Quinn spends a lot of that summer in the water.
She would never come right out and say that she’s trying to wash herself clean, baptize herself in this new life she’s embracing, but sometimes, after she’s been in the water for hours, she spreads her hands wide and stares at her palms, wondering if she can see her future in the damp bumps and ridges, gone soft from too much damp. Her hands are empty, and when she presses her right thumb into the fleshy bit at the base of her left thumb, her skin is soft and gives easily beneath her nail.
There’s no blood, she doesn’t press hard enough for that, but sometimes she thinks she should be stained.
Quinn doesn’t spend the summer swimming alone.
Santana has a pool. Mercedes has a pool. Puck always knows which families with pools are out of town, even if his pool cleaning business isn’t quite the same now that he’s not also sleeping with the desperate housewives on the side like some sort of bad prime time soap opera. (It’s not Lauren who put a stop to that, either. Puck did that all on his own. Quinn would be proud of him, except that would mean thinking about him too much, and ever since sophomore year, she just can’t.)
They don’t just bask in chlorinated water, though. Lauren has a favorite swimming hole, and she doesn’t even grumble too much the first time Tina brings a bunch of them with her.
And somehow, late in July, with football two-a-days looming in August for the guys and Quinn, Santana, and Brittany trying not to think about how Cheerios will be starting soon, without them – without Quinn, who needs that scholarship so much -- when the temperatures have been in the nineties, they decide the best thing to do is go camping. All of them. The current William McKinley High School glee club members, plus alumni (Matt Rutherford is in town) and guest (Blaine Anderson’s family is out of town and he’s lonely and bored).
Quinn’s surprised they all end up going. It starts as Tina, Mike, and Matt planning a little adventure to celebrate Matt’s visit. Then Tina invites Lauren, because they became friends, sort of in the background to all the rest of the drama last year, and that means Puck, who still follows after her like a puppy dog. Puck invites Artie, because apparently the two of them are “bros” now. (She really doesn’t want to know what “waffles” is a euphemism for.)
She’s not planning on going until Brittany climbs right into her lap, loops her arms around Quinn’s neck, and asks her to please come play. If Brittany’s going, Santana’s going, and actually, that’s enough to make Quinn go, too, because she’s pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before Lauren and Santana throw down again, and Quinn does not want to miss that.
She doesn’t expect anyone else to come. Kurt and Mercedes don’t have any interest in camping. If Sam’s girl isn’t going – and the fact that they think they’re keeping that a secret makes Quinn grin – he sure doesn’t plan on camping with two of his ex-girlfriends, especially if that means giving up Mercedes kisses for a week. Rachel is already deep in preparation for sectionals, which means she’s dragging Finn into rehearsals too, certain they’ll get all the competition solos and duets yet again. And Blaine’s, you know, that guy Kurt’s dating who sometimes shows up at parties or the pool.
But it turns out Sam loves camping. Loves it and wants to share it with his girl. Quinn knows how sweet and charming he can be, but she’s surprised Mercedes lets him get to her. Once Mercedes is in, Kurt is too – Aw hell to the no, I watch horror movies, I know the black characters die first, no way I’m going without my bff. -- and if Kurt is, so is Blaine. Blaine who is thrilled, because he used to camp with his dad all the time, and he misses it, and there’s more going on there than Quinn knows.
Quinn’s the one who invites Rachel, and by proxy, Finn. She’s not sure why she does it, except once she realizes everyone else is going, she thinks a lot about how Rachel wants friends so badly, and what it’s like to be the outsider, and how annoying Rachel is, and how she takes over everything, and how she tries way too hard. She thinks about Prom and the sting of Rachel’s cheek against her hand and how she feels when she sees Rachel and Finn together. (Strangely, not that bad.)
“Seriously, Q? When did you start doing charity work?” Santana snarks when Quinn tells the others she’s inviting Rachel.
“She’s so damn bossy,” Lauren grumbles, resting her cheek on her hand. They’re sitting around outside Dairy Queen, ice cream melting fast in front of them, planning the trip.
“You like bossy.” Puck steals a bite of her chocolate and peppermint concoction.
“I like being bossy, because I’m always right. There’s a difference.” This time, he tries to steal a kiss, but she bumps him away.
“Look, this has turned into a glee club camping trip.” Quinn glances at Blaine. “Glee club plus. It’s not fair if we leave her out.”
