Quinn assessed her bedroom one last time with a sweeping gaze, making sure she'd gotten everything into the cardboard box currently open on her bed. Puck was supposed to be in town sometime in the next thirty minutes and she wanted to have the box ready by the door in hopes that he wouldn't have to come in. That way, she reasoned, he could take this stupid box filled with chunks of her heart and mementos representing nearly three years of her life and give it back to Santana, since the bitch couldn't find the decency or maturity to come collect them herself.
Her lips pursed into a thin line as her gaze paused, again, on the small stuffed pony perched innocently on her dresser. She hesitated reaching for it, nostalgia and resentment warring within her. She wanted simultaneously to snuggle it close to her chest and throw it out the window to the street below. Her fingers faltered slightly when they met the soft white fabric, nostalgia winning the battle for the moment as she lifted the cheap toy to her face, the sparkly rainbow mane tickling her nose.
She was somehow surprised to find only the dusty scent of cloth, no trace leftover of the carnival that seemed like barely yesterday, let alone two years earlier.
— — — — —
"No, see, if this is a date, not only do you have to do whatever I want when we get back to your place, but you have to let me win you a prize." Santana grinned, "Because I'm the one who asked you to come tonight." She was distastefully eyeing the gaudy rainbow horse Quinn was offering with such pride, her reward for having good aim with a stream of water into a clown's mouth. One corner of Quinn's lips quirked up.
"How is it not a date just because I win the prize for you?" She danced the stuffed horse in front of Santana's face while they walked towards the concession stand, touching the horse's nose to Santana's for emphasis.
"Q, I just tol—No. Ya'know what you're forgetting?" Santana stopped and raised a finger in the air, pointing at Quinn accusingly, "Which is disturbing enough, in its own right; seriously, how many months have we been dating already?" She turned and resumed walking, taking Quinn's arm (still holding the horse) under her own. "You're forgetting that gifts made of polyester, paper, plastic, cloth," she poked the horse, "or any other non-precious metal slash gemstone, are immediately discarded under the obvious rule that they ain't good enough," she struck a pose and pointed to herself with a challenging lift of her eyebrow, "for this."
She patted Quinn's hand condescendingly and continued, steering them around another game booth and down the path. "SO. You hang onto your little Klaine parade pony, and when you have some bling worthy of this unappreciated goddess that loves you and takes care of your moody ass, you come back to me.. 'kay, blondie?" She threw on a tight fake smile and held it just long enough for Quinn to roll her eyes.
Quinn felt her stomach tighten at the words "loves you," she just wasn't sure if it was in excitement or anxiety. Santana had never usedthose words before. Loves you, loves you, she loves you. Her brain wouldn't focus on anything else, short circuiting in a conflicted mix of panic and warmth. Her feet kept moving, though, propelling them forward and almost missing the line for food.
"Hey, didn't you want some authentic fatty and fried American food? It'll be like old times for you or something, right, Lucy?" Santana winked at the blonde's scowl, drawing their joined hands up to press a kiss to the back of Quinn's hand, her expression softening in an instant. "Don't freak out on me, kay?" She spoke lowly, dark brown eyes—ever the wrong shade—bleeding with sincerity and doing all the pleading the brunette wouldn't speak aloud.
"I understand, y'know. What we are, and how it feels..." Santana looked away while she spoke (always a sure tell that she felt vulnerable), her eyes flitting to their hands, the ground, Quinn's shirt, then back to their hands. "It's like, I mean, I know we're happy," she glanced up to meet Quinn's eyes briefly, skittering away again in the next breath, "but it's a different—it's like... I'm so happy I could die, you know?" Her eyes darted back to Quinn's, looking for a gauge to her reaction.
Quinn gazed back at her impassively, feeling the panic ebb a little with each heartbeat. She often wondered what the hell she was doing with Santana. She wondered how they took a lonely (and accidental) fuck-buddy situation, and ended up in this pseudo-relationship playact that somehow made itself real.
Then moments like this would happen, and she would be reminded how much she and Santana really did speak the same language; they were the same corrosive species, the same desperately caustic but needy type. They deserved each other, in a way. She smiled cryptically, reaching up and stroking Santana's brow with her thumb, smoothing over a furrow of worry.
"Sometimes, San... you're actually pretty perfect." She said wryly, then surprised them both (and a few of those in line beside them) by leaning forward to place a sweet kiss on Santana's lips.
— — — — —
Quinn sighed heavily at the memory, closing her eyes against the tears stinging at the backs. They had been happy then, mostly. Santana was still Santana, and she was still herself; but even though they spoke meanly to each other, Santana loved Quinn, of that much the blonde was certain. It made it all the more a slap that Santana wouldn't talk to her at all now. She was acting like they'd never known one another, like the nearly three years they'd spent together hadn't happened.
She sniffed sharply and pressed her hands to her face, shaking her head against the emotions. No use wallowing. If Santana wanted to be done, they'd be done. Santana had been the one to push for their relationship in the beginning, it was fitting that she was the catalyst of their end. Not that Quinn was bitter or anything.
She threw the horse into the box where it landed awkwardly on its head, tiny hooves in the air signaling the stack of jazz records underneath. Most of their friends didn't even know that Santana loved jazz. It was yet another thing that was kept private, another way they were so similar.
Quinn stood over the box, her eyes roving over the contents—records, the horse, a few faded tshirts, a watch, a couple books, some gorilla feet slippers—which only made them fill with tears again. She groaned at herself in frustration, forcibly closing the flaps on her memories and hefting the box into her arms. She carried it through the hallway, past the little nook kitchen and through the living room to the door, where she let it drop unceremoniously to the floor before dropping herself in much the same fashion onto the sofa. With no music or television on, the air was unnaturally still and quiet around her.
She was going to have to fucking move.
This whole place, it just screamed Santana's name. Even the city she was in was because of Santana. Stamford-Fucking-Connecticut was reasonably priced and seated perfectly halfway between their schools. Even the window reminded her of moments from her life with the brunette. Like the summer after they got together, when Brittany had just dropped out at Hunter College in Manhattan and moved out to LA to dance. Santana hadn't taken the 'loss' of her closest friend well.
— — — — —
"Why don't you just go with her, Santana, I mean—just, fuck, really?" Quinn dragged her hand roughly through wild blonde hair before dropping down to sit on the windowsill, curling her arms around herself protectively. She could see intense dark eyes fixed on her from their kitchen, the familiar fight brewing a storm in the brunette's gaze that Quinn ignored, instead staring at the floor. "What are you even doing, trying to pretend you don't want to be with her? I mean, I know I'm your second choice, but- "
"Don't you fucking dare, Quinn!" Santana's voice exploded over the breakfast bar, echoing off the walls and hardwood floors and stopping Quinn mid-sentence. She marched into the living room to stand a few feet in front of the blonde, her flinty glare pinning unerringly and the name they were both thinking—Rachel—suspended in the loaded silence between them. "We're not talking about who's a second choice in this relationship, got it?" The raw emotion in her voice sparked a brief flare of guilt in Quinn's chest.
"I'm just saying... it's obvious to anyone but you, Santana." Her tone was quiet, chastised but working herself back to anger. "You shouldn't be this depressed over a friend moving away." Santana scoffed, looking away, but otherwise remained quiet. "A lover, maybe. But if she was 'just a friend,'" she curled her fingers into air quotes and sneered mockingly, "like you say, then your histrionics are a bit...much." Santana stared her down—Quinn's glittering gold staring right back—the tension in the room ratcheting up to chokable levels.
Santana took three very slow, deliberate strides toward Quinn, stopping only inches from the other girl. She braced her hands on either side of the window frame and leaned in, still moving oh-so-carefully. Quinn, for her part was rather pleased with herself for only stiffening her spine and tilting her chin up the barest inch in response.
She swallowed, the sound loud in the space between them. Santana's predatory glare dropped to her throat before rising up to fix on her mouth, flickering back and forth between there and her eyes. Quinn clenched her jaw, willing herself not to give in first, not to be the weaker of the two of them.
Santana's lower lip twitched just slightly—a suppressed smile?—and Quinn noted somewhere in the back of her mind that there was very little difference between 'Santana, moments from physical violence' and 'Santana, moments from wild hurricane monkey sex.' She decided that twitch of the lip might very well be the woman's only tell.
Now that it had been shown, though, the mild fear she had been battling dissolved, pooling low in her abdomen and panties. The charge of the air between them had changed in tone without a word. Keeping her hands on the window frame Santana pressed her knee between Quinn's, knocking it side to side against the other girl's legs to make room for herself. She held hazel eyes with her own the entire time, challenging the blonde to say something, to stop her.
