For as long as you can remember, Quinn has always been by your side. She was, as a matter of fact, the first person you met when you moved into the house across the street from hers the year you both turned five. You were shy and quiet and hid behind your mother's legs. She was friendly and overly excited, grabbing your hand and coaxing you out from your hiding place before dragging you off to explore your backyard.
"We're looking for fairies," she whispered to you.
You rolled your eyes and said, "I don't believe in fairies."
"That's why you can't see them. If you want to see them, you have to believe." She pulled you towards a tree stump and pointed, "Don't you see them? They're having tea!"
You squinted hard, and for a brief and fleeting moment, you saw what she saw. "I see them! They're having pink cupcakes with their tea."
"I told you!" She said, in that moment believing in you as much as she believed in the fairies. She then took both your hands and spun you wildly around in a circle with her. When you were thoroughly dizzy, she stopped and flitted off in search of a frog to kiss. You looked at her like she was crazy, this little ray of sunshine in a dress, but from that moment on she was your best friend. And like any good best friend, she was at all your birthday parties, sitting beside you and helping you blow out the candles.
"Make a wish," she said.
"Why? They never come true."
"That's because you're not wishing hard enough," she explained. Quinn had an explanation for everything.
"You make a wish for me," you said, because it was easier than asking her to explain how to wish harder. You also said it because you knew she'd always had more luck with magic than you.
"Okay," she squeezed her eyes shut tightly and drew in a deep breath before helping you extinguish the six candles on your cake.
"What did you wish for?" you asked after your mom plopped a piece of cake down in front of you.
"I can't tell you," she scraped the sickly sweet purple icing off the top of her cake and ate it first, just like she always had. "If I tell you then it might not come true and that would be terrible."
"But Quinn," you reasoned with her, "it was technically my wish, so you're allowed to tell me."
She sat quietly for a moment, pondering the rules of wish making before smiling widely at you. "You're right!" Then she leaned over, tucking your long, dark curls behind your ear before whispering, "I wished we'd be best friends forever."
Now, it's ten years down the road and you haven't spoken to her in months. You know it's ridiculous but can't help but wonder if your six year old self, what with your lies about the laws of wish making, had doomed your friendship that very day amidst the presents and the ice cream. You should have listened to Quinn. She was usually right.
She was right on your first day of kindergarten at a new school you were entering half-way through the school year when she sat next to you on the bus and told you not to be afraid, that she'd be with you the whole day.
"You're in Ms. Lincoln's class too," she told you, gripping your hand tightly in an attempt to comfort you. "There's an empty desk next to mine and I'm sure Ms. Lincoln will let you sit there."
"What if nobody likes me?"
Quinn shrugged, "Everybody likes me, so they'll have to like you too."
"Everybody likes you?" you asked in disbelief, because you didn't know anyone who was liked by everybody. You certainly didn't like everybody.
"Yes," she nodded confidently and flashed you a grin, displaying the gap where her front tooth was missing, "everybody likes me. And if they don't like you, just offer them the pudding from your lunch or let them use your sparkly crayons during art. Then they'll definitely like you."
Quinn was right about everything she'd said on the bus that morning. She'd held your hand all the way from the bus to Ms. Lincoln's classroom and continued to stay by your side the entire day. It turned out that you never had to share your pudding with anyone because Quinn was right, everybody did like her, which meant they liked you too. She was popular with the boys because she was always a willing participant when they played Pirates on the playground, perfectly happy to be the princess they captured and trapped in the jungle gym while the other girls screamed and ran away. She got bonus points for never once uttering the word 'cooties'. Her popularity with the girls stemmed from the fact that being friends with Quinn felt a lot like being friends with a princess. They had all just hoped that a little bit of her magic would rub off on them.
And that was how you'd both gotten through school, always together, never apart. At some point, though you weren't exactly sure when, Quinn had stopped ruling through her charm and started ruling through terror. Sometimes you worried that the switch had been your fault, that you had somehow tarnished the sparkly person that she was. Had she given you too much of her magic, or did she just lose it somewhere along her way?
