yet. Instead she opens the letter.
Juno’s curiosity gets the better of her. She leans over. “Who’s Shelby Corcoran?”
“My aunt,” Quinn lies quickly out of reflex.
I hope university’s treating you well. I know I could have done this through an email but there’s always something more personal about a letter, don’t you think? Anyway, Baby & Me suggests I do something arts and crafts related in order to get in touch with a more nurturing and kinder side. It makes sense. Besides it’s sort of soothing. That’s always a great thing to do, right? Soothing activities. I’ve also gotten into scrapbooking. I’ll send you something soon.
Beth is doing great, and got through the flu like the trooper she is. She misses you so much, and loves the new recordings you sent, she sleeps with them sometimes. I think she misses your voice. Last weekend, Rachel
She decides to finish the letter later. She folds it and tucks it back into its neat little envelope. Then she slides the photograph – the latest one of Beth - across her stomach and lifts it to full view. The sob comes out uncontrollably.
“I’m sorry,” Quinn says weakly, hiding the photo behind her, and shielding her face from Juno. She wipes at her tears furiously until they’re gone.
“You’re freaking me out.”
Juno climbs down from her bed and approaches her warily. “Is everything okay, do you need me to-”
She’s closer than Quinn expected her to be. Juno’s got a hand on her back and rubbing it slowly. “Hey, it...it’s okay.”
There’s something so familiar, so uncertain and young yet determined and compassionate that’s just so familiar for some reason, and Quinn can only push the picture further away, hoping with everything she has that Juno won’t see it, before turning around and being enveloped in a hesitant hug. It’s the most contact they’ve had, ever, and it works, feels warm, warmer than she’d ever thought it could be. “I’m so sorry,” she continues to sob.
“It’s alright,” Juno shushes her, tentatively caressing her hair.
Later they separate and Quinn thanks her.
“It’s no problem,” Juno says with another wry smile, drying the last tear off her face with her finger. “Life gets you down sometimes, you know?”
Quinn laughs a soft one. “Yeah.” She wipes at her eyes again and sighs out.
“I’ll make dinner.”
School is harder than it should be. Friends come and go, and Boston is so much bigger than Lima, and there’s really nothing ‘around the corner’. She makes a friend here and there between study groups, but they lose touch and interest in one another after a while. She starts to hole herself up in her books, deciding to keep at International Relations even though she’s not doing so well on that social aspect. Maybe things will just fall into place.
“Things will fall into place, Quinn,” she said with the softest of smiles, tracing her jawline and planting a kiss on her lips. “We’ll find our way,” she promised.
She thinks about joining the cheerleading squad. She briefly considers joining the Christian Alliance but the welcoming day takes place in the church basement and the door has, of all things they could have posted, a Choose Life poster. And she sees the baby, and the tiny toes, and she can barely stand it. She made an excuse of a forgotten textbook and ran out.
She goes to church on her own. Sunday afternoons. She misses the sermons.
She wants it to be over, but it isn’t. With Juno, nothing’s ever really dropped, she’s learnt. The girl was just too observational and oddly understanding. Sometimes she’ll make a snarky comment on an off day and Juno will bring it up later. So it’s not a surprise when she brings it up the parcel a few weeks later. Albeit hesitantly.
Juno’s lying on her back, rereading Paradise Lost and eventually just putting it on her chest, staring at the ceiling and thinking. Quinn does the same with King Lear, though she’s actually managing to read some. “Hey Quinn?” she asks slowly.
“Can I ask you a question?”
Quinn bookmarks the page and turns. “Yeah?”
“What’s that picture you keep looking at?”
Quinn hesitates, feeling something hitch in her throat. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She flips the page of Act Four very slowly, keeping herself calm.
Juno sits up in friendly concern. “I’m not gonna freak or anything if you tell me but it’s like...shit, I don’t even know. I don’t even know what you’re looking at every night, but...but you’re crying? And I try to pretend like I don’t hear but honestly dude, it’s freaking me out. Do you need help or something? I’m not like, professionally trained in anything, and I don’t know much about roommates or how close or how apart we’re supposed to be, but like, dude, I’m here for anything you want, you know? I’m here to listen or rant to or all that emotional shit.”