"Brittany..." Santana stepped in close to the space she'd made while she spoke, her voice husky but even, her steady and heated gaze never wavering, "is my best friend, Quinn. Since I was twelve." Her hands finally came down from the frame to run a single fingertip down each of the blonde's arms at her sides, the fine hairs there standing up in the wake of her light touch.
"You..." She continued down, following the curve of Quinn's body with the caress only to clutch fiercely when she reached her hips, "are my girlfriend, last time I checked." She pulled the other girl's body into her own forcefully, pinning their hips together and leaning in further to close the distance between them. "The one I moved in with, a fucking hour away from my school." Quinn leaned back against the window and turned her head in defiance, dodging Santana's kiss with a taunting eyebrow arched and a smirk, while simultaneously wrapping her legs around the brunette's waist and locking her ankles.
"The one I fuck." Santana continued on a breath, rocking her hips and darting in to bite down on Quinn's neck. The tendon was standing out a bit too deliciously for her to resist, and the blonde's eyes rolled back at the sensation. "The one I love." She laved her tongue against the shallow grooves from her bite, sucking lightly before dotting butterfly kisses up and along Quinn's jaw.
"See the difference?" Her voice had a slightly pleading note as she brought one of her hands up to cup Quinn's jaw, staring intently into her eyes. They were close enough that she had to switch her focus back and forth between the two, catching the shifting colored flecks. The blonde tilted her chin up, nudging her nose into Santana's lightly, her gaze flicking between too-intense brown eyes and the easy sensuality of full lips.
"Yeah, San, I get it." Quinn nuzzled their noses again and squeezed her legs tighter, lips pulling into a smirk. "You're into blondes." She dipped quickly and caught Santana's lower lip between her teeth, worrying it with little nips in anticipation of a spirited response. Santana just looked back at her with an unreadable expression, unsettling her.
She stared like she was trying to spontaneously develop telepathy, not even blinking until she finally leaned in and oh-so-lightly touched her lips to Quinn's. She dropped more barely-there kisses down her chin and neck, ghosting a kiss over Quinn's sternum before lifting her baby doll shirt and bending down to kiss her stomach. Santana looked up with nearly black eyes, pinning the girl in place against the window by sight alone while she quickly unfastened and tugged off Quinn's shorts and underwear.
Holding the intense eye contact they'd cultivated over the entire interlude, Santana knelt down and proceeded to use her mouth in a very slow and thorough deconstruction of Quinn Fabray.
The blonde would later notice (but not mention) that Santana didn't call Brittany for the first week she was in LA, nor answer any calls or texts from the dancer. This ended up in panicked calls from Puck, Sam, and Mike, all contacted by Brittany who was certain that Santana had, in fact, died; the only possible explanation for her lack of communication. It was a small and kind of silly concession, worrying Brittany unnecessarily just to ease her ridiculous insecurity, but one that Quinn held close.
— — — — —
Quinn forced her eyes away from the windowsill. If she was going to discount all the surfaces they had fucked on she would have to move out tonight, the entire apartment would be untouchable. The annoying little voice in the back of her mind reminding her it wasn't the memories of fucking that made it sting, was shushed and pushed away. She kept pushing it away until she was off the couch and nervously on her feet again, unable to ignore her own traitorous thoughts.
She started pacing the apartment, finding herself actually starting to hope that Puck would show up already and spare her this solitude surrounded by the ghosts of her failed relationship. It suddenly occurred to her, stopping her in place immediately, that once he left with the box of Santana's stuff—without even coming inside—she'd be alone with those ghosts indefinitely. The thought left her wanting to move back to New Haven sooner than not, if it didn't require breaking the lease and paying money she really couldn't afford.
Her feet resumed their path in an absent figure eight through the rooms of their apartment. She had to remember why this was a good thing, why Santana deciding to leave her was actually something she had been waiting for; she needed to remember that it was a relief to not pretend anymore, to not be constantly fighting. She realized that she might actually be closer to that conclusion than she thought, when she couldn't decide if she was more upset at the loss of Santana, or just that she had failed at something else.
It had been at Santana's insistence that they'd gotten together to begin with, anyways. It wasn't her idea, Quinn had been content with their periodic drunken hookups that didn't mean anything. The booty call arrangement had suited her just fine. It was sex on demand with an attractive and skilled—but most importantly, discreet—partner, with no obligations of exclusivity or emotion and no opportunity for her to hurt someone. It seemed pretty well perfect.
She paused in the kitchen, crossing her arms over her chest in thought. For that matter, when she really thought about it, Santana had been pretty scandalous with how she went about securing 'exclusivity' from the blonde, anyway. Quinn leaned her hip against the counter, vision glazing over as her mind drifted to the night they 'officially' attained relationship status.
— — — — —
Her mom was drunk, again (always), leading her in zig-zags around the grocery store under the guise of picking through after-Thanksgiving sales. Quinn had only been home for two days, thinking to herself yet again that it was truly a ray of light in her life that the dorms had at least a skeleton crew running, allowing for check-in by Saturday. Her mother had missed the memo about Black Friday shopping, thinking it had something to do with actual groceries. Quinn couldn't find any desire whatsoever to explain to a drunken Judy Fabray what was actually going on in their part of the world the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, she followed around the Thriftway, half-listening to the babble and at least minimally preventing her from stumbling into things.
She just kept reminding herself that she would be back in her dorm (sanctuary) and escaped from Lima (Hell) and all its memories (failures) within less than twenty-four hours. Nevermind that yesterday was the holiday itself. Really, how could she not be excited about the cold and half-empty bucket of KFC her mom had tossed on the coffee table when she came home from the bar? She hadn't even come home to begin with until the dorm mother had thrown her out of the building at the last possible minute.
Holidays in the Fabray household were underwhelming these days, by default. She let her head rotate on her neck to tilt in the opposite direction, her feet absently following Judy down the frozen foods aisle. Her brain was back at Yale, while her body watched her mother picking up frozen heat-and-serve cinnamon rolls.
"That's perfect, Mother. Cinnamon rolls. Very...Christmas-y." She deadpanned. Her phone buzzed in her pocket a few moments later.
Santana *Fucking* Lopez
You're sexy when you're being condescending. Meet me in the bathrooms at the back.
"Mother." Quinn didn't bother looking for where Santana was watching from, speaking in her same even tone to her mother in hopes that she wouldn't notice anything. "I'm going to the restroom, Mother." No response, not even a hesitancy in her chatter about corn tortillas. "I'll be back in a few minutes." There. At least she'd told her.
She did an about face and walked down the aisle, headed toward the restrooms she knew to be nestled in the back corner of the grocery store, confident her mom wouldn't even notice her absence. Besides, an orgasm was always welcome, and she noted with only mild anxiety that her trysts with Santana were actually something she sort of looked forward to. Almost. Kind of.
Well, not because of emotions or anything, but because it was convenient. Of course.
Convinced that it was the convenience making her as wet as she was at the idea of meeting Santana for a quickie (in a grocery store bathroom, no less), she eagerly let herself into the handicapped stall. They had arrived in Lima separately, an unspoken rule of their arrangement that they didn't travel together; and Quinn hadn't wanted to share her miserable holiday withanyone, least of all someone who would not only understand how much it truly bothered her, but also poke at the wound.
With mid-terms and part-time jobs taking up most of their free time back in school, it had been since Halloween that they had seen one another. She didn't even have a chance to fully slide the lock across the stall door before her cheek was pressed to the cool metal, Santana's mouth against the back of her neck and hot hands sliding under her skirt.
"Quiiiiiiinnnn...it's been weeks—god, you smell so good.." The brunette pushed the fabric up, shoving it over Quinn's lower back and holding it in place with a sharp grip on the girl's hip, her other hand winding its way up to palm a breast. Her fingers dug into Quinn's hip and pulled while her pelvis rocked forward in a rough pantomime of fucking. Before Quinn could even respond, Santana had latched on to the pale flesh where her neck met her shoulder.
"I just—I think about you like this all the time, Q." Santana bit down, her words muffled in salty skin while she was sliding her hand over the blonde's thigh. Quinn couldn't speak, her position pressed against the stall door a perfect excuse for the inability to form words, with Santana's fingers stroking up under her panties. Her hands braced against the door on either side of her own head, ass arched out and rocking into the brunette's pushes against her.
"Do it, San..." Quinn whimpered into the door, pressing back wantonly into the rocking body behind her, "I want to feel you." Santana groaned around the skin between her teeth, her fingers sinking into the wet heat hidden in Quinn's practical panties, feeling the muscles grip and pull her deeper immediately.
"Oh, you wanna feel me, huh..." she thrust her fingers as deeply as she could, the tightness sending her nearly delirious, "what... do you feel... now?" She pushed into the other girl with a grunt behind each word. Quinn didn't have the presence of mind to form a verbal response, she knew it wasn't going to take much. She let her body roll back into Santana on instinct, small breathless noises escaping her throat without her concession. Santana pumped faster, harder, her fingers driving deep into the blonde, face pressed into the back of her neck. She wanted to feel Quinn come around her fingers, wouldn't quit until she felt it.