For as long as you can remember, Quinn has been the only person you ever let see you cry. Not the superficial tears that came with a skinned knee and were quickly dried with a band-aid and a kiss, but the type that came when your heart felt so much sorrow that you wanted to fold up within yourself and never come out again.
"Quinn," you hiccupped into the phone after crying for five minutes straight at the sound of her voice. You were eleven and your dad had just left your mom.
"I'm coming," she said before you could utter another word. She showed up at your door five minutes later with her hair still damp from the shower, dressed in her pajamas and armed with a pint of cookie dough ice cream. You opened the door, ready to calmly tell her everything, but she dropped the ice cream on the porch and pulled you into her arms where you quickly dissolved again. Her hair smelled like watermelon as you cried into it, and to this day you can't help but equate the smell with the ache that you felt in your heart that evening. You're not sure how long she held you while you cried, but you do know that when she showed up the sun was just setting and by the time you untangled yourself from her arms the moon was high.
"My dad left," you finally managed, wiping your nose with your sleeve and then dabbing at your cheeks, raw and red from your tears.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered back, tears pooling in her eyes.
"How could he just leave?"
Quinn shrugged and pulled you into another hug, running her hand soothingly up and down your back because she didn't have an answer for you.
"My mom said they don't love each other any more. What if they stop loving me?" you asked the summer night air that hung heavily over Quinn's shoulder.
"They'll never stop loving you, San." She answered confidently.
"How do you know?"
"I just do," she said, hugging you extra tight. You believed her because she was Quinn and Quinn was usually right.
"I know it's stupid, but I just keep thinking about how now I don't have anyone to take me to the father/daughter dance at Girl Scouts next weekend."
"It's not stupid," she assured you quickly. "And my dad will take both of us."
"That's not fair to you."
"You're my sister," she said, taking your hand in her own and holding it close to her heart. "He's your dad too."
A week later, when you showed up to the dance walking arm in arm with Mr. Fabray and all your friends asked you where your dad was, you lied and told them he was away on business because Quinn was the only person you ever let really see you cry.
For as long as you can remember, Quinn had been the only person you ever let take care of you. You are fiercely independent and, according to your mother, spent all of your early years saying "I do it myself."
When you fell off the top of the cheerleading pyramid in ninth grade and landed on your ankle funny, you shooed everyone away as you tried to right yourself.
"Get up, Lopez!" Coach Sylvester barked into the megaphone.
"She's trying," Quinn yelled back at the coach with more harshness to her voice than she usually dared.
"I don't see bones sticking out of your flesh which means your fine. Get up, now!"
"Can you stand?" Quinn asked, kneeling beside you.
"Only one way to find out," you said, taking her extended hand and allowing her to help pull you to a standing position. "Oww," you winced and transferred all your weight onto your left leg.
Quinn quickly slipped your arm over her shoulder, helping to support your weight. "I think you may have broken it," she said, glancing down at your ankle which had already swollen to twice its normal size and was turning blue. "Coach Sylvester," she said, approaching the tall woman, "I think Santana needs to go to the hospital."
"Toughen up, Lopez. It just needs a little ice."
"You're wrong," Quinn said, meeting Sue's eyes with a steely gaze. "My friend is hurt and if you don't get her some help I'll report you to the principal for ignoring a potentially serious injury."
"You wouldn't dare, freshman." She said, trying to stare Quinn down.
Quinn stared right back at her without blinking, "You're right, I am a freshman, which means you don't know me very well. Are you willing to risk your position on a whim that I will or will not do something?"
For a brief second, Sue Sylvester's mouth hung agape. "Fine," she finally said, "take her to the nurse's office."
By the time you reached the nurse's office your ankle was hurting so bad that you were dizzy and seeing spots and you were ever the more grateful you had Quinn to support you.
"Oh, sweetheart," the nurse cooed as soon as she settled you onto the cot and looked at your ankle. "I'm going to need to call your mother right away."
"Don't bother," you said, closing your eyes in an attempt to quiet the waves of nausea that were threatening to drown you. "She's at work. She won't answer."
"Call my mom," Quinn offered from beside you. "She can take her to the hospital."
"Okay," the nurse said, "Thank you, Quinn. You can go back to practice now."