“Since when do you care about fair?” But there’s no real bite to Santana’s words.
“Rachel sings good songs,” Brittany says, slipping her arm around Quinn’s waist. She’s been like that ever since New York, touching Quinn whenever she can. Every time, Quinn considers pushing her away. Every time she lets it go.
“So she tells us, frequently.” Kurt rolls his eyes.
“Maybe she’ll sing me a song about camping.” Brittany puts her chin on Quinn’s shoulder. Her breath stirs the hair tucked behind Quinn’s ear.
“Maybe,” Quinn allows, her voice soft. “Anyway, they’ll be here any second, so get all this out of your system now, because we’re a team and we’re going to support each other. We are not going to let all our drama ruin our last year together, we are going to win at sectionals, and regionals, and we are going to win at nationals. I want the damn trophy, and the only way for us to get it is to act like a team, so that is what we are going to do.”
She wants more than that, she wants to feel like a winner again, but that's better left unsaid.
After a second, Quinn realizes everyone is staring at her.
“What?” she asks, and it’s not quite the snap of her old self, but it’s close.
“You’re hot when you’re bossy,” Brittany says and squeezes her tight.
Lauren nods. “She’s right. Makes me wish I could go gay for you, LC.” Quinn rolls her eyes at the nickname – it no longer causes fear-nausea to pitch through her stomach, and she thinks that’s why Lauren was so adamant about using it, to make her face her crap – but the corner of her mouth turns up into a smile, too.
That’s when Rachel and Finn walk up, while everyone is laughing and teasing Quinn, and Quinn is almost smiling.
Rachel’s mouth trembles a little when she sees everyone together without her, but she keeps smiling. Quinn looks up at her, with Finn looming behind, his hands on Rachel’s shoulders, and she realizes it doesn’t hurt at all to see them together. She still wants to be loved, she does, doesn’t she deserve that, but she doesn’t want it from him.
“We’re going camping,” Quinn says, careful to keep to group terms that encompass everyone. “You in?”
Rachel’s smile grows and grows, and it’s not going to matter whether Finn wants to go or not.
There’s a bit of a scramble to get all their equipment together. They’re not going on some long hike into the middle of nowhere – even if disappearing like that for awhile sounds good to Quinn, no way all their parents will go for it, and that's not easily done with Artie, which isn't fair to him – but they still need tents and campfire stuff and cooking gear and other stuff Quinn would never have thought about.
Tents: Mr. Hummel has three ancient two-person tents, so Kurt and Mercedes, Finn and Blaine, and Artie are set (even though everyone knows that’s not how they’ll really split up). (Quinn is surprised no one got rid of them during the big Hudson-Hummel moving extravaganza last year, though she guesses they were distracted by other things, like the horrific bullying that goes on at McKinley; she feels guilty, sometimes -- often -- for the part she had to play in creating a culture of fear.) Same For Tina and Lauren and Mike, Matt, and Puck, because Tina and Lauren each have big tents, so they’ll “loan one to the boys.” (Right. Though it’s not really clear where Matt will end up. Quinn briefly wonders if he ever feels like a third wheel when he comes back to visit now.) Santana’s parents buy her and Brittany a huge tent, and there’s no question that’s where Quinn is staying, too. Brittany just puts her foot down. Sam’s family sold their camping gear, and even though both his parents have found part-time work again, there’s not a lot of extra money. As it is, Sam’s torn about quitting work two weeks early, but he can’t work during football season anyway. Everyone chips in, and they find a good sale, and Sam has a little tent of his own. (How Mercedes and Sam plan to keep it a secret without bringing another tent just for her, Quinn can’t wait to see. Mostly, though, she hopes they come clean.
That’s why she drags a chair over by Mercedes on one of their last days by the pool before they take off.
“You know,” she says, her voice low, her eyes hidden behind big sunglasses, “we’re going to be happy for you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” but her voice shakes hard.
“I know. But we will.” And she settles back to sip iced tea and share fashion magazines with Mercedes.)
Sleeping bags: Somehow, they end up with twenty different sleeping bags. Who knew?
Supplies and food: Everyone brings their favorite snacks, and those who camp a lot – Tina and Matt and Sam – make sure they have all the equipment they need and actual food that will sustain them. (When Tina suggests everyone bring wet wipes as well as toilet paper, Quinn almost changes her mind about going.)
