Chapter 8: Trust
Quinn knew something was amiss the moment that could-be-cute-but-wasn't, gassy-infant face came up next to her at her locker. She would have been just a little weirded out by it, but ever since the day Santana had spent an entire block period snorting behind her hand over it and Quinn had paid enough attention to it to discover that the expression was the result of Finn's guilt over dropping her iPod in the toilet and not telling her, she couldn't see that look without her shackles raising unconsciously and suspicion latching onto her thoughts.
She shoved her distrust down with effort and hoped that it might drown in the flood of things her boyfriend could possibly be feeling guilty about. But no, wait, that wasn't right. No, she hoped it would drown in the ocean… lake… maybe pond of things that were really great about him.
Quinn really didn't want to be that kind of clingy, jealous girlfriend who would always assume the worst from her boyfriend. She really, really wanted to be that kind of girlfriend that put a smile on her significant other's face, the kind of girlfriend that anyone would be proud to have on their arm. And she was trying. She was only fifteen; the only things she knew about romance were what she learned from those classic movies and books.
She took her time at her locker; she carefully went through all of the homework assignments she'd been given to complete that weekend in her head, and picked out the necessary books and materials. She slipped the items into her bag smoothly and plucked her letterman jacket off its hook, draping it over her arm, before she finally closed her locker door with a quiet slam and turned to face her mountain of a boyfriend.
She managed to send a small smile in his direction, and he returned it, only with ten times the enthusiasm. He clearly seemed to be under the impression that because she hadn't begun the conversation by tearing his head off of his body, she hadn't sensed his initial uneasiness and apprehension.
He leaned one shoulder against the locker next to hers. "Hey, Quinn."
"Hey, boyfriend." She wondered momentarily if he was aware of the fact that one of the muscles just under his eye twitched when she addressed him as the role he played in her life rather than by his name.
"I missed you this week, I feel like I haven't seen you at all."
"You just saw me in glee yesterday," she pointed out.
"Oh yeah. Well, I mean besides that."
"Coach Sylvester has had us working day and night on this new Cheerios routine…"
"Oh. Yeah, cool, gotcha." He bobbed his head a couple of times. "So listen, do you maybe want to come over for dinner tonight?" He rubbed the back of his neck. "Friday's Italian night. My mom's making homemade ravioli and everything."
"That sounds great, Finn. You know I love Carol's cooking." When Quinn and Finn had first started dating, Carol Hudson had insisted that Quinn come over so that they could meet properly. She'd cooked an entire three-course meal, and by the end Quinn had felt as though she had eaten enough to feed a small African village and regretted nothing. The woman was, simply put, a genius with food. It was no wonder all of the football team dinners were held at the Hudson household. She ate there every chance she got. "But I can't tonight."
As his face fell, she felt the tiniest bit of her own guilt ebb at her consciousness. "How come?"
"Brittany and Santana are coming to my house for a sleepover. Plus, I kind of just want to hang out at home and relax tonight, you know? This is the first day off the Cheerios have had since pre-season. I'm in the mood for a girls' night in."
"Oh. Okay. I guess I understand. Why do you guys have the day off today?"
"Ms. Sylvester cancelled practice because she had an operation earlier."
"Really? Is she okay?" He looked more intrigued than concerned.
Quinn scoffed. "Oh, she's fine. She just had her tear ducts removed."
Finn's face scrunched in confusion. "Why would she do that?"
Quinn shrugged. "She wasn't using them."
"The gassy infant look?!" Santana's laughter exploded out of her so hard it had her doubled over and clutching her stomach. "That is seriously the funniest thing in the world. Oh my god, I can't stop seeing it in my head now! Dear fucking jesus, I'm dying."
Quinn's instinct told her to frown at her friend's language, but the smirk snuck in before her brow had a chance to furrow.
Santana's chortles started to die down into light giggles as she wiped a tear from her eye until Brittany flashed an alarmingly accurate imitation of the gassy infant face and she fell into another fit of hysterical laughter.
