Quinn is pulled out of sleep by a tickle against her nose. She tries to ignore it and pushes her head deeper into the hotel pillow but the tickle is persistent. An amused chuckle pulls her through that final barrier between sleep and consciousness.
"Whaddarya laughin' at?" she mumbles, refusing to open her eyes.
Quinn raises her arm and blindly feels around for her friend's shoulder – she's still not willing to open her eyes. She finds it and pushes. Her annoyed frown lifts into a satisfied smile when she hears the girl whine in complaint.
"You tryin'a leave marks?" Santana teases as she sits up and then flops herself down on top of her friend.
After a tiny "umph" escapes her, Quinn hums softly. "Already did."
Santana, thinking her friend is joking, simply laughs and rests her head against Quinn's. When the other girl doesn't laugh along with her, her eyes widen and she jumps out of the bed to search her neck in the vanity mirror for evidence.
Quinn finally cracks open one eye and smirks when she sees her friend twisting, still naked, in front of the mirror. "I don't think you'll find it using that mirror," she says smugly, her voice husky with sleep. "Might wanna use the one in the bathroom. The full-length." She yawns and stretches her arms over her head, the thought of being shy not even crossing her mind when the sheet slips down to her waist.
From the bathroom, she hears Santana whistle in appreciation. "I almost don't wanna cover it," she says. Santana pops her head around the bathroom door. "How long were down you there? Because I just went tanning and that baby's dark. That took some work, Q."
"I wasn't timing it." Quinn pulls a pillow from behind her head as she sits up and hugs it to her chest.
Santana takes a moment to appreciate her mussy-haired, sleepy-eyed friend. With a quick glance at the clock on the bedside table she tilts her head and breezily mentions, "Check out isn't for a few more hours …"
Quinn bites her bottom lip and, after shifting the pillow aside, she reaches out her hand to invite her friend back to bed. They just barely make it out of the hotel without a late check-out charge.
A week later, she's walking out of her Survey of Theater and Drama class when Santana texts her.
Ten bucks says NYC is more fun than New Haven during a long, holiday weekend.
She chuckles and shakes her head. Leave it to Santana to invite her to visit by offering up a bet - by being so blasé about their competitiveness. Quinn hitches her bag up onto her shoulder and, instead of returning the text, she calls her friend.
Santana forgoes a greeting and just jumps right in as thought they were already mid-discussion. "You in? I could use an extra ten right now."
Quinn chuckles and rolls her eyes. "You can't bet on something like that."
"You can bet on anything, Q. In fact," her voice teases, "I'll bet you can bet on anything."
"You can't bet on it because you can't compare. Who's going to tell you how much fun was had in New Haven if I'm in New York?" Even though she knows her friend can't see it, Quinn smirks. "You sure you wanna quit school? These are elementary research skills, San."
"Don't need research skills to be a star," her friend professes. "All I really need right now, besides ten bucks for being right - which I totally am - is for you to come to the city and not sing show tunes. Can you manage that?"
"I told you that living with Rachel and Kurt was going to be too much for you," Quinn says.
Santana huffs into the phone. "I'm not saying you're right. You're so rarely right that my mouth isn't comfortable forming those words. Not enough practice, you know. But I need a break from their brand of crazy and I think your brand might just do it. Say you'll come."
"If I say it, do I have to mean it?"
"Q. I'ma slap you."
"Then I'm definitely not coming."
Santana whines, "Q. What do I have to say to get you to visit?"
"You can do it."
"I'm not gonna do it."
"Then I guess I'll talk to you later."
"Do you want me to visit?
The smirk Quinn wears when she hears Santana sullenly, and grudgingly, say "please" is still firmly in place when she steps off of the train. Santana says nothing about it. She just narrows her eyes dangerously, purses her lips and nods. If there's one thing Santana understands is that bitches know each other at first glance. And looking at Quinn, with that damned smirk pulling at her lips? All Santana can see runner up for Bitch of the Year: Payback.
