on watching someone you love love someone else

Santana says it first, casually, over dinner with the girls. She's got a spoonful of pasta halfway to her mouth. The fingers wrapped around the spoon quiver slightly, but she doesn't drop it. "Finn Hudson's got a new girlfriend."

She responds coolly, like the news of her existence doesn't sting her insides like pinpricks, orders a second glass of wine and ignores the surreptitious glance Tina and Brittany share as she tosses back the glassful of cheap wine. The image of him kissing another woman burns in her brain, sends the expensive meal crawling up her esophagus but she can't escape it, the idea of that mouth pressed so closely to another's.

When she wakes up the next morning, the idea of her hits like a car crash, sudden and gory, and she feels all her insides knot into one. Midday, the phone rings, glaring an unfamiliar number and when she answers it's his voice's low timbre that responds.

"I haven't seen you in awhile," he says, and she can hear his smile, can picture the halfway curve upwards of that mouth. All the wires inside of her knot simply upon hearing his voice. "Come over for dinner?"

Her heart squeezes, and just like that, she's his friend again – his best friend. When he opens the door, he smiles kindly, but his face doesn't light up quite like she'd always imagined. He hugs her and he smells good, a new kind of cologne, and she wants to believe that he'd put it on just for her – but she knows that's not true. She wants to curve against him and tell him just how he makes her insides tick like a clock edging closer to midnight, how often her dreams catch him and how desperately she wishes for it all to be real.

"You look good," he tells her. Not pretty, not beautiful, no open-mouthed gawk, just – good. And she responds in the kind, though he looks handsome, gorgeous, so different but better, somehow. When he was hers he'd been so, so attractive. Now that he's someone else's he's become a whole new level of hot.

He pours her a glass of white wine and his face is close to hers, close enough that she could run her thumb between each and every one of his freckles, tracing every constellation onto his face. He smiles and they eat and he washes the dishes and she heads into the bathroom.

In nearly every room there's a photo of her – his girlfriend – the pretty girl whose features are purely her own. Her fingers press against her abdomen upon realizing she bears no resemblance to this girl captured in photos. Littered in one corner of his bathroom counter are bobby pins, dark brown and metallic and she imagines stealing them and shoving them in her pockets, tossing them into the toilet and flushing, but she stops herself.

She passes through his bedroom, eyes the photos of that girl on each nightstand, his body curled around hers, his gaze not forwards but on her. She doesn't know that he ever looked at her like that. A new, more effeminate – while remaining masculine – bedspread covers the bed she'd once slept in with him, and she remembers desperately trying to get him to buy a nicer, prettier, cozier comforter.

He's on the phone when she leaves his room, leaned against the counter in the kitchen and he's wearing a smile she's never seen before, pressing his fingers against something attached to the fridge. Without even looking, she knows it's a photograph of the girl who now owns his heart.

When he hugs her goodbye, she wants to stay here, out in this hallway with his arms around her. For a moment, she pretends like he still loves her, like hugging her is something he does because he wants to be close to her, not a glorified handshake. She's just about to pull away when he kisses her resolutely on the forehead.

"Really good to see you," he says, and his voice is warm as always and she watches as his entire demeanor simultaneously brightens and relaxes as he focuses on a point just over her shoulder.

"Baby, you're early," he exclaims and already he's departed from her and gone over to her, this girl who's wound herself all over the man she loves. And, really, looking at her, he's wound himself into her, too.

"Finn, I'm going to go," she tells him, hiking her purse over one shoulder. He's been so caught up he's barely noticed her discomfort, and nods and smiles.

"We'll do this again, soon, okay?" She nods and doesn't even register that he didn't introduce her to his girlfriend.

When she arrives home, she can't help but imagine her pressing her fingers into Finn's, curling beneath his arm when she falls asleep tonight, kissing him and loving him like she was supposed to because he's her soul mate. But, really, she supposes maybe he's her soul mate, but – but she isn't his.

And she isn't really surprised when she picks up her mail to find a letter whose return address is Finn's apartment, isn't surprised to open the ivory envelope and find an invitation spill out. Black ink proudly portraying Finn Christopher Hudson's wedding to Rachel Barbra Berry.

Quinn sighs and fills out her guest card, debating for a moment before checking the plus one box.