"I want you like this, always, Quinn." Santana's voice was smoky and rough in her ear, the timbre of it only adding to her arousal. "Your pussy strangling my fingers, you begging me to fuck you..." Quinn shuddered at Santana's hot words pushing her even further when she was already so close. "And it's all for me. Say it, Q." Santana growled the order, rocking her entire body into every unrelenting stroke, her palm grinding pressure into the blonde's clit. "Say you're mine, I want to hear it."
When Quinn was not a few well-placed thrusts from an orgasm, she was vocally resentful over the idea of women—herself, specifically—being owned or claimed. Quinn only moments from coming, however, was pushed that much closer by Santana's gruff possession.
"I'm yours!" Quinn moaned, one hand making its way up the stall door to curl over the top, holding tight, the other reaching over her own shoulder. She sank her fingers into Santana's thick locks, gripping tightly at the crown of the girl's head. Just saying the words out loud made her feel deliciously dirty.
"Just mine—say it! Say you're just mine, and no one else's." Santana growled. Quinn nodded, panting whimpers huffing out of her with every press into the stall door, she was almost there, the edges of her vision starting to darken. "I can't hear you, Quinn." The brunette deliberately slowed the motion of her body, drawing a whimpering whine from the other girl. "Who do you belong to?"
"God, San—Yours, I'm just yours!" Quinn started to come as soon as the words were out of her mouth, her back bowing tight, knuckles white where they gripped the top of the door. Santana's name dragged out in a gravelly moan that descended into babbling whimpers of 'yours' and 'god' while she spasmed and jerked in her orgasm. Santana kept up the deep rolling thrusts until the tremors stopped, Quinn slumped boneless against the door, held up by the grip around her waist.
Santana dropped soft kisses along Quinn's shoulders, removing her fingers with a grimace and a whispered apology, while Quinn slowly came back into awareness. She waited until Quinn had turned around to face her, awkwardly smoothing her skirt down over her hips, before she grinned mischievously.
"So." She sucked on her fingers, eyeing Quinn as she did it. "First rule as owner of dat ass is you best not be letting any other mother fucker touch it." Santana grinned and dropped into her patented deflection of ghetto speak, patting the ass in question. "Mine, got it?"The odd pull of her lips and the way she wouldn't meet Quinn's gaze, though... both gave away much more about Santana's feelings on the orgasm-induced confession than the blonde was ready to accept.
— — — — —
Quinn sighed, shaking her head at herself and the memory of Santana's labeling. It had worked, though, Quinn hadn't fucked anyone else from that night at the Thriftway onward. She preferred not to dwell on the fact that she hadn't fucked anyone else after the first time she'd slept with Santana (the summer before that Thanksgiving), either. It made her feel less autonomic. The buzzer for her door went off, derailing her memory scrapbook and flip flopping her stomach at the same time. She dragged herself to the intercom square, leaning on the wall and pressing the button.
"Hey, Q. S'me." Puck's detached voice came through the speaker and she pressed the buzzer to let him up, surprised to find herself pleased that he was there. She really was in a funk if Puck was welcome company. Making a snap decision, she snatched up the box and carried it to the breakfast bar, dropping it just as a quick succession of light taps sounded from her door. She opened the door to find Sam's tentative smile, Puck's shaved head bowed behind the blond.
"Hope you don't mind, Quinn, I was just—I, uh, wanted to check on you." Sam mumbled with his head ducked, walking into the living room past Quinn's outstretched arm. Puck had the decency to at least look sheepish for inviting someone else along to her wreckage, shrugging with a 'what can ya do?' look on his face.
The three of them stood awkwardly blinking at each other in her living room, waiting for someone to speak. The way they both looked at her like she might explode or spontaneously start sobbing or something unnerved her, causing a skin-crawling effect she had no real defense against.
"You should see the other guy." She said woodenly as she sat down, shoulders rolling uneasily under their weighted observation.
How much did they know? Was Santana over there at the guys' bro-partment spilling their no-longer-sacred secrets? Did they know about—oh god, especially Puck, would he mention...? Terror coiled in her gut at the thought. Finn was his best friend, after all. The panic must've been obvious on her face because the next thing she knew, Sam had sat down beside her on the sofa and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
"Uh, are you okay?" His boyish face was open and earnest and all the things that she wished she could've fallen in love with, once upon a time. A glance to Puck showed his equal discomfort with the air in the room. He sat perched on the edge of Santana's favorite La-Z-Boy, elbows on his knees with his hands gripped together between, the tendons in his jaw popping out rhythmically from clenching his teeth. She brought a hand up to rub at her forehead, patting Sam's jean covered knee with the other.
"I'm g—well, I'll be okay, Sam, thanks." She sighed, rubbing her head a little harder and wishing for something; she just didn't know what, exactly, she should be wishing for.
"How is..." She paused, dropping her hand to play with her fingers in her lap, unsure if it was wrong to ask or if it would put them into an awkward situation. She smiled wryly to herself, could it getany more awkward in the room at that moment?
"I just need to know that... I dunno, she—she's okay, right?" She looked at Puck uncertainly, his eyes widening at the question even though he wouldn't meet her gaze, like it was some kind of surprise that she cared at all. A glance to Sam solidified the sentiment they seemed to share, blond brows raised in shock and a fantastic guppy impression on his face.
"She—uh.. Santana's—well, you know San, uhm." He stumbled on his words, looking desperately to Puck across from him for help. Puck lifted his head and met Sam's worried blue eyes, a tightening of his lips and slight shake of his head telling Sam to shut it. She nodded at their silent exchange, sniffling a little and looking down.
"I understand, Sam, it's okay." Quinn mumbled quietly, conceding. Santana evidently didn't want her to know a damn thing and asking was only going to put the boys into a battle of loyalties that, honestly, she was afraid of. She had a hunch she wouldn't fare as well in the fray as the woman currently crashing the bro-partment.
Picking at a seam along the side of her dress, she realized that the thought not only stung, it pissed her off. She had known these guys just as long as Santana, and how dare she leave with no warning and then turn around and act like it was all Quinn's fault to their friends. Typical Santana, never actually responsible for anything.
"Well hey, Q, we've gotta—" Detecting the change in her demeanor, Puck slapped his thighs and pushed himself to his feet.
"It wasn't all my fault, y'know." She growled, pinning Puck with the Scary!Quinn glare that inflicted acute testicular recoil on him and every other dude she'd ever dated. Sam, less practiced in the art of navigating conversation with unpredictable women, physically rescinded his arm from her shoulders and pushed himself back into the corner of the couch. Puck rested his hands on his hips, head tilting back until he was looking at her ceiling.
"Quinn—" he started, wearily.
"No, Puck! It's not fair!" She sprang to her feet, stomping over to where the box of Santana's stuff sat on the counter. "She leaves ME—with a bullshit explanation while packing her shit, by the way—" She hefted the box and stomped back over to where Puck still stood in the living room, pushing it into his chest. "—and you guys want to act like I broke her fucking heart!" Puck took the box wordlessly, his jaw jutting out in an expression of tightly-controlled anger that surprised her. She pushed a hand into blonde hair, gripping it at her crown and holding tight, hoping the sharp tugging sensation would make her feel less untethered.
Puck dropped the box to the hardwood floor between them, narrowly missing her toes. He took a slow deep breath and held it, his chest pushed out from the intake, his eyeline darting around her apartment's ceiling. Sam, meanwhile, looked like a ten year old hiding from his parents fighting with his blond head down and fingers wrestling themselves in his lap, trying for all his might to dissolve into the sofa cushions.
"Just—just stop, Quinn. Stop." Intense light brown eyes finally drilled into hers, unsettling in their fire. "Cut the trashing San, cut the poor me bullshit and remember for just a second that I was there for that party."
"Oh, shit.." Sam uttered unintentionally, drawing the attention of both Quinn and Puck in an instant. He held his hands up in defense. "Accidental word vomit, sorry." He mumbled sheepishly. "Didn't think it would go there.."
"Yeah, we're going there." Puck growled sharply, still staring Quinn down. "Ya'know, for a chick, you've got some real fuckin' balls, Q."
Quinn had the good sense to look taken aback, at least, if not a little ashamed.
— — — — —
"Just because you're stuck here in Lima doesn't mean you have to try and drag us all down with you, Puckerman." Santana slapped his cheek lightly with a smirk while she walked past him through the entryway, Quinn nodding an acknowledgment as she followed her in. He smacked his lips and tilted his head to be obvious about checking out both their asses before closing the door behind them.