Everything else: “Leave your make-up behind,” Tina says, and if even Tina is going bare faced, no one else really has any reason not to. “Lots of bug spray,” Matt recommends. “We’ve got the alcohol covered.” Puck fistbumps Lauren, who rolls her eyes, but doesn’t leave him hanging. “Campfire songs!” Rachel beams. “If you bring a bedazzled microphone, I will personally shoved it down your throat.” But not even Santana can work up real anger when they’re all packing worn clothes and bathing suits, lethargic in the heat.
Finally they pile into a few cars, the trunks loaded with tents and bags of stuff and coolers for ice. Even though it’s hot, they all roll the windows down and turn the music up. Quinn rides with Brittany and Santana, stretched out in the backseat, her feet up in one window. The wind catches her hair and splays it across her cheek. She’s kept it short, cutting it back as it grows out; there’s something pleasing about the way it softens her face, and it removes any possibility of the tight, controlled Cheerios pony.
They drive up into Michigan to camp. It’s a big campground, but they find some space away from everyone else. There’s so many of them they spill across a couple of small campsites, but they agree to set up most of the tents in one and all the chairs and cooking gear in the other, plus the last two tents.
The sun is setting by the time they get all the tents set up. There’s a gas station nearby, so Puck and Lauren take his truck for a quick supply run, coming back with bags of ice and cold sodas for everyone. While they’re gone, Sam and Matt start a fire, and everyone sits around them, watching or quietly talking or just stretching their legs after the drive and then setup.
Quinn’s wearing worn jean shorts and a long tank top that covers her stomach. She folds her arms across it lightly and stretches out her legs, pointing her toes toward what will be the fire. Suddenly she’s got a lap full of Brittany.
“Braid my hair?” She has two ponytail holders and a sweet smile. Quinn can’t say no to her. Well, she could – she could tear into her until Brittany is in tears – but most of her doesn’t want to be that person anymore. The rest of her, the little bit left that does love being queen bee and bitch of the year, is just going to have to deal.
Quinn nudges Brittany until she’s sitting on the ground between her feet. “Do you have a comb?” she asks.
“Here.” Santana hands over a small travel brush, and then pulls a chair closer. She brings three wine coolers with her, too – sour apple for Brittany, watermelon for Quinn, and fruit punch for herself – and cracks them open one by one.
Quinn hesitates. She’s never been a big fan of wine coolers, they’re so sweet, and she likes them even less after what happened with Puck sophomore year. Santana rolls her eyes when she sees Quinn eyeing it and instead tucks it into the cup holder of Quinn’s camp chair.
Brittany takes a big gulp of hers and then tilts her head back toward Quinn, spreading her hair across Quinn’s thighs. It’s thick and heavy and slick, and it tickles whenever Brittany shifts her weight and it slides along Quinn’s bare skin.
She slips her fingers into it, carefully creating a perfect part down the center and gathering into two even sections. She twists a ponytail holder around one to keep it out of the way and starts to run the brush through the other.
“That feels nice.” Brittany gives a breathy little moan and slumps against her a little, not enough to stop Quinn from brushing her hair, but her body is warm and soft against Quinn’s legs, and Quinn’s hands momentarily still.
Santana eyes her over her bottle, giving her a knowing look, and Quinn is glad for the darkness that hides the flush of her cheeks.
By the time Puck and Lauren get back, Sam and Matt have the fire going. Quinn’s still brushing through the second piece of Brittany’s hair, the other in a perfect braid. Santana keeps all three of them supplied with wine coolers, though Quinn drinks hers slow.
“Hot dogs for everyone!” Blaine chirps, passing out long, slender sticks he’s cleaned of leaves and debris.
“You would be a sausage man,” Santana says, sliding her hand along her stick suggestively, and Blaine ducks his head even as he laughs. Kurt covers his face with one hand, but he’s smiling a little, the corner of his mouth turned up.
Matt’s really good at cooking hot dogs on sticks. Quinn’s not sure why, but Brittany is, too, surprisingly patient as she turns and turns so they evenly cook. Puck shoves his straight into the flame and doesn’t pull them out until they’re black – the first one is inedible and he tosses it back into the fire and tries again.
