Character(s): Matt Rutherford/Quinn Fabray
Spoilers: up to 1x13 "Sectionals"
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
He works at the grocery store three days a week. Nothing fancy. Just stocking shelves and sometimes bagging groceries but mostly, just stocking shelves. It’s mind-numbingly boring but he’s okay with that because it’s just a high school job and it’s a way to earn a little extra money outside of what his parents give him. It could be a lot worse.
Mike comes by sometimes and stands there as he stocks canned vegetables or boxes of cereal, reading articles from Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated and Puck comes in, trying to get bags of free candy or worse, beer, and even though Puck is one of his closest friends, he kind of wants to punch him whenever he comes in, looking to take something. But Puck’s had enough fists flying at him lately – courtesy of Finn – so he refrains.
One night, it does get a lot more interesting than usual when he goes into the breakfast aisle and there stands Quinn Fabray in front of the shelves of peanut butter and jams, silent tears rolling down her cheeks. She wears gray sweatpants and a white tee-shirt underneath a jean jacket and her blonde hair is pulled back into a sloppy ponytail. She doesn’t look coifed and perfectly put together and he is staring at her for that reason and not because she is standing in a grocery store at eight o’clock at night, crying.
He goes to her without thinking and still without thinking, he says her name. “Quinn.” She turns her head, tilting it up to look at him, sniffling, doing nothing to conceal the tears he have seen, before looking back at the shelves in front of her. “I’m Matt…”
“I know who you are,” she says, giving him a look from the corner of her eye that made him instantly feel like a moron. He has seen plenty of people be on the receiving end of that look and it’s almost amazing how quickly she can cut a person down with just a flash of her eyes.
He nods slightly, shoves his hands in his pockets and turns to leave.
“I’m craving peanut butter,” she blurts out, stopping him in his tracks. He looks at her from over his shoulder before slowly turning back towards her. “I have baby books and I read that I would get cravings and all I really want is peanut butter.” More tears begin rolling down her cheeks. “But… how do I know which one to get? There’s too many choices. How do I know that the one I pick will be the right one? What if I choose the wrong one?”
“Uh…” Matt stumbles. He reaches out and picks up a jar of Skippy Extra Creamy. “This is my favorite.”
Quinn looks at him again and then at the jar. Her hand reaches out to take it but then something stops her and then, as if deciding against it for some reason, her hand hangs limply at her side.
“I have to go,” she then suddenly tells him and without another word, she turns and hurries away, leaving him standing there, the jar of forgotten peanut butter in his hand.
The next afternoon, when he comes into the choir room where the rest of the Glee club is waiting for practice to start, he walks with purpose straight up to Quinn, who is sitting next to Kurt. She looks up at him curiously but he isn’t to be intimidated and he holds out the jar of Skippy extra creamy peanut butter.
“You forgot this last night,” he says and then turns to go sit down in the empty seat between Mike and Santana.
He doesn’t miss Kurt’s slight smile or Finn’s confused frown or Puck’s narrowed eyes.
He does, however, miss the faint smile pulling at one corner of her mouth, hidden behind strands of blonde as she looks down at the jar in her hands.
The next morning before the first bell rings, he stands at his locker, searching the mess in front of him for his algebra book, when she is suddenly standing there in a bright yellow dress. Her face is cool and confident as it always is and even at six months pregnant, she is standing with an elegant poise that most girls didn’t have.
“I didn’t get a chance to thank you yesterday,” she says. “For the peanut butter,” she then adds as if he has no idea what she’s talking about.
“I read that cravings are natural and you shouldn’t ignore them,” he shrugs and then returns to his search for the elusive textbook.
She remains standing there though and he feels her eyes on him. “You… read? Why?”
He looks at her again. “Just curious.”
She remains standing there. “Thank you,” she says again. “And I'm sorry about... the hormones. I never asked… how is your ear?” And she surprises him by reaching up and touching it, stunning him, and for a moment, he has no idea what she’s talking about.
He remembers though and he smirks. “Oh… yeah, that was embarrassing.”
She laughs then, dropping her hand. “We all cringed a little when Santana told us,” she admitted. “But hey. You didn’t have to sing a ballad with Rachel.”
“I’m just sorry I missed her and Mr. Schue performing,” he says and she is smiling still.
“One word. Uncomfortable,” she says and it’s his turn to laugh. He can just imagine.
“I read somewhere that on average, in a year, a person has eight spiders crawl into their mouths while they’re sleeping.”
Quinn’s face scrunches up in disgust. “Oh, god. Why would you say something like that?”
He grins. “Well, I’d choose to rather have a spider in my ear than in my mouth.”
“Why do we have to choose?” She asks. She visibly shakes as if trying to rid herself of the mental image and then looks at him. “You read a lot. I never… I didn’t know that.”
Matt shrugs. “You don’t really know me.” Her smile falls and he feels the need to quickly add, “But I don’t really know you either.”
