Author's Note: Number thirteen in the Don't Blink series, and first chronologically. This is a Quinn-centric piece set around her first year at Yale, and is a little different from the rest of the series in terms of tone and style. It will be posted in two parts for length. Considering recent spoilers on Quinn's adventures at Yale, I prefer to think of this as my canon now.
Many thanks and cyber-hugs to Skywarrior108 for being an awesome beta. (Yes, I finally have one, so you all shouldn't have to suffer through as many typos.) Also, credit and thanks to her for the cover image.
Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or the characters, I just like to play with them…strictly non-profit.
Where Your Book Begins
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
~Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield
Part I: The Blank Page Before You
Quinn Fabray is seventeen years old the first time she consciously considers the possibility that she's attracted to women—a woman, more specifically. Rachel Berry, to be exact. She's already admitted to herself that she's never really hated Rachel. She's been annoyed by her, and jealous of her, and angry with her, but she's also always been unaccountably fascinated with her. At some point, Quinn had decided that it must be Rachel's voice, and that idea isn't challenged until Finn and Rachel get back together at Nationals in New York City.
She's holding Santana back from clawing Rachel's eyes out in the hotel room, and it's taking everything in her because she just wants to let Santana go and dig her own nails into Finn Hudson until he's bleeding on the outside as much as Quinn is on the inside. It's backwards, and she knows it. She should want to hurt Rachel for taking Finn away from her, but that isn't what she's feeling at all, and it terrifies her. Her heart breaks whenever she thinks of Rachel ending up in the life that Quinn envisions every time she thinks of becoming Mrs. Finn Hudson. She has an inkling of an idea why she feels that way, but it's impossible and sinful and she doesn't want it in her head, so she buries it.
Quinn goes back to Lima with her new haircut and her fake smile and refuses to think about Rachel and Finn—consciously. Her subconscious does not get the memo, and she's plagued by dreams (and nightmares) that pull her from her sleep every night with a racing heart and overheated body. She spends the summer trying to forget the haunting images that keep her company in her bed. She meets the Mack one afternoon in a diner, and Quinn tries a cigarette and falls in love with the notion of letting the world just burn to ashes. Mack's much older brother is a nice distraction for a while, but Quinn isn't really into it, as much as she tries, and Tommy is just decent enough not to push the issue.
It bothers Quinn—that she couldn't make herself feel much of anything with Tommy, with Finn, with Sam, with Puck. It bothers her, but she buries it, because her lack of passion can't be her fault—it must have been them. She goes back to school with a new look and a new attitude, and she doesn't care. She doesn't care until Rachel shows up under the bleachers with wide, earnest eyes, offering apologies and missing Quinn and promising all the time she needs to get it right, and that inkling of an idea awakens to taunt her, hand in hand with blurry images from her dreams. Quinn pushes them away, because she still can't have them in her head, and tries to disappear into the smoke and attitude. Then Shelby comes back, dangling the one perfect thing that Quinn has ever managed to achieve in front of her face like a prize, and Quinn's mind is suddenly filled with Beth, and everything else fades away for a good, long time.
It's a hug in a bathroom and the news that Finn Hudson is stupider than Quinn ever gave him credit for that forces her to finally acknowledge that inkling of an idea, and she isn't any less terrified than she was the first time it flitted into her head. She ignores it, drowns out the whispers in her ears and her heart with thoughts of her future and of college, and she thinks that maybe someday she'll be able to let go and move on to a nice young man, a white picket fence, a couple of kids, and just...happiness.
It's a text message and a truck that put the thoughts of someday on indefinite hold, because she's stuck in a wheelchair, and dealing with physical therapy, and just praying that she can still have college and her future waiting for her once she makes it through the pain. Rachel is still engaged to Finn, so it hardly even matters whether or not Quinn might be a little bit in love with her. She tells herself that it's only Rachel, so maybe it's just an emotional attraction, and it doesn't have to change who Quinn is. She isn't attracted to other women. Of course, she also isn't attracted to poor Artie, who she knows has a little crush on her, or to Teen Jesus with his encouraging words, but she can't deny that it's nice to have someone still want her, even if she is broken. She lets them stroke her ego, but she doesn't take either of them seriously. She makes it through high school, and out of the wheelchair, and off to Yale.
