Chapter 1: part one/two
The end. Again.
This is the third time she’s flipped through the folder. It gets more tiring with every time. Nothing is popping out at her. No magical words. No perfect sports scholarship jumping out at her, beckoning her to apply.
It’s getting depressing. Like, curl up on the couch with ice cream and sad movies depressing. She’s been there already.
Quinn groans as she gets to the end page again.
She really doesn’t want to be here. She’s not just talking about this worn out chair she’s sitting on or the office room she has to stay in to keep looking at the folder either. While a jittery woman behind a counter watches her with wide eyes. She’s also been holding onto a duster for about a half hour and Quinn is slightly scared that she’s going to be sprayed with some sort of disinfectant if she doesn’t leave within the next ten minutes.
Whatever. She showered this morning.
Not wanting to be here didn’t just refer to the physical but the psychological state she’s been in ever since she was abruptly jolted from her excitement of getting into UCLA. Which happened a few days after she’d read and revealed to everyone she was getting out of the crappy Ohio deathtrap to L.A of all places. It was everything she ever wanted to hear, pre-packaged with a resounding ‘YES’, stuck onto papers with a UCLA headline. And for a few days it was just a mess of smiles and proud family and friends telling her she’ll do something good with her life.
Then the fee letters came through and reality slapped her on the shoulder and told her to keep looking over it.
Quinn flips to the front of the folder again. Her parents got divorced. Simple as that. She’s one out of millions. Welcome to statistic town. She doesn’t really care much about him, her dad that is, as all respect she once had for her father was lost when his affair went public. But losing him also meant losing a second income. Which hadn’t been so inconvenient a year ago when all they had to do was cut back on some shopping to manage. But for college, Quinn misses her dad’s money.
Adding up all of the tuition and house fees sees everything is covered. As long as there’s no eating or anything involved in her first academic year, she’ll be set.
But she needs to eat.
“You’ll find something.” Her mom had taken the news better than she had. Still pinning Quinn’s acceptance letter to the fridge and suggesting things like part time jobs. “You always do.” The letter on the fridge mocked her.
She’s had jobs before. Small Saturday jobs in stores, babysitting her best friends siblings and volunteering at her church. But the idea of working at college, between all of the inevitable loads that will pile up with her degree (why she ever thought opting for English with Spanish linguistics minor is beyond her, she’s always been an overachiever), just doesn’t appeal to her now.
Hence the scholarship.
The first page is for the women’s softball.
Just no. Quinn turns the page. That’s too stereotypical. High school managed to get that through to her. Along with the various girls that stopped changing in front of her when she came out in junior year. McKinley High School sucked. Being gay in McKinley High school? Sucked even worse. There’s a pile of permanently stained white shirts somewhere in a landfill because of people throwing ice slushies at her to remind her that her school sucked. Or that they thought she sucked, which no she didn’t, because even after coming out she remained captain of her cheer squad and as default one of the most popular girls in school.
Hence UCLA. Back to the folder options.
Soccer. Golf. No. Cross-country?
She’s ready to give up when she can’t find even a cheerleading scholarship. Seriously? That would be perfect. Even if she had to lie through her teeth about her sexuality. Cheer is something she can do. Cheer is somewhat part of her natural being - thanks to her insane ex-high school cheer coach. Cheer would be-
“Hey Miss P, hows the boyfriend?” A voice purrs. “Or the husband, I lost track.”
Cheer is swiftly forgotten about in favour of focusing on the voice breaking the stifling silence in the office she’s in. The sight she’s met with makes her forget her troubles for a tad.
She must be only a little taller than herself but Quinn immediately notices the first girl’s legs. They’re long and only obscured from her view by shorts and bobby socks. Which is why she doesn’t get around to looking at the girl who actually spoke until after she tears herself away from that sight.
The two-shot appears, sliding pieces of paper across the table to the skittish woman that’s been eyeing Quinn since she arrived. A tall, ‘the leggy’, blonde and a shorter, darker and more dangerously seductive looking girl.
Quinn tears one of the pages of the scholarship book upon realizing that she is staring. The counter woman looks like she’s about to cry and for a second, because of the noise, the girl’s see her. It’s enough to make her flush when they do and avert her gaze back to the book. It’s not enough for her to stop eavesdropping.
“Coach sent us down, do you think you could maybe put these at the top of the pile?” The girl sweet talks.
“Santana you know I ca-”
“Please Miss P? You know Coach will ride our asses-” There’s a pause and Quinn looks up. It’s a trap because the shorter girl winks at her when she catches her listening in. Shit. “-if we don’t get the paperwork filled out.”
Subtly. Quinn needs a scholarship in subtly.
“I’ll see what I can do Santana.” There’s no doubt that their forms are going on the top of the pile with a tone like that which implies that ‘Santana’ has this woman wrapped around her fingers.
Then they’re gone. Well not entirely. The duo take a step back and watch Miss P pinch their forms between a finger and a thumb, reinforcing Quinn’s theory that she’s deathly afraid of germs or paper, to place inside a marked folder. Not before Quinn sees the word ‘scholarship’ attached to the top of it.
These girls look like cheerleaders. They have the body type. Not that she’s looking. Quinn is just perceptive and appreciative of people who look like they can run a fair amount of miles in the morning and perhaps land a back-flip.
From the way Santana smirks back at the counter lady before pushing her blond friend towards the exit, Quinn can see she has the attitude for it as well.
And that would have ended their interaction. With them walking out and Quinn never seeing them again, only to end up signing up for cross-country as a scholarship and hating it immensely.
But it doesn’t.
She’s carefully not watching them leave but trying to hide how she’s ripped the paper in the scholarship folder when it’s snatched out of her hands by the blonde. Quinn is vaguely reminded of kindergarten in how she feels the urge to take the folder right back. But she has manners now. And she’s taller.
It doesn’t leave her for long. Even though staring at the blonde’s smile and playful eyes seem to prolong the time the folder spends out of her hands.
“Pages got stuck together.” The blond offers with a head tilt. Quinn can only manage to not openly gape at this girl.
She must have good eyesight.
“Britt.” Santana appears from the doorway. She’s leaning against it to both address ‘Britt’ and to subtly assess Quinn sitting in the chair.
Quinn suddenly becomes all too aware of the fact she’s wearing the only pair of skinny jeans she owns, and they have a hole in the knee. And how she could really learn subtly off this girl.
Britt backs away and sing songs to Santana. “Just helping.”
There’s mumbling and then they’re gone for real this time. Leaving Quinn stunned in her seat with a dry throat.
The pages had been stuck together, however the girl managed to see that when Quinn hadn’t in her four turns escapes her, and she looks.
It’s not cheering but there is running involved.
“Excuse me?” Quinn stands and places the folder back where she found it. “Do you have application forms here?”
“Of course!” Miss Pillsbury, as her name tag says, exclaims like she’s offended Quinn would even imply she wouldn’t. Then again the woman is surrounded in pamphlets and note sheets that Quinn couldn’t previously see from her seat. “On request or you could see online...”
“On request.” Quinn states.
Miss Pillsbury nods. “What can I get for you?”
She takes a side look at the door before answering. “Um, lacrosse.”
The woman takes a seat and shuffles the mouse of her computer awake. The UCLA website is set as her homepage. “Friend of Santana? Or Brittany?”
The two. “No actually. First year.”
“Oh so you start in the fall?”
She’s here early, she knows it. She moves in next week after spending the first week of summer in Lima for the last time, she hopes. The plan was to get a job or the alternative a sport scholarship before the fall students started and took all of the openings.
As she said, over-acheiver.
Miss Pillsbury nods like she’s interested up until the point where she’s sliding Quinn her scholarship application form across the counter to her. “Do you need a pen?”
Quinn looks down. There’s a neat row of pens that look polished. Polished. And placed in equal distance from each other.
She opts to take one from her bag. “I’m good.”
Miss Pillsbury smiles. “Just let me know when you’re done and I’ll put it in with the rest.”
Quinn jots down her name. “When are try-outs?” Because this is all useless if she doesn’t actually make the team. And not making it is not an option. She is not joining golf.
Another piece of paper. This time a poster with a list of times and dates for various sports on campus. Lacrosse starts early. As in 3 weeks. “Is there anything else I can do while you’re here?”
Her pen is poised to press down the rest of her details and hopefully secure some financial security for the rest of her year.
Now all she has to do is learn how to actually play this sport.
She moves into her dorm room a week before Lacrosse try-outs. It’s a shared room obviously because she can’t afford a single. Everything is standard. If she walked into any of the other rooms on her corridor they’d all look the same. The same two single beds. Two pine desks. A single shared closet. Two black computer chairs and two desk lamps.
There’s no expense spare to change this, even if she wanted to. The only bonus at the moment is that her roommate isn’t due to move into the dorm until a few days before term starts. Not only will she be able to find her bearings in L.A. without someone judging her every move, she’ll be able to do whatever she wants to and in the room until that moving day.
The only downside being if she ends up rooming with a serial killer. Or someone into rap.
Quinn can’t really guess either of these attributes from the name on their room pledge. They both have to sign this slip of paper which says they’ll forfeit their deposit if the room is trashed at the end of the year. There’s no way that’s happening. She signs. She needs that money back thank-you.
It’s now pinned to their shared cork notice board while it awaits ‘Lauren Zises’ signature.
Her mom is long gone after helping her to move in. It had taken the better part of an afternoon to get all of her boxes to her room with only two sets of hands. Quinn had grimaced and gritted her teeth because the last place she wants to think about her dad is during heavy lifting. She didn’t want to accidentally break things.
It hadn’t been an emotional goodbye. Not because neither of them wanted it to be, but because she hadn’t been one of those kids who’d never spent time away from home for weeks. Summer camps build life experience for those moments.
She’d hugged her mom and said goodbye. That’s when her mom pulled out an envelope addressed to her.
“It’s not from me.” Judy Fabray smiled weakly, like she’s saying she wishes it was from her. “But your grandma didn’t want you thinking they didn’t care.”
It was her mom’s mom, not her dad’s, so Quinn wasn’t in doubt that they cared.
But the $100 in the envelope was an especially good way of showing that they did.
“Tell them thank you if you see them before I can call.” Quinn pushed the money back into the envelope and onto her desk.
It’s still there on her desk with a small note of ‘good luck!’ and ‘do us proud!’ and a suggestion that she go and buy some new clothes. Which she would if not distracted by the pressing situation of securing her college sports scholarship.
First stop: google.
It’s not like she’s never heard of lacrosse before. Mostly in passing and in books written by British authors. Usually the word gave her connotations of boarding schools. Now it just gives her the full body images of Santana and Brittany waiting at the counter. Surprisingly more enticing than boarding school.
The first thing that comes up is wikipedia. It’s a general lacrosse page which has a link to women’s lacrosse.
“Women's lacrosse, sometimes shortened to wlax or lax, is a sport played with twelve players on each team.” Quinn recites from the browser. “Seems simple enough.”
She is going in blind to this sport and for a second she doesn’t even know why. Then the connotation hits again. Damn her libido.
It’s a few minutes before she gets bored of the history lesson and manages to grasp the basic rules. Twelve players. Sixty minute games. Three attackers, five midfielders, three defenders and one goal-keeper. No moving if the referee blows their whistle. Something called cradling. No contact.
Quinn repeats that in her head after watching a few videos on youtube. “Okay, mostly no contact.”
Green card delays the game. Yellow card removes a player for three minutes. Red sends them off and bans them from the next game.
She jumps back to wikipedia to look at the long list of reasons she could be sent off for. Not limited to but including: blocking, charging, pushing, illegal contact, tripping, checking to the head...
“There’s more of a chance of this happening to me...than by me.” She murmurs.
The hundred dollars seems to get closer and closer to her the more she absorbs the information on the screen. At the same time it becomes clearer to her that she’s not going to be spending the money on food or clothes. Which would suck if she didn’t have such an awesome budget planned out already. She’s printed that spreadsheet out and stuck it to the cork board.
She’s got to do this. She has to get on that team to stay in school and make something of herself. And if in the process she completely exceeds her father’s expectations; expectations already half beaten by the fact she’s studying outside Ohio; or maybe manages to meet some friends, then she’s winning.
But first she needs to prepare.
She goes out and buys her own crosse. The guy in the store she bought it from rattled on and on that he doesn’t usually sell many of them before the start of term, but after that there’s a bit of an increase.
Mostly because they break a lot. Which doesn’t fit into the budget.
She forks over $40 dollars for it and resolves to buy her mouth guard and goggles from somewhere else cheaper. Her pocket gets lighter but the weight of the stick in her hands as she leaves the store is more satisfying than she expected it to be.
Sure she’s going to be probably the only eager little shit with her own stick but this will give her a chance to get used to it before turning up to the try-out.
The front of it, the head, is strung with white and black. How the hell she’s going to catch a ball in this she doesn’t know. The rest of the stick is black and gold. She can already tell this will change once her hands start to take abuse from it and she’s forced to give it some make-shift padding.
At the moment it’s just a stick. Something heavy and new and unblemished. And a little bit expensive.
Quinn places it on her bed gently when she gets back to her room. Zises got in touch with her over Facebook after Quinn friend-requested her. She’s moving in just before term, as predicted, and doesn’t look like a serial killer. She doesn’t look like she pets kittens though either.
So all she has now is time.
She pulls a heavy tube from the side of her bed and opens the top of it. Rolling a tennis ball onto her hand she looks at the crosse on her bed. “Let’s practice then.”
She decides to get up every morning at six to go for a run leading up to the trial. It’s not unusual for her. Maybe here, but the early risers of Lima, Ohio had been used to seeing her jogging past their houses as they stepped out to collect their mail or turn on their sprinklers in the morning. It’s familiar and a routine she wants to secure here. Even if her eventual roommate ends up thinking she’s obsessive.
Jogging in Ohio is different to L.A. For one Quinn didn’t come back from her run in Ohio red in the face and looking like she’s about to pass out. She splashes water over her face from the sink in her room. Running in L.A is different. It’s hotter and humid and there were a lot of other people running with her as well. In newer shoes, listening to music and tugging their dogs with them.
They’d distracted her. She’s not out of shape at all. It’s the climate and the other runners, distracting her. She can’t even listen to music while working out since reading that it makes her workout less effective than not listening to music. She can’t imagine even bringing a dog out on a run.
Her side of the room is unpacked and tidy save for her recently toed off sneakers and crosse stick. The run is the warm up.
Cooling her face off with more water finally gets her over the differences between running in two different places. She’s only just starting for the day. Fishing her crosse stick off the bed and grabbing her spare tennis balls she gets ready to head off again.
All part of the routine. All preparation. From getting used to wearing the goggles players are required to wear to tying a bandana around her forehead to keep her hair in it’s pony-tail.
The soccer field is empty. Technically it’s not university property, it’s actually owned by one of the local high schools, and it currently out of use. The grass is cut and it’s open enough for her to work with. Even with the sky being blue and tempting her into just sitting down with a book instead. She’s got a reading list to get through before the end of summer.
This is where the prep starts. Quinn takes her lacrosse stick out of her bag. It feels different in her hands now that she intends to use it than it did carrying it home from the store. Like it could slip from out of her fingers. She figures it’s just the nerves.
Lacrosse, she settles on, is about speed, agility and reflexes. About being able to outrun, out maneuver, and out catch the other team.
In theory it’s simple. Toss the ball, catch the ball, run with the ball in the basket and don’t drop it.
She places the tennis ball inside the head of the crosse and rolls it back and forth to get a feel for it. The movement isn’t enough for it to fall out.
Quinn figures this will turn out like a montage and she’ll pick it up as fast as Harry Potter managed to pick up quidditch.
However life isn’t dictated by theory. In reality Quinn tosses the ball upwards out of her crosse and isn’t able to catch it again. Always tossing it too far or too close. She misses eight out of ten tosses, and the two she manages to catch see her dropping the ball as she attempts to run with it.
Quinn groans and sinks to the ground with frustration. Harry Potter had Oliver Wood if she remembers the movie correctly. Quinn has an empty soccer field and palms that have been rubbed raw. It’s hard to ignore that she’s got to psych herself up to try again until it starts to work. Even more so since she plans on doing some conditioning work for her legs and arms later on.
And this is only day one.
Grunting Quinn grabs the nearest tennis ball and lobs it in the air. It soars high and across the field. She’s always been a good pitcher. She should have joined the damn softball team.
It’s hitting the grass at the bottom of the field when Quinn realizes she can’t afford to buy more tennis balls and that she has to get up to find it.
She just wants her damn movie montage.
It gets a little easier. Her body stops hating her for running so much and Quinn starts to beat out the L.A. runners on some of the popular tracks. She goes hiking in the hills to switch things up as well when she gets sick of doing crunches and squats.
The outdoors are good to her. They push her and the heat only spurs her on. Which is good since she can’t afford a gym membership. She couldn’t afford one in Ohio so there isn’t much change there.
A few people move into the corridor she’s on. They don’t say ‘hi’, not because they’re anti-social but because Quinn is hardly ever there to say ‘hi’ to. She leaves early in the morning for her runs. Only coming back midday to grab a short lunch from the kitchen, which she then eats in her room, before leaving again. Her future roommate is going to love her.
The soccer field is still her main stage. It’s where she comes with her crosse everyday to do what she did on the first day. Running, dodging, catching. It doesn’t get easier. The ball still flies too far for her to reach and it’s hard to get to grips with catching when she’s the one throwing the ball to herself.
She doesn’t know anyone already on the team who’d be willing to help her out apart from the two she’d checked out on application day. And they haven’t appeared on her radar.
It’s not like she hasn’t attracted attention from people. Thankfully not while she’s been flailing around with her stick but she’s seen a few high school aged boys to a double take when she’s been running in the mornings and there’s been a few times she’s shared the soccer field to mixed teams of teens wanting to goof off. Those are the times she’s become uncomfortably aware of how hard it is to do crunches with people watching her.
It’s too hot to do them with a shirt on okay?
The day of the try out gets closer and closer and she gets an email to confirm she’ll be going. It’s been sent to everyone, judging from the extensive mailing list, but Quinn can’t decipher how many of the girls will be trying out and who’s actually already on the team. It makes her nervous but confident at the same time.
She might not be the best one there but she’s sure as hell going to stand out. Being apart of a four time national champion cheer squad has drilled that into her.
Facebook confirms her attendance and as a result she’s suggested to make friends with several of the people also attached to the message. It’s a process she avoids. There’s no need for her to see who these girls are until game day, just in case it rattles her.
The other reason being because she might stumble across those girls from the office and completely embarrass herself on the internet somehow.
Avoiding friend-requests, therefore, is the way she goes.
The night before goes the same as the previous. She gets an early night but packs all of her working out clothes in her bag and leaves her crosse propped against her desk. She’s got blisters fading on her hands from the stick. Plasters are taped over her palms which she’ll replace in the morning before vowing to go out and buy some gloves, at least until her hands can get used to the sport.
The last thing Quinn looks at before she slips into sleep is the try-out poster she’s pinned to her cork notice board.
Quinn turns up at the university’s football field to meet up with her competition. She’s thankful for her shirt and shorts combination in the sunny weather. The try-outs are set for three days. One session on Monday, following on the next day and finishing the Wednesday.
“I expect you to turn up to them all if you want a shot of being on the team.” The coach bellows from the front of the field. She’s tall and broad and some of the girls next to her are shaking. Quinn has been desensitized to sports team intimidation from coaches at this point.
“Shannon Beiste. During practice and office hours that’s Coach Beiste to you.” Coach Beiste takes a clipboard off the girl standing by her side. “This is second year goal keeper Mercedes Jones. Mercedes is running today’s trial.”
Mercedes waves with a smile. The people around her relax like her expression is a hint that they’ll have it easy. If Quinn is reading the rigid way Mercedes stands next to Coach right then this is a false hint.
“Our second and third attackers will oversee tomorrow’s trial and I’ll be back on Wednesday to weed out the flowers in the dirt.” Coach swipes her pan quickly over the top of her clipboard. “Formalities aside first. When I call your name, I want you to get your equipment offa Mercedes and line up at the end of the field.”
Mercedes is the only member of the current lacrosse team present. And out of the sixteen girls there she’s the only one who knows she’ll be on the team at the end of the day.
“Fabray, Quinn!” Coach Beiste calls out. Her name is usually at the top of a lot of lists, alphabetical or not.
Quinn’s goggles hang around her neck and she’s carrying her crosse already. Some of the girls had snorted and snickered in her direction upon seeing it.
Mercedes grins and claps her hands together. “You look ready to go in my opinion.”
“I like to be prepared.” Quinn smiles. Internally smirking as the girls behind her start to cough and shuffle awkwardly.
Coach Beiste nods in approval. “It’s what we like to see Fabray.” She didn’t even glance back down at the clipboard to check if that was the right name.
She’s on track.
Mercedes watches her as she goes to the end of the field to line up. There’s no need for her to listen to the other girl’s get their name called. They won’t matter to her soon as bad as that sounds. Either she makes the team or she doesn’t. They never did specify how many places they had open after all. So that leaves Quinn to assume there isn’t a lot, at most two or three. The least? One.
And she has to be that one.
It’s a slow start as everyone else has to be handed their equipment before they can get going. Quinn fidgets with her crosse in her hands. She’d replaced the band-aids on her hands before coming. The blisters on her hands are healing but by the end of day three they’ll no doubt be back to their painful forms.
A few girls keep shooting her reproachful glares over already having her stick and gaining the attention of the Coach. Quinn glares back and wonders if any of these girls are actually trying out for the same reason she is. For the scholarship. She’s screwed if doesn’t get that or loses it to someone who doesn’t need it.
“Alright ladies.” Coach Beiste doesn’t use a megaphone. Her voice projects enough. “Everyone here listens to Mercedes or else you can high tail outta this field. She has the right to dismiss anyone not cooperating.”
Quinn grips her stick. Coach Beiste relinquishes her clipboard and heads back out of the field. Once her figure has disappeared behind the stands Mercedes turns back to them.
“Well I’ve already been introduced but I’m Mercedes. I play goal keeper for the first team.” There’s a twinge of pride in her voice as she says this. Quinn wonders if she ever sounded like that when running through the introductions for the Cheerios in high school, or if she just sounded bitchy.
“Hopefully most of you will have played before, but if not that’s okay. We’re looking for team players, people who can run and who show potential.” Mercedes smiles. “We’ll teach you the rest.”
This calms her. All of the pent up worry of being out skilled fades to the background. She just has to show potential.
“I wish I could say that I’ll be seeing all of you on the team this year but that’s not going to happen.” Her tone is harder now. The girls who’d mistaken Mercedes for being easy take a step back. “We only have one spot open on the first team, and three for the seconds team.”
Back in the applications office Quinn’s signature is on a scholarship form for lacrosse that confirms that she will receive the sports support if she places on the lacrosse team. On the first lacrosse team.
Mercedes snaps out of her seriousness. “But we’re gonna start out simply enough today.” She steps behind the spray painted sidelines on the field. “I hope you all brought your good sneakers, ‘cos we’re doing some runs.”
Running is something she can do.
Mercedes doesn’t give out tennis balls at first. She orders them to do some warm up laps of the field. Quinn has never been more grateful for being prepared to run in the L.A. heat now and for having a strict high school fitness routine. While she’s warming up a few of the other girls are getting red in the face. She hears someone whisper about how it wasn’t this hot ‘back home in Michigan’ and has to stop herself from laughing.
The laps go on until they’ve circled the football field twice. Mercedes takes them through stretches, citing loudly that “The last thing we need is for any of you girls to shoot yourself in the foot” by straining something. Quinn sits as close to Mercedes as she can while still being able to see. She doesn’t want to be distracted by the people around her while she touches her toes.
It’s a heavy fitness session. They move from stretches to more running. Half of the girls are sent to run up and down the crowd stands while the rest run suicides on the field. Mercedes explains, for those unaccustomed to the type of sprinting, that suicides involve running a ¼ of the field and back, then to the center and back, the ¾ mark and back before a final full field run.
Oh and did she forget to mention she was timing it too?
Luckily Quinn finds herself running suicides first. Her lungs almost cave in by the finishing sprint but swapping with the other group to jog the stands gives her a chance to catch her breath.
“Good warm up girls!”
Half of the girls are gripping their knees. Quinn is wobbling on her feet but she refuses to openly pant and show the effects the running has had. It’s all about the presentation.
They gather their crosse sticks and Mercedes finally brings out the balls. They’re red and heavier than tennis balls. Mercedes tosses one up and back into her hand. For a brief moment Quinn smiles thinking she’s found the Oliver Wood to her Harry Potter.
“I’m gonna need honesty here.” Mercedes warns. “Who hasn’t played before?”
She’s the first to admit it and Mercedes looks a little surprised. A few others tentatively raise their hands until there’s more people here that haven’t played than those who have. The odds fall back into her favour.
“Alright, that’s cool.” Mercedes nods to her and throws her one of the balls. She doesn’t extend her hand to catch it but moves her crosse.
It’s easier to snag the ball in the basket when someone else it pitching it to her.
There’s an approving smile replacing the surprise on Mercedes’ face. “I think you’ll be fine.” It’s directed to everyone but Quinn only hears it for her.
A passing drill. Paired up Quinn finds herself with one of the girls who hadn’t raised her hand when Mercedes had asked who’d played before. She mumbles her name to Quinn before looking down to the ground. It’s not like Quinn is trying to be competitive but until she’s told that she’s in her game face stays on.
Pepper, as she’d told Quinn, isn’t fantastic. The idea is they have to pass the ball to each other while moving. Despite not having a partner to practice with, and with being able to catch the toss from Mercedes, Quinn is confident. She doesn’t drop as many as Pepper and there’s an appreciative whistle when Quinn bags a particularly hard throw from Pepper.
The smudge of dirt she gets over her shin is worth seeing the end of Mercedes’ sneaky thumbs up.
A few drills follow the passing. Basic techniques and a few pointers about rules. Mercedes hints that tomorrow will be harder. “We’ve got our shooters coming in to put you through your paces.”
Michigan girl splutters behind her. “It gets worse?”
Thankfully Mercedes ignores her outburst. “They’ll start prepping you for the positions we have open on both teams and explain a bit more about the rules.”
Quinn winces as she rolls her stick in her hands. One of the band-aids is loose and her skin is reddening again.
“But this is it for today. Do me a favour and stretch out there’ll be no excuses for being sore tomorrow.” Mercedes pauses thoughtfully. “If anything they’ll make fun of you.”
That sounds promising.
Mercedes has to wait around to put the equipment away while everyone goes about their own cool-down. Quinn jogs slowly imagining the shower she’s going to have when she gets back and the bags of frozen veg she’s going to put on her knees for the majority of the night while she starts on her summer reading.
A few of the girls skip out early but Quinn stays up until Mercedes goes to leave. The girl waves in acknowledgement. “Don’t hurt yourself Fabray!”
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Quinn asks. Mercedes shakes her head.
“Wednesday.” She confirms. “Our shooters like it being a closed practice. They think I’ll influence them or something.” She jokes.
“Or something.” Quinn grins.
She’s alone finally when she lets herself lay back on the cool grass. For a second tomorrow seems an age away.
Everything starts out perfectly. This is one thing Quinn has grown to know about her life. Well, for the most part.
She ruled her high school for her freshman and sophomore years, winning national cheer championships and dating. Dating boys. This was the route intended. The perfect start.
Her misstep came in junior year when two things happened. One: she dated her last boyfriend. And two: they were taught for the majority of the year by a loose lipped, laid back bombshell of a teacher who insisted they all call her by her first name.
Holly Holliday was Quinn’s history teacher and her first full blown infatuation.
The trend of perfect starts kept up during that year. She made cheer captain. She got good grades. She had a boyfriend.
She made a mistake.
The inklings of her father’s affair started to come to light. Her mother was drinking a little more then a little more. Quinn kissed her boyfriend in his bedroom one night and instead of enjoying it she opened her eyes and wished she was looking at a different face. A softer face. Longer hair and a lighter voice.
Her perfect start covered her for a few weeks until she sat through sex education with Miss Holliday, gathering courage while her classmates cracked up behind her, until the end of class.
“Quinn!” Holly always sat on her desk, never on her chair. Quinn could never stop staring at the hem of her skirt. “What’s up? Anything confuse you?”
She shook but nodded. “You only covered-” Her lips were dry and there was a hiccup in her throat just waiting to come out. “-um,”
Holly’s usual smile had dimmed and become serious. “Is there something you want me to go over with you?”
Yes. She had to take control of the situation though. “You only covered was sex is like for heterosexual-” Oh God she remembers shaking. There was no end to her question and Holly had found herself standing up to stop Quinn from falling down and sobbing.
The calm had eventually won over and Holly gave her a pass for her next class. There was no contact for a week but after her next lesson Holly asked her to stay behind. She’d been ready to stop and deny that anything had ever happened when Miss Holliday sat down at the desk with her and took out several booklets. The titles all related to sex and safe sex for the lgbtq community.
“I want to thank you for confiding in me about this.” Holly stated.
Quinn looked at her. Again to deny.
But it was deflected. “I know this isn’t you saying anything or confirming anything but what you’re doing, opening your mind about this-” Her hand was warm on Quinn’s shoulder. “You’re very brave Quinn.”
She felt brave. She felt safe listening to Holly go through the information with her and provide her with other resources. She felt brave walking out of that classroom with the pamphlets hidden in her bag.
Her bravery, along with the perfect start, ended when she opened her locker a few days later and a wave of magazines poured out. Cheerios, teens and passersby alike pointed and laughed as Quinn stared mortified at the pictures of naked women on the covers. Pages had been ripped out and stuck to the insides of her lockers.
Out of the corner of her eye Holly had appeared. Looking as devastated as Quinn felt.
She’d come out officially a few days later to her close friends and her boyfriend, who in turn, became her best friend.
But standing in a pile of pornographic magazines while the interior world of her classmates jeered at the inside joke was her unofficial coming out. She picked up every last magazine and pushed them back inside her locker, to the laughter and the cat calls of her so called peers.
It was only when she walked away, in the direction of the cheer squad she was still the captain of, did she start to feel brave again. The girls still cowered as she brushed past them. All wearing nervous smiles as she stopped and smirked.
Holly watched her subtly, as she warned the girls that she expected them all at practice or they’d find themselves off the team.
“Not that it matters.” Quinn pondered. “Because I’m sure Coach Sylvester will be very interested in what the recent receipts for the cheerios budget have to say.”
Those magazines, all thirty six of them, had been expensive. Three girls were kicked off that afternoon and each of them billed the full $215.00 that had been spent on stuffing Quinn’s locker full of Playboys. Quinn liked to think Sue had a soft spot when it came to her.
The perfect start had ended. Quinn didn’t expect college to turn out any differently.
Tuesday’s trial is hotter.
Quinn has been cursing the sudden summer heat since stepping out for her 6 am run. She’s already had to change into her thinnest shirt and leave her bandanna at home. Her badassness has dropped considerably.
And now they’re waiting around. The shooters Mercedes had promised are late, leaving the girls here to try out waiting and burning in the sun.
Pepper, first name Suzy, sees her impatience and offers to practice catching with her again. Quinn agrees if only to get away from Michgan and another girl complaining of the sun who she nicknames Dakota.
Everything is perfect. Her hands are healing well now that she’s used to handling her stick better. Less dropping the ball or the stick, and she’s getting better at passing as well. Pepper fires out some tips to her that she’s not to proud too take. She may just get this.
Her mind is focusing on the back and forth as well as the next step. Getting through these trials. Yesterday was easy. Fitness and basic techniques. The fitness she has down but the technique, not so much.
Pepper throws the ball higher. Quinn adapts.
She has to adapt faster, stronger and with more accuracy than her competition in order to get that one spot on the first team. Whatever position it may be.
“Holy shit, that’s them?” Dakota splutters. Quinn launches the ball back and twitches round. As a team they get the first glimpse of the lacrosse first team shooters.
Well, the team gets the first glimpse.
Quinn gets the slow motion, sun kissed, runway production version. Complete with soundtrack.
When she’d met them in Miss Pillsbury’s office they’d been dressed for colder weather. Jeans and jackets with zips. If she remembers right, Brittany had a tracker hat on.
The summer is in full swing and the difference shows. The grip on her crosse is looser as her eyes somehow try to take in the length of Brittany’s legs and the graceful way she moves. She’s smiling out at all of the girls, oblivious to the way everyone is taking them in right not.
Santana isn’t oblivious. Quinn knows that she sees the stares and flaunts. Dressed in a white shirt with ‘UCLA Bruins’ printed in black impact on her chest that Quinn has to blink to stop looking directly at. It’s tight fitting and she’s tied a knot at the bottom, letting everyone see a strip of her stomach. The shorts elicit the same reaction. They’re not denim but they hug at Santana’s hips like they are. Basically, she’s strutting like she’s hot shit. Which she is. Well, to Quinn.
“I heard she’s a bitch.” Michigan utters to those who can hear. “That she’s only on the team because threatened the coach.”
Dakota scoffs. “Think Regina George, minus the bus.”
“Are you serious?” Pepper fires back. “Do you even follow the high school leagues? They’ve been playing together since-”
Quinn is tuning them out. Santana drops a heavy bag onto the ground and murmurs something to Brittany. It’s a closely given whisper. Brittany links their arms for a second, giggling into Santana’s side, before moving away. Her mouth drops slightly at the blatant way Santana eyes Brittany’s retreating hips.
The sound of her staring manifests in the form of her mind channeling Justin Timberlake’s ‘Senorita’. The shooter trails her eyes over the wanna-be players and her hands coming to rest on her hips. She plucks the sunglasses she’s wearing, aviators, of her eyes and tucks them into the neck of her shirt. Quinn breathes. She is so fucked.
Even more so because Pepper chooses that moment of distraction to pass the ball back to her. She’s not ready, evidenced by the fact she’s still staring at the girl’s legs, and the ball hits the top of her knuckles. Bouncing off them, onto the stick, before Quinn panics into action. Sweeping the head of the crosse just in time to see the ball roll into the basket.
It doesn’t go unnoticed. “Smooth.”
Quinn chances looking up from under her fringe. It’s Brittany, she thinks, who smiles at her last minute save. “Thanks.” She whispers back.
Santana watches Brittany’s back, and as a result, Quinn. Watch isn’t the right word even. Santana lingers on her. From the top of her head, were her goggles rest, to the skin of her neck and down over her arms that hold her crosse. Her stomach, her clothes, the gaze that Quinn is giving back to her. She receives one of interest in return that Quinn only discovers later when she spots Santana looking through the names on Coach Beiste’s list and hovering her pen over Quinn’s last name.
“Girls.” If Santana’s body had been a distraction, Quinn thinks her voice could be even more of one. “Well done for making it to day two.”
She turns to actually take into account the girls around her. They’re two down. Meaning Mercedes actually cut people yesterday. Shit.
“Today is going to be a lot harder than yesterday was.” Santana continues. Somewhere in the background Brittany is setting up cones. “I hope you all remembered to stretch.”
She sports a wicked grin that has some of the girl’s muttering under their breath.
“Before we get to the warm up though we’ll run through some introductions-” Santana grabs the attendance sheet from inside her black sports bag. There’s several crosse stick heads inside, along with balls. “I’m Santana Lopez. I’m a shooter for the UCLA lacrosse firsts team.”
She delivers it. Quinn finds herself straighting her back.
“And she kicks ass.” A playful response follows Santana’s introduction. All eyes turn to the second shooter.
“I’m Brittany S. Pierce, I play shooter too.”
There’s no missing the quick look of affection that passes between the two teammates.
“Now I’m sure all of you thought yesterday was easy enough and that these trials wouldn’t be that hard...” Santana trails on.
“See? Total bi-” Michigan starts to mutter.
Santana snaps. “Sweetheart!” Michigan blushes a bright red at Santana mockingly calling her out with such a term of endearment. “You shut up, or ship out. Your choice.”
Michigan shuts up.
“You’ll be working through skills today. Brittany,” Santana gestures behind her. “Has set up some circuits for you to run.”
It’s a simple set up from what Quinn can see. Running and weaving in and out of cones like they were players before stopping in front of the lacrosse goal, that’s been set up especially today, to take a shot.
“Those who end up with Brittany will be running those attack drills for the first half. Those with me are going to run midfield drills.” Santana instructs. “Coach Beiste isn’t looking for defenders at this time.”
A hint. The first team is either short on a shooter or midfield player.
Brittany glides to Santana’s side and points to several girls in quick succession. Quinn finds herself chosen. “You guys are with me.”
Michigan and Pepper follow Quinn with Brittany to one half of the field. Sticks are passed around quickly and Quinn pulls her goggles over her eyes.
“This will be fun, just watch.” Brittany reassures. She motions for them to stand at the start of the cones. “I’m going to watch for now but as you guys get used to it I’ll step in as a goal keeper.”
Quinn listens as Brittany tells them how to run the drill. They’re running through the cones head on. Weaving between them until they reach the line of balls Brittany has placed on the grass. From there they have to scoop the ball up and shoot it into the goal.
“When I think you’ve got the hang of it I’ll join in.” Brittany claps excitedly. “Just do your best okay?”
There’s no use lying. She’s nervous. Running with the ball and catching it is one thing. Actually managing to shoot is another. Quinn stays silent and lines up behind most of the girls, determined to watch them first.
Pepper’s run helps. She’s not as fast as Quinn but she makes her way through the cones to the balls. Quinn focuses on how she’s able to pick the ball up with ease before lobbing the ball into the top of the net. She then runs to join Quinn at the back of the line.
“That was good.” Quinn offers, feeling a twinge of comradiere.
“I almost missed, her eyes are like a hawk.” Pepper says. Quinn darts a look to their watchful judge. The easy going expression is missing form her face as she scrutinizes the girl’s running through the drill.
It gets more nerve wracking when it’s her turn. Quinn forces herself to block out Brittany for as long as possible. Dodging through the cones faster than she thinks the others have to get to the end. Tipping the ball into her stick costs her a few seconds but then it’s over.
It’s already swishing into the goal.
“Alright, let’s run it again.” Brittany calls. “This time I want it faster, and you have to run to the halfway line after your shot.”
She fails to mention that this time she’ll be standing in the way of the goal. Out of the second run, Pepper gets the closest to scoring. Quinn’s shot almost hits Brittany’s shin but is deflected by her crosse. The girls are shaken by the blockade. The running between the shots isn’t helping either.
But soon they’ll be switching and the nag in the back of her mind at there being only one first team spot keeps her running faster to the halfway line. That spot will require her to shoot and to score, close range or not.
“Last run through!” Santana’s voice calls to Brittany. She’s got one last shot.
Michigan falls back from her turn panting and Quinn overtakes her. Brittany raises an eyebrow but settles to block her shot.
Her steps are solid and agile. Blades of grass are torn under her feet as she changes direction swiftly. Scooping the ball is easier the third time around and the seconds she fumbled on her last try are recovered to help her focus.
Brittany isn’t a goal keeper. She’s built to run and dodge and shoot. Not to block. She’s taller than Quinn and leaner. Her crosse moves back as Quinn notices the way Brittany is leaning further to her right, like she assumes that’s where she’ll aim. In fact that’s where she plans too, as Brittany gives away the change in her stance too soon.
Quinn lets the shot fly.
It hits the top right corner of the goal, flicking strands of Brittany’s gold hair as she scores.
There’s polite cheering from the rest of the group but it’s Brittany that lets out a loud whoop of surprise. “Fabray! That was awesome!”
That was a fluke, Quinn thinks. Any further right and the shot would have missed entirely. But the smile on Brittany’s face resigns her to accepting the goal.
“Switch over!” Brittany yells to the other side of the field. Quinn is momentarily distracted from turning to walk the other way when Brittany slings an arm around her shoulder. “San! We have a winner!”
Quinn finds herself stumbling to walk under Brittany’s arm as they make it to the center. A few of the girls on Santana’s side are looking at her in jealousy at Brittany’s favouritism. Quinn is just trying not to think too much about what Brittany’s close contact feels like.
Santana does that thing with her eyes being on Quinn’s body, taking note of the space between her and Brittany before looking pleased. “We’ll have to see if she keeps on winning.” It’s a quiet motion that only a few hear.
Brittany lets go of Quinn to call Santana’s group over to the other side, while the rest follow Santana’s back. Or rather they follow and Quinn keeps her eyes down.
“Right, set up is simple.” Santana splits them into two lines, set at 90 degrees from each other, and passes balls to one line. “Give and go drill.”
The goal is much further away than in Brittany’s drill.
Santana stands in the line that currently has the balls. “This is what you’re going to do.” Her voice booms. “This line with the ball gives off a nice, steady pass to the second line.”
She demonstrates quickly, passing the ball to the girl at the front of the second line, who luckily catches it in time. “You then run towards the goal,” She runs, stopping still at a longer distance from the goal than in the last drill. “Receive the pass back and shoot.”
The girl in the second line takes the prompt and passes the ball back. Quinn watches in awe as Santana makes an almost effortless catch before driving the ball into the back of the net.
“Any questions?” No one asks. “Before you start, I want mouth guards in. I will not be responsible for tooth loss.”
The team complies.
“Fabray-” Quinn jolts to attention. “Winners to the front of the line.” Santana smirks.
Quinn grimaces but her mouth guard stops her from responding. Her hands sweat as she makes it to the front of the line. Michigan is the start of the second line.
“When you’re ready...” Santana tells them boredly.
Quinn picks up the ball with her crosse. She fixes Michigan with a hard stare and hopes that this girl will actually give her a good throw back. Or a good enough one for Quinn to salvage.
All or nothing.
Quinn throws as steadily as possible. It soars across the field. She briefly sees Michigan reach out her crosse before she’s copying Santana’s demonstration and running down the field. She skids to a sure stop, ready to receive.
Michigan threw too soon.
Santana’s blasting criticism starts about the pass before the ball even hits Quinn in the chest. The force isn’t enough to knock her down but it’s close enough to her neck to have her spluttering and spitting out her mouth guard.
“Watch for her turn! Impaciente niña!” Santana shouts. “Fabray!”
Quinn coughs but raises her head.
No. She’s okay. Okay. Quinn pushes past the thudding ache and the predicted bruise that will be there tomorrow to signal she’s okay to play on.
“Fantastic.” Santana sounds bitter but it’s not directed at her. “Get back here, and run it again.”
Her mouth guard goes back in while Santana lords to the rest of them that she’ll show them how to pitch a proper pass. “You have to work together and be aware of when someone is ready to receive. Or we’ll have accidents.”
The tone of her voice suggests that she’s seen enough or caused these accidents before. “Fabray!”
It’s as much of a ‘go!’ as she’ll ever get. Her pass is stable again. Her run is weary but fast, getting her to the line in time to see start of Santana’s flying pass.
A perfect arch. Quinn sees it’s beginning and it’s end. Pushing her crosse out with a lax enough grip to stop the ball from bouncing out. It’s such a success that she forgets for a second to turn on her heel and shoot.
Like before it breezes into the back of the net.
She looks back at the group and Santana. It was a good shot, a good pass and Santana knows it. Which is why the curious look she’s wearing whilst looking in Quinn’s direction sends a chill in her chest. Pulsing in the area Michigan’s ball hit.
“Good.” Santana settles on. “Back of the line.”
No one else gets hit. The passes aren’t as practiced and Quinn stumbles receiving off the other girls compared to Santana’s sureness. It was easier when playing off someone who’s done this before.
It doesn’t escape her that Santana is keeping an eye on them all, darting to her more often than she’ll remember. Quinn inevitably uses this to push further. Using her stamina to out endure the others even if she’s not as accurate a shot.
Techniques can be learnt. Potential can’t.
Santana calls an end to the drill, gathering Brittany back and instructing them to all cool down on their own again. It’s nerve wracking to think that they’ll cut people like Mercedes did. Quinn turns away from them as they huddle together on the sidelines. She doesn’t want to be consumed with thoughts of whether she’ll be emailed not to come tomorrow or with the image of them standing in each other’s personal space.
Her chest hurts but she forces herself to the ground to cool down her legs. The other girls bar Pepper, she notes, stretch away from her.
She waits up until midnight for an email that never comes. The sigh of relief sends her sprawling into sleep.
“Mom I don’t really have time to talk-” Balancing the phone between her ear and her shoulder is going to end in disaster if she doesn’t get her crosse stick in it’s case. “-right now.”
“I don’t remember giving birth to you.” Comes a voice and Quinn groans. Her crosse slips easily into it’s bag. “Or being female.”
“You have the worst timing ever.”
She can hear Sam smiling over the other end of the phone. “That’s what she said.”
“Yes, I did. What’s up?” Quinn gets to the point. She grabs her keys and her bag and heads for the door, wincing slightly as she knocks her chest. As predicted the skin is bruised blue from the stray ball yesterday.
Sam balks. “I can’t call my best friend up on a whim now?” She raises an eyebrow that he must somehow hear because he’s laughing. “You’re mom had lunch with us yesterday, I think she misses you as much as I do.”
“I haven’t had much time to check in with her recently.” Quinn locks her dorm room door. “I’ve been busy.”
“I heard. And I also saw your mysterious tweet.” There’s tapping sounds in the background. Sam is probably sitting in front of his laptop now, checking her twitter account. “ -@QFabray: Never thinking about ‘being able to pull off shorts’ without getting that mental image again’.”
“I hate you.” Quinn quips. She’s jogging down the stairs as she does. She’s not going to be late to this final trial, she just wants to be early. This is the one Coach Beiste is turning up to after all.
“You love me.” Sam drawls. “So tell, who’s the hottie with the booty?”
Sam’s abrupt nature aside, Quinn had actually managed to push that to the back of her brain when she’d woken up this morning. Her concentration is going to be shot. “I really do not need to have this discussion with you right now.”
“Give me something Fabray. OSU is just like senior year repeated. I know everyone.” Sam complains.
Quinn scoffs however, interpreting his lament as a complaint that all of the girls who rejected him in high school and going to reject him again in college. “You want my advice? Join football again, talk loudly about your abs and never invite them back to your place.”
There was a moment in high school, shortly before her inevitable gay realization and after Sam’s transfer, when they’d flirted with dating each other. He was new, nice and all-american looking. Quinn was in denial.
She’s not saying Sam’s cardboard cut-out Avatar posters were what made her rethink heterosexuality (she’s not, it’s just hilarious to tease him about it), it’s just walking into his room for the first time had a part of her tapping her on the shoulder and saying ‘Is this really what you want?’.
It was actually a much longer process than that. Full of crying, counselling, coming out to her mother, her father, the divorce and the whole school becoming aware thanks to the magazine incident.
Sam didn’t fade to the background like the other boys she’d dated. Who wouldn’t admit it after she came out. He stuck around, supported her, told people who harassed her to back off and became something better than a boyfriend.
Her best friend.
“I took some of those posters down y’know.” Sam defends. “And you loved Avatar.”
Quinn relents. She slows her speed walk down to cross a road and sighs. “There’s a girl.”
“There’s always a girl.” Sam cheekily responds. “But do tell.”
“It’s early days right now. Like literally, yesterday was the second time we’ve met, the first in which we’ve made eye contact that didn’t end up with me embarrassing myself.”
“Sounds promising.” He says. “Okay, testing the waters. Got it. Just, y’know, guy has to have a mental picture.”
Quinn pauses and remembers. They’ve only met twice, and if she’s honest she was distracted both by Santana and by her friend Brittany, but something tells her Sam will never let her live it down if she mentions she has a crush on two obviously best friends.
“Latina. Short shorts. And she has these legs and arms and-”
Sam whines like a scolded puppy for a second. “So she pinging your gaydar?”
This is the question. “Undetermined but we’ll see.”
“Quinn.” Sam directs. “She plays lacrosse.”
“That actually means nothing.” Quinn points out. There’s only a few minutes left of her walk until she reaches the UCLA football field. Her conversation is ignored by the scattered students wandering round the place like they’re getting to grips with where everything is.
“Hey, at least if you get through these trials you’ll know she’ll be playing for your team.” Sam jokes.
“Such a dork.” But Quinn is grinning madly.
“Kick ass today, you can do this.” Sam encourages. “Just let me know if you need another pep talk.”
She walks through the doors and into the hallway leading to the field. It’s cool and her footsteps echo while her starts to finish her call to Sam.
“Thanks. I’ll talk to you soon.”
His mumbled goodbye leaves her feeling lighter and more confident walking out onto the field. She’s the fourth there, but the first of the freshers. Coach Beiste taps away at her clipboard with Mercedes, while listening to her second and third shooters. And speaking of the hottie’s with the bodies (damn Sam), Santana and Brittany, hovering by each other’s hips, don’t notice her - or pretend not to - until she’s placing her bag on the sidelines.
“Fabray.” Coach Beiste nods. “Good too see you made it.”
She remembered her name.
“You came yesterday?” Coach asks. Quinn doesn’t mean to interpret it the way she does. Santana is just wearing those shorts again and smirking, so naturally her brain jumps to less than clean conclusions.
“Yeah she did.” Santana offers. She doesn’t mention her progress but Quinn guesses Coach Beiste probably knows.
Coach Beiste misses the silent exchange. “Good. Hopefully Santana and Brittany didn’t scare you off too much.”
“Not at all.” Quinn forces herself to speak.
Brittany smiles happily and sits next to Coach while Santana takes a step forward. “You ice the bruise?”
Quinn can’t help it. She looks down at Santana’s chest before her own. “Oh, no I mean, I have some salve for it so I should be-” Santana looks pleased that Quinn is talking like a normal human being and not resorting to hand gestures and reddening in the face. It’s this realization that cuts Quinn short. “-good.”
“If it gets worse just tell Coach today, we’ve let her know what happened.” Santana nods. “But eh, try not to suck today. You were on a roll yesterday.”
She can’t tell if she’s just been insulted or complimented. “Sure.”
Coach Beiste runs the last trial.
A part of her knows that it’s tougher. It’s scheduled to be the longest of the trials after all and it’s some how even hotter than the day before. The competitive aspect has kicked in as well. Four girls are no where to be found, Dakota among them, and everyone is aware of the fact.
