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Fic: Learning new steps, for zippadedoodah
happy_bubbl wrote in glee_rare_pairs

Title: Learning new steps
Characters: Mike/Quinn, brief mention of Brittany
Rating: PG-13
Length: 4.5k
Summary: Ten years after high school Mike suddenly meets Quinn again, this time he doesn't want to let her slip away so easily.
A/N: I tweaked the prompt a little, hope it's okay like this

When he finally closes the lid of his laptop it's already half past five, half an hour later than he expected to finish, but somebody has to do the office work and he doesn't want to leave everything to Jared, even though he's a nice guy and diligent for a college student working part-time, Mike prefers to do as much as he can himself. He doesn't get to dance just as much as he would like anymore, but, he thinks it's a small price to pay for having been able to pursue his dream. He teaches as many morning classes as he can, trains college students during lunch but most of his afternoons are spent in his office, working out schedules, calculating the sometimes tight budget and booking in some gigs here and there for his employes and himself.

Not everybody he knew from dance school can look back on touring with half a dozen big name stars and owning their own studio at the age of twenty-nine.

Brittany doesn't have her own studio, he reflects, as the photo from their solo of 'Valerie' from all those years ago catches his eyes from the place right next to his office door as he's slipping out. But then again it's Brittany and she's not made for settling down, she told him so herself when he offered to make them co-owners of the studio, she prefers traveling in various dance troupes no matter how much or little they pay and when she comes back she's too busy rolling around in bed with Santana to do much of anything else.

Sometimes he envies her a little, no matter how happy he is with the way life turned out so far, he misses the stage and the love Britt has and today he's in this mood, so he doesn't go to the studio at the end of the hallway that's always empty this time of the day, but into the hall with the little stage across the backyard. Formerly a garage, Mike bought it when the previous owner retired without a successor and it may not be as large as the stages he used to tour or even McKinley's old auditorium but standing up there gives him the same feeling as any spotlight ever; excitement. He shrugs off his shirt, slips out of his shoes and turns on the music. As soon as the beat fills the space his brain shuts off and for a glorious half hour he lets his body take over.

When he's back in the main building, on of the children's classes Meredith teaches has just finished. She reminds him a little of Brittany, not physically, but in her quirky ways and her talent at handling children. Mike likes teaching children classes too, if only to be happy those kids don't have to in secret what he did until he was sixteen, but his revery is broken when his eyes land on one of the boys streaming out of the studio, or rather the woman he runs to, who hugs him fiercely.

“Hey there. How was it today?” she asks the boy and even after so many years Mike knows only one person with such a smokey voice, like velvet, incredibly soft yet just the tiniest bit scratchy in a husky way that he could never get completely out of his mind.

The years have been good to her, her blonde hair is longer again, a loose ponytail over her shoulder and she ditched the dresses for pants and blouses and to Mike she looks as beautiful as ever.

She hasn't seen him, when she releases the boy from her arms and Mike, being over the initially surprise of seeing her so suddenly, here in his studio, wonders why she's coming to get this kid. He can't be much younger than Beth and somehow Mike doubts Quinn was eager to repeat the experience of being pregnant as soon as she started college plus the name Fabray would have surely caught his eye upon enrolling. He's curious and takes a few steps before they can turn to leave.

“Quinn Fabray?” he asks, even though he's never been more sure of anything. For the first time she looks at him, her hazel eyes as piercing as he remembers them, but brighter. They're shining now and he's inexplicably happy to see that. Even more so when recognition shines through.

“Mike? Is that really you? Don't tell me you're the Chang that owns this place.”

“The one and only.” He smiles and Quinn lets go of the little boy's hand and moves in to hug him, as if they haven't seen each other since high school.

“Don't, please. I just trained and I'm all sweaty and gross right now,” he says, remembering before she can reach him and her arms fall to her sides again with a soft “Oh.”

“So what are you doing here in Washington of all places? I haven't seen you in forever.” Mike asks, part curiosity and part preventing this situation from turning awkward, successfully so, when Quinn laughs again and reaches for the boy's hand who been waiting and quietly watching them. “Officially I'm on vacation, but actually I'm looking after Jason so my sister and her husband can have a second honeymoon.”