She kisses Puck one last time to boost his ego, because she doesn't want to see him stuck in Lima either, and because she wants to find out if he can make her feel something again. He can't.
Quinn is eighteen when she arrives in New Haven. She likes her roommate—Megan is pretty and sweet and (thank God) intelligent—and Quinn doesn't feel a thing when Megan strips off her clothes and changes in front of her. She's relieved and hopeful, so she accepts a date with a guy named Zane whom she meets the second week of classes. She's nervous and self-conscious, because she still has a noticeable limp and ugly scarring crisscrossing her left leg—not to mention her torso, but she isn't planning to let anyone see that anytime soon—but she does her best to relax and give Zane a chance. She shouldn't have bothered. He's a typical jock, self-centered and a little dim, and Quinn has already dated three versions of him. She isn't interested in reliving the experience.
Quinn meets Jason in her Survey to Theater and Drama class. He's kind and intelligent and handsome and nothing like the guys she used to date, so when he asks her out at the end of September, Quinn says yes. They have a nice time together and have a lot to talk about, so it's easy to agree to a second date. It's at the end of that date when things go wrong again. He asks if he can kiss her goodnight, and Quinn smiles and nods shyly, and then their lips meet, and...she feels nothing. Jason is a good kisser—not too aggressive, not too soft—and the kiss is pleasant, but there aren't any fireworks. There isn't even a cap gun going off.
Quinn is over the need to have a cute guy on her arm to compliment her image. Her self-worth no longer depends on a man constantly reassuring her that she's thin enough or pretty enough or popular enough. She's been through hell and back, all on her own, and she's strong enough to wait for something real. Quinn has no incentive to fake it with Jason, but she isn't ready to give up on the kiss. She pulls him closer, hoping to feel something (like what she feels when she talks to Rachel) because she should, but she doesn't. She sends him home, goes back to her room, and cries into her pillow. Two days later, she tells Jason that she thinks they should just be friends.
Rachel visits her for the first time in late October. She's been busy in New York with classes and with Finn, and she apologizes again and again for not being able to get away sooner. Quinn smiles and tells her not to worry, that she's been busy, too. It's true, but it's also a convenient excuse that she's been using to avoid making the trip to New York. Rachel has a knack for stirring up emotions that Quinn prefers to keep buried, and the prospect of seeing Rachel and Finn together in the city, living out their dreams, makes her feel irrationally angry. Here in New Haven, when it's only Rachel with her contagious enthusiasm and genuine interest in Quinn's college life, Quinn can enjoy the moment and the company and imagine that nothing ever has to change.
For a few days, she's just a girl showing her best friend around Yale. They laugh, and they talk about the campus and Quinn's roommate, Rachel's bitchy dance instructor, music, and movies. They talk about New York, and Quinn watches Rachel's lips curve into a soft smile that lights her up from within. She watches dark eyes sparkle with pure joy and excited hands that can't keep still reach up to tuck a strand of hair behind a pink ear. She feels Rachel's delight for life seep into her skin, down deep into her bones, until she almost believes it's her own. She tries to hold onto it for as long as she can after Rachel leaves, but it fades like the sun into the dreary autumn skies.