“Up and at ‘em ladies!” Coach Beiste booms from the sidelines. “The first one to puke is cut!”
They’re sprinting up the stands of the football field, like Mercedes had them doing on the first day, except this time everyone is carrying their crosses and balls. Several girls have already had to backtrack to fetch balls that have fallen out of the baskets.
Quinn refuses to let that happen to her. Her chest is numb but at least it’s not causing her pain for now so she powers on. Forcing herself up the stairs until she’s reaching the top. From there she has to run across a row to the next set of stairs and back down.
As she does she’s almost knocked over.
“Keep up Fabray!” Santana Lopez dodges past her, crosse pulled to her chest horizontally but still somehow holding onto the ball within it, to get ahead of her.
Quinn is so distracted that she stumbles over her feet. Her pause to look around doesn’t cost her more time but allows her to spot Brittany running behind some of the other girls as well.
Santana is halfway down the stairs. They’re challenging them. It’s a natural reaction. Quinn knows they’ve been put in to run with them because people work harder when they’re set against others. Racing, studying, working - same drill.
She rounds the steps at the top ready to run down when Santana flashes a knowing grin over her shoulder. The message is simple. Catch her.
Catching her becomes the metaphor. If she catches up to her she’ll win. If she catches up to her Coach Beiste will put her on the team. If she catches up to her she’ll get through her first year of college with financial security. If she-
Quinn is sprinting behind Santana. Matching her step for step just not at her side when Sam’s obnoxious voice blares out in her mind.
If Quinn catches up to her she won’t be able to look at Santana’s ass.
She drops the ball.
“Pass, turn, catch, pass, turn!” Coach Beiste is walking up the line. “This is the hamster drill! I want to see quick hands and eye contact!”
This is the first time she’s done this drill. In theory it’s simple. She stands in the center, between Pepper and another girl. They have a ball each, Quinn doesn’t. She has to turn, receive the ball from Pepper and pass it back and then quickly turn a full 180 to receive the next pass. Throw back, turn, repeat.
It’s a dizzying experience. One that requires her to focus harder with every turn. To keep a firm grip on her crosse in order to not drop the ball or miss the catch because she’s holding it in the wrong hand.
Every 3 minutes Coach calls out for them to switch positions. Quinn then takes turns feeding the balls into the center to Pepper and Girl number 2 before the next drill.
“Four corner shooting drill!” Coach announces. The few girls that have played before split almost instantly. Pepper pulls Quinn into a corner.
“Everyone gets 2 balls unless you’re in the middle!”
Brittany runs into the center of their half of the field. The rest of the team is split into four corners, two in line with the left side line, the others on the right.
“What you do is you feed the ball to Brittany, or whoever is in the middle, and she shoots.” Coach tells them. “There shouldn’t be any hesitation with these shots! You receive and you shoot, receive and shoot!”
Brittany points to the bottom left corner and the girl flings her ball to the center. There’s a well deserved gasp as Brittany extends her arm almost fully to catch the ball before gripping the end of her crosse in time to launch it into the back of the goal.
Jaws, as they do, drop.
Coach Beiste smiles. “Nicely done Brittany.”
There’s no smugness in the way Brittany beams and bows at the compliment.
No one manages to outshine the shot. The goal is open and unblocked but the girls on the corners seem to be out to make everyone look bad. Despite the fact that if they make the team they’ll be expected to run this drill a lot.
“Let her make eye contact with you!” Brittany calls out helpfully.
Quinn passes to Pepper, who motions for the ball, it hits it’s mark and then it’s in the back of the net.
Purposely sabotaging some one’s trial isn’t her style. That’s got to give her points. “Fabray! Center!”
Her turn isn’t a disaster. Nor does it shine in the way Brittany had with her one shot. Four years of being thrown in the air and twisting off pyramids has honed her ability to find the spots in the distance that stop her from falling. Quinn makes eye contact with each corner in turn. Gesturing for the ball, turning on her heel so much that the ground beneath her is indented by her weight, to finally shoot.
It’s not perfect. Her second shot falls short of the goal and one misses entirely. But ten out of twelve isn’t bad. The last being the most memorable as she’d ground her teeth into her mouth guard when Santana had been waiting in the last corner to feed her the ball.
She can’t help but feel that it’s easier to play off her, than it is with the other girls. It was a smooth sail into the goal and the seconds after her round is finished hit a nostalgic tone. The end reminds her of winning her last cheer competition, holding onto the over sized trophy only to stare into the distance wondering if it was what she’d really wanted.
There’s no trophy in her hands, only dirt covered knuckles, and she’s staring at Santana. But the question still remains. What does she really want?
Brittany encourages them all to run laps first to cool down. Quinn jogs lightly because her chest is actually hurting now. She’s lucky that everyone is so distracted by the huddled conversation Coach Beiste and Santana are having on the sideline that no one uses her weakness to their advantage.
There’s no one talking, mostly because no one has the heart to grumble while Brittany is with them, enthusiastically telling them the importance of cooling down.
Her voice becomes white noise as she slows them to a stop and gathers them together for static stretches. Arms, legs, neck, lunges and toe touches. The only buzz comes from Quinn wondering what’s being said about them. Whether they’re deciding now who’s made it or whether they’re comparing the trials and the people who’ve stood out.
Shit. Anxiety follows her train of thought. Making her repeat every stride, shot and sprint. Did she do enough? Work harder? Stand out?
Quinn only breaks out of her worries when her forehead gets close enough to touch her knee during their last stretch. It’s out of her hands now.
Santana leans back on the bleachers, casting a look out at the group.
She’s just unsure whether she wants the decision to end up in hers. It ends up plaguing her the entire rest of the day. From the small ‘We’ll be posting a list in the sports office tomorrow’ pep talk Beiste dismisses them with, to the ease in which Brittany takes Santana’s hand at the end of the session, right up until Quinn is sitting in her room on her bed.
Frozen bags of vegetables are balanced on her ankles. Dripping water onto her bedsheets. The sleepy haze she’s in is the only thing keeping her from obsessing over the end result.
“Whatever happens...” She murmurs to the small room, thankful that there’s no one there to call her out on talking to herself. “...”
She realizes she doesn’t have a response to the worst case scenario.
“I can’t look.” She’s actually close to just closing her eyes or squinting hard enough so that the list disappears into a blur.
“But you said you were looking at it.”
That was the plan. She’s there to look at the list and find out if she’s made the team. She didn’t just run the 2 miles to the sports office for ‘fun’. “I’m not. I’m standing in front of the board, I’m pretty sure people think I can’t read.”
“Just suck it up.”
“I can’t. What if I’m not on there.” Quinn mumbles. “I don’t have time now to look for a job.”
Sam sighs on the other end of the phone, like he has been doing at regular intervals. “You’ll sell your virginity on eBay-”
“Excuse me!” She bursts. It’s 7 am, there are two people sitting in the sports office as she declares, loudly; “I am not a virgin!”
One of the people in the office is Miss Pillsbury. She’s gone from mildly embarrassed to mortified.
“I will hack your facebook and post that as your status unless you actually look at this list.” Sam threatens. “It’s 7.05 Quinn. I haven’t even had breakfast yet.”
His whining voice is pathetic but serves to emphasize that what she’s doing now; blushing and trying to avoid the curious gazes of the only other people in the room, and not looking at the list - is as equally pathetic.
“You’re right. This is stupid.” Quinn tells him in a hushed voice. “I was a Cheerio for heaven’s sake. Girls got kicked off that squad faster than you apply chapstick.”
“You are totally- I hate you.”
Quinn takes a step forward. “Thanks Sam, go back to bed.”
The silence is her answer. Not just to the end of the phone call but as her reaction to the list. The suspense makes her notice the tiniest things. Like how the font used is arial and Coach Beiste uses bullet points instead of numbers to list the new members of the teams.
And how it takes her three times of passing over her own name before she sees that it’s printed under the ‘first team’ and not the ‘seconds’.
The noise she makes in joy erases most of the embarrassment of her previous outburst on the phone.
Holy sweet hell is the phrase most repeated as she runs back to her dorm while attempting to hold an incoherent conversation with her mother.
The list had knocked the wind out of her but turning up into her dorm to see a scribble of handwriting on the whiteboard stuck to her door makes her lose her breath all over again. One line is slightly smudged like a hand has rubbed over the words being written. The other is cursive and loopy.
It says “Congrats Quinn!” and “Welcome to the unholy trinity!”. A letter pokes out from under her door. She knows it’s from the team. Probably about her scholarship and training times and team names and more. But she’s grinning like a fool in the face of the first words ever written on her door.
That wasn’t written there when she’d left this morning to read the list. She must have passed them on the way to the sport center. Somehow missing them in her nervous flurry of limbs. Crap. What if she looked a mess?
In hindsight she should have been more worried that Santana and Brittany knew were she lived, but she’s too consumed with tired excitement to do anything more than fall into her room and back into bed.
Her pillow embraces her like an old friend that occasionally likes to snuggle with her, accepting her stupid smile at face value. She dreams of trophies and handwriting.
She’s on the team.
end of parts one/two
Chapter 2: three&four
She can’t exactly celebrate. What with being friendless and thousands of miles away from her hometown and the people who would actually care about this news. Whatever. She’ll deal.
What she does do is go food shopping for the second time. Trailing the aisles and pushing a cart in front of her is enough to take the edge off her stressful excitement.
Getting onto the team is the perfect start but she’s still miles behind anyone else on the squad. To stay in school she needs to stay on that first team.
‘And somewhere in between all of this...’ Quinn places some reduced items into her basket and skims the prices on the shelves a little more analytically ‘...I have to actually come out with a degree.’ She’s made the impossible possible before though. Surviving high school after coming out. Surviving cheerleading after meeting Sue Sylvester. Same danger. New location.
The notion makes her smile. She has time to worry about these changes later. Right now? She has a date.
“I told you!” Sam points at her. “You had nothing to worry about.”
“I see you’re more awake now.” Quinn challenges at her laptop screen. Sam stares back with a coy smile and bed hair. Obviously he’s still in bed.
“I’m always awake for you Quinn.” Skype is going to be a lifesaver for their friendship. Sam promised to make the trip a few times to see her but only once term began. The money for the trip had been slowly building since their senior year of high school, thanks to Sam’s part time job at a local garage. It was a step up from his first, as a pizza delivery boy.
Quinn pulls a face. “Can we avoid the suggestiveness in that? I’m eating.” She is. Rice. Look at how student-like she is being.
Sam rolls his eyes. “You know what I meant. Besides, I want to talk more about how ‘awake’ you are for the lacrosse girls.”
Girls. “It’s just one.” Maybe. “And I’ve told you.”
“Yeah, yeah. Latina, ass, arms, boobs-”
“That was your input actually.”
“You looked. Don’t deny it.” He teases. And he’s right. “Whatever, she’s probably checked you out over the course of those trials.”
She burns a little remembering the fleeting looks. They may not even count, but there’s no denying the full body acknowledgement or the curiosity she’d placed in Quinn when Michigan had injured her. It was probably a contributing factor to her being picked.
She voices this to Sam.
He doesn’t seem as upset that she could have been picked for her looks rather than her talent. “I mean, you’re in right? The team, the squad, her pants...”
“Okay we are stopping.” She warns. It’s useless though, he’s already made her smile. Lifting her back into the post-list bliss she’s been drifting in all day. The sky is darker outside now, arriving to the evening, and to cooler air. Her face is only illuminated in his skype window by her generic bedside lamp.
“She’s nice though?”
It’s a change in pace. Sam leans into the screen, hand resting in this palm, looking sincere. Here she is, talking about feelings with her best friend.
“This Santana, she nice?” He asks again. Quinn pauses. It’s not like she doesn’t have an answer; which from her limited judgement and contact would be something along the lines of ‘she’s nice to the people that matter’ or ‘I don’t know’; it’s just not provoking her to respond.
“I guess.” Quinn shrugs. Conscious of how she actually wants to find this out. “I’ve only spoken to her once though.”
“She’s got a friend though, the blonde you said.” Sam is relentless. Picking up on all of her little details. Kind of makes her feel bad for not doing that to him about his friends. Though that’s because she’s sick of hearing about how someone called Finn Hudson was passed out on his front lawn for an entire day.
“Brittany.” She tells him. “They’re the shooters for the first team.”
“Along with you. Remember?”
Again. A warm feeling of happiness. Every time she’s reminded of her success, her body pushes out a good vibe.
She’s a shooter too. “Along with me.”
Thinking brings a thoughtful thought. She’s number three. Number one by name, but she’s the third in the trinity so to speak. The newcomer.
“This is going to be hard.” Quinn sighs. Sam obviously isn’t in tune with her thoughts because his response is to snort and tell her to go after the hotter one. “I meant the lacrosse! Until I tell you it’s about having sex with girls, it will always be about lacrosse!”
“Got you to stop over thinking this, didn’t it?”
Quinn goes to snap at him until; “God, how do you do that?”
“No eating after six.” He replies like it is a legitimate question. She used to joke that his humor was the only reason she kept him around, that and his work out ethic. But seeing him grinning wildly at her and keeping her on the light and good of her news always reminds her that she could have turned out so much different without him.
She might not even be alive. “I love you, y’know.”
“You’re just saying that because we’re on webcam and you want me to strip.” Sam plays on her. Her expression doesn’t change. She’s soft in her looking at him, kind and thankful. It brings him down too. “I love you too. Which is why I need you not over think this for the next few days. You’re going to play well, they’re going to love you and you’re going to get to study at that amazing school-”
Up. Up she goes.
“-even if I’m not there.” He winks. “So enjoy it.”
His words are simple. Honest. True. Oh God, she’s tearing up. “I have to go and wash up.” She lies. He knows.
“Just remember this moment when you finally tap th-”
“Night Quinn.” He resigns with a smile.
Signing off brings a twinge of loneliness. Maybe she should have let him joke on for a while. Without his face lighting up the room, she’s all too aware of how dark and alone she is right now. It’s not late by any college students going out standard, but late enough that she can’t get away with calling her mother.
Figuring she should probably go and wash up, Quinn grabs her empty dish and heads to the door. Her corridor is empty, with the rooms mostly unoccupied and the ones that are already succumbed to slumber.
Cleaning suspends her mind for a few minutes. It’s a luxury she might not have when term starts again and her kitchen suddenly becomes ‘their’ kitchen. When she won’t be able to spread out her food in the refrigerator and buy whatever she wants. On a budget of course.
Leaving her room, once returning her dish to her cupboard, is what unnerves her. The air is cooler when she steps out into the hall. Not that her mind catches this until she’s opening the door to her room.
The whiteboard has been changed again. There’s no trace of Santana and Brittany’s welcome messages anymore. Her first reaction is a strange upsetting jolt. Sure her letter of welcome was the official greeting, but the messages were personal.
Dusted off in an instant.
She’s so caught up in the loss that when she actually sees what is written there, she’s left with only a few seconds to be confused.
“INITIATION. DON’T SCREAM FABRAY.”
She doesn’t scream. Well, she tries. It comes out as a yelp, like if someone pulls a puppy by it’s tail. Except the hands pulling Quinn are wrapped around her mouth and her waist while someone blindfolds her.
If she ever makes it out alive she’s carrying a rape alarm everywhere.
“Chill Quinn Fabray.” Maybe not a rape alarm. “We’ll lock your door.”
Someone smacks her ass playfully. Quinn squeaks and tries to cover herself from further attacks. “She’s so jumpy.” A second voice.
“Brittany?” Quinn chances. “What the hell?”
“I was diffusing the tension.” Is her answer. Which really doesn’t make sens-
“She means the blindfold Britt, not the touching.”
Quinn suddenly heats up at Santana’s voice. It had been Brittany slapping her, which leaves the arms around her waist belonging to...
“Play it cool and you may just make it to playing with us.” Santana’s laugh rumbles next to her ear in a lazy euphemism that Quinn falls for.
“Where the hell are we going?” She wants to reach for the blindfold, but her hands are trapped by her sides and she’s being led somewhere. She can’t even tell which direction down the hall.
“Where else fresher?” Santana loosens her hug around Quinn’s waist when it becomes harder for them to walk her out like that. There’s no break for freedom as Santana just holds Quinn’s arms behind her back instead. “Your initiation awaits!”
The duo laughs while Quinn breathes out quickly.
Somehow this admission unnerves her more than the blindfold and kidnap aspect of the trip so far.
She’d be lying if she hadn’t had dreams about this.
Santana pushes her into the locker room and tugs the blindfold off at the same time. Usually this would be the part where a harem of cheerleaders would pull her by the waist band further into them. If she’s going to update the fantasy then she’ll be dragging Santana and Brittany in with her.
Except for the fact this isn’t a dream and there’s no cheerleaders. Only a line up of three other girls from the try-outs, Pepper and Michigan included, surrounded by a bunch of other people she doesn’t know.
Save for Mercedes and the duo that brought her in.
“What the hell?” Quinn mutters. Luckily no one hears because even though she’s a little freaked out she’s still got to save her face. Well, her natural face.
She’s berating herself for missing the way Santana kept hold of her hands the entire kidnap, even when Quinn had almost face-planted on the sidewalk, when the door finally shuts. Unsurprisingly the other freshers all stand to attention like the door noise is a gun cocking at the backs of their heads.
“Now that we’re all here.” Santana announces, cracking her knuckles with a strange glee on her face. There’s an urge within her to suddenly cover her nose at the sound while the girls around them, wearing variations of sports and UCLA gear, giggle at their nervousness.
Oh God what if this is like Fight Club?
Mercedes doesn’t manage to cover her mouth before she starts laughing at the terrified faces they’re all wearing. Quinn less so. She has it down to an art after facing up to Sue Sylvester. Thin lips, unfocused eyes and hands clasped behind your back at all times. Avoid eye contact.
“Santana, stop scaring them.” She steps forward and everyone eases up like she’s waved away their panics. Mercedes is probably one of those girls that spent her high school years sorting out her friends problems but never really running into any herself save for one incident. Maybe it was a bully, maybe a boy, but it shook her out of being so selfless all the time and pushed her out of her comfort zone. Now the comfort zone just follows her around.
“What Satan,” At this Brittany snorts, “-means to say is congrats to you guys for making the team.”
There’s a second where Quinn leans back into the genuine welcome. Where she smiles as Mercedes’ eyes pass over her and ignores the way Michigan sneers at her and ducks her head because Santana and Brittany are exchanging a knowing look before her eyes. She remembers the welcome notes and then the moment is gone.
“But the hard work starts here.”
“Actually-” Santana saunters. Hips rolling forward and trailing her arm over Brittany’s shoulders as she leaves her side- full on sauntering- to stand beside Mercedes. “-it starts with your shirts on the floor.”
Her heart tries to sink and jump at the same time but ends up twisting into a surprised cough that’s covered by Michigan’s splutter of; “Excuse me!”
“Excused.” Brittany offers. While everyone is wearing their game faces Brittany is like an open book.
Unfortunately that book is in Latin and Quinn can’t read it. “Don’t worry, the six pack competition isn’t until the summer term so we won’t judge you.”
There’s about fifty percent of that actually being true.
“But if you’re really worried you should just-”
Santana does something that shuts Brittany up. Though Quinn is pretty sure that while everyone’s eyes are bugging out over the fact she’s grabbing the girl’s ass, she’s probably just tangling their fingers together. She hopes.
“-just nothing. Welcome to initiation freshers, you have about a minute to strip off your collection of vests or we’ll make you wish you had.” Santana’s hand comes back to rest on her own hip. Brittany looks a lot more satisfied than she did three seconds ago. Maybe it was an ass grab. “Don’t worry, we’re all friends here. And if we’re not then your abs better be impressive enough for us to ignore that.”
Pepper squeaks. It’s times like this, surrounded by girls and two who she’s updated to include in her locker room dreams that she thanks god for high school. Specifically the six o’clock work outs she suffered every day for three and a half years that’s given her abs of steel.
Seriously, she could cut glass with them.
She has a feeling that not everyone is as blessed as she is.
“Coach Beiste would not allow this!” Michigan tugs on the end of her shirt like she’s going to make it swallow the rest of her body from view. For a second a reoccurring nightmare of her teenage years rears its head and Quinn has to tell herself a few times that she never got pregnant in high school.
“Um, actually she does.” Santana sneers while she files her nails. “Except we call it the team welcome party and she’s non the wiser.”
Michigan goes to open her mouth again in protest. Santana has other ideas. “And if you want to stay on the seconds team-” There’s a twitch in Quinn’s lip. “-you’ll keep your mouth shut.”
Brittany leans into Santana. “Loose lips sink ships.” She adds. British propaganda. Nice.
The three other girls continue to look skeptically at each other. Quinn doesn’t. She’s tugging her shirt off without being asked again. Initiation is just another trial. And maybe kind of like fight club, re: rule six. She really wants to avoid the face punching though.
“Nice.” Brittany smiles. Thank God she’s wearing a bra.
“And this is the difference between the firsts and seconds.” Santana muses. However she gazes a little on Quinn stomach until the line of compliment is less about Quinn being on the first team and more about her current display.
Great, now she’s blushing, abs or not.
Yet the seconds still don’t move. Choosing to eye Quinn and cross their arms over their bodies protectively. It irks her, and obviously the rest of the squad.
“Really?” Santana balks. Snapping her fingers suggests she wants the rest of them to fall in with Quinn’s example. Mercedes apparently knows otherwise as she pulls Quinn clear of the rest of the line up by her elbow.
“What?” Quinn whispers. “Why-”
The last step she takes away from the line up is the one that saves her from the sudden rush of lacrosse players hitting the seconds from behind. It looks like water at first but then it comes up blue and red and slaps the floor.
“What the hell!” Michigan screams. Slushie. They just got slushied. Stains cover the girls’ sleepwear. The shirt they refused to take off as well as their pants. If they’d only complied, Quinn purses her lips in order to not laugh at the sight.
“Now, don’t you want to get out of those shirts?” Santana mocks. Michigan glares.
The lacrosse squad backs off and tosses their buckets away. They had buckets. That’s a lot of slushie. Victory comes when Pepper strips off her own shirt, grimacing in Quinn’s direction, followed by the second girl and lastly Michigan.
“Wasn’t that easy?” Brittany asks. Genuinely asking not mocking. “Now we can start!”
“Start?” Quinn asks.
It gets Santana’s attention. Not that she wasn’t aware of the girl’s looks before. “Yeah, you think us asking you to flaunt around was the initiation? Please.”
With a flick of her wrist several members of the lacrosse team latch onto the freshers. Quinn freezes as Brittany twirls next to her, making sure to touch Quinn’s arm to steady herself; the arm that just to happens to be attached to the rest of her almost naked torso. Fuck.
“Here’s the deal.” Mercedes announces. “It’s now...eleven o’clock. You guys have an hour to get to the campus bar; it’s called Schuester’s. You guide the second years you’re partnered with at the same time.”
“They’ll be blindfolded.” Santana adds helpfully. Quinn tries not to be put off by the ‘Kinky’ admission that escapes Brittany’s lips.
“No taking the blindfold off, no bikes or cabs - you guys gotta run.”
Beside her Brittany takes a black tie from her pocket and tightens it around her eyes.
Mercedes passes out blindfolds to the other three senior members. “If you don’t make it within the hour, you’ll be running suicides for your first practice.”
“Can we ask for directions?” Pepper asks looking unsure.
There’s a small exchange of shrugging between Santana and Mercedes. “Sure.”
“What happens then?” Quinn chances asking. Santana looks at the small distance between Brittany and Quinn with interest.
“If you’re last you’ll be hosed at the back of the bar and you don’t get your shirts back at the end. Or your shoes.” At this she snaps her fingers at the freshers again. “Speaking of, take ‘em off. Not you Britt.”
Quinn slides her flats over to Mercedes. “After that?”
“We’ll see.” Santana smirks. “Ready?”
The seconds team rush out at the go, tugging their blinded teammates behind them. Quinn falls behind.
“You know where it is?” Mercedes asks. The rest of the lacrosse team are giggling at the frantic pace of the others and cleaning up the mess left in the locker room. Quinn shrugs.
Santana comes up to the side of them, tugging Brittany’s blindfold securely, before commenting. “You’re not too worried?”
It’s not an offended remark, like she thought Quinn would be hapless and distraught at the thought of being initiated, but curious. Everything between them has been curious.
“I used to cheer. Went to a lot of hazings.” Quinn responds. This seems to impress Santana. She thinks. There’s a twitching smile.
“Old pro.” But she nods to the door to signal Quinn should get going. “Don’t lose her.”
Brittany fumbles until she finds Quinn’s hand, intimately lacing their fingers. “I trust her San.”
She can’t place the look between them. A breathless trust passes and it’s overwhelming to stand near them. “See you soon.” And with that she’s leading Brittany out of the locker room, making sure she doesn’t walk into the door frame on the way out.
She thinks they’re saying something about her as they do but Brittany giggles and bumps Quinn’s shoulder with awareness. “I know a short cut.”
The grass of the football field is damp and cold. Quinn isn’t entirely sure where she’s meant to be going. If Brittany says shortcut, Quinn says;
“Lead the way.”
At face value if she’d ever put in a position where she had to lead someone, blind or not, to a specific place at a specific time she might have thought for a little while about asking Brittany, let alone have Brittany be the blind in need of a guide.
She’s been surprised by less however.
She’s got more grass than gravel stuck to her bare feet, which is a major plus, and they haven’t been walking in circles. Brittany keeps waving her hands in front of her while she’s deciding which way to go but every time Quinn sets a foot in the wrong direction Brittany is squeezing her hand and telling her she should stick to following the yellow brick road.
If Brittany is the scarecrow then what does that make her?
“Oh no.” Brittany suddenly sighs. Someone whistles at Quinn again and she hides behind her taller teammate until they stumble away and out of sight.
“What?” It’s getting colder and she misses her shirt. “Please tell me you’re not lost.”
“We’re not lost.” Brittany sticks her arm out, nearly hitting Quinn’s face in the process, to show her watch as well. “And I don’t think we’re late are we?”
“No we’re not.” Though fifteen minutes isn’t looking too good if they’re just going to stand and watch the few cars still out at this time drive past them. Horns honk when they see Quinn and that’s another reason to get moving as well. She doesn’t need to be arrested for indecent exposure. “What’s wrong?”
“Santana told me to stop walking once I got close enough.”
“Wait, we’re close enough?” She can see a blinking red sign in the far distance that looks like it spells the right name and- “-wait, she told you to stop walking?”
They share a smile, she thinks. It’s a smug looking one that looks meaner when worn by Santana but makes Brittany look playful and teasing. “She didn’t want things to be too easy for you.” is her explanation.
Hell no. Easy? She thought this was going to be easy for her? Easy to learn to play a sport she’s only heard of in passing in three weeks and get through trials that would have killed her if she wasn’t already athletic enough before throwing her into initiation by kidnapping her?
Brittany smiles, still blindfolded, and bounces on her feet.
It’s another challenge. Another trial. Santana Lopez is smirking at Schuester’s wondering if she’ll give up or if she’ll overcome.
“Quinn?” Her silence is making Brittany’s smile slip away.
She’s going to overcome.
“Hey Brittany? You look kind of tired...”
Overcoming Santana’s secret trial is so worth it when she shoulders through the door of the bar with Brittany on her back grinning like a fool and declaring that Quinn is the best lion ever.
They’d actually stood outside the bar arguing over calling her a lion because people generally don’t ride on lions but Quinn didn’t feel comfortable with Brittany calling her a ‘trusty steed’. Plus Brittany is all muscle and her knees were like ready to give out.
Brittany doesn’t slide off her back until Mercedes is taking her blindfold off and asking for her help outside.
Santana promptly tosses Quinn a shirt, not the one she had at the start of the night, before pulling her towards the bar.
“Are we the first?” She asks sticking her arms in the shirt. It’s new and clean and not covered in slushie.
In the vital seconds it takes for her to put the shirt over her head she misses Santana’s look. “Nearly,” She taps the wooden bar and gets the attention of the middle aged barman behind it. “You’re drinking punch until everyone gets here.”
Nearly strikes an uneasy chord in her. “So why am I not being hosed?”
Both the bartender, with his curly hair, and Santana laugh at her. “Eager much?”
The punch bowl is brought up from behind the bar. “What’s in that?” It’s yellow but looks greenish and is that a lime-?
“Michigan came first.” Santana scoops a ladle in the punch and pours the liquid into a cup. “But only because she got on a bus.”
Some of the lacrosse girls are hovering by the fire exit in the back of the bar. Listening closely she can hear the gush of water and shrieks from the first place girl.
“No cabs, no bikes.” Quinn repeats. Her hand opens and accepts the punch Santana gives her. “Thought she found a loophole?”
“There’s not enough juice.” Santana complains downing her drink. Quinn is intimidated and continues taking small sips. “Yeah, too bad she forgot the senior she led was going to tell us everything when they got here.” Another squeal. Santana smirks at the sound. “Hence the soaking.”
Her body is thanking her for putting on a shirt finally, even if it does say ‘FRESH MEAT’ on the front of it, and avoiding the one being soaked. “Sucks.” She puts lamely at a loss of what to say in the close proximity of Santana.
“Glad that you made it though.” Another scoop of punch makes it into Santana’s glass. “With Brittany intact.”
She doesn’t know why she’s doing it. Her fingers tug at the bottom of her shirt and pull the longer Santana converses with her. It makes the ‘FRESH MEAT’ on her chest stand out, and in turn draws Santana’s attention more.
“I think my back is the only thing not intact.” She mumbles.
Her punch is empty but before she can refuse Santana is already taking it out of her hands to fill it up. When her face contorts Santana shoots her a look of determination. There’s no way she’s going to make it out of initiation sober, it says.
“Please, she’s light as a feather.”
That’s debatable. Quinn wasn’t lying about the muscle tone on the girl she carried.
“It’s when she gets you on your back that you should-”
Spluttering results in Quinn spitting half of her punch back into her cup. Avoiding her clean white shirt thankfully. “What!”
“That’s nasty.” Santana taps the bar again and a clean cup comes for her. “And don’t even try to deny it. I thought you were going to combust on that field when Britt had her arm around you.”
Quinn remembers how Brittany had done that. Bumping their hips together to announce that Quinn had completed the drill better than the rest, only to pass her over to Santana. The red on her face was from the exercise, she rationalizes, mostly.
“It was hot-”
“So is Britt.” Santana hands her the punch again with a grin. It softens at Quinn’s panicked look. “I’m not judging, welcome to tribecca and all that-”
Now she’s red. A slow flutter in her cheeks as she forces herself to sip at the punch that’s tasting better each drink. “You’re...?”
It’s the perfect timing for Brittany to sweep in for a cup of punch of her own. Hip checking and kissing Santana’s cheek affectionately. “Michigan wants her pants back.” She giggles and twirls off leaving them with the mental image of the seconds player soaked to the skin.
Quinn follows her with her eyes for a moment before looking away, remembering Santana’s teasing before.
“We are.” The girl nods. Odd relief swoops over her, enough to let her drink in front of Santana again. Michigan stumbles through the back exit, with pants, shivering as the rest of the lacrosse team jeers teasingly. Someone hands her a towel. Her distraction is taken advantage of.
“Wait,” Santana warns, putting a hand up. “You’re not in denial or the closet right? Because I promised Britt our shooter would be drama free, and as much as I’d love to gay mentor you, I don’t have time for that and teaching you how to play with us.”
Embarrassment follows. “I’m out. To everyone.” She confirms.
Humming comes from Santana as she takes another drink. Quinn has lost count of the cups she’s gone through during their short conversation.
She suppresses an offended noise. It’s personal. Well, considering this is the second time they’ve talked outside of the lacrosse trials, but looking at Santana makes her want to answer. That and she figures the girl would have a way of finding out anyway.
“A couple.” Quinn stammers. She ends up looking at the upside down letters of her shirt rather than Santana’s curious eyes. “High school wasn’t exactly full of options.”
The dates were few but frequent. The longest being a girl from Crawford Country Day, a private school in Westerville, who Quinn enjoyed taking out to dance with in people from the local LGBTQ support group. She’d been the one to end it after finding out that the girl wasn’t going to come out to her parents any time soon. Not that Quinn had minded, but Serena hadn’t wanted her to get false hope for their casual relationship. It had been a good time for her, especially in the months following her coming out at school and Holly Holliday’s eventual transfer from McKinley.
“Good to know my source was false then.” Santana comments suspiciously.
Brittany is pulling the girls who made the second team onto the dance floor. There’s a foreboding awkwardness in the air as Quinn sips her punch, which she’s sure she shouldn’t legally be drinking now that she thinks about it, next to Santana.
“Because,” Santana croons. “I heard you were a virgin.”
Luckily she had the second before Santana spoke to choose not to drink, avoiding another spit-take. Unluckily, Santana is now fixing her with an amused grin and hooking a finger into her collar, laughing at the irony of ‘FRESH MEAT’. She is going to kill Sam. And change her Facebook password.
Her blush is flashing like the start of a video-game. At least to Santana’s eager face. She waves to Brittany and to the bartender, the music gets louder and the team floods the dance floor. “Oh, I am going to have so much fun with you this year.”
She pulls Quinn by her collar to the floor.
Fun. Quinn shivers. Fun. Fun.
Initiation ends with her stumbling back to her room, without her shoes, around five in the morning. Her phone is sticky from beer being spilled on the keys and from the amount of people that borrowed it to punch their numbers in. It’d make her feel like a stud if half of them weren’t mis-spelt (Satan) or ironic (Brittany Spears).
She spends the next two days sleeping off her small hangover and tidying her room. Practices don’t start until next week but they’re encouraged to start earlier on their conditioning. Which Quinn wants to do, as soon as getting up in the morning stops making her want to throw up and the dark circles under her eyes go.
Sam calls her a lightweight and she unfollows him from twitter while changing all of her passwords. As soon as she figures out how to hack stuff, he’s being listed as ‘gay sub! looking for dom!’ on a million Facebook groups. He sucks. However Santana calling her a virgin has been filed in her mind as one of ‘The Most Embarrassing things that have ever slightly turned her on’.
Sleeping for the rest of the week though, is not an option. She needs food, she needs to clean and to get back to running in the mornings. And she needs to get ready to welcome her roommate.
On Saturday Lauren sends her a short alert over Facebook about her arrival. Quinn offers to clear herself from their room to allow Lauren the time to move in properly. Twelve o’clock sees her sitting outside a Starbucks, which she really shouldn’t have bought, with sunglasses on getting through one of her required readings.
It takes her a while because her phone keeps going off with messages from the lacrosse team apologising for not putting their details in correctly. Texting her with their real names and positions, which she worried about until realizing they meant on the field, allowing her to change her contacts. Mercedes and Brittany remind her where they train and offer to come and walk her to practice. Santana doesn’t leave a message.
Meeting Lauren ends her day. She comes back to see the other side of the room almost completely transformed. It makes her own side look bare and unused in every sense. Posters line the walls and the small shelf over Lauren’s desk is completely full of books. Not just fiction either.
Quinn ends up mildly intimidated even before she spots the girl sitting on her bed, laptop open and rapidly typing away. “Hi.”
Lauren looks her up and down and completely blows her greeting out of the water. “You’re thinner than your profile suggests.”
Quinn is wearing shorts and the FRESH MEAT shirt Santana gave her the other night. It’s been washed since initiation and it’s baggy on her. She doesn’t feel thinner, but the small amount of bitchiness she’s been repressing since finishing cheerleading comments that in comparison to Lauren, she’s bound to seem thinner.
“Thanks?” She replies unsettled. What kind of greeting was that anyway?
Lauren nods with a pleased face. “How are you with computers?”
Hard hitting questions indeed. “I’m good at typing?” She replies lamely because while she’s a whiz at twitter and facebook and websites-that-will-remain unnamed, she’s no genius.
She’s ignored until Lauren finishes whatever she’s typing on her keys. “Computer Science and Engineering. I just want to make sure you’re okay with me pulling some all nighters here.”
Quinn shrugs her bag onto her bed and her books fall out. “English and Spanish, so I’ll be living in the library for the most part. Other than that I’ve got lacrosse.”
It feels so good to know she has it. Lauren seems impressed. “Another scholarship girl?”
For a second she mistakes Lauren’s question as her saying she’s on the team as well. The disbelief in her voice almost sounds insulting. “You too?”
Posters behind Lauren draw Quinn’s attention. Pictures of ripped muscles and gritted teeth and really, really tight speedos. “Wrestling, I was district champion.”
Note to herself: don’t argue with Lauren. The glasses almost had her fooled for a minute.
“I’m cool with you working here. I’m a pretty heavy sleeper.” Quinn confirms. There’s no doubt that she’ll be out like a light anyway between the intense nature of practices, Mercedes had warned her three drinks in, combined with the course load she’s undertaken.
The amount of nodding Lauren is doing is starting to make it lose it’s meaning. “Okay, easy things aside. I think it’s best, considering we’re going to be living here all year, to talk about room rules.”
Interesting, Quinn muses. She’s missing living alone already. “Sure. What kind of rules?”
“Rules for boys.”
Luckily she’s already put her bag down. Unluckily she starts laughing. She promptly stops at Lauren’s unimpressed look however. “Sorry. Me, I’m laughing at me, not you.”
It tides the girl over momentarily. “I’m going to be honest with you, I can handle myself, the guys I meet rarely can but I want to be sure that if needs be-”
Quinn stops her there, she really doesn’t need or want the details. “Text me, the room will be free.”
“The same applies to you.” Lauren tilts her head. “I noticed you talking to that boy on your Facebook. Sam.”
She’s not sure whether she should be more worried about Lauren noticing that or how much she’ll be expected to vacate the room. Oh God, what if she gets like locked out all night?
“That won’t be necessary. He’s just my best friend.” Quinn grimaces, not wanting to have this turn into a coming out conversation this soon. She’s pretty sure she won’t be bringing home girls anytime soon. “Free game.”
Lauren studies something on her laptop that Quinn assumes is her profile before declaring Sam ‘not her type’.
“I’ll let him know.” Quinn smirks.
“As much as I’d like to continue this, I’m needed-” She’s gripping headphones in her hands and grabbing some sort of computer game off her desk. Quinn waves and turns to her own desk. She’ll get used to living with someone else easier than most other changes. She has a sister and they shared a room until they moved when Quinn was eight. It shouldn’t be too hard.
But as Lauren starts speaking to people online about head-shots, Quinn figures she can learn how to live with someone after working out.
Classes don’t come soon enough. Orientation drags. It takes her all around campus, including retracing her steps to the campus bar and seeing where Brittany ended up stopping them, to where she’ll be taking her classes. And more importantly, the library.
She meets a few people and naturally ends up promising to sit by a few of them. Boys give her a second glance moreso than girls, which she’s used to by now. It’ll happen until she wears a shirt that says ‘likes girls’ or something probably.
It’s not so bad though. Her first lacrosse practice is set for Saturday, after a full week of classes. She gets up to run in the morning, quieter than usual, because now she has to tip-toe out of the room without waking Lauren. Only coming back around eight to take a quick shower, grab her books and breakfast before heading to her first English class.
Everything is fairly introductory at first. She claims a seat next to a girl she met yesterday, Karen she remembers, and they exchange numbers in case one of them misses a lecture. It’s refreshing to actually take notes and sit for a while instead of having to run and listen to orders shouted from the sidelines.
Spanish is a little different. Smaller classes for one. The lecturer at the front explains that they have to get more comfortable reading Spanish literature as well as knowing the language, and that they’ll be expected to stay in contact with some second years to further their studies.
By the end of the week she’s gotten the hang of her routine, even though she’ll have to change it again to accommodate her lacrosse practices on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Sharing a room gets easier as well.
Lauren isn’t too bad. Or she would be, Quinn figures, if they actually had to spend more time together. Her side of the room becomes more splattered in posters that confuse her greatly. Quinn’s never met a person who liked classic, well shot vintage movies and Twilight at the same time. Other than this Lauren appears to be living off her wrestling scholarship and the contents of the mini fridge she’s wormed into their small shared room.
She’d offered Quinn a shelf but that was a risk she didn’t want to take.
They get on well. Talking briefly in the morning about lectures and whether or not they’ll meet up for lunch (which they’ve done a few times to introduce each other to people on their courses) and what time Lauren can expect Quinn to drag her sore self back from practice on Saturday.
Maybe at the end of the year they’ll be friends but this casualness suits her for now.
She sends a short email to Sam on Friday night, explaining her week and such, but her mind is anxious for Saturday and her first lacrosse practice. He responds in kind with a light tone about visiting her next week and encouragement to accidentally fall on top of Santana at some point during training.
Quinn laughs but only because she doesn’t have the heart to tell him yet that they’re playing on the same team. In every sense of the phrase.
It’s strange to be standing on an open field and not trapped within the lines of the football stadium. More so when she isn’t surrounded by girls taking the trials but actual members of the firsts team. Which she’s now apart of.
There’s no mistaking that she’s the odd one out though. Not because everyone knows she’s the new girl but because she’s donning the ‘FRESH MEAT’ shirt again while the regular team are clad in varying shirts declaring ‘UCLA’, ‘WLAX’ or ‘BRUINS’ on their chests. Mercedes reaches her first and bumps her shoulder. “You feeling better?”
Oh. She was hungover the last time they spoke. “Much. Amazing what sleep can do.”
“You nervous?” Mercedes presses on. “It’s okay if you are, I mean, we all were.”
Somehow she can’t imagine that Santana was but she’s not her. And the nerves are present. Buzzing in her fingers making her crosse shake slightly but not enough for people to notice. First practice playing a game she’s only sort of getting the hang of. And on top of that, she’s being grouped with two hot shot girls that spent all of Wednesday night pouring drinks down her before walking her back to her shared room.
“Not for the practice but just-” She can’t describe it as well as she wants to. “I don’t think I was the easiest choice for this position.”
Honestly, there were at least five girls who’d played before in the trials. They might not have been as fast or as fit as she was, but they knew the ins and outs of the game better than she did. They had the skills down and the moves practiced.
Quinn had potential and a fluke shot.
What doesn’t help is the sympathetic expression on Mercedes’ face as she says this. “If it’s any consolation, it was either you or Suzy Pepper. The rest weren’t built for shooting.”
It makes her feel better and worse at the same time. She didn’t make friends with the girl, but they’d been cool with each other in the trials. Selfishly she hopes that Pepper didn’t need the scholarship as much as she did.
“Thanks.” Quinn pushes down her raincloud feelings as Coach Beiste strolls onto the field. They no longer have claim on the football field for obvious reasons, and this new area belongs to a sports center a little outside campus, alongside a road. Luckily, Quinn spies the small sports building they had to pass through to get onto the field. Privately owned, she muses. At least there’s still changing rooms for them to use.
“Line up!” Coach calls. Unlike the terrified speed Quinn is used to seeing girls lining up in her cheerleading days, the team quietly and calmly steps into line in front of Beiste. She’s bustled from Mercedes’ side until she winds up next to Santana.
Once again she’s too busy looking at her tied laces to see the exact look the shorter girl gives her.
“Nice, nice. Well first off, welcome back.” There’s a clipboard in her hands again. It gets waved around when she talks to them. “Good to see most of you didn’t drop out last year or elope somewhere.”
A couple of the girls crack grins and eyes dart to the girls at the end of the line. As expected, on Santana’s other side at the end of the line, Brittany stands.
“Secondly, I hope everyone remembers we’ve drafted our new first shooter for the season. Quinn Fabray.”
The eyes turn to her. Faces that she vaguely remembers from initiation tilt their heads at her. Some glimpse at her fresher shirt with amusement until Quinn has to force her eyes forward to ignore how many girls are staring at her chest.
“We’re a pretty close knit team, Fabray, so if you have any problems just ask any one of us.” Coach Beiste reassures her. And Quinn believes the gesture is true. Even if she had any doubts, the smile Mercedes gives her, along with the sudden arm Santana throws around her shoulder convinces her otherwise.
“She’s in safe hands, Coach.” Santana drawls squeezing her close. It should be uncomfortable. The way Santana confines them together, her arm slipping round her next to the point of almost having Quinn in a headlock despite her height, should be awkward.
Instead Quinn can’t even come back with a witticism Sam would be proud of because she’s too busy swallowing her heart back into her chest. Don’t even get her started on her once latent sexual frustration either.
“We’ll see.” The dubious tone of Coach Beiste’s voice is something Quinn really wants to dwell on but can’t as she’s being dragged into the warm up with the rest of her team. The second disappointment comes when she’s forced to remove herself from Santana’s hold.
She’s lining up to run laps when Santana steps to her side with a challenging gleam in her eye. She recognises it from the trials. It’s the ‘catch me’ dare. It’s the look that says Quinn will be stuck watching Santana’s back and never getting ahead of her.
“Think you can keep up Fresher?”
All the words are missing is a spiteful tone. One Santana leaves out purposefully. It’s teasing. It’s telling of how this year might turn out at the same time. She straightens her back, refusing to lower her eyes like she has done, and shrugs.
“Let’s see shall we?”
Before they sprint off in the same direction Santana claps Quinn’s shoulder in acknowledgment. At the end of the day, even though her whole body hurts, the sting of her shoulder stands out.
Half-way through practice Quinn wonders how she could have ever doubted that Santana was into girls.
She’s gone through small reintroductions with Brittany and Santana again for appearances sake before they start on some basic shooting skills. Picking the ball up from the ground (ground balls), throwing, catching, running, dodging and eventually shooting.
Quinn manages to drop the ball more than once and almost trip over her own feet every time the second years include her in their loud and suggestive conversations;
“Harder Santana!” Brittany yells as she runs the length of the field towards the goal. Santana makes a point to wink at Quinn as she rolls the ball she’s prepping for Brittany in the head of her crosse. Somehow that seems sexual.
“Save it for the bedroom baby!”
Quinn is meant to be receiving the ball from Brittany to continue their moving triangle of passes. Instead the ball flies through her legs as Brittany lets out a series of noises to play along with Santana’s bedroom comment.
When she jogs bag with the ball in her crosse she’s still can’t rid her mind of the mental images. If she’s perfectly honest, the blushing-recently-come-out-high-school-girl in her doesn’t want to surrender the images either.
They don’t call her out on her flustered appearance either. Quinn passes the ball to Santana as intended and the chain starts again. Rhythm picks up again and easy comments and tips flow from the older girls to her. By the time they’re ready to move on to shooting against Mercedes, Quinn is pleasantly hot and naturally still in awe of their matched moves.
Striking out of reality she hears Pepper’s voice in her head, pointing out that these girls have played together before. Not just paired together by fate in their first year of college lacrosse. Quinn can only guess for how long they’ve been a two-shot and how exactly she’s going to be able to fit into this.
First practice of the season teaches her a lot. Not just the proper techniques of lacrosse or the rules of the game, but of the team.
She learns that Mercedes is the fastest goal-keeper she’s ever seen. That Brittany dances on the field and off, frustrating everyone with her ability to prance out of the clutches of her defenders and into the scoring zone. That Santana is a flirt with everyone, openly gay and the master of trash talk.
Quinn floundered like a fish for about ten minutes when Santana successfully called her out for missing a catch by implying her surgically altered nose tipped her off balance.
“She isn’t being mean.” Brittany picks her up off the ground where she fell. “She’s just saving you like, weeks of angsting over whether or not to tell us.”
Quinn tries to mutter something with her mouth guard still in her mouth, defending her potential angst but Brittany just smiles and jogs off to get the ball again.
The rest of the practice is spent with her squinting through her goggles and grimacing at the way her shirt sticks to her back in the hot midday sun. Her arms feel sun burnt whilst everyone else looks sun-kissed. She ends up avoiding looking too much at the other shooters, and their closeness, to stop herself feeling completely overwhelmed.
“Wasn’t too bad right?” Mercedes hands her a bottle of water she’d retrieved from Quinn’s bag for her. “You kept up well.”
The mouth guard is quickly dislodged from her mouth. “Didn’t score.”
She uncaps the bottle and gulps down the water thankfully.
“That’s because I’m good.” Mercedes boasts. “And because the wonder twins play hard.”
Somehow she’s downed the whole bottle by the end of Mercedes’ comments. “How long have they been playing together?” She asks curiously.
There’s a pause. “Since high school I think. I never really asked how long though.”
Mentally she puts finding out on her to-do list. “They’re kind of your stars.”
The girl shrugs with a grin. “Let's put it this way: last year we already had shooters when they came along.” Mercedes laughs to herself. “Didn’t really stop them.”
“Wow.” Quinn whispers. She finds them easily enough. Stretching on the field alone. Seemingly lost in their motions. Santana listens to something Brittany says while cooling down. Nodding at the right times, smiling when needed. Quinn feels oddly jealous of their closeness. She misses having that.
“I’ll see you on Tuesday? Hope your classes go alright this week.”
Her little blip of longing vanishes with Mercedes’ kind words. “Thanks, you too.” It’s an eager tone but genuine all the same. She’s going to be playing with these people all year, she has to make an effort.
The time taken for her exchange is all it takes for her to be stalked up to by the predators.
Santana addresses her but pulls up the bottom of her shirt to wipe the sweat off her brow. It would be more disgusting to Quinn if she wasn’t suddenly blinded by the amount of skin shown. And because Santana’s shorts are low riding as well as falling, that’s a lot of tan skin. “Yeah-”
She could really use another drink right now.
“We were thinking about getting something to eat tomorrow. Talk a little bit of game with you.” She explains to Quinn’s blissed out face. Brittany slides beside her and takes the girl’s crosse out of her hand. “You up for it?”
Back in her room there’s a small pile of books and a typed list of recommended readings she wants to get through before classes hit their stride. Small guilt eats at her when she thinks about refusing. After all she wouldn’t even be able to afford to attend lessons if not for lacrosse. She owes it really.
That and, well, two hot girls are offering to take her to dinner.
“I’d love to.” Crap. Don’t say love. “But my friend is coming to visit me tomorrow. I promised to take him around.”
Sam’s first visit is only a day one. He’s been begging her to introduce him to some people that aren’t the usual crowd and maybe then to go see a movie with him. She misses his face here.