After dinner – hot dogs and watermelon chopped into messy chunks, the juice smeared on their fingers and faces – everyone settles back with drinks, a lot alcoholic, but after the fiasco of their Alcohol Awareness Week concert, they’re careful to drink plenty of water between drinks, too.
That first night, they’re mostly quiet, tired and a little uncomfortable, too much dramatic history still sneaking between them now that they’re truly alone together, all of them, more or less trapped. They could live, drive away, but it’d take a lot of tearing down and packing the cars and still no one would be able to be fully alone.
After awhile, people start drifting off. It’s no big deal, really. Mercedes tosses her empty wine cooler into the trash bag and gets up. She wavers a little, but doesn’t look drunk, exactly, more like nervous. Quinn leans forward, which presses her against Brittany.
If anyone says something that upsets Mercedes, Quinn will take a break from learning to be nice and end them.
But nothing happens. Mercedes shares a little grin with Sam, kisses Kurt’s cheek, and heads off to Sam’s tent. Kurt doesn’t look surprised; Quinn expected him to know, though it hurts her a little to think Mercedes wasn’t comfortable opening up to her, too. They’d grown so close sophomore year.
Of course, it’s Quinn’s fault that went away.
Next to her, Santana takes a deep breath. Quinn’s sure she’s about to say something, and without looking, snaps out her hand and grabs Santana’s wrist. That breath comes back out in a low laugh, and she leans closer.
“If you like it rough,” she murmurs into Quinn’s ear, her breath stirring Quinn’s short hair, “you just had to say something.”
Quinn blushes again, but just squeezes harder, because a little bit of innuendo isn’t enough to stop her from protecting her friends.
In the tent, they change into sleeping clothes. Quinn slips off her bra without taking off her tank top and exchanges her jean shorts for soft cotton shorts. Santana’s wearing something similar. Brittany, though, is in a silky tank top and tap pants, and her legs look amazing.
Santana catches Quinn looking and raises her eyebrows, a smirk twisting her mouth.
“She’s a cuddler,” Santana warns. Promises. It’s impossible for Quinn to tell, and she is one of the people who can read Santana best, not because they are such good friends so much as because Quinn learned young how to watch cruel, beautiful people for a warning of when that cruelty would explode.
Becoming one of them didn’t change that.
She doesn’t expect to sleep well, not surrounded by the glee club and in the not-so-great outdoors – bugs and humidity and heat -- but she does, on her side facing the wall of the tent. She sleeps deeply, and she sleeps dreamlessly. It may not be the best sleep she’s had in years, but it’s close.
When Quinn wakes the first time, sometime before sunrise, Brittany’s hair is draped over her, and Brittany is curled against her, face nuzzled up against the back of her neck, one arm resting loosely over Quinn’s waist, her hand splayed across her stomach.
Quinn stiffens and tries to pull away, but Brittany is all arms and all legs – and all hair, slick and cool and soft – and she presses closer and closer. Quinn’s up against the wall of the tent anyway, and so she just stops.
There’s a quiet laugh from the other side of the tent. “Told you,” Santana murmurs, her voice sleepy and low. “Cuddler.”
“Limpet,” Quinn offers, but she relaxes into Brittany’s embrace and goes back to sleep.
When she wakes again, the sun is up and she’s alone in the tent. She runs her hands over her hair, trying to smooth it into place, but without a mirror, it seems impossible. Once, she never looked if she could avoid it, pulled her hair back into a low, messy tail and wore no make-up. Then she loved to look. She got up early and ran her brush through her hair, watching the way the lights flickered off the – fake – gold and the way her cheekbones appeared so sharp when she pulled it back into the Cheerios pony, high and smooth and perfect.
Quinn switches back into jean shorts and grabs a headband to hold her hair out of her face. She considers changing her shirt, but she’s just going to sit around the campsite, and she’s not really trying to impress anyone here.
As she’s debating, Santana sticks her head into the tent. “Hurry up, lazy. We’re going swimming.” She’s gone before Quinn can say anything. She sighs and debates staying at the campsite, but gives that up fast. They’re here to bond, all of them, she made sure of that.
She strips, quickly pulls on a conservative one piece, and throws her shorts and tank top on again. Her flip flops are just outside the tent; she grabs her tooth brush and tooth paste and slides out, slipping her feet into her shoes.
Puck and Lauren are putting drinks into one of the coolers – it looks like they have fresh ice, too, damn, how late did she sleep? – and Matt and Mike are crouched on either side of Artie, talking to him in low voices.