Quinn tried to put a chastising tone in her voice, but she failed rather miserably when her words trembled over insubordinate, escaped chuckles. "Guys, come on. It's not that funny."
"Oh please, Q. It is totally hilarious and you know it."
Brittany chimed in, "I know it."
The three girls were sprawled out comfortably in Quinn's bedroom, munching absentmindedly on the large bowl of unbuttered popcorn her mom had made for them. The shorter of the blondes sat up with crossed legs at the head of the bead with her back against a giant pile of pillows, of which she used only two when she slept, a stuffed giraffe shifting in her hands. Santana, upon her entrance into the room, had flung herself down on her back at the foot of the bed; she lay practically spread-eagle, entirely complacent on her best friend's familiar furniture. Brittany took up a spot next to the bed, where she was seated backwards on Quinn's desk chair; her hands rested on the back of the chair, and her chin rested on top of her hands. The bowl of snackfood was placed within comfortable reach of the three of them, and Quinn felt sure that if she were looking in on them from outside the window at that moment, that they would look as if they were in the middle of a scene from one of those awful teenage girl movies where the "BFF"s gossip and form their evil plot that would inexorably be thwarted by the geeky girl who was the hero of the whole story.
She was just about to reach forward for another handful of popcorn - it was delicious, she could definitely tell it was homemade - when a vibrating in her pocket distracted her. She pulled out her phone and glanced at the screen: 1 new message.
It was from her boyfriend.
Finn: Hey boo. Hows the slmbr parT?
Boo? What? That was new. Finn never used pet names or terms of endearment. He'd tried to call her 'babe' once, and it just came out awkwardly. He didn't try again after that. Something was going on. Brittany muttered something about her not being very scary.
"Aw, what's up, your hubby miss you already?" Santana mocked as she crawled her way up the bed to peak at the phone.
"As a matter of fact…" she trailed off. She pulled the cellular device out of her friend's reach and tapped out a response.
Quinn: Since when do you call me boo? And it's good.
The dark haired girl pouted when she couldn't pry the phone away from the blonde. "Why won't you let me see? Are you guys sexting or something?"
Brittany smirked, but Quinn was confused. She sat up a little straighter. "Sexting?"
Santana looked at her a bit incredulously. "Seriously, Q? Sexy texting." She paused before she added, "You're like, actually from the 50's, aren't you?"
Quinn was spared from having to respond when her phone buzzed again.
Finn: Oh, idk. Thats good. Dinners no fun w/o u here.
Quinn: Yeah. Well I'm sure Kurt's keeping the fam entertained while I'm gone.
Finn: no hes the movies w/ Tina + Mercedes.
Quinn: Oh… At least you get Carol's cooking. We're probably just going to order pizza.
He didn't answer right away, so Quinn rejoined the happenings of her own room. She shuffled to the end of the bed on her knees and elbows and laid on her back so that she was watching her friends' discussion upside down. Apparently the topic of conversation was whether or not Puck was the hottest person at school. While the mohawk did give him serious bad boy points, Quinn decided that she was definitely with the 'no's on this one. She didn't know exactly why, though, so she kept her opinion to herself and just listened without really hearing.
Her phone vibrating again where it sat on her abdomen brought her out of her stupor. Finn's latest text left her a little uneasy.
Finn: … i need 2 tel u sumthin.
She was tempted to reply with a sharp and succinct "what did you do this time," but decided against it. As big of a moron as he was sometimes, he was still her boyfriend, and as such deserved the benefit of the doubt. He was still the guy she was supposed to trust and be there for. She could try to be that for him. She could play the supportive girlfriend.
Quinn: You can tell me anything. You know that.
Again, his response didn't come immediately. Quinn turned her attention back to her friends, who were by then bickering lightheartedly over MTV shows. She tuned back out as quickly as she'd tuned in.