"Glad your bitch is still in-tact, Santana. I was worried Q here would pet the hiss right out of your kitty." He winked and dodged the half-hearted backhand from Quinn, following them through his house and out the back door to where the rest of the gleeks were scattered around the back yard.
Puck, along with Finn and Sam, had stayed in Lima when everyone else moved off around the country for college. Finn was in his second year of business administration classes from the community college in the hopes that he could take over Burt's shop at some point. At least, that was his plan until Rachel got famous and it was time to ride her coattails around the world. Sam was taking an online graphic arts/web-design course that everyone but him was positive was bunk, and Puck was actually working to save money.
He and Sam had an agreement that when Sam completed his certification, they would split an apartment in New York and, 'pursue their destinies,' in Sam's words. The ratio of people they knew there was higher than anywhere else. Rachel and Kurt were at NYADA, Brittany in the dance program at Hunter College (Santana a few blocks over in the marketing school at Columbia), and Quinn an hour and a half away at Yale. They'd have support and the whole of New York's apple to fill their bellies. He seriously couldn't wait.
Right now, though, he had a backyard full of half-drunk high school friends in for the summer after their first and second years in their respective schools. For some of them it was the first time they'd even seen each other since graduation. He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned his shoulder against the door jamb, looking around at all of them and letting the warm feeling of camaraderie bloom behind his sternum.
Mike had Tina on his shoulders in the pool, both of them laughing while he bounced up and down in the water with his hands holding on around her thighs. Artie was wheeled up next to Brittany's lounge chair on the other side of the pool, explaining something—evidently very complicated—to her with his hands gesturing wildly and her brow furrowed in confusion. Rachel was seated sideways on a lounge chair talking animatedly with Mercedes (who actually looked interested), while Finn manned the grill a few feet away from her under the fawning attention of Blaine and Kurt.
Santana sauntered up to the edge of the pool, dropping her towel on the empty chair between Brittany and Rachel and her shorts to the ground. She stepped out of them and dove in, a shriek sounding from Tina a moment later as she and Mike submerged into the water unexpectedly. Santana surfaced a few feet from them, wiping water from her eyes and cackling.
"Hello there, Chang squared! I guess it's not true that all Asians are ninjas. Huh. Who knew?" Tina glared, a pinched look on her face as she emerged sputtering from the water.
"Wow, hi, Santana. I'd forgotten how much other minorities can still be disgustingly racist." She flicked water off her fingers in Santana's direction, turning towards the stairs of the pool. "Thanks for that truth. Really." Santana was unsurprisingly unfazed by Tina's irritation, scoffing and rolling her eyes while she wrung the excess water from her hair.
"You know you missed me, Chang Two!" She yelled to Tina's retreating back, "You ain't gotta lie to kick it, your boy's not gonna be jealous!" The antagonistic grin on her face slid off as she realized just a fraction of a second too late that she wasn't sure where Chang One had gone. She was under the water before she could turn around, Mike grinning triumphantly above her.
Puck shook his head at Mike's folly, that wasn't a bear he was willing to poke. He pushed himself off the jamb to head for the makeshift bar they'd setup on a folding table. Mixing up two cups of his Puckerman Panty-dropper, he made his way over to where Quinn had settled—on the same chair that San had laid her towel—to join in Rachel and Mercedes' conversation. He held one cup out to her, dropping himself on to the end of the chair and sipping from the other.
The party carried on as afternoon turned to dusk and dusk to evening, most of them getting progressively drunker as the night grew. Santana and Mike continued their friendly competition of one-upping pranks, while Brittany and Tina had moved all the furniture to one wall of the basement to make room for tumbling. Blaine had somehow convinced them to let him appoint himself their director/choreographer. Artie and Mercedes were playing Rock Band in the den with Sam whining at them about wanting a Marvel vs Capcom tournament, and Kurt and Finn—as self-designated DDs—were commissioned for an ice run. Puck (ever the good host) swam around "like a shark, gotta keep moving!" At least, that was what he said to each knot of people while he was shifting from room to room.
Quinn found herself somehow alone with Rachel in the backyard, both of them considerably less sober than she had planned on getting at this party. Rachel was currently rambling quietly about all the things she didn't want to miss out on as a young ingenue in the city, just because she was in a long-distance relationship with a boy whose dreams would never take him out of Lima, Ohio.
They were seated close together in the bench swing that hung from the tree in Puck's backyard, tucked back beyond the pool and just out of sight from the back door. Swimsuits long dry, they both wore their bikini tops with shorts, the summer night and the drinks they still sipped on more than enough to keep them from getting chilly.
The skin of Quinn's arm buzzed with electricity every time it brushed against Rachel's, making her light-headed. She kept her foot planted so the bench wouldn't swing, deciding she was a little too dizzy on Rachel and the summer evening—or maybe just Puck's Panty-droppers—to handle that motion at the moment.
She sighed, trying to focus on the words coming out of Rachel's full lips. They were things she enjoyed hearing; like how much Finn sucked at being thoughtful, and how iffy Rachel had grown about the entire relationship; how he didn't even come to visit in New York all year, instead telling her it made more sense to wait until she came to visit her dads.
For the life of her, though, Quinn couldn't stop staring at Rachel's lips. Her mind kept floating off imagining how soft they would feel, how much she wanted to suck on the bottom one. She bit down on her own lower lip, blinking hard and trying to force her stare to Rachel's swirling chocolate eyes (they were so much warmer than Santana's almost-black) and not let her vision swim.
She didn't even realize that she had stopped hearing words from Rachel until she was consumed with heat and softness, surrounded by the scent of vanilla and sugar cookies. Her eyes were closed, and Rachel was.. Rachel was kissing her. She gasped, her head jerking back to blink dazedly at the brunette in her arms-when did that happen?-that was not her girlfriend.
"Oh.. Oh,god, Rachel.. I'm so sor—" Quinn started to babble, Rachel cutting her off by kissing her again. Quinn, unable to find a reason in her drunken brain why this would ever be a bad idea, pulled the tiny diva into her lap and gripped tight to her hips. Rachel straddled her thighs easily, burying small hands into Quinn's messy hair and holding on. She whimpered and tilted her head, pushing her tongue against Quinn's and swallowing the low groan the action caused.
Quinn's hands slid over Rachel's hips to grab her ass, kneading the flesh and indulging a fantasy she'd harbored since sophomore year. Rachel whimpered again, arching her lower back out to push harder into Quinn's hands, both of them panting against each other's mouths between kisses.
Rachel pulled back slightly, just enough to lock eyes with Quinn and share panting breaths with their lips almost touching. She brought one hand slowly down from Quinn's hair, trailing it over her arm until she could lace their fingers together over Quinn's grip on her ass. The blonde inhaled sharply and made to pull away, an apology already forming on her lips, when Rachel shushed her. She brushed their lips together softly, pulling Quinn's hand along with her own over her hip and down the top of her thigh.
She paused there, just above her knee, panting and searching unfocused green-shaded eyes for something. Quinn, for her part, didn't blink. Rachel apparently found what she was looking for, and in the next instant she crushed their mouths back together with one hand in blonde hair, dragging Quinn's hand up to cup between her own thighs with the other.
"There you are, Qui—whoa." Brittany stood stock still at the edge of the pool, eyes huge and jaw dropped open. At the sound of her voice, Rachel scrambled off of Quinn's lap so quickly her foot caught in the slats of the bench, landing her on her plump ass in the grass, mouth gaped open in terror at Brittany.
"Please don't tell Finn!" She rushed out in a panicked breath. "He-he wouldn't understand and I—I'm not gay. I just, I wanted—" Rachel looked down, unable to meet Quinn or Brittany's eyes, her own filling with tears. "Quinn, you know you're the prettiest girl I've ever met, and I've—" She choked back a sob, climbing to her feet and smoothing the debris off the back of her shorts.
"I need to go. I-I'm sorry!" She literally ran away with that comment, Brittany recovering from her shock at the dramatic exit. She leveled her meanest Brittany-look (Quinn noted somewhere in the back of her mind that it was actually pretty terrifying) at Quinn and walked slowly over to stand directly in front of her.
The dancer opened her mouth to speak, then stopped and closed it again. Quinn just blinked, her expression frozen wide-eyed and slack-jawed since the other girl had first spoken.
"Why.." Brittany paused, then huffed a heavy sigh. She pursed her lips into a thin line, brows drawn together in a deep furrow. Sharp ice-blue eyes stared for a moment, Quinn getting the dizzying feeling like her brain had been picked up and turned around in someone's hands, examined from all angles.
"She's going to be so sad, Quinn." was what finally came out.
Quinn hiccupped, then leaned forward to vomit bright orange liquid all over the grass between Brittany's feet.
