A/N: I'm not much one for Valentine's Day—I'd rather trade it in for a second Halloween, but I suppose this chapter is my Valentine's gift to you all, albeit slightly early. I hope you guys like it, thanks again for sticking with the story and all of its choppy updates.
We had been driving for what felt like hours before the school finally came into view. Quinn slowed the car to a full stop and stared up at the building, her tired eyes widening slightly. She turned from the school and studied me closely, her eyes moving from my own down to our entwined hands. The hands that refused to part throughout the entire drive, the hands that felt oddly like two small, but intricate pieces of a larger puzzle coming together, our hands that seemed almost a crime to part. Few words were spoken during the drive, and for that I was thankful. I enjoyed conversations with Quinn, and I had to admit I truly enjoyed sparring verbally with Santana, but despite what everyone seemed to think, I greatly enjoyed silences. They were the perfect time to think and piece together scattered thoughts, which I seemed to have an overabundance of these days.
Quinn was the first to speak. "I can see those gears turning from here. What's going on in there, Rach?" I let my head fall against the headrest and glanced between our hands and her bright green eyes. What else could I be thinking of aside from us, and all that had transpired?
I smiled up at her and squeezed her hand, my smile growing when she returned the gesture.
"Everything. You, me, Santana and Brittany." My smile faded to a frown; I wanted there to be no lies between us. "And if I'm being completely honest, Hadley, too." Her green eyes darkened, and I could feel her start to pull away, frantically untangling her hand from my own.
"Quinn, don't, please. Don't run away, not from me. Never me." She immediately stopped and met my eyes once more. The storm that had begun to brew had subsided for the moment, and I knew we were making progress.
"It's something we'll need to revisit, you understand that, don't you?" She pursed her lips and swallowed hard, the sound audible over the quiet lull of the radio. "I know. Believe me when I say I know that we need to talk about this, but can it please not be now? This night, it's been weird for sure, but the end part, it's been perfect. I'd like to keep it that way." I nodded and rubbed my thumb gently over her wrist. "Another time, then. Are you ready to go inside, or shall we wait a moment?" Quinn turned slightly and stole a glance at the back seat. "Santana is completely passed out. This night was rough on her, but I have to admit that I'm really liking the silence that comes when her mouth is no longer moving." I had to place a hand over my mouth to stifle the giggle that threatened to bubble through. She was right. Santana's mouth could run a mile a minute, and usually that was something that I feared; her words could sting, I knew that firsthand. But when her rants weren't hurling insults, I found that it was something that I greatly enjoyed listening to.
As a heavy but not uncomfortable silence fell over the car I realized that Quinn was staring hard at me. I could feel the heat rush to my cheeks with the intensity of her gaze; she never quite looked at me like this before, but the impact was immediate. My cheeks flushed, my mouth ran dry. She was looking at me with so much want that I had been rendered mute.
I cleared my throat roughly, but it didn't help; my words still sounded as though they hadn't been used in years.
With each passing second we moved unknowingly closer to one another until we were mere millimeters apart. My eyelids fluttered closed and I waited for the impact that I had dreamed about for what felt like my whole life.
Instead of soft contact on lips, I felt Quinn shift slightly and a pair of lips met the corner of my mouth, almost touching my own, but not quite. It was soft, incredibly soft, and I heard myself let out a small whimper. The kiss lasted longer than was considered appropriate for two people who were considered just friends, and a shiver ran through my body at the thought. Quinn must have felt this because not a moment later I felt her smile into the kiss. I returned the smile and then pulled away, realizing how silly we probably looked. Quinn continued to smile, her eyes darting down to my lips.
"When it does happen, it'll be because I've earned your trust." She must have seen me about to protest because she put a hand in the air to halt my speech. "Don't, Rach. When it happens, it will be perfect, because we waited. I'm going to earn your trust. It's the proper thing to do, something you deserve."
I silently congratulated myself on being right about Quinn and her mannerisms regarding what's proper, but also cursed it as well. I had wanted that kiss more than I had imagined; the sample of what was to come had me flustered, and she knew it.
