“Are you going to the party this weekend?” Quinn asked.
Brittany turned around. “I don’t know.”
Quinn crossed her arms. “You’ve got to.” A smile snaked its way onto her face. “I know Puck’s going.”
“I know that too.”
Quinn sighed. “And you should date him.”
Brittany cocked her head to the side. “He’s hot and all but I don’t know.”
“Well,” Quinn said, “It’s a great chance to get to know him then. Look, Finn and I will be there, so if for some reason everyone turns out to be losers, you’ll have us.”
Brittany spent the ride up to the lake sleeping.
Quinn gave Brittany’s ribs a friendly nudge. “It’s nice up here.”
Brittany smiled. “Yeah.”
“Do, uh, do you want your bags Brittany?” Finn asked.
“Oh, be a gentleman and carry them for her,” Quinn said.
Brittany stared up at Finn. “It’s okay. He’s got, like, ten bags. I can take mine.”
“I’ll take those,” Puck said. “Which ones are hers?” he jerked a finger at Brittany.
“The two on top,” Finn said.
Puck took them.
“Thanks Puck,” Brittany said.
Brittany remained silent, listening to the others talk as they made their way to the lake house.
“This place is huge,” Finn murmured.
“I can’t believe you haven’t been here before, dude,” Puck laughed. “I get so much action here.” He slid an arm around Brittany’s waist.
“No,” Brittany scowled, grabbing his hand. “Off.”
“Walk us to our room, Finn,” Quinn said.
“Alright,” Finn agreed. “See you, dude,” he said to Puck.
“Why do you want me to date Puck so badly?” Brittany asked as they made their way up the stairs.
“He’s into you,” Quinn replied.
“He’s into every girl,” Brittany frowned.
“He’s really popular,” Quinn added. “You could use the extra boost since we’ve joined Glee. I need an extra boost. You should date him.”
“She’s dating me,” Finn cut in.
“Yes I am,” Quinn said.
Brittany sat down on the bed closest to the window and watched Finn dump Quinn’s bag in the corner, along with his. Puck slipped in the room and added Brittany’s to the pile. She’d forgotten he had hers.
“I just don’t get why having a boyfriend is so important,” Brittany frowned. “And it’s not like I’ve never had one before.”
Quinn shooed Finn out and then sat down next to Brittany. “Artie was almost a year ago, B. And you should have chased that little home wrecker away from him.”
Brittany shook her head. “She never wrecked my house.”
Quinn rolled her eyes. “Quit that B. I can never tell if you’re kidding or not.”
Brittany giggled. “That’s what makes it so funny.”
“He never did anything with Tina while we were together,” Brittany said.
“But he wanted to.”
“We’re still friends.”
Quinn winced. “I have no idea how you manage that.”
“Well, there are plenty of other guys here too. Maybe you’ll find someone better than Puck,” Quinn said.
“I just want a nice guy.”
“I don’t think there are a lot of those,” Quinn sighed. “At least not popular ones.”
The door burst open. Six other Cheerios came in.
“There aren’t enough beds,” one of them groaned. “Where are we supposed to sleep?”
“It’s called doubling up for a reason,” Brittany said.
“Whatever,” she grumbled. “Josh should have decided the rooming better.”
Brittany blinked. “Is that whose house this is?”
Brittany smiled, watching the firecrackers go off.
“You enjoying yourself?” came a voice.
She gave the newcomer a smile. “Yeah. The fireworks are pretty.” A pause. “I’m Brittany.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” she said.
“We’ve had, like, five classes together since we started high school,” Josh frowned.
“It’s okay.” He took a gulp from his beer. “You want to take a walk?”
Brittany nibbled on her lip. Her mother told her she shouldn’t go off with strange boys but Josh seemed nice and Quinn really wanted her to get a boyfriend. “Okay.”
He beamed. “Really? I mean, awesome Babe.”
Brittany rolled her eyes.
Josh leapt up from the chair and offered her his hand. She accepted it and stood up. “You need another beer before we go?” he asked, gesturing to the empty bottle.
Brittany shook her head. “I’m good. I don’t really like beer all that much. But thanks.”
Brittany didn’t say much as they walked. She mostly tuned Josh out, occasionally tossing in a ‘ahuh’, or ‘nice’.
“It really is a nice night.” Josh wrapped an arm around her.
“Off,” Brittany mumbled.
“I don’t want that,” Brittany said.
He kissed her.
“I said off,” Brittany frowned.
“You come to my party, at my lake house, go on a walk with me through the woods, and you don’t want to do anything?” he gaped.
She nodded. “You’re kind of boring.”
“Fucking cocktease,” he spat.
“Can we go back to the party now?” Brittany whimpered.
“What the hell’s your problem? It’s not like we all know you’re not easy. Danny said you have a fucking notch post on your bed.”
“That was before I dated Artie,” Brittany told him.
“Fucking Artie doesn’t even have working legs,” Josh sneered. “Let alone a working dick.” He knelt down and grabbed a rock. “So don’t go giving me some lame boyfriend excuse.” He threw the rock.
“I want to go back.”
He grabbed another rock. “Look, how about we just make out for a bit? We don’t need to do anything more than that.” He gave her a nervous smile.
“I want to go back. Now.” Brittany’s grip tightened on her flashlight.
“And I want a better excuse.” He grabbed her shoulders.
She struggled to push him away. “Get off me.” She punched at his chest, and when she felt the rock dig into her shoulder, brought a leg up strong between his legs.
He dropped to the ground.
Brittany took off. In between breaths she could hear Josh shouting out curses at her. She wasn't sure where she was, all she wanted was to get as far away as possible.
He was chasing after her, begging her to come back.
She ran faster.
The thick trees were growing in density around her, blocking out what light the moon was providing that night, and still she ran at a fast pace.
After a while Brittany realized that Josh was no longer chasing after her. Slowing down, she came to a rest against a tree and tried to catch her breath. Taking deep breaths, she looked around to try to find her bearings. Long after she recovered her breath, Brittany kept her deep breathing in an attempt to stay calm and not panic.
She balanced her options and with deep apprehension, started to go back the way she came. The dark woods were casting shadows everywhere, making all sorts of terrifying images.
Despite her attempts at remaining calm, Brittany could not stop her pace from increasing. As her fear began to grow, she found herself jumping at every little sound. Before she realized it, she was running through the woods again. She stumbled over roots and rocks, branches whipped across her exposed skin, and she could feel herself beginning to cry.
Then she was flying through the air, her feet having launched her over a sharp drop. The world became a whirl of shades and leaves as Brittany rolled down the incline. She came to a sharp stop, striking her head against a rock.
Brittany blinked, the world fuzzy along the edges. Her head pounded and she wanted nothing more than to sleep.
Nestled in the darkness, not too far from her, was a mansion.
Brittany closed her eyes.