— — —
The first thing through Quinn's mind upon gaining consciousness was that she was most definitely not dead. She was unsure of much anything else—where she was, how she'd gotten there, if she would continue to live given the explosion taking place in her skull—but the pain her body was reporting to her brain was a clear indicator of life.
She cracked one bleary eye open to survey her surroundings and immediately squeezed it shut again at the light filling the room. Puck's den—that was at least one unknown solved.
"You 'wake?" Sam's voice, though quiet, echoed and vibrated through her temples from somewhere near her feet. She grunted an acknowledgment, scouring her brain and piecing together the fragments from the night before.
Orange Puckerman Panty-droppers are gross. Rachel and Mercedes, yay, singing is awesome. Puck is happy that Santana found someone that matches her and Rachel smells good. Puckerman drinks taste okay after a while. Santana up Brittany's ass—big surprise—Rachel's eyes sparkle when she talks about New York. Drinking games are stupid. Puck copped a feel, had to slap him, he laughed. Rachel smells really good. Someone took her Panty drink, it's gone! Where had Santana gone? Rachel wants to talk about Finn. Rachel's lips talking about Finn. Rachel's lips. Warm, vanilla and sugar cookies scent. Rachel's ass. Brittany. Sick.
Quinn felt her stomach roll over on itself at the memory reel; all of the images, scents and sounds blending together into one overwhelming wave. She sat up quickly and wobbled a little, one hand bracing on the couch cushion beside her and the other coming up to press the heel to her forehead, bloodshot eyes swimming around the room.
Sam was at the other end of the sofa she'd been sleeping on, Puck stretched out on the one across from them. There was some kind of war game flashing in silence across the big screen TV to her right and the curtains behind Puck were wide open, filling the room with blinding daylight.
"Wha—" The half-word emerged on a croaking rasp, prompting her to stop and swallow roughly. "Where's Rachel?" She managed to whisper. Puck let out a quiet scoffing sort of snort without taking his eyes off the game, Sam giving a half-assed hmm?. She cleared her throat and ran her hand through her hair, then back to rub down over her face, trying to blink the sleep from her eyes.
"Where's Santana?" There. She'd muddled out actual speech.
"She, uhh—she left with Brittany last night, Quinn." Sam paused the game (earning a dirty look from Puck) and looked at her uncertainly. "Uhm.." He looked down to the XBox controller in his lap, rolling his thumbs over the buttons and joysticks enough to make them click randomly without pressing them down. "What—uh.. What's the last thing you remember?"
"Yeah, Quinn. Don't you remember our conversation?" Puck sat up sharply and slammed the controller down on the coffee table. "About mistakes. About our beautiful little shared mistake that you wish could've been- " he put a finger to his chin and struck a mocking pose of contemplation. "Let me make sure I quote this right, 'absolutely anyone's but mine, the biggest waste you'd ever met.'" He clenched his eyes closed and nodded sharply, wagging his finger in her direction. "Yep. Yeah. I'm pretty sure that's what you said."
"Dude, c'mon..." Sam spoke quietly, still staring at the controller in his lap and thinking how much cleaner the lines of right and wrong were drawn in comic books. Puck got to his feet with dismissive sneer.
"'Tana left with Britt because you were fuck-tarded, Quinn." He picked up a glass of water already waiting on the coffee table and stalked over to stand in front of her, thrusting it out. "Drink water." He waited with an expectant look until she took the glass out of his hand, then sighed and softened his voice a little bit. "Take some ibuprofen from the bathroom in the hall. And a shower, for chrissake, Q, you reek like puke." He looked at her with what she took to be a mix of disgust, concern, and pity creasing his brow. His mouth tightened into a thin line and he nodded at her once, eyebrows raised in silent question—Got it?
Puck walked back over to his sofa, picking up his remote on the way and flopping back down stretched out across its length.
"S'posed to be a fuckin' party, not Dr. Phil hour." He huffed under his breath, pressing buttons randomly that did nothing to change the tv screen. "Dude. Unpause it."
— — —
After a shower and some orange juice, Quinn walked around the house trying to jog her memory. It was already early afternoon and everyone but Sam had left earlier than she'd even roused. Apparently they'd all wished her well with promises to catch up again before summer's end.
She had figured out from talking more with the guys that they didn't seem to know anything about her and Rachel. Puck was pretty pissed about the (admittedly) mean things she didn't remember saying to him and he was hinting that she'd picked a fight with Santana for no reason, but nothing about cheating or making out or Rachel. Most horrifying of all, she realized she couldn't quite tell if it had even really happened or not. The memory was so real, so visceral, but Brittany surely would've told, wouldn't she?
She learned as soon as she called Santana that, yes, indeed, Brittany would've told.
"Well hello there, Rico Suave. How ya feelin' this morning?" Santana's voice was clipped and light, never a good sign.
"Um," she cleared her throat. "I've been better." They breathed for a couple of heartbeats. "So you're at Britt—"
"Berry, Quinn?" Santana cut her off. "Are you fucking serious? After all this time.." Quinn panicked, biting down on her lip hard enough she was sure she was going to break through the skin. Instant decision: lie or cop to it? Lie or face it?
"What?" Quinn's eyes fluttered closed as she lashed back in faked offense at Santana. "What the fuck are you even talking about?" Quinn swallowed heavily, she had put all the venom she could muster into the question. She held her breath hoping the brunette would buy it. The line went eerily quiet for several seconds—no breathing, no words, no sound whatsoever. "He—Hello?"
A sigh, heavy and world weary.
"Really, Qui—" Santana cut herself off in a growling bark of frustration. "Whatever. What Britt walked up on last night. How 'bout that? How 'bout that's what the fuck I'm talking about."
Quinn made a fist with one hand and pressed it to her own forehead, her other hand holding the cell phone to her ear, eyes tightly closed.
"She was crying and bitching about Finn—her boyfriend, and I gave her a hug, Santana." Quinn scoffed into the phone, her voice derisive and snide. "If you're trying to make yourself feel better about fucking Brittany last night, how about picking something more likely than me fucking Rachel Berry... Seriously, where do you get this shit?"
"I didn't—You know how I found out, Q. Don't do this, please." Santana's voice, rough and raw, grated against her heart.
Quinn clenched her jaw, dropping heavily onto the chair behind her. She felt a piece of herself crumble off into the growing empty knot in her gut, even as she committed further to her lie.
"How dare you even accuse me of that, you know.." She bit her lip, dropping her voice to a cruel even tone. "There's an old saying, Santana. I think even you are smart enough to understand the meaning." She paused, filing away the quiet, almost hiccupping breaths Santana released only when she really cried.
"Consider the source." Quinn deadpanned, cold and distant. She pulled her phone away from her face, jabbing her thumb into the red 'End' button. A heartbeat passed before she bowed her head and inhaled deeply, folding both hands around her phone and pulling it up to press against the bridge of her nose.
— — — — —
Quinn tossed her mom's mail on the counter in the kitchen, bills and periodical ad flyers sliding across the tiles in a spread.
"Dih she geh any chehs?" Santana spoke around a massive bite of her hoagie from her spot perched on the counter, bits of lettuce falling out the bottom of her sandwich as she gestured at the fanned out mail with it. Quinn rolled her eyes, scattering the mail with her fingertips in a quick survey. Bill, bill, 'Current Resident', credit card offer..
"Oh, wow. This one's for me." She snorted. "I never get mail here anymore." She picked up the square cream colored envelope, the paper a hefty weight in her hands. Santana arched her brows in question from behind her sandwich, another bite disappearing into her mouth while she craned her neck to see the writing on the envelope.
"Ho'ey THIT, Quinn." Santana spoke the words at the exact same moment the names on the return label registered to her.
Finn Hudson & Rachel Berry
This could not be that. She immediately looked to Santana trying to gauge if she was thinking the same thing.
"Open it, don't just sit there blinking at it." Santana wiped her mouth with the back of her free hand then quirked an eyebrow at Quinn, making a circular 'get on with it' motion before taking another bite. Quinn stared at the envelope, turning it end over end between her fingertips by the corners, her eyes glazed.
She was going to marry Finn, marry him. Rachel was getting married. Oh—Oh, God. She drew a breath and held it, stopping the spinning envelope between her fingers and running one fingertip over the label. L. Quinn Fabray.
"Give it. Y'know what, I'll open it—" Santana reached for the paper, Quinn dodging her and stepping backwards.
"No! I've got it." She sniffed and tilted her chin up at Santana, flexing her jaw and her eyes flashing. She slowly tore open the flap and turned it over in her hands, the dreaded engraved card finally falling out with a folded slip of paper. Santana grabbed the paper when it fluttered to the counter (her hand just a moment faster than Quinn's) with a victorious smirk on her face, immediately unfolding it to read out loud.