“Bring him along.” Santana suggests. “He won’t mind us talking shop if there’s food involved right?”
Brittany giggles like there’s an inside joke there that Quinn hasn’t yet learned. “Sure, if that’s okay with you.” It’s good that Sam’s promised to treat her while he’s here, seen as he’s saving more money and working at home than she is here, because otherwise she’d have to decline the actual eating part of the meeting.
“Just remember, we don’t put out on the first date.” Brittany surprises her with a wink that makes her red in the face. All of this blushing is starting to become a problem.
Santana seals the time and place quickly before picking up both hers and Brittany’s bags chivalrously and wandering to the exit. Quinn doesn’t. Choosing to wait until everyone has said their goodbyes, even Coach Beiste, before running a few extra laps.
Cooling off her aching body as well as her mind. She’s half a mind to invest in a cold shower as well in future practices if this is what her fellow shooters are going to do to her.
Laying back on the grass brings her memories of the soccer field and the last of her summer days. Refreshing but a little mournful.
“One down.” Quinn sighs.
He holds her with his whole body, as he always has, with her feet threatening to leave the ground. “I missed you.” She groans into his shoulder as he squeezes her unnecessarily. He’s wearing a polo shirt she’s never seen on him before. When she pops his collar after he releases her he grins.
“Kurt insists I dress better for work.” He shrugs at the mention of his boss’ son.
“You’re getting dirty, changing the oil on cars.” She challenges. “You should dress better outside work.”
Sam slings his arm around her waist. It’s different than the contact she’s been getting from the last two people who’ve touched her. “I think he just wants something to look at when we’re working.” He teases in good nature. Kurt was the one that got him the job after all. They’ve been good friends since senior year when Quinn introduced them. Kurt attended a private school in Westerville, Dalton Academy, but also came to the LGBTQ meetings Quinn frequented.
They’d been casual friends until Quinn broke it off with her Crawford date and Kurt took her under his wing of woe about private school boyfriends and girlfriends. He charmed her out of her funk.
Sam fit into the equation when he delivered pizza to the meeting as a favour. The boys ended up hitting it off over The Beatles, leaving Quinn smirking about the change of events in the back of Kurt's car.
“So where am I taking you to lunch?” He jokingly moves his hand from her waist . There’s a laughable awkward moment when he misses in his attempt to hold her hand.
For a second her face reveals her uncertainty. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” She covers. Her hand in his, that hasn’t felt wrong since they broke up, feels odd. “We’re meeting Santana and Brittany for lunch.”
“Santana and Brittany?” Sam repeats. “As in...”
She senses his bubbling excitability. He’s already half way to a shit eating grin before she can punch him in the arm.
“Hey! I need them to work!”
“You need them to change oil.” Quinn fires back. “Don’t say anything.”
Sam rubs the sore spot on his shoulder. “What am I going to say? We’re just going to have lunch with your lacrosse hottie and her best friend. Totally not going to say anything.”
“I trust that about as much as I trust your natural hair colour.” Quinn murmurs enough for him to hear and become offended by. “At least you’ve had it cut. You were starting to look homeless.”
“Oh ha ha.” Sam shoves her. A few people on the sidewalk with them have to step around her as she laughs. Her statement hits close to home, as for a while during junior year Sam had almost been homeless.
As they get closer to where they’re supposed to meet Brittany and Santana it occurs to Quinn how far they are away from the UCLA campus. They’ve been walking half an hour from where Sam flew in slash drove his rental car from. She’s not going to bring up why it was necessary for them to find somewhere to eat in West Hollywood though, especially since there’s an In-N-Out Burger closer to campus, it takes the fun out of watching Sam take everything in. Probably mentally getting ready to relay everything to Kurt.
“Watch out.” She warns as he almost falls off the sidewalk. “Come on, just remember - not a word.”
He rolls his eyes but opens the door for her. Sweeping them inside is the smell of burgers and assorted fats. She’d turn her nose up at it all but she ran three miles this morning and ran out of milk for her breakfast. Plus, she’s not paying.
“I guess one of the good things about fast food is that its the same everywhere.” Sam comments. “It’s like you never even left Ohio.”
She skims the place, over excitable children and over-sized old people, to find them talking closely in one of the back booths. They haven’t seen them.
“That’s not really a good thing.” Not that she let herself get fast food in high school. She would have been skinned alive by Sylvester. “They’re over there.”
There’s no need for her to point because Sam manages to hone on them instantly. Looking over her head to take them in. Smiling, touching and waiting on them. Sam actually nudges her when she doesn’t move, stopping only to pick up a handful of straws and napkins before pushing on.
“Hi.” Somewhere between the greeting leaving her lips and Santana and Brittany acknowledging their presence Quinn realizes that they haven’t really gotten to know each other at all. Sans alcohol that is.
Brittany tilts her head until it’s almost resting on Santana’s shoulder. “I thought you were gay.”
Sam’s mouth opens like he’s about to make a comment but is struck dumb. Quinn’s heard worse. At least they’re not being called twins again. Santana rolls her eyes at Quinn’s dubious look. Silently saying that Brittany figured out her inclination on her own. How obvious has she been?
“You said bisexuality was extinct.” Brittany accuses Santana in confusion. “Like the dinosaurs.”
Santana leans back in the booth next to Brittany with a knowing grin. “I said it ‘exists’.”
Brittany seems to accept this for a moment before looking at Sam. “Am I bisexual?”
To her credit Santana just picks up her phone again. “Pansexual, honey.”
Quinn pushes Sam into the booth first so he’s sitting across from Brittany, who looks intrigued by his polo shirt and it’s popped collar, before taking a seat herself. “That’s specific.”
Stretching, especially done by Santana, should be censored. Her shoulders roll back until her arms spread on the back of the booth seat, behind Brittany’s head and hanging off the side of the seat. “She’s really not.”
“Best friends.” Quinn nods and purses her lips. “Definitely just friends.”
“I am a lesbian.” Sam offers to Brittany. “If that helps.”
“With those lips?” Santana gestures to Sam’s mouth with an interested look. “We weren’t in doubt.”
Luckily Sam lets it roll off his back. It was harder for him to do so in high school. What with her breaking up, coming out to him within the space of a few days, it gave the rest of the school ammo against his already small reputation.
“Everyone ready to pick?” Sam deflects. He’s hovering out of the seat he’s just occupied like he’s going to order. Quinn places a hand on his arm.
“I’ll go up, just give me your wallet.” She doesn’t want to leave him to the assaults of the girls but it’s been a few seconds of Santana staring at her across the table like she knows something more than she’s letting on, and Quinn needs to breathe in some grease to clear her hot head.
With his hand in his pocket he jokes. “Robbing me already?” It doesn’t stop him from passing his slightly worn wallet to her.
Santana rifles through her own purse and passes her a few bills. “A double-double, cheese burger, two fries and a lemonade.” At Sam’s shocked expression she sighs. “What do you want Britt?”
Quinn would laugh at it really, but the girls are dressed in loose work out clothes like they’ve been up for hours, so she’s not going to judge. Especially when Brittany mumbles something about getting four hours of conditioning over with before Tuesday.
It all comes down to Santana’s order, Brittany’s hamburger-fries-two-milkshake combo, Sam’s double-double-times two with a coke and her own simple burger and fries. She feels slightly pressured to eat more than she wants to because of the others but refrains. Handing over the $25 hurts a little less knowing it’s not her money being spent.
When she makes her way back to the table, Sam is already in deep conversation. “Quinn!”
She places the tray of food down and sorts every one’s orders out. The only reason the conversation dies is because Sam suddenly has a mouthful of burger. “Slow down cowboy.” She slaps his back when he starts to choke.
“Haven’t eaten in-”
Brittany pushes his coke towards him as he struggles to swallow his food. Serves him right.
“Sammy was just telling us a little about you.” Santana reveals dubiously. Quinn shoots Sam a murderous look.
“Well, about the two of you.” Air quotes come into the equation. “Best friends.”
Quinn groans. “It was a brief courtship.” 2 months from a week after the start of the year in fact. Friends in time to buy each other Christmas presents.
Sam has recovered enough to laugh. “She was in denial. I was new.”
“Not asking for the whole story.” Somehow Santana’s abrupt ending of what would have been Quinn’s coming out story is kind. Giving her an excuse not to have to share something so personal. How accidentally kind of her. “But I can’t say that I haven’t been there.”
Brittany smiles aloof beside her like she knows exactly what Santana is talking about. Their connection runs deep and Quinn wonders if that’s what people see when they talk to her and Sam.
“This one time, San agreed to go out with this guy called Finn-”
“I know a Finn.” Sam interrupts.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same one.” Santana grumbles picking at her food. She builds a picture for them of a tall bumbling boy with a goofy grin and good intentions but a lack of a spine.
“And a lack of, well, finn-esse so to speak.”
She’d be grossed out if she was actually listening to the conversation.
Sauce coats Santana’s fingers accidentally. Which draw her attention to the way the melted cheese and salt off the fries stick to Santana’s digits. Again, if this was a small child, Quinn would be wiping the mess up but it’s not a child. It becomes one of those annoying slow motion moments where Santana sucks her fingers clean leaving the audience, re: Quinn and maybe Brittany as well, squirming to the sounds of Def Leppard ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’.
She doesn’t even have that song on her iPod. Damn her mental background music.
Sam keeps rambling on about something she can’t hear while she takes a needed drink. Really, she’s going to need to stop objectifying her teammate if she ever wants to actually win a game of lacrosse. Oh god, they haven’t even got to the whole uniform aspect yet either. Screwed. She’s screwed.
“So why’d you pick lacrosse? Mercedes mentioned you’ve never played before this.” It’s Brittany bringing her back into the conversation and providing a distraction from Santana’s fingers.
“Honestly?” She clarifies and Brittany opens her hands as if to say ‘no judgement’. “I needed a sports scholarship to stay in school, and I didn’t really feel like joining the golf team.”
Or softball. Or cross country. Or soccer. Or basketball.
“Good save.” Santana adds. “What course are you taking?”
Santana’s question brings her back to her comfort zone. Books and memories of sitting outside in Ohio just reading and wishing to get out. “English with Spanish Linguistics.”
Brittany must slap Santana’s leg because the girl jumps in her seat. “Santana does that too!”
“Just the Linguistics. Minor too?” She recovers, rubbing where Brittany’s hand hit. Quinn bobs her head in confirmation. “Yeah, my uncle has promised me an internship with his firm but I actually have to get a college degree before that becomes permanent.”
Although she wants to ask what job Santana will end up in, it feels like too personal a question so early in their relationship. Friendship, she corrects mentally.
“You’re second years right?” Sam asks, joining the conversation now that he’s made a considerable dent in his food. “You girls play together before college?”
They answer at the same time.
Santana breezes with; “Here and there.” While Brittany brightly confesses that they’ve done this since; “Sophomore year of high school.”
Resigning herself to having to sound like she’s incredibly proud of herself, Santana taps the back of Brittany’s head. “Joined because it was a new team and it seemed like a better choice than Vocal Adrenaline.”
“Show choir was pretty big at Carmel.” Brittany muses. “Not as big as Jesse’s ego though.”
Santana scrunches her nose. “Or his hair.”
“Vocal Adrenaline?” Sam blurts out.
“You went to Carmel High School.” Quinn smiles. Hometown rivals but hometown faces all the same. “We’re Ohio too. William McKinley.”
“No shit.” Her curse is casual and impressed. “Explains a lot anyway, McKinley didn’t have a team for us to play against. You guys were more football orientated right?”
Before Quinn can agree Sam is snorting and opening his mouth again. “Sure, but it was the cheerleading squad that got us more trophies than anything.”
She’s within inches of pinching his leg, a weakness of his, at the mention.
Brittany’s eyes light up unusually. “Cheerleading? McKinley’s squad is the Cheerios right?” She pokes Santana in the ribs. “I told you!”
“I feel like I’m missing something.” The girls share a whole conversation with their eyes, including looks to Quinn and recognition from Brittany.
“Have you ever been on TV?” Comes Santana’s question. She’s scrutinizing her again, like she did at the trials, looking for something familiar.
“Fox Sports Net.” She only remembers because of the huge grant the station gave them in their senior year for appearing.
“Knew it.” Santana nods to herself. “B had a major dance-on for cheerleaders in senior year and we watched the whole show.”
That was Quinn’s junior year. Weeks before she came out, taking nationals live on TV with a routine that she mostly put together with some help from the seniors. She was captain of the squad. Meaning the spotlight was on her. Her family and friends were talked to, she got three minutes to speak to a camera about the way they train and prepare and the inspirations in her life.
There was an embarrassing couple of seconds when Quinn told the reporter she really looked up to women in sports such as Martina Navratilova. The only reason she said her name was because it was the only gay woman she knew in sport. She didn’t even watch tennis.
“I liked your skirts.”
Brittany sips on her milkshake like it’s making her remember what their uniforms looked like three years ago. The playful gleam in her eye makes Quinn avert her gaze.
“First place.” Quinn lets herself gloat a little. It had been a good season for them. The end of a her perfect start on the other hand.
“Took first senior year as well. Not that there was much doubt they would.” Sam backs her up.
Out of sight he runs his thumb over her knuckles in support. His words aren’t that true. Senior cheer nationals had been harder to win considering Quinn had to fight most of her squad to keep control. There had been a few of the girls, ones that knew her well, that didn’t treat her differently because of her sexuality. But with the new recruits, she’d had a harder time. They hadn’t known what winning was like, all they saw was a potential loss with her continued leadership.
“We’ll have to keep your winning streak up then won’t we.”
Taking a drink, Quinn lets herself hope that everything goes according to plan for their lacrosse season.
“How big was lacrosse at Carmel then? We didn’t really keep up with sports in other schools.” That and Sam transferred too late in junior year for him to really care about anything other than his starting quarterback position on the football team, his brief relationship with her and finding a comic book shop in Lima.
“Considering the dismal records of your football team? Not surprised. No offense.” Santana says after a beat.
Sam shrugs and steals some of Quinn’s fries. Slyly Brittany slides her own fries towards him while Santana continues. He doesn’t refuse them.
“It wasn’t really big in sophomore year, because it was the first year it was open but we won a few competitions, got some firsts and we had scouts at our senior year championship against Crawford.” She gestures to their UCLA shirts with a smug pride. “And now we’re here.”
Later on Quinn googles them and finds that a few is really ‘every competition on the high school level’ and ‘competition’s really being ‘national champions’ for four years. While Quinn was strutting round the school and winning trophies for prancing in a skirt to land a perfect routine, Santana and Brittany were charging down fields in an unmatched dance of their own, dominating lacrosse.
Newspapers and loyal lacrosse blogs talk about them in awed typed words and link her to further pages and videos. There’s even a whole front page sports section from a newspaper in Akron announcing them making the UCLA team last year.
It makes her nervous that it’s similarly possible for anyone to find Quinn’s face in the cheer news circles as well. It also shows her that she’s got a lot to catch up on to play at their level
“Scouts? Sounds heavy.” He winks at Brittany but turns to Quinn predictably to mention he’s imitating Marty McFly from ‘Back to the Future’.
“Our Coach, Ms Castle, probably got the school to pay them to be there but it worked out in the end.” Brittany confesses. She’s doodling something with her ketchup.
“We saw you at the application office right?” Santana points out the meeting she was trying to hide. Or trying to convince herself wasn’t the deciding factor in choosing lacrosse. The other girl is smirking like she knows this very fact.
“Looking for cheer.” Quinn stumbles out before she accidentally blurts out why she applied. “Didn’t work out.”
By this point Sam is mostly finished with Brittany’s fries. “I think they prefer to scout for the cheer squad. Brittany looked into it because she’s studying dance but they wouldn’t let her apply for it.”
“What kind of dance do you study?” Quinn asks curiously.
“It’s World Arts and Cultures really.” Brittany smiles bashfully like it’s not as good as it sounds. “I volunteer in some studios in all styles though.”
“I’m making her take a minor in dutch for easy credits.”
“You have to be careful though don’t you?” Sam wipes his hands on the napkins he brought over. “What with lacrosse- it gets violent doesn’t it?”
“It’s not supposed to.” Quinn answers with a hopeful tone.
Santana licks her lips delighted. “Quinn’s right. Technically but ah, we make sure Britt stays out of harms way.”
“Sometimes you punch them though.” Brittany points out.
She’s struck with a forceful image of Santana spitting out her mouth guard at someone only to wind back her left hand and deck her marker across the face.
Santana says “One time,” in a way that sounds like it was definitely not just one time.
“Don’t worry, just the other team,” Brittany reassures Quinn, who must look worried for her face, specifically for her nose.
“I’ll warn you if I ever get to the punching point.” She offers. “It’s usually towards the end of season. If you’re lucky.”
If Quinn wasn’t already slightly terrified Brittany describes an incident where a girl hit Santana in the back of the knees during a game only to leave the field with less fingernails than she came on the field with.
She stares, stunned, as Santana pretends to file her nails against her shirt. A victorious motion. “It’s gonna be an interesting season.”
Her words are similar to Santana’s promise during initiation. She shivers remembering the girl vowing to have ‘so much fun’ with her this year.
“We’re totally going to championships now.” Brittany adds, shaking her empty cup alerts them all to their finished meal. Sam looks like he could go another round with In-N-Out’s menu but Quinn really wants to show him around before he has to make his way back to his car.
Their excused leave is shorter until Santana reminds her about practice and getting her conditioning hours in. “You run in the mornings which is good, but if you ever want to train more just call us up.”
“Thanks. I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of each other anyway.” For once her words aren’t hesitant and Santana looks smug at her confidence.
“That we will. See you later?”
They leave the duo to finish Santana’s drink and hit the side walk outside. The afternoon has rolled on and it’s hot. Sam beams when he fishes his sunglasses out of his shirt to wear. “They seem nice.”
Quinn remains silent. She knows what’s coming.
“Super nice and suuuuper ho-”
He’s skipping out of the way of her balled up fists and openly laughing at how red her face is. “You were doing so well!” He yells. “They didn’t suspect a thing!”
“I hate you!”
People mind them as they speed-walk down the street. “I mean it! Santana totally didn’t catch on to you staring at her for like five minute when I was talking about Finn.”
Lead sinks in her stomach. “Oh please say you're not being sarcastic.” She’s going to think she’s a freak. She can’t have that. Shit. “I’m joining an abstinence society.”
If she does that and starts investing in pleated skirts it’ll be three years ago all over again.
Sam ruins her fun. Once again pulling her into his side. “Like hell you are. Besides, I don’t think she would mind even if she did notice.”
“I have to play with them, Sam.”
“We’re still talking lacrosse here aren’t we?” Sam asks.
“Again, it will always be lacrosse until I tell you it’s sex.” A few people overhear and turn her way. She lowers her voice. “I don’t want it to get awkward. I could get punched in the face.”
“For checking her out?”
“If it distracts me from scoring, yes!” Her phrasing sounds off.
She’s stopped outside a store. Sam peers down at her from under his shorter fringe. It’s weird, but she notices now that his hair is getting browner. “I’m not gonna tell you to hide this or anything, or to go for it and ask her out.” He says. “I know you need friends here and relationships are secondary to that. But just play it as it comes.”
“She...unnerves me.” Quinn admits. “It’s completely stupid but I feel like someone has just whipped all of the confidence I had in high school from under me and I’m shy. I’m never shy.”
“You’ve been shy for a while Quinn.” Sam confesses. “It’s not a bad thing. Cheerios just gave you a channel not to be shy.”
She prefers reading, listening to music; it’s been more irksome that first predicted, learning to live with Lauren, a girl with older brothers who never gave her a spare moment to herself, in comparison to her quieter and stricter upbringing. But she’s never thought of herself as a withdrawn person.
“It’s not a bad thing.” Sam tells her.
Her sigh is the only agreement he gets and the only sound she makes until he spots a McDonalds and drags her in there for his second lunch. She can’t roll her eyes enough at him.
“Play it cool.” Is the best advice he gives her when she sees him off later that day.
She leans through the window to hug him goodbye. “Come back soon.”
“I will. Just keep me posted.” He’s strapping himself in now. “I’ll try and make it down for Veteran’s Day or something.”
She can’t help the smile. “That’s way too close to you finishing the semester.”
“All the more reason.” He taps against the steering wheel. “Call you when I get home.”
“Have a safe flight.”
He’s turning out and onto the road. His presence is here and gone like he’d never even stayed all that long at all.
Chapter 3: part five
She knew this was going to happen. Not the part where she’s almost been hit in the face twice by a ball or that she’s grazed her knees in dirt after the first half hour of practice.
She just knew she’d get distracted. Her mind goes elsewhere when it comes to school. It’s how it’s always been. Quinn can’t help it. Physically she’s here; running and busting a gut to keep up with everyone but mentally she’s flipping through pages and planning out assignments that aren’t even due yet.
It happened with the cheerios until Coach Sylvester threatened to make her tumble from more than just the top of the pyramid and she managed to figure out how to do school at the same time as cheer.
She’s lucky with the verbal warning and the ball is pocketed into the head of her crosse. But as she’s running towards the goal, keeping Brittany in sight for her next pass, she’s still thinking about her cultural discussion in Spanish linguistics.
Compartmentalizing is harder when she’s trying to learn three really important things at the same time rather than manage two separate activities.
Brittany catches her less than enthused pass and just as Quinn is about to switch off again into her lecture notes, Santana shoves her. Not enough to make her hit the ground but enough to send a burst of adrenaline through her system, shocking her back into the game.
“Where the hell are you? Coach thinks you’re fucking high.” Santana seethes through her mouth guard. All she can do is raise her eyebrows apologetically. “You’ve still got to impress us.”
She sinks. Crap.
Santana is already sprinting back into the practice game they’ve set up. The proper rules aren’t being enforced just yet, to give Quinn a chance to adjust to playing with the team, and she’s letting everyone down.
A part of her yells out inside. Ironically in her mind she visualizes it at her, aged fourteen and dressed in her cheer uniform. Steam comes out of her ears as she berates Quinn for tackling this with anything less than her full attention and effort. How else is she going to own it?
She stares hard at Santana’s back. No, not because she has a nice back- whatever. The disappointed part of her bubbles up fast and she sighs. She needs help with this. No matter how bad it’s going to hurt her pride.
They can’t win games if she’s only a fluke shot.
Sucking up her pride is hard though. Harder than having to ignore the confused looks Coach Bieste gives her when she starts playing the last few minutes of the game with her head in it and harder than trying not to read too much into the way Santana keeps glancing at her.
Her laces are untied when she talks to them at the end of practice. She’s choosing to focus on that rather than Santana’s glistening skin or Brittany’s lips around her water bottle.
“I just want to be better.” Quinn admits.
“Try actually focusing then.” Santana returns, still irked by Quinn’s lack of motivation. “And you will be.”
“I’ve had a hard week in classes.” She won’t apologise for caring about her course. “I couldn’t switch off.”
“We could help you find it.” Brittany offers. “Santana’s off switch is at the-”
“Leave the books in the bedroom Fabray and you’ll be fine.” Something tells her Santana didn’t want Brittany to finish that question. Amused, Quinn raises an eyebrow. “Turn up to practice and practice properly.”
“Okay.” Quinn promises. “But that’s not what I came to ask you.”
They’re pretty much the only ones on the field now. Everyone cleared off after their match ended and Coach dismissed them.
“Spit it out.”
Brittany’s mouth is full of water and Santana has to put her hand up to signal that she wasn’t directing that at her.
“You said, if I wanted, we could train together sometime.” The girls in front of her don’t look as surprised as she thought they would hearing this. “I’d like to take you up on that, if that’s alright.”
She’s got about a month on their four straight years of winning to compete with. There’s no way they’ll make it through the upcoming matches if she isn’t working with them like they’re used to. And with their first league match in two weeks, she’s got about six practices to bridge the gap as much as possible.
Santana is picking at a band-aid she has on the inside of her palm. Brittany takes the distraction to take her friend’s crosse stick and place it inside their sports bag. “Sure.”
The affirmation knocks the wind out of her. In a good way that is.
“Email your schedule to Brittany when you get home and we’ll set something up.” Santana tells her. “Don’t worry, I’ll give you some time to get your study on and whatnot but we’re going hardcore until the first match.”
“Obligatory disclaimer.” Brittany smiles brightly, hiking their bags on her shoulder. Must be her turn to carry them out this week.
“I can handle it.”
What she can’t handle is the suggestive way Santana obviously takes that, and how she smirks before purposely looking her up and down. From her grazed knees, to the scratches on her knuckles and the bruises on her elbows. “We’ll see.”
“Email me later.” Brittany reminds her, holding up her hand for a high five, which Quinn returns. Santana rolls her eyes and stalks in the opposite direction.
Stuffing her own crosse and water bottles in her bag she crosses out another line. “Two down.”
Lauren doesn’t bat an eye when she drags herself back to their room. Just gives her a quick once over to make sure she’s not dying before returning to her world of war or something. Quinn grimaces and places her bag under her bed. She’ll get to the washing of her kit later but for now she stumbles back out of the room to the kitchen.
When she gets back, complete with more frozen peas icing her ankles, she sets her laptop on her lap to send Brittany her classes.
Between her major, studying, normal lacrosse practices and all of the reading she has to do, she really doesn’t have much time to spare.
She’s got Saturdays after practice, the nights after Tuesday and Friday practices are usually free because she’s been getting her work done early, and Wednesdays. It doesn’t seem like a lot but she sends it anyway to Brittany’s email (email@example.com).
She gets a reply much quicker than expected. If she’s going to be mean then she expected Brittany not to reply at all until tomorrow morning or something...
They were being serious about the conditioning thing.
She spots Lauren staring at her gawping face and quickly closes her mouth.
The email goes something like this:
Everything is mostly in caps-lock. Brittany uses a lot of smiley faces. Brittany also mentions that Quinn is going to start running with them in the mornings rather than on her own. Not everyday, Brittany types, because Santana can be mean in the mornings. Just on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays...
That’s a lot of days. Quinn better buy more coffee.
Then after practices they’ve arranged to keep Quinn back for another hour to go over the things in the session, as well as getting her to play better.
Brittany uses the end of the email to let her know that sometimes they’ll just call in and take her out to do things as well. And that she’s welcome to stop by their apartment to hang out as well.
It’s when she reads the last line, and starts beaming like an idiot with peas on her legs, that Lauren calls her out.
“It’s nothing, just...cats that look like Hitler.” She lies. Well, she can’t exactly admit the real reason she’s smiling.
“DON'T WORRY ABOUT SANTANA, SHE THINKS YOU'RE COOL.
LOVE YOUR FRIEND
Brittany S. Pierce”
Santana refuses coffee in the mornings.
“Don’t drink it until after the run.” She’s using Quinn’s dorm kitchen to fill hers and Brittany’s water bottles however.
That’s logical, but it’s half five and she doesn’t usually run this early so she’s drinking her damn coffee.
“How far do you usually run in the mornings?” Brittany asks.
Just showing how disoriented she is with the time, it takes her a couple of minutes to remember. “Usually three miles on a good day.” Which she hasn’t been hitting since starting lacrosse practices. “Two for the last week though.”
“Including the run back?” Santana asks. Quinn shakes her head. “Nice. We’re going to step it up a bit though. You’ve got what? About three or four hours until your class today?”
Quinn thinks. “I have Spanish at ten.”
“We have a while then. I’ll remember that.” Santana tosses Brittany her water. “How’s this sound, we get you hitting your three miles out, good or bad days, and everything after that is pushing harder.”
It sounds good. Three miles was her usual run back in Lima. That was in addition to all of the running and sprints she had to do for the cheerios. So far she’s not even hitting that in their lacrosse practices. It’s wearing on her work-out guilt.
“Where do you usually run?”
“Along Sunset, until about Maltz Park.” It’s usually about seven am when she gets there and she normally walks around for a bit to loosen her muscles before lightly jogging back to campus.
Santana must visualize the route in her mind. “Okay, we’ll keep with Sunset, and pass through North Beverly before we get to Coldwater. Another park.” She nods to Brittany. “That’s about three miles.”
She finishes her coffee. “Lets go.”
“Okay, okay stop!” Quinn cries out about two miles down. On a normal morning this is where she’d be stopping to rest and walk off the run for a bit. Santana and Brittany have been charging them ahead still at a faster pace which, while she can keep up, is catching up with her now.
“What’s happening?” Santana turns her head and calls back. She finally stops when she sees Quinn bent over at the waist, grabbing at her calf. “Crap.”
Brittany reaches her first as she was running behind Quinn to keep her from falling too far back. “Did you pull something?”
“I don’t think so, it’s just cramping a bit.” Touching the back of her calf reassures this. Her leg shakes. “You can run ahead if you want.”
“Not so fast.” Santana jogs up to them. “Let’s get off the road before someone runs us down.”
Luckily they’d just turned out of Sunset and away from the main roads. Santana angles Quinn in between her and Brittany, slyly supporting her until they get to the sidewalk. “Drink something too, you look ready to pass out.”
Water helps actually. Not just because of her leg but it stops her from reacting less than appropriately when Santana takes her calf and starts to massage the tense muscle. Sure she squeaks a little but hopefully that passes off as pain.
“How’s that feel?”
For a second she almost says ‘fantastic’ but Brittany catches her eye with an expression so close to ‘I know what you’re really thinking’ that Quinn chokes and just nods out “Better.”
She’s able to get up and finish the run as well. All three miles down. It’s nearing eight when they stop to get water from a nearby store.
“Same time tomorrow?” Brittany asks. “Maybe we’ll do it faster.”
“Stretch your leg out better tomorrow Fabray. Don’t want you injuring yourself before this game.” Santana comments flippantly. “I really don’t want to have to ask someone from the seconds team to step in for you.”
Quinn doesn’t want that either. Especially if the girl is Michigan.
And she does. She wakes up beforehand on Thursday and stretches her legs out well. Warmth burns in them still when Santana and Brittany meet her on campus and intensifies as they start to run.
But it happens again. “Shit.”
And again on Friday.
“Damnit!” The cramp brings her down to one knee but she’s quick to move herself to the side of the road and away from any traffic. Her hands are already working the kinks out when Santana runs back.
“Sorry.” Quinn apologizes.
“You’ll be fine for practice.”
“I’ll be fine in two minutes.” Quinn fires back. “I think it’s a mental thing. Every time we hit this road my body just shuts down.”
“S’better than my explanation.” Santana reasons.
Brittany, as always, follows up in her run from behind. “Oh, San thinks you keep cramping up because you’re sexually frustrated or something.” She looks at Santana. “That’s what you meant right?”
If Quinn wasn’t flushed from the run already her face would be bright red. “W-hat?”
Santana doesn’t even flinch at Quinn’s embarrassment, though her smile tells her she thinks it’s funny. “Hey, you should be happy I recognized your plight. It means we’re getting to know each other.”
Quinn chooses that moment to think of Sam teasing her about how obvious she was during the dinner last weekend. The last thing she needs is for Santana to pick up on her objectifying crush before Quinn has the chance to stomp it out.
“We’ll be the three best friends that anyone could have.” Brittany sings and twirls past Santana to start running again. “We’re going to be late!”
“Late for what?” Santana yells at her retreating back. “And that’s from The Hangover!”
Quinn snorts and staggers to her feet again. The cramp once again has disappeared. Whether because it was all mental or because she’s so embarrassed at Santana’s implication that it’s just been scared away. “She’s definitely the white rabbit in wonderland.”
Santana places a hand on her hip just below where her shirt rides up while she pulls her leg back to stretch her hamstring briefly. “What does that make me?”
She surprises Quinn by looking genuinely interested.
“Um, the Cheshire Cat.”
It’s the wrong answer. Santana doesn’t look offended by it at all but Quinn knows that’s not the part she’d really put her in.
“Well come on, Alice.”
She follows the White Knight as best she can.
“I’m being serious though.” Santana informs while they run together. Brittany is ahead of them by about a road. “You better not cramp up like this anymore. So do us all a favor and have an orgasm or two.”
“Oh my God.”
“If you want I can ask Britt-”
A wicked smile. “Too soon in our budding friendship?”
“Forever would be too soon for that.”
The word ‘friendship’ sticks in her mind all day like the moral ending to a Sesame Street episode. Except her classes for the day are not sponsored by the letter ‘G’ and the number ‘eight’ and she actually has to focus on Spanish culture for two hours.
Her lecturer mentions again about making connections with their second year TA students at some point this semester. She notes it down. She also takes notes on how many miles she’s run this week. Her mental image of Sam notes how many times she had to catch her breath when Santana ran past her.
It doesn’t help her concentration. It puts her on edge and anxiety for the later lacrosse practice builds. It’s noticeable to those around her.
“Do you want to grab a drink? You look ready to faint.” Karen, she remembers, asks. Quinn really doesn’t want to say no but there’s a severe lack of money in her pocket that she doesn’t want to draw attention to.
“I’m good, I don’t mind walking with you to get a drink though.” She smiles. Her friend thanks her and they walk out of the classroom. “What did you think of the lesson?”
It’s nice. Talking about something she’s interested in with someone else. It’s certainly something she would have killed for in high school. Not that Sam wasn’t interested in things. His taste in literature though was more towards discussions of DC versus Marvel. (Which she did contribute once but she’s repressing that).
By the time they get to the coffee place Quinn is thirsty. However she’s once again forced to zone in on her empty purse. She can’t even afford caffeine right now. At least not until finance lets her scholarship go through at the weekend.
“Can I use your laptop to check my email?” She ends up asking, instead of wishing for whatever latte-coffee-mocha-combination they sell. Karen blinks but unzips her bag.
“Sure. Find us a table?”
Quinn nods, taking off with the laptop.
Really though, no amount of email checking is going to stop her taking in the aroma of the place. Except if there’s...
(1) New message.
That does help.
It’s not a response to her last email; where she asked him whether or not ice baths actually helped after working out, but there’s a Youtube link, followed by a smiley face ( ;] ) and a mature content warning.
A line down he points out that it’s not porn.
Which is good, because this isn’t her laptop and she doesn’t need to explain to her new friend why she’s accidentally watching lesbian (she assumes) porn. In the middle of the day no less.
She clicks on it with a quick check behind her. The title puts her at ease and on edge at the same time. It’s not porn but seeing ‘Santana Lopez Lacrosse EPIC’ doesn’t give her a chance to get rid of her anxiety either.
It starts to play. Showing Santana running down the field. The person behind the camera cheers. Brittany appears as well. Running with the ball in her crosse. They’re dressed in navy polo shirts and white skirts. The Carmel Lacrosse uniform. They can’t be more than 15 or 16 in the video.
“Did you check your email?” Karen asks, coming back with her coffee. Quinn suddenly feels caught watching something she shouldn’t.
“Ah sorry. There was a link.” Politely she pauses the video and angles it so they can both see. “I’ve started playing lacrosse for the first time and some of my teammates have played before. Apparently they’re really good and-” Her save is appreciated.
“It’s cool.” Karen waves her off. “Press play. I’m a big fan of college sport.”
She doesn’t waste time doing so. Trying to ignore Karen as the camera focuses on the younger Brittany and Santana again. Quinn manages to keep up with most of the action. The flawless way the girls work together almost completely forgetting about the third shooter, which she doesn’t want happening to her, and communicate on the field.
That’s up until an opposing player knocks Brittany to the ground. “Ouch.” Karen mutters.
Seconds later the both of them are recoiling from the video clutching their mouths. “What the hell!”
Karen flaps her hands, wincing as the video continues. “You play lacrosse with that girl!?”
“Oh God there’s blood. I can see it, oh gosh.” Quinn mumbles through her hand and blinks rapidly. It’s not going to take the mental image of what Santana just did out of her mind though.
For the rest of the day until practice ‘friendship’ is erased from her head and replaced with fear. And blood. In fact, her face actually pales when she spots Santana changing in the changing rooms (and not because she was undressing), so much so that the girl approaches her like she’s about to pass out.
“Fabray, what the hell? You look like you’re about to throw up.” Santana puts her arms out. “Please don’t throw up on me. Half this hair isn’t mine.”
“You knocked out a girl’s teeth.” Quinn blurts out, shivering again. “Because she pushed over Brittany.”
Santana actually looks a little surprised like she doesn’t remember this event. “So?”
Quinn balks. “Her front teeth! There was blood everywhere!” All over her lip, down her neck and staining her shirt. Maybe even coming from her nose as well.
“Her fault for not wearing a mouth guard.” Santana shrugs, slipping on her UCLA shirt. “You’ve been Youtube stalking me?”
Backtrack quick! “Both of you.” Oh, that makes her sounds so much better. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine.” Quinn has completely missed Santana getting changed by this point. She’s not sure whether she’s supposed to be disappointed. “Besides, that’s not even the worst video.”
“Suddenly I feel the need to go out and buy some ice.” Quinn admits, dropping her own bag in preparation to change out of her clothes. Which is really stalling because Santana hasn’t left yet and she’s still hearing the words ‘sexual frustration’ echo in her head between picturing Santana punching some girl’s teeth out.
“Please,” Santana snorts. “I’m not even that bad.”
An hour later when Quinn is groaning on the floor after one of Santana’s shots smacked into her cheek, just under her goggles, Santana has the decency to retract the statement.
“Is it bad?” Quinn takes out her mouth guard to mumble. Her head feels really fuzzy. Santana juts out her bottom lip.
“No.” She insists.
Brittany, however, is less helpful. “It looks like you strapped a plum to her eye San.”
“Sorry.” Santana says again. Quinn’s lost count of how many times she’s heard it since she hit the floor. Most of them she couldn’t make out Santana’s voice in but her face said it all as well.
Brittany places a hand on Santana’s back. “Go get some ice.”
Santana obeys almost instantly shrinking away from Quinn while others stepped in to help her sit up. Although she hates that she’s obviously missed something other than the pass. On the bright side, at least she’s still got a full set of teeth.
“I’m fine.” Quinn utters, hesitantly bringing her fingertips to push against her cheek. Ow. Bad idea. “Seriously.”
She’s totally lying though, as evidenced by the small tremor of pain emitting from where she just poked her face. Santana makes a hard shot and hey, is that a star-? “We can still stay and practice.”
“Not happening pop-eye.” Santana returns with the ice. Quinn bites her lip. She’d run back to her. “There’s no way you’ll get anything out of continuing our three-way session if you can’t see.”
She can totally see. The pop-eye comment though just adds to her dread of seeing what her cheek actually looks like.
“Sorry.” Santana mutters taking a look at her injured face again. Luckily it’s followed up by her handing Quinn the ice. Though for a second Quinn expected her to hold it against her cheek herself.
“I’m fine, honestly. And I can see.” Quinn argues. But wow, this ice is doing wonders for her her right now.
“Really?” Comes a mocking question. Quinn has no time to make anything out of that tone because Brittany tosses one of the lacrosse balls to the right of her. It flies straight past her, nowhere near her if she’s going to admit it, but she flinches like she expected it to make direct contact.
“Yeah, no.” Santana continues packing away all of their gear, even Quinn’s. “What we’re going to do is keep icing your face, go get changed, take you out to eat something substantial and then walk you home. Hopefully the bruising will go down before your classes tomorrow.”
“How will that help me practice for the game?” She’s bitter about this. She’s not even blaming Santana at this point. If she’d been more aware of herself on the field, Santana wouldn’t have hit her.
“It’s not all about practice Quinn.” Brittany looks saddened, pulling Quinn’s hand and helping her off the ground, where she’s been sat watching the end of regular training. “You have to relax, get to know us as off the field as well as on it.”
Well damn. Now it hits her. All the sessions, the running, the meeting up; she’s really dropped the ball on this. She’s trying to be a good teammate while they’re trying to be her friends.
“Where do you want to eat then?”
Brittany claps excitedly. “I’m voting pizza.” She turns to Santana. “As long as we don’t get pineapple because Spongebob still needs his house.”
Quinn stares blankly at Santana as Brittany charges ahead of them. “He lives under the sea y’know.”
Oh. Inside joke.
Inside joke she’s just become apart of.
“I’ve also heard he’s absorbent and yellow and porous.” She adds, silently admitting that she has sat through the show. Yet no teasing follows, just Santana reaching out for her shoulder to steer them towards the changing room.
“Just don’t start singing it.”
“Aye aye Captain.”
“Put your money away.” Santana barks. They’ve been having this mini argument since getting in line at Pizza Fusion.
“You’re buying pizza for yourself and Brittany, I can pay.” Quinn stresses. Of course she can pay, it’s killing her a little inside but she has money on her. Money Santana is refusing to take from her.
“I hit you in the face. I’m buying you your damn pizza.” Santana growls. Quinn goes to protest but Santana is already slapping down money for their order (traditional cheese pizza with side toppings for all of them, even if they had stared at her strangely for requesting bacon, salad and flat bread) and fixing her with a challenging glare.
“Another word and I’ll give you another black eye.” She jokes. The teenage boy behind the counter lets out a squeaky mumble of domestic violence before he rushes to complete their order. “Sorry.”
“Stop.” Quinn ducks her head. “I wasn’t watching.” She mumbles hoping Santana will finally leave it.
But Santana just shrugs before tapping the counter. The frightened boy that serves them trips over his own feet to get back to them “Yes?” He asks, eying Quinn’s bruised face.
“Can you just like, dump a load of ice in a ziplock bag for us? My friend here’s just been assaulted.” Her voice is the most sickly sweet and manipulative she’s ever heard in this moment. And it’s pretty awe inspiring.
“S-sure.” He stammers, leaving again to get on with their order.
“I really hope he doesn’t call security.” Quinn points out. “He did hear you before.”
“I’m a little more concerned he’s going to fall on his face and drop all of our food.” She has a point. Quinn can see his untied laces from here. “I’ll go back to the table. They have bathrooms at the back if you want to check your face.”
Walking into the bathroom is like tossing a double edged sword. Or light saber. She really does want to see the damage, but with the huge build up people have been making upon seeing her, she kind of wants to live in ignorance.
“Crap.” Is the lamest curse that comes to her mind and the only one she lets out.
Thank God for her protective goggles is her first thought.
Second being thank God it wasn’t her mouth getting hit.
Her cheek is growing a dark purple by the second. The darkest part of the bruise just under her eye, where her goggles rested, and the lightest towards her nose. Oh God, what if it had hit her nose?
She washes her hands before running a wet paper towel over her face. A flake of mud comes off as she does and it was probably a good idea to get that off her face before eating.
She’ll have a nasty black eye in the morning despite it not hitting there along with the bloodshot red she can see, the curse of her complexion really. Shit. She has to go to classes like this. Shit. She has to tell people that she got hit in the face by Santana’s...ball.
Maybe she should tell everyone she was jumped. It sounds a lot less sexual.
“Here.” Is the first thing Santana says to her when she makes it back to their table. Their salads and flat bread have been delivered along with Quinn’s zip-lock of ice.
“Thank you.” Pressing the ice to the right side of her face again is bliss. Now she just has to find away to eat at the same time. “It’s not actually as bad as I thought it’d be.”
“It’s pretty bad Quinn.” Brittany points out. “Are you sure we shouldn’t take her somewhere? Coach said we should.”
“I’ll be fine. Bed rest. Maybe some antibiotics, lots of ice...” She needs to reinvest in frozen bags of vegetables again. Lauren ate all of her frozen corn.
“Someone to kiss it better?”
She learns that it is entirely possible to choke on salad.
And that Brittany thumping her back to stop her from choking doesn’t help as much as she wants it too. Combine that with how she’s got mental images of Brittany kissing her face and she’s in a bit of a haze. “I think you broke her Britt.”
“I don’t think that will be necessary-” Quinn forces out, reaching for her drink. She pulls the ice bag from her face, wincing as she addresses Brittany.
“But Quinn, I’m an awesome kisser.” Brittany bites her lip and leans forward on her elbow. She’s not going to lie. It’s tempting.
Santana sees her deliberating face and throws a piece of bread at her to snap her out of her Brittany-trance. Like she sees this happen a lot with her best friend. “Yeah Quinn. She’s an awesome kisser.”
Quinn half-glares as she tries to swallow her food. “Speaking from experience?”
All she gets in response is Santana wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.
It’s all too much. The flirting and the laughing and the straightforwardness. It’s not even embarrassing her anymore. So she laughs, letting herself smile fully for what feels like the first time since Sam visited. “Gosh.”
“Gosh?” Brittany repeats. By now they’re all starting to pick up on Quinn’s giggling fit. The three of them, trying not to burst out into loud and obnoxious laughter sees them, sitting around their table silently shaking.
“I think I’m going to have to keep a count of how many times you’ve pimped Brittany out to me.” It’s probably about three at the moment if she’s not including how many times Brittany has probably pimped herself out.
She’s pushed the idea a few times since their runs started. Casually like she’s offering to sell her a book or something. And every time Brittany beams at her with a enthused wave.
“You think I’m bad?” Santana jests. “You should look up the women seeking women Craigslist for L.A sometime with us. I’ll point out all the posts that are Brittany.”
“Are you serious?” Quinn deadpans.
“I like dates.” Brittany smiles. “And also pizza. So I’m counting this as a date.”
Santana gives her a ‘just roll with it’ shrug that shucks the nervousness of her face. It’s also a little sad that if she’s considering this a date, this will be the first one she’s had since breaking up with Serena the start of senior year. Wow. That’s actually a little bit depressing.
It’s not that she couldn’t get a date after Serena. There were a few girls interested in her through the LGBTQ group she was in back home. It was just that after junior year and finally making her peace with Sam and finding time to make friends, dating didn’t seem like her biggest to-do.
The summer after junior year had been a different story. She was out and eager, as bad as it sounds, and open to asking girls out. Getting back to school after that put a downer on her outlook. She’d realized that she didn’t want to be with someone in Lima if she was eventually going to be moving to college. Short relationships weren’t really her thing.
Kurt had agreed with her sentiment. His junior year had started in Dalton and she’d known he’d been dating casually but nothing serious. She remembers him telling her a million and one things about love, or his ideals on it, but only one thing ever really stood out.
“I honestly don’t want to settle in Lima.” He told her. They’d drove home from another meeting together but didn’t want to leave each other just yet. So they sat in his car listening to the Footloose soundtrack and just talked. “My dreams, my ambitions-” He laughed just once. “Are much bigger than here and I want someone who gets that. Who wants more.”
“What if he’s here though, the guy for you?” She whispered it because it was a wonder. It was a big what if? What if he’d leave it all behind? Would she leave that all behind?
Kurt leaned back in his seat and slowly a wide smile came across his face. He wasn’t grinning with his teeth, but he was indulging in his own happiness. “Then he’d have to come with me then wouldn’t he?”
He’d then leaned over the console to grab her hand. “In the end it doesn’t matter where they are, it’s about where they’re going to take you.”
“Even if it’s Lima?” She quipped.
“Even if it’s Lima.” Kurt eventually agreed.
Looking back now though she’s not so sure if he was talking about finding someone to love, or chasing her dreams.
Thinking about it now, while Brittany dishes out the pizza that’s just been delivered to them without incident and while Santana touches her friends shoulder when she thinks no one notices, Quinn wonders if there’s even a difference between the two things.
Brittany thanks them both for the date as they head towards Quinn’s shared room. Swinging on Santana’s hand for a moment before taking Quinn’s while she jokes about not putting out on the first date. To which Santana bursts into a coughing fit that sounds suspiciously like laughing.
She knows Lauren is still awake, her twitter feed is full of sarcastic comments about her computer science lecturer, so she doesn’t have to worry about sneaking back in as they get to her floor.
Santana takes the break from Brittany’s enthused contacts to roll her eyes at Quinn. “This is the last time we’re walking you home Fabray. I hated college dorms the first time around.”
“You wouldn’t have to if you didn’t hit me in the face-” Quinn points out lightly.
Brittany skips ahead of them to Quinn’s door and grabs the marker on the dry erase. “Quinn has a point Santana. Her face is all smooshy now.”
Santana grumbles as they slide up to Quinn’s door. “Whatever it’s not even permanently damaged. Look.”
And then she raises her hand. Quinn holds her breath a little. That’s always been her reaction around girls like Santana. Which was her excuse when she was intimidated by them, and later on when she was just generally attracted to them. Hold your breath, don’t let them know. Poker face even.
She’s not going to read into it. Nope.
Like hell she isn’t.
Santana’s fingers brush the very edge of where she remembers her bruise to be. By the corner of her eye, trailing down, like she’s assessing the area. Or just touching her. Quinn prefers that answer but knows realistically it’s not what she thinks it is.
“See?” She challenges Brittany who looks unimpressed still. “Seriously though If you need more ice I can get my buddy Puck to drop some off.”
Quinn feels touched. Brittany coughs suspiciously.
Santana changes her mind. “On second thought we could drop it off. Puck can be a bit of a horn dog.”
“I could drop it off.” She states finally. “What’s wrong with your legs?” She fires at Brittany.
“They’ll be in classes, dancing to hip hop better than you ever could.”
Santana turns back to her while Brittany distracts herself with doodling on the dry-erase board on Quinn’s door. “You try and do something nice and your best friend shoots you down. I see how it is.”
Brittany goes back to drawing three stick figures holding lacrosse sticks. Quinn assumes the one who’s face is half black with the tears in it’s eyes is her.
“I’ll let you know when I run out of frozen peas then.” She smirks. Halfway through gloating is a bad time to realize that Brittany’s stick figure of herself is a lot taller than Quinn and Santana. Lauren is going to think they’re being stalked between the drawings and Quinn’s face.
“I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Santana throws a smug look back at her. “Afternoon practice.”
And she totally forgot about that. Damn.
“Night Quinn.” Brittany blows a kiss out of her palm to her and won’t move until Quinn pretends to catch it. She’s not blushing. Nope. Not even when Santana mocks the both of them by copying Brittany only to flip Quinn the bird at the last second.
Still not blushing.
Not even when Lauren asks who she was sweet talking outside.
Not one bit.
“She hit you.” Lauren deadpans. “In the face. With-”
“A lacrosse ball.” Quinn confirms. “By accident.” Tacking the disclaimer on the end by this point in the conversation is starting to convince people of the opposite.