It's mid-November when Quinn is forced into total self-awareness. She's at a party with Megan, and she's pleasantly buzzed, but she isn't drunk. She's watching people dance and grind against one another, not fully realizing that her eyes are lingering on the women in the room more than the guys. A friend of Megan's, whose name she doesn't really remember—she thinks it might be Josie or Jessica—comes over and asks if she wants to dance. Quinn really does, because she's always loved to dance and for a few months she'd thought she might never be able to again. She's not thinking too deeply about the invitation because it's an upbeat song and a lot of girls are dancing in groups, so she lets the girl (tall and curvy, with auburn hair and interested eyes) pull her up from her perch on the edge of the chair, but her leg still isn't fully cooperating—less so after two cups of beer—and she stumbles a bit into waiting arms. In an instant, there are strong hands on her ass, and the girl is lifting her up and pressing her tight, and God—Quinn feels every inch of those curves fit against her own and a streak of fire dances through her blood. Her arms find their way around a trim waist, and she wants to press closer. She wants to...rub and grind and do things she shouldn't want to ever do with another woman.
Maybe it's the alcohol or maybe it's the music—loud and thrumming like a pulse through the room—or maybe it's just Yale and the moment and a desire to dance. Quinn leans into the girl and lets her body move to the beat, and for a while, she feels free. She feels young and brave and wild. Until she feels soft lips brush against her jaw and her fuzzy head snaps into focus. She turns and those lips are right there, so close to hers that she can almost taste the tequila on the other girl's breath. And then she does—just a sip; a nip; a shot of flavor and heat that burns her tongue and warms her belly. It's too much too fast, and she panics, jerking away and muttering a disjointed excuse before she staggers outside and collapses against the wall in tears.
She somehow makes her way back to her dorm and stands beneath a hot shower spray for a long time as she sobs into her hands. What she'd felt in a ten second embrace was more than she'd felt kissing her boyfriends—more like what she feels every time Rachel touches her. And Quinn has an inkling of an idea—a shadow of a memory—that she's noticed other women before and wondered if their skin was as soft as it looked or what their bodies looked like under their clothes. It doesn't happen with everyone. She still doesn't feel any particular attraction to Megan—blonde, bubbly Megan. She'd never felt the desire to touch Tina or Mercedes. She hasn't even imagined kissing Brittany, but she can no longer pretend that Rachel is the only woman that has the power to make her blood sing.
Quinn turns off the water and dries her tears as she dries her body. When Megan comes back to their room, she doesn't ask where Quinn disappeared to, and Quinn doesn't volunteer any information.
Megan's friend—whose name is Josie—finds Quinn in the student lounge two days later. She tentatively sits down across from her and says, "I'm sorry about the other night." Quinn drags in a trembling breath, keeping her eyes focused on her laptop. "I didn't mean to freak you out," Josie apologizes. "I just wanted to dance, and I thought you might be into it. It's cool if you're not."
Quinn feels her face heat; she nods, mumbles, "Yeah, I'm not," and keeps on staring at her screen. Josie sighs, but she takes the hint and leaves Quinn to her own devices.
Her own devices are Internet searches conducted in secret, books that she sneakily pulls off of shelves in the library, and a Thanksgiving break when Megan packs up and goes home to Pennsylvania and Quinn stays on campus by herself (to save money because she's flying home for Christmas) and marathons every lesbian themed television show and film that she can find on Netflix or Hulu.
She thinks about Rachel as she lets her hands wander her own body. She should feel dirty—because Rachel is engaged to Finn—but she doesn't. It's her own mind and her own body, and she has every right to her own fantasies. She comes with Rachel's name on her tongue, and she cries alone into the darkness, because her own imagination of a feminine body that she'll never touch is a thousand times better than the remembered reality of hard muscle and stubble and suffocating weight on top of her. She cries because it will never be real. She cries because now she can't even look forward to a nice guy and a white picket fence of her own. She's just going to have more adversity to deal with, more rejection, more fear.
Quinn goes back to Lima over winter break. She's happy to see Mercedes, and she catches up with Artie. She spends Christmas Day with her mother, pretending to be happy when neither of them is living the life that they really want. Judy is lonely and struggling to stay sober, and Quinn is lonely and struggling to make peace with herself.