"'Dear crossed out, To Quinn,' Ooh, we're not off to a good start, are we, dearest Quinnevere?" Santana hopped off the counter when Quinn reached for the note, dodging out of reach around the island in the Fabray kitchen. "I would've thought she would have the decency to use some white-out or something. Huh." She stopped and put on an exaggerated expression of confusion before shrugging dismissively and carrying on.
"'I hope this invitation finds you well—' she hopes you're well, Q. That's like, love or something in Berry Freak-Speak, isn't it?" She winked bitterly, pointing a mocking shooter finger. "You might still have a shot, stud."
"Santana, stop..." Quinn whispered, staring at the brunette with her eyes starting to tear up. They still hadn't settled the whole fight over what happened at Puck's party and Santana didn't pass up an opportunity to dig in that she knew something happened. Quinn honestly couldn't understand why she hadn't been dumped, Santana never once wavered in her conviction that she'd been lied to. Yet here they were, nothing really seeming to have changed. The barbs Santana always threw just had a new subject.
Santana ignored Quinn's whispered plea, maintaining her position exactly opposite the other girl across the island and continuing to read aloud.
"'—finds you well, as I have always valued your supportive friendship.' Who is she even talking to?" Santana jeered incredulously. "You've been anything but supportive to that little goblin, almost the whole time you've known her!" She shook her head and sighed, and Quinn couldn't tell anymore where the mocking ended and the real emotion peeked through.
"'I sincerely hope you will make the trip to join Finn and I as we seal our union, as well as I hope to see—'..." Santana paused, her face pinching into a mixed expression of confusion and ire as she read silently. She blinked hard and looked to Quinn like she was surveying her for a moment, a questioning brow arched from the blonde in return. "'—as well as I hope to see Santana join you. You two have always seemed perfect together, in my opinion.'"
Santana dropped the paper to the island between them, tapping her fingernails on the tile to fill the silence leftover in its wake. Quinn wondered somewhere in the midst of her internal tornado why Santana wasn't digging it in, she knew she was making herself a pretty easy target. She stared at the gaudy blue pattern her mother had chosen for the kitchen renovation back when she was seven years old, vividly remembering the construction and how loud it had all been for weeks.
"Hey. Hey." Santana walked around the island and hopped up on the counter just to the side of where Quinn stood zoned out. She softly traced a fingertip over the shell of the other girl's ear, the touch barely detectable. "We are pretty well-matched, Q." Santana murmured with a thin smile, nuzzling her nose against the blonde's forehead and dropping butterfly kisses over her brows. She followed down the slope of her nose, finally brushing her lips across Quinn's softly.
As soon as she got Quinn to respond she wrapped herself around the blonde, tan limbs winding around her shoulders and waist to pull her close. She kept the kiss tender, not making any moves to deepen it before pulling back to kiss Quinn's forehead again.
"Y'know, with my smoking hot looks and your evil genius, we could rule the world." Santana curled her lips into a half smile and nudged her nose to Quinn's, trying to get her to tilt her chin up so their eyes could meet. The blonde just sighed heavily, dropping her head down to rest on Santana's shoulder.
It did not escape Quinn's notice that her possessive and violently jealous girlfriend was comforting her, knowing she was upset over the engagement of an old crush. The irony and out-of-character grace being offered succeeded in making her feel unworthy and she choked on dry sob.
She didn't deserve Santana's comfort, not over this. She had soothed some of her gnawing guilt thus far by reminding herself that Santana never really bought her lie; she knew at least something had happened. Despite that, she still stayed. She still sat here murmuring sweet words of comfort while Quinn ached over someone she'd cheated with. Another sob escaped her chest, the tumultuous cloudy mess of her emotions beginning to crystallize.
"Shhhh, baby girl..." Santana whispered into her temple, bringing her hands up to pull through Quinn's hair gently. The sweetness of the gesture finally shattered the blonde.
"I made out with her." She rasped into the fabric of Santana's tshirt. She pulled back enough to bring watery wheat-colored eyes up to meet Santana's. "Rachel. At Puck's party last month." Fat tears welled up as she stared, waiting for the fallout.
Santana's fingers stopped their lazy trails through Quinn's hair, tightening in the strands at the back of her neck while she drew in a slow deep breath. Her expression didn't change, inscrutable and steady, so Quinn continued.
"I almost had sex with her." Quinn dropped her chin to her chest, scoffing derisively. "I would've had sex with her... if—if not..." She trailed off, knowing Santana already knew what she was going to say.
She kept her head down in the silence, staring at the cracked and peeling edge of the Bob Marley print on Santana's tshirt. When nothing was forthcoming from the brunette, Quinn started to pull away from their embrace.
"I'm so sor—"
"I know." Santana cut off her apology quietly, tugging on Quinn's hair still wrapped in her fingers just enough to keep her from pulling away and to tilt her head back. "You already know I know. It—" She paused, looking up to the light fixture in the middle of the ceiling like it had the words she wanted. "It's not like I'm happy about it." Santana closed her eyes against the sting of tears andtch'd a bitter sort of half-laugh. "Can't say it surprised me, either."
Quinn could only blink with a blank expression.
"I'm really glad you're finally copping to it, Quinn, just.." She sighed, pressing their foreheads together. "I love you, you whore." The tears that had been threatening earlier returned with full force, trickling down Quinn's cheeks silently.
"I really am so sorry, Santana." She said weakly. "I was really drunk, and I—I, she wanted to talk about Finn and," Santana held one hand up, palm out.
"Spare me, I just ate." She said a little sharply. "I'm not up for a Discovery Channel woodland-gnome mating special, okay?" Quinn nodded, biting her lip and letting the tears flow. She brought one hand up to cup Santana's cheek, stroking her thumb over full lips.
"I do lo—" She closed her eyes tightly, thumb paused barely touching Santana's lower lip. She couldn't look into her eyes while she said it, that was just too raw. "I love you." She breathed, barely audible if not for the silent house around them. Santana reached up to grip Quinn's wrists, pulling her hands away from her face and down to hold them in her lap.
"Quinn." Santana said her name curtly. "I have been waiting to hear that from you for months." She stroked her thumbs over the skin on the inside of Quinn's wrists as her voice softened. "Maybe even longer." The brunette watched the motion of her own hands, slowing the pattern she was tracing to a stop as she drew in a deep breath.
"But I don't want it just because you feel guilty." She squeezed once then patted Quinn's hands.
"So." Santana leaned back on the counter, bracing herself on her hands behind her and crossing her ankles. "We're going, right?" She looked at Quinn expectantly while swinging her heels into the cabinet door with a steady thump, bumping against Quinn's calf with every kick. Quinn blinked at her, drawing her hands up to wipe the excess tears from her face.
"I...uh," She started to speak, then stopped when she realized she had no idea what to say. Of course they had to go, it was Rachel and Finn's wedding. It didn't matter if they wanted to, just like high school reunions or graduation ceremonies. You just go. Despite the social obligation of it, her guts rolled at the thought as soon as it crossed her mind.
"We can't not go, Quinn! It's the Finchel Fairy-Tale Follies!" Santana whined incredulously at the uneasy look on the blonde's face. Quinn blinked several times trying to clear her fog, nodding absently.
"No, of course, you're right." She patted Santana's thigh lightly, her voice thin. She cleared her throat and nodded again, more resolutely on the second try. "We'll be there, it would be weird if we didn't show." She tried to smile brightly, the result coming out kind of creepy. "Besides, everyone else will be there."
— — — — —
"What... What are you talking about? What about the party?" Quinn said weakly, all the fight draining out of her and making it obvious she knew exactly what Puck was referring to. He leveled a disapproving look at her.
"Quinn, are you fucking kidding me?" He rolled his eyes. "We all know what happened at that party." Sam nodded in agreement from the sofa without looking up. Her stomach knotted up instantly, who did he mean by all?
"And ya'know, some of us know you well enough to recognize how you were at the wedding last year." Puck added gruffly, looking at the floor. Sam hmm'd an acknowledgement, nodding again and chewing on his lip while his fingertip traced the wood grain of her coffee table.
Quinn grimaced at the words, taking stilted steps over to the sofa. She wavered for a moment in front of it with a dazed look on her face before dropping gracelessly on the cushions next to Sam in a slump. Her head was swimming. They all knew? They could tell she was upset at the wedding?
She thought of the wedding the previous summer, how she had been so proud of herself for being a good Fabray—all stiff upper lip and tight smile. She had fought off the tears that threatened her all day until they'd gotten back to her mom's house. Late that night after she thought Santana had fallen asleep, she'd snuck out of her bed to the bathroom and cried into a towel. Quinn learned that she wasn't as quiet as she'd thought when she finally came back to bed to find her girlfriend gone.
She leaned forward with her elbows on her knees, gripping her temples tightly and squeezing her eyes closed. How much did they 'all' know? Did they know the little moments like that; had Santana told all of her inadequacies?