She’d been stared at in the store when she went food shopping, to the sports place where she picked up another mouth guard (just in case) and some more string for her crosse. Little kids on the street had even openly gaped at her.
Ice only helped so much.
“And you’re still going to practice?” Lauren asks again. It’s actually amazing how interested in this the girl is, considering this if probably the longest conversation they’ve had outside; ‘hi!’ and ‘how are you?’.
She considers a sarcastic reply. Asking if Lauren would still consider going to wrestling if some guy accidentally slapped her ass or something. In fact she pauses from her place at the mirror, where she’s religiously applying concealer that will sweat off anyway, to deliver it. Except she’s not that girl anymore.
“Yeah.” She says instead. “We have our first game coming up.” Her first game. Her knees shake.
“Oh.” Is all that gets. “Good luck then.”
The purple bruise is still evident under the make-up. “Thanks.” Quinn murmurs.
Her routine with Santana and Brittany solidifies with two weeks to go before her first game. They run in the mornings, not all the time, but Quinn can usually expect a text the night before to prepare her if they’re going to drag her out. She’s stopped taking her coffee before that early exercise as well. The cramps, to Santana’s amusement and endless teasing, have stopped too.
Apart from the one missed session due to her eye injury, they’ve kept the after lacrosse sessions going too. Staying behind on the field to practice later in the evenings in order for Quinn to learn or attempt to keep up with their well rehearsed rhythm.
It would be awe inspiring to her if she wasn’t so out of breath trying to return Brittany’s slight of the hand passes or Santana’s aggressive give-and-go’s.
Somehow between all of that Quinn’s managing to keep up with her academic work, just barely. Karen has been a godsend for her lectures. They compare notes after classes and email frequently about upcoming projects. If they didn’t, Quinn doesn’t doubt, that she’d be weeks behind her fellow classmates.
Quinn indulges herself in English works she’s always wanted to write about and studies Spanish in a way her high school could have only dreamed of. She learns from Santana how playing left handed is something all players should practice. Brittany teaches her how to smile even if she finds herself face down in the dirt or tripping over her own feet. And in the back of her mind she has Sam teaching her how to miss home but still enjoy herself away from it.
She has her solid routine. Done.
Which is why her invisible audience can colour her surprised when she turns up to their Wednesday afternoon session and Brittany is the only one waiting there for her. She might hide it better than she thought but Brittany can read people like no other.
“She’s fixed on.” Brittany twirls her crosse in her hand as they walk onto the empty field. Quinn stops to tie her shoe before they have to start and if she didn’t know any better she’d think Brittany was checking out her ass. No, wait, that’s actually happening.
“What are you doing?” Quinn asks from down where she’s tying her laces.
“Checking you out.” Brittany obviously has no filter. Or shame. “But yeah, Santana has to study. When she has a big project or reading to do she locks herself in our room and doesn’t come out for a while.”
There’s so much to focus on in that sentence, as well as the fact she has to recover from the body check, yet Quinn still zones in on the use of ‘our’.
“You share a room?” And her stomach sinks.
They dump their bags at the side of the field. The lines on the grass are faded but still visible. “We have a small apartment and it only has one bedroom.”
Brittany doesn’t dwell on it, choosing to start up their warm-up jog around the field. Quinn feels more out of breath than usual and doesn’t answer when Brittany mentions that she’ll have to be measured for uniforms soon. It’s when they stop running to go through stretches that Quinn works up her courage.
Swallowing the lump in her throat and the images of the reality of one bedroom meaning one bed, she asks, for her own sanity. “Are you and Santana-”
As if she senses the important nature of Quinn’s question Brittany stops twirling her crosse.
Brittany doesn’t answer right away. While this normally would put her on edge the expression that takes over Brittany’s face keeps her curiosity at bay. It’s almost - nostalgic. Her eyes glaze over and her arm stretch becomes slack as she gets lost in something Quinn can’t see but the smile it brings dawns like a warm sunrise.
“We used to be.” She finally says, switching her arms. “In high school. It was hard for her.”
“Coming out?” Quinn asks, feeling the small regret of her own outing. She never did get to do it on her own time.
But that’s not it. “To acknowledge she had feelings for me. Or feelings like that at all. She was abrasive back then.”
It’s such a foreign concept. To be adverse to feelings or love or affection of any kind rather than who they’re for.
She already knows she’s overstepping when she asks why they’re not together now. The lost look leaves Brittany and with a forlorn bite of her lip she dances forward a few steps.
“Because we need each other more now.” She recites as if this is some golden code. “We need more from each other than what we had. Breaking up gave us that.”
Truthfully she doesn’t understand. What she’s seen from them, while choosing not to read into it as much as she will now, is already a couple’s closeness. They’re still basked in the shadow of a relationship there but living in the guise of a friendship.
What does friendship offer that a relationship can’t?
It’s something she can’t fathom for herself It’s different to what she’s done with Sam. She never wanted him in the first place. And though Brittany hasn’t told her everything Quinn knows that her situation is nothing compared to theirs.
And she said it in one look.
With one look Brittany managed to dwarf any comparison Quinn could have ever hoped to make and in it, belittled her feelings without realizing.
“I’m sorry.” Brittany laughs at herself. “It’s not something we really talk about anymore.”
She wants to ask why. Why don’t they talk about this? Or how Brittany can say that without sounding depressed, how she can even laugh as she says it and continue through her stretches like she’s just commenting on the weather.
How did their relationship change?
Quinn rolls her neck back. Just another unanswered question.
One thing she can’t shake as they practice is that without Santana, Quinn finds herself relaxing.
Not because she and Brittany work well together, there’s still kinks and bumps to smooth out, but Quinn doesn’t have this huge burdening need to impress Brittany the way she does with Santana. Sure, when Quinn manages a pretty impressive shot or pass Brittany encourages her. Cheers for her.
But Quinn doesn’t search for it like she does with Santana. She doesn’t try to read the happiness in Brittany’s face or replay the tone of her words in her head as she tries the motions again.
Maybe she would if she spent more time alone with Brittany like she is now. It’s still distracting in the same way Santana is. Quinn would have to be blind to deny that Brittany is stunning. And in moments she allows herself to, Brittany is undeniably hot.
Like now as Brittany is trying to stop her from reaching the goal. Playing defense to her offense. The kind that requires Brittany to place her whole body in front of Quinn and requires Quinn to try and dodge past.
Except she’s running into Brittany more that side-stepping her because one, Brittany is hella fast and two, Quinn is working that fact as her excuse for accidentally full body high fiving her all the time. And if Brittany notices, which she might just do judging from the bemused expression she’s wearing, at least she’s being nice enough not to point it out.
Or maybe she’s going to lord it over Quinn and push out her abdomen against Quinn’s latest charge.
She spirals then. It was all fun and games until Brittany did that and now she can hear Santana’s voice yelling for her to push Brittany away like she’s another defender. Except there’s a second Santana shouting louder, warning Quinn that she’ll lose teeth if she even thinks about doing that to Brittany. And then there’s Brittany’s earlier admission coming back, like bile in her mouth, about their high school relationship and the fact they still share a bed and-
She shoves her. Shoulder first, cradling the ball in her crosse, until Brittany is falling backwards and Quinn is winding her stick back to shoot.
“Fuck!” She curses through her mouth guard. It actually sounds more like ‘Huuc’ and that annoys her even more. She’s tearing the guard out while Brittany picks herself up from the grass. She doesn’t even look pissed at Quinn’s show of strength. In fact, she looks impressed.
“I suck, I suck.” She runs a hand through her messy hair in frustration, wincing as she hits her cheek on the way back.
“We’re going to lose. I am going to lose you this game.”
Because her face still hurts in phantom pain whenever she sees a ball fly towards her. Because she feels uneasy continuing to practice after Brittany has just divulged almost an entire back story to her relationship with Santana. Because Quinn wants to know more and at the same time push all thoughts of it away.
And also because she’s twitchy over the fact they still share a bed.
Which, really, isn’t her business.
“You don’t! It’s fine, look.” Brittany picks up Quinn’s stick from the ground. “You’re faster than you think and in a real game I won’t be so close to you all the time. Actually, I’ll be on your team so even less to worry about!”
It’s not just the defending though. Another outburst comes when Quinn misses an easy pass from Brittany. She’s wasting this session by sucking.
Yet, every time Brittany is there, knocking her knuckles against Quinn’s chin. “You’re just freezing at the pass. I won’t hit you in the face, I promise.”
“The last thing I need is another week of ‘what happened to your face?’” Quinn admits. “I’m sorry, it’s just been a tough week.”
The girls on the team had given her sympathetic looks on the Saturday practice but she wasn’t exempt. Santana had shot her apologetic looks all afternoon and only threw her passes when she was sure Quinn was ready for them. The night she’d spent icing the bruise hadn’t done much other than reduce some swelling in her cheek. The scary discoloration was still there, even on Monday when classes kicked up again.
She’d decided not to worry people by changing her story to ‘I was assaulted’ but let people know that it was a lacrosse injury, that she was fine, and really it doesn’t hurt that much unless you poke it. Karen had looked at her horrified when she admitted it was Santana’s fault, repeating her earlier statement of “And you play lacrosse with her?”.
“Don’t worry about it so much.” Brittany tilts her head. Quinn expects the touch of her chin up now. The small punch to her shoulder that tells her to ‘buck up’. “It’ll get better.”
Will it though? She has two weeks. Six official practices and the extended hours Brittany and Santana place upon her. She has morning runs and eating well. She has all of these worries and distractions.
She has Brittany frowning at her for her obvious negativity.
“It will.” She says with force, trying to make Quinn believe her. “Everything will work out.”
All she can really do it nod along. Her head droops of its own accord as she gets lost in her thoughts again. Her thoughts are apparently on eye level with Brittany’s collar but that’s safer than looking at the girl’s pink lips as she bites them.
Once again distracted. There’s no wonder she couldn’t have predicted that ‘it’ll get better’ turns into Brittany kissing her. Like actually kissing her. On the mouth. Holy shit-
“Hey, stop.” Brittany holds onto her shoulders when Quinn pushes her away. They kissed. Oh crap. Oh wow. Oh.
“I’m sorry. It’s not that you-” No matter how she says this it’s going to come out wrong. “You’re hot. Stunning even. Amazing. And-”
“And I totally wasn’t lying about the kissing.”
“You really weren’t but-” She really wasn’t.
“But it’s just a kiss.” Brittany interrupts. “We’ve been on a date, this is just a kiss.”
She spouts the logic like it should be simple for her to follow. Like there’s no point mixing up complicated feelings into this moment because it is what it is. A kiss. A kiss between friends even to cheer her up.
“I’m going to kiss you again.” Quinn almost wants to say no, to step out and politely end their session. “And I’d really like you not to pull away okay?”
Would it be so bad for her to stop feeling like she’s betraying a part of her, or defacing her friendship with Brittany (with Santana, her head whispers), to just let it happen?
“Okay.” She nervously agrees. It’s worse the second time around because this time she actually sees it coming. From Brittany smiling and brushing her face carefully to when their lips actually touch and Quinn has to stand on her toes to match with the way Brittany kisses her.
Guilt-free. It feels guilt free.
It also feels kind of good in an inevitable sense. She noticed Brittany the same way she noticed Santana. Except she’s still noticing Santana more and more and her best friend is kissing her like she knows this.
Like she’s getting Quinn to shrug off the guilt of noticing and forget about the dismal practice they’ve had as she cups the back of her neck and kisses her. Maybe this was always going to happen. Needless to say, whatever the reason, Sam will be proud.
When she pulls back she doesn’t see Brittany in a different light. There’s no beam of realization that it’s really Brittany she should be going after, even if it was she doubts Brittany would be there in the long run, and that’s complete and utterly fine with her.
In fact she’s smiling.
“That good huh?” Brittany licks her bottom lip with a question. “You look so much more relaxed.”
“I don’t even know what to say right now.” She answers honestly. What she doesn’t need to say is that she’s not going to date Brittany, or that she doesn’t want things to be weird, or that she wishes she hadn’t done that. Brittany is guilt-free even after admitting to the relationship between her and Santana. So for now at least, Quinn will feel the same.
“Don’t say anything. Just buy me food.” Brittany bumps their hips together and motions to the road.
“Sure.” Quinn says. But then a small drop of guilt rears up. “Brittany, would you mind if we kept this a secret?”
Brittany stills for a moment and Quinn sees that nostalgia from the beginning of the night return. “Sure, don’t worry about it.”
Quinn gets the feeling that Brittany isn’t used to people not wanting to sing her praises after she’s kissed them. She feels a little bad. “C’mon, food.”
That’s her excuse for playfully slapping the girl’s ass anyway.
Chapter 4: part six and seven
Her perfect start, as predicted, starts to end.
Mostly because in her attempt not to accidentally mention that Brittany kissed her the other night she accidentally asks Santana about their relationship.
She expected a little bit of resistance actually. For Santana to stutter and ask how she found out and stuff. Like normal people do when someone infringes on their personal life too soon during a friendship. Maybe she even had an inkling of hope that Santana would take a blase attitude to it all and just come out with something like “yeah, we dated but it fizzed out and now we’re just friends.”
Except Santana doesn’t do that. Santana ends up losing all the colour from her face until she looks livid and ready to make through with that promise to blacken her other eye. They stand at a stalemate at the other half of the field. Santana actually looks ready to jump her, with Brittany too far away to stop her, until Coach Bieste yells at them to start moving again.
She’s made a mistake. “I’m sorry-”
Santana actually looks ready to snap her crosse in two right now. Quinn’s been on the end of some scathing glares, it was practically a requirement with Sue Sylvester, but this. She feels physically sick looking at the enraged anguish in Santana’s features.
And she did that.
“Don’t.” Santana snaps at her, walking back into the game. “Just don’t.”
They don’t speak for the better part of the two weeks towards the game. The only reason Quinn finds herself uninjured, because Santana won’t communicate with her on the field if it requires more than just a shrill call of her name, is because she’s still super paranoid about being hit in the face.
That and Brittany, who somehow manages to make them appear like they’re playing perfectly when really Quinn can feel the icy divide between her and Santana. Brittany turns up to all of their sessions with a smile on her face, even if it is a little sad at times, and helps get her measured for her uniform.
It does little to soothe her nerves about going into her first game. She hasn’t got the history Brittany and Santana have. This isn’t like cheerleading. She’s at the bottom of the proverbial pyramid in this sport, not the top.
She knows Brittany must have said something to Santana about it as well. She spots them talking with their heads close, shooting sly glances at her that usually have Santana shaking her head before walking away.
At this rate, despite the fact she knows how to run without dropping the ball and is able to shoot and dodge and play as well as two weeks can prepare her to do, Quinn knows that this tension is going to lose them the game.
She regrets ever opening her mouth.
“What’s this?” Quinn gestures to the plastic bags Brittany has just dropped in her arms. The rest of the team has already filed out of the changing room to get ready for the game while Quinn has been waiting for Brittany to return.
“Uniform. Just came through.” Brittany winks. “Wait til you see the hoody.”
Quinn pauses as she pulls out the fitted jersey she’ll be wearing for her first game. “What about the hoody?” She rifles through the bag with increasing suspicion. Brittany just winks and turns on her heels.
“They’re awesome.” She points to the back of her own. Form fitted. Navy with a white font. The number ‘6’. The lack of Brittany’s last name on the back however confuses her.
“Wait.” Please. “What’s with the nickname?”
Because last time she checked Brittany’s last name was ‘Pierce’ and not ‘Mike Chang’.
The girl just shrugs with a grin. “Inside joke.”
She freezes up instantly. Not just because this is the first time Santana has spoken two words to her off the pitch recently, but because she’s talking about Brittany or to Brittany with her. Quinn keeps splitting her attention between the two friends like she’s expecting something to happen. Either Brittany telling them to stop butting heads or Santana to tell them both to fuck off.
But as Santana turns around, her own uniform hoody settled on her with the number ‘9’ between her shoulder blades, Quinn realizes she doesn’t want anything to happen to prolong this Cold War.
So she tries.
“Lebanese?” She sounds so sure of herself when really her palms are sweating as she directly addresses Santana. This could all go very wrong or it could go very right. “Did ‘fantastic in bed’ not fit?”
Ignore that she has no idea, only her over active imagination, whether or not this is true...or a good way to break the tension. Ignore that this is the first time she’s the one insinuating these things to Santana, instead of the other way around, and definitely ignore the look of proud surprise on Brittany’s face.
But if you don’t ignore them then the twitching smirk on Santana’s face, which she quickly hides, is still worth the five seconds Quinn thinks she’s going to throw up on the floor of the changing room.
“Hn.” Is all she gets before Santana mutters to Brittany about placing the blame on her if she doesn’t like what they picked.
Which is all her curiosity can take.
Santana backs out of the changing room to get ready on the field while Brittany watches Quinn tear into the rest of the bag until-
“Sweet Ass?” Are they kidding? “I have a-”
“Sweet ass. We know.” Now she knows Brittany is mocking her. Even if she’s got an amazing poker face right now.
“-a hoody that says I have a sweet ass?” As if it needed more attention. Sam attempted to write a song about it once. She decked him in the mouth and wrote him a poem called ‘Trouty Mouth’ in retaliation. “Did you?”
Nope. A head shake.
Brittany’s forehead leans down. “Quinn, work it out.”
Her answer. “Santana’s idea?”
“Totally. And this was after you pissed her off.”
Wow. She got lucky then.
The joking tone passes and Quinn folds her new sweater on the bench beside her. Brittany sits across from her as she pulls out her Bruins Lacrosse uniform. The white shorts and navy jersey. It actually has her name on the back. Fabray spelt out in bold capital letters. She’ll be spotted from a mile.
And down the back her number. 7.
“I’ll wait outside.” Brittany stands and walks past her, not before she places a reassuring hand on Quinn’s shoulder. For a second Quinn thinks back to their kiss. A small show of affection then, another now. The only difference being that Quinn felt less like falling apart when they kissed.
And she’s not sure if that’s a good thing.
Burying her face in the cool material of her shirt lets her relax for a second. That’s all she needs. A second to herself. Without Santana’s hurt and wrongly betrayed face. Without Brittany and the memory. Without her own tired reflection even.
Sighing she lays the jersey on her lap. Where’s a pick me up when she needs one?
It’s not going to get handed to her with untied laces. Or a loose ponytail. Or anything less than readiness. She’s got uniformed eagerness down to an art. From the perfect loops on her tied shoes, to the goggles firmly strapped to the top of her head waiting to be pulled down.
A shirt that fits just her. A number and a name. The paper wrapping on her present is the lacrosse stick she wields. Fresh string that’s been worn in and ready.
The changing room doors open for her and she can see Brittany encouraging her to step out with the rest of the team.
‘To Santana.’ Quinn thinks. And maybe to an apology and a winning game.
The second it takes for her to step out is an important one. The team comes into sight, along with the field and a surprisingly full looking crowd on the stands. They cheer and it’s all she can hear bar the nervous beating of her own heart.
Her hand catches against her shorts and maybe she should be the bigger man, woman, whatever. After all it was her words that started the divide. Her overstepping and lack of tact.
She caused Santana’s face to fall with that anguish of something she didn’t want brought up. All because Quinn couldn’t shake away the guilt of kissing Brittany, which for weeks Santana has been telling her to do. Joking or not.
The girl is an arms length away, dressed in the same shorts and jersey as her, save for the black band around her shoulder. This is the first time Quinn’s noticed that Santana is the captain of the team. Her captain, so to speak. She tries to listen to the team talk that’s coming from her mouth but the sky feels like it’s pushing down on her with a grey depression and all Quinn ends up doing is staring at Santana’s lips.
Her chance comes when they all put their hands in the middle of their huddle. Team shout. Quinn finds herself beside Mercedes, looking across at Santana who is staring defiantly down at their hands. The shout goes up and the hands disperse. All except hers which reach out to Santana.
She’s a touch away.
“Number seven rocks my world!”
She’s slipped away.
No. No. No, but yes.
She wants to stop herself from turning. She wants to, but she can’t, just like she can’t stop her eyes from watering as soon as she finds the obnoxious yelling boy.
“Sam.” He’s here. He’s here. Here and she’s running away from the direction of the rest of her team, from Santana and the almost apology, to him. As a result, all of them watch her run, as she sprints into his chest.
There’s a satisfying thud as she collides with him. He’s here. “Sam.”
“What? You think I’d miss your first game?” He’s here and he’s wearing the dorkiest Bruins baseball cap and sunglasses which she tears off him when she gets close enough just so she can look him in the eyes before she hugs him. “You look great.”
“I got a tan.” Quinn chokes out trying not to cry. It’s not that emotional. Really. She’s just so tired of holding in how this week of her own personal cold war has made her feel and now her best friend is here. Just looking at him makes her feel better.
“What are you doing here though? You’re not meant to be here until November.”
“You showed up to all of my football games, even the ones I didn’t play.” Sam finally breaks their hug but keeps her flush against his chest. Some of the girls on her squad whistle playfully at them. “And you waited outside Best Buy with me all night when ’Rumors’ by Fleetwood Mac came out.”
She has to laugh at that. Releasing some of the tension from her. “You keep retelling that as if it was the day it was released. You ordered it in. Deciding to camp outside the store the night before was just an excuse to use your dad’s tent.”
“And yet.” Sam ruffles her hair. “You still came with me.”
She remembers. They stayed awake all night, watching the sun come up, and ate cheerios with warm milk in the morning. “Sleeping bags and all.”
There’s not a lot of time for her to be standing on the side with him and he knows it. She has a warm up to get through. “I’ll be here when you get back.”
“All game and then some.” He promises. “I’m picking up some parts for Burt’s shop. Technically he could have gotten them in Lima but...”
Quinn squeeze his arm. “You look good.”
Sam grins. “Kurt fixed me up nice didn’t he?” He gestures to the black shirt he’s got under the expensive looking brown jacket he’s wearing. It’s definitely not his. “Go kick ass, sweet ass.”
With a wink she’s running back. Past her team, past Santana and her curious look and to her starting spot. For the next sixty minutes, the grass beneath her feet and the crosse in her hand is all that she knows.
Another pass. Another interception. Another goal for the other team.
She hates this feeling. Not just the taste of the plastic in her mouth or the sweat making her shirt stick to her back but the losing. The other team are wearing smug grins as they run back. They’re not even running full speed because they don’t think they can come back from this. They don’t think they can win.
Rage. Under her skin and behind her eyes. The type of rage that comes with an itching under her palms and that makes her teeth grate.
Quinn hates losing. Hates being second best or second rate or second in general. Especially second choice. And she’s not going to let lacrosse be one of those things or places that make her second to anything or anyone. Especially not to a bunch of overconfident, red uniformed girls that remind her of the cheerios, only on more steroids.
There’s a ground ball that they lose, the other team charges towards Mercedes again and Quinn practically growls as she sprints from her side of the field. Brittany calls for her to get back when she runs around her but she doesn’t have the time.
Santana’s face flashes dangerously at her when Quinn grabs her shoulder. Beneath the anger though is something different.
Quinn thinks it’s hurt. She takes out her mouth guard.
“I fucked up.” She clenches her fists before releasing them. Her anger isn’t at Santana, and her reference isn’t just to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time either. “And you can continue to stew in your own silence against me-”
She pointedly stares Santana down for a few seconds before checking over her shoulder to the action. Bringing the inner captain out in herself is like putting on her favourite coat. “-or you can start to communicate with me for the next twenty minutes, we can win this and then you can go back to doing whatever you want.”
Santana’s hands loosen just the right amount around her stick. It puts her at ease that the girl isn’t going to take a swing at her with it. Her eyes are unreadable and the mouth guard only moves for a second.
And it’s only to see the small grin cross Santana’s face. “And here I thought you were all woman Fabray.”
Brittany is shouting now. The other team has missed, another performance from Mercedes, and the ball is heading back towards them at a blinding pace. All the while Quinn is wondering what Santana is trying to say.
“Talk to me.” Quinn snaps.
“We will.” Santana looks away from her. She’s moving now. “And after the game.”
Brittany is grabbing the back of her jersey now. “GO.”
Quinn runs. At first it’s backwards to see Santana gracefully catch the ball in her crosse before passing it immediately on to Brittany. The girl that kissed her, the tallest and the fastest; Brittany twirls, she actually twirls around her defender while Santana weaves behind her.
She’s parallel with Santana now. The ball is returned to Santana and Quinn is running faster and into her own defender.
Her defender looks scared of her. Quinn can’t see her reflection right now but she can tell she’s got her game face on. The same expression that got her through the hardest of routines on the Cheerios is the same one that won’t let this girl slow her down. She’s no Sylvester after all.
Her shoulder barges into her and the girl goes down. There’s no whistle from the referee though, only the whistle of the ball flying from Santana’s crosse to her own.
It’s the first she’s seen of the ball in the game. A perfect pass because they’ve come to a truce. For a split second she glances at Santana, her brown eyes and determined look telling her that the war isn’t over but they have a battle to win.
And they will.
Quinn side steps Brittany’s wandering defender, dodging the elbow about to hit her ribs, before spotting the opening. The goal is blocked by the keeper, whose wide body dares her to even think about shooting.
She’s a shooter. That option is always on her mind. It’s not the first option though.
Years of being on a team, motivating and winning and knowing how to lead has taught her that the glory option is almost never the right option.
So she doesn’t fire the shot that would have surely missed.
Instead she digs her heels into the dry ground and rounds a pass over the heads of the slow defenders, straight to Brittany on the other side of the goal, who is too swift for a keeper too focused on Quinn.
From there nothing stops them. They are the lions sighting prey, exposing weakness. The other team is slower than them, their fitness hasn’t benefited from running every morning and extra sessions and getting to know each other.
Half of their offense was relying on the fact Santana wasn’t talking to her. Now?
“3-MAN.” Santana lobs the ball to Brittany and takes off running behind her like with the previous pass. Quinn sprints forward to receive the pass off Brittany. Santana is already in position down the sideline to take it back. “BLOCK!”
She moves. The defender that was just about to run for her is charged by Brittany, who accidentally slips in front of the girl as she’d gone to run behind Quinn, and Quinn is free to make the pass.
They’ve scored a second by the time the defender is back on her feet and complaining about Brittany’s move.
“Is that legal?” Quinn mutters.
Brittany wipes the dirt from her face with a shrug. “Who cares?” She slaps Quinn’s back and jogs to her position again. Quinn is momentarily distracted from doing the same by the sight of Santana already tensed and waiting for play to resume. Really she should be paying attention to the fact they have to still the game and that their midfielders are starting to pick up their previous slack.
But she’s not fighting with her for now and in the calm she just wants to remember this moment. It’s bittersweet that their first game together, with her on the team, started with Santana not talking to her.
“Quinn!” The moment is over and she’s running again, this time in the opposite direction to Santana, but forward all the same.
“Well duh!” Brittany responds to Quinn’s breathless statement by encasing her in a squeezing hug. All the air she had left in her body after the final goal. Not hers, Santana’s last point had sent a mild gasp around both teams.
A gasp Quinn still feels leaving her body when she catches Santana tapping fists with Mercedes. Despite watching the gesture from over Brittany’s shoulder, there doesn’t seem to be anything between them when Santana manages to catch her eye. Oddly enough her expression changes from one of exhausted pride to stifled amusement. Like she knows that there’s still a coldness between them now that the match is over, but the sight of her and Brittany is too much for her to not smile at.
Quinn ducks her head into Brittany’s collar briefly before the excited shooter pulls away to chase after other teammates.
Mercedes pulls up along side her, removing her goggles as she does. “Santana will get over it.”
“What?” Quinn turns. “Well done to you too.”
Her friend laughs. “Yeah, yeah. We all know it could have been a lot better if we had all of our shooters with their heads in the game.” Quinn starts to notice how much her hands hurt. “What’s up with that anyway? I thought you were all ‘unholy trinity’ on us.”
Santana stalks towards the changing rooms after shaking the hands of the other team. Her route is suddenly blocked however as Brittany bounces over to her captain. Quinn and Mercedes both hide their grins in their hands as Brittany grabs Santana around her waist before spinning her on the field.
“We had a misunderstanding.” Understatement much?
“Well I hope you understand each other again soon because that was dismal.” Mercedes nudges her attention over to Sam who seems to be hooting loudly for her attention. “Coach is going to kill us at practice.”
“Good saves though.” Quinn smiles. Mercedes nods as if she knew this and holds out her fist. “What?”
“Fist bump? Please tell me you do this in Lima, Ohio.”
Well sometimes, but they don’t usually end with a fake hand explosion either. “I’ll tell everyone to clear out of the changing room for you and Santana.”
“What?” Words like that do nothing to tide her locker room daydreams in the back of her mind. “You don’t have to-”
Mercedes just claps her shoulder. “It’s going to be awkward enough if you both turn up to Schuester’s without sorting out whatever ‘misunderstanding’ you guys had with each other.”
She’d almost forgotten about the post-game drinks Brittany had been talking about.
“And as long as that’s not a euphemism for anything-”
“It’s really not.” Quinn interrupts but damn if that’s not going to plague her mind while she’s talking to Santana now.
“Tell your boy you’ll be a while and I’ll see you at Schuester’s?”
She must nod because she’s being left staring at where Santana and Brittany have disappeared into the changing area. A sigh escapes her for a few reasons. Mostly because she can still see the connection between Santana and Brittany, however serious or casual they were, there’s love there.
“You were amazing.” Sam pulls her into his body without giving her a chance to realize. She’s used to that. To the sudden ‘oomf’ sound she makes when her cheek hits his chest. “I didn’t even know you could run that fast. You were like the Flash.”
“Minus the red spandex I hope.” Quinn mutters. Here in his arms, the anxiety she felt about Santana and Brittany, as well as the upcoming talk she’s gotten herself in for, dampen.
Sam beams at her from under his cap. “Please tell me we’re going out for drinks now. Because as much as I love you I haven’t eaten since this morning and even though you’re gay, you still have really really nice legs.”
Her eyebrow shoots up.
“And you’re wearing really short shorts.”
“You’re lucky I love you enough to know you’re joking.”
His teeth bare in his grin and she can see how the wind has reddened his face a little. He’s here. “I really am.”
In another world, she thinks, they’d be perfect for each other. Then again she wouldn’t want to sacrifice this world, her Sam here, for anything. “Wait for me out here? Or there are some benches inside but you’re not allowed to actually go into the changing rooms.”
“That was one time.” Sam groans. “And I didn’t even see anything.”
“Except Coach Sylvester.” Quinn punches his chest affectionately remembering Sam’s scream from the locker rooms as he’d attempted to meet with Quinn only to walk into Coach Sylvester’s office instead.
Shuddering he rolls his eyes. “There’s one woman who makes you doubt your heterosexuality.”
“Glad I don’t have to worry about you.” Quinn jokes. “I have to get changed.”
He’s still holding on to her and the longer he does the more aware of how sweaty and dirty she is becomes.
“While you do that I’m going to forward all the pictures I took of you playing to my mom, your mom, maybe even put them on facebook.” Sam shakes his iPhone in his hand. “I have some really flattering ones of that blondie hugging you just now as well.”
“You know her name is Brittany and if you tag me in them I will post your failed Avatar cosplay.”
The one that turned Sam’s skin green instead of blue. His mom hadn’t even allowed him to stay out of school and he’d shown up with a green tint for most of the week. She has so much blackmail material that would shame even his most geekiest of forum friends. And maybe a tumblr account or two.
He slowly places the phone away. “So I’ll buy you a drink?”
“I’ll try not to be too long.” It’s a hollow promise because she doesn’t really know what she’s walking into as she leaves him. The rest of their modest crowd is vacating the stands as well. A few clap and shout at her as she heads inside. It brings a small smile to her face that disappears when she walks into the main changing room to see Santana sitting on a bench alone.
Waiting for her.
There’s a few seconds before her foot scuffs against the floor when she just watches her sit there. Santana has discarded her crosse and goggles, as well as her shoes. Her head is bowed and looking down at her hands which hold a towel that she’s probably been wiping her face with. She twists the material in her hands looking, for lack of a better word, frustrated.
Her foot scratches the floor. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“I don’t even know why I’m so pissed that you did.” Santana doesn’t look up at her but tightens her grip on the towel. “It’s not exactly a secret or anything.”
It was something though. “It was a personal question that I shouldn’t- I overstepped.”
Santana laughs at this. It’s deep and more of a dismissive laugh when it echoes. “Please. You were curious. I mean we’re the hottest people on this team-” She pauses and nods to Quinn silently telling her that this part doesn’t include her. “-who happen to be best friends, who also happen to have grown up together and-”
Quinn swallows the lump in her throat and takes a step forward. Santana has a hard time spitting out the rest of the words as she dwells on them.
“-I mean there’s not one video of our junior year lacrosse matches that don’t end with one of us mounting each other on the field.”
Quinn lets out a little ‘oh’ at the provided mental imagery. “You don’t have to explain.”
“We were together.” Santana crosses over her words. The seriousness appears and Santana finally stops squeezing her towel to look up at her. Nervousness is on her face. Not because she’s telling Quinn something personal, but because the story she’s telling seems so recent in her mind.
It might also be due to the fact that there’s a running shower in the background and a pair of ears that are listening as well.
Quinn wants to get directly to the point. To ask why they aren’t together now but Santana doesn’t look ready to hear that again. She leans back on the bench into the lockers that prop it up.
“The local news always had a field day when they talked about our lacrosse team.” Santana scoffs. “You know how Ohio schools are right? Lock on to the success stories to overshadow everything else.”
She does know actually. The Cheerios landed Fox Sports net that way.
“I joined the team first actually, before Brittany. She was always a dancer, it’s the only thing her parents ever encouraged her to do. I’m not a graceful dancer.” She smirks to Quinn. “ Not the way Britt is. Then again, there’s a lot of things about me that we don’t share.”
She motions for Quinn to sit opposite her on the benches.
“I was an angry kid.”
Quinn senses the crack for her to comment without being snapped at. “More so than you are now?”
There’s a hint of a smile but it’s more to herself than to Quinn. “I was angrier as a kid then. My parents didn’t really know what to do with me other than to shift me into after school programs that could try and cater to me while they did their jobs.”
Doctors. Santana had casually mentioned on the night she’d hit Quinn in the face. Highly time consuming jobs. How much time did Santana spend with her parents as a child?
“It didn’t really change when I got to high school. I joined track and ended up tripping some girls that laughed at Brittany. The school tried to push me into auditioning for Vocal Adrenaline but I’m not into throwing up or heat exhaustion.”
“You sing?” Quinn bites the inside of her cheek.
Santana stops but chooses not to comment on Quinn’s question. “I joined lacrosse in sophomore year because Brittany-”
Santana runs her hand over her eyes. “Just don’t laugh- you’ve seen ‘Mean Girls’ right?”
Quinn nods. Who hasn’t?
“Yeah but what’s - wait.” She remembers the end of that movie. “Are you serious?”
Santana closes her eyes and gives a self-depreciating smile. “Brittany thought it was hilarious at the time and I guess you do to.”
“You joined lacrosse because you have anger issues and because that’s how Regina George got over hers?” Quinn really really wants to laugh. “Did it work?”
It’s a stupid question really because if it hadn’t helped as much as it obviously had she wouldn’t be having this conversation, she’d probably be in the hospital missing her front teeth after even mentioning Santana and Brittany’s past relationship.
“I planned to quit after a few practices but I found myself enjoying it.” A small joy creeps over her face. Santana relives the first moments in her mind. “We were good. Really good. Brittany picked it up like she does with almost everything and I-”
She doesn’t need Santana to try and say anything about her own skills. She’s seen enough videos as well as the sports page reviews about ‘Santana Lopez’ being the ‘unstoppable force’ for Carmel High School. An unstoppable force that lead them to the championships three years in a row.
And won all of them.
“I read.” Quinn murmurs. “You and Brittany were named on a list of young sports women to watch in your senior years.”
She doesn’t mention that the Cheerios were also included on that list.
“I almost screwed up everything for us.” Santana whispers, covering her mouth soon after. If Quinn didn’t know how stubborn she was then she’d think Santana was getting upset. The girl soon toughens visibly.
“She’s always been my best friend. That never changed.” It’s a confirmation to them both. “At the end of sophomore year, right after finals- the academic finals, not lacrosse- she.”
Quinn knows she’s lost Santana in part to her memories now. “She kissed me after finding out she’d passed her classes for the first time. The year before she had to do summer school.” A wistful smile. “And I had to face up to the truth.”
“You loved her.” Brittany’s nostalgia makes a reappearance in Quinn’s words. Santana looks surprised to glance at her and see her still sitting there.
“It’s stupid right?” Santana drops her towel in her lap. “That I was more surprised that I was actually in love with her, my best friend, rather than the fact she was a girl.”
Without Brittany’s explanation maybe Quinn would have thought so. “It makes perfect sense.”
Maybe Santana knows what Brittany has told her however. “If you ask my parents I started getting angrier as a kid right around when I first met Brittany. I won’t tell you how young we were but I think you can catch on to the fact that anger was-”
“Your slightly neanderthal way of always being in love with her?”
Santana doesn’t snap at her and her lip curls. They’re moving past this. Quinn deflates. “We started dating. Openly. Carmel was surprising in that sense.” She looks to Quinn. “You were out in your school?”
“Yeah.” McKinley didn’t surprise her. “It wasn’t as welcoming. I had Sam and my teachers and some of the squad, but the rest...”
Holly Holliday springs to her mind. “It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There was a lgbtq group I went to.” She trailed off. It didn’t seem important to bring it up. “So you stayed together.”
“We did.” The nostalgia is back. “Through sophomore and junior year. I won’t lie. It wasn’t perfect. There were...complications and things we had to compromise on.”
She wants to push forward. To ask. Instead she stays quiet. Letting Santana control the pace.
“I don’t have the time to tell you everything between us. I couldn’t tell you some things even if there was.” She gives Quinn a dirty smirk that has a blush appearing on her face. “But towards senior year things got complicated.”
Santana mutters something about skipping details and continues. “At some point I stopped being her best friend. At another I failed as her girlfriend. I started trying to keep us the same as we used to be, best friends that knew each other as friends while taking certain liberties.”
Sex is the only thing that comes to mind.
“I ended up pushing and pulling her away and in the process she-” Santana clenches her fists so suddenly that Quinn flinches a little. “Brittany would call it cheating. However that implies that what happened was her fault. When really it was mine.”
“She cheated on you?” Quinn pursues this gently.
Santana takes a deep breath. “Don’t do that.” She taps her knee. “Don’t change your view of her. It’s not news to me. Brittany’s never worked within the bounds of monogamy. I knew that. We talked about that and we compromised.”
She suddenly remembers the afternoon she met them for lunch with Sam. When Santana identified Brittany as pansexual.
“Why?” That was insensitive, Quinn berates herself, a better question would be ‘how?’.
“Why else? I loved her.”
Quinn sees it. “You thought you could adjust to it.”
“I did.” Santana suddenly stands. “I did and I accepted it because it wasn’t serious with anyone else. After a while I even grew to- but she was mine first.”
She looks to the entrance of the shower room and Quinn realizes who their third party is.
“And that thought ate me away for weeks. She was mine. I loved her first.” Santana scoffed. “Add on the pressure of absent parents that only care when something academic matters, college scouts, school pride and along with the small circle of people Brittany was seeing with my knowledge, who loved-”
She tilts her head upwards. “Just loved to drop hints about Brittany being with them. Like I didn’t know. I snapped.”
“It all came to a breaking point. That breaking point just happened to be an hour before our senior championship match against Crawford.”
“You won that match.” Quinn remembers.
“We scraped that match by the skin.” Santana seethes like it’s still an open wound. “I’m not proud of some of the things I said to her and like hell if I’ve even forgiven myself for them either.”
Looks deceive because Quinn has never seen such close friends.
“I flipped and I hurt her. To her it came out of nowhere. We played like crap in that match. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was just a match but it was the championship.”
Santana sinks back down. “And I almost lost us our scholarships here.”
And then Quinn understands. “You became friends again.”
“After a summer of apologising and spending time together and being totally honest with each other..” She admits. “Neither of us realized how different it had become.”
Quinn can’t even imagine. Not even with Sam. That fleeting thought of another world were she and Sam are together could put herself in their shoes. In the same way she can imagine wearing the defeated expression on Santana’s face.
“We decided not to be together after the summer.” She says to Quinn’s confused look. “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made.”
“She’s your best friend. You loved her. Of course it was going to be hard.” Quinn sympathizes.
Santana nods to her. Glad that Quinn has stayed on her wavelength. “I still love her. More than anything in this world.”
This time they both look to the shower entrance. “But you’re better for each other when you’re not together.” Quinn repeats before realizing how it gives her away. “I’m sorry.”
“Brittany told me about you asking. She told me.” Santana looks at her and there’s no doubt in her mind that she’s looking directly at Quinn’s lips. There’s no defense. Santana knows. “She’s right. We were good together, and we love each other just as much. If not more now.”
“But I need to be more than that for her now. And I can’t do that if I’m constantly torn between being possessive and jealous over her.” She smirks. “I know more now that she’s my first than I did when we were together. You know why?”
“Chicks before dicks.” Quinn splutters. “Oh, and other chicks as well.”
Ease comes. The shower stops. “I’m still sorry for bringing it up like that.”
“It was going to happen.” Tension appears to be leaving Santana slowly but she’s still not quite there yet. “Because there was only so many ways you could stop yourself from blurting out exactly what went down during your private session with Brittany.”
Somehow this seems entirely inappropriate considering what they’ve just gone through. “I-”
Santana waves her off. “Let’s save that conversation for another time. When I can fully enjoy how uncomfortable it makes you.”
Quinn releases a breath. “Lets.” It becomes necessary for her to break eye contact after that. Fiddling with the hem of her jersey and the goggles around her neck give the air a chance to change around them. Not just the steam floating in from the showers, but the once frosty distance between them warms.
The calm and agreed quiet between them following the explanation doesn’t last for long as it’s then promptly destroyed by Brittany wandering through the changing room wearing nothing but a small white towel. Completely unaware of how they’ve basically been talking about her for the past few minutes. She doesn’t even have to mention anything about going for a post-win round of drinks at Schuester’s with the team and Sam, or maybe she does, but her and Santana are both too busy looking at the girl’s legs to notice.
“Shower?” Santana suggests.
Quinn opens her mouth to reject but then Brittany is taking her hands away from her towel like neither of them are in the room and then it sounds like a good idea. “That sounds like a good idea.”
In reality it’s a no better option than staring at Brittany getting dressed again because Santana follows her into the wet room and Quinn ends up fixing her gaze to the tiles in front of her while Santana showers a block divide away from her.
Sam will be so proud.
They meet the team at Schuester’s after talking. Brittany remains oblivious to their words, or at least she acts like she is, while she tugs them both through the doors of the bar. Sam is already there engaged in a heated discussion with some guy with a mowhawk. He waves when he sees her, promising to come over soon.
Santana sends her an eye roll at their exchange but allows herself to be pulled towards the bar and to the bartender by Brittany. It makes Quinn wonder a little; why don’t they just try again?
The wondering doesn’t stop when Santana comes back and hands her a glass of something that is definitely not juice. “I’m not 21.” She mutters, casting her eyes around, convinced someone will appear to slap the drink out of her hands. At least at the first initiation they disguised the alcohol in the punch.
“Relax fresher.” She has her own drink. The rim of the glass shows where the liquid used to be filled to. “Schuester’s cool with it.”
“That seems unlikely.” Though looking at him, the bartender wearing a dark vest with a wash cloth over his shoulder who is obviously trying too hard, she rethinks.
Santana shrugs and takes a drink. “It’s a don’t ask don’t tell sitch. We don’t ask, he doesn’t tell.”
Quinn brings her glass to her lips. “But how do you order then?”
She almost spits out her drink when Santana pops a button open on her shirt. “I’m kidding. Jeeze.” Slapping Quinn’s shoulder she motions to Mercedes. “Mercedes works it out for us. They don’t suspect her.”
Quinn swallows her drink. It’s strangely minty.
“And also-” Santana does her shirt up again with a smirk. “Don’t look so disappointed. We were in the shower before and I know you got an eyeful.”
“Oh gosh.” She downs the drink.
“Speaking of.” Santana turns serious. “If at any point you see Brittany starting to take off her clothes, please stop her.”
Quinn stops drinking. “I think I’ll need another one of these.”
“Good choice sweet ass.” Santana is pushing them both towards Mercedes again before Quinn registers that she’s in her team hoody. It’s black and warm and Santana’s hand is firmly guiding on her shoulder. Half of her wants to discard it because the contact is making her hot, the other wants to pull her hood up to disguise the flush in her face.
Both options are pushed to the back of her mind by the third drink because someone, she thinks it’s Brittany, is yelling about body shots and dares and when did they even leave the bar?
Schuester’s seemingly transforms in her eyes. Of course her feet hurt from actually walking away from the college bar to wherever they are now but she doesn’t remember the journey at all.
Her first guess is that they’re in Santana and Brittany’s apartment because of the way Brittany keeps announcing “Home sweet home” every time someone sits down. Mercedes is laughing to herself on the only sofa while Quinn tries to find something to hold on to.
It gets harder to not stumble when she sees a shirtless Sam lying on one of the tables because one, she didn’t leave him like that and two, they have a strict no abs policy in front of each other. “Wait why is Sam doing body shots?”
A hand steadies her. Santana snorts at the sight. “Because Artie can’t.”
She feels dizzy. Or is dizzy. Dizzy is kind of a funny word. “Who’s Artie and why can’t he?”
How do you spell ‘dizzy’?
“Artie is my second best friend!” Brittany drapes herself over Quinn’s shoulders for a second before reaching for Artie. “He can’t walk!”
Suddenly Quinn realizes why Artie is way shorter than everyone. He wheels past her with a feather boa around his neck. “Oh.” She’d introduce herself to him but she doesn’t want to make a bad first impression. Sam obvious doesn’t share that concern. Where did Sam’s shirt go actually?
“Hey sweet ass. Sit.” Santana grabs the back of her hoody, telling her that Sam can find his own shirt and she doesn’t need to crawl along the floor to find it. “I’mma get you another drink.”
Her throat is kind of dry but she’s not actually that thirsty-
All it takes is blinking at the sight of Santana’s swaying hips wandering away from her and the room changes again. Realistically she knows she’s more than tipsy and obviously they’ve moved but she’s not in Kansas anymore.
By Kansas she means somehow she’s been misplaced from the living room into Santana and Brittany’s small bathroom.
“You lost!” Brittany doesn’t even sound drunk. Or maybe she does. Quinn can’t really tell because she’s looking at her face in the mirror as it seems to widen and compress as she squints.
But the losing is something new. “No. We won.” Lacrosse seems hours ago.
Santana slams the door behind her as she follows them in, hiding something behind her back, while she grins a little sloppily at the both of them. “Brittz is right Quinn. You lost.”
“What did I lose?” She takes a moment between trying to spell ‘dizzy’ in her head again to mourn the loss of her hoody. “Where’d it go?”
“I think you gave it to Sam.” Santana shrugs. “But we’re talking about your forfeit for not doing a body shot offa Brittany.”
An irrational part of her actually wants to slap her for not jumping on that opportunity. Why didn’t she?
Oh. That’s why.
“Forfeit!” Brittany repeats actually slapping her stomach and wow, abs. “You’re cool with this right Quinn?”
Quinn’s just nodding along now. She wants to get another drink to stop the buzzing in her head. It’s distracting her from what they’re saying.
“Sweetss down.” Santana slurs and shortens her bestowed nickname. “We’re not going to hurt her or anything.”
At this point Santana has laid whatever she’s hiding on the counter where Quinn could easily see, except Santana is standing in between her legs, instructing Brittany to push Quinn down onto a chair they’ve brought in from the living room so she’s not really paying attention.
“Sure.” Quinn waves her hands in front of her a few times. It’s funny, if she moved them forward a bit she’d be touching Santana’s legs - oh. She’s touching Santana’s legs. She should really stop that. Like now. Or now.
Brittany giggles and Santana only taps her hands off with a wink when she’s passed something to Brittany. “I’m thinking Ellie Goulding but shorter and not all the way.”
Quinn loves her. “I love her.”
There are hands in her hair as her eyes get heavier. Then there’s just Santana’s voice. “Sweets, you’re gonna love her a whole lot more.”
She just keeps repeating in her head how much her mother is going to kill her and oh god will it grow out again? Her head is covered with a hood even in the morning sun as she dashes towards her lecture theatre.
Whatever. She’s going to kill them, and then blame the atrocity of what she looks like on them when she next skypes with her mother. She doesn’t really know how to explain it to Sam though.
Quinn groans as she feels her phone vibrate in her pocket. She’s late enough to her lecture already, but not enough to skip, because of their antics last night and really doesn’t want to answer. Even more so because it might be Sam, who she left passed out on her bed this morning, texting to say that Lauren has kicked him out for not warning her he’d be staying there.
Or not. Sucking it up she clicks her phone screen to life.
‘U made a fckin mess of kitchen, Sweets.’ Santana’s text reads. Quinn can’t tell if she’s still hungover or not because Santana’s texts are always horribly misspelt.
‘Fuck you.’ She replies. It takes a minute because she keeps pressing the ‘L’ button instead of the ‘K’.
The lecture, luckily is still chatter filled as she slips in the back. A few people she recognises wave her over. How they managed to figure out it was her is beyond her. Her hood is pulled right over her head, covering her hair, and she’s wearing dark aviators to block out the sun, or light in general.
“Sweet ass?” Karen questions. A groan makes it’s way out of her throat as her team nickname is spotted on the back of her hoody. Sighing she slumps next to the girl.
“I hate my life.” Quinn confesses. She feels like she’s talking through cotton.
Karen shakes her head. “Someone partied a little too hard last night.”
Her phone buzzes again. She slips it out to read. “You have no idea.”
‘Why th hell is thr hair all ova the floor?’
