Okay. I know this is something I shouldn't be doing. It's Saturday night and I am young and single. I should be out on the town, partying and keeping up appearances.
I am not an avid reader. I really only read stuff I have to normally, but I was trolling the internet instead of working yesterday and my favorite lesbian site had an article about the best fanfiction stories with lesbian characters and the picture on the screen was of two characters I actually like on a show I somewhat like, but when you're gay, there aren't always a lot of options for great shows with great lesbian characters out there. Sometimes, you get lucky. I stumbled upon Skins a while ago and Emily and Naomi's story actually resonated with me in a way that not a lot of other stories have been able to. Maybe it's because I'm a cynic. Who knows?
Anyway, I followed the link to the story, preparing to read a page or two or however they do that stuff since I've never actually read fanfiction before and I started this thing Friday after work around 6pm and it is now Saturday around 9pm. I haven't really put my IPad down once except to go to the bathroom and grab food now and again, but every time I do that, I bring the thing with me so it's not really like I'm pausing the reading. I haven't even showered since Friday morning. I have fallen into the black hole of fanfiction. I have already familiarized myself with the terminology. For example, I learned that AU means alternate universe. Who thinks this stuff up? I don't even know how many stories I've read, but it's probably over 100. Some are short. Just a chapter or two and some are much longer. Some are written well and others not so much, but I read them anyway because seeing how someone else views my favorite characters fascinates me.
Time to move on to the next story to see what this author has in store for me. I read the synopsis and notice it has an M rating. I've discovered in the last 24 hours that I really only like reading the mature fics. It's not just because those typically include sex, but they also usually include more adult themes. Not all the time, but most of the time. I'm 25 and I find that while the stories taking place when the characters are in high school are sometimes compelling, it's hard for me to go back that far and recall what those emotions are like at that time in a person's life. So, I've been focusing my time today on the stories that take place when the characters are somewhere around my age. The author's screen name is Citybythebay and this is the second story she's written. I've checked the reviews before reading a few other stories and they're a mixed bag. Some of them even reveal parts of the story I haven't read yet and I'm not a fan of spoilers so I've decided to just chance reading stories and form my own opinion.
I close my eyes in an attempt to cure their exhaustion from all this reading and open them again to begin reading chapter one of Citybythebay's story. In a matter of minutes, I am hooked. The story is 40 chapters long and is about the length of a classic novel and apparently it's still in progress. Lord knows how many more chapters there will be, but after chapter 5, I know I will read every single one. There's something about her writing style and the way she seems to understand the characters in the same way that I've always understood them. The characters themselves are not actually a couple on the show. In fact, on the show, one of them is actually straight, but they have an undeniable chemistry that others like me have noticed and in this story, while it begins where the show left off at the mid-season break, it continues on in its own little way gradually getting these two characters to realize they belong together. It's well after 11 when I'm caught up to the 40 chapters she's already posted and now I'm desperate to know what happens next. How did I become this person? It's like I have to know what happens, but I have to wait to find out. The last time she posted was today so I'm probably going to have to wait awhile. This is ridiculous. I'm Santana fucking Lopez. I'm a Grammy winning artist who's about to drop her 3rd album and I'm obsessed with fanfiction.
I decide to check out her profile since she has one. It's pretty basic stuff. No name or significant information other than she has a cat and lives somewhere in Northern California. She obviously loves the show she's writing about. There's not much else there except the mention of her other story, which is not about the show, but a crossover between Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries. Not really interested in that one right now since I'm exhausted and need to give my eyes a rest. I notice there's an icon next to her name though. When I hover over it, it reveals that it is for something called a private message. I click on it and I am taken to a blank e-mail like page.
"Oh." I say out loud to no one since I live in this Los Angeles 3 bedroom alone. It's not really even fully furnished since I just moved in about a month ago after living in New York for 7 years. I moved there right after high school. I tried college for a minute, but it wasn't my thing. Music was my thing and I got scouted by a label when I was 20 and the first album followed and then the second and the tours and the publicity and the fact that to my friends and family, I am out and proud, but to the rest of the world including my fans, I am a very straight pop star who has a boyfriend. He's just for show and is actually a really good friend who knows the deal, but he lives in LA to shoot the TV show he just landed so in order to make things appears legit, I moved out here. I actually really like it. I still have my place in NYC so I can go back whenever, but I like the weather and the constant view of girls walking the beach in bikinis. Venice Beach is the place for me right now.
