A Day Late and A Dollar Short
A/N: Okay I know this is crazy weird but hear me out there are four things I want to get out of the way.
1) This story is the result of a lost bet to my personal mentor, it involved Naruto Ninja Storm 2, a faulty controller (not that I'm calling foul but when I press the chakra charge button it should charge), and the fact that I don't have $70, so this is my fallback penalty.
2) I am using every bit of free time to work on other the other fics I promised this just needed to be put out or my wallet would be stolen and violated.
3) This is Quinntana but I'm doing it Brittana style cause that's how I roll.
4) The conditions of this fic is that it be Quinntana (obviously) and that it be angsty. So Sad Fic IS Sad. That is your one and only warning. That said read on.
In Quinn's life there were many things that were unsure, actually everything always was, her days were filled with plans to get somewhere she wasn't or to stay in her current position. Nothing was ever certain, but she did her best to see that it was. Her home life was tumultuous, with an overbearing father, an alcoholic mother and a sister that seemed to only take pleasure in seeing her cry. At any one moment she was never sure how anyone really felt about her and subsequently how she felt about them, but there was one thing that was for sure, always; she loved Santana Lopez.
It was love at first sight, pure and simple.
At first it was totally innocent, because when they first met they were in kindergarten and there was no other way for her feelings to be. Quinn would always remember the small brown skinned girl who walked in her classroom holding her mother's leg and shaking like a leaf. When her parents left her she didn't cry but Quinn could tell she wanted to, and there standing alone in a baby blue shirt and elastic jeans with black Velcro sneakers she was the prettiest thing Quinn had ever seen. Never in her life had she come across anyone with skin that color that wasn't on television and her hair wasn't the same blonde or light brown of her classmates, it was an inky black and from that moment to years to come it would always be her desire to run her fingers through it.
She stood and walked to the girl because how could she not? How could she not investigate something so startlingly different from what she saw in her everyday life?
Quinn would also remember how frightened she looked as she approached and how her face twisted in confusion when she spoke. Those dark eyes were wide and shining and they made Quinn gasp with how intense and simply beautiful they were. She had smiled and offered her hand as she had been taught and the girl took it still looking afraid. The first thing she ever said to her was 'I'm Quinn. What's your name?' she remembered because then her new found treasure had opened her mouth and the most mysterious beautiful words came out and Quinn understood none of them. It was just another thing that had entranced her with the girl as she brought her to sit at the coloring table.
It was weird to remember the exact details of that day, (at least Quinn thought it was she wasn't sure) but she did. She could see everything clearly in her memory, every hand painting and papier-mâché sculpture, the brightly colored road map rug, the building blocks, their cubby holes. Most of all she remembered speaking to the girl and marveling at what she would say back while feeling a sense of elation that most of the other children were totally disinterested in the new arrival, meaning Quinn got her to herself and for her to get anything to herself was rare. Her sister, Fran, saw to that.
The most prized memory she had of that day was when it was all over and their parents were coming to pick them up, the enchanting new student turned to her and said 'Me llamo Santana,' and upon seeing that her friend didn't understand she frowned, thought for a moment and then just pointed to herself, 'Santana.'
It was then Quinn understood and marveled at how someone so pretty could possibly have a name to match, but she did.
It was Quinn's most precious day and it turned into her most precious year because for a long time she counted it as the only one where everything could have changed. When they could have been alright.
Nothing was the same after that.
The first day of first grade Quinn was excited to see Santana again and when they saw each other they greeted as though nothing had changed, but a few things had. The Latina was still little and stringy, but her hair was longer, her smile was bigger and those large dark eyes now seemed almost hypnotizing. Maybe it was these changes or maybe it was the time away during the summer, but Quinn was even more fascinated by the girl than she had been before. Which was unfortunate because it seemed now, with her coming in at the beginning of the year, there were far more new kids that didn't already have best friends who wanted to talk to her which displayed another change, she had learned quite a bit of English.
Though Santana was still friends with Quinn she would go off to play with the other kids sometimes. Not that Quinn was left alone, she was surrounded by classmates of the previous year and quite a few new ones who all wanted her attention, but in reality she wanted to always sit by Santana and just watch her because everything about her was fascinating.
It got to the point where she hardly saw her friend except during recess and even then someone else was always trying to play with her. Quinn was in distress and it was due to the lack of attention that she made what would always be considered by her older self to be step one in the How to Fail at Proper Self-Expression campaign.