"I'm not leaving her," she said, tightening her grip on your hand.
"Fine," the nurse sighed, obviously more concerned with the state of your ankle than she was with making sure Quinn didn't miss 5th period. "I'll be right back," the nurse promised before heading to her desk and picking up the phone.
"I feel like I'm going to be sick," you mumbled, the pain in your ankle and the dizziness in your head overcoming you.
"Okay," she said, quickly grabbing the trashcan that was sitting on the floor beside the bed and placing it in your lap. "Poor thing, it's okay," she soothed, rubbing small circles on your back as you emptied the contents of your stomach into the trashcan.
"Sorry," you apologized once she moved the trashcan away because you knew how much she hated vomit.
"It's alright," she replied softly as she dabbed your forehead with a cool, wet paper towel. "They'll give you some medicine at the hospital and it'll make you feel much better."
You nodded and laid your head in her lap, closing your eyes and praying you wouldn't get sick again.
Quinn stayed by your side the entire time you were at the hospital, only leaving you once when the doctors told her she had to so they could get an X-Ray of your ankle. She curled up in your hospital with you, her eyes locked on yours and your fingers intertwined as the doctors set your broken bone. The pain was masked by the medication they injected into your IV, but the noise of crunching bone remained and you were certain you would have screamed had it not been for her.
For as long as you can remember, Quinn has always a part of your imagined grown-up future (and you a part of hers). It was a promise you had made to each other the year you both turned seven during an afternoon playdate at her house.
"Shush," Quinn said, bouncing her baby doll up and down in her arms. "Go see your Aunt Santana," she cooed before hoisting the doll into your arms.
"Take her back," you demanded, "she's too much trouble."
"She is not," Quinn cried, sticking out her tongue. "Don't you want to be a mom one day?"
"Maybe one day, but first I want to get married and then my husband and I are going to travel all around the world to exotic places like Hawaii."
"Of course you're going to get married first, that's the way it has to happen," she replied innocently. The fact that it had to happen that way turned out to be one of the few things Quinn was actually wrong about.
"I'm going to have a big, fancy wedding on the beach and you're going to be my maid of honor."
"Yay!" Quinn practically squealed with excitement. "You're going to be my maid of honor too, but I'm going to get married at our church. And after I get married, my husband and I are going to dance around the ballroom until our feet get sore," she grabbed your hands and spun you around a few times to demonstrate.
"And then you're going to have a baby?" you asked once she was done spinning you around.
"Uh huh," she nodded, stuffing a pillow up under her dress and then rubbing her mock belly. "She's kicking, do you want to feel?"
You rolled your eyes because obviously the pillow wasn't kicking, but then Quinn got that sad look in her eyes that always came around when you refused to indulge her imagination, so you put your hand on top of the pillow and smiled, "She's got strong legs!"
Quinn grinned because you played along, "And then when I have my baby you can come to the hospital before everyone else and hold her first so we can tell her that you were the first person she ever met!"
You couldn't quite put your finger on why that sounded so special, but it did so you nodded happily and agreed. "Okay!"
She clapped her hands excitedly, "Pinky promise?" she asked, holding her pinky finger up and pushing it towards you.
"Pinky promise," you confirmed, hooking your pinky around hers.
Now, it's nine years down the road and there is a swell in Quinn's abdomen and every time you see it, you can't help but remember the pinky promise you made when you were seven. Sometimes she catches your eye when you glance at her belly and you wonder if she remembers the promises you made too. You quickly push those thoughts from your mind because your heart hurts too much when you think them and you remember how much you miss your best friend. Hating her is easier.
The last words you say to her are horrible and out of spite and you feel stupid even when you're saying them because you're fighting over a boy that you're just having fun with and a boy you know she doesn't really love. Your friendship of eleven years lies in ruins on the floor in front of her locker and neither of you know how to begin putting it back together again.
You quickly lose count of the number of times you almost pick up the phone to call her and tell her about your day. You walk down the halls and feel like part of you is missing because she's not by your side like she always has been. But you're both angry and hurt, and you're both too damn stubborn to admit it, so you go on pretending that you don't care. She moves in with Brittany after Rachel Berry tells Finn that Puck is the baby's father and he kicks her out. Sometimes Brittany tells you stuff about Quinn, but you mostly block it out.
