Heyyyyy. Sleepovers update YEAH. Sorry for my slow ass updating schedule as usual. But I persevere, and I WILL finish this. This one was harder than the others too, the more this story goes on, the more complicated it gets. But I think I eventually got around to revealing an interesting new piece of information. Feed me feedback!

To recap: Britts and Santana have been having sleepovers...their whole lives. Roundabout 8th grade, things got interesting. In 9th, things got even more interesting when they kissed. And kissed and kissed. Now its the end of 9th grade, Quinn is fighting to become head Cheerio, with some help from Santana's scheming mind. They're at a Cheerios sleepover, at Sash's house. Sash and Morgan, current HBICs, have their own secret relationship drama going on, which Brittany is starting to understand might hold some insights for her.

Back to the party...

The stereo was blaring David Cook's Time of My Life. It was the senior class song, and everyone else was sick to death of hearing it. Erika made her way over to the radio, mashed some buttons, trying to tune to a new station. Static squawked through the speakers.

Some of the girls nearby turned to try to help. Four sets of hands reached for the tuning buttons, four voices bickered over what station to choose.

Santana let them flail for a minute, watched the tension mount. When it had gotten to the point where Erika physically pushed back against the other girls, she stepped in close and slid a hand between Erika and the stereo.

"Hey!"Erika was chewing gum, but Santana caught the scent of vodka underneath the Bubblicious. She smiled.

"Hey yourself, Boozifer Aniston. Let someone else give it a try."

Erika huffed, stood her ground for a second. But when she brushed her long bangs out of her eyes with her thumb, she looked so much like a low-rent Jennifer Aniston that the juniors nearby snickered, and her cheeks flushed red. She slowly backed away.

Quinn moved in, pressed the tuner button. Miraculously, she immediately landed on a station that was just starting up with The Pussycat Dolls' When I Grow Up, one of their Cheerios songs for Nationals.

A whoop went up from the girls in the crowd, and Quinn inclined her head in a modest little bow. Santana would have rolled her eyes if she saw it, but she didn't, her eyes were on the door, watching for Brittany.

Quinn and Santana drifted over to the table of snacks. Santana selected a baby carrot, crunched down on it. There were girls all around them in twos and threes and fours. Quinn started to talk, something about the bus trip tomorrow. But Santana shushed her, tilted her head to indicate the girls around them. Quinn understood, pretended to be busy with the food, and listened.

After a few minutes, and some new and fascinating information about what Casey was doing in the broom closet with a student teacher, Santana spoke again.

"You can use that." She bit down on another carrot.

Quinn nodded. But at the same time, she bit the inside of her cheek, not entirely comfortable with the idea. She had honestly thought you got to be popular by being good. She blushed at her own naïveté.

Quinn was happy for the distraction when Brittany emerged from the house, ipod in her hand.

"I did the music" she handed the ipod to Quinn and Quinn walked off to hook it up to the stereo.

Santana studied Brittany, wondering when she had gotten so sad.

"Are you..."

But Brittany cut her off. "Where do you want to go to college?"

Santana almost laughed at the suddenness of the question. But the forlorn look in Brittany's eyes, the urgency in her voice, made her bite the laugh back in time and answer seriously.

"College? Uh...I don't really...but maybe New York. I don't know."

Santana did know. The answer was New York. But Brittany seemed so scared. She didn't want her answer to be the wrong one.

But it seemed like New York was a good answer. Brittany brightened a little. She liked New York, associated it with the petting zoo in Central Park and the Rockettes. Her parents had taken her over spring break in the 5th grade.

"Why are we talking about college?

Brittany hesitated. She wasn't sure she could explain what just happened in the kitchen, and she didn't think Morgan and Sash would want her to try.

"I...just...was wondering."

Morgan came out of the kitchen then, paler than usual, glaring at everyone, mowing down girls in her way. Santana put a hand on Brittany's shoulder, moved her a little to the right, out of Morgan's path. But Morgan cut a wide swath around Brittany and Santana and crossed to the far side of the yard where she held a hurried, whispered conversation with Lizzy, her other best friend.

Santana squinted at her, then turned back to Brittany, who was now chewing on her lower lip.

"Don't worry about college Britt. It's not for a long time."

Brittany nodded, but kept worrying her lip between her teeth.

"C'mon. Lets go take over the trampoline."

Santana got the smile she was looking for.

Sash stood with her hand on the screen door, not quite ready to take the next step and rejoin the party. She looked back toward the stairs. But her mother was upstairs. She'd rather be out in the fresh air after all. She opened the door and walked out.

Her father was still by the grill. He looked up, saw her and smiled.