Quinn drops her book down in frustration and turns to her. “Will you please be quiet. Every word you speak is just noise, between ‘likes’ and ‘you know’s’. No, I don’t know, and I don’t know what you’re talking about, so just. Be. Quiet.”
“Are you a serial killer. Because if I have to die prematurely I’d rather not die in school.”
The taped picture is ripped off her wall, the sticky tape still on it, and she’s throwing it at Juno to make her stop, but it falls short between their beds, falls down down down to land on their microwave. “It’s my daughter,” she says out loud, looking away immediately and reading Act Four again, trying to get her breath under control. She can hear Juno’s shifting in her bed, and brings the book closer to her eyes, trying to shut out everything that’s happening in the room. This wasn’t what she wanted. This wasn’t what she wanted. She can feel the excess amount of moisture in her eyes start to well up and she sniffs them back. Don’t lose it, she thinks, as she hears Juno slowly climb down her bed and walk over to the microwave. Don’t lose it.
“It’s okay,” she whispered, holding her close, shushing softly as Quinn only sobbed harder. “It’s okay, I’m here. I’m here.”
Juno’s picking up the photograph and Quinn’s re-read Cordelia’s monologue without understanding a single word. She can hear her heartbeat thumping harder and harder in her ears. And she’s ready for the freak-out, and ready for the accusations, and the dirty looks, and the judgement.
“Wizard,” Juno murmurs.
Quinn looks down. Their eyes meet, and it’s like a large hand has just clashed the white and black queen together on a messy muddled chessboard.
His name is Dylan. His adopted mother is Vanessa.
They don’t talk much about it after that, they’re strangely quiet about it, and things seem to go back to normal. Fortunately it’s right when exams roll around, and if they’re not out studying in libraries, they’re passed out back home, overwhelmed with books and putting the phone off the hook.
One afternoon they’re having lunch. Well, Juno’s having cold cereal without milk, and Quinn’s reading as always. Juno munches on her corn pops for a moment’s worth of silence before swallowing. “So question,” she says casually.
Quinn looks up.
“Are we, like, friends now? Or are we doing one of those ‘I know an epic secret about you but I’m gonna pretend like I don’t so we can continue living as strangers’ kind of...people?”
Quinn arches an eyebrow. That was completely unexpected. She glances back down at her textbook and tries to remember what she’d just read. “I...I don’t know, can we not talk about this?”
“Oh,” Juno says, turning her head back to her bowl, shaking her head as if shaking a loose thought away. “Just wondering. I haven’t done my research but statistically-”
“Whatever.” Quinn flips a page in her textbook and tucks her bangs aside once more, trying desperately to re-read and comprehend the first sentence.
Whether they’re friends or not, it manages to break down this mysterious fourth wall they’d built around each other, and suddenly they’re having breakfast together, just chatting about nothing. Or they’ll be out on campus, and have a break, and text to see if the other has it too. And they’ll meet up for lunch, or work side by side. Juno would ramble, Quinn would deal.
Odd, Quinn thinks to herself demurely one time, that she’s always surrounded by loud mouthed brunettes.
Juno always has these tic tacs on her. Orange. She’s got a never ending supply of them, maybe going through two or three a week, and biting down on them with this grin on her face. And Quinn wonders where she stashes them in their room, but can’t quite muster out the courage to ask. But really she doesn’t care.
One day she picks up a parcel for Juno, from the same sketchy delivery boy she thinks Juno must’ve met. It’s a large cardboard box just light as air, and when she shakes it she hears the familiar rattle. She checks the return address.
She squints at the address. Vermont. Who on earth goes to Vermont?
When Juno gets back, it’s already on her bed, and she’s running towards it with familiar excitement. “Sick!” she lunges onto her bed and, after smiling and running her hand over the return address, opens the box with her bare hands, revealing six stacks of sixteen packs of orange tic tacs. She smiles and rotates the box so Quinn can see.
“That should last you until Friday,” Quinn observes dryly.