Mike's pleased to hear he was right in deducing the boy, Jason he corrects himself now that he knows his name, is not Quinn's child, but it still looks sweet to him, the way she roughs up his hair amicably. Before Mike can ask anything else, like how Quinn's been, what she's doing now, Jason pipes up “Can you talk later? I'm hungry.”

“I'm sorry,” Quinn apologizes immediately, from what Mike knows of her upbringing she would have never been allowed to butt into a conversation between adults like that and it has left its mark on her, but he just waves it aside. After an hour with Meredith he's be hungry too. Actually, his stomach does feel a bit hollow.

“It's okay Quinn, you guys go home and eat. I should go home, eat and shower myself.” Even though he would like to talk to her some more.

Quinn either reads his mind, or she is simply thinking the same when she says. “Would you like to eat pizza with us tomorrow, we haven't been able to catch up.”

Mike nods, smiling. “Yeah, I'd like that. Do you have a favorite place or should I show you my standard Italian restaurant?”

Quinn looks to Jason, asking for his opinion and when the boy only shrugs and shuffles his feet antsily, she says “we try your suggestion Mike, I don't really now my way around here.”

“Great, so meet me here at half past six.”

Quinn nods and let herself be pulled towards the exit by Jason, waving over her shoulder. “Bye Mike,” she throws back and Jason follows with a “Bye Mr. Chang.”

Mike waves back, still surprised how after all those years Quinn Fabray has magically reappeared in his life.

At half past six Mike waits at the entrance of the building but nobody is there to meet him. Five minutes go by and he's still alone, wishing he has asked Quinn's number when he had the chance. After ten minutes the thought that she might have blown him off creeps up on him, but he shakes it off because this is not high school anymore, Quinn has no games to play and he's a successful man not a teenaged boy anymore. He checked his watch again to see it was twelve past half past when a red SUV pulled up with considerable speed, Quinn waving behind the wheel at him. He slides into the backseat and Quinn starts to apologize profusely for being late because they were caught behind a truck that got stuck in an underpass, but he just waves it off. Twelve minutes are nothing, especially now that she's here and he just gives her directions to the restaurant and asks Jordan what his favorite pizza is.

Once seated Mike asks Quinn, and Jordan how their day was and while Quinn just shrugs and says “Nothing special,” Jordan talks animatedly about how they made a battery out of potatoes in science class today. However once their food has arrived and Jordan's done wolfing it down, Mike is surprised how much and fast this skinny boy can eat, he pulls out his Nintendo and shuts himself out of the conversation. Quinn still has a quarter of her pizza left on her plate, Mike has two slices left.

“Want to trade?” he asks, holding up one of his slices for Quinn to scrutinize. She agrees, letting one slice of hers slip onto his plate and takes a gingerly bite of the piece he just handed her.

“Tell me about your life here,” she asks him between two bites. “I never would have thought to run into you in Washington of all places, not after you went to San Francisco after high school.”

“I didn't think I'd end up here either,” Mike laughs, relating the story of how he came here. He tells her about the time in dance school he twisted his ankle so badly he had to stop dancing for three weeks and how it almost drove him mad. Quinn smiles sympathetic and nods, she can understand how not being able to move much is a sure way to end up insane. He tells her about the tours he was booked to go on with no small amount of pride tinging his voice and when he lists up Rihanna, Quinn interjects to ask which tour.

“I went to a concert in New York,” she says, prompting Mike to raises his eyebrows.

“You were at a Rihanna concert?” He can't really imagine her there, because Quinn is many things, classical, extraordinary in her tastes but Rihanna doesn't fit with her, neither then nor now.
She rolls her eyes. “I know what you're thinking Mike, but I got dragged there and she wasn't that bad, even if I did prefer her songs when Rachel or Santana sang them.. So I saw you and I didn't even know it. What a shame.”

She sounds genuinely sorry and Mike is too. They could have met up for drinks afterwards and talked like this a lot sooner if they had known but it's no use dwelling on it so he just continues the tale, how he became older, the building was up for sale and the chance just to good to pass up.