I'm staring at the blank box with the blinking cursor. I feel nervous, which makes no sense. It's not like I have to send her a message. I can just click this thing away and go to bed. I think I'm nervous more from the fan perspective. I'm a fan. I'm like one of my fans who feels a connection to me. I feel a connection to Citybythebay and it is weird thinking about sending her a message saying that.
"Fuck it." I tell myself and start typing.
I just wanted to say that I read all 40 chapters of your story in a couple of hours and now I'm caught up. I really hope you post the next one soon because I'm already going through withdrawals. I love the way you write these characters. I know right now they're working through all this angst or whatever, but I'm a sucker for a happy ending. Don't tell anyone. I have a reputation to protect. Anyway, I just wondered what you had planned for them and maybe you can let me know when you're going to post the next chapter.
Now, how do I sign it? It's not like I can use my real name. Everyone who's listened to the radio or streamed Pandora in the last 5 years knows who I am. My screen name, which I created before realizing I really didn't need to if all I wanted was to read the stories is insertnamehere. I thought it was funny at the time.
I opted not to sign it at all and just clicked the send button. An hour later, I was showered and sliding into my bed. My eyes closed and I was about to drift off into sleep when the phone buzzed next to me. It was only an e-mail, but the sound was to my personal account, which no one really used since I rarely gave it out to people. I decided to take a look and then fall asleep. I opened my app and saw that there was a PM from Citybythebay.
"Well, that was fast." I opened up, unable to wait to see the response.
That's an interesting name choice. I'm glad you like the story so far. I know there's a lot of conflict now, but conflict is necessary to story. If there's no conflict, no one would read it. Who wants to read 40+ chapters of happy people with happy lives and have everything wrapped into a bow? I know I don't. I like reading because it takes my mind off of my own problems. Having said that, you will get your happy ending. These two are endgame. I've got about 5 more chapters to post and I try to post daily so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Anyway, thanks for the message.
She was right. I hate happy people with happy lives and wrapping things in a bow. That's not real life. I know things seem pretty good for me now, but they haven't always been that way. I'm from small town Ohio. Not exactly easy being a gay and living there as a teenager. I guess you could say I had a bout of gay rage back then, but I was a cheerleader and in the glee club so needless to say I had issues. Sure, I was popular and I ended up dating my best friend, but it was still very lonely. I went through my fair share of busted relationships. When I got my deal at the label, they asked that I keep my lady loving a secret. I figured it was just until I was famous, which I knew I would be and then I could come out with a hot girlfriend on my arm, but the album did well and then the next one did well and I got worried that if I told the world, my next one might not do so well. I know it's the modern era and all and it shouldn't be an issue, but unfortunately it still is, so I keep my fake boyfriend and I figured when I find someone I really love and want to spend my life with, I'll take that step. Honestly, I'm not even sure how it hasn't been leaked yet. Everyone in my high school knew, people I met in New York before the album dropped knew. I didn't hide it back then. Maybe they're just understanding or maybe they all just think that it was a phase back then since I haven't talked to most of them in years.
Your name is long so I'm going to abbreviate from now on. Thanks for the heads up. I didn't realize you were posting daily. Most of these other writers just leave me hanging. I've noticed many of them start stories and don't seem to finish them. So, I'm holding you to the fact that you said you'd finish and that you'd do it soon. I'm sort of new to this fanfiction thing. I found a link and now I'm hooked. You're the first person I've sent a message to and your story is definitely the best written. Some of these stories seem like they're written by 10 year olds. Hell, some of them probably are. I don't think I'm going to post any reviews or anything, but just know that I think you're talented. If you're not a writer, you should be.
I hit send and stared at my phone, awaiting a reply. After a few seconds, I sat it back down and fell asleep almost immediately. I woke up around 9am on Sunday and grabbed my phone to check my texts. I was expecting one from my manager about an upcoming appearance he was trying to schedule, but I didn't have any messages. I did have several e-mails on my main account, which I scrolled through briefly before remembering last night. I quickly checked my personal account, which was the one I had linked to my Fanfiction account and there was one message from City.
From now on? I guess that means we're in this PM thing for the long haul, huh? You can shorten my screen name if you want, but you can also call me Lucy. I am not a professional writer. I just like to dabble here and there when I get an idea. I was an English major as an undergrad. Now, I'm about to finish up my MS in psychology and then it's onto my doctorate. I write fanfic during breaks from studying or working at my actual job. I'll post the next chapter around noon my time. I don't know what time zone you're in, but I'm PST. Let me know if you like it later. Don't tell me if you hate it. I'm not good at criticism. Constructive or not.