Hours of hard thought on how to let Santana know she liked her and wanted them to stay friends came down to the only other relationship she had with another young female; Fran. Her sister was a bully to her, or so Quinn had always felt, but her father had told her over the summer that the things she did were because she loved Quinn and didn't know how else to show it.
That seemed understandable now, she definitely didn't know how to show it and not only was she developmentally unable to express her complex feelings, she was a Fabray and Fabray's didn't talk about such things, period. Mind made up she waited until recess, marched up to the girl and kicked her square in the thigh pouring all her feelings into it.
Santana buckled under the blow and looked up at Quinn with tears streaming down her face before she began to cry in earnest. Admittedly Quinn felt a little bad because Fran had done it to her and she knew it hurt, but she figured the tears meant she had done it right. Proud of properly delivering her message she marched back to her side of the playground to let Santana take it all in.
To her surprise, Santana spent even less time around her after that. Quinn was baffled.
Then she figured she would have to do it more than once because Fran did stuff to her all the time, and she figured Santana at least sort of understood because she never told the teacher. So she did everything in her power to make Santana understand. She slapped food out of her hands, pushed her down, pulled her hair (that was her favorite because it was so soft), and threw things at her whenever the teacher wasn't looking. This constant message delivering meant Santana was crying almost all the time and Quinn felt like she had to get it by now, and even better, because she was always in tears the other kids started to avoid her. It was perfect!
Quinn waited for Santana to come to her, if not for understanding of what Quinn was trying to tell her at least to ask what it was all about (not that she would tell but the idea appealed anyway). Instead she spent her free time sulking by herself and Quinn felt desperate because she was running out of ideas (though she kept up the hair pulling because it was seriously the best part of her day), and maybe she would have figured it all out in time to change everything, but then she came and ruined any chance of that. She ruined any chance of them.
That damn Brittany Pierce.
The blonde arrived in the middle of the year as Santana had the year before, trembling like she had, but openly crying like she had not. Quinn just saw another girl like everyone else in the class, she was neither intrigued nor interested, but Santana did not share that opinion. Maybe it was because she knew what it was like to be new, or maybe it was something about how the other girl looked so pathetic with tears running down her face and splashing on the floor. Whatever it was, it made the dark skinned girl get up and move to her side and they were inseparable for the rest of the day.
Quinn watched them darkly wishing the other blonde would just go away so her friend would come back to her, but she didn't. As a matter of fact she never did. Weeks went by and the only person Santana would associate with anymore was Brittany and it made Quinn squirm with jealousy. It really made no sense because Santana found ways to spend time with Brittany that she hadn't found to spend time with Quinn and that was inexplicable. What did Brittany have that Quinn didn't? They were both small and blonde, but Quinn dressed better and had more of her teeth in her mouth so that meant she was better right? The only difference was that Brittany had the brightest blues eyes she had ever seen and even Quinn had to admit they were unusual even amongst all the other blue eyed kids in the class.
So she started to hate Brittany. Brittany and her damned friend stealing blue eyes.
Quinn had zero idea as to what to do about it though. She tried to sit by Santana or offer her crayons, but the other girl would quickly move away taking her new blonde with her. It made Quinn the saddest she had ever been in her few years on earth.
Summer came and went again and upon entering the school for the first time as a second grader Quinn felt like she could finally have a friend again. She had spent all of her vacation thinking over ways to make Santana like her again and decided that hitting her had been a bad idea since it obviously hadn't worked for Fran. After lots of thinking she settled on gifts as they were universal symbols of friendship. It had almost taken all summer to come up with the perfect present, but finally she chose to bring Santana some of her mother's homemade cookies, they were delicious and incredibly rare since her mother never really did anything anymore besides drink. Quinn had to sneak out of bed at night every night for a week and hide all of her mother's wine so she could be sober long enough for her to effectively beg for cookies and have a chance at getting them. She had even gotten the spanking of a lifetime later when her mother found all the wine bottles in her closet, but it had been worth it. She had the cookies.
She walked into the school on the first day and her eyes found Santana like a compass finds North, regardless of anything else they just snapped to her. Quinn felt her chest flutter at seeing the girl and then it all came crashing down. There was Brittany standing next to her laughing like an idiot. She had completely forgotten about that damn blue eyed Brittany and her hold over Santana. Quinn felt her blood boil, but she managed to calm herself and walk up to her once best friend. The darker girls eyes narrowed when Quinn came close and it made her heart hurt, but instead of showing that pain she reached into her backpack and offered the cookies that were wrapped carefully in tin foil all pulled together with a pink bow. With a modest 'I got you these,' she placed them in Santana's hands and left because Brittany was looking at her like she might get something too and the only thing Quinn wanted to give her were the bad words she heard her mom use when she was very drunk.