In high school Mike was never much of a talkative person, but sitting here with Quinn it's easy. She's a good listener and the words just flow from his mouth, while they both smile. When he says something funny she even laughs and her laugh is the most beautiful thing ever. He doubts that she could have laughed so free in high school, although part of him wishes he had tried to find out.

They have coffee and tiramisu for dessert and Jordan manages a large bowl of ice cream by the time Mike gets around to ask Quinn how her life went.

When she starts to tell him that she's working as a conservator for old books it comes as a surprise to him, it doesn't fit with the image of the head cheerleader or the girl who went to Yale and wanted to try drama. Once again he realizes just how long he hasn't seen her and he can't help but ask. “What happened to your dream of becoming an actress? Tina told me you were great in your first production during freshman year.”

A little hue of red sneaks on her cheeks but she is quick to brush it aside. “It was a minor role, nothing to difficult and once I was in the drama program I found that it doesn't suit me all that much,” she takes a sip of her coffee, her voice turning wistful as she continues. “At that point I had acted for half of my life, so of course I was good but it didn't give me much joy. So yeah, I love books more than the stage. Not everybody is a Rachel Berry.”

That Mike can relate to and for a second he presses her arm. It's the same reasons why he runs the studio now instead of touring all the time, sure it's also a safer job, but he likes that he can give children what he was denied in his youth.

It becomes a habit, that after Jason has a class, all three of them would go eat, either in a restaurant or at Mike's place because Quinn says she felt weird about inviting people into her sister's house. On the weekend Mike offers to show Quinn around Washington, he takes her and Jason to the museum, to the park or they just wander the streets and buy ice cream and hotdogs.

“What do you think buddy, does she look gorgeous?” Mike asks Jason when Quinn tries on a large straw hat one time during their strolls through he city and Jason nods with all the seriousness a ten year old is capable of. “Totally.” Mike high-fives him and Quinn laughs. “Stop it you two!”
But she still buys the hat.

It's their third week and they're in Mike's apartment this evening when the wake-up call comes. Tonight Mike wants to attempt making roast duck, fashioned after his mother's old recipe and it's been years since he did it the last time, but so far it seems to come along fine.
Jason has been eager to help but Quinn immediately snatches the knife from his hands when he wants to help cutting the vegetables, so Mike, to put her at ease has him stirring the sauce. He figures Jason can't harm himself to much there, the worst thing to happen is the sauce getting scorched. So Mike has prepared the bird is now cutting the vegetables himself while Quinn sets the table. By now she knows where he keeps the plates, the cutlery and everything and whenever she returns to the kitchen he feeds her a slice of whatever he's cutting up at the moment. He has just held a slice of carrot to Quinn's lips when Jason asks “Can we cook something for Mom and Dad when they come back this weekend?”
Quinn chews quickly, swallows and walks over to Jason, ruffling his hair. “Sure we can, just tell me what you want so we can get the groceries.”
Mike quickly avoids his eyes, fixing them intently on the knife and the carrot in his hands and hopes Quinn hasn't noticed how his face fell. It's stupid how easily he fooled himself, or rather, if he's honest, how he ignored it. Quinn has told him, why she's here and he knew, in the back of his mind she would leave when her sister got back but when she has spent time with him and seemed to enjoy it as much as him, the lingering question on how long she would be in Washington got always pushed back.

Now that Mike has his answer without having asked the question, he puts the duck in the oven, trying his best to act normally during dinner. He should make the evening count if it's likely to be the last one.
Jason stuffs himself and soon starts to doze off after they've finished. Quinn offers to help him with the dishes, but he brushes her off. If he has to let her go, he should get used to the feeling of not having Quinn around anymore sooner rather than later. “You should bring Jason home, he's knocked out cold today.” Still he can't quite quell all his hopes all of the sudden, he has to ask. “How long are you going to be here in Washington when your sister comes back?”