I smiled as I read it. I don't really know how it's possible, but I'm starting to like talking to this girl and I've only exchanged a couple of messages with her. I noticed the message came in around midnight so I decided to go ahead and respond even though I would normally make people wait for stuff like this.
I guess it makes sense you have a psychology thing since you're story is kind of about that. I find human behavior fascinating. Well, humans are generally a pain in my ass and mostly predictable, but every now and then they surprise me. You can call me Maria and I'm on PST too. I live in LA. I read your profile (pretty tame if you ask me and no I'm not virtually stalking you) and saw you're in Northern Cali and your screen name leads me to believe that maybe you're in the SF area. True or false?
Maria is my middle name. I use it sometimes when I check into hotels. Everyone knows Santana Lopez, but Maria Lopez is a nobody. I couldn't wait for the next chapter to be posted, but I really couldn't wait for my next message to come in. I decided to get some work done instead of reading another fanfic and went to the room I would eventually turn into an office, but now just has a small loveseat and some instruments lying about. The 3rd album was wrapped, but I had been writing songs for other artists for a few years now. Mercedes Jones was one of them. We went to high school together and she blew up right around the same time I did. We even did a tour together where we were co-headliners because neither of us wanted to open for the other. Rachel Berry even tried her hand at a solo album and had one of my tracks on it. That was a while ago though now and we don't really speak these days. No bad blood or anything. She's just busy and so am I. She's got a couple of Tony awards and has her own Vegas show now. I keep meaning to call her, but then I pick up the phone and it feels like it's just been too long. I guess that's just how it goes when you get out of high school. You lose track of people after a while. I got back together with my first love Brittany and for a while, it was great, but then I got the deal and she got a tour as a dancer and we were both working all the time. I got her on my first tour, but things had changed too much by then and we ended things for good. We still talk almost weekly, but it's just not the same. She's been on a European tour for about 6 months now so we've just been e-mailing when we can.
The one I most regret losing contact with though is Quinn Fabray. We stayed in touch after high school. We even had a one-night stand when we were drunk and 19 and at a boring wedding, but nothing ever came of it. I got back together with Brit and she got back together with one of her ex-boyfriends and we talked less and less after that. Honestly, I heard she graduated from Yale, but I haven't really heard anything about her since then. I had to stop using Facebook the way other people use Facebook because I became one of those people you can Like on Facebook instead of someone you just friend. I have someone who manages my social media now anyway. I don't even tweet. Someone does it for me. I started thinking a lot about Quinn and after I got together with fake boyfriend number one a few years ago. It just felt like a Quinn kind of move. Find a boyfriend, convince yourself you're in love with him because it's easier than being alone. I hoped she was past that phase in her life and that she's happy now.
I went through the rest of the morning with no buzzing from my phone until right around noon when I heard that magical sound telling me that I either had a message from Lucy or a new chapter had been posted. I grabbed my phone and saw it was chapter 41. Another buzz though and it was from her.
True and I'm a woman of my word. Hope you like it.
I quickly opened the chapter. 5,000ish words opened up before me and she was right there was still some of that patented Lucy angst, but there were also happy moments that led me to believe that she was wrapping up the story soon. It left me with a cliffhanger though because one character said she loved the other one, but the other one didn't say anything back and then the chapter was over.
Please don't take this the wrong way, but Bitch! How could you leave me hanging like that? You better post tomorrow or maybe even later tonight. I can't believe she just didn't say anything. She just stood there. What the hell? Who does that?
A few minutes later after I had started making lunch, I got a response.
People do that. I've done it before. I once had a boyfriend that told me he loved me and I just kind of left him standing there. I told him later though and we were together for a while, but the distance just got in the way. We sort of grew up at different rates, I guess. Anyway, you probably don't care about that. Yes, I will post the next chapter tomorrow. I will be traveling though so it might not be at noon. Probably after I get into my hotel. Hope you can wait that long.
I waited a little while before responding because I didn't want her to just think I was sitting by my phone waiting for a message. Plus, I was a little confused. She's talking about a boyfriend, but she's also writing a story about two chicks falling for each other. Is this girl straight and just likes the character's story or is she bi or… wait. Why do I even care?
The rest of my Sunday was spent watching TV and writing drafts of a couple of songs for Mercedes. She was going to be in town next week and I told her I'd have something we could take to the studio by then. It wasn't until I was going to sleep that I decided to actually message her back.