Puck walked over and squeezed himself into the half-cushion's worth of space next to her with a sigh, rubbing his hand across her back in what he hoped were soothing circles. He would always have a soft spot for his baby-mama, but sometimes the sheer bitch component to her personality made him question his affection.
"It's probably for the best this way, Quinn, as much as it hurts right now." Sam spoke gently, leaning forward to touch his shoulder to hers. "You guys, y'know. It—it wasn't... I dunno." His words fell over each other, his discomfort at the subject carrying through. "You guys weren't nice at Christmas." The blond took a deep breath, picking his thumbnail at what looked like a mustard stain on the knee of his jeans.
"And from what I can tell, you haven't been nice to each other since then, either. So maybe, y'know..." He trailed off awkwardly, rubbing the stain on his knee after he'd chipped off flakes of dried mustard to the floor.
— — — — —
"Turn it off, I'm trying to have a discussion with you!" Quinn barked, stabbing the power button of the stereo and swerving the car slightly with the motion.
"I don't WANT to have this discussion, Quinn!" Santana yelled in exasperation, turning sideways in the passenger seat to emphasize her words with her hands. "How else can I possibly say it? I'm not fucking Brittany!" Her voice raised in pitch as she held her hands out, palms up and fingers splayed.
"Did you get that? No? Not yet? Should I repeat it, again? You seem to be having trouble understanding me, Quinn!" She reached up to grip the head of the driver's seat while she screamed, leaning in until she was almost in the blonde's face.
"Jesus, guys, calm down!" Puck spoke up from the seat behind Santana, slapping his hand on the center console between them. Quinn's knuckles turned white on the steering wheel, her jaw clenched tight and mouth pinched into a thin line.
"You always pull this out, whenever there's a chance..." Santana's voice was deadly quiet, bitter and laced with acid. She leaned back into her seat with tch, the creaking of the leather the only other sound in the car. "I think I'll stay at my parent's house while we're home." She said cooly, crossing her arms over her chest. Quinn narrowed her eyes without taking them from the road and nodded condescendingly.
"Of course you will, Santana." She laughed humorlessly. "Sneaking in Brittany's window is a lot easier when you're not leaving your girlfriend's bed to do it, right?"
"Augh, I'm so fucking tired of that, Quinn!" Santana dug her fingers into her own hair, gripping fistfuls in frustration. "God, trust me with my best friend or don't, but I'm sick of you picking bullshit fights about her every time—" Santana stopped herself and dropped her hands to her lap, looking at Quinn.
"Every time what, Santana? What?" The blonde rolled her eyes as she spoke wearily, leaning her forehead into her palm with her elbow braced on the windowsill.
"Funny how you don't mention where you were when I was 'sneaking out of your bed.'" Santana said lowly, her dark eyes trained on the blonde. Quinn flinched involuntarily at Santana's words, but remained quiet. Santana watched her, waiting for some kind of response- a denial, an accusation, an apology, anything. When the blonde remained stoic Santana smiled coldly.
"And just F-Y-I, sweetheart... I don't have to sneak in her window anymore." Her voice had dropped into a silky purr. "I can walk in the front door and straight to her room, no one says a fucking word."
Quinn slammed on the breaks in the middle of the interstate, jerking the wheel to point the car to the shoulder roughly. Santana gasped and braced her hands to the dash, Puck swearing from the back seat. Before they'd even finished skidding to a stop, Quinn had the gear slammed to park and the driver's door open. She turned around to Sam's door and yanked it open, waving her hand at him in a 'get out' sweep.
"Drive, Sam. You." She snapped as she hurried him out of the backseat. He shuffled trying to grab his iPod and Gatorade on his way out, mumbling an 'uhm, kay' without looking up at her.
Sam connected his iPod to the stereo and they drove the remaining four hours to Lima without speaking; an inappropriate mix of Foster the People hipster chic, bubblegum pop, and the occasional country whine blasting from the speakers. No one really felt like singing along.
— — —
"You want me to take first leg, or you got it?" Puck asked Santana, stuffing his duffel and a box full of his Hanukkah presents into the trunk before slamming the lid. She shook her head, holding up and jingling the car keys.
"I got it. If I get in the back with her, we'll fight and might kill each other before we get there. Or..." She paused and quirked an eyebrow with a smirk as she walked around to the driver's door. "Or we'll fuck, and you might kill us before we get there." She winked at him and opened the door to climb in.
Quinn got into the backseat with Puck with a book already open, sullen and not talking to anyone. Sam took shotgun and plugged in his iPod, a massive pout forming when Santana snatched the device from his hands.
"Nuh-uh, Dennis the Menace, I will seriously flip shit if I have to listen to one more fucking Bieber song." She scanned the contents of his iPod with a dubious expression, giving him incredulous looks over the top of it every few moments. "What even, Sam. Jesus." She finally gave an 'ah-ha!' under her breath and jabbed the play button, tossing the iPod into his lap. She spun the volume wheel of the stereo up and threw the car in reverse just in time to scream along with Ludacris as she hit the gas.
"MOVE BITCH, get out th'way!"
— — —
Three and a half hours and two pit stops later, they were all grumbling about being hungry and stopped at a McDonald's just past the Pennsylvania state line. They got their orders and Puck took over driving, Quinn leaning into a rolled up blanket stuffed against the window to sleep. Santana noticed Quinn was going to sleep and decided it was safe to be in the enclosed space with the moody blonde (despite their rocky holiday break) and let Sam keep shotgun.
"Don't say I never did anything for you, Frogger." She smirked, settling into the backseat and tossing a french fry at his head. He turned around to see what hit him and picked the fry out of the seat crevice where it had dropped. Looking at Santana with a bright grin, he threw it into his mouth.
"Hey, thanks!" He said, then almost choked on the fry in laughter at the instant repulsed look on Santana's face. Quinn actually chuckled lightly, her mood seemed like it was brightening the further they got from Lima. She cracked one eye open and reached for Santana's hand on the seat between them, tangling their fingers together hesitantly.
Santana recognized an olive branch when she saw it, and squeezed Quinn's fingers between her own. They rode like that for at least sixty miles, holding hands on the seat with Quinn dozing and Santana singing along to the Michael Jackson kick Sam was on.
The peace was interrupted when Santana's phone lit up and buzzed on the seat between them, Brittany's disembodied voice coming from the speaker.
"Lord Tubbington loves you!" Brittany had made Santana record her voice for her ringtone when they were still in high school, "so you won't forget when you don't get to see him." Santana, much to Quinn's irritation, transferred the recording everytime she got a new phone, making sure it was the tone that played when Brittany called her.
"Lord Tubbington loves y—" She disentangled her hand and grabbed the phone, unlocking it and bringing it up to her ear.
"Hey, turn it down!" Santana snapped, slapping the back of Sam's seat. "Hey there, Britt-Britt." She continued brightly, turning towards the window. "Pennsylvania or some shit, I think I saw a legit Amish when we stopped at McDonald's. No, Amish. Like, with the beards and no electricity and farms? Nevermind. Like, five hours. Yep, it's both. Because I'm halfway. No, B." She giggled the nickname, falling into easy conversation and Quinn felt her stomach twist.
She had startled out of her doze from the ringtone, trying not to let it sting that Santana wiggled out of her grasp immediately when it went off. Brittany was her best friend—just her best friend. Yes, they'd been together in high school and were unnervingly close and touchy 'best friends,' but she was tired of fighting about it and Santana's word had to be enough.
"I miss you, too, Brittany. You know I do." Santana's voice had softened to a warm comforting tone, setting Quinn's teeth on edge. "Three days. Yeah, tonight, tomorrow, and the next day and then you'll be flying in." She laughed again and Quinn shifted in her seat.
What the hell were they even doing? Santana was obviously still in love with Brittany, and Quinn knew her own issues. Why did they even bother pretending what was leftover for each other was enough? Yes, she was terrified to be alone (something else she and Santana shared) but was this any better?
"Yep, me and Quinn." Santana paused, listening, her eyes darting to Quinn momentarily and her voice dropping. "Nah, we're not like that, Britts. She knows." Santana turned back towards the window to continue speaking quietly. "I promise. No, B, she's not. I did, I told her."
Quinn felt her blood run cold. Santana was lying to Brittany, bold faced, telling her that she had already fessed up to whatever they'd done together and Quinn wasn't mad.
"Hey, I'm starting to lose you, Brittany. No, I mean the phone service, it's dropping out 'cause we're in backwoods fucking nowhere." Santana resituated in her seat as her voice picked back up. "No, there's ro—Nevermind, we're fine, B, I promise. Look, I'll call you when I get home, 'kay? Love you, too." She ended the call and turned to toss the phone back to the seat, Quinn's glare almost physically startling her.