"She let me feel the baby kick last night and it was so weird. Her stomach was moving all around like in that movie Alien."
"Whatever, nobody cares about that slut and her stupid baby," you scowl and Brittany looks wounded.
It's almost five months to the day since you've spoken to each other when your phone vibrates on your nightstand. You're lying in bed in your sweats at five in the afternoon pouting because Puck was supposed to come over so you could fool around, but he canceled on you at the last minute with some stupid excuse about his Fight Club. At first you ignore the text because you're bitchy and don't feel like dealing with anyone, but it buzzes again and you pick it up out of sheer boredom. Quinn Fabray's name is displayed twice at the top of your inbox and you gloat for a minute, surprised that she was the first to break the silent treatment. You click on her first text.
"I'm alone at Brit's. My water broke. I need you.-Q" As you read, your heart jumps into your throat and you don't even bother to look at her second text.
"I'm coming. -S" you text her back as you fly out of bed and grab your keys and purse from your chair.
You run two stop signs on the way to Brittany's house and drive fifteen over the speed limit. The whole time you're driving you're praying that a cop won't pull you over while simultaneously deciding on the best way possible to explain the situation to one if they do. You pull into Brittany's driveway and jump out of the car without even bothering to take your keys out of the ignition.
"Quinn?" You call, opening the front door without knocking.
"I'm upstairs," she calls back, a hint of pain in her voice.
You take the stairs two at a time and find her standing in Brittany's bedroom clutching her belly, a stream of amniotic fluid still trickling down her legs. "Shit, Q," you gasp, walking closer to her and assessing the situation, "you're a mess." She looks pitiful, and very much like a girl who has lost all her magic.
"I know," she replies in a half laugh, half cry. "My water broke over there," she points to a place on the carpet that she had covered with a towel, "and I tried to clean it up but it just kept coming and then I had a contraction and I didn't know what else to do so I texted you." Her words come out fast and jumbled and you know from years of being her friend that she is about to lose it. "I was so afraid you wouldn't come."
Hating your best friend when she's in labor, scared, and hurting proves too difficult even for you, so you walk to her and wrap your arms around her, swaying back and fourth soothingly. "Well, I'm here now."
"I know," she sighs in relief, leaning so far into your hug that her hard belly presses against your stomach and you swear you feel the baby kick. "I'm so sorry," she whispers into your shoulder.
"Me too," you reply before releasing her from your hug. "Let's not worry about all that now. We're got bigger problems to deal with. What do you need me to do?"
"I need dry clothes," she says, looking down at her wet pajama shorts. "They're in that drawer."
You rush to the drawer and toss her the first thing you find, "Here, now what?"
"Call my doctor and tell her I'm in labor. Her number's in my phone."
You face the wall and dial so Quinn can change in privacy. "The nurse wants to know how far apart your contractions are."
"I don't know," she says, sounding annoyed.
"Ten minutes," you hiss into the phone because the nurse has a bad attitude. "Yeah, her water broke. Now it's just kind of leaking." You listen for a minute, "Okay, we'll do that." You say before hanging up.
"What did she say?" Quinn asks, lowering herself down to sit on the edge of her bed because she's out of breath from changing.
"They said you needed to wait until your contractions got closer together. Like five to seven minutes apart."
"What?" Quinn cries and her face looks very much like she might start crying.
"It's okay," you promise, sitting beside her. "We'll go now. The hospital's about a thirty five minute drive if I obey the speed limit and what that nurse doesn't know won't hurt her, okay?"
"Okay," she nods and draws in a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself.
"Do you have a bag for the hospital?"
"Over there," Quinn points to her cheerleading duffle bag and the sight of it makes your heart clench because she's sixteen and should be using her bag to pack for Nationals, not to take with her to the hospital to deliver her baby. "Brittany can bring the car seat later."
"Anything else?" You ask, tossing her bag over your shoulder. She shakes her head, so you offer her your hand and help her stand. "Let's go."
You're halfway down the stairs when her grip on your hand tightens and she winces. "Contraction," she hisses through clenched teeth.