“My flight to Philadelphia is on Monday in the morning. Just enough time for Frannie and Paul to tell me all about their vacation and make me insanely jealous.” she replies accompanying the sentence with an eye roll and Mike laughs. He wants to say something, something nice, something that doesn't sound like goodbye, something like 'let's not wait another ten years to see each other, let's have dinner and a movie every now and then' but Quinn beats him to it.

“We'll keep in touch.” she says and the way she looks straight into his eyes makes him believe her.

“Get home safely.” He hugs her for the briefest moment, then waves goodbye to a half-asleep Jason. From the window of his living room he watches them leave until the SUV Quinn drives is around the corner and out of sight. Only then he lets the smile slip of his features.

He calls Brittany that night. From the speed with which she answers the phone Santana is not in that night. For a moment he thinks about asking discretely but this is Brittany and pretty much one of his closest friends so he just comes right out with the truth.

“Hey, this is weird but I have to ask you before I go and make a fool out of myself.”

Britt giggles. “Fools are funny,” she interjects.

“Not this time Britt. Do you know if Quinn has a boyfriend?”

He waits when only silence comes over the line in return. “Brittany?” “Yeah, wait a minute I'm thinking really hard if she ever mentioned one. Quinn seldom talks about that stuff.”

“So that's a 'No',” he asks, already breathing a little easier.

“Yeah, that's a 'No'. Why do you ask?”

“Because she's here, in Washington and I'd like to ask her out on a date if she's single.” It's the first time he's ever said it out loud, that he would like to date Quinn Fabray, has wanted to since he was a shy sixteen year old boy who didn't dare steal the quarterback’s girlfriend. Brittany squeals so loud at his admittance that he has to hold the receiver away from his ear.

“You guys would be so cute together!” she gushes. “Oh that's going to be so great! We could get the whole crew together and do a big number like they did on that date in “Enchanted” when they danced all through Central Park, we just need to find a suitable replacement for Central Park in Washington, or you could take Quinn out to New York and I could get Rachel to work up a plan and do a presentation!”

Mike has to laugh, Brittany's enthusiasm is hilarious, just as the prospect of him and their friends singing and dancing around Quinn in a park is, he doubts that she would appreciate it. Plus, he's shared her with Jordan all the time, this one evening he wants Quinn for himself.

She will still leave, she has a whole life outside of Washington and she may say no but he's not sixteen anymore and he's not afraid anymore of not being good enough for her, all he fears is loosing her again. If Quinn will not want to date him, it will hurt, but it will be fine, he will take being her friend over not seeing her again for ten years anytime.

After Mike has told himself those words all night he's pep-talked himself just enough to believe it for the moment and dialed the number he had acquired in the mean time.
“Hi Quinn,” he says once she picks up. It's not the most eloquent start but he has to get this going somehow. Quinn sounds surprised to hear his voice.

“Mike? I didn't expect you to call. Is anything wrong?”

“No, everything is fine.” he halts and there's only static on the line.

“So what's up then?” Quinn asks when he fails to continue right away.

“I wanted to know if you'd like to go out to dinner, just you and me this time when your sister is back in town?” Mike waits, breath held until Quinn responds.

“I'd like that. Sunday okay with you?”

Mike nods, until he remembers Quinn can't see it over the phone. “Yeah, Sundays is great. I'll pick you up at eight.”

Sunday evening Quinn awaits him on the front lawn of her sister's house when he pulls up at eight sharp. She's wearing a beautiful sea-green summer dress, like the ones she favored in high school, only a little more low cut and Mike is glad he put on a shirt and a vest and his ever trusty black hat.

“You look beautiful,” he tells her, as soon as she slips into the passenger seat and Quinn blushes a little and then gives him a blatant one over. “You dressed up quite nicely yourself.”
It's exactly the right boast for his ego and the answer comes easily to him. “Just for you.”

Mike briefly considered taking her to the Italian restaurant where they went their first evening with Jason, but he decided against it. Instead he drives them to a little bar downtown. It's been a while since he came here last but the food was good Mike remembers and the place has live music. The evening feels like a music kind of evening.