Her lecturer coughs and she hides her phone again. There’s no way she can bring herself to take notes, and her friend smiles at her sympathetically, whispering she’ll lend them to her after.
She resigns herself to slouching in her seat and hiding behind her glasses. Every once and a while she shivers at the weird cool sensation at the back of her neck until she sneakily pulls her phone out again.
‘I hate you sfm right now.’ Quinn taps out. The noise aiding her headache. ‘Brittany too.’
‘U can’t hate britt. She says ur hot.’
Quinn pushes her hand into her hood, keeping it in place but touching the back of her neck. Sam is going to have a field day when he sees her.
‘Bet u look sexy with your gaydo.’
She grips her neck and doesn’t latch onto anything. There’s hardly any hair there to grab thanks to Brittany. It hadn’t been a good sight to wake up to, realizing that she’d some how agreed to let Brittany cut off her hair. While drunk. She could have lost an ear or something.
Fuck. Ellie Goulding.
Not just cut. She’s 50% sure that they’ve shaved her a fucking undercut too. She hadn’t had time to figure it out. Just enough to pull her hood up and run to class. Touching her fingers to the sides of her head, just in front of her ears, she finds the shortest hairs. Shit. Ellie Goulding indeed.
But staring at Santana’s words, as teasing as they are, make her feel a little bit better now that they’re not snapping at each other.
She’s halfway through trying to put together a text that sounds like she’s appreciative of Santana’s comment but not as if she’s all that affected by it when another text comes through.
BieberSam (1) new message.
Karen side eyes her when she chuckles over Sam’s contact name. He’d kill her if he knew but she changes it every now and then to reflect the things she loves-slash-likes-to-poke-fun at him for. Last month it was LemonEvans.
‘i don’t know where my shirt is.’ He starts. ’ and ur roommate stared at me until i left so u better pick me up after ur lecture.’
Her prediction was true. No doubt there will be an email off Lauren about it. She refuses to text Quinn on principle that she prefers emails. Slyly tapping out a reply to Sam under her desk she tells him to meet her at the coffee place on campus they went to the last time he was here. And that if he doesn’t have a shirt on he needs to go and buy one.
’i don’t care if you think you will get more play. i have enough problems with how i look today, dn’t need you to add to it.’ She hints at what’s happened to her hair but knows nothing will prepare her for Sam’s eventual teasing.
She’s sitting on the end of her row when she sees some people sneaking out of the lecture early. It’s not something she wants to make a habit of but she’s already giving Karen an apologetic look and gathering her bag. Karen just smiles. “I’ll email you my notes later.”
“I owe you one.” Quinn thanks her. Luckily her lecturer’s back is turned as she makes her way up the stairs and out of the door.
It’s only a second later that she’s clicking on Sam’s contact name and calling him up. “You better be dressed and on your way.” Her eyes are heavy all of a sudden. “And as a form of how you’ll make you amusement up to me you better buy me a coffee.”
Sam asks what exactly he’s going to find funny but Quinn just mutters something to the style of ‘You’ll see’ and walks into the sun. Ouch. Her aviators make a reappearance. God only knows what she must look like. At the very least people will mistake her for some sort of shady drug dealer. At the worst and maybe slightly deranged, she could probably pass for something evil out of Harry Potter.
Before seeing her hair this morning she would have vouched for Lucius Malfoy. Post-trim and undercut, she’s resigned to Draco. Her phone rings and ends too fast for her to process with her still weary body.
Santana Lopez (1) new voicemail blinks on her screen.
Quinn has to muffle her laughter as she walks towards the coffee shop where she knows Sam is waiting. It’s hard though when she’s listening to Santana and Brittany sing to her voicemail that ‘Quinn’s gay hair brings all the girls to the yard and they’re like fuck that’s hot! And she’s like, damn right it’s hot!’.
It makes up for Sam being surrounded by members of staff wanting him to leave because he doesn’t have a shirt on.
“Don’t you even laugh.” Quinn ushers past the counter workers as she shucks off her lacrosse hoody. “I’m so sorry-” She tells them and throws the clothing towards him. She knows it’ll fit him because he wore it all last night. Evidenced by the fact it kind of smells like him.
“What th-” His voice is muffled by Quinn shoving the hoody over his head. That and the not so subtle sighs of some older women in the shop. Though, if she’s right she’s doing the unimpressed girl serving coffee at the counter a favor. On the other hand said unimpressed girl is now giving Quinn in her white shirt a once over. “-hell.”
Sam gets his arms through and it’s actually a tight fit. He stares at her for long enough that she takes her glasses off. The silence makes it awkward. What’s worse is that they’re still standing up as well.
She makes the first move by pulling back her own chair. That’s when she sees him start to break. He’s had enough of a chance to look at her hair now that she’s not protected by her hoody. Sam has actually gotten a better look at it than she has. He’s going to laugh.
It’s all in the subtle expressions. Lips pressing against each other, curling into a repressed smile, while his eyes narrow mockingly. In the seconds before he does start to openly laugh, and before half of the shop turn to look at them again, his shoulders start to shake.
“Sam can we n-”
“I don’t even know what to say.” His laughing comes through in his words and the biggest grin she’s ever seen on his face. “Like, what?”
Groaning she rubs her palms into her eyes before running them over the undercut by her ears. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
She is not giving him the satisfaction of knowing that she didn’t actually agree to this and let Brittany do whatever she wanted with her hair when she was drunk. Then again she could have been sober and would have let it happen anyway because she remembers having her hands on Santana’s legs at one point. That sold it.
“What? When you were drunk?” Sam snorts. “You look like some slayer chick from Buffy season eight.”
Quinn snaps her fingers. “That season doesn’t exist.”
Sam covers his mouth for a second. “I’m going to get us coffee, because I think you need a moment.”
“I want a latte. With the drawings.” Quinn orders placing her head in her hands as Sam gets up. She winces when he stops to ruffle her shorter hair like she’s a pet or something. “And a cookie.”
The napkin holder on their table is the closest to a mirror she’s seen all day. Pulling it towards her she’s able to see the damage a little.
Despite being drunk when cutting it, Quinn assumes, Brittany managed to get everything mostly to the same length. Her hair falls just over her neck and ends at the line of her shoulders. It’s shorter than she’s ever had it. The undercut, like she’s felt, doesn’t go back too far above her ears. She’s still got her slight side fringe. Brittany didn’t touch that.
It’s messy and choppy. Quinn is dragging Sam to the nearest salon place to get it fixed as best as she can. Thinking about it, there is one person that will kill her more than her mom and that’s Kurt. She’ll have to get Sam to swear not to tell him. And avoid pictures for a while.
Speaking of pictures, she turns to spot Sam in the line, she still has to veto the ones he took yesterday of her playing. He sees her looking after the girl takes his order and smirks. She’s going to ignore him shaking his hair at her because it serves to remind her that they almost have the same length. The twin comparisons are going to start up again. Crap.
On the way back to staring at her table again the girl at the counter looks at her. A smile.
It’s not Santana, it’s not even Brittany, but it’s attention. Quinn flushes. How she ever thought she had a semblance of game is beyond her.
Soon after Sam is wandering back to their table with their cups in hand. Right now this is all she needs. her best friend, a drink and comfort. And the pretty picture she’s expecting in her cup as well.
“Here we go.” Sam grins. He’s gearing up for another round of teasing when Quinn holds up her hand in surrender.
“I will let you make all the comments you want when we’re out of here.” She promises. “But right now I’m running on like five hours sleep and half my hair has gone.”
“And you’ve just had to save your best friend from being pressed with some sort of indecent exposure.” Sam adds.
“Majorly indecent.” Quinn sticks out her tongue. “I think all of the mom’s in here just had a fit.”
She looks down at her latte art and pauses over what she sees. Scratch that comment about her having no game.
“Alright, alright.” He breaks away from his amusement over her hair disaster to look at his latte art. “What did you get? I think mines a panda or something...”
There’s no animal face in hers nor a word. She beams however and grabs a pen from her bag. “I, Sammy boy, have the barista’s number.” Too add to his look of utter disbelief she quickly stirs her drink and removes the numbers before his eyes. “Which I believe means that the hair isn’t as bad as I thought.”
“If this was 2 years ago, and Bieber fever was still a thing.” He mutters. “So in. I would be.”
“Yoda, you are not.” Quinn winks and finally takes a drink. Victory.
Sam shrugs as he takes a picture of his panda. “It’s not really that bad. You look...older.” He stutters. “I mean, like mature and stuff not old.”
“Thanks.” Quinn sips her drink. “How’d you find last night?”
At this Sam stops messing with his phone. “You mean what I can remember of it? Pretty good. Met a coupla guys when you disappeared. Drinking games. People with more of an alcohol tolerance than the Finn Hudson’s of the world.”
Quinn ignores how some of that sentence makes Sam sound. “You met Artie?”
“Dude in the chair? He’s awesome.” Sam nods. “I think he was the one that found you to take me home.”
“I don’t really remember.” Damn. She really needs to work on her first impressions here. There’s a faint longing for the days of high school when she didn’t need to make a good first impression because she had a cheerleading uniform and a scary coach to do that for her.
“He’ll be around. You said he was Brittany’s best friend?”
“Second.” Quinn remembers Brittany declaring that. Right before she mentioned he couldn’t walk. “Speaking of being around. When are you due back in Ohio? I mean, not that I’m not happy you’re here but-”
“Wednesday actually. You’re gonna have to put up with me for another three days if that’s okay.” Sam pushes the cookie he bought her to the middle. “After that I go back and rethink how many times I can afford to fly over.”
The cookie tastes like guilt. “Sam I-”
“Hey, don’t sweat it.” He waves. “I have a job. A good job with a really nice boss and more of a safety net in Ohio than you do out here. Visiting is the least I can do.”
Quinn swallows. “I don’t want you spending all your savings coming over here. I love you but I’ll be okay without you flying in to save me for a couple of months.”
Sam stirs his latte. He hasn’t drank much of it as he’s not a big fan of them. He must have just bought one for the art and because it’s what she ordered. “I know but have you ever considered I missed you too?”
Throat tightening she vows to make sure she foots the bill for something while he’s here. “Even with the legions calling at your door?”
“Not even for the Legion of superheroes.” Sam admits, kicking her under the table.
“You’ll have to come to watch me practice on Tuesday.” Quinn warns. “And put up with Lauren staring at you while you’re here.”
“I like seeing you play. You’re better than you let on. And I’m sure Lauren will warm up to me.” Sam shrugs.
He doesn’t even care about her worries and it’s so Sam that she has to smile. She wants to ask him where he’s getting the time to work, go to classes and still find a moment to come and see her. Maybe she’ll ask later, when she’s not too busy smiling at him.
“Good. But first-” She glances at the girl at the counter and balls up the paper with her number on. “We need to get you some more shirts.”
She helps him buy and choose about ten or so shirts because he cites that he’ll jog with her after practice. But on Tuesday’s practice he still chooses to throw on a slightly small William McKinley High School gym shirt along with his old letterman jacket. She hadn’t even seen him bring that, let alone fit it in his tiny duffel bag.
Not that she’d looked while Sam had gone to buy the parts he’d promised Burt to find out here.
“Eyes down Fabray.”
She’s no longer looking to make sure Sam seems occupied in the stands. Mercedes smirks at her lack of attention while Coach Bieste points at her shooters.
“This next play is all about speed. Remember to tie your laces girls.”
Coach Bieste doesn’t seem to be around as much as she actually is. Mostly because when they’re running down the field, weaving in and out of bodies, there’s only a disembodied voice screaming from the sidelines. She can’t actually pause long enough to look at her Coach most of the time.
It doesn’t mean that Quinn doesn’t respect her. Not only because she ultimately picked her for the team and she’s patient in helping her learn the game, but because she’s had the worst coach and is thankful for anything after that. Mercedes joked to her once that they see ‘The Bieste’ as the headteacher from Matilda (Trunchbull) if she ever had a heart or compassion of any kind.
It’s kind of true. However, if the rumors of Coach Bieste being a arm wrestling champion are anything to go by Quinn is kind of thankful that her hair is now too short for her to be launched over the fences surrounding the lacrosse field.
She’s brought back into the tactic talk when there’s a visual representation of what they’re going to do on the field. “Ideally the faster the better, but that last pass has to be accurate or they’ll turn us over.”
“What’s it called?” Quinn asks. The diagram shows the three shooters as well as midfield players, surrounding the goal in a circle.
“Chaos backdoor.” Santana informs. “Well, backdoor but if it screws up then it’s chaos.”
“Right.” Quinn sort of gets it.
“It won’t get to that.” Bieste interrupts. “Not if we don’t let them break the passes.”
She pulls out a dry erase pen. Drawing an arrow from the first player on the right of the page to the second, in the middle. “This is Marissa’s pass to Brittany. As soon as that pass is made, Brittany you run to the left and give the ball-”
Marissa is one of the midfielders positioned behind to the right of the goal. She nods at Brittany with a smile. Quinn doesn’t envy how fast she’s going to have to run back on the first break.
“-to Ginger. Far, far left.”
Ginger, who is actually Virginia but hates her name, looks carefully at the clipboard as Coach Bieste draws another line from Brittany to the circle that represents her. Another line is quickly drawn from Brittany in the center to show that she will run straight towards the net.
“You’re the safety.” Bieste tells Brittany. All attention turns to the last two circles on the board. The ones positioned behind the net, to the left and right. “Santana and Quinn, you’ll switch these positions depending on which side the ball goes to.”
A line goes from Ginger to the left back. “This is your receive for the example Quinn. As soon as you get this ball you have to pass it straight off.” Coach draws a deep line from Quinn’s circle to Santana’s. “This is important because as soon as they see that ball behind the net they’re going to close in.”
Quinn can already imagine it. Being stuck behind the net while every able bodied girl on the opposite team ran to block their attack. “Straight to Santana.”
“Only thing straight about her.” Brittany jokes just loud enough for her and Mercedes to hear. Maybe Santana too because she glares a little in a ‘I-want-you-to-focus’ way.
Coach Bieste is unaware and continues to link up the lines. “I want you to go for goal.” She turns to Santana. “Simple shot, don’t get cocky. If things get rough, for either of you, you pass off to Brittany and she takes the shot.”
Confusion. “Wait, either of us?”
Tapping the board again Bieste draws them in. “You’ll be switching remember? It’s not always going to be Santana taking the shot when we run this.”
Panic sets in and Quinn is reminded that she’s yet to score an actual goal outside of practice. “I haven’t had the practice from that angle that Santana has.”
Coach Bieste looks mildly sympathetic for a second but the expression reverts. Nobody ever won a game by feeling sorry for themselves. “How else ya gonna learn? Brittany is there to help if anything goes wrong and we’ll run this enough during practice that you won’t even think about it during the game.”
Santana is staring at her. Right into her eyes and Quinn shimmers back from the panic. This game is going to be her game. Their game. The one that they were supposed to have in the first place before the complications.
Shakily she grips her crosse. “Okay.”
There’s no missing the thrill of Santana’s curling half smile. Pride.
“Worst scenario?” Coach Bieste turns the clipboard around. “I need Marissa and Ginger to pedal back to Erin because it’ll be at least four against three on the turn over.”
Marissa frowns. “That’s if she doesn’t get distracted.”
Santana rolls her eyes but it’s only Quinn and Brittany who look over at the said midfielder, who is currently waving frantically to a blond girl in the stands instead of running through her drills with the defense. While the other half of her team is hiding their laughs, the girl in the stands looks quite enamored with the gesture.
Quinn spares a look to Sam, who sits just a little way away from the girl Erin is trying to impress, looking down on her from under the brim of his cap. Forget being able to score for the game. She wants to do it now. For him. For his smile and for all the times he’s had to be the one to bring her up again.
She has a team behind her to do that now. And she wants to give that rising feeling of pride to him as well.
He doesn’t miss the way she strides to her position by the goal with determination, nor the very obvious way she points her crosse directly at him.
Silent is her offering.
Marissa passes the ball to Brittany who sees her split second tribute and fires her pass back, forcing Marissa to aim for Santana instead.
There’s no denying she’s nervous as hell every single time she steps on the field. It’s different to the Cheerios. It’s unpredictable. There’s no set routine other than a vague play. Anything can happen. Plays change. Passes alter.
Just as it does with Brittany changing her pass from eventually getting to Quinn and ending with Santana, to ending with Quinn.
Coach Bieste doesn’t say a word of fault as Santana receives and gives a second or two of heel digging preparation to Quinn. The ball flies behind the net that Mercedes is guarding, right into Quinn’s crosse.
Nausea bubbles in her stomach when she kicks off the ground to get in front of the goal again. Brittany is sprinting forward to help if needed and Quinn wants to make that pass to her. To make the easy choice and get the sure goal.
Ringing persists in her ears as she half slides around the side of the net. Mercedes looks shocked at how fast she turned and even more in awe of the swing Quinn manages with her crosse in such a tight space.
Her eyes are screwed closed at the satisfying ‘whap’ of the ball hitting the back of the net. Her eyes are open to Mercedes’ open mouthed smile. To Santana’s background wonder turning into a reigned in smile. To Sam and the blond cheering in the stand as their sole audience members.
And then to Brittany, who didn’t stop running, hitting her full force into the ground laughing in a ridiculous celebration.
Quinn has to step out of the way of Erin and her friend on the way to Sam at the end of practice. They’re unable to move past her in anything other than single file because of their joined hands. The giggles make her think of Brittany and Santana. Mostly Brittany, who’s tackle at her first shot is still felt in her aches.
Sam takes her sudden overwhelmed brush past as a chance to laugh at her exhausted, red face. “We thought you looked good out there.”
He kicks her bag over and Quinn rustles through it for her water bottle. Taking a long drink she lets Sam clarify the ‘we’. “Laura.”
Gasping after the drink she remembers the start of practice. “She was here for Erin?” Erin’s distraction and Sam’s company. “Hope you weren’t too bored.”
“Definitely not.” He rubs his hands together a little bashfully. “Actually-”
The next thing she knows Brittany is strolling up the stairs towards them, giving Sam a wave. Definitely not her. It clicks. “Oh you didn’t.” She sighs.
Sam waves back at Brittany. “What? She wanted to know if I liked the same arcade games as her.”
She’s not actually opposed to this. Brittany is nice. Sam is nice. Wait, is this even a date? Or her friends hanging out? “Right, so you’ve asked Santana right?”
“Wait, why?” Sam’s voice drops. “I have to ask what?”
Quinn knocks the cap of his head. “I’m going to get changed.”
She passes Brittany who winks at her. “I’ll play nice.”
Quinn laughs. “Didn’t think he’d be your type.” Her honesty is appreciated by Brittany who tilts her head and gives Quinn a once over.
“Types are too restricting.” Brittany points to herself again. “Remember?”
There’s a lot of things that could mean. Their kiss. Brittany. Pansexuality. Types and how Sam shouldn’t stick to them. Shaking her head she ignores Sam’s calls. “One piece, Pierce.”
Sticking out her tongue is the closet to a promise she gets. For some reason Quinn is reaching for her phone to inform the only friend her and Sam really have to share in Lima about this development. That’s before Santana brushes against her shoulder.
“Hey-” Quinn alerts. “Are we still staying for extra practice?”
Santana glances to the stands. “Do you still want to? Without Britt?”
She looks back too. Sam looks a little uncomfortable as Brittany slides over. They look odd together but Quinn ends up smiling all the same.
“Why not?” Quinn shrugs. “Games on Saturday and you’re still hitting more of the shots than me. And I wanted to work on my long passes.”
Santana pauses like she didn’t think Quinn would still want to stay back after the grueling session. Or without Brittany. “Sure. Let me go refill.” She shakes her empty water bottle. “We’ll do some laps and get into the drill again.”
“No problem.” Santana heads into the changing building leaving Quinn to watch her back.
It occurs to her that she’s just agreed to spend time practicing her ball skills, alone, with Santana, alone.
That didn’t really work out as planned when this happened with Brittany.
Dropping the ball is becoming a thing whenever Santana is near. It’s not that she’s not catching it. No. It’s that Santana flashes her this ‘give it back to me, hard’ stare when she expects Quinn to return the ball in their drill. Which, naturally, results in Quinn storing the expression in her mind and stumbling so much that the ball finds the grass field more than her crosse.
Focusing on anything else, lacrosse or even what she thinks Sam is doing, doesn’t help.
However Santana thinks Quinn has a problem with her basic lacrosse handling. Clicking her tongue against her teeth she stops Quinn from continuing. “Just put up your cradle for me.”
Quinn places the ball inside the head of the crosse before lifting it up. It’s not laying horizontal but just above.
“Yeah, wait a sec. Your hold is way off.” Santana points to Quinn’s hands. It makes her fumble even more and the ball rolls out of the head of her stick. “See, like that. You have to get it up further. C’mere.”
She looks around even though there’s no one other than them on the field and hasn’t been for over an hour. Santana waits for her to step forward but when Quinn doesn’t move fast enough Santana comes to her. Placing her own crosse on the ground she stands behind Quinn. “Right handed?”
There is no way she’s going to be able to get that phrase out of her head. In fact, it’s going to be even more ingrained because when she nods in confirmation Santana steps closer. Like just about brushing her chest against Quinn’s back.
“Okay your cradle is weak.” Santana taps under the crosse, jumping it up in front of Quinn at about 45 degree angle to the floor. The head of the crosse is right in front of her face. The ball rolls forward and Santana has to stop Quinn from jerking the crosse away from her to stop it dropping.
“My cradle?” Quinn puzzles, eventually keeping the ball in.
Santana steadies the crosse in Quinn’s hand. “Cradle. The thing that stops you dropping the ball.”
That makes sense. Things make sense right until Santana drags her hands to the right positions on the crosse before covering them. Breathing gets harder.
“Okay so we have your dominant hand here-” Slapping the back of Quinn’s right hand only makes the way Santana says dominant seem worse. “- which does all of the controlling. You should be able to feel the weight of the ball in the head.”
Santana’s improving of her technique isn’t that different from what she’s been doing. It just feels stronger, more secure, but then again that may be because Santana is also ‘cradling’ her, so to speak.
“Lefty here is behind the right.” Santana pushes Quinn’s hand down. It forces her to grip the crosse near the bottom, which is also dangerously close to her crotch. Meaning Santana’s hand is dangerously close to-
“So now I just run?” Comes out as a squeak that makes her sound like a pre-pubescent boy. Santana runs her palm over Quinn’s knuckles, letting go and making Quinn bite her lip at the same time, before stepping away to retrieve her own crosse.
She copies the cradle. “You run but you cradle back and forth in front of your face as fast as you can. It’s going to be a bitch to your arms but you won’t be dropping the ball anymore.” She nods for Quinn to try.
As important as it is for her to remember how Santana’s hands felt against hers Quinn shakes herself out of the guilty delight to try. Santana watches as she jogs down the field cradling the ball in front of her. Short swings passing her face but cupping the ball inside the crosse. She makes it to the end of the outlined lacrosse field without the ball dropping from her stick.
“How was that?” Quinn calls back to Santana.
Santana picks up one of the spare balls they’d laid on the grass in her own crosse. “Not bad, can you do it faster?”
Somewhere between nodding and sprinting with the cradle back to Santana, Quinn wonders when talking about lacrosse started sounding like a sex conversation. She blames Sam. It’s probably his fault.
Faster turns into longer, into harder, into laps and suicide sprints across the field. Quinn feels weird stretching her arms by the end of it as they’re almost locked into her chest. Santana joins in at some point, trailing her as they run and injecting comments when Quinn’s arms droop.
In the end Quinn cites the need to actually stretch her arms out in a way that doesn’t equate to press ups and they stop for a water break. Slumping to the ground by her bag Quinn grabs at her almost empty bottle, drinking the rest of it to ignore Santana pulling her arms behind her back to unwind, thus shoving her chest forward.
“You down with that now?” Santana groans out as something in her shoulder pops in satisfaction. “Because even though you’re seriously cutting into my nightlife right now, I care.”
Quinn coughs. “You didn’t have to stay this long. I just thought what with Brittany probably commandeering your apartment.”
Santana suddenly remembers who her best friend left with. “Crap. I should be thanking you then. The longer I’m out here, the shorter my night on the couch is.”
“He’s only here until tomorrow right?” Santana asks. “Not that Brittany usually repeats performances with the same guy in the same week.”
Quinn grimaces and covers her eyes. “I really don’t want to know. I was scarred for life when I opened his bedside table back in high school. I don’t need to actually think about him having sex.”
Santana laughs. “Hey, at least you don’t have intimate knowledge about sex with him.”
She suddenly freezes because Santana is right. Luckily she doesn’t have that perspective but it only reminds her again that Santana does have that insight to intimacy with Brittany. Unfortunately Santana mistakes Quinn’s silence for something else.
“You’re not like upset over this are you?” She sinks down into a crouch. “I mean, I know I joke around a bit but if you were like- into Brittany?”
If she was drinking she would have choked. She can’t even make a noise to deny it.
“-I’d be okay with that. She’s my best friend, you’re pretty cool. So far. And I know Sam is your best friend-” Santana nods her head and moves her hands in all the supportive looking ways and that’s what finally snaps Quinn out of her mild embarrassment.
And it kick starts her honesty. “No, no. I mean- I’m not.” She takes a deep breath because she really doesn’t know how this is going to go over and she really doesn’t want another Cold War between them before a match again. “Brittany is brilliant, stunning even and when you didn’t show for a session the other week, we kissed, and it felt okay but-”
Santana’s jaw clenches but it’s not in anger or betrayal. It’s almost a twitching gesture of relief that Quinn is being honest. Or something else.
“-I don’t think she’s really,” Quinn debates saying ‘her type’ because there’s no denying that if not for- or if they’d met somewhere else, then Brittany would be her type. “-what I’m looking for.”
It feels like a deflection. Blaming Brittany’s obvious short attention span for dating rather than slyly hint that Quinn’s affections lay elsewhere, close to Brittany, but elsewhere.
Santana doesn’t take offense at Quinn’s lack of interest, choosing to make due on the promise to tease her momentarily about Brittany kissing her and how Brittany had actually told her weeks ago. She’s mortified for a minute when Santana tells her that Brittany thought she reacted like that surprised kitten on youtube to the first one.
“Stop!” Quinn begs. “I was surprised!”
“It’s how it starts!” Santana mocks her by putting her hands in front of her like paws. “But you must really have a type for some girls if Britt didn’t get you going.”
The air of almost awkward filters back in and she’s ready to just pick up her crosse again to escape it but that wouldn’t get her anywhere either. “I didn’t say that.”
“Please. There’s no one, apart from maybe Sam, who I’ve seen completely rebound against Britt’s advances.”
Wait, Sam rebounds?
Quinn opens her mouth to say something but ends up sighing into a light laugh. “I don’t know what to say. I think she’s awesome but I’m not ‘that into that’.”
Santana chews on her bottom lip like she’s pondering something. It makes her feel like Santana can see right through her. Read her like an open book. She wants to lock away somewhere in her room and curl under her duvet to stop Santana from seeing exactly why she’s not into Brittany.
“At least all the sexual tension that’s been distracting you in practice can go now.” Santana slaps Quinn’s knee before popping to her feet. “Wait ‘til the end of the season before you find yourself a girl.”
The sting in her knee is hot and standing just makes it spread. Santana twirls her crosse like a baton and says something about passing. Quinn is content to watch her unawares. Hoping that she won’t really have to wait until the end of the season to have a shot at getting the girl.
She’s half jogging down the sidewalk with a bag full of English and Spanish books, as well as Sam’s small duffel bag of belongings, when her phone rings. It takes seconds of struggling and balancing so that her arms aren’t flashing her with aching pains, due to the cradle practice, before she’s swiping to accept the call. Cutting off her phone’s rendition of Teenage Dream, which in hindsight isn’t really keeping her crush a secret.
“Morning sunshine.” Santana drawls on the other end. “You almost here?”
Quinn swirls round. “I can’t see you. All I see is capitalism.”
Well, Starbucks and several fast food chains but really she can’t see Santana or her house guest.
“I think I see you-” She hears someone mumble in the back of Santana’s call. “Are you carrying two bags, wearing jeans with little rips in them, which look fantastic on you by the way-”
The jog had already brought up a cool sweat on her face but now the heat sets in from the compliment.
“Yes and yes.”
“Then ta-da.” This time Santana’s voice isn’t tinny against her ears but loud and clear behind her. Turning she’s met with the reason she’s been forced to detour from her planned stop at the library.
“I believe this belongs to you.” Santana is there, in all of her post-morning-run glory, takeaway coffee in hand as she let’s go of Sam’s sleeve. To be honest she doesn’t really notice Sam beside her until he’s stepping forward.
Can you blame her though? She got cramps the first few times she ran with Santana. Sexually frustrated cramps of frustration.
Quinn smirks. “You found my puppy! I knew my ‘Lost, please return’ posters would work.”
Sam frowns. “Puppy? Out of all the animals in the world. A puppy?”
“Can it, golden retriever.” Santana snickers.
Quinn tears her eyes away from her. Remembering to focus on her best friend. Who, bar being slightly disheveled like he’s just been woken up, looks happy enough. “You’re all in one piece at least.” Quinn mocks.
Thinking otherwise takes her into dangerous territory about Brittany’s sex life. Which she’s trying to stay away from for her own sake and sanity.
One kiss and one girl crush per lacrosse team is enough hard work.
“Any reason I shouldn’t be?” Sam asks suspiciously. Santana winks at her behind his back in amusement. Quinn decides not to touch that comment with a fifty foot pole.
She finds she doesn’t have to when Sam braces his hand on her arm and lowers his voice just for her to hear. “I’m sorry I wasn’t around last night.”
Quinn ducks her head a little. “And that you were out having fun instead? Don’t be.”
It’s not the first time Sam has apologized to her for having a date. It ends up making her feel bad because she doesn’t want to always seem like she needs him.
“You had fun with her right?” Quinn asks. “Treated her nice. Like the respectable Lima boy you are?”
Sam relaxes at seeing she doesn’t mind. He pretends to fix an imaginary tie over the wrinkled Superman shirt he’s wearing. “I’m Mr-Nice-Guy. Don’t be wounding me with your doubts.”
As if he could be anything less. “How was it?”
“I don’t kiss and tell.”
Santana is pretending she’s not listening in but Quinn clearly sees her slap a hand over her mouth to stop laughing. She knows more than Quinn does seeing as it was her apartment Sam stayed at.
“I’ll find out from her anyway.” Quinn promises to his grin.
It doesn’t fade but his smile dampens from a beam to a glow. Like he’s no longer exaggerating his feelings. Wistfully he admits; “I think we’ll be good friends.”
“Oh.” That’s not what she thought she’d be hearing.
“Expecting more?” Sam jokes.
Quinn wants to point out that she wasn’t the one who spent the night with Brittany but leave it. Maybe he just couldn’t keep up with her on DDR. “No. Hetero.”
Sam shakes his head laughing a little. “Stud.”
It hits her. He’s going back home. Like, now. Fighting to keep her expression as calm as possible she presses her fist against his chest. “Do you want me to go with you to the airport?” Gesturing to her library ready bag she continues. “I could just drop this off and we could get the bus together-”
He stares over his shoulder for a second and blocks her view of the look he gives and gets from Santana. “No. I’ve got it. Besides, I think we’ve had enough teary goodbyes in our lifetime to mourn missing out on one.”
“See you later’s.” She corrects.
“See you later.” Everything he has is in the bag she passes off to him. The one she brought as a second thought when Santana asked to meet her, thinking Sam didn’t have a change of clothes again.
He drops the bag with a thump and opens his arms for her. She gets seriously hug deprived when he leaves. “Home for Thanksgiving?” He asks.
“Seems like an age away.” She mumbles back to him.
Laughing into the top of her shorter head of hair he mutters back. “I’m sure you’ll find something to pass your time with.” Then a teasing whisper. “Or someone.”
Santana looks confused for a second when Quinn pushes Sam away from her with a groan. “Get out of here.” She says with affection. Half of her is really asking him not to leave though.
Sam scoops up his bag and points to the direction of the bus stop. “I was never even here.” He remarks grinning like a fool.
And the sad part is, as she watches him walk away, that she feels like he wasn’t. The time spent in L.A. with him always feels too short and too fleeting in comparison to the past to ever feel like he’s with her at all.
She can almost predict the start of tears going to form in her eyes so she turns away from where Sam is jumping onto a bus to safer territory. But her eyes land on Santana’s chest so she quickly looks up.
Quinn sniffs to clear the oncoming sadness in order to step towards Santana and pretend like she isn’t going to miss her best friend like crazy. “He’ll be fine.”
Santana scoffs as if to turn that on it’s head and confront Quinn to whether she’ll be okay. “He’s lucky Brittany refused to spill about their little ‘outing’ last night otherwise he might be leaving with some bruises.”
Who says he’s not? Wait, no. Don’t think about that.
“Kept quiet to me about it.” Quinn offers to. “But it sounds like they had fun.”
Santana has managed to pick up the subtle change in her mood better than some of her newer friends. Closely followed by Mercedes then Brittany. She offers Quinn her coffee and bumps her shoulder against her own when Quinn takes it. They start to walk down the street, subconsciously heading towards Santana’s apartment rather than the library.
“We’ll get the deets off Britt later. Unless they had sex.” Santana pulls her hands up. “I’m not sitting through that.”
Probably a different story when they were in high school Quinn laughs to herself. “Veto.” She agrees. This makes Santana turn to her curiously.
“So when you guys were together for that ‘brief courtship’.” She mocks Quinn’s description. “You never had sex?”
“No.” She manages to sound a lot more disgusted by the question than intended.
Santana takes her coffee back. “Wow that didn’t make you sound previously repressed at all.”
Quinn shakes her head. She’s not going to bring up the fact that both her and Sam never expressed any interest in each other like that bar making out and holding hands at school. People just assumed because she was the head cheerleader and he was on the football team that they had.
Maybe that’s why it was such a shock to them when she was outed. Huh.
“No. I think I would have. If I was more in denial or didn’t have such good teachers-” She thinks of Holly. “Or my mom in the picture to be supportive.”
“No papa Fabray?” Santana throws out there. It’s such a casual mention that Quinn doesn’t have time to dredge up the ill will she feels toward her father.
“Out of the picture. Divorce.” Not dead in other words. “He wouldn’t be okay with it. Me being gay I mean.”
That had terrified her when she first started realizing what she might be more inclined to. Heck, her dad preached enough about religion and his opinions on the world and how ‘things’ like this, like what she is, should be dealt with. She wouldn’t be in L.A. for sure. She might not even be in college.
“Thank God for moms.” Santana chimes. Her coffee is finished but she doesn’t suggest stopping on their way to her apartment to get another one.
“And the Sam’s of the world.” Quinn sighs.
Santana looks at her. “I don’t even know how you two deal with this distance. If it was Brittany, I’d probably be half-way to crazy by now.”
That’s true. Not that she’s not lingering on that edge herself. “Distractions help. We have skype and emails. Lacrosse. You-” Involuntarily she blushes, out of Santana’s sight. “Brittany, Mercedes. My classes.”
“So things are going alright with your classes then?” Scratch that, Santana spots her blush with a knowing grin.
It doesn’t distract her from the question though. A sinking ball forms in her stomach as she remembers the books in her bag. She was meant to go to the library. She’s meant to be halfway through an essay plan and working on a presentation.
Instead she’s whining over Sam leaving and walking in the opposite direction with Santana. Crap.
However rather than make her excuses and leave she remembers a word of advice Coach Bieste had given her at her first practice. Somehow the words echo in her head in the voice of Dumbledore from Harry Potter (‘Help will always be given to those at Hogwarts...’) but they flourish to the front of her mind.
“We’re a pretty close knit team, Fabray, so if you have any problems just ask any one of us.”
On the upside she’s getting better at this swallowing her pride thing. “Actually no.”
Truthfully Santana looks worried at this. Not just because she assumes Quinn could handle her work and manage not to fail the academic requirements for staying on the lacrosse team, but she hopes because she kind of cares. “What’s your workload? It’s what, your fourth week?”
“I’m more stressed about my minor classes than my English.” Spanish is becoming a burden to sit through now that she’s got to start reading more.
“Linguistics. I remember.” Santana nods.
“You can say no but I could use a few book recommendations.” Quinn says, not even expecting that much. Santana, however, apparently likes to surprise her.
“Books or actual help?”
Quinn blinks. “Both actually.”
“Right.” Santana tosses her empty cup into the nearest trash can. “First home, then we’ll talk.”
It impacts her more than most dramatic movie scene changes do.
“Do you want a drink?” Is Santana’s first question the moment they step through the door. Which had taken longer than expected because Santana’s key had refused to work. ‘Old building’ she’d muttered angrily.
“Sure.” She replies distantly. It’s mostly because she’s taking a moment to take in the girl’s apartment for the first time. Second technically but she was too drunk to remember anything other than her haircut. “Just water.”
“Adventurous.” Santana jokes and wanders into the kitchen area.
Brittany wasn’t really joking about them having a small apartment. It’s modest to say the most. A living area that stretches into a small two and a half counter kitchen if you include the fridge-freezer. Standing just in front of the sofa gives Quinn a peek into the bathroom, with it’s half closed door, and the closed door next to it. Their bedroom. Which they share and where presumably Sam slept last night.
She’s not going to think about Santana sleeping somewhere else. Otherwise she won’t be able to sit on the couch.
Other than the basics the room is scattered with traces of the people that live there. Pictures, photos and news clippings from their high school days are pinned to a board in the kitchen. She can see Brittany’s grinning faces from where she stands. There are a few trophies lined on one of the book shelves, along with their course materials. Quinn can see a book sitting there that she’s wanted to borrow from the library for a few days.
Beside the lacrosse equipment strewn behind the television they have and papers discarded by their XBox system, the place is quite tidy. She’s about to start scanning the game and DvD titles when Santana comes back with her water.
“I’m assuming you're wanting help with your Spanish, because you’re shit out of luck with anything else form me.” Santana states bluntly. Quinn splutters on the first sip of her water. “What have you been set?”
Quinn sits demurely on the couch and pulls her bag full of work towards her. “I have a presentation to put together on the natural acquisition of Spanish language versus the classroom and present it to the rest of my seminar group by Friday.”
The day before their second game. More specifically their first away game.
“I also have an English assignment due then as well.”
Santana sits with her on the couch, closer than Quinn thinks is necessary but she’s not going to mention it, looking at her bag. “What’s the English essay about?”
Quinn pauses as she reaches into her bag to pull out her laptop. “Um, Literature 1850 to present. It’s for my Pre-Stonewall/LGBT course.” She counters Santana’s eye roll with a fixing stare. “I thought I was ‘shit out of luck’ if it wasn’t Spanish.”
“How did I know you’d be the type to pick the LGBTQ option.” Santana mocks and drags Quinn’s bag over. Quickly she removes most of her books onto the small coffee table she has.
“-And I want to know because I’m time judging.” Santana informs, stacking her books. “Between this presentation, your essay, lacrosse practice and extra sessions, I’m wondering whether or not we should order take out.”
Strangely enough that puts things in perspective. If they’re going to be figuring things out long enough for her to eat here? “Shit.”
Santana is more optimistic. “Relax Sweets. I aced this course last year without reading. Though I guess you don’t have the ‘I have relatives who lived it’ advantage.”
“Surprisingly I don’t.” Quinn deadpans with her head in her hands. Santana just chuckles, shoving her shoulder. Quinn hopes she doesn’t notice how she kind of leans into the touch.
“Wouldn’t have thought actually.” She banters. “You like Thai?”
Quinn stares at the small amount of notes she’s made for her presentation and decides she might need something nicer. “Chinese is preferable.”
Santana shrugs and reaches for the phone on the wall. “I’ll order seeing as I’m paying.”
That makes her turn. “You don’t have to. I’ve got some with me-”
A month a go she would have been praying for more people to foot the bill for things. This was when her biggest safety net was her grandparents giving her $100 for leaving to college. Since then her sports scholarship has come in and she can actually afford to pay for things for herself. Food included.
“Save it Fabray. Just do me a favor?” Quinn nods. “Try and score on Saturday, Brittany thinks we’re leaving you out.”
Quinn blushes in embarrassment. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Then something occurs to her. “Hey, where is Brittany?”
Santana puts her hand over the phone while it rings through. “She left this morning when I took Sam. Probably hanging out with Artie and writing more songs about Cups.”
Writing songs about cups?
“Don’t ask.” Santana rolls her eyes. “Do you want anything specific?”
“Whatever you order is fine.” Quinn replies. It’s only fair seeing as she’s not allowed to contribute to the paying for said food. Returning to look at her books she wonders again if she’ll get to make a better first impression on Artie any time soon and is thankful that Brittany is out. Otherwise there’s no telling how much they’d get distracted by talking about Sam.
Santana starts to order something in the background while Quinn boots up her laptop. She flounders for a second to change her background wallpaper from the picture of her and Sam dressed up at their graduation. She really doesn’t have an explanation for why her former history teacher, Holly Holliday, has her arm around her waist. Or why Quinn is smiling like an idiot. Opening Microsoft Powerpoint is a safer option.
The picture brings back a nostalgic feeling that settles her further into the sofa. Graduation day was a good day. She was surrounded by people she loved and admire. Though her less than professional correspondence with Holly Holliday after she transferred was a little difficult to label. Seeing Sam’s face when Quinn mentioned that the woman basically came back to see her graduate nearly top of their year was worth the risk of someone thinking they were involved.
And by worth it, she means it was hilarious.
Her mom took too many pictures and cried a lot. Kurt arrived near the end to take them to the last LGBTQ meeting and ended up fussing over their robes. They’d dragged him into the pictures as well before convincing Sam to come along to the last meeting as well. Everyone there had congratulated them.
Overall she looks back on it and enjoys the surge of happiness it brings her. Nothing went wrong. No one upset her or showed up unexpectedly. And she made it out.
She made it here.
Santana climbs over the back of the sofa, startling her as she does. “Here in twenty. Now lets see the damage.”
Quinn nervously rubs the back of her head. “There’s a lot.”
Santana scans the area. “Obviously. But there’s two of us now.” Quinn almost interrupts. “I’m not saying I’m writing it for you, because that’s illegal.”
“Yeah.” Quinn agrees. Her text for English is at the bottom of the pile and it looks so much more attractive than all of her Spanish notes combined.
“Okay, lets break it down.” Santana grabs a notebook from under the table, brandishing a pen from between the sofa cushions. Handy. “We have a game on Saturday which we need you there and prepared for. Meaning this linguistics presentation has to be finished today.”
Quinn’s eyes find the time in the corner of her laptop screen. It’s three thirty.
“It’s not going to be eloquent and you’ll just have to read and improvise off the board.” Santana directs. She motions for Quinn to pass over her notes.
“It’s still going to be a lot of work. There’s a lot of the debate to consider.”
Santana skims over the writing. “They won’t want it all. This will take three or four hours. Tops.” She sounds confident in that fact which puzzles her until Quinn remembers she did this last year. “Then we ditch the books and go for a run. Britt too if she’s back by then.”
“I still have an essay.” Quinn argues. “And I’m not really dressed to run.”
“You can borrow some of my stuff. We’re almost the same size.” Santana deflects. “And how many books have you got to get through for this essay?”
Quinn picks it up. “Just the one.”
“Skim it for now. Just for the plan. After the run we’ll mock you an introduction and conclusion. The rest you can do Thursday to fill in the blanks. Friday if you’re a slow writer.”
She’s not. It still makes Quinn regret leaving it for so long. “I should have started sooner.”
A deep breath and a laugh has Santana informing her; “You’ll be saying that for the next three or four years.”
Quinn stares at the blank pages of her power point on the screen. The insert line point keeps blinking at her to write something. “Four hours you say?”
Santana gives her a grin that says ‘Atta girl’ before taking control of her laptop. “I’ll even put some fancy animations on it for you.”
She does as well. Quinn vows to secretly remove them before she has to present but otherwise her layout works well. She reads and Santana types away, occasionally prompting Quinn to read something again or edit her notes.
Brittany wanders in soon after with their order in hand. After all of the guilt Quinn felt about not paying, it’s Brittany that ends up footing the bill for them both to ensure she gets a share of some of the food. Santana swats her hands with the chopsticks they get but ends up using cutlery because she can’t eat with them otherwise. Brittany stifles her giggles to Quinn as they both use the delivered chopsticks to eat with.
Santana makes her read while they eat and bans Brittany from talking about Sam while they concentrate. It doesn’t seem to bother her at all and finds a loop hole by talking about Artie challenging her to Trivial Pursuit again. And losing again.
“Cat diseases?” Santana asks through a mouthful of food.
“Cat diseases.” Brittany exclaims victoriously. “He was not prepared.”
Which is exactly how Quinn feels when Santana accidentally brushes against her to reach for more food or to look at her laptop again. All the while Brittany smiles somewhat knowingly in the background, getting them drinks and adding comments about the layout of the power point every once and a while.
The four hour mark is about right for them mostly completing her presentation. Quinn ready to pull her English out next when shorts and appropriate shoes are tossed in her direction for their run. She wants to protest and just work more but as the three of them are jogging down Sunset again, with Brittany keeping coyly quiet about her time with Sam (‘He was sweet!’), Quinn feels a ton of stress lift off her body.
Probably more to do with being in close proximity to Santana than exercise but she can’t exactly admit that.
When they get back it’s easier to focus on what she’s meant to be writing as well. Santana fixes any glaring errors in her presentation while Brittany showers and Quinn starts writing her essay. It starts out easy, but between the steam coming from the bathroom, to watching Santana bite her lip in concentration, to the time and the drowsiness-
“Quinn.” Fingers snap in front of her eyes.
“I have two hundred more words.” She mumbles into her arms.
“You’re having a dream.” Santana scoffs before shaking Quinn awake again. “Britt help her to the bedroom. She’s done.”
“M’not.” But she can’t protest because Brittany is leading her away from her place on the floor and into the only bedroom in the apartment. “Where are you-?”
Brittany just pushes her to the pillow. “Don’t worry. We’ll wake you up for your classes tomorrow.”
The last thing she remembers is muttering a thanks and the door being closed.
The first thing she feels is carpet burning her face as she reacts to the first thing she ends up waking up to. Namely, Santana’s sleeping form next to her.
“Fuck you. Uh.” Santana curses. Well, formerly asleep because Quinn’s just made enough noise for her to be rudely awoken.
“Holy crap.” Quinn mutters, losing the filter that usually stops her from saying stupid things in the morning. Wait, has she ever had one of those? “Ho-oh-lee crap.”
Santana groans from her place on the bed and reaches for the duvet that Quinn’s legs are tangled in, half propped on the side of the bed, tugging until Quinn is free of them. Only instead of chewing Quinn out further or waking up, she turns on her side and pulls the covers back over her.
At least she’s wearing a shirt. Holy shit what if she wasn’t? Holy shit, why was she in the same bed as her anyway?
Somewhere in all of the confusion Quinn backpedals on her hands, away from the bed, until she’s grasping against the wall and feeling the bedroom. It’s only when she’s on the other side and Santana is behind closed doors that she realizes her heart is pounding so much.
“Did-” She can’t even fathom. “Shit.”
Rubbing her hands against her face she leans into the wall for support. What she’s experiencing now must be a form of torture. The first time she shares a bed with a girl that she likes and it ends up being that she doesn’t even remember it and it only involved sleeping.
Humming sounds from the kitchen and Quinn moves her hands from her face to see Brittany holding a pan over the stove, looking sweetly surprised to see her. As if.
Brittany places the breakfast onto the plate.
“One slice or two?”
Quinn looks at the door and sighs. She’s running on chinese food from last night and toast smells really really good. “Two.”
There seems to be an almost never ending pile of french toast on her plate as she and Brittany talk about her classes and some of the plays Coach Bieste wants to go over for their next lacrosse game on Saturday. Brittany is halfway through promising to teach Quinn how to shoot the ball better when the bedroom door creaks open.
Quinn makes the mistake of looking round when Santana comes out of the bedroom.
The girl is still as dressed as she was when Quinn woke up next to her except this time Quinn can actually see Santana’s hipbones and admire the way her sweatpants hang off her and the messy ruffle of her hair.
She ends up spitting milk into the hand that isn’t currently holding the glass of milk Brittany poured for her.
Luckily Santana is still too focused on the pan Brittany is holding. In fact, she looks kind of horrified. “What is that?”
“What? It’s breakfast.” Brittany bites her bottom lip, like she’s trying not to laugh at the subtle way Santana’s hands are shaking. “Quinn seems to like it.”
Discreetly wiping her milk splattered hand on the jeans she slept in Quinn coughs out; “Yeah, I’ve never had-”
“Britt that’s sneaky toast!” Santana splutters, waving Quinn to stop talking. “Sneaky! I mean- not the toast.”
Brittany flips the toast. “Not the toast?”
“No! The toast is sneaky!”
“Why is it sneaky?” Quinn mumbles still taking bites. It’s really good.
Santana finally whirls on her. “Just stop eating it!”
Quinn tries to mutter ‘sorry’ but she’s just taken another bite of it and that’s distracting her more than wanting to ask why she should stop eating it.
“Brittany.” Santana rounds the kitchen and takes the pan Brittany has in her hand and sets it off the stove. “We didn’t have sex.”
They both break off their intense staring to watch Quinn save her now empty glass of milk from smashing against the table. “I’m sor-”
Santana takes it from her. “We only have three of them.”
Brittany puts the pan back on the stove. “She accepted the toast.”
“Like a normal person would!” She returns the glass, full again, before talking to Brittany. “Because it’s breakfast! It’s just food to her.”
“I feel like I’m missing something.” The toast is suddenly unappealing. “Why does accepting the toast relate to us having sex?”
“Not having sex.” Santana snaps back. Quinn flushes fast and even though she’s in the middle of arguing with Brittany, Santana takes a second to raise her eyebrows at Quinn fidgeting over the thought.
There is a lot of thoughts to be had. Especially since she’s basically still bed-warm.
“It’s a code we made up.” Santana explains. “Back in high school.”