She bides her time and makes sure that Quinn is comfortable in her surroundings. They go to lunch, the museum (because Quinn's stuffy like that), look at naked statues (because Santana is not and has never been stuffy) and get "the best pizza in New York City" to take back to the apartment.
In all honesty, Santana's knows her plan is for her own amusement. She doesn't actually think she'll have the opportunity to follow through with it. Lightning doesn't strike twice, right?
Except later that night, with the open pizza box forgotten on the floor by Santana's bed and two wine glasses perched on her bedside table, Santana finds that sometimes it does. Sometimes a one-night thing, a two or three or, what was it? Six-time? And is returning the favor considered a separate time? Whatever. All she knows is that Quinn is in her bed and doing that breathy, almost whiny thing she does when she's really close and starting to get frustrated.
So, being the superior friend she knows she is, Santana slows her pace and all but removes her fingers from where she knows Quinn needs them the most.
"Mmm?" she replies lazily, the corners of her lips twitching as she stills her movements completely.
"You're stopping?" Quinn asks incredulously. "Now?"
"Oh, did you want me to keep going?" Santana tries to sound surprised by the idea.
Her friend's brows push together and it's clear by the way her eyes search Santana's that she's trying to figure out what kind of game the other girl is playing.
Quinn's eyes narrow, her lips pursing as she sets her jaw.
"You really wanna be stubborn right now?" Santana asks. She waits a beat and when Quinn doesn't reply, she says, "Okay," and starts to roll away from her.
"Santana ... " Quinn warns, her voice low and gravelly as she reaches out and clutches her friend's arm, trying to keep her in place.
"Be that as it may, you want me. And I want you - to say it."
Quinn didn't get into Yale by being stupid. And she didn't get into the theater studies program because she has no concept of drama.
"San," she tries again, her voice as sweet as her dubiously-genuine smile. "If you don't finish what you started," she trails her fingers down her friend's arm and strokes the other girls fingers. "I'll just have to do it myself."
Santana licks her lips before her mouth spreads into a devilish smile. "Go ahead," she says, calling her friend's bluff.
"Okay, but," Quinn pushes her friend's hand away. "You don't get to watch."
The smile drops from her face and Santana shakes her head. "Nuh uh. You're in my bed, laying on my pillow - my favorite fuckin' pillow, no less, Q. If you're doing it, I'm watching."
"Oh, fuck you." Santana laughs under breath and rolls her eyes.
Quinn bites back her reply because, really, isn't that what she's trying to get Santana to do? She doesn't pretend the whole situation isn't humorous, either. A laugh erupts from her throat causing her body to shake against to Santana's. "You're such a sore loser, San."
"We can talk about sore in the morning. I'm done with this game. It's boring." Santana drapes herself over her friend and, before Quinn can let loose another snarky comment, she covers the girl's mouth with her own. That, along with a few other things she has in mind, are bound to shut her up for a while.
The morning comes but neither of them talk about being sore (even though they both are a little bit). Santana's watching her finger trace a thin, almost scar-like line on her friend's side when she says, "I'm glad you came."
Quinn giggles. "I'm glad you let finally let me."
Her friend looks up in surprise. "Really, Q?" She rolls her eyes. "I didn't mean that, though, y'know, I'm feelin' pretty good about it, myself."
The other girl simply hums, closing her eyes and focusing on the feeling of Santana's finger gently moving across her skin.
"So," Santana begins hesitantly. "Still experimenting ..."
Quinn nods softly. "Sure."
"Sure's not an answer. Yes or no, Q." Santana leans up on her elbow. "I don't mind being the Bunsen burner in your experiment. I just like knowing where things stand, you know?"
A lazy smile spreads over Quinn's lips and she blinks. When her eyes open, she's looking into her friend's eyes. "What do you want it to be?"