Juno smirks and closes the box. “Aren’t we optimistic.”
Quinn tries for a smile. Points at the box with her pen. “Who’s P. Bleeker?”
Juno smiles at the address and rubs her stomach. “My babydaddy. He’s in Vermont.”
“Yes, I saw.”
Quinn flips the page of her textbook and looks away. She clears her throat. “He’s still in Lima.”
“Still talk to him?”
“I just don’t.” She flips another page.
Juno’s gotten better at picking up these signs. She shrugs to herself, maybe, and takes a pack of tic tacs out of the box, opening the plastic and stuffing three packs in her bag.
“I’ve moved on,” Quinn says without lifting her head. “I’ve moved on and I don’t need to go back there again.”
“Got it, bro,” Juno says with a smile, placing the box under her bed.
Later on, maybe sometime in October, but she can’t be too sure, she gathers enough courage to finish the letter.
Beth is doing great, and got through the flu like the trooper she is. She misses you so much, and loves the new recordings you sent, she sleeps with them sometimes. I think she misses your voice. Last weekend, Rachel came down from New York with DVDs of Spring Awakening. We watched them and you should’ve seen Beth dancing her butt off to it. Rachel’s gotten so much better ever since she’s moved to the Big Apple, Quinn, you’d be so proud of her.
Beth and I have booked the Christmas break for you, so we’re really excited to see you! Don’t you worry too much about bringing presents, we understand that you’re a struggling university student now. Mostly I think Beth just wants to see you and I think it’ll be great for you two to spend more time together.
Best of luck with school, and you know my number if you need anything at all.
P.S. Rachel will also be coming home around Christmas, but she’ll be spending New Year with her fathers. I hope this doesn’t change your plans in any way. Please come home, the holidays are a time for family.
She closes the letter slowly and puts it back into the envelope. It doesn’t change her plans. Of course it doesn’t change her plans. Because for God’s sake, they’re not fifteen years old.
As it turns out, it’s not only the tic tacs. Juno eats these cheese puffs. They look disgusting. But she’s miraculously got a never-ending supply of them, along with these fake cheese crackers that taste nothing like cheese. And these small clementines, she just gobbles them down so quickly Quinn starts worrying about overdosing on vitamin C. In fact she says it to her once, too.
“Do you have to eat so many?” she asks with a tinge of annoyance in her voice when Juno brings out another Clementine from her sling bag.
Juno ignores the question and waves it at her casually. “You know if you wanted one, you could just ask. I’m...I share my food, it’s not like your cooties’ll turn me blonde or something.”
Quinn forces a laugh. “Clever. No, I’m just concerned about my roommate overdosing on vitamin C.” She turns back to her book. “What an explanation that’ll need.” She acts out a scene with an imaginary detective: “Well to be honest officer; it was nice to have something in her mouth so she’d stop babbling for five seconds.”
Juno stretches out on her bed and reaches over to her duffel bag to retrieve something inside with a grimace. “Well you could always plead the fifth and ask him, ‘Orange you glad I didn’t actually kill her, though?’” It’s
probably the exhaustion settling in and Quinn chuckles a genuine chuckle, something Juno notices immediately, if only for the lack of hearing Quinn’s laughter at all. She points a hesitant finger at the blonde. “Did you just laugh?”
Quinn’s frowning immediately. “No.”
“You totally just laughed, man.”
“No I didn’t.”
“It’s okay, it’s a nice one.”
Quinn hesitates, only to shake her head one more last time. “Shut up.”
They go grocery shopping one afternoon, for some much needed supplies, and awkwardly walk in together, standing side by side and grabbing random things. Juno hulks a cart around, and Quinn vouches for a small basket. They walk in casual silence, Quinn not really minding it, Juno clicking her tongue every now and then. She spots some cashews on the left and grabs at it to break the silence, turning to Quinn; “So are you allergic to anything?”
“Just your sense of humour.”
“Oh, that’s a good one.”
“You walked into it.”
“I’m going to walk over to the meat section.”
Quinn shakes her head disapprovingly. “Meat is expensive.”