She wondered if he didn't notice her blotchy face, her eyelashes still wet with tears. Or maybe he just didn't want to ask anymore. What went on between her and her mother was nothing new.

Most of the girls were down on the lawn, watching Brittany and Santana flip on the trampoline, or working out bits from routines on the grass.

But Quinn was by the grill, waiting for her veggie burger.


Sash had always marveled at Quinn's voice. It was soft but not weak, a feminine grumble that caught at the edges.

"Hi." Sash answered, but her gaze was off in the middle distance. She was trying not to blink too much, worried a few last tears would spill over onto her cheeks.

"Everyone's having a great time, it's a great party."

Sash was surprised. "Oh. Good."

Morgan spotted her, in a few seconds she was up the stairs and on the deck. She ignored Quinn, pulled Sash away.

Sash's father handed Quinn her veggie burger on a paper plate, but she didn't head back onto the lawn right away. She turned to the table of condiments, busied herself with a ketchup bottle and listened, the way Santana taught her to do.

Morgan and Sash's whispers were urgent and panicky. Their voices carried more than they meant them to.

"What did she say?"

"Nothing. The same stuff." Sash sounded exhausted. Quinn saw her hands reach for Morgan, but her gaze slid over to her father and she pulled them back and crossed her arms across her chest instead, hugging herself tight.

"We're not allowed to sleep near each other tonight." Sash continued.

"It's a fucking slumber party!" Morgan was much louder than she meant to be.

Sash was quiet now though, fading. "Just...she said she'll check."

"Fine." Morgan turned her back on Sash for a second, then turned back, her gaze softer. "I'm not mad at you..."

"Really? 'Cause…"

They both looked up then. Quinn looked down quickly, took her plate and moved away.

Night had fallen, turning the sunny afternoon into a surprisingly chilly night. Most of the girls had gone in to bump and jostle each other as they changed into pajamas, clustered in the bathrooms, flicked the mirrors with water and spit as they brushed their teeth.

Brittany was still outside, rubbing the goosebumps that had risen on her arms. On the deck, Santana and Quinn were having a little conference, trading information, solidifying plans for the rest of the evening. Brittany only half listened. Her gaze traveled around the edges of the yard, the corners shrouded in darkness. She caught a flash, the white stripes on a Cheerios uniform, the white of Cheerios sneakers. Morgan and Sash. Then they were gone and Brittany wondered how they disappeared. After a puzzled second, she realized they had slipped off into the shadows behind the bicycle shed.

She turned her eyes toward the house, nervous.

Santana bumped her with her shoulder, pulling her back into the conversation.

"…know that we know that they've been sneaking drinks."

"We can't let them be drunk tomorrow at nationals. Or even hung over. "

"I know. We've gotta figure out a way for someone else to shame them into it though. You don't want to deal too directly with..."

Brittany zoned out again, her eyes straining into the darkness, wondering exactly where Morgan and Sash were and what they were doing.

Quinn listened to Santana's reasoning, nodded along with her plans, but there was a new fear gnawing at her.

Santana had always been an organized thinker, a careful planner. But now that her energies were focused and directed at getting Quinn into the head Cheerio position, she was surpassing herself, revealing a talent for manipulation that was frankly, disturbing. Quinn wondered what parts of their shared past might be the products of such machinations. She realized she had already trusted Santana with too many of her secrets.

"…with the Ouija board. Ok?"

Quinn agreed. Santana's plans would work. Quinn thought of the glories that awaited her at the top of the pyramid, and tried to ignore the sinking feeling in her stomach.

"Girls?" Mrs. Blake poked her head out of the door. "It's time to come in, don't you think."

"Hi Sash's mom!" Brittany was unnaturally loud.

Sash's mother cast an eye over the girls on the porch. She pursed her lips, rolled her tongue behind her teeth.

"Are Sarah-Ashley and..." She paused for a second. "…Morgan still out here with you?"

Quinn started to answer, but Brittany interrupted. "They're helping me…find… something." She was still much louder than she needed to be.

Quinn and Santana were startled. Santana recovered first. If Brittany thought a lie was necessary, than a lie was clearly necessary.

Santana stepped in front of Brittany, crossed her arms. "Yeah. They're looking for Brittany's bracelet."

Santana knew full well Brittany's bracelet was downstairs in her duffel bag. She never wore it the day before a competition. She thought it had to rest and save up its luck for the next day.

Sash's mom eyed them skeptically. Before she could speak again, Morgan bounded up the steps to the deck.

"Sorry Brittany, we didn't find it."

Sash was a few yards behind her, head down, cheeks pale. When she reached the spoke, her voice was almost a whisper.