"Me too," Quinn agrees readily. "So, let's call this ... a long term study." She tilts her head in thought, her eyes closing for a moment before she says, "I dropped research methods and statistics when I found out that my AP test scores pretty much cover all of my math requirements. But, before I did, the professor kept stressing that all good studies have a firm foundation in research. And all good research requires that the evidence stands up to repeated trials." She glances at her friend. "So, let's just consider it that. A long term study based on repeated trials."
Santana has to admit, Quinn's thorough in her investigations. Sometimes they change a variable - location, length of visit. Sometimes the variables are changed for them. When Kurt and Rachel cut short an evening out, their experimentation requires quieter research. Santana smirks as, even with her hand clasped over her best friend's mouth, the other girl struggles to keep herself to a respectable whimper-level. Other times, the variables don't actually vary so much. When Kurt's newest boyfriend spends the night, their newly-planned shower experiment is rescheduled and they opt for an already tested (and much approved) method to re-evaluate.
As impressed as she is by her best friend's scientific mind, she's doubly impressed at how Quinn - the last girl on earth she thought she'd ever mentally include "with benefits" after introducing her as her best friend - is able to still be just that: her best friend. Their visits are so similar to the ones they had before this new arrangement. You know, except for that little thing about them having sex.
Santana has to admit she enjoys teasing Quinn about the gray Yale t-shirt she brings with her when she visits. Her friend claims it's her sleepwear. Santana happily (and maybe a bit smugly) points out that the t-shirt - and those ridiculously perfect boy shorts – are usually on the floor or buried under the covers about ten minutes after the girls fall into bed.
She refers to it as the world's softest and simplest obstacle course.
To anyone who doesn't know what happens between the times Quinn puts that Yale shirt on at night and then again in the morning before she wanders to the kitchen in search of coffee (which is everyone else), they're just the very best of friends.
Quinn's writing in a notebook when Santana steps into her dorm room, fresh from a shower. "I didn't take a train away from my beautiful city to watch you do homework. Take me to a store, to food or to bed."
"It's not homework," the other girl says, closing the book and shoving it into the top drawer of her desk. "And we just got out of bed."
"Quinn ..." Santana goes to the desk and tries to open the drawer. Her best friend's hand holds it closed. "... were you just writing in a diary?"
Quinn shakes her head. "I'm not in eighth grade, no."
"Oh, I'm sorry, of course," the other girl says. "A journal. Because, y'know, you're too grown up and too cerebral for a diary so you have to call it something else."
"It's a notebook."
"Journal. Whatcha writin' in there? Dirty poems about this morning? Need help rhyming? Flit, bit ... " There's a glimmer in Santana's eyes that Quinn can't help but smile at.
"No, don't be crass."
"Poetry isn't crass. It's beautiful," Santana argues, batting her eyes at her friend. "Read me one of your poems. Don't skip the dirty words."
"It's not a journal and I don't have poems in it, Santana," Quinn says with a roll of her eyes. "Consider it a research notebook." Her gaze stays on Santana's until her friend's eyes widen in understanding.
"No fuckin' way. Here I was, totally messin' with you," Santana reaches for the drawer again, "and you really are writing about having sex with me! I wanna read it." She snaps her finger and holds out her hand. "C'mon, give it."
Quinn shrugs and moves out of the way, letting her friend open the drawer and, right after, the book.
Santana frowns and turns the book a few times. "You seriously graphed that? And, smarty pants, it's supposed to have an x and a y axis. There's no o axi- oh." She grins and her eyes light up. "Check out how many times I rocked your socks with that move." She points to the chart.
It was a joke. At least that's how it started out. Santana seemed cool with the whole experimentation explanation she came up with, so Quinn bought the notebook with the intention of filling it with ridiculous data. She wasn't really sure what she was going to do with it. Give it to Santana for her birthday? Get Santana's input for entries as they lay together sharing that god-awful orange Gatorade that Santana likes so much? It was a random purchase made solely with the intention of making Santana laugh.
Returned the favor. Rewarded in multiples.
Next time, research follows manicures.
Waiting for call from Nobel panel. This research may result in world peace.