I huffed and feigned irritation, crossing my arms over my chest and turning away from her.
"It's quite alright, Quinn."
She gently shoved me until I turned back to her, my frown disappearing all together.
"We should probably wake her up now, huh?"
Right. Santana was still here. I turned to the backseat, surprised to see Santana smirking back at me. She winked and closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep. That smirk answered my question; yes, she had been awake during our exchange, and yes, she had seen and heard everything. I opened my mouth to berate her, but closed it a second later. She let us have our moment together, uninterrupted.
"Santana, it's time to wake up."
She shifted in her seat but kept her eyes closed. I smirked and turned to Quinn.
"I guess we'll have to go see Brittany with just the two of us. It's clear that Santana needs her beauty sleep."
A light growl was heard.
"Watch yourself, Berry. You might find yourself at the top of a very large flagpole in the morning." I didn't doubt that for a second.
"So how do I look?"
Quinn responded before I had a chance to speak.
"She already knows what happened, and the extent of your stupidity. There's no point in trying to sugarcoat it. You know how Brittany is."
Santana scoffed and stepped out of the car.
"You're such a dick, Fabray. Don't ever change."
Quinn followed suit, once again opening the passenger side door for me. I hopped out, a wave of relief washing over me; I was happy to be home.
I didn't want to chance Santana or Quinn being caught roaming the hallways this late, so we took their preferred route into the building: through the window. It was close enough to the ground that they could climb up and jump down without any injuries, but if I tried it, I was sure to sprain an ankle. Climbing up was just as tough a feat as getting down.
Quinn moved forward first and opened the window, and Santana climbed up and slipped in quietly. Quinn glanced at me and realized my plight.
"Aww. That's cute. Don't worry, I'll help you up."
I stomped a foot and glared. "I'm not entirely sure that I want to accept help from you, Quinn Fabray."
Quinn took a step back and gasped, a hand covering her mouth in faux shock.
"Oh no. Full name used! Serious mode engaged." I tried to keep my expression serious, but it melted away as soon as I saw her ridiculously exaggerated expression.
"Even though it wasn't verbally stated, I accept your apology. You have permission to help me up now."
She smirked in that sideways manner that made my knees weak and moved towards me again.
"Okay, I'm going to cup my hands; just put your foot in my palm and your hands on my shoulders if you feel like you're going to fall, and I'm going to hoist you up."
She cupped her hands and I was going to step into them, but a rough whisper from above caught our attention.
"Try not to look up Berry's skirt, Q-ball. Resist the urge to perv!" She was gone a second later, leaving my cheeks on fire and Quinn a sputtering mess.
"I wouldn't—I won't—I mean I'm not—please just step into my hands so I can continue being mortified inside the building." I let out a sound of agreement that was no discernible language and stepped into her hands. A moment later I was slipping through the window, falling unceremoniously onto the floor in a giant heap.
"Real graceful, Berry." Santana put her hand out to help me but I refused.
"No harm done, I've simply bruised my pride." Santana chuckled and glanced around the room searchingly.
"Well that's fine. It's not like you're running short on pride. Where the eff is Brittany?"
I glanced around our room looking for the blonde, and then back at the window to see Quinn coming through. Needless to say, her landing was much more graceful than mine. She made it a point to avoid looking directly at me, her cheeks still tinged a light pink.
"You okay, Fabray? Took your time coming up here."
Quinn's high pitched exclamation of "I'm fine!" caused me to believe quite the opposite. She cleared her throat loudly.
"I'm fine. Where's Brittany?"
I pulled out my phone and sent a quick text to Brittany, inquiring of her whereabouts. Her response was immediate.
W/hadley, she wanted 2 tlk. I will explain l8ter, is San back?
I replied that the three of us were currently waiting for her.
I couldn't help but wonder what it was Hadley wanted to talk about, but I was absolutely not going to bring it up—unless I had to.
"Yo, midge. Where is she?"
Luck was clearly not on my side.
"She's...with Hadley. Hadley wanted to talk. Brittany should be back momentarily."