When you say boyfriend… I'm just curious. You seem to have a pretty good grasp on lesbian sex given those scenes you write, but you had a boyfriend. Maybe you have a boyfriend. I don't know. Maybe this is too personal. It's probably too personal. Sorry, I don't really have a filter. I just kind of say what I want and let people deal with it. Forget I asked. Changing the subject. You're traveling tomorrow? For work, vacation with that boyfriend I assumed you have? Anywhere cool?
I fell asleep waiting for a response. Monday morning rolled around and I had a phone interview with a local radio station to promote the album. I finished that and then went for a run. I had to keep myself in shape given the rigors of touring. When I got back, I still didn't have a PM from Lucy. She's traveling, I told myself. Be cool, loser. I told myself again and again. She'll reply when she can. I took a shower and decided to try to unpack some of my stuff for the guest bedroom. I'd bought furniture for it, but the accessories I bought from Pottery Barn were still in the bags I brought them home in. After a few hours of going room to room to get this place looking like someone actually lives here, I finally heard the familiar buzz of my phone.
I ate dinner while reading chapter 42 and the whole chapter was a damn flashback. There was no resolution to the unreturned I love you from the previous chapter. I reread chapter 41 and then read 42 again to see if I missed something, but no. She was leaving me hanging again. Buzz.
Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. I am traveling for work. I went straight from the airport to meetings and I just got to the hotel and I prioritized posting the next chapter over unpacking and ironing my clothes for tomorrow. Just so you know.
I do not currently have a boyfriend. Your question is personal, but I don't mind answering it since I'm the one that brought up the topic to begin with. I haven't dated a guy in the past couple of years. The guy I was referring to was someone I knew from high school and we got back together while I was in college, but it didn't last much longer that time. I dated a couple of guys after that, but I ended up meeting a girl a few years ago and I fell for her. It was completely unexpected and something I was terrified of. Full disclosure though, it wasn't the first time I'd been with a girl. I had a one-night stand when I was a freshman in college. Typical straight girl experiment, I thought. Then, I met her and it scared the crap out of me because she was gay and she didn't really think I wanted to be with a woman. She thought it might be another experiment, but I assured her I really wanted to be with her. We were together for about six months, but then I found out she was cheating on me with her ex pretty much the entire time we were together. Don't tell anyone on me, but I keyed her car and wrote whore on it. It didn't make me feel better, but at least I did something to let the world know what a skank she was. LOL I got over that whole thing a while ago, but I haven't found anyone (girl or guy) that's made me feel like getting into yet another relationship.
Oh and I'm in your neck of the woods, to answer your other question. Anaheim technically. I'm at the convention center all week. I work for a marketing firm right now. I got the job out of college before I decided to go to grad school. They let me work from home now, but once a quarter I have to go to conventions. This time, it's Anaheim. Last time was Dallas. Next quarter, Orlando.
Now that I've given you my personal relationship history (or at least some of it), you feel like filling me in on your details?
She wrote whore on someone's car. That's awesome and definitely something I would do. I was really starting to like this girl I had never met and for all I knew could really be a 60 year old man or a pimply faced teenager who just sounds really mature. Still, I felt like there was something here. I can't explain why or what it means, but there's something about this person that makes me want to talk to her more. Maybe it's because her writing got to me or maybe it's just because of the way she responds to my messages. I don't know. Before I fell asleep, I responded to her message.
I have my own sorted history with girls. There was my first love that flamed out a couple of times. We're still friends, but it was hard. There was one girl I met when I lived in New York who I actually really liked there for a while, but when my ex came calling, I had to let her go so I could give her and I a real chance at being together. I had my own straight girl hook-up once so I can understand how your ex might have been worried. It can be tough when you like a girl you think is not an option and then she is an option, but you're not sure if she's really an option or she just thinks she's into girls now and will change her mind. I don't even know if that makes sense. Not that I'm defending your ex though. She sounds like a bitch who deserved more than just you taking a key to her car. I'm currently single. No girlfriend for a while now. My job kind of complicates things for me in that department.
Can I ask you another personal question? How old are you? You don't have to answer. I know some girls don't really like when people ask them that. I'm 25. Just so you feel like it is give and take here.
Oh and don't think you're off the hook for that flashback. You know I wanted resolution and you're pacing it out. Am I wrong in think you're just doing that to drive me nuts?
Tuesday, I had two interviews at LA morning shows followed by a photo shoot for Entertainment Weekly followed by dinner with my agent and publicist and manager and my fake boyfriend. It wasn't until after 9 that I got home and could check for a new chapter and reply.