She instead wondered what it was that Finn needed to tell her and stared at her phone as if it would just come out and tell her. It was probably a confession as to the cause of the gassy infant look. What did he do this time? It was probably something stupid. Maybe he stole a pair of her panties the last time he was over; she wouldn't put it past him. Maybe he tapped the glass and scared one of her goldfish to death. That seemed like something he would do.
She was snapped out of her speculation session by the vibrations of her cell. She hesitated before she opened the new message. She suddenly wasn't sure she wanted to know.
The declaration she was met with shocked her more than any admission of guilt could have.
Finn: i luv u.
Granted, it wasn't at all eloquent, or even grammatically correct, but the sight of those words had Quinn struggling to catch her breath.
She squeezed her eyes shut. It wasn't real. He couldn't actually be doing this to her now, like this. She lifted one eyelid to peek at the glowing screen, and the words still glared back at her. No. No! This wasn't how things were done!
Quinn suddenly felt as though something had been stolen from her. She had been waiting her whole life for those three words. It was supposed to be something special. It was supposed to be romantic and give her butterflies and make her feel safe and warm her from the inside out. It was supposed to be said quietly with soft lips and be accompanied by a shy but honest smile. It was supposed to be real. It was supposed to mean something.
But no. Finn had given her her first "I love you" in the form of a lame text message.
She didn't know how to react. She knew Finn would be expecting her to be overcome with happiness and the urge to run into his arms and reciprocate the sentiment, but that overjoyed feeling didn't come. She felt more like a tiny piece of her heart had been chipped off and ground into sand.
It dawned on her that Finn was probably expecting a text response. She hit the 'reply' button, but… she just couldn't. She just could not write the words back to him. Love was something that was truly sacred to her. It wasn't right to do it that way.
She went back to Finn's text. It would have been easier if she'd just never received the message. The she realized.
She could always just pretend that she'd never gotten it. The idea grew on her with every passing second. When Finn would ask why she stopped texting him back, she could simply say that he was the one who'd stopped replying, and then they'd both realize that Quinn hadn't gotten the text. Brilliant.
Just before she rolled over on to her stomach to ask if Brittany and Santana if they wanted to put in a movie, she sucked in a deep breath and pressed 'delete'.
Quinn was a little startled when the doorbell rang the next day. Brittany and Santana had left a few hours previous, and Judy had set off early that morning for a weekend retreat. Russell opted to spend his Saturday at the office, as he always did, so she was home alone. Quinn wasn't expecting anyone, and she was rather looking forward to having the house to herself for the day. Waking up to the sight of her two best friends – who were both girls – tangled all up in each other in their sleep, both of their pairs of pajama shorts riding low and Brittany's arm flung haphazardly across Santana's middle, had left Quinn with an uncomfortable twisting in her gut that she couldn't shake. She had hoped that spending the afternoon doing nothing but eating clementines and playing Sims on the computer might take her mind off it.
She paused the game just as her character's mac and cheese caught fire. The sim looked like she was in the middle of some kind of weird tribal dance.
She got to her feet and jogged to the front door as the bell was rung a second and third time. She called out, "I'm coming!" as she shrugged on a light sweater over her bare shoulders. She was still in just a tank top and sweatpants. She flipped her hair out of the clutches of aforementioned sweater and yanked the door open. "Finn?"
Out on the porch, her boyfriend grinned in what was clearly an attempt at charm and raised a hand in greeting. "Hey. Uh, can I come in? Your mom's not home, is she?" Quinn shook her head and stepped aside to let him pass. She closed the door quietly in his wake before she turned to look at him expectantly. He shoved his hands deep in his pockets. "So, I just came by 'cause I wanted to make sure we're okay, since you never replied to my text last night."
Quinn gulped almost audibly. She hoped he didn't notice. "What text?"
Finn's eyebrows dropped and crinkled. "You, you know. That one… that I sent. Last night."
Quinn wiped her damp palms off as she pretended to smooth out the front of her shirt before she planted them on her hips in faux confidence. "As I recall it, you were the one who stopped texting me last night."