The day went by too slowly as all Quinn could think about was whether or not Santana would respond to the gesture. The wait was made worse by knowing Brittany and Santana were somewhere behind her being friends (stupid alphabetical seating) and there was nothing she could do until recess.
When their play time finally did come Quinn decided to be optimistic, she didn't even take it as a bad sign when she turned to find the Latina and her little friend had already left. She dashed outside full of hope and she had to search hard for her as the playground was full of kids, some so big she couldn't see around them without taking a step back.
Eventually she found a sign of Santana but not the one she wanted at all.
There was Brittany sitting alone on the swings. Eating Quinn's cookies happily.
All Quinn saw was red, she ran up to the girl and shoved her off the swing as hard as she could and just so the smaller girl wouldn't mistake the gesture for affection she snatched the remaining cookie away from her and screamed 'I HATE YOU!'. Brittany sat in shock for a few seconds, her brain still trying to figure out how she got on the ground and then it all came to her. The blue eyes welled up with tears and she cried loudly and with wild abandon. Quinn wanted to hit her; What right did she have to cry?
Her thoughts of further confrontation were smashed as Santana arrived, shoved her bodily to the ground and took a defensive stance near her friend. Those brown eyes burned and even in her fear and hurt Quinn found them even more mesmerizing than the first time she'd seen them. She was broken from the spell by the dark and hateful way she spat 'Get away from us.'
In all her efforts to convey a point she had failed to express anything as clearly as Santana was expressing that their friendship was officially dead and gone.
It was crushing.
She didn't cry when she got up. Nor did she cry at lunch or for the rest of the day, but when she got home and had closed her bedroom door she cried until there was nothing left and then cried some more.
The particulars escaped her older self, but second grade sucked for Quinn.
Every day she watched the only girl she wanted to be friends with play with someone else all while totally uninteresting kids came up and offered her candy or sandwiches or asked to play games with her. She didn't want any of their company, she still just wanted to sit next to the girl with the beautiful skin, captivating eyes and feather soft hair and just be. But seeing as Santana only acknowledged her existence long enough to send her hateful glares she started to accept a few of the many offers to play, though it never got any easier to see Santana coloring alone in a corner with Brittany, and every time she heard the other blonde laugh she had the urge to scream at her to shut up.
On the whole the entire thing was a blur but there was something she remembered, there was something she always remembered because it was one of those life lessons one never forgets.
Quinn was watching Brittany and Santana play out of the corner of her eye because there was no other way for her to observe them without getting glares in return. Santana was bouncing a ball to Brittany who was all sorts of uncoordinated and missed catching it almost every time. It seemed absurd since she was a little taller than Santana (but still shorter than Quinn; HA! Take that blue eyes!) and should have easily been able to pluck it out of the air. One bounce in particular went straight for the girl, any other kid would have caught it, and the blonde even had her hands up in the right position, but they didn't stop the ball from flying through them and smacking her in the face.
Brittany collapsed to her knees, tears already spilling down her cheeks, and Quinn caught herself halfway between being satisfied at witnessing the hit and irritated that the person Santana deemed so interesting was such a crybaby. She looked on as Santana rushed to her side and when Brittany began to wail in earnest Quinn almost laughed out loud, until she saw the most gentle and warming look come over Santana's face as she wrapped her arms around her crying friend and said 'Lo siento'.
Quinn didn't know what it meant at the time but she, just like Brittany, understood it to be an apology and Quinn felt a rush of shame and anger in the form of self loathing. Apologizing. It had never occurred to her to just walk up to the other girl and say sorry for what she had done.
Even as she realized this she saw the calming effect the words had on Brittany, the girls tears wound down to sobs and soon her face was dry and a happy smile reappeared on her face.
Realizing how easy it was made her want to jump up and apologize immediately, but Santana caught her staring and fixed that warning yet alluring stare on her again and Quinn sat rooted to the spot. She couldn't go, not now not ever. Though it pained her like nothing else she decided to just give up on ever being Santana's friend again, it was fine to just watch her from afar because it wasn't like she had been doing anything different up close (except when she had been trying to deliver her message and there had been hair pulling, oh how she missed the hair pulling).