“Oh.” Quinn states. She’s still warm. From bed. Which she shared with Santana. Oh god.
“The toast is symbolic.” Brittany slyly starts making more toast.
“It’s a sex thing.” Santana finishes, swiping her own plate from the top of the fridge. “Sneaky.” She slaps Brittany’s waist.
“Oh.” A sex thing. The toast is symbolic for sex, which she didn’t have with Santana but symbolically had with her...because she accepted the toast. Surprisingly the toast doesn’t make her feel better about the non-sex.
Brittany scoffs and grabs Santana’s plate. Piling off toast onto it and pushing Santana out of the kitchen. “You have class. Eat.”
Santana mumbles something that sounds like ‘It’s not over’ but trails out of the kitchen, patting Quinn’s head as she does. It sends an odd but delightful shiver through her body and alerts her again to the memory of waking up next to the girl. Not the four seconds it took for her to freak out and fall off the bed, but the first blinking awakening in which she realized who she was staring at.
A sex thing.
Great now she has The Lonely Island stuck in her head without any of the action to justify it.
Brittany takes a small pity on her after the whole embarrassing-ruin-your-toast-breakfast. “You want Lucky Charms instead? They have mini-marshmallows.”
Quinn smiles and nods as she hears Santana complain about the amount of Quinn’s stuff that’s strewn all over the living room. “Sure.”
Her presentation isn’t a hit but it doesn’t miss either. Santana’s animations get a smile out of most of her Spanish class, which distracts from the fact that she’s basically reading off the board with some minor additions. It’s nerve wracking because it’s the first time she’s had to speak in front of her class but from the small nod from her seminar tutor and she’s sure that it’s a passing grade.
“Nice.” Karen whispers as they flood out of the class. “How long did you spend on that?”
Quinn scoffs as she rummages through her bag for the English essay she finished yesterday. The one she started at Santana’s. “I’m going to guess that it’s not as long as you spend on yours.”
Karen groans. “High school Spanish was the bane of my life but gotta struggle through it to achieve the dream.”
The Dream, which Quinn has listened intently to only once, is Karen’s plan to do some volunteer teaching after her degree in Spain while spending time with her family and hopefully finding some guy to whisk her away.
Okay, the last part was implied but it’s nice to hear other people’s five-year plans. Quinn is still working on hers.
“You still didn’t get back to me on what you’re thinking after UCLA.” Karen points out. Quinn steers them towards the Rolfe Hall yard. “I’m guessing something to do with languages.”
“I don’t even know what I’m doing next week further than taking notes and lacrosse.” Quinn finally finds the typed essay in her bag and brandishes it in front of her. “And as for what I’m doing in the next hour? There’s an open office that I need to submit this to.”
Karen just laughs. “You’ll figure it out.”
Truthfully she already has. She’s going to finish her degree near the top of her class. She’s going to graduate and spend her first summer working at a part time job where she doesn’t have passive-aggressive customers on her all of the time – probably at a library either in L.A or Chicago or somewhere, while volunteering out at local newspapers or media outlets. Until she interviews for a, hopefully, above entry level job at a publishing company where she’ll spend all of her time reading and editing the possible future greats.
“I hope so.” Quinn muses.
The only thing that’s changed about her five-year plan is that now she’s potentially going to be fitter than she expected and she potentially may have someone else in said five-year plan.
And by potentially she means that if there’s a chance in the next two years that she gathers up the courage to ever hint at Santana that she likes her and anything comes of that then...maybe.
“I really hope so.”
She snaps out of her future daydream daze to see Karen’s confused face. “Sorry.”
It didn’t occur to her before how big that possibility of ‘maybe’ had become in a few short weeks. “I’ll see you on Monday?”
Karen nods. “No study group this weekend?”
She shakes her head, a little regretfully, because Karen is actually really good with helping her play catch up on her notes. “Big game tomorrow.”
“Get it girl.” Karen encourages. “Who’s it against?”
“Ah, Cal State. Away game.” Quinn nods. From what Coach Bieste has been drilling into them during practice, it’s going to be a hard game. Blue Bruins versus the Black and Gold.
“I hope you girls win.” Karen sounds more genuine than a couple of her other classmates who’d stumbled upon her extra curricular sport. “And try to avoid getting hit in the face. I think I overheard some of the guys in your English class talking about Fight Club.”
Fight Club. Those references will haunt her forever. That and Mean Girls.
Quinn touches her healed cheek with a nervous sigh. “I’ll try.”
Karen gives her a mock salute when she excuses herself to hand in her essay. “Go Bruins!”
The advice about not getting hit in the face is useful. Or relevant to her interests anyway. She just doesn’t expect it to be necessary in the short time it takes her to find the office she needs to hand her essay in to.
But when a voice startles her from behind she almost face plants into the doorframe, before turning and almost running into the nearest wall. Forget any notions of her ever being smooth.
“Santana!” Quinn recovers from almost tripping into the wall behind her at he sudden appearance of her teammate. Her lacrosse training gear wearing teammate. Oh. Hi. Shorts.
“Quinn, what a pleasant surprise.” Surprise her ass. No. Wait.
In a panic she looks between the office she’s just stepped out of to the spot where Santana stands as if it will tell her all of the answers. “What are you doing here?”
Santana looks down at the somewhat bulky men’s watch on her wrist. “Practice starts in two hours and we still have to get your kit from home before we run.”
Quinn is speechless. They have to run before practice now?
“How did you even know where I was?” Quinn finally settles on. Santana doesn’t give her that much time to even say that as she’s pushing Quinn to file out of the building.
Santana flips out her phone, which is currently updating Santana’s Facebook page. Quinn’s grown able to spot her profile picture from a mile. Not because she stalks the page, no. It just happens to also be the caller ID for Santana on her phone.
“You updated about two hours ago about your presentation with and then dropping your essay off at the Center.” Santana pockets her phone in her shorts. “I’m just saving your slacking time.”
“Just Facebook?” Quinn tests. She’s making a mental note to ask Sam to unlink his twitter from his Facebook posts, because if either Brittany or Santana gets curious about @JediSam’s twitter account then she is screwed.
“Where else would I look?”
They start to walk on foot back to her dorm. Quinn really likes walking, really, but as soon as Christmas rolls around she’s asking for a bike from her mom.
“Nowhere.” Quinn deters while tapping out the warning message to Sam. He’s already caused enough trouble on Facebook for her in terms of Santana. She really doesn’t need the girl to stumble upon her commentary on the ‘times and troubles of Quinn fumbling around attractive lacrosse girls.’ Or her tracked tags on Tumblr.
“You could have just texted this morning. Before I left for my lectures.” Quinn points out. “Then we wouldn’t have to walk back to the college dorms you hate so much.”
Santana shrugs but there’s an acknowledgement that Quinn is right. “Or you could just always carry around a spare change of clothes.”
Santana smirks and lifts her phone camera to Quinn’s face. “And why would I do that? Are you taking a picture?” Quinn asks quickly.
This is not how she imagined being captured by Santana at all. Her hair still looks terrible. And short. So, so short.
“Yes.” Santana steadies her finger over the camera button while they walk. Talented hands. Shut up. “Besides, you never know. You could be kidnapped and stripped in the middle of a field. A lacrosse field for example and then you’d wish you’d taken my advice.”
“What?” Quinn screeches. Santana, of course, chooses that moment to take the picture.
“That is gorgeous. Caller ID for sure.” Santana bursts out laughing.
Quinn flips a little as Santana sets it as Quinn’s ID on her phone, and jokes about setting it as Brittany’s, Mercedes’, Erin’s and Marissa’s, as well as jokingly planning to slip a copy of it under her dorm door next week.
“Oh please no.” Quinn reaches for the phone to no avail as Santana keeps it out of her way. Her height over Santana gives her no advantage other than ending up leaning on her at several points. Maybe she lingers there on purpose but Santana fights back as well. “I hate you!”
“You love me and your derpy picture on my phone.” People are starting to stare by now so Quinn yields. Groaning into her palm and pulling her bag close until her self-consciousness attracts Santana’s attention. “You look fine Sweets but don’t worry, I’ll keep it to myself.”
Everything slows on those words. To herself. For herself. Quinn breathes out and Santana’s arm pinches her waist, moving them together, as a promise of those slow words. Closeness overwhelms her so much so that she can’t even come up with something to say back. Resorting to half-hearted nod of her head. Holding her breath is the only way her head stays clear until Santana’s arm is drifting away from her waist and to her safer shoulder zone. They’re still close, just not as intimately pressed now.
In simple terms, she breathes again.
“Where are we running to anyway?” Distract. Recover. Try again.
“There’s a track by the field. I figure a few laps and stretches will get us properly warmed up for the hell Beiste is going to put on us for our last practice before the game.” She looks at Quinn more seriously after this. “We’re going to do this right this time.”
The way it should have happened for their first match together.
“I want that too.” Quinn confirms the unspoken. Except she’s not just talking about the match.
There’s a snag in the flow of their conversation that Santana latches onto. A small pause that makes them both feel contemplative. Caught up in walking forward and measuring the distance of their steps. It’s a different feeling now that they’ve grown used to the constants between them. The knowledge that Santana will be confident and that Quinn will fumble and hide it. She isn’t forced to stay on her toes for the entire walk back.
That provokes a secret smile.
“What are you wearing?” Quinn blurts out. She’s standing outside the gym waiting for the bus to turn up, the one that’s going to take them to Cal State, when Brittany and Santana walk towards her and the rest of the squad. If this were three weeks ago maybe she would have filtered it a bit but she figures it’s okay since Santana joked about sexual frustration way before this.
Santana lowers her sunglasses on her nose and shoots her a half-hearted glare that just makes her look tired not angry. “I work.”
That’s obvious enough by the green apron that’s slung over her shoulder in her haste to take it off on her way to the meet point for the bus. Quinn doesn’t need to see the little white logo in the middle to know where Santana has just spent her morning.
“You’re a Starbucks whipping girl?”
Brittany makes a cutting motion over her neck behind Santana. Abort, abort, it tells her but it’s a bit too late. Santana pushes her glasses back over her eyes and dumps her gym bag on the floor next to her own and Brittany’s. The apron is then promptly stuffed inside one of the pockets out of sight.
“I hate my job. I hate the customers. I hate the company and I hate their bitter, bitter, overpriced coffee.” Santana drones.
Brittany leans forward. “But...” She sing songs.
“I really, really love polo shirts?”
That is the least believable thing Quinn has ever heard come out of her mouth. Even though Santana looks, for lack of a more mature word, ‘fly’ with her collar sticking up.
Marissa and Mercedes snicker in the background to Santana’s loathing of her work while the girl attempts to defend her choice of work establishment. It explains why Santana is always so picky when it comes to drinking coffee while also making Quinn wonder how Santana has any free time to study at all.
“It was a low point in my life.” Santana finally settles on.
“Apparently an ongoing low point.” Quinn adds.
Finally Santana has to hold on to Brittany’s shoulder in exaggerated distress. “Let’s not speak of it.”
Quinn bites her lip as this is too good to pass up. “I guess this would be a bad time to mention that I’m going to purposely find your branch of Starbucks and make you make me coffee.”
“You’re lucky we’re playing on the same team.” Santana deadpans. “I hate you.”
At this point Brittany is nodding her head in approval of Quinn’s methods while someone calls attention to Coach Beiste pulling up with the bus ready to take them to California State University. It spurs her with enough confidence to sway innocently on her feet and wink - actually wink, without fainting or blushing, oh wow- at Santana before leaving them standing there, wondering exactly what just happened.
“On the bus!” Bieste yells. Girls scramble with their kit bags to follow her orders. “I’ve seen snails walk faster!”
“Snails don’t walk.” Santana groans but pushes Brittany past her and onto the bus. They claim a seat near the back, with Brittany by the window, while Mercedes shuffles into the space next to Quinn.
Mercedes watches her get out her book as she settles into the seat. “It’s about a forty five minute ride, longer if there’s traffic.” She offers.
“Just long enough for someone to get some sleep then?”
Santana snaps that she can hear Quinn from her seat down the aisle, next to Brittany.
“Girl, there’s not enough time in the world for that to pass today.”
Coach Bieste calls a quick register to check everyone is onboard before telling them not to drink or eat on the bus or they’ll be paying a fine. Quinn is halfway through her first page of ‘Twelfth Night’ before the bus has even moved from the gym parking lot.
It’s ten am. The game is at twelve.
“So he’s in love with the brother?” Mercedes asks. “Or the woman?”
Explaining a play about mistaken identity is as confusing as she thought it would be. “No, the Duke thinks he’s in love with Olivia, so he sends Viola, who is disguised as Cesario-”
“Wheezy.” Suddenly Santana towers over Quinn and Mercedes from the aisle. “Switch with me.”
“Hells no, I’ve just got comfortable.” Mercedes snaps her fingers. “And Quinn was showing me-”
Santana waves her hand. “Unless the end of that sentence is ‘lady parts’ it’s not of interest to me. Switch.” She jabs her thumb behind her to where she was sat next to Brittany. Both Quinn and Mercedes look over the backs of their seats to see what exactly is so bad about the spot Santana was in before.
All Quinn can see is Brittany concentrating intently on her screen.
Mercedes sighs but grabs her bag from under her chair and shuffles past Santana towards the end of the bus with a muttered ‘you owe me’. Santana tilts her head in a sarcastic thanks but immediately sinks into Mercedes’ abandoned seat.
“What do I owe the pleasure?” Quinn rereads the sentence she was on before but it doesn’t sink in. Santana gets comfortable, pushing her elbows out as far as she can without hitting Quinn in the side, and stretching her legs out. Hooking her ankles together draws Quinn’s eyes down.
“Brittany is texting and it’s grating on my nerves.”
“I thought she was trying to unlock her phone again.” Quinn places her thumb in the spine of the page. “Is anyone she knows coming to the game?”
Santana groans and sinks further into her seat, pulling her sunglasses over her eyes. “Lets put it this way.” She sighs and Quinn waits for a delicate explanation. “She’s gon’ get sum.”
There’s really nothing she can say to that, or even do, other than look down at her book awkwardly before making an attempt to sound like that didn’t completely throw her off. “Well, that makes one of us?”
Her awkward attempt results in Santana raising her eyebrow but showing off her teeth in a grin that tells her that she thought that was quite good. “Knew there was a reason I kept you around.”
“My impeccable wit?”
“No. To remind me that there’s someone else getting as much sex as I am.” Santana lowers her glasses. “And unless you want to get down and tell Auntie Tana all abouts your sex life, the answer will be ‘none’.”
She’s right. Nothing to tell.
“We have about twenty minutes.” Quinn tells her. “If you want to sleep or anything.”
Santana sinks down in her seat. “As long as you don’t move your shoulder.”
This is an important factor in the debate over sleeping because Santana apparently had moved away from Brittany for the exact reason that she couldn’t use the girl’s shoulder to sleep on. Texting was a whole arm movement with Brittany.
Quinn pretends to dust off her shoulder. “All yours.”
It gets a little harder to concentrate on Sebastian’s return when Santana is resting on her shoulder, quieter and calmer than Quinn has ever been around her to see. She just hopes to god that Santana can’t feel how fast her heart is beating.
Santana wakes up before Quinn has to resort to shaking her or anything of the sort and she pulls Quinn up with her when the bus stops.
“Got it.” Santana pulls her bag along with them.
“Up and out ladies!” Coach Beiste is ordering them even before they hit the floor outside. “Goggles and gear toot sweets. I want us on that field before Cal State is even getting out of the hay stack.”
“Hay stack?” Brittany mumbles. She’s not the only one.
“This way.” Santana takes charge, leading them through the parking lot and into the Cal State Owens Stadium.
There isn’t a huge amount of people inside, just the staff mostly, but there are scatters of the crowd waiting to fill up the stands on the field that stare at them and point as they wander to the changing rooms. It’s a bit of an ego boost actually. She finds herself walking with a little more of a chip on her shoulder. As long as she doesn’t think about the actual game or the fact she’s yet to score in one, that chip stays.
By the time they reach the changing room everyone is feeling that anticipation. The feeling of readiness to get out onto the freshly cut grass and kick some ass bubbles around them all. Erin and Ginger forgo changing in silence to start up team chants that echo around the room. Probably annoying whoever else is getting ready as well.
Quinn just smiles and joins in, quieter than the others, as she self-consciously pulls on her shorts. Well, she’s self-conscious of how long she’s taking to change and the fact she’s being flanked by her fellow shooters, rather than at other people seeing her undressed.
She’s just pulled her jersey polo over her head when Santana stands on one of the benches. “This is not a team talk!” She announces.
“Thank God!” Erin shouts back.
“This is me saying you have about five minutes to finish making yourself look pretty to get on the field or we’ll run suicides before the game.” Santana’s threat suddenly has everyone speeding up.
“Even me?” Brittany coyly asks. Santana jumps down from the bench and stalks behind her.
“Especially you B.” She jokes. “You know I love you running on command.”
Brittany winks at Quinn when Santana is right behind her. “Totally turns her on.”
Someone wolf whistles at overhearing Brittany’s comment. “Get it Lopez!” It was probably Erin.
“You know it.” Santana plays along, going as far to slap Brittany’s ass before she moves away. “Erin, you’re running.”
Erin’s ‘what!?’ has laughter coming from her as Santana makes her way to the door. She pauses right behind Quinn’s back and drops her voice to a whisper. “Make a move today Sweets.”
Make a shot, she means, score. “You’ll have my back?”
Will you bail me out if I screw up? Quinn means.
“You know it.” Santana’s voice is deep and reassuring, which contrasts to the almost showy way she pulls back and slaps Quinn’s backside enough to make a noise.
Quinn winces with something other than pain.
“Ladies! Let’s move!”
The team bustles out leaving Quinn rubbing the sting away. Maybe she’s not as into that as she thought previously, she laughs to herself. She just hopes that slapping her ass doesn’t become a thing before matches. Like a good luck charm, because if Santana’s arm is good, she can only imagine Brittany’s.
Quinn pulls her goggles from her bag and slips them around her neck before grabbing her crosse and putting her gum shield in her shorts pocket. She put some plasters on her hands while she was trying to ignore Santana napping on her shoulder on the bus. Despite playing and practicing almost every day with her crosse, she’s still suffering from small blisters and raw skin, not enough to invest in gloves however.
“Sweets! Let’s go!”
She’s as ready as she thinks she’ll ever be at this point. At least this time she’s not in the middle of a fight with one of her friends.
Friends. Oh wow, that happened fast.
She jogs outside to the sound of Mercedes’ voice, which soon turns into the sporadic clapping of those already sitting in the stands. For a minute she wishes Sam were one of those pairs of clapping hands. If he’d had his way he might have been but there’s only so many times Burt Hummel was going to ‘need’ a part from across the country.
Santana organizes them into groups to run through stretches and running and further warm-ups which Quinn gets into after trying to escape her team’s attempt to slap her ass on Santana’s lead. The other team, who trail onto the field a while after they’ve started, follow in their footsteps. They look decidedly slower than Quinn expected.
“Alright.” Santana waves them over. Quinn falls in line with Brittany as the team comes together in a circle.
“This will be interesting.” Brittany smirks as they huddle on the field after their warm up. Quinn doesn’t really trust that smirk because she’s sure the last time Brittany wore it was right before they kissed. Unlike Quinn, Santana rolls her eyes at the look.
“This will be easy if you don’t get distracted.” Santana says while she continues to stretch out her hamstring, leaning a hand on Quinn’s shoulder for support. “Head in the game.”
Mercedes, on the other side of Quinn, looks further down the field towards the other team.
“What?” Quinn asks. She gets a snickering laugh in return.
“Brittany’s Cal State hook up is here.” Mercedes laughs and she feels Santana dig her nails into her shoulder. Wincing only makes it worse.
“Like in the stands?” Quinn tries to look in the general direction of the crowd but there’s no way she’s going to find where Mercedes is placing her glaze.
Santana scoffs. “No like on the other team.” She nods her head past Brittany, who is waving widely with her whole arm down the field, at one of the girls down there. A Cal State lacrosse player.
Quinn has to squint to spot who is actually responding to Brittany’s enthused greeting because no one makes any real visible, or similar gestures, back at her. “Who is it?” She voices before the glint of a wave appears from by a girl’s hip, just about the end of her shorts. Quinn follows the hand up, covered by black elbow length gloves, to the girl’s face.
“Cal State goal keeper.” Santana states simply. Like she doesn’t care. However by pretending not to care Quinn thinks she secretly does. The grip on her shoulder is another indication as Santana switches the leg she stretches.
Mercedes fills her in. “Tina Cohen-Chang. We played against them at the NCAA charity tournament last year-”
“Which we won by the way.” Santana points out.
“-and we had enough booster money to stay in a hotel for a night with some of the teams.” Mercedes waves her fingers at Brittany’s back and Quinn gets the rest of the story. Night alone in a hotel after a big win. Throw in dangerously seductive girls like Brittany and there’s bound to be a hook up.
“Oh.” Santana’s hand leaves her shoulder. “So, does that happen a lot?”
Not that she’s entertaining any thoughts like that, not that she needs to even, after everyone slapped her ass on the way out ‘for luck’. Fucking Santana.
...Not that she needs to entertain thoughts like that before a game either.
“Why, you thinking about getting a hotel room with Brittany?” Mercedes deadpans. Santana laughs loudly without warning and Brittany turns round at the mention of her name.
“You want to have a sleepover?” Brittany grins. “Maybe next time you and San study I can share the bed as well.”
Quinn manages to splutter out an assortment of words while the rest of the team raise a playful cheer and slap Santana on the back a few times before Quinn can mumble in her embarrassed defense that it ‘wasn’t what Brittany implied’.
Coach Bieste blows her whistle from the sideline as a hint to hurry things up. Five minutes until game time.
“Okay, okay, my sexual prowess aside.” Santana winks at Quinn who does everything in her power not to ironically fall to her knees. “Team talk, hands in.”
She’s bustled in between Erin and Mercedes who jolt her hand into the middle of them. Clammy palms make contact and she finds herself looking at Santana’s tan skin and following the girl’s arm down to see where her hand lays. It’s straight into business.
“Cal State is pretty lax on their defense so we’re going to make a lot of offensive cuts straight off the bat. Hopefully getting us an early lead.” Santana makes eye contact with all of the necessary players to make sure they know their parts and plays. The captain’s band around her left bicep giving her the authority even though the discipline she inspires in the team renders it unnecessary.
Brittany places her hand on the top of the pile of hands in the middle. “Tina is a pretty solid keeper. Flexible-” Everyone smiles in on the joke. “-but she won’t communicate with her defenders.”
“Too shy.” Mercedes shrugs. “She doesn’t know what they’re doing and she won’t tell them what to do either.”
Brittany scrunches her nose up. “I think she has a stutter, but that could just be because of me.”
Santana nods in agreement but ignores the other comment. “Their midfield makes up for it though. They’ll run at you hard so keep your heads up.” She points to Ginger, Marissa and Erin. “Keep your passes clean and out of the way.”
“Satan you don’t even need to tell me.” Mercedes back talks with a confident tone. “Shock, block and rock baby.”
It’s starts building up in her chest at this eager phrase. Adrenaline and excitement for the game. It’s not something she got to experience in her first because of all of the drama with Santana but now she feels it. A humming in her veins and twitching in her knees that want her to start running.
The beat of her heart matches the start of the bobbing of their hands in the middle of the huddle.
There’s a beaten old table at the side of the field from which an announcer calls out their names and positions as they start walking to their places on the field.
Quinn pays attention in kind to the attackers that she’s a part of. To Marissa and Ginger, the attack wings that take the ball from defense to the attackers. Erin, who is their point player, responsible for defending the other team’s version of...well Quinn.
First home, Quinn Fabray gets called and Brittany slaps her shoulder. She wasn’t in her right mind during the first game to even hear that being called. Her position differs from Brittany’s third home or Santana’s second home. She’s not primarily responsible for transitioning the ball from defense to attack like Brittany nor is she mostly concerned with playmaking either.
Santana had pulled her aside during her first training session with the Bruins to explain the differences. It’s a small reassurance that the words are still so clear in her mind even now. But that was probably because it was one of the first real conversations they ever had.
“First home.” Santana twirled her stick. “You gotta be able to handle this-” She gestures to the crosse. “Because your first priority is to score. Don’t worry about the plays, that’s my job. Don’t worry about getting the ball because B has it covered.”
Quinn breathes and remembers more as the referee gives out last minute warnings about having a clean game, which makes Brittany grin a little.
“Good strong stick work and lots of cutting towards goal.” Santana handed her stick back and smiled with the sun on her back. “The rest we can teach you.”
One of their midfielders, a girl named Sian who everyone calls Krispe, goes for the center draw. Quinn is always fascinated by how they start. The game ball is placed on the floor between the two crosse sticks back to back. When the ref blows the whistle they have to launch the ball upwards, over their heads, before the struggle to gain possession begins.
It’s just Sian and the Cal State girl facing off, with five players over the restraining line, while the rest of the players wait for the game to start.
“Heads up.” Santana comments from her place. Quinn nods. It’d be nice to have an easy lead before the second half. Even if it means having to constantly face these center draws after every goal.
From the sidelines Coach Bieste holds up her arm, signaling that they’re not going to run plays just yet. Chaos backdoor, the one she’d practiced with Santana the other night, would probably be called some point towards the end of the half. The signal for that being Santana shouting at her to run to the baseline with her while Brittany started the play.
Bending her knees Quinn eagerly anticipates the countdown while the modest crowd on the side claps up a storm.
Center ball in five, four;
Brittany bounces on her feet, switching her weight to left and right until Quinn just watches her ponytail swish behind her.
Santana is crouching down further than her. Head tilted slightly with goggles on ready to just sprint forward as soon as the ball is game.
Krispe and the Cal State number five launch the ball between their crosses high into the air. She holds her breath as it soars upwards, in slanted favour of Cal State, before peaking. Her knee twitches as the descent begins.
Cal State Five pulls through, stealing the ball from Krispe and twisting immediately to pass to their attack wings. Mercedes calls out quick advice to Erin and the other defenders who move in well practiced form to their marks.
It’s bittersweet when Quinn lines up with Brittany and Ginger at the restraining line thirty yards away from the goal they’re attacking. They can’t join the fray of defenders trying to intercept Cal State’s attackers. Nor can they stop the first conceded goal.
“Damn.” Brittany whispers. The referee calls to set up the draw again in the center. “You think I should start flirting with Tina now to prepare for when we have to shoot?”
Ginger laughs but Quinn can only manage a slight smile while she starts to wonder if that would actually work.
Brittany spoke too soon thankfully. Krispe wins the next draw and gets the outlet pass to Marissa, avoiding the check by number Five pushes to her stick in the process.
“Back! Back!” Bieste yells from the side. Quinn feels her adrenaline start to spread out in her body at finally seeing some action. Her defender is still looking at her back when Marissa feeds the ball to Brittany easily. Santana had been right in her observations - Cal State was slow.
“Outlet!” Santana points her crosse to Quinn. Run faster, get there faster. Her legs race past the second home defender and when she next looks at Santana she’s running out of reach of the third defender with the ball in her crosse.
It’s a confidence thing that makes Quinn panic at the thought of having to make the first shot for her team. It’s a miracle that delays the inevitable as the last Cal State defender steps in her line and pushes Quinn out of range for Santana’s pass.
“Center!” Quinn screams back, just avoiding face planting into her defender with a quick step to the side.
Santana cradles her crosse closer and sprints from the right into the center. Tina Cohen-Chang doesn’t possess the sure stance that Mercedes has. There’s an absence of that confidence in her own ability that all of the UCLA attackers can see.
Quinn manages to cut in as well, open again for Santana, who passes to Brittany just at the last second. It’s a blur of bodies bunching in the shooting zone when everything seems to part just enough for Quinn to watch as Santana drags her crosse almost to the floor to hit the ball through Tina’s legs.
“Yes!” comes from about several different people but Coach Bieste is the loudest. Santana accepts Marissa’s high five before they make their way back to the starting lines again.
“Good shot.” Quinn taps Santana’s shoulder. The girl takes out her mouth guard while the ball is replaced in the middle.
“Next time it’s yours, don’t underestimate your shot.” Santana tugs on Quinn’s short hair, playfully out of breath. “Next time.”
Nodding is all Quinn can get in when the next ball flies.
They play thirty minute halves, usually the full stretch as well because Santana hates taking time outs in the first half before they've really got a sense of the other team. Which is why Coach Bieste keeps them playing even as Cal State hits two for two on their last shots.
“Start flirting.” Santana growls out to Brittany. “Or take her out, I don’t really care.”
Brittany mocks Santana with a salute but turns to wink at Tina anyway. The girl waves shyly back. “I feel like this is cheating but-” Brittany takes a few steps towards the opposite goal. “-this is always fun.”
“Um...” Is all Quinn can manage when Brittany hikes up her shorts exposing the backs of her legs more before remembering Brittany is distracting Tina, not her.
She’s shaking it off as the draw starts again. Her defender hovers a little closer than before. Feet placed right on the restraining line. Something about the way the girl bares close to her tells her that things are going to get difficult.
A crosse hits in the corner of her eye before it’s crashing upwards and knocking the ball out of her stick. Dangerously close to her cheek. Recovering is rendered impossible as her defender barges into her to save the falling ball. Shooting it off down the field while Quinn is flattened against the hard ground.
Air bursts from her chest in a groan.
Shit. The ball is already being flung from the Cal State defender to their midfield and away. Santana pulls her from the ground and glares in the direction of the hit. Number nine. “Watch your fucking elbows!”
Nine turns and observes Quinn being lifted up, nervously touching her face, she really doesn’t need the huge bruise to make a reappearance. Or for her cheekbone to get fractured. A sports scholarship won’t cover medical bills.
“Watch yourself bitch.” Nine replies before turning away to get back into position.
“Fuck that. Fuck that.” Santana snaps back, letting go of Quinn. She doesn’t toss away her crosse but it gets pinned by her side when Brittany and her run to stop her from charging the Cal State midfielder. “I have razor blades all up in my hair- let me go!”
It’s totally the wrong moment but she bursts out laughing at Santana’s comment because really? Razor blades?
“I will go all LIMA HEIGHTS!”
“Santana, stop stop.” Quinn shoves Santana backwards, keeping a hand on her shoulder. “I’m fine. It’s fine.”
The game is at a minor standstill over their scuffle and the referee is eying their interaction carefully, whistle in his hand. They don’t need to have Santana put in a time out at this point.
“You sure?” Santana looks at her. “Because I can still aim for her.”
Nine has retreated to her spot once again and they’re going to restart the game from a ground ball in the middle because of the illegal check on Quinn. Brittany leaves them now that Santana isn’t lunging for anyone. Quinn pushes Santana’s shoulder again to take her hand away when she realizes how long it’s been there.
“Lets just play.”
They’re down by three and there’s only ten minutes left in the game. It’s not a huge margin but it’s not a comfortable one. Santana calls for a time out before the referee can set up the next draw and the team sprint to their side of the field. Quinn finds herself being pulled into Santana’s side as they huddle together.
“We’re going to run chaos backdoor.” She whispers. No one argues even though they’ve all pulled out their gum shields to breathe a little easier for a second. “These girls are still slow as fucking sloths and Tina-” She uses the hand that isn’t wrapped around Quinn’s shoulder to point at Brittany. “-Tina is one ab flash away from total distraction.”
Brittany nods in a ‘got it’ sort of way before she peels out of the huddle. They’ve still got a few seconds.
“Same as in practice.” Santana starts. “ Marissa, Ginger; get the ball to Brittany and space out for the help if we have to pass it out.”
Brittany, fanning herself with her hand, is facing the other team sitting on the side. Specifically Tina.
“Brittany is the second pass, but Ginger and Marissa you have to already be running on the outside to give B the choice of sides. She’ll pass either left to Quinn.”
Her shoulder is squeezed reassuringly but no one notices, too caught up in the instructions or giggling at how Brittany is pulling up her jersey to wipe sweat from her forehead. Exposing herself to Tina’s wide eyes.
“Or right to me. Then that ball is behind the net.” Santana draws in the air. “Like Coach said, as soon as Cal State sees it behind the net they’re gonna close in on us.”
Quinn nods. “I have to pass to you if the ball gets to me first?” She asks.
“And me to you if it’s the other way. Then it’s a simple shot.”
Mercedes shakes her head. “You’re gonna have to be fast on this, other team being slow or not, this is all about surprise.”
Brittany pulls her shirt down with a last wave to Tina on the bench. “B’s the safety otherwise.” Santana puts her hand in the center of the huddle. “Ten minutes for three, we can double that over but I want sure shots and solid defending from now on. Got it?”
“Got it.” Resounds from the team.
“Bruins on three!”
Bruins cheers into the air with help from the crowd that can hear them. She closes her eyes and counts how long it takes for Santana to part from her. It’s a torture of wanting the game to not exist to have a chance of keeping her close, but a needed duty to divide and conquer.
Resuming play gathers some enthusiastic clapping from the stands and their supporters on the bench. Coach Beiste paces the sideline watching Krispe intently step up for the center draw again. Number nine strolls into her marking position a little way to her side. She smirks looking at the grass stains on Quinn’s uniform but that’s not going to work. She’s buzzed on the play and the ‘playmaker’ bouncing on her toes, gritting her teeth in wait for the winning draw.
Never has she felt so into this game before. And a little grass isn’t going to get in her way.
“BALL!” Krispe’s raw yell comes late as she’s already passed off her claimed draw to Ginger and the attack wing is ripping it down the field. Judging from the squeaks of surprise from Cal State, this is something they didn’t expect.
“C.B!” Santana shouts, making sure everyone knows the play, before she catches Quinn turning. In a practiced synchronicity they kick off from the ground at an unmatched speed to their defenders. The baseline approaches their rapidly skidding feet.
Ginger passes to Brittany and the attack wings follow Santana’s orders and follow after their trail towards the base, stopping only to see whether they’ll receive the second pass. Marissa is Brittany’s target.
Marissa is charging on the left. “Quinn!”
Tina makes the mistake of turning her head to see Quinn receive the strong pass, and is left baffled by it’s quick push straight along the base to Santana.
It’s being flung in the back of the net before Tina has even faced front again.
“Back, back!” Brittany calls as Tina gives the ball to the referee again for the center draw.
Shakes run up her forearms but it’s not in nerves anymore. Santana pushes her to her line with parting words. “Next time Sweets.”
Next time it’s hers.
Brittany overhears and with four words she knows that the next time it’s all on her.
“Haters to the left!”
Ginger nods in acknowledgement. There’s no way she’s getting out of this one. There’s no excuse either. She’s hit it in practice, she’s scored on Mercedes who is ten times the keeper Tina seems to be, yet her in-game goals still stands at a zero after one and a half games.
She’s first home. Which means that shouldn’t be a zero.
But she’s not really thinking about that. Thinking about that makes her screw up. Makes her miss and become self-conscious. So thoughts like that are being kept well away. Only to be replaced by the thoughts that work in the opposite way. That lift her up and help her shine and make her feel unbeatable.
The ball flies into the sky but she forces herself to breathe. To paint an imaginary crowd in the stands full of positivity. A sunshine coloured Sam beaming with his hands in the air. A restrained, but undeniably excited, Kurt sitting next to him, with a scarf wrapped around his neck, as his show of support. Her mother with her camera hovering somewhere between taking pictures and being too caught up in the moment to do anything other than watch.
She’s halfway through painting Santana’s smug face there as well when she realizes that she still needs her on the field.
It’s almost a complete replay just run on the opposite sides. Cal State didn’t learn from the first time either. Their defenders are left in the dust as Quinn runs to the baseline, digging her heels as she forces herself to focus on those people in her mental crowd while Brittany’s pass to Ginger goes without interception.
The short girl barrels towards Santana. Steady, ready Santana that Tina isn’t even paying attention to. She’s worrying over the sight of Brittany pounding the ground beneath her as she cuts straight towards the net. That would be the easy pass, the sure goal, but it’s not the play. It’s not the plan either.
Instead Quinn swallows everything but her flightiest feelings and pushes off the ground.
Santana braces herself as Ginger’s pass safely makes it into her crosse. Quinn is already edging back in front of the net, crosse up in the air and hands firmly cradling it.
It’s when the ball is passed to her that Tina catches on. Flinging her head to keep Quinn in her sight unlike the last time. There’s a shiver of determination in her eyes that doesn’t want to be tricked twice.
Intimidation, however, is not Tina’s game. She wavers as the field widens in her vision. Tina sees Quinn, curling in front of the net, but she sees Brittany free from defenders and not stopping. She sees Santana and Ginger rounding back into comfortable shooting distance, while Marissa catches up to the rest of them.
In seeing all of this she doesn’t see the three seconds Quinn steals in setting her feet and casting the lacrosse ball into the lower right of the goal. Scratching against the girl’s leg before it tugs the net back.
“Bruins are closing the gap to one point after a fantastic move by first home Quinn Fabray!” The tinny announcement is knocked out of her as Brittany plows into her followed by, what feels like the rest of the team, hugging her from all sides.
“Goal!” Brittany cheers. “First goal!”
“Food is on Fabray!” Erin calls to Mercedes’ seconding.
Santana says nothing.
But as she pulls Quinn’s forehead to hold it against her own with a grin that exposes her gum guard in an odd affection, Quinn can’t think of any words that would beat this.
The excitement fades as the minutes trickle down. Santana’s prediction finds truth in that Cal State slowed down. Their defenders get lazy and both Santana and Brittany put another four points past Tina, while Mercedes concedes only one.
Bieste calls off the play and they take turns cutting towards Tina until there’s the loudest cheer yet from the Bruins side of the crowd and Quinn comes to a stop.
“It’s over?” Stopping, Quinn spits out her gum shield. The sun is hotter and she can feel her shirt sticking to her back and she knows there’s only a few more seconds before she feels gross all over.
“You were amazing!” Brittany is naturally the source of her praise. Wrapping her up in a hug that ends up spinning her off the ground, crosse stick and all. “I told Santana you’d get one today. And you totally just won me a back rub.”
“A back rub?” Quinn laughs. “Wait, from who?”
Brittany pushes her goggles away from her face and just smiles before jogging to jump on Mercedes’ back.
“From who?” Quinn sighs in defeat. Surely for scoring she should be the one winning back rubs.
“That’s probably a question best left alone.” Santana saunters up from behind. She’s holding the score sheet from the game with a careful grip. Quinn can see a little circle around number 7, her number, signifying her single point.
“Too much information otherwise?”
Santana bumps their shoulders together. “Exactly. Shower?”
She starts off leaving Quinn to follow her. The shoulder tap is nothing new. She’s kind of expecting them now. It’s just the thought that they might be in place of something better, like a hug, that makes her wish they weren’t happening at all.
People are walking down the stairs now, still smiling and nodding but leaving. It’s easier to pause for a second to catch up with the rest of herself than realize that too much information about back rubs is probably nothing compared to...
Beiste tells them to be quick but Quinn still waits for the majority to finish first, especially Brittany who kind of wanders between showers having conversations with everyone, before she strips off and rushes into the wet room. All is well, under her shower spray with divided walls, until steps follow her in.
Of course she wouldn’t be the only one left.
“Hey, dinner to celebrate?” Comes a raspy voice. It’s huskier than usual from all the yelling Santana has been doing on the field. “You did good today.”
Suddenly the high of winning compresses and forms a hot little ball in her chest at Santana making her comment on her single performance.
Santana turns on the hot spray of the shower and leans her neck as far back as she can. Letting the water hit her body rather than her face. While Quinn is distracted by the sight, Santana still wants her answer.
“Yeah, after this?”
A nod. Affirmation before Santana looks away. Quinn caves in on herself. Keeping her sponge close to her chest, hiding herself like she used to in high school. Shielding herself from the world around her but also defending herself in case she’s accused of letting her eyes linger too long on a body that isn’t her own.
Santana’s hands run down her stomach. Rubbing in soap and washing away the dirt from the game. Staring stays within the safe areas. Stomach, abs, back, neck - though they’re not entirely safe either when jumping from Santana’s stomach to her neck because there’s the between that makes Quinn swallow.
This is certainly not high school. This doesn’t make her relax anymore. Only enough to swipe shampoo into her hair. It makes her feel vulnerable, exposing herself while Santana showers next her; well more than she is, what with being naked and all.
Her eyes lower, making it look as if she’s closing her eyes, when really she’s not. Guilt ebbs in the water that hits her body but it’s not the first time she’s slyly looked at girls in the shower. Yeah, it makes her feel embarrassed and self-conscious, but sometimes - she just can’t help it.
Just like Santana can’t seem to not make every move she makes an entrancing show. Making a point to stretch her arms over her chest to release the lingering heat from the muscles. Straining the skin and the tone for Quinn to notice. Or the sudden way Quinn is almost discovered when Santana’s hands brush past her hips and-
Well Quinn doesn’t see where they disappear too because that’s when she stops watching. It’s enough to leave her arousal stirring until Santana turns off her shower and disappears into the changing rooms without a towel.
She has no hesitation in turning the temperature right down to freezing for a minute.
Dinner doesn’t happen. Brittany and Santana fall asleep on the way home on the backseat. Mercedes rolls her eyes and calls for a rain check when everyone is able to stay awake.
She doesn’t watch them other than when she offers to wake them up when they arrive. How they fit together insanely well, how there’s a twinge in her chest when she thinks about it and then when she’s torn between wanting to know why they couldn’t work it out now and never wanting to imagine it. Selfishness rearing she wakes Brittany first and only nods at Santana’s offer to meet her at work tomorrow.
The long walk back to her room gives her a chance to stop thinking about how happy they looked together.
Chapter 7: part ten
“No, no, no- B you suck.” Santana scribbles on the side of one of the cups and passes it behind her to her co-worker. “Just no.”
Coffee is sinking through the air and out of the door with the rush of people coming in and out. Most of them with an insane looking tiredness in their eyes and a claw poised hand ready for their first cup of the day. And then the second. And third.
Brittany pours another packet of sugar into her coffee even though it’s not sinking through the cream. “We’ll be out by 2 am.” She promises sincerely.
Santana whirls around to take the order from the next person in line but pauses, after taking the money and before handing out the lady’s change, to spit objections at her roommate again. “No you’ll still be ‘eating her’ out by 2 am and I am not sleeping in that bed with you without you buying new sheets again.”
Brittany’s grin is completely inappropriate for interacting over a Starbucks counter. “I love you S.”
“No.” Santana is still arguing even as she beckons her next lazy businessman towards her.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Have fun!” Brittany blows an irate Santana a kiss and almost bumps into Quinn on the way out. “Hey Quinn!”
“Hey-” Quinn swings her leather messenger bag off her shoulder. One of the rare things she’s bought for herself to indulge in her idealistic view of an English student. “Morning. You look...pissed.”
Santana slams her till closed with gritted teeth that say ‘you don’t want to know.’ “What can I get you?”
Quinn scans the drinks boards before answering. “An iced caffe mocha without the comment about what it’s going to do to my ass.”
Her name is scribbled on the side of the cup along with an extra ‘S’ for ‘Sweets’ and it’s passed behind her. “Brittany’s called up her Cal State hook up and she’s-”
Her sigh says all.
“-kicking you out of bed?” Quinn bites her lip.
“Just shut up.”
Santana snaps her fingers to hurry Quinn into paying for her drink. “See how cute it is when you walk in on her buried knuckle deep-”
“That’s $3.70 and your drink can be collected at the end.” Santana smiles sweetly before her hands fly to her back and she unties her apron. Quinn pockets her change so she doesn’t watch her do that. “Mark! I’m going on my break!”
Her drink is ready and handed to her with much less morning hostility. The leather strap of her bag slips a little while she takes a premature sip and follows Santana heading towards one of the free tables.
“This happen a lot?” Quinn juggles taking her bag off and setting her drink down. “Brittany bringing people home and kicking you out?”
Santana’s apron is suddenly neatly folded on the desk. Probably due to paranoia over wandering supervisors. “Not really, she’s pretty good about hooking up-” Santana makes sure she catches the double meaning. “-and usually gives me a little more fucking notice.”
It’s all too easy to dip into images of Santana and Brittany working out when one or the other will need to use the apartment or room at a needed time. And then the next day sleep next to each other in the same bed.
“I’ll probably have to sit in the hallway until I stop hearing Brittany attempt to break our bed again and then go and sleep on the couch.”
Jittery nerves and the filling feeling of her drink is the sole cause for what she suggests next.
“Why don’t you crash at mine?”
Santana blinks at her in surprise. “Seriously? You would be saving me so much mental scarring.”
“From Brittany having sex?” She takes a drink. “You must be halfway to a psychiatrist if that’s the reason.”
Santana rolls her eyes. “No, from Cohen-Chang’s stuttering. Please say you’re not joking though, I know you said you have like assignments to do?”
Her heart is beating weirdly fast as Brittany and Tina stop being the focus of conversation and Santana presses about staying with her.
“It’s just reading that I can do before you come over. That’s if you want to.” Her hands are warm. “It’s not going to be better than the couch because I only have one bed and Lauren is still there-”
Santana takes the drink out of her hands with a smirk. “All pushed up in a single bed with a sweet stud like you?” She takes a sip of Quinn’s drink but never takes her eyes away from her. “I’m swooning already.”
“Don’t.” But there’s already a blush on her neck.
“Tell you what. I’ll come round about four and we’ll spend this lovely Sunday evening grabbing a late lunch with some lacrosse talk before you take me back to your room.”
“When you put it like that...” Quinn trails off. Maybe two can play this game.
“It’s a plan. Little Italian food, game talk and depending on how drunk I get-” Santana slips her apron off the table. “You have to promise not to take advantage of me.”
“Me?” Quinn balks. “Of you?”
“Hot ass.” Santana gestures to herself and then to Quinn. “Sweet ass.”
There’s only half of her drink left when Santana gets called back to work. “I’ll see you at four Sweets.”
Six hours to read her required pages of William Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’ and to somehow not completely over think or freak out about the fact that she just offered to share a bed with Santana Lopez while Brittany has sex with Tina Cohen-Chang.
There’s a thought.
She’s sharing a bed with Santana.
Santana is drawing a mustache on a stick figure likeness of Quinn when Quinn stops back at her dorm at three.
“You’re early.” She says, arm full of books borrowed from the library. “Keys are in my pocket.”
Fingers slide into her jean pocket and Quinn finds herself wishing she was wearing tighter jeans. Santana shimmies the lock open and holds the door for her to go through first. Her face gets a little hot at the stupidly cute way she takes the gesture.
“Your roommate out?” The door closes behind her. Santana’s the only reason she realizes Lauren isn’t in the room. Usually she only gets a small reminder from the square of light coming from Lauren’s computer screen. She’s pretty much learnt to tune it out by now.
“She’s got some pokemon tournament or resident evil movie to watch. I didn’t think you wanted to meet her.”
“Don’t really. Just wanted to make sure we were alone.” Her flirtatious remark sends a completely guilty yet indulged shiver through her that Santana doesn’t pick up on.
But she still sees through it. “Brittany get started early?”
“They’re getting their cuddle on in the living room while watching Extreme Home Makeover. I was about to die.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad.”
“The Lion King is queued next for maximum face to neck contact.” Santana deadpans.
“Didn’t think Brittany would need to try that move.” Comforting the girl watching the movie. Sam had explained it to her once but it seemed like more of a dorky guy move.
“She isn’t. Britt’s the one that’s going to cry.” Santana finally pushes into her room and pulls out her desk chair. “Mufasa. Every time.”
“And Tina can handle that?”
She gets a shrug in response and a quick change in conversation. “This where the magic happens Sweets?”
Eyes are on her single dorm bed. Which doesn’t look like Quinn spent about half an hour changing and straightening the sheets in preparation. In fact, Quinn would probably die if Santana ever called her out on this.
“If you say no then I will probably make you feel super uncomfortable tonight on purpose.” Santana promises. “Y’know, just because I can.”
Would it be sadistic and cliche for her to actually get her hopes up?
“So,” Quinn decides against commenting. “Where are we eating?”
Their walk to the restaurant doesn’t take them too long, if you don't count the window shopping Santana insisted on doing until five. Not that she really cared with Santana poking fun at her every few minutes. She tries to return as much but there’s only so many times she can mention Brittany having sex in their shared bed before she starts to actually over think about it.
Though the comments are a helpful distraction from thinking about later.
Someone guides them to an available table and hands out their menus. There’s a moment when she thinks Brittany is going to pull up a chair as well and they’d eat like they did after Santana hit her in the face. But Santana opens her menu and starts bitching about the options and it dawns on her again. It’s just them.
“This totally doesn’t compare to Italian in Lima.” Santana stirs her pasta when it arrives. Turning her nose up at it before even trying it. “Breadstix was the shit.”
“Oh god that place.” Quinn covers her mouth with her hand. “I loved that place but it was so bad for me.”
“That was the best part. Ask me about how much bread I’ve eaten from there.” Santana groans. “I can’t remember. Bread coma.”
Mentally she agrees. So many food babies.
“Coach murdered us in practice if she found out we’d been there.” She remembers every single lap of the football field she had to do. Lacrosse practice doesn’t seem as brutal as the Breadstix routine. “It got to the point were I’d start booking under fake names.”
Kurt used to insist on taking characters from movies they’d both watched or books they’d read. Her personal favourite had been passing as Mr and Mrs Kruger for Halloween, scaring the wait staff just by turning up and ordering everything to be ‘extra crispy’ and then dressing up for their pre-prom meal under the alias’ Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. She’d asked Kurt to go with her junior prom because he wouldn’t be able to go otherwise. And she owed Sam a break after coming out to him to let him find a more enjoyable date elsewhere.
They all looked so happy in their prom picture together. Quinn sandwiched between them. She’s pretty sure that picture is still in one of her unopened boxes in her dorm room.
But coming back Quinn realizes that at some point; “We must have totally passed each other.”
Santana gives a grin. She wishes she was versed in these curling lips. Enough to figure out what the girl opposite her is thinking. “Maybe we did.”