Santana hands Quinn a half bottle of water. “Brush your teeth,” she says, then bares her own. “For such a pretty, pretty princess, your morning breath sure stinks.”
Quinn rolls her eyes, but takes the water and brushes her teeth. She rinses and spits twice, trying to get the taste of the toothpaste out of her mouth before she eats anything. She doesn’t eat breakfast most days, even now that Coach Sylvester isn’t screaming at her every time a crumb touches her lips.
Finally, they’re all ready. There’s a little lake on the other side of the campground. Tina and Brittany scouted it out, and the path is paved most of the way, though there’s some gravel by the water. Artie works out a plan with Matt and Mike, and they set off, sandals snapping, ice shifting in the chest swinging between Puck and Lauren, and, always, laughter.
Quinn hangs back, half because she’s languid in the heat and sated from that good night’s sleep and half because she can’t quite remember why she wanted this trip.
Santana slings her arm across Quinn’s shoulders. “Sexuality crisis?” she asks. No, she says, the corner of her mouth turned up. “Believe me, I know how that goes.”
Quinn glances sideways at her, thoughtful. It’s no secret – at least to her, who’s shared rooms with them at competitions and camps, who’s fallen asleep to the sounds of them together, who’s spent hours praying over whether their sins would stain her too and then over whether they were sinning at all and finally over why the Church was filled with so much hate – but she’s never heard Santana flat come out and say it like that.
Then she realizes she hasn’t said anything for awhile, Santana’s arm is still across her shoulders, and Santana is giving her a look that is downright dirty.
“Sure,” she drags it out, “you just keep telling yourself that, Sunshine.” She buzzes a kiss against Quinn’s cheek and skips away.
Whatever this strange feeling is – melancholy, maybe, it reminds her a little of the emptiness she felt after Ms. Corcoran took the baby – it is not a sexuality crisis. She is straight. She is straight, she’s always dated boys, kissed boys, dreamed about boys.
(But that’s not true, and if she could feel betrayed by her own thoughts, she would, because she has dreamed about girls – she’s dreamed about Santana, and she’s dreamed about Brittany, and she’s dreamed about Santana&Brittany, and she’s even dreamed about Rachel Berry -- and she can’t seem to forget about it.)
She hurries to catch up with the others. Surely their drama will be a good distraction.
There is no drama.
There’s a weird little beach area, and they set up there. Most everyone hits the water, Artie included, but Quinn slathers on sunscreen and stretches out on one of the grubby towels they brought. The sun is bright, but the wind comes off the lake and is nice and cool.
Brittany launches herself into the water, dragging Santana with her, but Mercedes joins Quinn.
“You okay?” She offers Quinn a bottle of water and twists one open for herself, too.
“I’m fine.” Quinn runs her teeth across her lower lip and watches Mercedes out of the corner of her eye, considering. Mercedes looks at her a moment, then turns to the water, staring at the others. (At Sam.)
Mercedes is beautiful. Quinn meant it when she said it sophomore year, and she means it when she thinks it now. She has the best smile, especially when she tips back her head and laughs. Her curves are beautiful, breasts and hips and stomach and thighs. Her voice, the full tones of it perfect. Quinn wants her to understand how gorgeous she is, but she doesn’t want to kiss her.
She looks at Tina. Tina is gorgeous, that grin and the way she dresses, her personality coming through so clear, and the way her shirts stretch across her breasts. When she sings, Quinn gets chills. Her confidence, and her righteous blade of equality. Quinn is so glad she knows how awesome she is, but she doesn’t want to kiss her.
Rachel comes out of the lake shivering, wraps a towel around herself, and sits at the edge of Mercedes’ towel.
“I think my toes fell off,” she says, and she makes her teeth chatter. Or maybe she really is that cold, though Quinn can’t see how. Still, behind her sunglasses, Rachel can’t tell where she’s looking, so she takes her time. Mostly, she wants to strangle her for being so damn annoying. It’s not that she’s self-centered, Quinn understands that. Quinn respects that. It’s everything else, how she thinks she’s living in this perfect fairytale world. Despite the nose she hates and the way every word that comes out of her mouth is beyond annoying, she’s beautiful, too, the bow of her lips, the sheer earnestness that fills every expression. Even the little wounded animal look she gives Quinn at her worst. Quinn will never, ever admit it to anyone, but sometimes she does want to kiss Rachel Berry, if for no other reason than it will shut. her. up.