A little narcissistic of you to think that, isn't it? LOL Honestly though, I did have the flashback and chapter 43 as one chapter at first, but when you and I started sending these messages, I decided to draw it out a little bit. I figured it would drive you crazy. Chapter 43 will be posted once I'm done writing this. And now there will be 46 chapters instead of 45.
I am 26. Just had a birthday actually. I noticed you mentioned your work, but you didn't say what you actually do. I assumed hit woman. Is that correct? That would make things complicated. How do you come home from killing someone and make dinner for your girlfriend? Or is it a Mr. and Mrs. Smith kind of thing?
I'm just throwing this out there and feel free to say no, but I'm thinking maybe we could meet. In person. If you're up for it. I'm only in town this week and then it's back home. Again, you can say no. I'm not a crazy person, but if you don't want to meet, that's fine. I just kind of feel like maybe we could be friends. Is that weird? I don't have a lot of friends these days. Lost track of people over time and then I don't have a lot of time to make new ones with school and work and of course, writing fanfiction stories and messaging my adoring fans. I just think we could take advantage of the fact that I'm in town. I can meet you somewhere. I have a rental car. I don't know how far you are from where I am. I hear LA traffic is a bitch. If not, it's cool. I understand. You might think I'm the Craigslist killer or something.
P.S. I'm not, by the way. Just so we're clear.
She wants to meet. I know there's another chapter there waiting for me and I do love this story and want to know what happens next, but I also really do want to meet her. I was thinking about her all day. What she might look like. What she might dress like. Is she a girly girl or a tomboy? Hell, is she a top or a bottom or is she flexible on that? What is wrong with me? I'm thinking about having sex with this girl and I've never even seen her. I don't even know her last name. Now, I'm living in a Carrie Underwood song. She's nice, by the way. I've met her. I can't just meet Lucy though. She'll know who I am and while it's not like I've revealed a lot about me through our messages, she would know I was gay and if she decided to make an extra buck by telling a tabloid, it could cause problems for me.
"This is stupid." I told myself.
I can meet you. I live pretty far away (LA traffic time) from Anaheim though. Probably a couple of hours in traffic. Maybe more. I can drive down there or we can meet in the middle if you want. Have you ever been to LA? If not, and if you have the time, maybe we can just meet in Santa Monica. By the pier. It's a public place with tons of people so if you are the Craigslist killer, good luck trying to get away with it. If not, I can Google some place a little closer to you. I'm pretty free this week so whatever time you're available will work.
And I'm not dodging your work question. I'm not a hit woman. At least not yet, but I think we can talk about it when we meet. It will give us somewhere to start. I'm going to read your newest chapter now.
I was nervous again. I don't get nervous. Even when I'm on stage. I performed in front of the Grammy crowd and on the Academy Awards. I've sang the national anthem at various sporting events including the Super Bowl last year, but this girl I've never met and probably won't even like in person makes me nervous. It didn't take long at all for the next buzz.
How about tomorrow around 3? I'll be at the convention until noon and then I'll leave from there. I've never been to LA. I've had a layover at LAX and I've driven through it, but never really checked it out. I'd like to go to Santa Monica. I've seen it on TV. It looks like fun. Do I sound like a lame tourist? Sorry about that. I don't get out of San Francisco a lot with the exception of these work trips and those are mostly business. I haven't even been home in a couple of years to visit my family. I'm a horrible daughter to my parents, but that's a much longer story. I can maybe fill you in tomorrow. It'll give us another topic to discuss instead of trying to fill in conversation with weather and politics stuff that to be honest, I don't really care about.
I responded immediately.
There's a hot dog stand between the beach and the pier. I'll meet you there at 3. I'll get you a lemonade. Do you like lemonade?
I read the next chapter and knew for a fact that this girl had to be amazing. The characters finally had their heart to heart and feelings were revealed. Normally, I'm not into that romantic crap, but the way she wrote it wasn't all fuzzy and mushy. It was poetic, but also realistic. They both recognized that their relationship wasn't perfect. They both made mistakes. They knew it would be work. It was exactly how I had heard these two talking about this in my head. They were going to try going on a first date and see how that went before calling it more than that. That was a little weird considering they'd been friends forever and had confessed their love, but I understood why they'd want to see if it could work before they put a lot of pressure on themselves to call it more.
Lucy responded that she did indeed like lemonade so I told her to look for the girl carrying the two cups next to the stand. I was going to wear a hat and my patented big shades and hope no one recognized me at least while I waited for her. There were restaurants around that I figured we could duck into if anyone recognized me. That would at least get us off the street so we could talk in private.