There’s no filter ready to stop her when she quickly admits; “I think I would have remembered.”
She definitely would have remembered.
“Obviously, just look at me.” Santana smirks before easing up. “Yeah, and the wheelbarrow would have stood out.”
“Wheelbarrow? Wait, I’ve decided I don’t want to know.”
“Good choice.” Santana rubs her hands together. Like she’s remembering pushing a wheelbarrow or something. “So breaking your Coach’s rule was only for special occasions? Birthdays? Summer vacation? Christmas?”
“Don’t bullshit.” Breadstix didn’t open at Christmas.
“Totally date night. Been there, done that.” She cleans her fork of food with her mouth slowly. “Question is, did you do that?”
“I’m scared about the implications of admitting to ‘doing that’. But yes, I went on dates there.”
She gets eye rolled. “Do I have to squeeze you for information on this? Let’s bond. Lima style.”
“I went out with a few girls there. Never got past casual.” She waves off. “I can’t really remember them other than the time me and Sam...”
Santana immediately leans forward. “You and Sam during your fake dating period?”
She looks too interested to be deterred with a brief mention. “He spent half of the evening doing Matthew McConaughey impressions and the other half commenting on my eyes in Navi.”
But in between that she’d been quiet. She’d looked into his eyes and wanted to feel something. Hoped to feel something for this boy who was being so sweet to her. Unlike the others. God, to latch onto something about him that she could learn to love in the way her father would want her to but there wasn’t. Instead she’d sighed to herself and wished everything didn’t feel so awkward. Wished they weren’t on a date. Wished she wasn’t...who she was.
“Charmer I’m sure.” Santana drawls.
Oddly defensive Quinn counters. “He was sweet.”
“And you were gay.” There’s a fork pointing at her now. Threatening and with spots of sauce on it.
But she nods. “So, so gay.”
A few people look their way when they start giggling at their somewhat inside joke. Santana glares until most of them turn away. “Was it just dating Sam that made you realize?” Santana asks. “Not like, did he turn you because that’s a fucking myth, but obviously you’re here now and out.”
“Kind of.” It’s a bit of a sore subject still hanging between her and Sam. Not so much her being gay but just her not telling him. Leading him on and unaware when the Cheerios outed her. Her apologies had been quick but their inevitable friendship had taken a few weeks to form.
And it had when Sam had approached her at her locker when some guy had offered to ‘fuck the gay’ out of her in, no uncertain terms, swooping in front of her. He’d almost been punched when he asked if Dave was looking for someone to ‘fuck the straight’ out of him.
It made no sense but that’s how they really began.
“I don’t want to say I always knew. Because you never really ‘know’.” She forms. “You know there’s something. Something that flinches or cringes inside you when you think things should be natural y’know.”
Like when a boy held her hand or pressed a kiss to her cheek. Back in the freshman and sophomore years of her actually dating boys. Back before her last attempt in junior year with Sam. Before she actually realized what that something was.
“And I guess there must have been a point where I thought am I...? But I basically buried that underneath everything else that was going on in my life.” Like her dad having an affair, like her mom drinking and then recovering, like taking another national championship with the cheerios.
“But someone rocked the boat right?” Santana asks. “There’s usually someone that comes along like that.”
Usually yes. She’s discussed this in the lgbtq group in Columbus with Kurt and the rest of the group. How Kurt realized when he was really young and it wasn’t a person he knew but how he perceived the world. How he’d always watch movies and wish he was the one the male lead would chase after. Karen, her ex-girlfriend, talked about her cousin coming out to her.
Quinn? Quinn talked about how the boat of denial was rocked at the start of her junior year when her 5’9 bombshell of a history teacher came into the room and sat on Quinn’s desk while she asked her which of England’s Queens would she most like to behead.
“I only managed to splutter out ‘none’ because I thought she’d asked which one I’d most like to ‘bed’.” She recalls hotly how Holly Holliday’s pencil skirt was very much against the usual dress rules. And how happy that actually made her.
“She sounds like a porn star.” Santana isn’t even touching her food now. Content to drink her water and listen, intently, to Quinn. “Holly Holliday. Damn Sweets.”
“Did I mention she was also my sex-ed teacher?” She feels a little silly boasting about this, because Holly was so much more than just a teacher, she was her first real ally. The one she turned to about her sexuality in school and gave her the address of the support group, the one who reported the Cheerios to Sue about the magazine incident and the teacher who came back to Ohio for her high school graduation.
“If I didn’t know you any better I’d think you’d tapped that.”
Quinn chooses to ignore Santana until she asks to see a picture. It’d be less incriminating to say she doesn’t have one, but Santana has somehow guessed she had a tiny crush on the woman, so she takes her phone out to flick to a stand alone one of her and Holly at her graduation. At least she’s the same height as her in those heels.
“I repeat. If I didn’t know any better-” Santana smiles and hands her phone back. “So you came out in junior year?”
“I was outed.”
“Ouch. I’m sorry.” Santana quietens. There’s a jump in her chest when Santana places her hand on the table, in the middle, like she’s reaching to touch the back of Quinn’s but hasn’t made the last stretch. “I’m not gonna ask you to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
Quinn shrugs. “My cheer team heard some rumors and someone saw me coming out of Miss Holliday’s class with some lgbt material and they put it in the school newspaper.”
She paraphrases what the Cheerios did to her locker, which receives a varied reaction of “I hope you killed them in training” to “But you kept the magazines, right?”
It seems too serious to be talking about this over dinner. “I told my mom before my dad left us and I think at first she was so scared that she’d lose me too that she just accepted it.” Quinn says. “It was after he left that we really talked and she realized that I wasn’t any different. I’m still her little girl.”
Just without the attraction to boys.
“At least you won’t get pregnant.”
Quinn laughs. Her food is cold now they’ve been talking for so long. “I think that’s was a factor in how she’s more comfortable with me being out.”
“Was she worried about you self-destructing?” Santana asks. “I know before I told my mom about me and Brittany I felt like the world was collapsing on me.”
Curiosity peers around the corner. “She took it well though?”
Santana shakes something off in her head before answering. “Yeah. She told me she sort of guessed but I never expected her to.”
She remembers the descriptions Santana placed on herself in the past. Angry. Unpredictable. Havoc reeking. It’s not a far stretch to imagine Santana locking herself in her room with a depressed sense of doom faced with the inevitability of having to come out. The fear pressing down on her chest and the beacon of light dimming the longer she waited.
She knows the feeling.
“I didn’t really have time to do that. Everything was out there before I could really take it back or hide.” She scoffs to herself quietly though. “I don’t think I could have anyway. That would have given them all too much power over me. And when something like that comes out, it’s better to be on the top, than the bottom.”
“But I don’t think she would have wanted me going to school so far away if she didn’t think I was-” It’s hard to explain. Her mom didn’t let her come to California because she was gay and there wasn’t ideals of becoming a Lima housewife in the making but- “-sure of myself. As a person. Otherwise I’d be in OSU with Sam wondering if I could have ever been something more.”
Santana crosses her arms in front of her as she leans on the table. “You scored a scholarship on a team at one of the best schools in the country in a sport you’ve never played up until two months ago.”
There’s the point.
“You’re already something more.”
They both stare awkwardly beaming at each other over their half-eaten pasta until Santana breaks the silence. “That got strangely emotional.”
Quinn snorts, picking up her juice to wet her throat. “I’d hope for a little emotion since I’m taking you to bed later.”
“Excuse me? If anything it’s me bedding you.” Santana leans back. “Ownership of the actual bed means nothing. Your ass is mine Sweets.”
“I promise never to mention this again if you do?” Quinn blushes.
But Santana already has her phone out. “Hell no. If I can interrupt Brittany with texts without context I can totally twat swat Tina.”
A warning would have been nice at that last part.
“You done? Great.” Santana waves her non-texting hand in the air. “Can we get the bill?”
They go dutch but Santana makes a point to loudly exclaim that Quinn better be ‘putting out’ when they get home for not offering to pay for her.
She’s not sure who blushes more; the waiter, the elderly couple that overheard them or herself when Santana pushes her out of the restaurant with a hand on her back that ends up with her arm around her shoulders.
That’s how they walk back. Aside from Quinn hearing The Beatles ‘I wanna hold your hand’ in her head, it’s not awkward at all.
By the time Quinn is jingling out the keys to her room her nerves are dancing her her throat. Oblivious to this Santana continues her conversation. “I can’t believe no one has you on restringing duty yet. I break mine every few weeks. Maybe more.”
About lacrosse sticks.
“That’s because you actually score.” She snorts as she shunts the door open. Stepping back to let Santana in first. If nothing she’s polite.
“It has nothing to do with scoring.” Santana counters.
Quinn carries on, hoping that her speaking will distract Santana from assessing her room in greater detail than she’s been allowed the last few times she’s been here. “It has a lot to do with scoring- I’m first home. Remember what you said to me when you told me that?”
Knocking on her door to pick her up for their morning runs doesn’t really allow Santana the pleasure of nitpicking Quinn’s things when there’s a roommate asleep on the other side. Quinn suddenly spots messes everywhere and hastily shoves some clothes under her bed when Santana’s back is turned.
She pulls on the duvet of her bed and grabs her sleepwear from where it’s folded on her pillow. When she turns back Santana’s speech is mumbled because the girl is taking off her shirt.
“That the only thing you need to worry about doing is scoring? Yes. But give yourself a little credit Q. You’ve got the least experience out of us all. You’ll get it.” Santana’s voice is clearer and her hands ball up the shirt she was wearing. Looking to Quinn is meant to make her feel reassured of whatever she just said but that’s hard when...skin. “It just won’t happen overnight.”
“What isn’t?” Quinn blinks.
It’s cruel how aware Santana is of Quinn’s buttons and how to push them to full affect. Dropping her hands down, from obscuring her abdomen, she smirks wryly. “Are you listening to me or did you check out of the conversation about five seconds ago?”
“Shut up.” Quinn’s face heats up. “I just feel like I’m lagging behind.”
Santana throws her shirt and hits Quinn square in the face. “Not on my team you aren’t and I’ll kick your ass if you do Sweets. Speaking of, how are your classes?”
Embarrassingly Quinn gets tangled in the material before she can slap it away from her. There’s really no end to how hot her face is getting. “Huh? Oh, good. My presentation went okay and it’s just a lot of reading until Thanksgiving as far as I know.”
Santana’s skeptical tone puts her on the defensive. “I’m not going to bomb out if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Didn’t say you were. Just need to make sure you stay academically eligible to play Sweets.” Santana scans around the room, honing in on her single bookshelf that houses more books than Zises has dvds. Impressive to say the least. “Last thing we need is to have to recruit some seconds player because you didn’t get an ‘A’ on your last pop quiz.”
“We don’t have pop quizzes...” Quinn mutters looking at her knees before finally sighing. “Do you want a shirt to sleep in?”
Because at the moment she’s just standing there in her bra and jeans looking like she’s going to pounce on her. Which is a bad thought to think when she knows it’s not true.
“Why?” Santana asks. Quinn lets her gaze slip for a second to Santana’s chest when her captain looks down herself. They both catch each other after the moment passes. Santana keeps grinning wickedly at her expense. “Just be more careful with your leering, Sweets.”
Shifting, now uncomfortably, on the bed Quinn changes the subject. “Brittany responded?”
“I see how it is.” She rolls her eyes in a sarcastic manner but Quinn still sees her hand jump for her phone. Quinn decides to give them both a minute to breathe.
“I’m just- I’ll be back in a second.”
She just hopes no one hears Santana practically yell for her to not keep her hanging ‘because she wants to get her mack on’ while she slips into the shared bathroom, in the corridor, to change into more comfortable sleep wear. Sure she could have changed in her room with Santana but that’s a whole different can of hormones.
It’s also a different fantasy.
Whatever. She knows life isn’t like a soft-core movie and Santana probably wouldn’t have even blinked at her changing, see: lacrosse changing rooms and showers, but the fact they’re going to share a bed together is different somehow and she kind of wants that barrier of not seeing to pull her through.
“I missed the good part?”
Quinn’s just pulled her head through her shirt when Santana opens the door. She has half a mind to shriek about Santana following her when she sees the girl holding her mouth wash. “Mind if I use this? Or I’ll hate myself in the morning.”
She tugs her shirt down a little more. “Sure. I have a spare toothbrush if you want it.”
Santana swirls the mouthwash in her mouth but gives her a thumbs up before spitting it out into the sink. “If you would. Gotta keep this smile looking perfect.”
Quinn’s already taken the new brush out of the packet and passing it over to her. “Thanks.”
Then the strangest thing occurs.
They share a mirror and sink while they brush their teeth together.
Okay, it’s not the strangest thing ever but something pinches in her heart. It feels so stupid and domestic and she’s brushing harder into her mouth to get over the uncomfortable pressure of sadness in her chest while Santana just nudges her with her hip to warn her that she’s going to spit paste out.
Reality is that she gets this and the morning of pretending and wishing and wondering. While she tries to remember Santana smiling at her reflection to check her teeth and what it feels like to lay next to her but at the same time to not remember too much that she forgets altogether. Like going to a concert and taking so many photographs that you don’t actually remember going at all. The only proof is in the pictures but they’re still pale imitations to the experience. To the feel.
And she wants to feel it all.
“You look more tired than I thought.” Santana places her brush back in Quinn’s bathroom bag. “Thought you’d have some stamina Fabray.” She winks.
“Guess you wore me out.” Is all Quinn can come back with. The truth that her chest feels heavier than her whole body doesn’t seem like the right thing to admit. Especially since it’s been caused by wanting Santana in the first place.
“Too right I did.” She starts with her familiar confidence but then the moment passes when Quinn doesn’t blush like she wants her to. Instead Santana moves.
Maybe it’s because she’s tired and this is just normal for Santana. Maybe it’s because Quinn looks sad. Maybe it’s because she still has an inkling that Santana thinks that she has feelings for Brittany and this whole night has been orchestrated to stop them both pining.
She doesn’t really know and she can’t pick an excuse why Santana smoothes out the back of her shirt, hands hitting her shoulder blades until she sees a quieter moment to lean forward and rest her head on Quinn’s shoulder.
“You done yet?” Quinn rolls her head to the side and an electric current is the only way to explain the brush of their cheeks together. An accident would be the second.
“Teasing?” A pause. “Maybe. It’s not as fun when you’re tired.”
“You can start again in the morning.” She offers, hoping that she would, at least to hide the no doubt awkwardness that would appear on waking up next to each other. Or just the awkwardness for Quinn then.
Quinn doesn’t think she can feel any worse than when Santana climbs into her small, single bed in one of Quinn's shirts and laughs at how Quinn tenses for a second. Telling her again not to take advantage of her, in that joking way, because Quinn couldn’t take advantage of a fly. Or even Brittany.
But around 3 a.m. she’s startled awake by Santana’s arm coasting over her stomach and landing there. She lays there, still and tense and heart beating a mile a minute when Santana rouses from her sleep and realizes what she’s doing.
Then she brushes a drowsy ‘sorry’ to Quinn’s bare shoulder and pulls her arm away.
Stupidly, her heart shatters into a million depressed pieces.
“I guess I should do the roommate thing and congratulate you.” Lauren sits in their shared kitchen, the chair beneath her creaking slightly, as she spoons cereal into her mouth. “While ignoring the fact that you didn’t warn me you’d be with someone.”
Quinn pauses her quest to grab milk out of the fridge. “Why are you congratulating me?”
Lauren raises an eyebrow. “I thought the whole ‘sex hair after waking up with a girl in your bed’ was reason enough.”
“Sex...hair?” Quinn’s flies her hand to her short, messy bed head. “I don’t have sex hair- and I didn’t- oh my god.”
She glances wildly at the open kitchen door as if Santana can hear her. “You thought I had sex with Santana?”
“You didn’t?” Lauren counters.
“No! No!” Quinn ignores the part of her brain answering ‘but I want to’. “Her roommate had a date and wanted the place to herself and I offered my bed- but we didn’t-” She squeaks. “-have sex.”
She wasn’t even aware Lauren knew she was gay. Maybe it was all that Tegan and Sara on her iPod.
Lauren stops eating for a moment to fully appreciate the noise of denial coming from her mouth. “Okay.”
The bottle of milk shakes in her hand. “Okay?”
Her roommate nods and gets up from the chair. Silently putting her empty bowl in the sink before inching out of the room, but not before she turns back to Quinn’s flustered face and smirking. “Just let me know the next time you ‘don’t have sex’.”
She was meant to be making coffee for Santana but the coolness of the milk bottle is better suited to cooling off her face.
Speaking of the devil. “Your roommate just high five’d me.” Santana strolls into the kitchen. “Is that a thing?” She spots Quinn holding the milk near her face and the mugs on the counter she’s preparing to put in the coffee maker. “Oh hello gorgeous.”
Quinn burns more. “The coffee?”
Santana is either wearing really short shorts, or just her underwear, underneath that baggy shirt Quinn pressed her to sleep in because all Quinn can see is skin. It distracts her until Santana steals the milk from where she’s pressing it against her face, replacing it with a cheeky tap of her hand. “That too.”
She’s pretty sure she just forgot how to breathe.
Between going to class and Santana running her hand down her arm in her continuing tirade to make Quinn blush inappropriately before she leaves, Quinn doesn’t really get to think about the night.
When she does, and she feels the weight crashing on her chest again, she discovers it was probably better not to have thought about it again in the first place.
The next time she sees Santana is the following Tuesday. And it’s after handing her back a book she’d borrowed from her. Quinn takes her time to pass it over, eyes trailing up Santana’s arm until she reaches her face.
Luckily in time to answer the question directed to her. “Did it help?”
“I got though most of it.” Sometimes it’s easier to stare at Santana’s neck. It’s a neutral spot until she thinks about how tense the muscles there get during lacrosse practice. Then she has to suck it up like Fabrays do, and look Santana in the eyes. “Thanks by the way. The library stopped letting me take things out today.”
Oblivious to her struggles, Santana snorts, and lazily places the book on the coffee table in the middle of the room. “What you do? Max your card?”
Santana stops laughing abruptly and Quinn stares. “Wait, you can do that?”
Her eye roll doesn’t go appreciated. “And you’re worrying about me flunking?”
As evidenced by the amount of times Santana has cornered her since they wrote her presentation together to talk about her classes and the amount of work she has on. Half the time she forgets that Santana is even in college.
“Whatever Sweets, when you’re not around and I’m not playing lacrosse, I am a studying machine. ‘Aint that right B?” Her defensive words are called out to the hallway and at the open door to the shared bedroom.
Brittany’s cheery response floats out soon after. “Studyin’, studyin’, yeah!”
Quinn isn’t going to get that song out of her head now. “Was that ‘Friday’?”
“No that was Brittany.” At Quinn’s confusion Santana stops making fun of her. “B will be out soon, she’s just saying bye to Tina on the phone. STILL.” She irritably finishes.
“Cal State?” Santana hadn’t been given a chance to introduce Tina to her, and even in the days after the match Tina had spent more time with Brittany in L.A. rather than with Santana. So apart from knowing what she looks like, Quinn doesn’t really know a lot about her, other than she’s a pretty average keeper.
“Yeah that’s the one.” Santana looks particularly unamused at this matter. Awkwardly Quinn plays with the strap of her gym bag, still resting heavily on her shoulder, before approaching the subject.
“How long has she been...?”
“An hour.” Santana snaps out before she even finishes.
Quinn nods along, asking; “When did she leave?” and expecting a long answer.
But Santana just groans to herself and replies with; “An hour and ten minutes ago.”
“Oh.” Brittany’s excited babbling in the bedroom isn’t really distinguishable to make words out. Just tones of up and down happiness. “You okay?”
“Yeah, just ignore me.” Santana sits back down on the couch. Her crosse is lays across her lap. “Tina’s been here all weekend and yesterday Brittany convinced her to stay another night instead of leaving.”
Brittany, apparently, is quite persuasive to everyone. Quinn can’t actually remember anyone not falling for it. Miss Pillsbury, Santana, herself, Sam and now Tina?
“And Tina, she’s the sweetest of Asian pies but I really miss my bed and all weekend they’ve just been-” Santana lets out an undetermined sigh of something that Quinn has to interpret.
“Stifling you with their togetherness?” She’s trying not to imagine Santana being annoyed at it but if it were her being stuck in an apartment while Sam was fawning over someone? Yeah, she’d want it to be over as soon as possible too.
From beneath her hands rubbing at her face Santana mumbles, “You have no idea.”
“Does Brittany know?” Quinn asks quietly. Approaching this could go either way knowing Santana’s moods.
“That it bothers you.” She pushes.
Santana’s eyes peek out from under her hands. “That Tina’s extended stay bothered me or their togetherness? You need to be specific.”
Obviously she needs her to say it to her. “About her and Tina.”
Santana scoffs at her but quickly stops herself. It’s a strange change that makes Quinn think she’s on to something until Santana denies it. “You’re sweet Q, but you’ve never aimed further away.”
Sighing her name does nothing for the fine line she’s walking on. In a tense fashion Santana sits forward and directly reassures of her of the exact nature of her irritation. “The only thing that bothers me is that I haven’t had a full nights sleep in three days and that I snapped at my study group in Bio.”
She sits back as soon as she’s finished, relaxing, but skirting over the real issue entirely. Steeling herself by holding onto her bag tighter she dives in, hoping Santana would thank her in the long run.
“So you’re fine with Brittany getting together with people?”
“It’s just Tee.” Santana sneers a little. Like she doesn’t think much of it.
“And Sam.” Quinn points out.
“She didn’t tell you about that?” Santana’s head shoots up. “That was a bust.”
“They didn’t hook up. Seriously. They came back from the arcade about ten to watch a movie and then Sam passed out trying to beat Brittany at scrabble.” There’s a smile again. An amused smirk that Quinn can only see the truth in.
“Scrabble.” She clarifies.
Santana shrugs. “Okay, scrabble with shots.”
“Look Q, I know you mean well, and to be honest I can literally feel some of the ice around my heart melt whenever you show you’re concern for me,” When she sits forward again, it’s to look Quinn in the eyes with a definite and clear answer. “-but I’m okay with this. I’m happy for her.”
It’s the first time she’s ever heard Santana say that. But it’s the not the first time she hasn’t believed her.
“I love her. I probably always will in a way. That’s what first love is for right?” Her joke falls flat and just makes her sound a tad bitter. “But being together cost us our friendship and almost a hell of a lot more. And I can do without sex and I have for longer than I’m willing to admit-”
Even Quinn raises an eyebrow at that.
“-to protect that friendship.”
“That’s...brave.” It doesn’t seem like the right word to use.
Santana shifts to look at the bedroom door behind them. Brittany is still mumbling on the phone in the background and not sneakily listening to them. “I’ve also had a while to get used to it. Brittany didn’t really date last year, which was hell for her, and if she did hook up with someone then she never brought them back to our dorm.”
A warmth hits her chest. “She didn’t want to rock the boat.”
Santana spots her softening and grimaces slightly. “Don’t look at it like that. We’re not saints and sometimes things go wrong.”
Going wrong sends a shiver down her spine as Santana goes on.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’ve slipped since senior year.” Slipping. Slipping together. Together. “Not recently. And B’s a person with a huge heart, but she’s the first to admit she’s more a physical being at the start.”
You can attest to that actually, Santana’s look says.
“She’s a cuddler and give it a few more winning games and you’ll see how much she likes kissing people when she’s on a high.”
Quinn coughs into her hand. “I might try not to.” She mutters.
“We’ve dealt with it in different ways.”
“Is it too much for me to say that I don’t want either of you to get hurt?”
“Probably.” Santana searches for sincerity in her eyes. “No.”
The sounds of Brittany chattering in the back room has faded to short words. Quinn watches how this eases Santana back into the couch. She’s not sure if it’s because their tense conversation has come to an end or because now they’ll be going to practice.
But then she makes the mistake of being curious.
“What do you mean, you’ve ‘dealt with it’.”
“Your room, Sunday.” Santana rolls her wrist in front of her with a suggestive look on her face.
“I’m kidding!” Santana cracks her knuckles. “You’re easy.”
“Who’s easy?” Brittany sticks her head from out of the bedroom. Quinn can see her jersey is hanging around her neck. The line of her sports bra cuts across her chest.
“Quinn.” Santana smirks before Quinn can pull herself away from the sight.
“Nice!” Brittany tugs her arms through and walks out with the shirt still riding above her stomach. “What base?”
This snaps her back. “Britt!”
“Total second.” Santana boasts, scanning the condition of her nails. Quinn has a terrible moment of thinking she probably would have told Brittany third if her nails weren’t that long. “Quinn loved it.”
Then she looks at her. Behind the smirk and the bravado is that half-asleep moment that settled a black cloud on Quinn’s chest. When Santana’s arm wrapped around her and then pulled away. Maybe she’s reading more into the joke than Santana is but there’s no denying that the both of them remember it.
“We have to get to practice.” She breaks uncomfortably.
“Is that what we’re calling it now?” Brittany laughs and comes up behind Santana on the couch. Quinn is rooted to the spot by the truth in Santana’s words when she nuzzles her nose into Santana’s neck. Popping an appreciative-thanks-for-sleeping-on-the-couch-kiss to the skin there.
Brittany is the first one to leave with an enthusiastic ‘woo!’ that echoes in the hallway. Quinn stands biting her lip at Santana’s blank face until she cracks an amused smile at what’s just happened.
“Not a word Sweets.” Santana eventually pushes up off the couch. Ready to walk away and pretend like it didn’t happen.
Opportunities like this are rare. Usually she’s the victim. So, naturally, she pounces.
“I guess you’ll have to ‘deal with’ it later.” Quinn leers, winking and running out into the hall before Santana catches on and chases her.
It’s funnier because Santana ends up forgetting to lock their apartment door and has to give up her pursuit of Quinn in favor of saving their home.
It’s a victory anyway.
A state of restlessness is an accurate description of the UCLA Bruins first team during practice. From the warm up to the drills and even the conditioning, there’s a sense of eagerness bursting from everyone. Whispers followed. The kind that everyone means for others to hear but with words too delicate to risk speaking louder.
Santana mutters under her breath about focusing while Brittany dances against her defenders. But they whisper too. They catch the grins and the knowing nods while Quinn itches in her role as the last one picked. Completely out of the loop that the team is buzzing around.
It’s a buzz she picks up on towards the end of practice when Coach Beiste waves them over, clipboard in her hand, and the whole team practically runs to stand against the sidelines. She’s caught up in that energy even though she doesn’t quite know why until two words have the rest celebrating.
She’s swept up in excited hugs from Brittany and high fives from Mercedes before she can even think. “What?” She voices and Santana turns, relief etched on her face, to her confusion.
“Come on.” She smirks. “I’ll explain at the apartment.”
Santana pulls them around the coffee table in the middle of the room. Brittany beats the both of them to the couch, tipping backwards over the arm rest, to take up all of the space. Her muddy jersey is halfway up her body just leaving her skin sports top on underneath. Her eyes are closing before Quinn even gets the chance to sit down.
The flump her body makes against the couch just makes Santana roll her eyes a little. As if to say ‘isn’t that cute?’.
“We play games against teams in our conference at the start of the year to score into the NCAA tournament in March.” Santana sets their bags down by the door and locks it. “We play in the Cali satellite, but when we get to the tournament we get drawn into a bracket.”
It’s logical really, Quinn thinks while Santana ushers into the kitchen to pick them up water, but it’s a far sight away from what she’s been used to cheering.
“How many teams are in are in the bracket?” Her thirst from practice really kicks in when she takes the water.
“Sixteen teams in the tournament.” Santana responds. “But we have nine more games when you lay it out. Cal State being the first official one.” She adds before Quinn asks about the first game they ever played.
“Next week we play the Arizona Ladycats, then Colorado, St Mary’s, UC San Diego a few more and then our qualifier match for the tournament comes up against Yale. Which isn’t until February”
“Yale?” Sometimes she still feels like she’s an outsider to the world of lacrosse, at least when it comes to knowing what other colleges have women’s teams.
Her awe of the school’s mention is quickly waved away by Santana. “Don’t build them up. They’re not as good as their name suggests.”
“Who are we against if we win?”
Santana pulls a piece of paper from Quinn’s bag and starts writing down the list of colleges in Division one. “It’s not a sure thing. Depends on the other brackets. Especially Stanford’s. They haven’t been so good in the last few years but word is they’ve recruited earlier this year.”
“So we have Stanford as a possibility.” Quinn studies the diagram Santana draws up.
“They’ll definitely get through.” Santana restates. “We have to watch out for Duke and Northwestern as well.”
“What about Ohio State?” Quinn’s interest sparks at seeing them drafted.
“Maybe.” Santana smirks. “Depends how well they’ve fared without me and B.”
“I’m guessing that was your safety school.”
“Yeah. Full ride they offered us too.” Always ‘us’. “But four more years studying in the same state and with the same bitches you hated in high school? I’m not a masochist.”
“All or nothing for UCLA then?”
Santana nods. “We’ll probably see some of the old team from Carmel there though.”
Great a bunch of potential people ready to see her fall on her ass. “I’ll try not to embarrass you then.”
“Please.” Santana holds up her hand in a pause motion while she takes a drink of water. They haven’t had soda in a few weeks under Coach Beiste’s watchful orders. “As if. I’m not bragging or anything but me and B were leagues ahead of the rest of them.”
She’s not going to dispute that but her eyebrow just moves up of it’s own accord.
“By senior year anyway.” Then she grins a little too cockily. “Junior year.”
“So I’ve read.” She discloses. Apart from Vocal Adrenaline the women’s sports were pretty well covered by the local news. Mostly because Carmel didn’t have a football team and banned hockey after an incident where the whole team burst the tires on some cars from teams out of state. By default, Santana and the Carmel Panthers were always going to make headlines.
And that was before all of the pictures of her and Brittany making out on the field appeared.
“Wonder twins.” Brittany mumbles quietly. Her eyes are still closed and halfway to dream land but determined to keep listening.
Santana frowns. “Wonder twins. Except no.”
Quinn isn’t going to point out how obviously awkward that nickname for them is on their former relationship. Except she is. “Awkward.”
“And you’ve played with us less than anyone ever did at Carmel but the three of us-” She points around the trinity in the room. “- are more in sync as shooters than we ever were back then. Or even last year for that matter.”
Placing her hand over her heart she dryly states. “I think that’s currently the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
“What was the last nicest?” Santana inquires curiously.
Oh. She hadn’t expected to be called out on that. Or she had, save for the part where she has to say what it was. “Pretending to call my coffee gorgeous?”
“Oh yeah.” Santana’s grin is far too wide for her own comfort.
“So Arizona.” Quinn quickly shifts the subject. There’s really no time for her blushing. “What do I need to know?”
It’s started taking Santana longer and longer to snap out of her victories in making her flustered and instead of moving on to keep smirking knowingly while Quinn hopes she hasn’t figured it all out and more. She never does though.
“The Ladycats can wait until tomorrow.” Santana promises. “Or at least until Brittany is conscious for the run down.”
Both of them split into restrained smiles at Brittany on the couch. Passed out from practice. Shoes still on.
“C’mon, help me get her into our room.” They spend a few minutes arguing about how to move Brittany off the couch until they just go for it, Quinn lifting Brittany bridal style at first until Santana takes over. Her recovery time for getting distracted at the way Santana’s arms tense just right as she holds Brittany is fantastic. She manages not to trip over her feet as she holds open the bedroom door.
The flutter in her chest at having Santana’s undivided attention for the last couple of minutes turns into a twinge that she grows to resent for tainting the innocent situation.
“Which side you want?” Santana whispers so Brittany doesn’t wake up. Quinn furrows her brow.
“The bed. Which side?”
“Who said I’m even staying?” She argues. Quietly.
Santana rolls her eyes and her arms start to shake. “Me because it’s pitch black out there and like hell you’re getting kidnapped before our game.”
There’s no fighting that. “Left.”
Thankfully sighing Santana scurries around to the right side of the bed gently lowering Brittany to the mattress while Quinn pulls the sheets over her. “I can take the couch.” Quinn backtracks. “You’ve only just got Tina out.”
Mentioning Tina as Santana unties Brittany shoes seems odd. The girl just makes a cutting motion across her neck for Quinn to stop speaking so loud. “And you’re a guest. The couch molded to me anyway.”
“Stop it.” Quinn hisses. “Just sleep in here.”
“Do you not want to sleep with Brittany or something?” Santana hushes her. “Oh wait. Or you do and this is-”
“I shared with you, I don’t have a problem.” Quinn groans. “I don’t want to impose.”
“I don’t think she’d mind if you did.” Her tongue is sticking out. Biting down on it as she tries not to let her laughter at Quinn out. “Besides it’s not like we haven’t slept with the same people before.”
And that’s totally designed to mean two different things entirely.
“Oh dear god. What did I do to even-”
“Deserve such hot teammates?” Santana reaches over the bed and pulls on Quinn’s short hair. The only thing stopping Quinn from whimpering is the fact she’s taken by surprise. “Your life must be so hard.”
Hard indeed when she’s being dragged to kneel on the bed that Santana’s using a fist to lean on. Hard when all that energy she thought she’d lost during practice comes back in the form of arousal and then frustration when Santana lets go of her.
“Take your boots off.” Santana wins as always. Quinn silently turns and unlaces her shoes. Dropping them down the side of the bed. “And your jersey. Did you fall today when I wasn’t looking?”
“Erin tackled me.” She shucks her jersey off leaving her tank underneath. Grass stains cover the side of the blue practice shirt. “Crap.”
“I can wash that too.” Santana takes the jersey out of Quinn’s hand and points to her tank top. There’s streaks of green just brushing on the white material.
“Thanks.” Quinn says. Santana is already out of her practice gear. Changing behind Quinn’s back into a pair of sweats and shirt while Quinn took her shoes off.
“No problem, just take off your shirt.”
Stupidly Quinn drags her shirt up halfway when she realizes Santana’s shit eating grin. “You’re such a bitch.”
“I didn’t realize how easy it’d be to get you out of your clothes Sweets.” Santana pulls her tank off completely, touching her hair, while Quinn rubs her eyes tiredly in her sports bra. “Should have tried that sooner.”
Everything feels a little like it did the other night. She can’t help the sad little cloud that forms over her head as she pushes that down. Santana just moves around the room, putting things back in their place, before dumping Quinn’s clothes in the hamper.
The teasing seems to roll off her back and Quinn shakes out of her shorts without a word. Santana doesn’t see her come over to put them in the hamper but she turns just as she tosses them in.
It’s dark so there’s no way Quinn will ever think it happened but Santana looks mildly shocked. Then impressed to the point of going to say something about her stripping off for her again no doubt, until she sees her tired face.
“Are you okay?” Santana asks. Ignoring the fact Brittany is asleep in the room with them. Ignoring how this is almost exactly the way things ended the other night in her dorm. Ignoring the fact that Quinn is standing in front of her in Nordstrom boyshorts and her sports bra to ask her if she’s okay.
“I’m-” There’s so many ways she could go on, but she feels weaker than she did before and no longer imbued with the arousal she had seconds ago. “-tired.”
Strangely Santana picks up on the tone. The subtle change in her mood is reflected in the way she drops what her hairbrush, and leads Quinn towards the bed again. She can’t pinpoint how because Santana’s hand was on her back, then her wrist, then pushing her collar down onto the mattress until she’s pushing Quinn’s hair out of her eyes and pulling the duvet over her.
“Night Sweets.” Is whispered in her ear and she finds sleep a better sanctuary when she’s not focused on Santana pulling her arm away from her body.
The morning of the Arizona game starts at five am when Santana unlocks her dorm door and rips her duvet off, telling her in no uncertain terms that she has ten minutes to pack her shit and get dressed. Quinn imagines that she’s dreaming until she passes the ten minute limit in favour of returning to sleep and Santana returns with a glass of water.
She has to apologise to Lauren when she gets back for screaming when Santana poured the ice water over her face.
“You’ll wake up next time.” Santana growls before pushing her towards her closet and leaving the room, dragging Quinn’s lacrosse gear behind her.
No time for a shower to fix the mess Santana made of her hair, only enough to brush her teeth and wash her face before throwing on clean sweats and her zip up team hoody. She can’t even find a shirt.
Then again her hair will dry during the agonisingly long bus ride to Arizona University and she’s sure that she’ll put a shirt on at some point. When she’s not trying to stay awake on the ride that is.
“Did I ever tell you that I hate you?”
Santana pushes a still warm take out cup of Starbucks under her nose.
“Did I ever tell you that you’re my hero?” Quinn mumbles against the rim of the cup. God she can’t even walk in a straight line right now. Ha. Straight.
“I’m a superhero to be functioning at this fucking time.” Santana steers her down the stairs of her building. “Next time I’m vetoing any away games that make us start before the sun is firmly in the sky.”
When Coach Beiste had informed them at the previous practice of the game time in Arizona, a modest one thirty, most of them had forgotten about the roughly seven hours they would have to spend travelling to the college. Early start, late return. Crap.
“What would your superhero name be?” Quinn asks curiously. Sleep stopping her usual nerve filter and falling back on her comfortable conversation techniques that only Sam had really gotten out of her.
Santana pushes the door open and leads her out. “Are you sleep talking?”
“Not yet.” Quinn takes another drink of the coffee, hoping it will slowly bring her into full consciousness.
“Great.” She’s guiding her towards the benches outside her dorms where Brittany is curled up asleep. “Brittany!” She hisses, not wanting to wake anyone up inside.
Brittany groans but opens her eyes. “You took a long time.”
Santana pushes Quinn forward and collects all of their bags, not trusting the other two to be able to carry them and walk at the same time. “Yeah well Quinn needed water.” She sneers. “Now walk, we have to be at the sports center for six.”
When they trail into the parking lot where the bus is waiting for them Quinn is glad to see that she’s not the only one suffering with the early start. Erin is handing out cans of energy drinks that Laura packed for her, grinning madly when Brittany coos over the gesture, and Mercedes is already coaxing Coach Beiste into pulling into a drive thru for some form of breakfast. Healthy or not.
Right now Quinn could stomach a McDonalds.
“C’mon. Get the backseat.” Santana urges. Brittany follows handing her a red bull to replace her empty Starbucks cup. She’s already cracked it open when Coach Beiste decides to yield the no eating or drinking rule on the bus. There’s no one who’s conscious who’d be able to follow it anyway.
She slumps next to the window. “You didn’t tell me about the team like you said you would.” Quinn reminds Santana. She’s actually a little in awe of how awake she seems to be as well.
“It’s a seven hour drive.” Santana deadpans, settling into the seat in front of them. Brittany nestles into Quinn’s side and promptly falls back asleep. “I’m sure we’ll talk about it at some point.”
They do when they stop at a McDonalds in Santa Ana before they really get going. Coach Beiste yells at them to keep their receipts so they can reimburse the costs. Santana tells Quinn to leave Brittany asleep while they pick something up for her to eat later.
“She’ll probably want a milkshake.” Santana stretches off the bus.
Quinn rubs her eyes as the sub starts to shine a little more than it did at five am. “I don’t even know if I’ll be able to eat at this time.”
“Save it for later at least. You’ll definitely need something before the game.” Santana advises, pushing open the door to the place. Mercedes is already in line ahead of them. “You good for money?”
“Yeah, I got some out yesterday.” Quinn fumbles in the pockets of her sweatpants for her purse. “How good are these girls?”
Santana grabs a few straws from a container. “Better than Cal State. We’re even on the win-loss results for our last six games. Us winning last year.”
Quinn frowns. “So if we lose then it’s definitely because of me.”
“No, if we lose it’s because of all of us.” Santana pokes her in the cheek with an unopened straw. “There’s no ‘I’ in team.”
It makes her feel a little better.
“What are you getting?” Santana asks, staring up at the breakfast menu.
“Oh. Probably just a coffee and oatmeal or something.”
Though Santana could probably steal from her on a good day it’s pitiful how slow Quinn is to react to Santana picking Quinn’s money out of her hands. “You will not last until the game on that.”
Mercedes bustles away with a full bag of breakfast and Quinn is left to look at her empty hand for a second wondering where her money went.
“Hi, can I take your order?”
Santana pulls forward a tray. “Yeah, I need three coffees, three bottles of water, a banana milkshake, one oatmeal, two hotcakes, two bacon egg and cheese bagels, one steak egg and cheese bagel and an egg mcmuffin.”
She almost expects Santana to turn around, like that day with Sam, to ask what Quinn wants. The counter girl looks unsurprised at the order and turns quickly to put Santana’s array of foods together. At her skeptical look Santana scoffs.
“Please, you are going to thank me in about eight hours.” When the girl’s back is turned she slips one of the trays off the counter. “We’re going to need this.”
She feels like throwing up the egg mcmuffin Santana forced her to eat around Pheonix after her fourth rapid sprint to the goal produces no score. Santana looks ready to murder her defender as she screams obscenities at Mercedes for letting in another easy goal.
"You complete and utter ass Wheezy!"
Mercedes flips her off because her goggles prevent her from taking out her mouth guard to yell. It only serves to irritate Santana further.
Quinn is keeled over panting as they set up for the draw again. The knowledge in the air hits her harder than the running she’s been doing for the past forty five minutes.
They’re going to lose. Quinn knows it like the as well as she’s gotten used to the ball of spit stuck in the back of her throat. Santana knows it like she knows how many times her plays have fallen through. Brittany and Coach Beiste know it and she can see it all in the twitches they make.
Arizona is strong. Stronger than they expected and not as slow as they hoped. Too good for their current level and too good at exploiting Quinn as the weakest link. Using the daze she’s in from playing in her first away game to their advantage.
A huge roaring crowd of close friends, fans and families that make their own sport in mocking her every mistake. Supportive hands and smiles from Brittany and Santana are hard to focus on when there’s a larger majority jeering as she fails to catch Brittany’s last play for the goal and ends up skidding shoulder first across the grass.
Dirt grazes her cheek as another collective cry of laughter passes through the crowd. A ghost pain from the old bruise on her cheek flares up and that’s why she doesn’t get up straight away. She stews there further when the other team calls a time out.
Quinn flushes in embarrassment as she sits up, resting her crosse by her side, to wipe the dry mud off her face.
“Heads up.” Santana says as she crouches down in front of her. Quinn obeys but only because Santana’s face is kind of close to her and that always makes her feel better.
“Shit happens. Their defenders are built like bulls.”
That’s true. Bruises are starting to form on her shoulders from where she’s been checked to one side by her defender. However, it’s still getting to her though that she’s still yet to make an actual point for them. “Sorry. I don’t even know why I’m so bad today.”
“Blame it on the e-g-g mcmuffin.” Santana deadpans her way through an interpretation of ‘Blame it On the Alcohol’ that makes her lip twitch upwards. “What’s bothering you?”
“It’s the crowd. I can’t focus.”
As if to emphasize her point the crowd starts a small mexican wave.
Santana snorts. “Focus on something else then. Something that will completely block out that crowd and keep your head in this game.”
“Like what?” It seems impossible, even now during the time out the crowd has started to rally their hands together in applause that’s meant to throw her off. Not just her but all of the Bruins, yet it seems directed at her. She can’t even bring herself to stand up yet. They haven’t been called in for a team talk. Instead Brittany is flitting from person to person updating them on what they have to keep doing.
“Focus on me.” Santana adjusts the goggles on Quinn’s face. “Me or Britt or Ginger...”
“On you?” Quinn repeats skeptically. Santana probably doesn’t know how tempting of a choice that is, in and out of the game, for her.
Pretending to be offended, Santana asserts. “Why not? I’m hot, awesome, plus I have a nice face.”
“And a huge ego.” Quinn covers her mental agreement with a slight jab.
“Even bigger sex drive than that too.” Brittany winks her way into the conversation behind Santana.
“Oh wow.” That’s going to keep her awake for a few nights, let alone for the rest of the game.
Santana laughs at her expression before slapping her thigh.“That got you focused on something else.”
“For sure.” She chokes out. Though how she’s going to stop thinking about Santana’s sex drive by the time they have to take a shower is beyond thought for now.
“Don’t hurt yourself Sweets.” Santana finally jolts her off the ground, pulling her up by her hands so quickly that Quinn has to steady her hands on Santana’s shoulders. “We need your wrists to win.”
Scratch that, she’s not going to be able to think of anything else for weeks.
God help her grades.
“I don’t understand why you’re hugging me.” She grumbles in the locker room after the match. Quinn’s voice is muffled against Brittany’s shoulder. And that’s only because Quinn had forced herself to stand up straight so that Brittany hadn’t smushed her face into her chest.
“Because you’re about to mope.” Brittany informs her, like she doesn’t have a good reason to, which she does. Losing for the first time is anything but fun when she knows it’s probably her fault. Still Brittany refuses to let her go, and holds her closer while the rest of the changing room just snickers at how red Quinn’s face is getting. “And I’m going to keep hugging you until you’re a happy unicorn again.”
Santana is standing just to the side of them both, silently laughing at Quinn’s confusion. “Unicorn?” She mouths.
In return Santana waves her hand, flopping her wrist and expresses the word ‘Lesbian’ without vocalizing. In spite Quinn glares a little in her direction and wraps her arms around Brittany’s bare back in the hope that accepting the hug will get her changed again faster. Oh yeah, did she mention the whole getting-changed-part?
Santana eyes dart to where Quinn’s hands rest just below the strap of her sports bra.
“But we lost.”
Santana rolls her eyes. “It happens, we’re not all invincible. Besides it’s not like one loss is going to eject us from the competition.” Brittany unwinds her arms from Quinn, letting her breathe again, to face Santana. “You worry too much Sweets.”
“C’mon you two.” Brittany coos. “Hug it out.”
“What?” Santana half squeaks. “We’re not even arguing. I’m reassuring-”
“Shut up Erin!” Santana shakes a fist in the girl’s direction but grabs the back of Quinn’s neck. Pulling her in for a one armed, over the shoulder hug at first, before bringing the other arm around. “I hate you all.”
“Oh just focus on something else.” Quinn laughs over Santana’s neck, for the first time realizing the little height she has over the girl, with a smile.
“What? Like ‘your’ sex drive?” Santana keeps them together when Quinn balks at her words. Only letting her jump apart when she pinches Quinn’s ass to drive her point home.
They’ve shared a bed yet Quinn feels more of a aroused buzz in her body from that one hug than from the entire night they were pressed together in her single bed.
“How was it for you then?” Santana overstates. Brittany claps happily in the background and everyone resumes changing.
Quinn is sure that saying that she enjoyed Santana pressed against her in all seriousness would be kind of weird. “Oh, best I’ve ever had.”
A sarcastic remark covering the truth, however, goes off better.
“You know it.” Santana sings as she takes her shirt off.
Then everything is a blur of getting ready to get back on the bus for their long journey home while Brittany demands to hug her again to try and give her ‘a better best hug she’s ever had’. This time it’s her shoulder that Santana falls asleep on.
She kind of regrets letting Santana rest on her shoulder on the drive when she’s cornered in the library a week later. Grinning like a smug cat Santana drops a brown paper bag on top of her notes for her class on American Literature.
“A reward for focusing.” Santana answers her. Quinn rummages through the bag first and pulls out a can of red bull. “I know you’re bummed about losing the game but we’re not perfect yet so-”
Quinn hides the energy drink in her bag before someone kicks her out for having drinks in here. “Did Brittany put you up to this?”
“Nope. All my idea.” Santana’s grin is making her slightly suspicious.
“So do I get lunch brought to me every time I focus in a game?” Quinn asks, spotting a a packet of skittles and rolling her eyes.
“If we win because of it in future. Which is why I thought I’d bring you something to help you focus.”
“What do you mean?” She takes the skittles and opens them. What? She’s been studying a long time.
Santana leans down on the dividing wall of her desk and looks down on her work. “Well, remember what I told you during the game- to focus on me?”
“Yeah...?” Quinn is suddenly not liking how heavy the bag is feeling and why there’s something wrapped in another bag inside.
“And you scored. So I thought about it and I remembered what you told me a few weeks ago about those Cheerio Fruit Loops or whatever- and how you totally owned them after what they did.”
Santana looks quite pleased with herself so Quinn is completely unprepared for the sight of naked boobs on a glossy magazine when she pulls it out of the bag.
“So I figured that you’re focus point is not being sexually frustrated and thought I’d lend a hand.”
Quinn shoves the magazine back in the bag with so much force that she actually tears it. “Holy- Santana! What the fuck?” She seethes quietly because she doesn’t want to get kicked out of the library. “Why did you buy me porn?”
Why did she have to offer to lend a hand by BUYING her porn?
“Because we’re a lot closer now and this is what I do for my friends?” Santana says impassively.
“When have I ever expressed interest in you buying me porn?” She fires back. “I returned all of those magazines the Cheerios shoved in my locker!”
Well, most of them.
“Oh please, you haven’t even looked at it.”
“I’m in a library!”
“That’s the best part!” Santana slides up next to her and gently hides the magazine back in the bag out of sight. “Look, take it home. Wait ‘til Lauren’s out and have a little flick through...the pages.”
Like she’s going to flick through anything else. Quinn blushes.
“And I’ll see you at practice Sweets.” Santana leaves her with the bag and a gleefully evil whisper in her ear.
Later she realizes just why Santana found the whole thing so funny when she opens the magazine to see that the pictures of all of the girls inside have Santana’s face taped over the top of them.
She also realizes that Santana did this as a sure fire way to find out if Quinn looked at it after Quinn confronts her during practice.
“Just focus on me, Quinn!”
There was no way she was going to win.
Santana’s attempts at cheering her up over their loss are hard to hold on to when the return to practice. Coach Beiste keeps them all in the locker room to talk about what happened in Arizona to prepare for their next match against Colorado in a few weeks. She linked them all to the match video the previous night. Quinn is still reeling.
“No one on this team is gonna get caught starin’ at a deer in headlights again.”
Brittany is the only one closest to see Quinn’s mild self-depreciation and she nudges her. “Totally done that.”