You check the time and then stand helplessly beside her while she squeezes your hand and you wish desperately that you'd gone to those childbirth classes with her like she'd asked you to before you both started fighting. Her grip loosens on your hand and she nods at you, so you continue your walk to the car.
"Wait," she says when you open the door and try to help her into the passenger seat. "We forgot a towel."
"So?" You ask and she looks down and you remember the slow trickle of fluid down her legs. You calculate in your head how much it'll cost to get your car upholstery cleaned, "Screw it," you say, helping her climb in. "Consider it a baby shower gift." S
You haven't been driving very long before Quinn shifts uncomfortably and digs her nails into the plush of your car seat. "I am going to murder Noah Puckerman," she announces in the middle of her contraction
"I'll help," you say and she laughs a little, so you know the worst is over. "Did you call him?" You broach the subject carefully.
"No," she answers softly.
"Do you want me to?" you ask, even though you know he's at Fight Club and you know he won't answer.
"Not yet," she replies. "This is hard enough as it is. I just need to get through this first," she says, placing her hands on her belly.
You hit bad traffic when you're fifteen minutes away from the hospital and utter every curse word you know and then make up a few for good measure. Quinn has quickly gone from uncomfortable to miserable and you wish you weren't the only person in the car with her as you watch her writhe in pain.
"Q, you have to breathe," you remind her gently, easing the car into park so you can focus on her.
"Damn it," she breathes, unbuckling her seatbelt and turning her body so that her face is leaning into her seat. "It hurts to sit."
You reach over to rub the small of her back. "I know," you say, even though you don't. How could you possibly know what she was going through? "You're doing such a good job though."
"This feels really fast, San," she cries and you suddenly wish you would have paid more attention during health class instead of passing notes to Mike Chang. You also wish you would have run back inside Brittany's house to grab a towel because you're starting to worry Quinn might deliver her baby in the front seat of your car.
"It'll be okay," you say, taking her hand. "We'll be there soon."
You make it to the hospital, just the two of you, despite Quinn's numerous claims that it felt like the kid's head was right between her knees. You don't bother to park, instead opting to just pull up right outside the hospital entrance.
"Park this," you demand, tossing your valet key at the first guy you see. "My friend is having a baby."
A nurse meets you both at the door and attempts to seat Quinn in a wheelchair, but Quinn growls and tightens her grip on your arm. "I'm not sitting in that thing."
"It hurts," you explain to the nurse when she looks at you and raises her eyebrow.
When the nurse at the front desk hands you a stack of paperwork to fill out before checking Quinn in, it takes everything you have to resist the urge to ask her if she wants your friend to give birth in the hallway.
"Is it supposed to hurt this bad this early?" Quinn asks once she's finally settled into a bed and checked out by a nurse.
"Everyone's different, sweetie," she replies, patting Quinn's shin. "You're only about three and a half centimeters dilated but your baby is sitting so low I can feel her head. It's probably what's making you so uncomfortable."
"Can't you move her?" Quinn asks pitifully, her voice completely serious.
"I'm afraid not. She's right where she needs to be."
Quinn glares and then throws her head back into her pillow and for a minute you think she might actually kill the nurse.
"Three and a half centimeters, that's good right? You're like, half way there," you say encouragingly from your seat beside her bed.
"I have to get to ten," she groans and again you find yourself wishing you'd paid more attention in health class.
Quinn labors all night long and well into the morning and it's brutal for both of you. You spend what feels like hours walking the halls with her, stopping every few minutes to help her breathe through another contraction. Then when she decides that walking hurts more than lying down, you sit by her bedside, holding her hand and rubbing her back. You bring her ice chips when she asks for them and sneak her a banana from the vending machine because labor is hard work and you think it's cruel to starve her on top of everything else. During a particularly painful contraction that leaves Quinn crying like you've never seen her cry before, you wish someone else was with you because seeing you best friend in so much pain was proving to be more than you could handle.
You call Puck nineteen hours into Quinn's labor when the nurse announces that she's 9 centimeters dilated and that the baby will be coming soon. You make the call standing next to Quinn's bed, because when you try to leave she grabs your hand and begs you to stay.