She stares up at him for a moment before nodding slightly. She then reaches out and plucks his algebra book from the top shelf from where its hidden underneath his basketball jersey. She smiles, handing it to him, and he has forgotten that they share that class. He grins, taking it, shoving it in his book bag.
“Thanks,” he says, slamming the locker shut and she nods again. “Want to walk together?”
She seems surprised at that and something flashes across her eyes – doubt, maybe. He can’t be sure. He isn’t school on the looks of Quinn Fabray. Yet. “You want to walk with me?” She asks, disbelief in her tone.
“We’re going to the same place,” he shrugs.
She hesitates, as if she’s waiting for something to happen or someone to say something about him walking with the shunned pregnant girl, before she takes a deep breath and turning so they’re facing the same direction, they begin walking down the hall together. And glancing over at her, he sees, this time, the small smile gracing her lips.
He notices her in the cafeteria as he slowly moves through the line, getting his lunch, only listening with one ear as Mike complains about how Mr. Schuester, once again, ignored his request for different dance moves other than the lame, overly-simple choreographed ones that bore him.
She stands at the entrance, looking around, almost as if she is too afraid to enter which is ridiculous because she’s Quinn Fabray and she’s not afraid of anything. But she stands there, not making a move to sit down at one of the tables. He watches as no one pays any attention to her. Puck is flirting with a couple of Cheerios at their usual table on the other side of the cafeteria. Finn walks past her as if he can’t even see her. And her old cheerleading friends, Santana and Brittany, definitely don’t notice her.
She looks like she’s about to turn and leave the cafeteria entirely but before she can, he shouts out, “Quinn!” and she instantly looks at him, eyes wide, surprise on her face. He beckons her to come and she hesitates once again.
But then straightening her back and pushing her shoulders back, she strides towards him with confidence that he is more used to seeing from her.
“Want to sit with me and Mike?” He asks as he pays the lunch lady.
She looks at him and then at Mike, who’s behind him, and then at him again. “I don’t think they would want to sit with me,” she says.
Matt frowns, not knowing who they are but Mike speaks up, getting it before he does.
“We’re sitting with them,” he replies, pointing to the table with Artie, Tina, Kurt and Mercedes. “We sit with them everyday.”
She looks at Matt, surprised, but doesn’t say anything and follows them to the table, everyone greeting one another and Matt watches as she slowly sits down in the empty chair next to Mercedes. He smiles when she reaches into her lunch bag and pulls out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Alright, Rachel. Here you go,” Mr. Schuester says as he hands out new sheet music and she is beaming, gushing about her new solo, and Matt can hear Mercedes and Kurt, sitting in front of him, whispering furiously back and forth between them – pissed off yet again to be passed over – and they voice that this is one of their favorite musicals ever.
“What a surprise,” Mike mutters from next to him, slouching down in his seat with disappointment. “A slow Broadway tune. I can just see the dance moves now.”
He doesn’t respond. No one seems that happy about this except Rachel. He looks over at Quinn, who is sitting in a chair a bit separated from everyone else and there is a spiral notebook open in her lap. She is hunched over it slightly, her elbow bent on her knee, her cheek resting in her hand, and her other hand is making quick movements of her pen on the paper as if she is drawing.
He is curious but doesn’t get up to sit next to her. He didn’t know though that she could draw. Then again, he doesn’t know that much about her.
When they arrive on stage in the auditorium to start practicing, Mr. Schuester tells them that he wants to switch things up and in his opinion, that means switching dance partners.
He usually dances with Brittany but she’s teamed with Kurt now and when Mr. Schuester places Quinn in front of Matt, she almost seems embarrassed by this turn of events.
“There are a couple of lifts,” she says, finally looking at him. “I’m sorry you got stuck with me.”
He frowns at that, once again, not understanding what she means but before he can ask, Mr. Schuester cues the piano and they all start singing about the song – something about seasons of love. He doesn’t know what it is. He doesn’t know most of these songs. Quinn doesn’t seem to either and that makes him feel a little bit better.
There is a pep rally in the gym and as he stands with the rest of the basketball team, he looks at the sea of red and white, finding her easily – especially since she’s wearing blue. She is sitting with Rachel, which surprises the hell out of him, and he watches as Rachel cups her hands around Quinn’s ear and says something to her, something that makes Quinn nod in agreement.
“You like her,” Mike says from next to him and it is a statement rather than a comment.
“Do I?” He asks, still looking at her in the stands.
Mike looks at him. “It’s okay that you do.”
“Thanks for your permission,” he can’t help but smirk and then laugh as Mike pushes him with his elbow. “I don’t know if I like her. It’s… complicated.”
“Why? Because she got pregnant with one of our best friend’s babies while dating one of our other best friends?” Mike grinned. “What’s complicated about that?”
Matt opens his mouth to respond – even though what can possibly be said in response to that? – but the cheers grow deafening as the Cheerios come out and begin their routine. Santana throws him a smile and he smiles back out of habit.