Finn's mouth opened a little bit. He wanted to argue. He knew he sent that text. But Quinn was giving him that scary look that told him he didn't stand a chance in a fight with her. He closed his mouth before any angry sounds could escape. "Maybe your phone just didn't get it."
She dropped her hands back down by her sides and conceded. "Maybe."
His shoulders slumped in relief. "So we're good?"
Quinn closed her eyes and breathed in a long, drawn-out breath through her nose as she nodded.
"Cool." An awkward silence crept over them as they stood, still practically in the doorway. "So, since I'm here… you wanna make out?" Finn's eyes lit up hopefully.
She looked up at him with an indistinguishable something in her eyes. When she directly confronted her heart about it, no, she didn't want to. He never knew what to do with those giant, meaty hands, and she knew they'd only have to stop every two minutes so he could think of that time he ran over the mailman when his mom was teaching him how to drive to cool himself down. Not to mention the total lack of any heat on her end. Kissing Finn gave her none of the fireworks people always talked about. It was just another pair of lips on her lips. It didn't feel special or… anything. It just was.
Then she asked her brain and got an entirely different answer. Finn was her boyfriend. Making out was something that came with the territory in a relationship. If she didn't make out with him, he would go off and find another girl who would. She couldn't let that happen. Finn was her fast-pass at school. He was like a status symbol. If she didn't have him, a studly football player boyfriend, her popularity was almost left to chance. Besides, maybe the kissing was like cheese: it might've stunk, but perhaps it'd get better with time.
They walked into the sitting room and padded across the soft carpet to one of the loveseats. Quinn leaned over to the stereo and turned on some quiet music to set the atmosphere.
She scooted closer to Finn and put her hands on the back of his neck. Their knees touched and as she started to lean in, she silently prayed that he had at least brushed his teeth recently.
As their lips were about to meet, Finn pulled away sharply and stood up from the sofa, backing into the coffee table in the process. He eyes closed. "I-I'm sorry. I can't. I can't do this."
Quinn's confusion mounted. "What? Why?"
His eyes were still screwed shut. "I need to get something off my chest."
Quinn's heart started to beat faster in her chest. "Okay. You can tell me." Oh dear lord. He was going to tell her what the text said, wasn't he? He was going to say he loved her, and she wasn't going to be able to react. She was going to freeze up, and everything was going to fall apart because she couldn't say it back.
"I kissed Rachel."
Oh. Well. Wait, what? "Excuse me?" He did not just say what she thought he just said. She sunk a little deeper into the cushions of the loveseat.
"I, uh, I kissed Rachel. Last week."
"Excuse me?" Exasperation would have dripped from her voice had it not paled in comparison to the shock and hurt.
"Look, can you not make me say it anymore? It's making me feel really bad."
"Oh, you feel bad." That was it. She finally stood, shaking her head. She had dealt with a lot of shit from Finn. She listened to him whine about football plays and lost games. She tried to be enthusiastic when he tried to teach her how to play video games. She'd fumed in silence when he chose to stay in with Burt and watch the game on TV rather than take her out on Valentine's Day.
But this, this was the last straw. He actually cheated on her.
"Please, can we, can we talk about this?"
No. She didn't care what having him as a boyfriend meant for her reputation. She still had the Cheerios to fall back on. This was too much. She couldn't deal with it. There was no way she could trust him after this. It wasn't worth it.
"I-I want to break up." She looked into his eyes and willed her tears to wait until she got him out the door. She walked back in the direction of the foyer. "You should leave now." She held the door open and kept her eyes on the doorknob, which she grasped tightly for support. Her knuckles were white.
Eventually, his overly large form shuffled past her. He paused on the threshold. His voice was hardly above a whisper, but she still heard him clear as day. "I'm sorry."
She shut the door behind him without a word, and the sound echoed through the empty house. Her sobs were quiet; they could barely be heard over the music that continued to sound in the sitting room.