Rachel stays in New York until December twenty-third, because Finn has to work and she can't leave him in the city alone. Quinn is thrust back into her presence on the day after Christmas, and, for a few hours, it's the sweetest torture as they chat over breakfast and browse the Lima Mall for sales. There's a little get-together that night for the old glee club, and Quinn is forced to see Finn. She tries desperately to ignore the way her heart twists and her stomach turns as his hands constantly find their way onto Rachel's body.
It's only for a day, because the happy couple has to fly back to New York early in the morning on December twenty-seventh so that Finn can get back to his job, and Rachel won't let him go alone. Quinn turns down their invitation to spend New Year's Eve in the city with them. She doesn't need to watch them kiss at midnight amidst a sea of happy strangers.
Instead, she welcomes the New Year in Lima with Santana and Brittany and a loud group of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Some are coupled up, and even more are single again. Tina and Mike are on opposite sides of the room, and Sam is looking longingly at Brittany, much to Santana's displeasure, while Mercedes talks to anyone who will listen about a guy in Los Angeles, where Puck still is because he was too broke to afford a plane ticket home for the holidays.
Kurt and Blaine seem caught in the middle of an argument, but Quinn thinks they're technically still together, at least for the moment. Artie is dating Sugar now that Rory is back in Ireland, and Joe has a pretty girlfriend whose name Quinn can't be bothered to learn, and there are some other underclassmen that she doesn't care to know, engaged in disgusting displays of teenage hormones.
When midnight comes around, Quinn forces a smile that doesn't reach her eyes while her friends share their first kisses of the year. She's never felt so alone, even as they all wrap her up in friendly hugs and kiss her cheeks.
She sits on the sofa at four-thirteen in the morning, curled under a soft, flannel blanket and watching the cottony flakes of snow melt against the windowpane. The party wound down about an hour ago, and the handful of revelers who were too drunk to attempt the drive home are strategically sprawled around the Lopez house. Quinn suspects that she's the only one left awake at this hour, but she can't switch her mind off.
She thinks about Santana and how afraid she was to come out, even though all of her friends already knew that she was in love with Brittany. She thinks about Kurt and the bullying he had to endure from Dave Karofsky and how it got so bad that he had to transfer schools. Then she thinks about Karofsky and how, for a while, death seemed the better option to him than living as an out, gay teenager.
As unsettled as she feels, Quinn knows that accepting her sexuality won't break her. She's already been broken twice over already. Her heart will never be whole with the absence of Beth, and her body will never be perfect with the scars that mar her skin or the pain that haunts her nightmares. She'll survive this too. She'll survive, but she needs a crutch until the ground beneath her feet stops shaking.
The spring semester at Yale doesn't begin until January fourteenth, and Quinn isn't going back to New Haven until next week. Santana's classes at Columbia begin on the twenty-first, and she's taking advantage of every extra minute she can manage with Brittany before she goes back to college. When Brittany failed to graduate last spring, Santana had nearly deferred college for a year, but Brittany hadn't wanted her to make that sacrifice. Quinn knows the long distance relationship is taking its toll on them, and she suspects that Santana has logged more travel time between New York and Lima than class time at Columbia.
All Brittany has to do this year is graduate. Quinn is praying for her. She honestly doesn't know what Santana will do if Brittany isn't with her in New York next year.
Classes at McKinley start up on the third of January, so Quinn invites Santana over to her house to hang out while Brittany is in school. She makes them lunch—nothing too complicated, just some sandwiches from the leftover ham. She contemplates the merits of coming out via themed movie marathon on Netflix. She laughs a little, thinking that it's something Rachel might do, or maybe a PowerPoint presentation. Quinn really doesn't miss those at all.
Santana shows up in jeans and a hoodie with her hair scraped back into a ponytail and minimal makeup. "Like I'm dressing up for you," she scoffs when Quinn makes a comment, shouldering past her into the kitchen and going straight for the ham. Quinn isn't exactly dressed in her best clothes either, opting for jeans and a sweater, but she can't help feeling annoyed that Santana no longer deems her important enough to bother trying to impress.