I tried to fall asleep, but the thought of meeting her in person without actually knowing what she looks like or even hearing her voice kept me tossing and turning. What if I had built this whole thing up in my head? I think it's more than it is? I woke up if I ever even actually went to sleep and went on my run followed by my shower. I tried to work on my songs, but that just wasn't happening so I decided to re-read my favorite parts of her story so they would be fresh in my mind. It was at around 1 that I realized I needed to actually get ready so I wouldn't be late.
I arrived with my big hat and sunglasses at the beach at 2:45 just so I wouldn't be late. I parked the car and walked the few hundred yards passed the beach volleyball players and the people playing Frisbee and swimming in the water I won't dare to get into. I got to the hot dog stand at about 2:50 and got in line to get the lemonade I had promised. It was long for this time of day, but I had time to kill and waiting at least gave me something to do to distract me. I kept my head down and looked at e-mails on my phone regretting not actually exchanging numbers with her in case she had to cancel or was running late. Hopefully, I'd get an e-mail if that was the case so at 3 when I had my lemonades in hand, I started refreshing my inbox to see if anything was there when I heard that voice I hadn't heard in years.
"Santana?" It was low and somewhat hushed, which was a good thing because there were people standing all around.
I looked up and there she was, Quinn Fabray. She was wearing her work clothes, a black pencil skirt and princess cut style blouse and her hair was long and straight and the same shade of blonde it had been the last time I saw her.
"Lucy?" Then it dawned on me. "Lucy Quinn Fabray." I said to her.
"Santana Maria Lopez?" She replied as it must have entered her brain that we had been messaging each other without even knowing it.
I didn't know what to say to her. The lemonade was beginning to sweat in my hands, but I was beginning to sweat beneath my hat too. The sun suddenly felt like it was aimed directly at me. I couldn't even process my thoughts. Quinn and I had lost touch so long ago. I couldn't believe it was her that I'd been talking to.
"How did I not put this together?" I really asked myself, but I asked it out loud so she kind of laughed a little.
"Well, I didn't put it together either, Maria." She emphasized my middle name.
"Well Fabray, take this damn lemonade already before it gets all watered down." I passed it to her and our fingers touched. I felt a shock of electricity go through me, but I think it was more in my mind than in reality.
"Thanks." She was being polite. "Are we just going to stand here?"
"Do you want to sit somewhere?"
"The beach looks available."
"I can't sit in the sand in these pants." I told her.
"I'm in a skirt, Santana. I was thinking more about a bench or something." And the politeness was gone.
"Fine, but not on the beach. In the shade. It's freaking hot out here."
We walked silently toward a hotel that was next to the stand and had a bench out front. I took a seat and she sat down next to me, but on the other end so we were a couple of feet apart.
"So, this isn't awkward." She took a drink.
"No, not at all." I agreed. "How did this even happen, Quinn and why did you call yourself Lucy?"
"Hey, you're the one that PMed me, remember? I was just minding my own business-"
"Writing lesbian fanfiction in San Francisco?"
"Among other things. Lucy is my name these days. Most people call me that at work. It's been a long time since we've talked. Really since your career took off."
"Are you blaming me?" I was getting defensive because I felt like she had me at a disadvantage. She knew I was flirting with her in those damn messages and she knew I was famous and wasn't out and she knew me. She knew the real me. The me that not even my fake boyfriend gets to see.
"No. I was just making the comment. You got busy with that and I got busy with school and Puck and then we stopped talking."
"Whatever happened with him? Was he who you were talking about?"
"Yeah, we tried the long-distance thing for a while, but it just didn't work. He thought he was ready and I thought I was ready, but we really weren't and we decided to just end it. It was mutual. We talk every so often. Mostly about Beth. He finished his stint in the military. He's back in Lima now. He works at McKinley now actually."
"What?" I laughed through my shock.
"He's the football coach."
"Well, I guess that makes sense. Just tell me he's not also teaching a class."
"No, thank God." She paused. "I tried reaching out to you a couple of times, but you're a hard person to get a hold of."
"When you're famous, there's like this army of people around you at all times trying to keep other people away. Just know it wasn't personal. If I would've known, I would've gotten in touch." I paused. "And for the record, I did try to reach out to you a few years ago. You changed your number."
"I got a new phone number." She took another drink. "You really tried hard. Did you call me once and give up?"