Quinn became quite comfortable in her role as observer, throughout elementary school she learned how to watch Santana closely without her noticing, though she could swear sometimes she just missed catching Brittany staring at her. She made new friends, though none as interesting as the girl who even now remained the only kid in the school with raven hair, dark brown eyes and caramel skin.
Everything settled and Quinn could feel herself healing from her obsession. Watching the other girl was fine and as they began their last year of elementary school she found that she was okay letting go.
And then that damn Brittany Pierce fucked it all up. Bless her.
Quinn entered their homeroom class like she had every other year and moved to the seat she'd had for the past two (only because Kevin Davis had begun attendance and had pushed her back a seat) and tossed her bag down only to be greeted by none other than a bubbly Brittany.
They had gone to school together for years, but Quinn still hadn't said anything directly to the girl since she shoved her off the swing in the second grade. It was awkward to say the least but you wouldn't have been able to tell by Brittany. She was practically bouncing.
"Hi Quinn, wanna cookie?" she asked offering what looked like chocolate vomit with white flecks in it (marshmallows?).
She glanced at the objects (food?) trying to work out if this was some sort of cruel joke or if she was trying to make some sort of threat, "Why would I want cookies from you?"
"Because Santana and I were baking cookies over the summer and I said it was weird how angry you got when you saw me eating some, and Santana said it was because you are a bully, but I thought that can't be it, but then I remembered you gave Santana the cookies and you must have only meant them for her so I thought it would be nice to give you some of ours to say sorry that I ate them."
That all came out as one breath and Quinn spent more time marveling how she said it all under fifteen seconds without passing out than the actual content.
"Why would you care either way?"
"'Cause Santana said you used to be nice then you got mean, but you don't seem mean to me, you seem lonely."
Quinn bristled at that, "I am not lonely!"
"But you always look at her like you miss her," she said carefully knowing she was irritating the other girl now.
Quinn's mouth fell open at the accusation, "I don't- I didn't- We were in kindergarten the last time we got along! That was forever ago I don't care what she does now!" she growled and her eyes (like friggin always) snapped to Santana who was at the far corner of the room, well out of ear shot, apparently as excited about the exchange as Quinn was. She realized her mistake a tick too late as her eyes zipped back to Brittany's bright blues twinkling knowingly.
"You miss her. She misses you too cause all she did the first year I was here was talk about you."
"Brittany we're about to be in middle school, that's like a step away from full grown adult, I don't need friends from when I was a baby."
"Come on Quinn!" she whined her blue eyes begging, "I want to be your friend too. I feel really bad that you guys stopped talking, I know you wanted to still be her friend 'cause you made the cookies and you were so mad when I ate some."
On the one hand she wanted to tell Brittany to take her cookies and shove them, she wanted to ignore the offer of friendship on the grounds that she was too old to be bothered with things so long in the past. On the other hand the thought of having a way to be close to Santana again was titillating and Quinn had no idea why.
"Whatever," she grumbled and took the still eagerly offered disaster cookies.
Brittany smiled wide and Quinn hid a reciprocating grin as she stuffed one of the brown lumps into her mouth.
If she hadn't been so sure Brittany was a simple girl she would have accused her of attempted murder with pastries.
Santana did not take well to Quinn moving in on her time with Brittany and Quinn was perfectly content to go back to her role of observer, but the blue eyed blonde would have none of it. If Santana acted so much as grouchy about Quinn's presence Brittany wouldn't talk to her until her attitude changed, and with silence as a punishment the attitude only displayed itself in full force once. Though Santana did make her displeasure clear in subtle ways, the most common of which was the resurrected glare. Quinn didn't mind too much though, it was nice to be close to her again, and eventually, in Brittany's absence, she was finally able to apologize. Though it didn't go as planned.
She was able to say she was sorry for all the kicks and the (sweet, sweet) hairpulls, all of it, but Santana looked confused as she had no recollection of any such things. 'The only person you should apologize to is Britt because she's really nice and you hurt her for no reason,' was the only reply Santana had to offer and Quinn was perplexed.
The only thing Santana cared about was Brittany.
And that hurt more than she thought it would.
But she apologized in full view of the Latina anyway.
Brittany had waved it off and sworn all was forgiven and even Santana seemed less sulky after she did it. It was then that the three started a real and honest friendship.