"'Sup, babe?" His voice comes through the phone. "You miss me last night?"
"Ugh," you groan. "Shut up, Puck. I was just calling to tell you that I'm at the hospital with Quinn. She's in labor and the baby will be coming soon, so you should probably get over here."
Suddenly he's yelling, "What do you mean Quinn's in labor? She didn't call me."
"I know," you reply coolly. "She called me."
"Shit, I'm coming. Tell her to keep her legs together," he curses before he hangs up the phone.
Thirty minutes later, Puck comes stumbling into Quinn's hospital room right in the middle of her most intense contraction yet. "Noah Puckerman," she yells once it's over. "I don't care how drunk you get me; I'm never, ever sleeping with you again!"
"FYI," you say before leading him to the door and promising to come get him from the waiting room as soon as the baby is born, "neither am I."
"Alright, Quinn, this is it." Her doctor announces from the end of the bed twenty minutes after you banish Puck to the waiting room. "Next time you have a contraction, I want you to push, okay?"
"This is it, Q," you whisper into her ear, "game time."
She shakes her head and looks at you, tears welling in her eyes. "I can't do it, San."
"Yes, you can," you assure her as you push sweaty hair off her neck.
She goes to protest again, but her body takes over and she grabs your hand and she pushes. Standing by her bed, holding her hand and cheering her on is admittedly not the level of involvement you had in mind all those years ago when you promised to come to the hospital when she had her babies one day, but in this moment there is nowhere in the world you'd rather be than right by her side.
Quinn grows wearier with each push but then you remind her how strong she is and tell her how proud she's making you and then she digs deeper within herself and pushes as hard as she can.
Just when you start to think that Quinn has given all she can, a baby's cries fill the room. "It's a girl!" The doctor finally announces, holding up the infant for you both to see. Her arms are flailing and she's screaming and you honestly think she looks downright pissed to have been taken from her warm, dark home. She's a mess, covered in blood and other fluids you'd rather not think about, but she's the most beautiful mess you've ever seen.
"Look what you did, Q," you say, pressing your forehead to the side of her head.
"She's perfect," she says, staring in disbelief as the doctor plops the slippery baby down on her chest. "Hi, baby," she whispers, immediately wrapping her arms around the baby and cupping her head in her hand. "I'm your mommy." She's crying when she says it, but her face is one of pure joy. You look at her as she gazes proudly at her daughter and she no longer looks like a girl who has lost all her magic.
"She's beautiful," you say, and you realize that you're crying too. You lean over and kiss the top of your best friend's head. "I'm so freaking proud of you," you whisper.
Quinn counts all of her daughter's fingers and toes and then reluctantly hands her over to the nurse so that she can clean her up. You go out to the waiting room long enough to retrieve Puck, who you find pacing like a caged animal.
"She's here," you announce happily because you're feeling too exhilarated to be angry with him. "She's healthy and perfect and despite your problems, you two make damn pretty babies together."
He laughs and hugs you, "Thanks, Santana."
"Come on," you say, grabbing him by the hand and dragging him down the hall. "Let's go meet your daughter."
When you return, Quinn is sitting up in bed rocking the pink bundle in her arms. She greets you both with a smile.
"Hey," Puck says, sitting on one side of Quinn's hospital bed and tucking some of her sweaty hair behind her ear.
"Hi," she whispers. "I'm sorry I said I was going to murder you."
He raises his eyebrow in confusion, "You didn't say that."
"Oh yes she did," you chime in with a sly grin, "numerous times."
Puck scoffs and chooses to ignore you, "So, you gonna let me hold her or what?"
"Of course," she smiles, "but Santana goes first." Quinn then gently hands you the baby and you're surprised by how nicely she fits in the crook of your arm. "There, now one day you can tell her you're the first person she ever met," she says with a wink. You wink and smile back, because you know she remembers the pinky promise you made so many years before.
A/N: Woo, there you have it. This is totally different from the way I usually write, so I really hope you enjoyed this. Authors love feedback, so please leave a review and let me know what you think!
Also, I realize that Hawaii is not exactly an exotic location, but seven-year-old Santana does not.