"Back off, Q. I tried a couple of times, but then, yeah. I got busy and figured there was a reason you weren't calling me back. I've been a little occupied making successful albums and touring and filming guest spots on TV shows and-"
"Yeah, I get it. You're successful. Congrats!" She stood. "It's been nice catching up with you, San."
"Where are you going?"
"If we're just going to make excuses for why we lost touch, I don't really see the point in sticking around. I came here to meet someone that-"
"You liked?" I said before I thought about it.
She took a deep breath and tossed her drink in the trash.
"It's dumb, but yeah. I liked Maria. I can't explain it, but I did and I thought I'd be meeting someone new today."
"So did I." She had her rental car keys in her hand. "Fabray, sit the hell down." I told her. She took a beat and then sat next to me. "I liked Lucy too. I've been trying to understand it since that first message, but we should at least talk about it."
"Fine. According to the recent Enquirer I saw at the grocery store, you are dating that guy on that new doctor show."
"Yeah well, I don't want to have to do one of those ridiculous coming out articles in the Advocate or be on the main page of Afterellen and do all those follow-up interviews and then I'm known as Santana Lopez, the lesbian pop star and I've already been Santana Lopez, the lesbian cheerleader and the lesbian high school student and I just want to be Santana Lopez, okay?"
"When did you get like this? What happened to the Santana Lopez I used to know? The one from Lima Heights Adjacent who used to threaten to kill people regularly?"
"I still do that. Those people just don't necessarily know I'm gay. Some of them do. The people I care about know. I mean, you know."
She smiled and I saw it, the thing I saw back at that hotel the night we spent together. There was a spark there in her eyes.
"Well, you know about me now. No one else does. My parents do, but that didn't exactly go well. That's why I'm the horrible daughter."
"You came out to Mr. and Mrs. Bible Thumper?"
"Yeah, before I found out about the cheating and car keying I told you about. I told them about she who will not be named and they freaked the hell out and I haven't been back sense."
"I'm sorry you apparently Lord Voldemort but I'm really sorry about your parents being stupid too, Quinn."
"I do not know what I was expecting. Look how they reacted to Beth."
"How is she, by the way?"
"She's good. I get to see her every couple of weeks. That's why I moved to San Francisco. Shelby took a job there and I really missed seeing Beth. So, I followed."
"And you're almost done with school?"
"Yeah, I'll have my MS at the end of this semester."
"Psychology, Fabray? Really?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"So, when you get your Ph. D do I have to call you Dr. Fabray? Cause I'm not going to."
"Who says we'll even be talking then?" She sassed me and it was just like old times.
"Please, you know you want to go out with me, Q."
She smiled again and looked me in the eye.
"I don't think that's a good idea, San."
"Why didn't we try back then, Quinn?" I figured I'd put it out there. "After that night?"
"Because you were still in love with Brittany and I really did just think it was a one-time thing. I didn't know until later that I actually liked girls."
"You look really good, Quinn." I reached my arm over the back of the bench. She noticed.
"You really think this is a good idea, San? Be honest." She turned toward me.
"What happened to the super romantic fanfiction writer whose characters figure it all out after years and years of not being together? I'm not proposing or anything. We still have a lot of catching up to do, but you're in town for a couple more days. Can't we just see what happens?"
She looked around and then back at me before leaning in.
"What about your adoring public? Someone might recognize you."
"I live like 10 minutes from here. We could catch up and I could cook dinner."
"You cook now?"
"I do, yeah. Don't sound so damn surprised."
"So, is this like a date?" She asked.
"Okay. I'm gonna get really lame for a second, but you're not allowed to hold it over me forever. Deal?" I asked and leaned in, setting my untouched lemonade on the ground.
"I think this was supposed to happen. I mean, think about how it all had to work out to get us here at the same place, at the same time. I only started reading fanfiction on Friday and I found your story and I loved it. I don't know where the writer in you came from, Quinn, but you're really good and your story is really good and I almost didn't send you a message because I thought it would make me like a fan or something, but I did send it and I knew something was up with your first reply. It just felt different. I can't explain it, but in a way, it makes sense. I was always a fan of Quinn Fabray. Sometimes, I was your only fan, remember?" She smiled and rolled her eyes. "So, I think we should do whatever we would have done if we were just Lucy and Maria, two strangers meeting on the pier. In my mind, before I knew it was you, I hoped it might turn into something, like a date maybe."
She stared at me contemplating what I had just said.
"Fine. I'll give you one date. I can't stay late though. I've got to drive back to Anaheim and I've got to be at the convention center at 8."