Brittany tackles Santana into the water; they both go down shrieking and come up laughing, lake water streaming out of their hair. The sun seems to light Brittany up from the inside out; she absolutely glows. The second Quinn looks fully at her, Brittany grins and blows her a kiss.
With Santana right there, she expects to catch a hard glare next, but Santana’s mouth twitches a little and she loops her arm around Brittany’s waist, sliding their water-slick bodies together.
Dear God, Quinn prays, give me strength.
Later, Santana and Brittany join her in the sun. Brittany’s starting to look a little pink, and Santana hands her sunscreen, setting to work on her back while Brittany does her arms and legs. Quinn tries not to watch, and when that doesn’t work, she tries not to let on that she’s watching. Surely she can be subtle at the very least.
Some of the others are playing king of the world on a big rock a little further down the curl of fake beach. Mostly it’s the boys – Kurt, Mercedes, and Tina are sitting on another rock, their feet in the water; Tina is the only one whose hair is wet – but Lauren’s right there in it, too, fighting Matt for space. Eventually she drops into what looks like a modified wrestling stance and pushes; with the lower center of balance from her position, she pops him right off the rock and holds her arms up in victory, Puck and Artie cheering her on, Mike and Finn giving Matt grief.
“Easy to dominate when you’re a fucking water buffalo,” Santana mutters.
Quinn freezes. She remembers the feel of that. Not those words, exactly, but all the others: thunder thighs and bubble butt and lardass and Lardy Lucy and when’s the baby due and hey, fatty fatty, and, of course, Lucy Caboosey.
She looks down at her hands. She’s said plenty about Lauren, though mostly not where she could hear, because it’s one thing to mock the fat girl. It’s another to mock the fat girl who won’t even break a sweat beating you up. Quinn was never that fat girl. Even if she got fat again, with all the cruelty she’s learned, she probably wouldn’t be that fat girl still.
Even respecting Lauren’s confidence, even being friends with her, Quinn can’t bring herself to speak up in her defense right away, and then she’s beaten to it.
“I think she’s beautiful,” Brittany says. “What’s wrong with being strong?”
Santana narrows her eyes, that jealousy Quinn expects sparking up, but then it’s gone. “Yeah, whatever.” That’s about as close to an apology or a you’re right as Santana will get.
Brittany stretches out and puts her head on Quinn’s leg. Quinn strokes her wet hair, carefully detangling it. Santana reaches over and does the same thing; their fingers meet again and again.
They’re all more relaxed that night, the world where they are slushied and fight each other and switch partners like they’re playing musical chairs and get to Nationals only to lose fading and leaving them with two campsites and a fire, alcohol and burgers grilled in an iron skillet – that is all Sam right there, and everyone is suitably impressed, especially because he doesn’t even eat red meat; of course, his veggie burger actually smells pretty good too – and just them, in a circle, sharing drinks and food and quiet stories.
Puck, Sam, and Artie all brought their guitars, and they start playing after dinner, while everyone is waiting until their stomachs are a little less full before they break out dessert. They start with songs they sing in glee, “Loser” and “Billionnaire” and “Loser Like Me” and some of the Marley Puck loves. Nothing from Nationals, though, their loss still too close. Then Artie tries some Eminem, and Rachel convinces Sam and Artie to back her up on Streisand’s version of “Somewhere,” which is pretty rough at first, until the guys figure out how to follow her lead. Then they all start making requests, and it goes on and on.
Quinn doesn’t sing. She tilts back her head and stares up through the trees, watching the stars. A hand slips into hers, long fingers, and she doesn’t have to look to know it’s Brittany on her right, but then Santana sits down in front of them both, leaning back against their legs and handing up open wine coolers, one for each of them, and they sit together, silent and steady by her side.
Quinn is sober when she takes herself to bed. She changes quickly, but doesn’t crawl into her sleeping bag. Instead she sits on top of it, because she has good instincts, and she knows to trust the feeling of anticipating building at the base of her spine.