Santana scoffed and threw herself onto Brittany's bed.
"That bitch. If she's the one that fucked with me, then shit is going down."
I hazarded a quick glance towards Quinn. I knew that just hearing Hadley's name mentioned was enough to set her off in a fit of hysterics. I wanted very much to defend Hadley, because in my heart I hoped she hadn't been the one to start all of this, but I couldn't. If I were to utter a single word in her defense, Quinn would take it as a personal blow, and I knew what would happen.
It was in her nature to either run or fight when threatened, and I doubted we would come to blows. So I kept silent, my eyes watching for her reaction. She stood by the window, her arms crossed over her chest. Her face was still flushed, but this time I knew it wasn't from embarrassment; it was anger. Her chest rose and fell deeply as she tried to get her breathing under control.
Her soft voice broke through silence, not conveying anger, but something else entirely.
"I'm going to leave now. It's probably for the best that I go wait in the car, and leave you two to your—whatever, moment alone."
I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach. After everything, it seemed she still doubted me, doubted us.
"Quinn, that isn't what I want, you know that."
Santana stood up and walked towards her best friend.
"Q. Stay. Just get her out of your mind and stay. Berry wants you here. I want you here. When I see Brittany, I don't know what's going to happen." In a rare show of genuine affection, she met Quinn's gaze full on. "I need my best friend."
Quinn considered her options. I was still convinced that she was going to leave, but finally she sighed and sat down on my bed, her eyes narrowed.
"Fine. I'll stay if you really want me here."
I moved forward and sat down next to her, placing my own hand on hers. I wanted her to feel comfortable, and to understand that I was at ease in her presence, enough to initiate some form of contact. If I was being honest, a part of me craved some kind of connection with her, ever since our moment in the car. She glanced down at me and smiled slightly, her eyes losing their hard edge.
"Of course I want you here. You should know by now that I—"
The sound of a door opening stopped me midsentence. As soon as Brittany closed the door softly behind her, she ran forward at full speed and wrapped her arms tightly around Santana. The brunette looked momentarily stunned, but it wore off quickly as she returned the embrace. The tears fell easily and neither girl seemed to notice as they held onto each other for dear life. Their words were muffled but I could hear Brittany's repeated cry of her lover's name, and Santana's whispered prayer of apologies.
I looked up at Quinn, who was watching the scene pointedly. She must have felt my eyes on her, because she glanced down at me and studied my eyes. I smiled up at her, trying to convey my thanks, and she squeezed my hand in return.
When they finally parted, Brittany took Santana's face in her hands and met the eyes before her. My heart broke as I watched the sadness in Brittany's eyes grow as she studied Santana's injuries. Santana had the decency to look ashamed, her gaze falling towards the floor. Brittany placed a finger under her chin and lifted her head so that they were looking at one another again. Santana sniffed and wiped her eyes, and that was when Brittany took Santana's hand between her own and kissed the back of it.
"Santana, I'm so sorry that this happened. Please, you have to believe me when I say I'd never hurt you like that."
Santana let out a chuckle that sounded more like a sob, and nodded.
"I know, Britt. I just—I figured that if you found a way out, then-"
"Don't you dare finish that sentence! If you really do love me, you'll never say anything like that ever again. How could you even think that I'd throw something like this away?"
Santana glanced towards Quinn and myself, trepidation in her eyes. I nodded towards her; she was amongst friends, there was no need to hold back.
"Brittany, I want to be with you, every second of every day. I hate that we have to sneak around because someone might tell your dad about my being here. It's just—you deserve so much more than I can give you. I figured if you found someone who could physically be here for you, just when you're having a sad day, or just want someone to hold you close, I wasn't going to stand in the way."
A fresh set of tears began to fall down Brittany's face, and Santana raised a hand to wipe them away.
"For someone so smart, you can sure be a dummy. There is no one else in this world I want more than you. You are my other piece. Without you, there is no me. That's all there is to it."