"We tried…"

"It's ok. Thank you for trying." Brittany was talking fast. "I have to go to the bathroom now though. Show me where it is." Brittany reached for Sash's hand, yanked her along, pulling her past Mrs. Blake and through the door.

Sash's mother cast a disapproving eye over the girls left on the porch, lingering on Santana and even longer on Morgan. But all she said was, "Go inside."

Quinn led the way and they filed in. Mrs. Blake moved past them, out onto the deck. She walked down the steps to the lawn and strode across the grass. Her head was down, as if, despite the dark, she was looking for evidence of a crime.

The basement was vibrating in candy cane stripes. All the girls are were in red and white Cheerios sleep gear – sweats, shorts, t-shirts, tank tops.

The benefit of whatever just happened outside, which Santana still didn't entirely get, was that everyone was pretty much done with the bathroom by the time she and Quinn got downstairs.

Brittany was still in the upstairs bathroom with Sash, Quinn faded off into the crowd. Santana was went to her bag to find her pajamas, relieved to realize she could change now, without Brittany.

Lately, changing with Brittany was more fun than it really should be.

Santana tried not to let her eyes linger on the freckles that dusted across Brittany's strong shoulders, didn't let herself look for that spot that curved in right there at the base of Brittany's spine. It was difficult, especially because Brittany always pressed in so close, giggling, teasing her. She didn't understand why Santana moved away, she pouted when Santana slid her bag further down the locker room bench. But Santana was strict with herself. An elbow in the ribs, a toe against Santana's ankle, any accidental touch of skin was exciting enough to need to be avoided in public.

So Santana gathered up her clothes and took the opportunity to slip off into the basement bathroom to change, alone.

In the bathroom, she stepped out of her Cheerios uniform, pulled a Cheerios t-shirt over her head and a pair of Cheerios shorts up over her slim hips. She washed her face, dried it. She stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her face was changing.

She leaned forward, until her nose almost touched the mirror, then back again, so she could see her face without going cross-eyed.

Her eyes. She liked her eyes. Thick, long lashes fringed deep brown eyes that looked dark and luxurious. "Like a sexy bunny" Brittany had said once. That was okay.

Her skin was alright, usually. But the heavy makeup they had been wearing for competitions lately had clogged the pores at the tip of her nose, the sides of her nostrils. She resisted the urge to pick at her skin, scrunched her nose at her reflection and turned on the faucet to wash her face a second time.

Someone had left a bottle of foaming cleanser on the counter. Santana picked it up, pumped a handful of suds from the bottle. She spread the suds over her face, fingertips touching her forehead - high but livable -, her cheeks - too round - , her chin.

Automatically, her thumb felt for the hidden scar, just under her jaw line. But she couldn't felt it. She rinsed the suds from her face, then titled her head back to see.

There. Almost gone now.

John hadn't meant for it to happen.

She knew he really didn't. But he threw the beer bottle down with considerable force, just as his mouth moved, shaping the hard hiss of breath that came from his body.

"…Fuck- fuck-ing tease!"

He hadn't thrown it at her, but near her feet. She flinched away, her left hand automatically coming up to cover her eyes. A shard of glass flew off in a surprising direction, nicked her under the chin.

His eyes flashed once, but at the sight of the blood, he became apologetic. Sweet, even. He joked with her while he cleaned her up; he was gentle with the gauze and band-aids.

So after another drink, vodka this time, when he pressed her down to the couch and tried again, she lay back and let him.

It hurt.

After the first time he tried to make it nicer for her. Another drink, some interesting work with his hands that made her blush and think unexpectedly of Brittany. She took a big drink then, straight vodka. The burn replaced the far less comfortable feelings she was having, and after that the second time was kind of okay. She could tell he liked it better too.

He drove her home after, gave her a surprisingly chaste kiss goodnight.

She splashed water on her face, rinsing the suds away. Her hands reached for a washcloth, but in the unfamiliar bathroom, she didn't find what she was looking for. She opened her eyes too soon, got soap in them. Her eyes burned and she bent back to the water, splashed her face again.

The next day Brittany had come over, woken Santana up with whispers.

"What happened?"

Brittany's voice was right at her ear. Her fingers were on Santana's face, her thumb drawing a circle around the wound on Santana's chin. Santana had looked in the mirror before going to bed the night before – it was just a thin line of blood now. But still, Brittany found it, first.

Santana sat up in bed, drew her knees in to her chest. "That's nothing."

Brittany's eyes stayed on her, doubtful.

"Really. Nothing."

Brittany, perched on the edge of the bed, looked away. Her eye fell on Santana's bra, which had been thrown over the back of the desk chair. Black, lace. Not one she had seen before.

