The train had just taken off from the station; all of New Directions lined up to wave their goodbyes to Rachel as the train pulled out. Finn chased it down as best he could; a romantic (albeit cheesy) gesture. Artie couldn’t help but smile at the sight though. For a long time, he wasn’t sure about Rachel and Finn— their entire relationship had seemed like a mess. However, here Finn was, letting her go to live her dream without him, and Artie admired it. He understood what it felt like to let something go. Maybe his circumstances had been for different reasons, but still. He never held a grudge over all the heartbreaks— the cruel nicknames and whispers. He always showed that his heart was gold and tried his best to help others, regardless of their differences.
The group had begun to dissipate now that Rachel was on her way to New York. Mike and Tina lingered; fingers threaded together as they began discussions with Sam and Mercedes - about what, he didn’t know. Apparently something humerus, considering how much the group was laughing; Sam was probably doing another impression. Pinkies linked, Santana and Brittany headed back out to their car— he’d overheard talk of Brittany begging to go see the pandas at the zoo for the day, so he assumed that’s where they were headed. Kurt and Blaine were comforting Finn and already mourning the loss of their shining starlet. The rest, he wasn’t sure where they had taken off to, but that left only two: he and Quinn.
Artie wasn’t complaining.
“Are you excited about Yale?” he asked, breaking the strange but not uncomfortable silence between them. Quinn had always been his favorite, despite their differences; Artie felt they actually had more similarities than one might imagine. And she was flawless. At least, in his eyes.
“I’m so excited Artie. I’ll finally be out of Lima— away from the drama and everything this place has done to me,” she answered, hazel eyes burning brightly with eagerness. Expressive blue stared up at her, listening intently and glowing with pride. As much as he was going to miss Quinn— miss sitting next to her in glee and hearing her soft, husky singing voice melt his heart… he was happy for her. Proud that she had managed to muddle through all the cap she’d been dealt, and finally on her way to better things.
“I admire you, Quinn,” he said softly, flashing one of his boyishly charming smiles - not faltering in the least. “You’ve been through so much and look at you now. I just… I’m proud of you, Q.” Artie glanced down for a moment, adjusting his glasses and internally scolding himself not to shed a tear. Instead, she did - golden eyes glistening as she watched the boy whom been through just as much as she had, pouring admiration for her. A delicate smile lit up her features, and Quinn gingerly stopped a tear from cascading down her cheek.
“That means so much, coming from you, Artie. You see, I think of you as the strongest person I know. Hearing you say that about me, makes me feel like I did something right.” Quinn’s words had Artie’s heart fluttering; for a moment, he felt like he meant so much more to the blonde than ever thought imaginable. Then, he remembered he’d actually brought a small token— a graduation gift for her. Maybe they hadn’t grown close until the end of the school year neared, but they were… close - that is; which is all that mattered.
“Thanks, Quinn,” he murmured, fingers fishing in the pocket of khakis for a small box. Upon finding it, Artie gently tugged her hand forward, placing it in her palm. Raising an eyebrow, the blonde proceeded to pry it open, beaming as she saw its contents. Inside lay a charm bracelet with a sole charm— a crown. “I just… I heard what you did for Rachel. And Quinn… I know you didn’t always go about things right, but you know that too, and you fixed them. You deserve a crown; you are a queen. So… take this with you to Yale and remember me? Consider it a— a parting gift.” Artie was smiling again, his eyes widening as Quinn leaned in closer to him.
“This is the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me,” she whispered, leaning in to ghost supple lips over Artie’s now blushing cheek, lingering. As Quinn pulled back, her smile softened, eyes locking with his for a moment. “I’m sorry, my gift for you is at home— I was hoping to bring it by sometime before I leave,” she explained, a look of worry crossing her features.
“Quinn. That right there, was the best gift I could receive,” Artie replied on a wry smirk, index finger lifting to point at his cheek - now covered in a light sheen of pink gloss.
Jokingly, but with a small ounce of hope shining through just within his chuckle, Artie offered: “Wait for me at Yale?”
This time Quinn was the one blushing; her head shook playfully as she grinned, a hand taking Artie’s and giving it a light squeeze. “You know it, Abrams. I’ll see you next year.”