She watches Santana grab her sandwich and then proceed to paw through the refrigerator for extra mayonnaise, a jar of pickles, the leftover potato salad, and the cranberry sauce. Quinn huffs and rolls her eyes, leaning against the counter as she lets her friend raid her kitchen. "I know your mother feeds you," she comments dryly.
Santana shoots a half-assed glare over her shoulder, pulling out the last quarter of pumpkin pie for good measure. "She feeds me," she confirms as she closes the fridge, "but I worked up an extra appetite last night, if you know what I mean," she adds with a smirk.
Quinn feels her face flush, and she shakes her head, turning away to get her own sandwich. Part of her thinks it's the perfect opening. Oh, hey, I know exactly what you mean. I actually kissed a girl at Yale, and I think I might be kind of gay. She doesn't say that. She doesn't say anything.
"Guess college hasn't loosened you up any," Santana mutters, picking up her plate and settling down at the table.
Quinn considers this. One kiss, a silent admission, and some scarily detailed fantasies don't really add up to much, and the truth is that she's spent that last four months doing little more than studying and avoiding anything that would require her to get too close to anyone. Quinn wants to do more than just drift through the next four years; she wants to open herself up to new experiences—good experiences. God knows she's had enough bad ones.
"I'm still…settling in," Quinn finally says, sitting down across from Santana. She thinks of that girl, Josie, and how it felt when their bodies had pressed together in those moments before Quinn panicked and how maybe one day soon, she'll be able to do that without feeling the overwhelming need to run. "I think really good things are going to happen for me this year," she decides with a nod.
"Have you been holding out on me, Q?" Santana asks with interest, dropping her half-finished sandwich to the plate, and a familiar smirk settles on her lips. "Did you already find yourself some rich Yalie to sink your claws into so you can fulfill your yearbook superlative?"
"Hardly," Quinn grumbles with a frown. She isn't particularly fond of the 'most likely to marry a millionaire' that the McKinley yearbook staff had saddled her with. "I just," she breathes in, nibbles on the corner of her lip and shrugs, "I feel like it's time to make some changes."
A peculiar expression flits across Santana's face, but it's gone before Quinn can decipher what it means. "You're not planning on dying your hair purple this time, are you?"
Quinn laughs a little. "If anything, I'll go back to pink again."
Santana shrugs and picks at the edge of her sandwich with a fingernail. "Well, you need to do something to get you out of whatever funk you're in. You're a hot, single college girl. Go out and have some damn fun, play the field, break some hearts. Hell, that's totally what I'd be doing if I didn't have Brittany," she admits with a raised eyebrow. "Those chicks at Columbia are fucking sexy."
Quinn can feel her face heat, but she ignores it, instead focusing on what Santana just revealed and frowning. "Does Brittany know that your eyes are wandering?"
"She doesn't care about my eyes," Santana drawls with a roll of hers, "as long as the rest of me stays faithful." She shrugs again, leaning back in her chair. "We agreed to cut each other a little slack whenever we're not together, because let's face it, we're both super hot bitches and people are going to flirt with us. It's hard not to notice, you know?"
Quinn nods distractedly, even though she doesn't really know at all. In her mind, Santana and Brittany noticing other people who are noticing them isn't a particularly good sign, but she isn't going to question Santana. She doesn't have much room to talk, considering her own spotty history with staying faithful, but she knows from her own experience that wandering eyes tend to precede wandering hands and lips and other body parts. She wants her next relationship—whomever it may be with—to be free from that kind of temptation.
"I mean, we can't all be disgustingly co-dependent like Finchel," Santana sneers.
Quinn frowns at the mention of Rachel and Finn's annoying portmanteau, wishing again that Rachel could have stayed in Lima a little longer. "You didn't even see them while they were here," Quinn points out, shaking her head. In fact, both Santana and Brittany had somehow managed to make themselves disappear every time Finn and Rachel were around. New Years Eve was the first time they'd spent any significant time with the reunited glee club, and Finn and Rachel had already left by then.