That year was the first and last time Quinn allowed herself to not be in control of the dynamics of her social circle. In the beginning it was nothing but fun, they laughed and played together and there were even times when Santana would lean on Quinn and the blonde would be able to feel that hair again (without pulling it). Sure the deal was soured with Brittany, but she had to admit it wasn't all that bad, Quinn could quickly figure out what it was about her that kept Santana's attention. Brittany was clumsy, short and (in Quinn's opinion) a little stupid, but she was also cute, loving, and incredibly generous, in the face of these traits (added to her inability to pick up on Quinn's subtly aggressive remarks) she couldn't truly hate the girl and by the end of the year honestly considered her a friend.
Until the week before summer vacation where she found out Brittany and Santana were going to get to visit the Grand Canyon together. Without her.
Granted it wasn't their fault, their parents were now friends and naturally they tried to make matching summer plans. Quinn's parents had an aversion to being friendly with Santana's for reasons she wouldn't discover for another three years when she would begin to understand the concept of illegal immigrants and how her parents thought everyone who wasn't white and American was one.
She was jealous of them and their summer plans and the way they talked about them in front of her like she wanted to know about how much fun she wouldn't get to have with them. When the last day of school came around they waved goodbye and their parents came to pick them up in a giant RV that shone in the sun like a glittering train to paradise… that Quinn couldn't board. The sight almost made her cry with want.
Brittany had bounced back to her and promised to bring her back something good before she linked pinkies with Santana and they disappeared into the vehicle making a grand exit that left more than Quinn gaping after them.
That summer she went to her grandparents (on her father's side) after a nine hour car ride where her mother threw a fit four times, her father started a car game that ended before Quinn could learn the rules (because Fran is a brat and wanted to quit after their mother got the first point), and Fran kicked, poked and teased her the whole time in the back seat.
Once they arrived her grandfather just sat sternly staring out at nothing and her grandmother tried to feed her foods she thought looked worse than Brittany's cookies saying she needed to 'Put some meat on those bones.'
When she wasn't hiding from Fran or trying not to throw up the awful meals they were served she sat wishing she could see Santana. At least she did for the first week. After that she decided it was time for change, she wasn't going to let the Latina be another thing in her life she couldn't control.
By the time they got back to Ohio Quinn had it all worked out. She was over her obsession. She had concluded that because Santana was the only girl with her complexion in the whole school her fascination was based on the girl's uniqueness. She had seen many people of varying skin tones over the summer while in Pennsylvania and the novelty was gone. There was no longer any need for them to even be friends.
So when she walked into school for the first day of the sixth grade it was upsetting to find the game had completely changed.
Her eyes found Santana like they always had every year for seven years, but she didn't even know it at first. The girl stole her breath away all over again, the game had changed because Santana had changed, the Latina had changed a lot. Her hair was even longer now and that beautifully browned skin was a bit darker in a way that complemented her eyes perfectly. Her face was leaner, her lips were fuller, and she was taller, though not as tall as Brittany who stood next to her looking like a giant with a deep tan and sun bleached hair.
Quinn approached and tried not to look as stunned as she felt. They had changed so much without her. They were growing up and she was staying the same. How on earth had this happened?
Brittany saw her, squealed with joy and almost toppled her over with excitement, her mouth going a mile a minute as she rattled off as many details about their trip as she could all at once.
Santana interjected with a 'Jeez let her breathe Britt,' and Quinn was gone; a soul lost at sea. Not only had Santana's looks changed but her voice had too. It was like audible chocolate in her ears, smooth, husky and perfect. Quinn realized that there was no one like Santana in the entire world and she had been so stupid to think she was over her (and there was soo much more hair to touch).
Brittany let her go and showed her all the things they brought back for her (t-shirts, pens, pencils, a snow globe), but all Quinn could do was wait for Santana to speak again and when she did it made her ears warm.
As it turned out Brittany and Santana weren't the only things that had changed. There were lots of new kids, and many of the old had moved away. There was a boy called Noah who was bigger than anyone in their class and had skin akin to Santana's (though he doesn't mesmerize her like she does) who likes to talk about things only adults should talk about and his runty friend Finn who always seemed interested and embarrassed by his companions stories. She even saw an Asian boy named Mike which surprises her because for a while she thought Asians were something made up to make American kids try harder, at least that was what Fran told her (thinking back on the source it had been stupid to believe that regardless).
