She heard Mercedes ask her for a soda.
They had stocked up on cheap containers of strawberry ice cream and a six-pack of cola before heading in the car, driving, laughing, until there was finally a suitable place with just enough sun in the afternoon, and water pleasantly cool to the touch. Mercedes brought an umbrella and a stack of brightly-colored towels as well, and Quinn managed to dig up a tote bag full of scented lotion and sunscreen to accompany her small insulated cooler. It had been messy, and spontaneous, and falling on just this side of irresponsible, but the girls' impromptu expedition was ultimately a non-issue.
So Quinn complied, adjusting her over-sized sunglasses as she passed the drink to her friend, accepted her thanks, and settled back down in order to feel the slight breeze alleviate some of the stagnant summer heat. It was nice, on several levels; with all of the melodrama and rush and bustle of the previous school year, Quinn had hardly had any time to relax and try to be happy. All the more reason to put in effort when she got to try with Mercedes.
The top of the can snapped and a subsequent fizzling was heard, and Mercedes lifted her own pair of glasses upwards as she smiled at Quinn, who had turned at the noise. They shared a look for a brief period of time, and Mercedes grinned wider before cutting off the eye contact. Quinn yet again shifted in her spot on the vibrant green towel, and went back to her thoughts while still trying to cling on to the warm feeling that Mercedes' companionship brought her.
Still, it was of no avail. She turned, wisps of hair coming loose, and began talking to her friend about next school year, about glee club and perhaps not about the people in it, about plans for the future, when they would be older and would need to cling to more stable things. Quinn managed to say this, all of it, in between the lines, and she's sure that Mercedes understood her.
Actually, Quinn was sure that Mercedes understood so much more about Quinn than either of them ever bothered to consider. Or maybe just didn't recognize.
They had talked for a while, and depleted some more of the soda, no longer all that cool and dripping with condensation, and the ice cream, which was sickly sweet and a gooey mess altogether. They moved from their towels and the shade into the water as well, dodging rocks and twigs and other more obtrusive features of nature while still splashing each other, and acting falsely indignant while doing so.
Quinn couldn't even remember the last time she had been able to unwind like this, have so much fun and be so carefree for a day, an afternoon, she thought as her and Mercedes got out of the lake for what was probably the last time that afternoon. Early evening, more like it. So the pair dried off, and laughed some more and lied back down, side-by-side, basking in the last vibrant rays of sunlight.
Eventually, slowly, the laughter lulled down, and the smiles tapered off somewhat; Quinn was finally able to clear her head completely and enjoy the warmth that surrounded her: not only of the sun, but of the love and acceptance that absolutely radiated, and most things do, from Mercedes.
So when it was finally noticeably silent, and they leaned even closer together, sharing quiet breathes and quick heartbeats, and Mercedes leaned just that much closer and brought their lips together, well. She had always been the one that understood more anyway, but Quinn was delighted to realize that she understood and could relate just as well on her own.
And maybe, more than anything else, that was all that mattered.