Sure enough, she’s not in the tent two minutes before Brittany joins her. She doesn’t change, but kneels in front of Quinn. She doesn’t say anything, either, just reaches out and strokes her fingers through Quinn’s hair. It’s so short her hand is against Quinn’s cheek when she reaches the end, and then she’s cupping Quinn’s jaw, her thumb brushing lightly along Quinn’s lower lip.
Quinn’s finding it very hard to breathe.
“I’m going to kiss you,” Brittany says at last. She leans closer slowly, giving Quinn time to move away, but she doesn’t. She doesn’t, she stays still, she even tilts her head a little, angling into the best position for a kiss.
Brittany stops a breath from Quinn’s mouth, and smiles.
Her heartbeat is loud in her ears as she waits, and waits, and waits. Her chest burns; she’s holding her breath, she twisting her fingers into her shorts, she’s about to blow up from anticipation and yet still Brittany doesn’t kiss her.
It takes her a moment to realize that quiet little whimper comes from her throat.
Brittany’s smile grows.
Quinn grabs her then, one hand on the back of her neck, and presses their mouths together. It’s not quite the soft, gentle kiss she pictured; she can feel Brittany’s teeth just before she nips sharply at Quinn’s lower lip. It’s better than what she thought she’d get, because that little bite went straight through her.
They’re stretched out, their legs tangled together – Quinn’s not even sure when they laid down – when Santana finds them. She doesn’t say anything at first, just slowly zips the tent closed again. Brittany is clinging to her again, even tighter when she’s awake, and there’s no way Quinn can extract herself without really pushing at her, maybe hurting her.
“Impatient, Brit-Brit?” Santana says and peels off her shirt. Quinn’s mouth goes dry at the sight of those breasts, and even knowing their fake, and knowing how good Santana looked when she was natural, she wants to put her mouth to them.
She works her hand free enough to pinch herself, because this cannot be happening. Brittany catches it, though.
“I like this game,” she says, and the next thing Quinn knows, Brittany’s hand is down the front of her tank top and her lithe fingers are pinching one of Quinn’s nipples. Quinn has never, ever felt anything so good. All she wants to do is close her eyes and let Brittany’s touch wash over her.
But she’s had enough of cheating and hurting her friends. She looks at Santana, though her body jerks a little with each pinch.
Santana laughs. “Told you she was a cuddler.”
“This isn’t exactly cuddling.”
“Yeah?” Santana slips out of her shorts and panties and crawls over to Quinn’s other side. She puts her face right next to Quinn’s, so close Quinn can smell the wood smoke clinging to her hair, and whispers, “I think you’re doing it wrong then.”
There are many things Quinn could say to that, and she thinks a lot of them very quickly. What she settles on is her patented smirk, though it probably loses a point or two because of the gasp that proceeds it when Brittany switches to her other breast, and a quick, “Guess you better show me how it’s done.”
Santana tilts her head as if she’s thinking about it, and Quinn allows herself to really look at her, all of her, breasts and stomach and hip and dark hair between her legs. When she looks back up at Santana’s face, she’s smiling, but there’s something soft to it – no, not soft exactly, but hesitant. Maybe shy, if she didn’t know her better.
“Come on, San,” Brittany says and reaches for her. “Quinn’s really soft.”
She could take that the wrong way, and almost she does, because she’s tense and worked up and completely unsure of what’s going on in this tent with her friends, but then Brittany’s got a hand on one breast and Santana slides her fingers along the other, and Brittany is straddling her thigh, grinding down in a way that Quinn doesn’t get for a second, but when she does, heat rushes to her cheeks and between her legs.
Santana ducks her head in for a kiss, and Quinn stops questioning it, stops trying to pinch herself awake, stops everything but letting herself feel cared for and taken care of and embraced.
When she wakes up, she’s pressed against Brittany’s back, one arm across her waist. Her hand is trapped between Brittany and Santana, and she knows a whole lot more about her friends than she did twenty-four hours ago – like the spot on the inside of Brittany’s thigh that makes her gasp and the way Santana’s mouth twists just a little when she kisses and the taste of their skin and more – and she’s slept even better than she did the night before, and she has no idea what she’s going to do next.
She closes her eyes and prays, short and sweet – help me find my way – and then presses her face against Brittany’s bare back. They’ll be here a couple days still, and later – maybe after they leave, maybe after they graduate – is plenty of time to figure out what this means about herself.
Right now, all she wants is to sleep a little more and then find out if it’s as much fun to make Brittany come as Santana made it look.