"Okay, Brittany, if I have two quarters, a dime, and three nickels, how much money do I have?"
The little blonde girl stared at her paper. Santana watched her, watched the way she chewed on her lip, trying to concentrate. Her finger tapped noiselessly on the desk, and she closed her eyes.
The class snickered, and Santana and Brittany's teacher sighed in frustration.
"Noah!" the teacher snapped. "That is not nice."
Santana stole another look at the girl, and wasn't surprised to see tears sliding down her face.
Later, she found Brittany sitting by herself in the coat room, away from the other students at recess. Santana sat down next to her.
"Want to play go fish?"
"I'm too stupid to play," Brittany sniffed.
"No you're not," Santana said, holding out her pinky. Brittany looked at her, then linked their two fingers together. "I'm not friends with people who are stupid."
"I really don't know why you hang out with her," Quinn said.
"What do you mean? She's fun." Santana sat her tray on the cafeteria table and slid in.
"Well, sure she's fun. I mean, do you listen to half the stuff that comes out of her mouth? Yesterday she told Mr. Stark she wanted to go to the Bermuda Triangle and try to make friends with the aliens there."
Santana grinned. She had thought it was terribly sweet, actually. "That's just the way Brittany is, Quinn."
"Well, the way Brittany is," Quinn took a long swig of her drink then set it down, "is stupid."
Brittany didn't show up at lunch that day, and when Santana found her crying on a bench during free time, she knew why. She sat down next to her.
"Want to go to the mall after school?"
Brittany shrugged. "Maybe I'll say something stupid."
Santana linked her pinky through Brittany's. "I'm not friends with people who are stupid."
She had been invited to have lunch with the other popular girls, and since Brittany was home sick that day, Santana didn't have to feel bad about not sitting with her. It gave her a thrill of pleasure, to sit with them and marvel at their perfectly manicured nails, sculpted hair, and fabulous makeup. She simply sat, eating her lunch and drinking in the feeling of finally having arrived.
"God," she heard coming from the end of the table, "I'm so glad she's not here today."
The rest of the girls laughed.
"I mean, come on, she said that she wanted a penguin as a pet so they could take baths together."
The bite of hamburger went sour in Santana's mouth.
"Good grief, what an idiot."
Santana stood up. Quinn stared at her; this was a definite "do not do." You did not walk off on the popular girls.
"Where you going, Lopez?" One of them said curiously.
Santana squared her shoulders. "I'm not friends with people who are stupid."
"San? Do you think I'll get into college?"
Santana glanced at Brittany, who was lounging next to her on Santana's bed, going through song lists.
"Why wouldn't you?"
"Well, I'm not exactly the brightest tool in the shed."
"Sharpest tool in the shed."
Brittany shrugged. "See what I mean?" she sighed. "Stupid."
Santana rolled over and held up her pinky. When Brittany didn't move, Santana growled and pulled the girl's finger to hers. "Brittany," she began.
"I know, I know," Brittany rolled her eyes. "'I'm not friends with—'"
"I'm not in love with—"
"'…people who are stupid.'"
"… someone who is stupid."
They stared at each other, and Santana felt all of the color drain from her face.
"You're in love with me?" Brittany asked, her voice barely a whisper.
Santana looked down at their fingers. "Yeah. Guess I'm pretty dumb, huh?"
"Hey." Brittany was smiling, and Santana tilted her head, confused, then squeaked in surprise when Brittany brushed their lips together.
"I'm not in love with someone who is stupid, either."