The new kids brought a whole new dynamic to school that Quinn couldn't possibly say she liked. The boys hovered around more than she was comfortable with and Noah kept talking to her about sports and stuff (to impress her? Not working) and Mike talked to Brittany lots, but the other blonde seemed to enjoy his attention much more than Quinn enjoyed Noah's. This clearly infuriated Santana and with this Quinn saw her in.
She had been aware from the beginning that she was the extra wheel and now she saw how she could put an end to that. She would become the group's alpha, a necessary link that brought her from being the extra person at lunch and recess to the person the other two would have to wait for before they could go. It was as simple as showing that she could control who came near Brittany, and Santana would stay near her. So she did.
It only took a well placed knee to the groin to get Mike too scared to come near her and she found when she looked into Noah's eyes and batted her lashes she could get him to do anything. So she had him beat up anyone who tried to give them trouble, effectively keeping any potential Mike's away and allowing her to keep from having to get her hands (knees) dirty as an enforcer. This became particularly handy as she started to realize that not everyone was as small as Mike and some weekends the boys would go home and seemingly grow a foot, luckily for every inch the other boys grew Noah seemed to sprout one taller so he kept the edge.
The plan was rather perfect and as she had suspected Santana kept close by her (and subsequently Noah) to keep Brittany to herself. Quinn was even able to get her parents to let the other two girls visit and they played at her house for hours almost every day.
It was all going so well until Fran burst her bubble of happiness (what was new in the world?).
"So, what are all three of you going to grow up and be lesbians together?" had been her question one night right after she had come home from Santana's where she had spent the whole day playing with her two best friends.
Quinn never knew why Fran asked her that.
She had gone to her father's study afterwards and looked up the definition of lesbian in the dictionary (she wasn't allowed to use the computer without supervision yet and she was pretty sure she didn't want them knowing what she was looking up). The moment she read it was like being in a room and hearing her name called when she wasn't expecting it. It was a little surprising finding a definition for what she felt, but she knew right away that this was a description of her, and more than likely Santana too, maybe even Brittany. Quinn had wondered why Fran would bother to call her a name that wasn't hurtful but astutely accurate. She wondered until one day at dinner she discovered that lesbians fell under the category of fags, dykes and gender bending freaks that her father ranted and raved furiously about.
After she figured that out she decided to keep the information to herself.
More importantly she needed to keep it from anyone else who could figure it out as easily as Fran had.
So she did what she did best. Manipulate.
It was beyond easy at this point, Santana and Brittany believed every word out of her mouth because every word was said with outright conviction and an air of unflappability that others naturally believed (a technique she had learned when asked by Fran if she thought the boys walking around in their summer clothes were hot and Quinn really, really wanted her to believe the answer was yes).
She convinced them that middle school was where they needed to learn how to be on top, that they needed to gain a reputation and more importantly they needed to attract the attention of the boys. Santana had not liked that in the slightest, but Brittany seemed fine with it and, with them so keen on the idea, Quinn was sure Santana didn't want to seem weird, so she went along with it.
It wasn't hard because honestly the three of them had already gained the attention of every boy in the school, all Quinn had to do was get Noah to back down when they came calling. Quinn supposed that it should have bothered her how being with boys made her realize how much she preferred girls, but it didn't. Maybe because she was used to hiding parts of herself from the world (especially her family). It was just another thing in a long list that no one knew about her. As an offhanded way to make sure she even kissed Noah one afternoon behind the gym during recess, it had been wet and awkward and nowhere near as good as he had always bragged kissing him would be. That kiss sort of settled the matter for her, but it did bother her to see the dumbstruck look in his eyes afterwards, a look that was always sort of there whenever they saw each other after that.
By the seventh grade Quinn could tell Santana had come to the same conclusion she had about kissing boys, but instead of keeping them at an arms length she seemed to be trying crazy hard to like it better. She assumed it was because she saw Brittany being such a natural at it, that girl could kiss a boy breathless and then trot off to skip rope like nothing had happened. But Quinn saw Santana struggling through it, the way she had to squeeze her eyes shut every time or that almost comical look of disappointment after. Most of all she saw the way she stared at Brittany with a look of loss whenever the other girl was prancing around the school yard kissing boys like it was a game of tag.
By eighth grade both she and Santana were world class actresses though, Quinn opted to hide behind religion as a shield to minimize her contact with guys and when she did have to she would just imagine they were someone she wanted to kiss. Someone with much fuller lips.