"You already told me, huh? What'd you tell me, San?" She hissed, her golden eyes glittering in the low light. Santana's brows drew together in confusion. In the front seat, Puck shook his head and looked across to Sam, a sad and worried kind of helpless look on the blond's face.
"Wha—" Santana started.
"No, wait, 'we're not like that,' right? I can't be upset." Quinn crossed her arms over her chest and clenched her jaw. "You know, you're probably right. We should rethink this entire situation; I mean, really, Santana. What are we even doing?" Santana stared at her, her expression shifting from confusion to disbelief to cool anger within seconds.
"You damaged, paranoid, insecure little head case." Santana shook her head solemnly, speaking with eerie calm. "You are so out of line, and you have no fucking clue."
Quinn felt her gumption falter slightly, had she misunderstood? She ran through Santana's side of the conversation again in her head, her temper flaring back up at the hushed tones and the 'I did, I told her' echoing. She opened her mouth to speak when she was interrupted.
"Girls, seriously. Stop." Sam turned around in his seat to face them, his deep voice gruff and loud, brooking no argument. "I love you both, I'm sorry you've got..." His hand came up and gestured ambiguously in the air between the seats. "—whatever you've got going on here, but I don't want to hear you like this anymore." His blue eyes were wide, alternately looking at each of them intently for any challenge.
"Please." He asked earnestly, making them feel guilty, both women shifting uneasily with their eyes downcast. "I'm gonna turn the music back on now, something happy." He sighed as he turned back around, fiddling with the iPod. Puck looked over at him for a moment, then clapped a hand to his shoulder.
"Good job, bro."
They listened to Sam's 'happy' music and didn't speak to each other unless absolutely necessary all the way back to New York. When they dropped the boys off at their apartment in the city, Quinn took the keys from Puck with a half-assed hug and climbed into the driver's seat. She started the engine and idled in tense silence, Santana staring out the passenger window.
"I'm sorry if I was out of line, Santana." She began quietly, staring at her hands on the steering wheel. She had practiced what she would say once they were alone for the past four hours, testing out inflection and tone in her mind for every line. "And you know I love Brittany." Santana crossed her arms across her chest and scoffed, her gaze remaining fixed out the window. "But you have to admit that if I—"
"Quinn, I don't want to talk about this." Santana finally turned to look at the blonde, the anger in her voice cold and resigned, her gaze flat and detached. "Can you just... turn around, put the car in drive, and take us home. We can pretend for one more night that this isn't unravelling in our hands."
Quinn opened her mouth to respond, then stopped herself and really looked at Santana. She had her arm leaned against the window, and had turned back to stare ahead with her forehead braced in her palm. Her normally sparkling dark eyes were cloudy and she looked weary, lines surrounding her brows. She looked like Quinn felt and the blonde felt her determination leave her. She sighed and shifted the car into drive.
— — — — —
"You're right, Sam." Quinn nodded quietly from her spot between Puck and Sam on the couch. The brief time they had been at her house had been more than draining, and she found herself just wanting to be alone. "I guess I just need some time to get used to her not being around." She laughed humorlessly. "She's been in my life since I was fifteen."
Puck squeezed the back of her neck and leaned his forehead against her shoulder.
"She'll still be around, Q." He raised his head and looked at her, squeezing his hand again before stroking it down her back. "I mean, it's us. She's my girl-bro twin. And you're my baby-mama. There'll always be ties there."
"Yeah," Sam nodded on her left, leaning forward and tentatively patting her knee. "I mean, about—not the baby-mama thing, obviously." His cheeks flared pink as he fumbled with his words. "But the ties, and like... I care, y'know? About you." She cracked a teary smile and leaned into him, nodding. Puck patted her back and got to his feet.
"Alright, Q. I think we need to get... I don't want to leave San alone with my parrot for too long. She said she was gonna eat him if he called her a cunt one more time." Sam laughed as he was standing up.
"Dude, you didn't tell her it's one of the only two words he knows so far?" Puck shrugged with a wink in Quinn's direction.
"I told her he wasn't even a year old yet, that's the same thing, right?" He chuckled mischievously.
They said their goodbyes with hugs, and made promises to get together the next time she came down to New York. Quinn closed the door after them and rested her forehead against it. She wasn't quite ready to turn around and look at the cold and cavernous apartment that was now officially just hers. Reminding herself that she couldn't stand against her front door avoiding the sight of her living room all fucking day, she took a deep breath and turned around.
It stung, and the silence echoed just as much as she expected. Feeling herself right at the precipice of true depression, she made a snap decision and walked into her bedroom with sure steps. Pulling her dress over her shoulders and letting it to flutter to the floor, the blonde climbed into bed in her bra and panties, tears leaking down her cheeks before she'd finished pulling the covers over herself.
— — — — —
Quinn slowly blinked sleepy eyes open to the morning light. Saturday. God, she loved Saturdays. She nuzzled her nose deeper into the back of Santana's neck and inhaled, tightening her arms around the still sleeping brunette. This was their third weekend waking up together in Stamford. Excluding the first week of getting used to living together, Quinn was surprised to find she loved it.
They'd staked their claims on the different quadrants of the bathroom counter, Santana promised she would try really hard not to leave her damp towels on the bed after a shower, and Quinn learned the world did not, in fact, explode when someone drank from the milk carton. All in all, she found herself actually content.
Quinn raised herself up on her elbow, peering over Santana's shoulder while she slept. She bent her head to touch her lips to soft skin, hazel eyes following the lines of the brunette's exotic features. Sometimes it struck her out of the blue and stole her breath: Santana was exceptionally gorgeous. This was especially true in moments like this, when her defenses were down and her face clear of the normal attitude she presented.
Quinn unwrapped her arm from Santana's waist and brought her hand up, brushing strands of dark hair back from the girl's neck. Her fingers traced the tendons up to a strong jawline, following up her chin to dust over sensual lips and the curve of her cheek. Santana hmm'd in her sleep, twitching her nose and shifting deeper into the pillow and Quinn couldn't help the affectionate smile that broke over her face.
Was this what love felt like? This warm gooey feeling in her abdomen, a fierce sort of protectiveness and possessiveness accompanying any thoughts of the girl in her bed; was this how it was supposed to feel? She couldn't help but compare it, further muddling the issue in her mind.
The lust was the same for both, of that much she was sure. She and Santana were nothing if not sexually compatible, it was what got them together to begin with. But the interest, the care, the affection... the inexplicable fondness for all those idiosyncratic annoyances other people couldn't stand—those were vastly between the two.
Santana got under her skin, drove her up the fucking wall and antagonized her—deliberately—and had been doing so since they first met. She had the unerring ability to see through any bullshit Quinn put up, but also a mysterious sort of tolerance for it that no one else in the blonde's life ever showed. She was Quinn's biggest bulldog when others would attack, and simultaneously Quinn's most persistent attacker. The dichotomy struck her as oddly representative of the way they interacted on a whole, and somehow only made her more enamored with the woman.
She leaned down again and dropped kisses along Santana's neck, a hum of approval rumbling through the brunette's chest in response.
"Someone's sweet this morning..." Santana murmured sleepily, her hand reaching back to catch Quinn's and pull it around herself. Quinn nodded against her neck, sucking on the skin with more force now that Santana was awake, and stroking her hand up under the other girl's shirt.
"I like this... us, together here." Quinn whispered softly. She trailed her hand up between Santana's breasts, pressing against the beating she could feel underneath. "I love you, Santana." She said, her voice strong.
Santana's breath hitched at the words and she rolled over onto her back in the blonde's embrace. Dark brown eyes stared into hazel searchingly, Quinn gazing back steadily. Santana took a shuddering breath, bringing her hand up to brush blonde hair behind Quinn's ear and cupping her jaw. She leaned up and gave the barest of kisses, stroking Quinn's cheek with her thumb.
"I love you, too, Quinn." She breathed, taking the blonde's mouth in a deeper kiss while rolling them over. "Now," She began with a devilish smile. "If you're through with all that mushy shit, where's my Saturday morning orgasm I was promised when I signed the lease?"
She curled the blankets around herself tighter, sleep escaping her and the emptiness behind her sternum aching more with each memory. 'I made a mistake' kept cycling in her head repetitively, echoing through the cracks of her heart. She couldn't let Santana leave, she had to try and talk to her, had to try and fix this.
She flung herself out of bed and to the living room, grabbing her phone and hitting Santana's contact icon on her screen. She put the phone to her ear and stood there in her underwear waiting, a single ring sounding in her ear before the line picked up. She held her breath, waiting for Santana's hello.
"We're sorry, but you have reached a number that has been disconnected. Please hang up and try your call again." Her brows furrowed together as she pulled the phone back to stare at the screen. That was definitely Santana's number. She hit the icon to call again, the same recording going off in her ear.
Santana had already changed her number.