Juno shrugs. “What can I say; I’m predominantly carnivorous in my natural habitat. Catch you later alligator.”
Quinn waves shyly to her as Juno leans down on her cart and wheels herself over to the frozen meat section. She heads over to the breakfast aisle, looking for some more cereal, when she spots a familiar head. Maybe not a head, but a familiar hair colour. All the way at the other end of the aisle; a young brunette, looking carefully at the boxes. And suddenly Quinn’s feeling the air just rush out of her head, and cool, crisp gust of hesitation. And she arches her head over to see her. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t possibly be.
“Keep it close,” she said, as she brought the gold chain around Quinn’s head and dropped the locket down to rest against the valley of her breasts. A kiss. “Keep me close.”
The brunette’s placing the box of apple crisps cereal back on the shelf and walking out of the aisle. And maybe Quinn was holding something, maybe it was leaning on her, but she’s running after the brunette in a second, and she hears something clatter behind her. But it doesn’t matter, because she’s all the way on one end of the aisle, and the brunette’s so far, and turning the corner and walking left. And Quinn can’t yell, she can’t scream, all she can do is follow. Desperately.
“Keep me close,” she placed her fingers on the locket and pressed against it, letting Quinn feel the cool metal against her skin. “Keep me close I’ll always be with you.”
She rounds the corner and the woman’s gone. Possibly in another aisle? She walks over to Aisle 7; no. Aisle 8; no. Aisle 9; no. Maybe she went the other way. Quinn spins back around quickly, passing aisle 9, then 8, then 7, then 6 again, to 5, and 4. No, it was definitely a left. She spins back around and rushes past 4, then, 5, then, 6, then, 7, then wham. She smacks into a familiar brunette with a cheeky smile.
“Yes we could run. Or we could realize that most inanimate items in supermarkets aren’t usually at flight risk.”
Quinn’s pushing Juno aside before she realizes she’s doing it, running to aisle 8, then 9, then 10. Still nothing. Maybe she wasn’t here. She pauses, feeling her mind just flipping pages of selective memories back. No she was here. She was there, just there, in the aisle. She was there, she saw her, she was sure of it.
Juno’s stepping all over her personal space, her hand on her shoulders, concerned eyes searching for hers. “You okay, man?”
Quinn breathes surprisingly steadily for how she’s certain how flushed and antsy she must look. “I’m fine.”
Juno takes a moment to look her up and down, from shaking fingers to knobbly knees and panting, she arches a bit of her eyebrow. “Okay,” she says slowly, “It’s cool that you think you’re fine. But I gotta tell you, you’re about one wheeze away from going all ‘Where’s my baby have you seen my baby’ on me, and it’s not a good look.”
Quinn laughs. And maybe she wants to. Or maybe it’s something to do at a time like this. But she laughs, and it really does make something – she doesn’t know what – go away. Something off her shoulders. “I’m sorry.”
Juno smiles a cocky one, taking Quinn’s basket out of her hand. “Stop apologizing, you’re always making me feel bad for noticing there’s something up.”
Quinn successfully ignores that jab for the rest of the day. She never sees the brunette again,
not that she’s looking for her. Not even when they make these shopping trips a weekly activity with each of them promising to cook two to three times a week for the other.
“Maybe this is what rooming with people is about,” Juno says when they’re having spaghetti after a long Friday.
“What’s that?” Quinn asks, slurping some pasta and splashing some tomato sauce on her cheek.
Juno laughs and wipes it with a napkin they stole from the cafeteria. “Free food. Free company.”
“Um excuse me, you paid for this tomato sauce.”
“Well I meant the cooking.”
“You’ll make a great housewife someday, Quinn.”
Juno squeals when Quinn flicks her meatball at her, all over her blue t-shirt with the orange dinosaur. “Dude,” she says, getting up immediately, though with a smile, “Not cool.”
“Oh relax,” Quinn rolls her eyes, “It comes off if we soak it in soapwater and vinegar for fifteen minutes.”
Juno smiles again. “You’ll make a great housewife someday, Quinn.”