Santana just learned to live the lie as Quinn realized one day as they sat underneath a tree at the far end of the recess yard watching they boys run track. Santana had gone on and on with Brittany about how great kissing was and how good they were at it and which of the boys were the best. Santana was almost frightening in her eagerness to get to high school, she was convinced that was where all the really good male/female interactions happened (Quinn almost winced in irritation at herself when she recalled it was her that had been spewing all that shit).
Regardless Quinn had a plan, for two years she had researched everything about high school one could know. Like how being a cheerleader would not only put her high up on the social pyramid but, according to forums, was also a popular hetero-girl type of activity (though given the short skirts, splits, catching and general physicality of it she wasn't sure why). It came with the added bonus of cheer camp.
The camp was actually the main reason she began to press that they become cheerleaders in high school, but she presented the idea backwards to them, starting by listing all the perks and ending with how they should sign up for camp to increase their chances of joining freshman year. This plan was nothing more than a cleverly disguised ploy to finally get to spend a summer with Santana (and okay Brittany too) because she was outright sick of being left out.
Cheer camp was the first totally manipulative move she ever made that wasn't met with even the slightest resistance. Santana was thrilled by the thought and Brittany was nervous but excited. Quinn had wondered what the thoroughly uncoordinated, tall girl would do given the athleticism involved, but the other blonde assured her she would be fine, apparently her parents had worried about her lack of coordination too and sent her to dance classes to help.
They got into the camp easily and to her complete and total delight they were naturals, it boosted her spirits even higher to know that her knack for command made her team leader, and there was a minor bonus of sharing a cabin with her friends (so it was her favorite fact about the whole damn camp, whatever).
Not only was she sharing a cabin with them but she was sharing a cabin with only them (the girl in the bunk below her had gotten sick and gone home). Sure Santana complained about all the exercise and the early mornings, but both Quinn and Brittany could tell she was just complaining to complain (her brown eyes lit up in the most alluring way when she talked about beating the other girls in training exercises).
It was perfection for Quinn.
In the beginning it was everything she had planned. They stayed up late and talked about anything and everything (though Quinn determinedly kept the conversation off boys), and they played games, told secrets and even ghost stories (mainly because Brittany was so easy to scare and it was so fun to do it). They even broke curfew a few times to swim in the lake and Quinn got to see Santana in a bikini (if she had been a boy that would have easily been the most embarrassing night of her life because she had never felt her body react that strongly that quickly). It all went so well, until it didn't.
Quinn had no idea when it started, but she remembered the first time she woke up in the middle of the night to find the others gone. When she asked them about it the next day Brittany mumbled something about following a unicorn into the woods and Santana just blushed furiously. She found that weird, but everything that happened around Brittany was weird so she wrote it off.
Then it started happening every week, then every other day, she was alone more than she was with them anymore and it stung. Bad. At first she thought it was her, that they had just decided to stop following her lead, that they were ready to do their own thing. But then she caught Santana giving Brittany that look when the taller girl wasn't looking, that same dumbstruck look Noah had given her and her stomach twisted in knots as she realized why they had been missing.
Quinn observed Santana closely in the vain hope that it wasn't what she thought, but as she saw Brittany handle Santana like a prize winning show dog she had to accept that hope was lost. In the beginning they both acted almost the same as before anything changed (besides Santana being totally whipped), when they were together (on the rare night all three girls were in their cabin) they still talked and laughed and enjoyed each other. And just when Quinn was just getting used to things being like that, just when she thought she had adjusted to the new dynamic it changed. And not for the better.
It was their last day of camp, they had already signed up to audition for McKinley's Cheerios (which was weird because there were girls and boys from all over Ohio, but McKinley was the only one with a sign up booth and a cardboard cutout of their, hopefully, soon-to-be coach) and were about to get on the bus home. Quinn, Santana and Brittany stood excited to finally return home when Quinn had offhandedly said, "Back to the real world ladies, when we get to high school all eyes will be on us."
It was meant to be an inspiring thing to say, something to get them pumped for the upcoming school year, something for them to feel proud of. She had meant them to take pride in all they had accomplished at camp because it would soon pay off. Instead it just seemed to piss Santana off.
"I know that Quinn! Why do you always have to say stupid shit when no one asked you?"
Both Quinn and Brittany were shocked by her outburst and confusion was plainly written on both their faces, but the Latina stormed onto the bus without a backwards glance. Brittany had shrugged and followed and Quinn had frowned deeply. She could sense how severely everything was about to change.