Santana wrinkles her nose and purses her lips, looking like she's just eaten something horribly distasteful. "I don't have to see them to know that they're disgusting. I'm proud to say I haven't had to witness any of their obnoxiously nauseating PDAs since we graduated."
Quinn frowns thoughtfully. "I thought you'd seen them in New York a few times." She knows it hasn't been often—Rachel had made it a point to mention how busy Santana always seems to be with her classes.
Santana rolls her eyes again. "I met Kurt and Rachel for coffee twice, and only because Finndigestion had to work. You'd think Berry would have gotten the hint after the dozens of invitations I turned down," she comments dryly.
"You're avoiding them?" Quinn asks, mildly irritated at Santana for no good reason other than the fact that she's probably hurting Rachel's feelings.
Santana crosses her arms and huffs. "Look, I had to put up with seeing Finn Hero-Complex Hudson everyday for four years, but we're not in high school anymore. I don't have to pretend to like the guy. And before you say anything," Santana rushes to add, holding up a hand in anticipation of Quinn's question, "Britts doesn't like him either, especially since he freaking outed me in the middle of a crowded hallway. So no, I'm not going to hang with him and Berry like I give a crap about their boring, pathetic lives."
Quinn can't bring herself to defend Finn. He's the kind of guy that can seem really sweet when he makes an effort and kind of dumb, so you tend forgive all his stupid mistakes because you think his heart is in the right place, but the longer you know him, the more you start to wonder if he's really as sweet as he seems or if he's just a selfish, unthinking jerk who's learned how to charm his way out of taking responsibility for all of his thoughtless words and actions. He did try to drag Quinn out of her wheelchair at prom, and he never even apologized to her. Granted, she could stand for short periods of time by then, and okay, maybe Finn was right about her hoping to gain some sympathy votes for prom queen, but she was nowhere near strong enough to walk without some form of support. Finn would have known that if he'd bothered to listen to her for two minutes instead of jumping to conclusions and deciding she was an unrepentant bitch.
Sighing, Quinn nods. "I guess I can't blame you." Especially when she's doing almost exactly the same thing by attempting to avoid seeing Finn and Rachel in all of their engaged bliss.
"Damn right," Santana grumbles, taking a big, angry bite of her sandwich to punctuate her point.
Quinn picks at her own food, feeling her stomach sour as she considers exactly what she's thinking of doing. Is she really ready to come out? To actually say the words out loud that will change everything for her? She's already let three perfect openings pass her by, and she's allowing Santana to carry the conversation further and further away from the desired destination.
Santana eventually polishes off her plate of food, in between amusing Quinn with colorful stories about some of her classmates at Columbia and the nosy neighbor who lives in the apartment across the hall from her. Quinn rinses the dishes and deposits them into the sink for later, and she joins Santana in the living room, collapsing onto the sofa as Santana flicks through the Netflix menu with disinterest.
"You know," she drawls, "you really need to get your ass on a train to New York this semester. Forget the HummelHudsonBerrys. We'll hang out some weekend, get a couple of fake IDs, hit up some clubs, and get our groove on. Maybe we'll even find you a piece of man candy to use and abuse before you head back to the Ivy League."
Quinn bites into her lip, and her stomach flips over. "What if," she begins, hearing her voice come out weak and breathy, and nervously clearing her throat, "what if I don't want a man?"
Santana sort of freezes next to her with a finger hovering over the channel button on the remote. She levels Quinn with a measuring gaze that makes her feel like an insect under a microscope. Quinn swallows convulsively, trying to work some moisture back into her dry mouth, and watches as Santana narrows her eyes and tips her head slightly to the left. "Is this you slipping back into your skank-loving-leave-me-alone-I-don't-give-a-fuck phase, or are you planning to invest in flannel, sensible shoes, and explore the untamed bush?" she finally asks.