I stood, picking up the useless lemonade and tossing it in the trash.
"Don't go putting restrictions on our first date, Fabray."
She stood up and was only few inches away from me. I could smell her perfume and God, it smelled good.
"I'll follow you. Where did you park?"
I smiled at her and turned to walk toward my car. We parked in the same lot and I made sure to get her number just in case this time. It only took a few minutes to pull into my garage and make our way inside the house I was now a little embarrassed wasn't fully put together.
"This is it. Home sweet home. Well, for the last month or so."
"It's nice. Can I have the tour?" She asked. I sat my purse down and took off my hat and sunglasses. "There you are." She walked over and moved the hair behind my ear. "Much better when I can see your face, San."
"When did you get so smooth with the ladies, Lucy Q?"
"Apparently about the same time you started falling for cheesy lines."
I gave her the tour and explained why certain rooms weren't done yet. She told me I was making excuses. I told her that when she finishes an album and returns from a 6-month tour, she can talk to me about excuses for not finishing the decorating. We sat on the sofa and caught up on our years apart. I told her about my career and the famous people I knew. She caught me up on Beth and school. Then, we shifted to talking about the old times.
"God, I can't believe I let you two cut my hair in a hotel room." She brought up our glee club competition, last minute self-esteem boost Brittany and I provided.
"That's really not the most exciting thing you ever let me do to you in a hotel room."
"Ha ha!" She faked.
"I'm going to check on the food." I went to the kitchen to make sure nothing was burning and I stole a glance in her direction. She was looking toward the fireplace that I never used and the light hit her in such a way that I could see how remarkably beautiful she is in profile.
"Wow." I whispered to myself.
"Did you say something?" She turned to the open kitchen.
"Uh no." I lied.
"Do you mind if I borrow your IPad to check my e-mail? I left mine at the hotel."
I went back to the food that was almost done and I prayed tasted good.
"San, you're on my story."
"What?" I looked up.
"You left Safari on my story." She smiled. I think she just figured out that I really was a fan.
"Not like it's a big secret that I like your work, Q. Dinner will be done in about 10."
"Do you want to know how it ends?" She asked as I made my way back to the sofa.
"You know I do."
"Okay." I took the IPad from her and logged myself out of my fanfiction account. She took it back and logged herself in.
"Here." She passed it back. "It's been done. I just have the chapters stored here and I wait to post them."
"What? It's been done this whole time and you've been making me wait? You're such a bitch, Fabray."
She laughed while I clicked to open the next chapter.
"Yeah." I wondered what she was going to say.
"I've been delaying posting because I was enjoying our messages and I was afraid that if the story ended, they might end too."
I looked up from the chapter I had already started to read and met her eyes. I set the IPad on the table and leaned in. I hadn't kissed this girl since we were 19 and I couldn't wait any longer. I leaned in further and our lips met gently and briefly. I pulled back to check her eyes to see if it was okay and she smiled, not with her lips, but with her eyes. I leaned back in and kissed her more deeply this time. My hand went to her cheek and I could feel one of hers on my leg. I wanted to move closer. I wanted to be on top of her, but something inside told me to just enjoy this moment. This first kiss. Yeah, we've kissed before, but back then it wasn't going anywhere and this time, it just might. We broke away and I found myself again checking her eyes. She cleared her throat and I smiled.
"You know, when I asked Maria to meet, I was kind of hoping for a friend. Maybe something more if it went that way, but this…" She paused and started using her fingers to play with my fingers in my lap. "… it's better than anything I could have hoped for. It's also more complicated that I would have hoped and we have a history and-"
"Hey Goldilocks, relax a little." I told her while linking my fingers with hers. "We don't have to decide anything right now. I just like being here with you, okay? I've missed you, Quinn. I don't think I realized how much until I saw you today."
"I've missed you too."
"Can I just finish reading your story while you let me put my legs in your lap and then we'll have dinner and I'll walk you to your car and kiss you good night and you can drive back to your hotel and text me when you get there so I know you're okay and worry about the rest tomorrow?" I was partly pleading because we did have stuff to talk about, but I really didn't want to worry about that tonight.
"Yeah, that sounds good."
I moved to lie down and my legs went to her lap while I picked up the IPad and started reading. I knew she was staring at me and normally I am not about people doing that, but her eyes on me just felt right. My legs in her lap felt right. So, I laid there and I finished reading the story that brought two characters together, but also two people who might not have ended up together had it never been written.