"Did you have sex?"

She turned back to Santana.

Santana nodded. Her eyes were still, but she had worked a smirk into the corner of her mouth.

"Did it hurt? Courtney said it hurts."

"I told you not to talk to her. She couldn't even hack it on the loser JV squad." Santana snapped. Brittany said nothing, but looked wounded. Santana felt a twinge of guilt.

She shifted her position on the bed, felt a burn in the muscles of her thighs. "Lemme pee. Then I'll tell you."

Santana threw back the covers and disappeared into the bathroom. While she was gone, Brittany kicked off her shoes and slipped into the bed, laying her head where Santana's had been.

When Santana came back, she smelled of toothpaste. Brittany wriggled a bit to make room for her in the bed.

Santana got in, lay flat on her back, staring a spot where the wall met the ceiling. The room was still plum-purple and white, the colors she had chosen in 5th grade.

"I gotta paint this fucking room."

Brittany wiggled around to balance on her left side. She rested her head on her left hand, bent her right leg at the knee, rested so it touched the outside of Santana's left thigh.



Santana was silent for a few minutes. The hands on her vintage alarm clock made their noisy way around the dial.

"It did hurt. A lot."

Santana turned her head and caught the worried look that flitted over Brittany's face.

"But only for a little while" She hastened to add. "Then…"

She stopped for a second. Brittany blinked, pale lashes coming to rest on pink cheeks. Santana went ahead with the lie.

"Then it was nice. Really nice." With some other boy, it might have been the truth.

"Like in the movie?"

She meant Romeo and Juliet, they had just watched it in English.

Santana couldn't help but laugh. "No. Not like that. Not so soft."

"But still nice right?"

Santana forced a smile. "It was fun."

Brittany grinned slyly. "Like making out?" She trailed a hand suggestively over Santana's abdomen.

"Not exactly."

Brittany's hand reached he edge of Santana's boxer shorts.

Santana squirmed away. "Britt. No."

Brittany frowned, but her hand lay still on Santana's tummy. The tip of her middle finger fit perfectly into the indentation of Santana's belly button.

Santana felt Brittany's hand rise and fall with her breathing.

"Listen, Brittany. If you really want it to be fun, when you do it…there's one thing…"

Brittany's touch was distracting. Santana pushed away and sat up.

Brittany sat up too, nodding along. "Okay."

Santana closed her eyes for a long second. The blue of Brittany's eyes was making this harder than it should be.

"Never say no."

Having delivered the advice she had decided to give Brittany last night, Santana opened her eyes again.

"Do you know what I mean?"

Brittany shook her head, no.

Santana had also decided last night how much to explain.

"You're so…"Santana gestured to Brittany, from her flowing blonde hair to the adorable scrape on her left knee. "Boys really like you. Everyone really likes you. You make people happy."

She looked away, realizing how sappy that sounded.

But it made Brittany smile. She leaned in and rested her palm on Santana's bare thigh, stroked gently over the smooth skin.

Santana resisted the urge to relax into the touch.

"If a guy wants to do it and you say no…he might be sad. Or mad." Santana's voice dropped to a whisper on the last words.

"Do you understand now?

"Never say no." Brittany repeated. She leaned in then, kissed the underside of Santana's jaw, right at that thin line of blood.

Santana sighed. She didn't breathe in again for a long minute, just thought hard.

She decided she'd get Puck to tell his friend Jamie to take Brittany out. Jamie was a junior, on the basketball team. He was always staring at Brittany in the halls, blushing when she bumped into him near their lockers. He was tall and silly, and wouldn't hurt anyone. He'd be good practice.

Brittany pulled her back down to the bed.

"Let's cuddle."

Santana glanced toward the door. It was closed. But still…

Brittany felt her stiffen and answered the question she hadn't asked.

"They were going out when I came in. They had their tennis stuff."

That meant her parents would be out all day, probably have dinner out too. Santana relaxed into Brittany's embrace, pillowed her head on Brittany's shoulder.

Brittany kissed the top of Santana's head, then moved so she could kiss her forehead, her nose, her cheeks.

Santana moved toward Brittany's warmth, twining their legs together, sliding her hands up under Brittany's sweater.

Brittany kissed her mouth. The kiss was slow, soft, perfect.

Santana realized how little she had slept last night. She yawned against Brittany's mouth. Her eyelids drooped.

Brittany giggled. "Nap time."

Someone pounded on the door.

"C'mon, other people need this bathroom too."

"One second!"

Santana found a dry towel, rubbed her face, blotted at her eyes. She checked one more time in the mirror for the scar.

Right there. Almost gone.