Her comment is ignored by the majority but it pinches her out of her funk. Santana was right. It wasn’t all of her fault. Sure she was dazed by the crowd and everything, but they had been faster and stronger than they’d prepared for.
“Colorado is comin’ to our grounds and we’re going to whip those Buffaloes into submission.” Coach Beiste stands and wipes away the plays they’d previously left on the whiteboard. Fading away Chaos Backdoor. She quickly draws a circle at the top and in it writes the date of their match. “We’re going to have the home advantage so I wanna see people in the stands alright?”
They won’t be failed in terms of a crowd. Despite the men’s team holding more popularity, though being a worse team according to Mercedes, the women’s team usually draws in a modest crowd. Though any crowd drawn feels empty in some cases when she can’t see Sam in them. It just reminds her to ask along Karen and some other friends from her study group instead.
“Now, team talk.” Beiste tosses the pen to Quinn who catches it. “We’re gonna run through the Arizona match so we can talk about what the hell went wrong there.”
Swallowing back the sting she makes her way to the board behind her. Uncapping the pen to distract her away from blaming herself again.
Quinn doesn’t take her eyes away from the blankness of the board as Santana begins to talk. “They obliterated us on defense.” She starts. “All of them were on me and Quinn from the start,”
The bruises on her ribs and shoulders can vouch for their build. She jots down the points on the board.
“I don’t think they were as fast as we thought they were now that I think about it, just that they didn’t let us move.” Santana narrates from behind. “Their defense was tight and practiced and we weren’t prepared enough.”
Beiste nods. “Brittany?”
“I got the same.”
“Their offense was so-so. They had some good runs but we gave as good too.” She picks apart the weaknesses in their own defense, offering suggestions as to how they could improve.
Quinn keeps up, only turning once Mercedes’ voice dies out. Everyone stares intently at the writing.
“Quinn?” Santana’s voice breaks the concentration. “Do you have something?”
Maybe. She just doesn’t have a name for it.
“What if-” She quickly sketches out a rough line art of the field. Drawing ‘X’s where they stood on the field. “Is there a play that draws our midfielders in more? Not just shooters.”
Coach Beiste perks up at her intuition.
Quinn falters. “I don’t know much about plays but I felt like we struggled against Arizona because we were forced together in limited space because of the defense.” She colours in circles to show her point. “But there was that one shot Brittany got off in the first half-”
The one she only managed to see because she’d been pushed to the floor as the defender had tried to cover Brittany instead. It had been futile however as Brittany had stood her ground a far distance from the goal and set off a long shot that somehow made it past the keeper.
“-longer shots worked on a defence that wouldn’t leave us alone. Maybe with some shorter passes thrown in there.”
Santana stands. “We can practice a 1-4-1 formation.” She mutters a ‘yes’ to herself as she steps over some benches towards Quinn. “It’s an offense heavy play which brings the midfield right down in line with the shooters. Midfield, first home, third home, midfield-”
Quinn picks up on Santana’s wavelength and sets about drawing.
“Third midfield- Erin,” She clarifies. “Sticks at the top by halfway.”
She adds that and Santana’s hand points to the point behind the goal. “Second home sticks behind the goal.”
Seeing it before them the team find it easier to work out how it will all come to play but Coach Beiste makes it clearer for them anyway.
“Erin, your aim is to dodge for a shot first, feed second.” Beiste lets her and Santana sit again as she takes over the pen. “ We’ll work on your shots but if you can’t keep up we’ll switch you with Brittany and you’ll run with Quinn. “
Erin nods. Santana takes a seat next to Quinn. Knees bump together.
“Second home, Santana, is positioned to be able to sneak from behind if all options are covered.” It’s a difficult position and Quinn can see why Coach has picked Santana, the smallest and fastest of the three shooters, to cover that base.
“Brittany and Quinn should pop and fade into a passing lane off of the picks from the midfielders.”
Quinn’s confusion over the term ‘picks’ causes Santana to whisper. “Like screening in basketball.”
“This means if you’re not open at the start you set it up so that midfielders can get it.”
The four ‘X’s in the middle have arrows drawn from them. Brittany and Quinn’s are drawn away from the goal as it represents them screening for the midfielders.
“Now if Santana gets the ball behind, she should press the other side. Midfield, attackers-” She gestures around. “I want to see more movement to help her out. Pick the defenders and cut so that she’s not left stranded like an island.”
The arrows change for all four of them, the midfielders down towards the goal while the attackers follow soon after. Santana’s has been drawn either way. Erin’s ‘X’ is the only one that remains at the top, for safety.
“On defense I want you to run ‘Slide’.” Coach Beiste scrawls the word next to the 1-4-1 play. “That means keep your eyes all of the attackers. The minute someone loses their girl on the crease, you shout slide and someone runs over to cover.”
It’s harder to grasp the plays for the defense when she’s not too sure how to go about playing it herself. The general idea, cover the attacker with the ball, is easy.
“The furthest from the ball covers the defense that’s left open. Now this is important. You have to cover that girl.”
The 1-4-1, perfectly laid out, would have beaten or at least matched Arizona.
“What about Colorado?” Quinn asks. “Will this work on them?”
“Won’t know their final team until we get there, but we can be pretty sure. I’ll call it as it happens.” Coach Beiste replies. “We’ll run through some other plays but I don’t want to complicate things yet. We run a 1-on-1 transitional offense and defense.”
Simply put, they do their best to outrun, out gun, dodge and slide the other team so that it sways the player advantage over the others. Five against six rather than six against six.
“Quick offense, draw the defenders away and then quick outlet passes.” She preaches. “I don’t want to see anyone getting surrounded.”
“Alright.” The team talk comes to and end and Coach Beiste points them to the field. “Let’s run through this out there.”
Santana pulls her up with the rest of them. “That was good. Back there.”
Her fingers have dusty black spots from the dry eraser pen. “I’m not experienced with the names of all of them.”
She’s met with a short laugh and the hint of a smile. “We usually make them up anyway.” Quinn lets Santana shove her shoulder as they make their way out on the field. “So you can stop beating yourself up now.”
The air is a lot colder than it was a few weeks ago and it whips against her bare skin as she pulls her goggles to her face.
Santana stops her short before she can gather her crosse from her bag. “But just in case, you should probably keep the porn.”
A dry laugh escapes her and Santana’s lips remembering their last practice. Those magazines are hidden underneath her bed where she pushed them away after Sam had laughed her into embarrassment on skype.
“If that’s so you should probably get me some more.” Quinn snaps back smirking. “Maybe with a better photo shop job this time too.”
“Fabray! Lopez!” They’re called from their conversation to the sideline where everyone is ready to begin running through their three part warm up, followed by an unhealthy amount of running and passing. Quinn is gleeful just thinking about it.
She expects to see the same steeled hesitance in Santana’s eyes but she can only blush at Santana’s dipped eyes and her ominous response. “Play your cards right Sweets and you just might.”
Luckily she can’t trip over her feet if she’s rooted to the spot.
The days pass by in a constant ache of practice and reading and getting less sleep than she’d like. She’s finally stable in her work routine, and despite worrying about the loom of midterm exams for Spanish and English, she’s content in her progress despite knowing it’s going to get harder. She’ll jump that fence when she gets to it.
The fence she has labeled as ‘Colorado’ comes around the turn and she’s confident when she has to leap over it.
“1-4-1! 1-4-1!” Santana screams as she sprints behind the goal. Brittany falls in line with her as Ginger and Marissa flank their sides.
She hears the defenders call for help as they pick each other out. Brittany makes it out to cut to the goal first as Erin charges through the middle.
“They’re closing!” Quinn shouts as her defender rolls away from her to gain ground on Erin. There’s a huge cheer when Erin manages to spin past one defender even though her crosse is checked in the process.
“Pick it up!” Ginger yells. Marissa runs to help Erin if she needs it but the girl has already taken the ball back and launches it upwards. “Quinn!”
Brittany is the closest to the goal on the front side, but she’s the one with the easiest shot to make. Erin’s pass lands safe in her crosse giving her the momentum to take a further two steps clear of defenders before-
The Buffaloes keeper falls to her knees in frustration while the rest of her team groans. It’s a stark contrast to the jumping Quinn does as everyone let’s out a cheer. The home crowd follows in her victory and Quinn suddenly feels the difference between having the crowd on her side and playing away from home more sharply.
Santana jogs her way back to her starting position, taking a second to run past Quinn for a brief high five, before the ball is tossed back to the referee.
They’re ten up and it’s not even half time yet.
It’s luck that the Buffaloes take the offensive ball from the middle. She’s pretty sure that they have it covered as Mercedes directs the defenders to where they need to be and no one lets their players out of sight. Quinn studies them all this time. It’s getting easier to make a note of how the teams play now that she’s on her third official match. Santana takes the scuffling down the other side to signal they’re changing the play.
“2-3-1!” She shouts loud enough for the midfielders to hear. “No rotations!”
Quinn has practiced this one. It’s the first play that involves her starting right behind the goal. As the Buffaloes lose possession of the ball their offense begins with her flying back.
The 2-3-1 is a little like the 1-4-1 except it sometimes involves triangle rotations.
Quinn settles behind the goal and ignores the glance of the keeper as she does so. Ginger and Marissa stay in line with each other as the ‘2’ whereas Erin comes down to join Brittany and Santana for the ‘3’. The ball makes it’s way towards the Buffaloes’ goal in this formation.
Defenders fail to stop them as the ball is passed between attackers and midfielders. Quinn gets the chance to watch in awe as Erin fools the defenders into following her only to pass back out to Santana.
Santana in motion isn’t something she gets the chance to marvel at a lot. Mostly because she’s the one gunning down with her for goal attempts. Standing back now, as a safety, she can appreciate just how good Santana is at this.
The lost defenders for the other team call ‘slide’ and others rush to try and head Santana off. The difficult part for them is trying to catch Santana, who is bursting down the right hand side, eying both Quinn’s position and Brittany’s open cut towards the keeper on the far left.
A pass is probably the best thing to do as several girls batter behind her but then Santana darts left towards the middle, throwing some off her track, and jets to the goal again.
She can’t see her eyes for the goggles and the speed of her but Quinn knows that Santana is showing off on this one.
Brittany runs faster to reach the baseline where she is as a second option, urging Quinn to move further left, while Santana shows no signs of stopping.
“Come on.” Quinn finds herself muttering. Hoping that nothing causes her to trip. That her ego isn’t going to get cut in half as she pounds against the grass. The very sight of her is causing the keeper to sway from side to side in the hope that which ever way they dive will be enough to save the ball.
If she looked she knows Brittany would be doing the same as her. Watching. Waiting. Hoping.
But it’s all in vain because really, Quinn laughs as Santana’s shot slides between the legs of the keeper, was it going to end any other way?
“18 - 9!” Coach Beiste calls out the score. “We’re not dropping that ten lead!”
Santana doesn’t run back this time, choosing to grab her and Brittany to speed walk back with a scoffing laugh at Coach Beiste’s worry. “As if we’d expect anything less.” She says before they start to separate. “Quinn!”
She turns at Santana’s call to see the girl point at her cheek. “You’ve got dirt on your nose.”
Brittany bursts out laughing as Quinn hurries to wipe it off her, feeling every bit like Ron Weasley as she does so. But hey, at least they get together in the end.
When the win they match, that’s what really makes her smile.
As of now, this is everything that I have written for this fic.
For everyone who has been avidly waiting for an update - this is for you.
However as of now It's unlikely to be updated until after October due to a writing competition deadline that I've committed to.
Either way, I hope you enjoy this chapter.
Her smile is disappearing by the time her lecturer is handing back her last English paper with a dark ‘C’ circled at the top. Quinn’s stomach drops. She needs a B to keep on playing.
“I can let you hand it in again before your next match and you’ll be fine to play, Miss Fabray.” He says. “There’s a few obvious things you can do to get that grade up.”
She nods. “I’m sorry, I’ll get this to you on Thursday.” A ‘C’, it’s not even that bad for some people but gosh, she made a commitment to keep this up. Santana will kill her if she finds out.
Prof Burrows takes off his glasses with a tired smile. “Don’t wear yourself out. Just remember, you’re a student athlete.”
Quinn laughs depreciatively. “Student comes first, I know.”
She hides the paper in her bag anyway and tells her mom, who calls as she’s heading towards the library, that everything is going great and her classes are -so- much fun. Which feels kind of like lying when she hangs up and goes in search of the three books she needs to use to edit the hell out of this paper. Her mom didn’t really ask about lacrosse, other than to congratulate her on her win, and to ask if practice was getting easier.
There hasn’t been a good time to tell her about Santana yet. That’s probably going to be a Thanksgiving thing.
But her face after reading through the essentials and tediously editing her essay as much as she can in one afternoon still looks a damn sight brighter than Santana’s does come lacrosse practice.
“Just don’t.” Santana blanks her. The only reason she’s not freaking out over Santana’s obvious pissed off mood is because she knows it’s definitely not her fault this time.
Coach Beiste keeps them running for most of the practice so it’s only when they finally stop after two hours to cool down does she collapse next to Mercedes and tries to figure out why Santana has been attempting to returf the field with her crosse.
“What’s going on there?” Quinn pants out, curling forward to touch her toes. “I thought she was going to turn around and clock me one. And not because I overstepped this time. But y’know, because she just needs to hit someone.”
Mercedes rolls her eyes. “Like it’s not enough of a contact sport.”
Santana eventually stops her extra run down the field to start her own stretches. Her angry mood is emphasized even more by the fact she’s doing them as far away from other people as possible. Bar Brittany who slumps with her to stretch Santana’s legs out for her. They look like they exchange some words which Quinn can’t figure out. But the furrow appears on Brittany’s forehead as well and that’s not doing anything to quell her curiosity.
“Has she said anything?” She pulls her leg back on the floor, stretching enough to feel it working.
“She was fine before we started. Then Coach pulled her aside...”
Brittany is standing now. Pulling Santana to her feet and touching her wrist. Intimacy and support. Quinn kind of wishes she was doing that. Not at the same time as Brittany because that reminds her of all the tug of wars she used to lose at her family summer park picnics. Back before homosexuality and divorce totally screwed that over.
“Personally though I think it’s because Coach Beiste mentioned emailing us about our next match.” Mercedes shrugs. “Said we’d get it by tomorrow but judging by the look on Santana’s face she’s already been clued in.”
Brittany wanders towards them looking worried at Santana’s brooding expression as she now cools down from their practice alone.
“What makes you say that?” She asks. There’s a definite swell of anger in her eyes but Mercedes avoids her question, shrugging like she doesn’t know and leaves her with Brittany.
“It’s because it’s St Mary’s.” Brittany lets out once Mercedes is out of earshot.
“What about St Mary’s?” She knows of it. A small catholic college in California that caters to outside ventures such as missionary work. Her father probably would have loved it.
Silence falls on them as the others finish their work outs and begin to pack away their things. All save for Santana who takes one look at the emptying field and heads to the baseline again. When she arrives she starts to run suicides despite having cooled down.
"I think we should go out." Is all Brittany gives to her plea. “Together.”
“What?” Quinn’s throat dries.
Five minutes later, after she's dizzily agreed to take Brittany out to the nearest In-N-Out for food in the desire to know more and possible some form of dance dance revolution, she realizes this is the second time she's been tricked into a faux-date with Brittany.
Quinn splutters while trying to put her earrings in, almost stabbing the side of her face in her rush to say; “No! No, what? No.”
“I’m cool with you being on the down low Fabray.” Lauren actually pauses her game. Woah. “I understand the trials you go through. Mostly because being the only girl on a high school wrestling team gets peoples talking. You know what I’m saying?”
Quinn doesn’t really but that’s mostly because she doesn’t want to imagine Lauren wrestling or being pressed up against anything but a laptop screen. “Um, sure.”
“So don’t feel like you have to hold out on my account.” The game is un-paused. “We’re cool if you need me to call up a place to stay. I have options.”
“Thanks but,” She sighs and runs a comb through her hair, frowning at the undercut a little. “Brittany and I are just friends.”
“Right. You’ve got eyes for the other one. The hot ass hot shot one.”
Quinn blushes. “My lacrosse captain.” She is not talking to Lauren about having a crush on Santana.
A snort comes from behind her. “Oh I see.”
Apparently she might be.
Quinn turns with a short breath. “Santana. And she’s complicated at the moment. Hence why I’m going out with Brittany.”
“Easier to talk to. Right now. About Santana.” Quinn spells it out. “How do I look?” She chances capitalizing on this new found talking thing they’re doing.
Lauren quickly gazes up at her blouse and floral skirt. It’s one of the nicer things she has right now that hasn’t been used to work out in as well. She pulls a thick belt around her waist to finish it off.
“Not so sure about the hair.” Lauren ignores her outfit completely and focuses on something she can’t change yet. And also something she’s had a few weeks to get used to. “Maybe you should dye it.”
Quinn laughs, feeling good about actually conversing with her roommate for once, and takes her purse and jacket. “I’ll see you later.”
Quinn smiles before closing the door. “Very much so.”
It’s a short walk down the stairs and outside to where Brittany is waiting for her. Balancing on the steps, practicing some sort of ballet stance while she doesn’t notice Quinn walking towards her, when she does she snaps out of it. Bounding towards her with a leap.
“Wow.” Brittany grabs her hand when they meet outside her dorm. “You look really pretty.”
She lets herself be spun around just to let Brittany break the ice. Her skirt flips around her and she pushes it down before someone gets more than expected. It’s been a while since she’s wore a skirt. She lived in them in high school. On Cheerios and off.
“So do you.” Brittany is some how pulling off shorts in this colder weather. Knee high socks and boots giving her the warmth that the pants obviously aren’t, topped with an off the shoulder jumper with faded lettering that Quinn makes out to be ‘CARMEL LAX’.
Brittany hasn’t dressed up but she looks a darn sight more comfortable than Quinn feels in almost anything.
“You ready? We don’t want them to give away our table.” Brittany says with a straight face.
“Of course not.” Quinn restrains a smile and hooks her arm through the one Brittany offers. She pulls Quinn closer to her during their exit and Quinn has to wonder how she’s managed to go out with Brittany in a date like setting twice while remaining completely oblivious on Santana’s radar.
The line behind them shuffles uncomfortably as they hold up the order.
Quinn pulls out her own purse and turns to the young girl behind the counter. “It’s okay Britt, I’ve got this.”
Brittany shoves her hands in her pockets in vain, as if her misplaced wallet will appear out of thin air. Like a TARDIS.
She places her change away and puts a hand on Brittany’s shoulder. “You can pay next time?” She teases while the girl starts to load up their order for them. It’s not as much as they would eat after practice or before a game. Which is a bonus really. She needs to cut back on how much she eats out.
Brittany gets over it quickly to jump on Quinn’s words like she senses her train of thought. “I totally put out on third dates.”
She offers a thanks to the counter girl, taking their tray away, leaving Quinn to blink in confusion for a second before the man behind her asks her to get out of the way. Noted.
“You got water right?” Brittany unloads the food. Taking her own diet soda and fries while Quinn picks out straws from the mess.
“Yeah.” She’s been feeling a little off lately and watching Lauren somehow pack in three packets of chips and an entire six pack of sprite in only three hours the other night hasn’t quelled that in her.
They eat. Simply enough. There’s no background Def Leppard this time that Quinn has to block out. Only Brittany’s anecdotes from the week and what Tina said to her the other night on AIM and what Santana’s working on in class. Quinn has to tell Brittany to sit down after asking what her dance class was like last weekend because she gives the teenage boys sitting by the window an accidental show.
It’s nice. And a part of her is glad that Brittany keeps calling it a date because she misses doing things like this. Going out with someone she likes. Even if Brittany isn’t that person. She’s making her feel like she’s the only person in the room and everything is just nice.
Despite the ulterior motive they both have with setting this all up.
“Santana thinks I’m in the library.” Brittany jokes. “Which, like, I don’t even know where the library is?”
“I guess you don’t need to go there a lot though do you?” Quinn smiles.
Winking, Brittany just shrugs. “I usually make S get my books anyway.” She hands Quinn a napkin to wipe her fingers of burger cheese. “Listen, I’m just going to grab a milkshake and we’ll get around to the main event.”
Brittany is already at the counter when Quinn thinks about giving her money for the drink. Though it’s apparently not needed when Brittany glides back, sucking happily on her drink through a straw, leaving several employees staring wistfully after her.
“How do you even do that?” She shakes her head.
“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.” Brittany fiddles with her straw dreamily. “Oh and I found Lincoln in my back pocket.”
That’s lucky, she thinks.
“I managed to calm her down before I left. I think she’s sleeping it off. Or she was when I left her in bed.” Brittany opens so fast that Quinn has to catch up.
Brittany pauses to take a drink. It looks like banana. “Santana. I left her in bed. I thought that’s why you agreed to come out tonight.”
“It is.” Quinn nods. “I was miles away sorry.” She lies. Brittany pushes her drink forward with an unopened straw. “Is she okay? You mentioned that this was because of St Mary’s?”
“She’ll be fine once we play them. It’s the build up that stresses her out.” A shrug. “Yeah, it’s St Mary’s. The catholic college in Moraga.”
“What’s the deal with this team?” Quinn asks curiously. Ignoring the nag she feels at prying. “Did they piss her off? Or push you over or something?”
Brittany smirks at the latter, them both knowing how Santana reacts to someone charging into her. “No. They’re a good team. Sometimes lagging because they don’t have many players.” She stalls for a second and Quinn wonders if it’s really okay for her to be telling her this. Especially since last time they went out together she ended up pissing Santana off.
“And it’s not even the players. There was this girl there that I thought was kind of cute but didn’t call back. Said I wasn’t her type.” Brittany rolls her eyes like she can’t believe this fact. “And they were totally gracious about us dominating the game to no end and everything.”
Quinn has probably seen clips of it on youtube. “If not the players?”
Brittany stares down at the table. “Santana has a problem with their head coach.”
“Sore loser?” Quinn asks but the nervous tick Brittany has, playing with her earring, says otherwise.
The picture is painted. Santana’s last shot flying free and sealing the game. A bench full of ducked heads and another empty because of the team running onto the field in triumph. Mercedes probably hugged the nearest defender to tell them what a good job they did. Erin no doubt ran to the sidelines to jump Coach Beiste.
She can see Brittany’s bright eyes and lighter shoulders. Things aren’t as complicated. She takes out her gum guard and sprints to where Santana is shaking the St Mary’s captain, Abigail’s, hand. They only break away at the sidelines because Brittany grabs her around the waist and lifts her from the ground. We won! Echoes all around.
A shot of adrenalin and something more that hits when Santana gets her footing back. And maybe it wouldn’t pass now, Quinn thinks as Brittany narrates, but kissing her was second nature. Smiling as Santana had to step up on her toes to get there.
Santana gripped at her arms and stared wide eyed and betrayed at the St Mary’s Coach. Betrayal twisted in their stomachs and turned into rage. Hot and sickly anger that she couldn’t let Santana act on even though she felt so hollow and wanted to watch it happen herself.
Coach Beiste pulled them away and shielded them from sight. The journey home left them with a bitter taste where their victory once was.
“She got away with it?” Quinn’s voice breaks. There’s that uncomfortable feeling sinking in her chest. An adult. Someone in a position of responsibility and someone supposed to set an example.
Brittany’s darkened face grimaces. “It was just us then. I mean, you know what we’re like at the end of out games-” She tilts her head referring to their celebrations. “-and I didn’t think anyone would mind if I kissed her. We weren’t together but I just wanted to and Coach Bieste just laughed at us before...and then she got the team to come inside.”
And then that Coach called out to them, slurring their performance and berating her own team for losing to a pair of-
“We’ve reclaimed that term.” Quinn’s voice is hoarse. “Dyke.”
“We can reclaim them all but she still meant it to hurt.” Brittany draws something on the table with her finger. “Santana made me read about all of that. The taking back words like queer. But it doesn’t matter when people still mean to hurt us with them.”
Salt grains stick to her arm when she pushes it across the table to hold Brittany’s hand.
“It doesn’t matter much to me.” Brittany murmurs quietly. “But Santana...she takes it real hard.”
No kidding. The indicators are there. The clenched fists at the end of practice, the anger and the dismissal she gave them. She knows Santana preaches an easy time at Carmel, teachers on their side and star players that were above the usual crap the social hierarchy would have dumped on them otherwise. But even so, it was still Lima. Still Ohio and still there had to be something or some words thrown in their way.
“Sometimes.” Brittany admits. “At the movies or when people saw us holding hands. But people usually backed off quickly because of Santana’s temper.”
“I guess having a lacrosse team behind you helped as well.” Quinn lightens.
It stings knowing that she didn’t have that protection. That detail of security fell to the few. To Sam, to her Mom after the divorce, to Coach Sylvester and to Holly. The Cheerios feared her, but she wasn’t untouchable like she used to be.
“I know it sounds stupid. You sound like you had it way worse and you didn’t even have a Santana-” Brittany pushes her straw around her cup. “-you faced it on your own.”
Quinn swallows. “I had Sam.”
“Sam doesn’t have boobs though.” Brittany deadpans.
“He is however,” Quinn points out. “A good hugger.”
It comes back to her. The feeling of her head against his chest. Long since laced with anything romantic but pressed with a bigger need than before. A need for reassurance. For safety away from the looks in the halls, the ones she couldn’t shrug off the back of her uniform. He’d catch her at the end of the day before she left, bringing her into his arms and taking the strain away.
“Hey McFly.” She’d sigh into him.
“Back to the Future.” He answered.
At first it had been awkward to let herself do this, the wound of her coming out fresh in his mind, but later it became natural. Better.
“I had a Sam.” Quinn replies. “You had a Santana.”
Brittany’s face splits with a wide grin. “They’re pretty awesome aren’t they?”
“What do we need to do? Obviously this woman is going to be there.” Quinn is shuffling her rubbish back onto the tray. “Do we ignore her? Make sure Santana doesn’t go over?”
It’s a tough question. Brittany frowns. “She’s going to be pissed either way. I mean, we can’t just like make the Coach invisible or anything.” There’s a sigh in which Quinn chooses to believe they’ve exhausted this option.
“Then maybe you should say something to her. Or have Coach Beiste do it.” Not the best option. Confrontation never leaves with someone unhurt.
“We did that. Coach got in touch with them after the match and totally reamed her out. But they just emailed back saying that we didn’t have proof of anything and we should be happy that we won in the first place.” Brittany spouts off. “If they’d just asked anyone they could have told them what she said. She wasn’t exactly quiet.”
It hurts to hear it. To imagine the spitting word hitting them in the face when they were at the top, making them crash to the bottom.
“No confrontation then.” She pauses to think. How can they still come out unscathed and anger free when- “The high road it is.”
“I don’t think there is a high road.” Brittany mumbles. “It’s like the ‘I’ road or something.”
“I mean, we need to be the better, bigger people. Santana needs to rise above it. Show that Coach that she’s over what she said and it doesn’t matter because she is proud and happy to be who she is.” Her fingers tap eagerly on the table. “Show her that her prejudice makes her look as ignorant and stupid to everyone as she does to us.”
“If I didn’t know Santana would want to see this first, I would totally kiss you right now.” Brittany stabs her straw into her milkshake, grinning wildly as she sucks the shake up the straw. Okay, she’ll admit that struck her speechless for a second.
“Don’t you mean ‘hear this first’?” She clarifies in confusion.
Brittany leans back with a undetermined shrug. “That too.”
Oh and the fact they had to win even more to rub it in her face.
She’s thinking about the things she’ll have to do when she gets back to her dorm. Hoping Lauren will still be up so she doesn’t have to sneak around on her computer occupies her mind as she walks Brittany up the stairs to her apartment. The halls are quiet and clear.
“I had a good time.” Brittany smirks and flattens the collar of her blouse. “Date or not.”
And she probably would have gotten away with the friend date as well if Brittany hadn’t forgotten her key and knocked on the door to be let in.
Quinn freezes when Santana opens the door, a small smug smirk on her lips that tells her she’s been waiting up for this exact reason.
Brittany, oblivious to the discomfort brought on by everyone knowing what Santana is pleased about, kisses their cheeks before dancing her way into the apartment.
"I'm fine with you two dating y'know." She tells her. "Just get her home at a reasonable hour."
"She told me about St Mary's." Quinn blurts out. Something she’s grown to accept to doing when it comes to implications that she’s dating Brittany. Around Santana especially. "We're not dating."
“Oh.” Is all Santana offers in response. Quinn watches how she crosses her arms over her chest in a defensive gesture. Curling away from the name of the school and wallowing in the memory of it.
“I can’t say I understand because I’ve never encountered something like that, at least from an adult, that I didn’t have my Mom to back me up with.” Quinn kicks her foot against the floor. “But if you need to talk about it, I’m here.”
Santana stiffly nods. “I think you could understand.” She looks up at Quinn. “There’s no telling that the same thing won’t happen when we play them again, and whether you’re directly involved or not? It includes you.”
It’s a push to her. A note that she should start to think about understanding. To think about the world’s view on her and others like her. About the minor politics of it and the major ones. And she’s got a feeling that Santana isn’t just talking about the President’s stance on gay marriage.
“Okay.” She can do that. “I’m gonna-” She points behind her.
“Right.” Santana looks down her hall as if she expects to see someone else. “Do you want me to walk you out?”
"No, I’m alright. It’s not too dark out yet." Quinn smiles. “Night Santana.”
"Night." Santana stays outside as makes her way down the hall. "Oh and Sweets?"
She expects maybe some comment about walking home safe or something but Santana's words make her flush terribly. "Yeah?"
"Sex isn't dating."
"..." Quinn's face burns in a rash like heat and all she can do is nod and wipe at the place Brittany's lips touched. "Noted."
It’s after all of that, while everyone is still running through passing drills that Santana and Brittany pull each other to the side. This time when they do it they both throw a disgusted look over to the other team, daring them to pull anything to interrupt their time together.
Maybe she shouldn’t watch but they’re fascinating. Sometimes she feels like being around them is only just scratching the surface of what they are to each other. She doesn’t want to scratch the first layer forever and never understand them. This is her understanding.
Santana turns her palms up while Brittany holds them. They stare down at them as if they’ll tell them something different from the last time they did this. Brittany smiles and trails a finger down the center of Santana’s left hand. They both laugh when Brittany pulls a face, and then exchange. Santana stares down at her hands, hard and unbroken, until she’s staring down so much that their foreheads bump together.
Her heart jumps thinking something else is going to happen, just to make a statement, but they don’t move. Just touch like statues sculpted that way. Santana’s mouth moves and though she can’t hear a word being uttered her closed eyes and Brittany’s silence make it look like she’s praying.
“Somethings just don’t change.” Mercedes sneers. For a second she thinks she’s talking about them, but her eyes move past Santana and Brittany to the tight lipped and tighter hair bun sporting figure in the back that watches them with a revulsion that Quinn has never seen aimed at her. One that just might by the end of it all.
Beiste had ushered them onto the field after they’d gotten changed. It hadn’t been tense exactly, but there hadn’t been any of the cocky confidence in the air like the previous match. Santana had quietly changed next to Mercedes while she and Brittany stared over in worry. Quinn had expected the other team to reflect their coach’s apparent view, but they’d smiled over and shook their hands before retreating to their side of the field, genuinely happy to see them here. Looking forward to the game.
Their captain, Abigail, shook Santana’s hand strongly and touched her shoulder. Wishing her luck and whispering something else that made Santana, for just a second, relax.
She steels herself with a nod to Mercedes and walks across to the girls to get ready for play.
“Team is getting ready for the talk.” She breaks.
Santana shrugs and her contact with Brittany is distanced. “Don’t think we needs one this time.” She looks past Quinn and like everything to do with this match, Quinn is left feeling out of the loop. “They know what we’ll be running. And there’s no doubt that we’re winning this game.”
Unspoken threats of ‘or else’ hang in the air. It makes her uncomfortable for the first time. As Brittany purses her lips unhappily and passes them on her way to her position, Quinn catches Santana by the arm.
“Hey.” Santana stares up at her. “You know I talked to Brittany, and I know why this is a personal grudge for you but Mercedes? Coach Beiste?”
All of the girls and their coach, and even some of their close supporters in the stands have hard stares fixed on their faces. “I know you need to win this but is everyone getting angry at the other team for something their coach did right?”
Santana grits her teeth into her new gum shield to get used to it. Her face scrunches up in anger as she tenses her jaw before she pops it out. “This was never going to be just personal for one person on this team or against one person on theirs. I may like Abigail and respect her team, but it’s all of us or nothing.”
St Mary’s Coach keeps glancing over at them, and their closeness, with the hint of a sneer that turns Santana’s tone venomous.
“You said you wanted to understand so here’s your shot. How many openly gay players, on any women’s or men’s sports in college, apart from me and B, have you heard about?”
She’d only managed to find a handful of stories about openly gay college players after her talk with Brittany had gotten her thinking about gay sports men and women. Less than that when the search was refined to lacrosse players. Even then they’d all been men.
Words and commentary on how brave those that are out were written about in the main parts of the articles. Emphasizing the choice they’ve made and indirectly placing future rejections or mishaps on this one revelation.
She’d found mentions of Santana and Brittany there as well but most of the articles had been surrounding their playing, their talents and how they’ve always been best friends. The two or three that brought the fact they were dating into it had mentioned it as a side note. Something easily missed. Something the people in Lima could overlook in their small minded perspective. As long as they won.
Quinn knows that Santana’s dream isn’t to go pro but her words about the lack of ‘out’ players bring the attention to the fact that she’d probably be scrutinized more for her sexuality if she did decide to. Most career athletes wait until retirement to come out.
“So I don’t think you need to ask me again why I want to win this match more than any other.” Santana bares down on her. Seeking to find the fire in her chest in Quinn. The burning of discrimination and unfairness.
Brittany’s jaw is set as the coach in question, with her hands on her hips, glares in their direction. She probably doesn’t know enough to link Quinn in with Santana and Brittany, but the look says enough.
“Don’t shut me out.”
She’s felt it over the last few days after her date with Brittany. In hope she thought it had been a jealous thing but it’s so much more now that she’s saying it out loud. Santana trying to distance herself away from Quinn so she wouldn’t have to deal with this like they have.
Except she wants the opposite of that. In every way.
St Mary’s Coach watches them with a morbid curiosity and just like that Quinn’s been brought in.
Santana’s eyes brighten from behind her goggles. With a sigh she slumps away some tension in her shoulders. “Kind of impossible now that you’re here.”
She backs away with her hand over her heart. Using her other hand, holding her crosse, to point at Quinn. Solidifying the gesture.
The hand stays there as they take their places and only falls when the first whistle is blown.
It stays with her as they start to play. Imagining the confrontation between the Cheerios and herself differently; if Sue had been on their side. If she’d been kicked off to the tune of Sylvester declaring that she couldn’t have a ‘lesbian’ leading her squad.
The humiliation of having to wait behind in gym class to change, not by choice but mandatory due to a parent complaining. Burning as she would have been made to wait outside.
But even then it’s not enough to compare herself.
Santana pushes herself. Tossing and weaving and sprinting faster and quicker into the game than the rest. In a blink they’re four up. The ball has barely seen her crosse, while Santana’s feet have barely stilled on the ground. There’s no telling how long this energy will last.
Quinn makes up her lack of attention by swinging through a pass to Brittany on the next offense. Santana is kept out of the play as she comes up against a defender, yet Brittany puts another away regardless. It scares her how Santana seems almost angry that she wasn’t caught up in that.
“Good job.” Quinn slaps Brittany’s palm. Shaking her head at Santana who just makes her way to the starting line again.
Maybe she doesn’t have the whole story. Maybe she’s not imagining the situation hard enough.
Brittany kissed her. Kissed her on the field after a game which they won, only to have their high shot down by the opposing Coach. Verbally harassed by someone they couldn’t face off against because of their age, their school and their team.
Quinn whips her head around as the ball flies towards her. It’s tough to catch and her knee aches as she manages to change direction. Brittany trails behind her and she flips the ball to her as a defender gets in her way. It’s a quick switch as Brittany gives it straight back as she frees herself.
Oh. That’s it.
A groan goes through the crowd as the keeper manages to block her shot.
Santana’s shout can be heard from behind her but Quinn finally gets it a little better.
It’s hard enough to listen to someone degrade you, call you something hurtful, direct it at the person you love but even more so when Santana knew that Brittany’s affection was purely innocent. That they weren’t, and were not planning on, ever being together like that again. Moving on one day at a time, one slip up at a time, to be hit and reminded. Not just of her feelings but of how she couldn’t-
“Shoot through her shins if you have to!” Santana yells. And grasping her crosse tighter, she thinks she just might the next time around.
Their offense is solid and Mercedes and Beiste direct their defense perfectly. The more they score the worse the scowl on the Coach’s face gets. Darker and deeper until she’s no longer just stewing in her own rage but screaming at the field. Her players shake and miss and let easy things pass. It’s not their fault, Quinn can see, Abigail is still calling plays and defending Santana as best she can but it’s not going to be enough for this game. And her words as a captain aren’t as powerful as that of their Coach.
“2-3-1!” Santana calls out, charging ahead with Quinn following. Ginger, Erin and Brittany fall down with them. The ball being flung about them with no hope for St Mary’s to intercept them. Santana has scored before Abigail can even catch up with her.
“Santana! Slow it down!” Beiste calls out to her as they set up again. “You’re burning out faster than a piece of dynamite string in a Looney Tunes cartoon!”
Even Brittany gives her a strange look at that one. Quinn has long given up asking whether she prepares her lines in advance.
The remark is waved off by everyone, including Santana, as her speed and repressed anger is winning them the game so far.
It’s ignored until St Mary’s Coach blasts a stream of words at Santana for tapping her crosse under a defender’s crosse and freeing the ball to the ground. The referee calls a time out as one of the girls on St Mary’s team bursts into tears from the constant shouting.
With all of the warning that a serial killer may give before snapping Santana stabs her crosse to the ground and hurtles herself towards the sidelines.
Bile actually rises in her mouth as she and Brittany plough into Santana’s path and tackle around her waist. She doesn’t fall but Quinn latches her arms around her waist from behind while Brittany pushes her back from her front. She’s not sure if Santana is charging because of her biased hate to the woman or because she just reduced someone to tears.
“it’s not worth it. Not worth it!” Brittany hisses and shoves at Santana’s chest. “Back, back!”
Quinn lurches up and lifts Santana off her feet, pulling them both back toward her fallen cross. The people paying attention to them stop holding their breath while the the oblivious referee continues to talk to the Coach and the crying girl.
“The last thing we need is for you to get sent off.” Quinn adds to Brittany’s forceful glare and pressing hand on Santana’s collar.
She’s seething, huffing so much that her chest rises and falls rapidly until Brittany takes her hand of just enough to let Quinn know she’s calming. Santana relaxes into her hold and it gets to the point where she’s not sure if she’s keeping her arms around Santana’s waist for her own good or own need.
“Okay.” Santana looks back at her and touches Quinn’s locked hands on her stomach. “I’m alright.”
A small part of her is taking the high road, even if its because Brittany and Quinn are steering her there.
She lets go. Albeit a little reluctantly until Santana picks up her crosse and tangles her other hand in the back of Quinn’s hair. “Thanks.” Ruffling her fingers there as the referee whistles for play to restart again.
“Thank me when we win.” Quinn sighs and moves away. Hoping that Santana will figure the rest of this out before she accidentally kills someone.
Not even winning the match can take that view out of Santana’s mind. Not even being named as MVP for the game, after an almost dangerous offense pulled through for them in the last few minutes, sending both Santana and the ball sprawling into the goal, can take it out.
Like a coin Quinn is tossed from passivity to rigidly clenching her fists at this woman. Who has no idea what they’ve all been through. Who doesn’t know them at all. Their lives or their experiences. Who just chooses to judge and belittle them because of one aspect of their beings.
Definitely not the content of their character.
It’s why she doesn’t feel her usual self-consciousness when she walks to Santana’s side and laces their fingers together. She can feel Santana’s surprise in how she doesn’t immediately curl their fingers together but it happens. Just as the dark expression on St Mary’s coach grows.
‘Screw you.’ Quinn thinks holding on tighter.
Santana squeezes back. “Thanks.”
She’s surprised until she remembers telling her to thank her after they won instead of for stopping her from ripping some one’s head off.
“Everything okay now? Or do I have to call in my Mafia contacts?”
Santana gives a single laugh. It sounds more like a sigh, defeated and tired, but happy to have this over with. “I think Brittany has that covered.”
“Let me guess.” Quinn can feel all of the bones in her body tremble as she braves lacing their fingers together as causally as possible. “Her cat is the boss?”
A split silence falls as the air around them continues to cheer over their win. Their team shaking hands with the other team whilst avoiding their Coach. Brittany dancing on over to Mercedes and Abigail smiling at them.
Yet Santana doesn’t shake her off and instead just looks down at their joined hands with a curiously raised eyebrow. Quinn flushes but doesn’t react otherwise. It’s not a big deal, she tells herself, it’s not, it’s not. Her teeth biting into her cheek says otherwise, where Santana can’t see.
“That fucker is scary as hell.” Santana’s thumb brushes her hand as it settles. “If it sat on my chest my lungs would probably collapse.”
It’s then that Quinn realizes that she hadn’t really prepared to continue a conversation further than the hand holding so all she can do is smile at the image of Brittany’s cat cutting off Santana’s oxygen supply.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t then?”
“Worried about pussy killing me?”
Quinn stops and Santana tugs her forward, emphasizing more that they’re holding hands. Holding hands. “You said it. I had nothing in that.”
Santana scoffs and cracks a smile for the first time since before the game. “You wish you had something in this though right?”
It feels good to leave it there. Hands swinging by as they’re swarmed by the rest of the team. “You guys!” Brittany squeals, hugging them both at the same time. Blocking out the sight of the other Coach is so much easier when she’s surrounded by people that care about her.
They don’t see the Coach again. Shuffling off the field into the changing rooms and into the showers. She only realizes Santana has let go of her hand when they reach the bus again and she’s stopping Quinn getting on.
“You already said that.”
“Brittany told me what you thought I needed to do today.” Santana informs. “And while there’s no doubt in my mind ripping into that woman would have made my day so much better-”
Quinn punches Santana’s arm.
“-It wouldn’t have made me feel better in the long run.” Santana nods. “So, thanks.”
“Just keep in mind that you owe me now.” Quinn steps onto the bus looking back at Santana. “You’re ass is mine.”
The scoff Santana lets out is totally worth the blush she wear all the way home.
She flicks back through the edited essay she handed back in to her English professor with a wistful sigh. “It’s nothing. Just a disappointing grade.”
“Anything serious?” Mercedes stirs her drink looking over at the papers. “I don’t know much about English but isn’t there supposed to be no wrong answers?”
“There is if you’re not getting your point across or if you haven’t read widely.” Quinn rests her hands on top of it, and the amended ‘B-’, to get her coffee. “I fell behind on my reading.”
“You told Santana yet?” Mercedes asks.
The hot drink burns. “Working on that part.” She’s been working on it since she arrived at the start of Santana’s shift about two hours ago. Wasting time reading up on her Spanish class readings whilst drinking her way through the Starbucks menu. What she can afford of it anyway.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to admit to Santana that she’s fallen behind. She just doesn’t want the girl to bar her from practice or anything.
“Well the longer you sit there the longer Santana is going to be pissed.”
“Wait you think she’ll be pissed?”
“You think she won’t be?”
“I was hoping to bribe her into letting me play despite my floundering paper.” Quinn deflates.
Mercedes gives her a sympathetic look. “I’m sure she won’t be pissed, but better to tell her now than her finding out from Coach Beiste later.”
Quinn stares into her cup of coffee and promises to come back to finish it off. “Alright. I’ll be right back.”
Self-consciously she runs a hand through her hair. It’s starting to grow again but it’ll be along time before Brittany’s make-shift undercut recovers. She’s not even sure she wants it to. It’s grown on her.
Santana nods her head along to the music they’re playing around the shop as Quinn joins the line behind a few men deciding on which brownie to take to work. By the time she reaches Santana her nerves are almost fleeing from her again. It’s too late to back out though as Santana spots her and pounces. Probably happy to have a distraction from work.
“What can I get you?” She sighs out.
“Nothing.” Quinn doesn’t mean to be unhelpful, she’s just forgotten how she planned to start this conversation in her head, is all.
“Pretend you are,” Santana raises her voice to that of an acceptable and adequately working employee. “-can I interest you in any of our pumpkin flavoured things?”
Quinn looks at her strangely. “Pumpkin? No, I need to tell you about my-”
“Bagels?” Santana moves her down the line. “Tell me about what?”
Quinn rummages through her pocket and comes up with five dollars. “Everything with cheese, but can you listen?”
Santana grabs one of the New York style bagels and proceeds to prepare it. “Whats the problem? Wheezy boring you to death? Or are you finally leaving because this is no place to study?”
Quinn leans on the counter. Bracing herself and hoping that the distance between them is enough for Santana not to maul her. “I got a B minus on my last paper, one that I’d already repeated.”
“You’re failing?” Santana states blankly.
“No. I’m not failing.” She denies quickly.
“You’re almost failing by team standards.” Santana takes a dishcloth out and wipes at the counter. “Sweets why didn’t you say anything?”
Disappointment laces her words heavily.
“I’ve been sat her all morning thinking about how to tell you.”
“Not today, I meant before this. When you actually got the grade.” Santana places a plate in front of her with a napkin, ready for the bagel. “I know a lot of crap was going on last week because of St Mary’s but don’t put this off. The last thing we need is for you to fail.”
An echo of her previous concerns a few weeks ago when they worked on her presentations.
“I can handle it, I just...” Quinn resigns herself to admitting it. “I’m not used to handling it alone.”
In comparison she’s doing better than ever on her own. Focused and working just not at her usual pace as she did in high school. But in high school she had Sam and Kurt and Holly and Friday after school study sessions and the boredom of Lima driving her to the library.
She misses being a total nerd in a small pool of people that really weren’t. Now she’s in a bigger pool with a larger number of nerds.
“What about that study group you have on the weekends?” Santana remembers. Despite the overwhelming upset she feels about letting her down she stupidly holds onto this fact like Kurt holds onto any boy who remembers his coffee order. “I secretly thought it was lame but-”
“It’s more of a discussion group.” Quinn shrugs. “Karen and I usually work a bit more but it’s more that I haven’t had time to do a lot of reading.”
“Between classes and practice and games and everything else-”
Quinn keeps deflating. “I’m having a hard time concentrating in my dorm now that Lauren has picked up Modern Warfare six or something.”
Santana passes her bagel to her. Still looking thoughtful and not altogether impressed with Quinn’s reluctance to inform her of the situation.
“How much have you got to do for this week?”
“About five hours or so.” Quinn admits. “Not as much as before but.”
“I have to sit you out of practice.”
“What?” Her heart drops. “Santana-”
“It’s that or you sit out of a game.” Santana states firmly. “You think I want to do this? As much as last year was the Santana and Brittany score-a-thon we’ve kind of gotten used to having someone else to rely on to shoot.”
“What if I get the readings done before then?” Quinn panics. She can’t sit out of this.
“I’ll talk to Coach Beiste but I can’t promise anything.” Santana looks to the few people that are making their way to join the back of the line again. “Look, do your readings and focus on them. Forget about training until Beiste lets you know.”
It’s hopeless until then. “What about my scholarship?”
“We’re not kicking you out.” Santana points out. “This is a temporary ban until you get your grade up.”
Student athlete or not, it’s staring defeat in the face of Santana Lopez that makes her wish it was the other way around.
“Enjoy your bagel.”
Quinn is taking a huge breath after finishing her rant when Lauren slips out her headphones and asks how was her day.
She hadn’t heard a thing.
“Just. Damn. Peachy.”
It’s not worth it.
Mercedes gave her a sympathetic look from the ground when Quinn turned up to sit in the stands. Santana had rolled her eyes, unimpressed but understanding. Brittany kept trying to get her to join in.
Every time she wishes she could her mind reminds her unkindly that she brought this on herself. The fate of her playing at all rested in the books in her bag and she just neglected that. She shouldn’t even be feeling hard done by, the Cheerios operated by the same system.
‘The Cheerios,’ Quinn sighs. ‘Weren’t riding on me passing anything harder than high school though.’
It gets hard to watch the girls practice, and even harder not to just openly stare at Santana in those short shorts, so she focuses on Coach Beiste. Looking between the field and her clipboard and checking off the drills and the plays they’re going over. It occurs to her how much she’s missing just by missing one practice.
The pause between Coach acknowledging her and speaking barely gives her a second to really process them.
“I won’t be swayed on this Fabray.” Beiste places a knee up on the stands to steady herself. “I know college is hard and I can’t have anyone on this team fallin’ behind. We’re winners, on and off the field.”
The anchor in her stomach falls.
“You’re barred from practice until you catch up and you’re lecturers get in contact with me.” Coach keeps the bad news coming. “You can come sit in the stands all you want but I can tell you now, it’s not going to make you feel better.”
“For how long?” Quinn manages.
“However long it takes.” Coach sighs herself. “I don’t wanna do it Fabray, but someone has to.”
It takes all of her willpower to keep her mouth shut and nod in agreement. “Okay, I’ll work hard and I’ll get this done and back-”
“I don’t doubt it. And I don’t doubt this won’t happen again-” At Quinn’s attempt to protest she shakes her head. “It happens to everyone. You just gotta remember that you don’t have to do it all by yourself.”
Quinn stares at her back as she steps down.
“It’s called a team for a reason Fabray.”
“She told me what she was going to do.” Santana sits next to her a few minutes later, now dressed in jeans and a warm sweater, and an equally frosty expression. Quinn hasn’t moved since Coach Beiste left.
“What about the next match?” Quinn looks up. “There’s no way I can let you guys pull someone up from the seconds team.”
“No shit Sherlock.” Santana scoffs. “Which is why we’re going to plan B.”
She slaps Quinn’s knee and is walking down the stands before Quinn even manages to look up out of her little depression. “Wait-”
Okay maybe she was staring at Santana’s ass instead.
“There’s a plan B?”