His parents divorced when he was younger so he lives with his mom and stepdad and two younger brothers. He visits his dad every other weekend and he asks him about football and basketball and the questions about colleges are starting to come up, too. He gets asked about girls and his dad wonders if he’s using that “good ol’ Rutherford charm” and though Matt isn’t a virgin and hasn’t been since he was a freshman – he’s convinced Santana sees to every guy on the football team, except Kurt obviously – he’s never really been the kind to have a steady girlfriend.
“You’re sixteen. Why do you want a girlfriend?” His father wonders.
“There’s a girl…” Matt says before he can stop himself. “She’s off limits though.”
“Why?” His father now frowns. “No woman is off limits to a Rutherford.”
Matt sighs. He doesn’t know why he talks to his dad about stuff like this. He’s divorced and single. He isn’t exactly an expert on relationships. Or women.
There’s something about her. She’s quiet now and she keeps to herself and it’s almost as if she is apologizing for taking up space. Not at all the Quinn Fabray he has known since elementary school and he wonders if it’s the scandal that has changed her or just being pregnant. He’ll watch her touch her stomach, growing with each day, with a gentle smile across her face and he’ll watch the way she’ll sketch in her notebook during algebra instead of paying attention to the day’s lesson.
She eats lunch with them every day now without pause. Mercedes offers to sew her some new, hot dresses and she smiles, nodding, and when Mercedes actually brings a few into practice the next week, Quinn bursts into tears and throws her arms around the girl in a tight hug. She reads fashion magazines with Kurt – who she’s now living with (Matt would love to see Mr. Hummel interact with a pregnant sixteen-year-old girl) – and when he decides to decorate his room and brings swatches to practice, Quinn offers her opinion, looking quite pleased with herself when Kurt agrees. She and Rachel are even getting along and if he hadn’t been watching her all of the time now, he never would have believed it.
This new Quinn, this is the version that’s interesting to him, and he wonders why it is that he notices her so much more now than he ever has before.
He pauses in the door of the music room, sees her laughing at something Kurt is saying as they sit next to each other, and taking a deep breath, he crosses the room and sits down in the empty chair on the other side of her. He misses the glare Puck sends him and the look of confusion on Finn’s face because there are empty chairs all over the room and Kurt’s not at all surprised and knowing smile.
He doesn’t miss however when Quinn turns in her seat towards him, a bright smile on her face and Kurt’s black fedora sitting on top of her head, slanted to one side, almost hiding one of her eyes.
“What do you think?” She asks, striking a pose with a hand on the back of her head and her lips over-dramatically puckered.
He smirks, nodding. “Looks good,” he answers honestly and she keeps smiling at him.
He decides he needs to make her smile more. She has a really nice smile and ever since Baby-Gate broke out, she definitely doesn’t show it enough.
He isn’t surprised when Puck corners him after practice.
“You need to back off, Matt,” he warns.
“Why?” Matt shrugs. “The baby’s yours. Quinn isn’t.”
“Exactly. The baby’s mine,” Puck glares now, his fingers curling into a fist.
“Then I don’t see what the problem is since I want Quinn,” he says without thinking.
He isn’t surprised when Puck punches him.
Rachel is pacing back and forth as he sits there, holding a can of ice cold Coke from the pop machine that Mike had gotten to his bruised eye, and he is only catching every few words she is saying. Something about Noah and fighting and togetherness and how the punching within the Glee Club needs to stop.
Quinn is sitting next to him, tears in her eyes and he looks at her with his one good one.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispers as if she has any control over the situation whatsoever.
Before he can respond though, Rachel furiously declares that there is nothing for Quinn to be sorry about before she launches into another tirade. He gives Quinn a small smile, one she doesn’t return, but she reaches out and covers his hand with hers.
He gives it a squeeze and she squeezes back.
After Kurt and Mercedes both threaten to quit, Mr. Schuester gives everyone a shot at performing the duet “Light My Candle” from RENT and they are teamed up with their dance partners.
He and Quinn practice after school in a deserted hallway and when they are trying to come up with dance moves, she sighs with frustration when her large stomach bumps against him for what feels like the hundredth time.
“Maybe I should just stand here and you can dance around me,” she suggests.
“Or…” he grabs her hand and spins her around in a series of circles.
His footwork is a bit more fancy but she’s moving with him and that’s what’s important and when they come to a stop, she is dizzy and almost falls into him, her hands going to his chest for balance and his hands hold her hips. She is smiling, breathless from laughing, and he smiles down at her, their eyes meeting.
“You can kiss me if you want,” she whispers then.
“I want to take you out before I kiss you. You know. Do it right,” he says and she laughs.
“Do it right,” she repeats and she looks down at her pregnant stomach before back up at him. “I almost forgot what that is.”
The next day, they perform their duet. They aren’t the best but neither of them care. Once they’re done and she finishes their routine in his arms, their eyes locked, he doesn’t miss anything this time. Everyone is staring at them, including Mr. Schuester, and there is a mix of glares and smiles and Finn is still looking confused about it all.