Quinn chokes on a strangled laugh that quickly morphs into a sob. She presses a fist to her mouth in an attempt to keep her composure, but it's no use. All of her confidence drains away under Santana's scrutiny, and she squeezes her eyes closed and tries to focus on her breathing. She distantly hears a whispered, "Holy, shit," before she feels the sofa cushions shift and a pair of deceptively strong arms wrap around her shoulders.
She leans into Santana as she allows months of repressed emotion pour out. "Hey…shh…you're okay, Q," Santana soothes, awkwardly rubbing her bicep.
Quinn dries her eyes and drags in a shaky breath. The shudder that rocks her body is completely involuntary. Santana tightens her hold, but Quinn shakes her head, straightening her posture in an attempt to reclaim her dignity. Santana easily reads the cue and lets go, shuffling a few inches to the right to give Quinn her space.
"I thought I was ready for this," she manages after a moment.
Santana nods slowly. "So about that," she hedges, eyeing Quinn warily, "did you really just come out?"
Quinn feels her stomach twist unexpectedly. She can admit her sexuality in the privacy of her own mind, and she's even whispered it in her room when there's no one to hear, but to say it out loud—to tell someone else and have it be known—is terrifying.
She licks her lips and nods, ever so slightly. "Yeah," she breathes.
Santana eyes widen imperceptibly, and she puffs out an odd little breath. "Wow," she drawls, dragging out the short syllable into an awed expression. "I did not expect that." Quinn silently waits for Santana to process that this is happening, and she watches her friend shake her head disbelievingly. "I mean, I seriously thought you'd be one of those late-in-life lesbians," Santana reveals, looking Quinn over with a critical eye. "You know, the kind that marries some guy she doesn't love for money and security, then has a couple of kids out of obligation before she starts messing around with the sexy French Au Pair, divorces her husband, and goes all in with the ladies."
"Wait," Quinn mutters lowly, still trying to process what she heard, "you thought…what?"
Santana barks out a laugh. "Oh come on, you didn't actually expect me to be shocked that you're attracted to women, did you?"
Quinn frowns, clenching her jaw her until the muscles in her cheek start to jump. Apart from that one kiss with Josie, her romantic history has been exclusively heterosexual, unlike Santana's supposedly closeted days.
"Oh, wow," Santana laughs merrily. "You did!"
"Fuck you, Santana," she growls.
Santana slings an arm over her tense shoulder, leaning close and husking, "Bet you'd actually enjoy that, wouldn't you?"
"Ew," Quinn pushes her off, wrinkling her nose in disgust. "No thank you."
"Your loss," Santana smirks. "The tricks I could teach you..."
"Okay," Quinn interrupts, holding up a hand to silence her, "so not ready to go there yet." She can only begin to imagine what Santana's sexual habits are like, and, lesbian or not, Quinn is pretty sure she doesn't want to hear about them. She doesn't want a teacher. She only wants a friend.
Santana chuckles again, shaking her head, but her smile turns soft and she lightly bumps Quinn's shoulder with her own. "Seriously, Quinn. I'm incredibly proud of you for poking your head out of the deep, dark closet you've been living in since I met you, but I have to ask," she levels her gaze on Quinn, and her expression turns unexpectedly serious, "are you really sure about this?"
"Um...yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm gay," she says slowly, arching her brow—a little relieved that it's easier to say this time.
"Yeah, no, that's pretty much a given at this point," Santana flippantly informs her. "I meant, are you sure you're ready to be out?"
"I'm not," she starts to say, then silently laughs—because yeah, she's out now, even if it is just to Santana. "You're the only person I've told."
Santana quirks an eyebrow. "You haven't done any experimenting at Yale?"
"No." Her mind goes back to Josie, and she bites her lip thoughtfully. "Well, not really," she amends. "I kissed a girl...at a party," she quickly clarifies when she sees Santana grin, "but that's it."