They came together once more, and I could feel the storm clouds parting. I could also feel Quinn's thumb rubbing my wrist softly, further confirming that maybe things were going to be okay.
"Q, I hate to bring this up, but I need to know. Who caused all of this, Britt? What did Wilde have to say?" Brittany sent an apologetic look towards Quinn and began speaking.
"It wasn't Hadley. You guys wouldn't know this, but at this school there's a club that's sort of devoted to making up stupid stories for their magazine that no one reads. When Cameron saw Hadley rush away, I guess Hadley was trying to warn us that fake pictures were going around, and that we should watch out."
Santana's gaze hardened when she realized she had a new target in her sights, someone she could easily blame for this mess.
"Did she give you a name, Britt?"
"Her name is Julia Ben Israel, but why do you—"
Her words tapered off as she noticed Santana's eyes darken.
"No, San. You aren't going to do anything. There's been enough anger and violence. Promise me you won't try to hurt her."
Santana looked like she was going to protest, but gave in quickly when she looked into Brittany's stern glare.
"Fine. I won't. I promise." She didn't sound happy about it, but I knew she wouldn't go back on her word.
I watched as Santana shook her head in disbelief, and finally look towards Quinn and myself.
"You guys need to get a room, really. Berry, check the drool. Q? Could you be any more possessive? The dwarf isn't going anywhere."
I huffed and wiped at my mouth, finding nothing there as I expected. Quinn retracted her arm that had slowly made its way around my waist, and looked the other direction.
"San, quit it. They're so cute. Look, Quinnie is all red again!"
Quinn gasped and placed a hand to her chest. "Brittany, you traitor. You've been around Santana for too long, you're starting to act just like her."
Santana looked proud as she placed an arm over the blonde's shoulders. "I trained my woman well, what can I say." Santana let out a loud grunt as Brittany elbowed her in the side, by shook it off easily as it was all in jest.
"Seriously, Quinn. When are you going to ask the hobbit out? It's been like…what…years, or some shit?"
I could tell that Quinn was getting irritated, so I placed a hand on her lower back and rubbed soft circles to calm her down.
"Santana, whatever transpires is between Quinn and myself, and you need not worry yourself over matters that don't concern you."
Santana raised an eyebrow but continued to smile. That was good. I felt like that could have ended poorly for me if I had crossed a line I didn't know existed.
"Oh wow, meow, Berry. See, at first I thought that Quinn would be the top, but after that little show of claws and teeth, maybe it's you who tops Fabgay. Hmm. Oddly enough, I don't want to vomit at the thought. Oh. Wait. There it is."
Brittany placed a hand over Santana's mouth before it could get any worse, sending an apologetic look our way.
"Okay. How about we all go out together, as friends? Maybe Breadstix?"
Santana shook off Brittany's hand and shook her head.
"No, Britt, we have to be careful. Someone could see us and tell your dad, or better yet, we could run into him, it's too big of a risk and—"
"Santana, we can't hide forever just because my dad doesn't like the idea of us together. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of hiding away. If I want to go out with my girlfriend, then I'm going to do it."
Santana frowned, her brow creasing in worry.
"But Britt, if he catches us, he'll send you away again."
Brittany smiled and pulled Santana close.
"Yeah, but you know what? You'll always find me. It's sorta our thing."
Quinn surprised me by standing up suddenly.
"Let's do it. Let's go out together, have a good time." She turned to me. "It's not a date, not yet, because it isn't the right time. I want us to spend time together, outside of these walls. What do you say?"
What did I say to spending time with the young woman who held my heart so easily, and the two young women who I now considered my best friends?
"I'll have to check my schedule, see if I can fit you in, as a future star you must know that I'm constantly on the move and furthermore—"
Before I could finish my speech I was suddenly knocked back onto the bed, a slight weight bearing down on me. I looked up into forest green eyes, full of mirth.
"What was that, Rachel? I couldn't quite hear you."
"I, um, well you see, I, uh, where was I? Oh yes, I'd love to go. Love to."
As Quinn removed herself from atop me, I heard a whisper in the corner.
"I knew Fabgay was the top!"