Neither of them mentions it's a date they are having right now, not when Mike pulls out Quinn's chair for her or when she asks him to decide what wine they will have even though he's sure Quinn knows a lot more about wine and alcoholic beverages in general than he does. Conversation is not really different from their evenings before, they hop from topic to topic and once again he's surprised how easy Quinn is to talk to. For a moment he wishes he had been braver sooner and she'd been this happy earlier in her life, but then he pulls himself back into the moment, intent to savor this night in each second and reaches out a hand, tentatively, across the table to touch the tips of Quinn's fingers with his own. She doesn't pull back, only turns her hand around so her palm is turned up and lightly tangles their fingers. Quinn's smile is dazzling and he already feels a great sense of accomplishment.

“So now that we're alone, tell me true: How good is Jason's dancing? Do I have to whip in shape Sue-Sylvester-style?” Quinn asks when they've finished eating.
Mike laughs, so loud the couple from the next table over turns to them, because this was in no way how he expected the sentence to finish, but Quinn's eyes are twinkling when she asks and he is more than willing to play along. “Oh, I don't know, he's prone to slacking off during the last quarter Meredith tells me.” Mike tries his best at keeping a straight face but when Quinn giggles he gives up and laughs along. “But no, he's doing fine. Jason's got talent and he's having fun, that's the most important thing.”

“Sue would have never said something like that,” Quinn muses, “because 'you don't win a National Championship with fun'. I wonder if we would have won all those title even if the training had been a little less military and a bit more having fun.”

“You didn't hate it, did you?” Mike asks.
Quinn shakes her head. “No, sometimes I was fed up with all her craziness, but I liked cheering well enough. I sometimes miss the dancing and the routines. Kept me in shape without hauling my ass to a fitness studio three times a week,” she adds with a wry chuckle.
Following his impulse, Mike rises from his chair, offering Quinn his hand. “Then dance with me, right now.”
For a second Quinn stares at his outstretched hand disbelieving, but one glance at his serious face shows her that he isn't joking and she places her hand gingerly into his. Mike leads her over to the small clear space in front of the band, places his right hand on Quinn's back and starts to guide her into a slow, gentle waltz.

“There are no other people dancing,” she whispers to him, eyes shooting around to check their surroundings. Mike shrugs “So? We have the spotlight to ourselves. Nothing to be afraid of.”

She pulls away a little, a faint hue of terror on her features “Mike, it's been years since I last did any kind of dance. I'm going to embarrass both of us horribly.”
But he just shakes his had, pulling her closer again and leads her through the steps of a whisk. “Just follow my lead. See, you're doing great Quinn.”

“But...” she looks up to him, her eyes fixed on his own, still filled with the doubt and insecurities she held their at age sixteen and Mike wants nothing more than to erase them. Before he can stop himself or over-think it, he leans down to kiss her. It's chaste, a simple, gently pressing of lips but he can feel some of the strain leaving Quinn and when he pulls back and whispers “No buts Quinn, you are great,” her smile is back.
He leads her through a few more turns until the song draws to a close feeling so happy he could burst into a Fred Astaire number right there. Quinn looks up at him as if to see what he will do now and Mike decides he'll take his chances and kisses her again. This time Quinn kisses back and Mike smiles into the kiss, because this? This is more than he has dared to hope for tonight. He pulls Quinn closer and she doesn't resist, snuggling into his chest where he's sure she can hear how fast is heart is beating right now and when the music starts again, he just sways on his spot with Quinn in his arms, happier than he has felt even on the largest stage.
As long as the music plays he doesn't have to think about the end of this night, doesn't have to think about bringing Quinn home just for her to hop on a plane tomorrow morning.

When Quinn hums soft words against his chest he doesn't catch them, only feels her breath hot through the cloth of his shirt, so she has to pull back a little and repeat them.
“Will you come and visit me in Philadelphia?” she asks as if she has just awakened and remembered her flight in the morning.

“Of course. Whenever you want me to.” he replies and leans down to kiss her again. Just because now he can.

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(Deleted comment)
Glad you like it. ^^
It was fun writing it

This is utterly adorable. Really lovely wotk


thank god the cities are quite close ;;; <3
omg i loved this! thank you so much for sharing! :D

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