She was right.
They had five whole days apart to get ready for school and on the first day of freshman year of high school Quinn was introduced to Bitch Santana.
The anger and snark was directed at everyone but Brittany and though the tall girl was normally the one that kept Santana in check in regards to their third friend, Quinn took it upon herself to keep the smaller girl in line. She shot back word for word with Bitch Santana until she just stormed off, Brittany hot on her trail chastising her for being mean to Quinn.
While Santana had been cultivating her Bitch side Quinn had worked quite hard on her Head Bitch In Charge side. It was something she knew she would have to be going into high school (she had found that out from years watching Fran with her friends in the living room from her hiding spot on the stairs) she just never expected to have to use it to keep Santana in line (at least not so soon), but she quickly became glad she had. Because as Santana began her reign as holy terror it boosted Quinn's reputation by default as she was the only one Santana answered to (and Brittany only no one knew that but Santana and Quinn).
All three of them made it on the Cheerios easily and right when that happened the game changed again.
Everything was constant stress.
First there was home.
Little had changed, but everything was different. Fran had gone to college and that left Quinn alone in a house meant for eight with two other people who expected a perfection from her that didn't exist in the world. A perfection her parents didn't even kind of posses and they all knew it. Still she worked like a hamster on a damn wheel to give them what they wanted. Her grades were perfect and she could fake the rest, her acting skills were top notch now.
Then there was Santana.
Yes the girl was bitchy, but when they joined the squad she became dangerously so. She could see Quinn was winning instantaneous favor in Coach Sylvester's eyes and she did anything and everything she could to undermine Quinn. The blonde had to stay sharp to keep the other girl in her place, she could have decided to use Brittany as a means of control, that would have been easy enough, but Quinn actually relished the attention. It was nerve wracking and sometimes painful (like the time Santana stole her spanks so she had to wear her winter pants in the summer heat, which earned her fifty suicides for dressing out of season), however, she couldn't help but sort of enjoy their arguments because… well Santana was gorgeous, but she was downright hot when she was mad.
And last but not least were the boys.
To begin with over the summer they had all transformed into taller, masculine, hulk versions of themselves, like these new guys showed up, ate the old ones, and started strutting around pretending to be them. Puck (Puck because he said Noah sounded stupid and Quinn supposed she could see his point as it was a bible character versus a Shakespeare character until he said it was after Puck from Gargoyles… she hadn't the strength nor the desire to deal with that…) had shaved his head into the most ridiculous mohawk and had apparently taken steroids because instead of being tall and wiry he was now thick solid muscle, and Finn had ingested some sort of growth hormone because she now had to crane her neck to look at him, even little Mike had shot up and his cute chubby face was now more lean. The boys she knew had morphed plus there were now all new guys on the freshman scene, not to mention all of the older kids who looked like the best kind of adults as they drove to school in their cars. And as a Cheerio all these boys wanted to talk to her, and that wouldn't have been an issue, but they wanted to talk to Santana as well and that was too much for her to take on top of everything else.
The Celibacy Club.
It was supposed to be a way to keep the three friends close. It was supposed to be a way to keep the boys at bay. It was supposed to be taken at least slightly seriously. It was none of those things.
Once Santana was set free in the pool of high school she swam free and there was nothing Quinn could do to stop her. She could only watch as she flitted from person to person gaining a reputation that made Santana proud and Quinn flinch. She supposed she should have cared that Brittany had an even more infamous reputation, but she didn't outside of the fact that she was sure that Brittany's rumored fluidity directly corresponded to how much of a slut Santana was said to be.
It wasn't all bad though. Despite all else, they were still friends. They did almost everything together, and once again Quinn fought to accept the new layout. To accept what she was given and move on. She reprimanded herself constantly for even bothering to take such an interest in a grade school crush and everything leveled out. They found a routine. A hierarchy. And though they were the only three members of the Celibacy Club it was a reason to meet after school and talk about everything that was going on in their lives (even boys) though it was mostly Brittany and Santana sharing with Quinn and vice verca, the other two girls were never apart long enough to not know what the other was doing. (In Quinn's mind it's here that marked the last time everything was perfect, well as perfect as it could be given the circumstances).
The end of the year approached and that's when the scales started to tip. When Quinn's carefully stacked card house started to get top heavy.
A/N 2: Swear I know the difference between present and past tense and how to use them but I wrote it how it flowed best so... yeah. Thanks for reading please review cause I love to hear them.