"Let me guess, you freaked the hell out."
"Kind of," she mumbles with a regretful shrug. It wasn't one of her finer moments.
"Did you like it?"
"Kind of," she admits, feeling her ears heat under Santana's annoyingly astute gaze. "Okay, yes," she hisses with a roll of her eyes. "I liked it."
"Was she hot?" Santana asks with a lecherous smile.
"Santana! Women aren't things to be objectified," she growls. She's worse than a teenage boy sometimes.
"So, that's a no," she decides.
Quinn smacks her across the arm. Hard. "Ouch. Hey," Santana grumbles, rubbing at her stung flesh. "Do you like this girl?"
"I don't even know her," she says truthfully. Josie is very attractive—okay, yes, hot—but they've spoken a grand total of two times and neither could be considered a conversation. "She's my roommate's friend. We were dancing, and it felt good to just…not think," she confesses, closing her eyes and calling up the memory of those blissful minutes where she'd been nothing more than a body moving in time with the beat. "I didn't care about the past or the future or anyone's expectations. I didn't even know what I was doing until," she stops, opening her eyes to find Santana silently listening with a look of understanding etched across her dark features.
Quinn sighs, shaking her head in muted frustration. "I freaked the hell out," she concedes with a rueful smile. "I thought college would be different, that I'd start with a clean slate, with no one to answer to but myself, and everything would just…fall into place."
"But isn't that what's happening?" Santana prompts gently. "You're finally figuring your shit out, and you're not hiding anymore. Believe me, living honestly is a hell of alot easier than being miserable while you lie to yourself and everyone around you."
"Yeah, I think I'm finally getting that."
"Good for you. And you know," she shifts uncomfortably, glancing away as she quickly mutters, "I'm here whenever you want to talk."
Quinn smiles affectionately at her friend. "Thanks, Santana."
"Don't mention it. Ever," she warns, but it's an empty threat. Quinn knows that Santana has a not-so-secret soft spot for the people that she truly cares about, and Quinn is lucky enough to be one of the chosen few.
Santana shakes off the last vestiges of concerned friend and slips her more familiar bitchiness back on like a well-loved jacket. "Now let's get drunk and marathon The Real L Word. We need to get you educated."
"No, we really don't," Quinn bites out, averting her gaze. She can feel Santana's eyes on the side of her face.
"You've already watched it, haven't you?"
"No," she denies, cheeks heating.
"Bitch," Quinn snaps back, but it doesn't have any bite.
"You know it," Santana agrees on a laugh, slapping the sofa cushions before she pushes herself up. Hands on her hips, she looks down at Quinn with a mischievous grin. "Now where does Judy keep the good liquor these days?"
It takes Quinn ten minutes to stop Santana from ransacking all the cabinets, but eventually they settle in with a movie—one that Santana finds on Netflix that Quinn hasn't seen and is, thankfully, not porn—and glasses of water in lieu of the tequila that Santana really wants. Quinn feels more relaxed than she has in a long time, just knowing that she has someone who knows her secrets and is still sitting here, accepting her without question. Well, almost all her secrets. She has yet to mention her deeper feelings for Rachel, but she has a hunch that Santana won't be very surprised by that revelation either.
The rest of break passes by quickly. Quinn contemplates coming out to her mother before she goes back to school, but she honestly isn't ready, and she's afraid that the conversation will end with her homeless again. Her second semester is already paid for, and she has her own bank account that her mother helped her open with the money from the college fund her parents had started when she was born. Part of the child support that Russell was forced to pay after the divorce has been added in over the last two years as well. Quinn can manage for a little while on her own, but she would need to find some means of income without her mother to help her pay her expenses at school, and she doesn't know if she'll be able to stay at Yale next fall without the extra help. She may need to transfer to a more affordable school.
But those are worries for another time.
A/N: Feedback is always appreciated. Part two will be posted soon.