Santana gets used to seeing the notebook around but the novelty wears off pretty quickly. It's an inside joke that she'll bring up when she wants to suggest that there exists a secret no one else is privy to. Rachel, for instance, has no idea why Santana interrupts her stories about whatever ridiculous thing happened during the latest Brody-fest by saying, "That's one for the notebook." And their friend is even more confused by Quinn's consistent reply - a smack to the other girl's arm.
After a while, though, the notebook simply becomes part of the background, something that's just there that Santana hardly even notices anymore. Early on she tried to get Quinn to draw illustrations but the other girl said she gave up that kind of art in high school. Without the promise of some good amateur porn sketches, Santana's interest in the book wanes. Quinn doesn't let go of it as easily and, as long as Santana's interest in her doesn't diminish, she's content keeping her "notes" to herself.
The notebook is easy for her to keep to herself. What she has a harder time keeping to herself is how her mind refuses to let this arrangement stay "simple" as Santana requested.
When Santana takes her on an excursion to No Where Bar, Quinn almost slips and calls it a date. Emily and Rosario drink and dance - mostly with each other. They keep their eyes on each other, no matter who they are with under the dance-floor lights. At one point, Santana holds tightly to her friend's hand and shakes her head when a tall, dark-haired woman approaches them. Neither corrects prospective dance partners (or drink buyers) when it's implied that they're together. When they get back to the apartment, both burst into giggles after Rachel asks where they disappeared to and they both say "No Where." Their friend's confusion keeps them giggling all the way to Santana's side of the apartment.
It's the first night they don't have sex. They throw their tired bodies into bed, curl up together and, after trading a few kisses, fall asleep.
It isn't long before Quinn recognizes a trend. Fridays they go out and come home too late (and too tired) to do much more than fall into a tangle of arms and legs on Santana's bed. Saturday morning they make up for Friday night. Saturday night they divvy up the spoils from wherever they go shopping that afternoon and then they bring the weekend to a close with more making up for Friday night. It starts to feel a little domestic to Quinn.
"Maybe we should go on a date," she casually suggests before pushing a spoonful of yogurt into her mouth.
Santana grimaces in distaste, looking at her with narrowed eyes. "Why in the world would we wanna do that?"
"So that's a no, then," Quinn says slowly. She purses her lips and looks into the little yogurt container.
"Yes," her friend says pointedly. "That's a no."
Quinn pushes her breakfast away, her glare finding Santana. "Why not?"
"Because dating isn't simple," the other girl reminds her. "What you and I do? Simple." She points to Quinn and reminds her, "Like we agreed."
"Right." Quinn decides not to argue. All it's going to do is make things weird.
Weird isn't simple. And if simple is the only way to keep whatever this is going, then she's going to do it. It's better than going back to letting a man twice her age grope her in the back of a movie theater.
"Right," Santana echoes before rolling her eyes and muttering under her breath, "date. Jeez."
"Forget it, San. You're right. Just pretend I didn't say anything, okay?" the other girl says as she gets up. "I have to get my stuff together or I'm going to miss my train."
Santana follows her friend to the area she calls her "room." Quinn's not sure it really qualifies or if any room in the apartment except the bathroom really qualifies. There are only two doors in the entire place - the front door and the bathroom door No one really has a bedroom. They all have designated areas with no doors and lots of tall furniture breaking up the space.
"I thought you were just gonna leave some of it here," she reminds Quinn. "You know, travel lighter and all of that. It's not like you can't go a week without one of your dresses. They all look the same, anyway."
"I'm not going to be around next weekend, remember? Won't be here to do laundry." Quinn drops her overnight bag on her friend's bed. "Juried performances start on Wednesday and go through the weekend," she says as she starts rolling one of her dresses. "It's a big deal." Quinn looks over her shoulder at her friend. "I'm sure you can find something else to amuse you for one weekend."
"Well, if it's that big of a deal, maybe I should come watch," Santana offers. "I haven't made the trip to you in a while and, you know, I can do that whole supportive best friend routine." She smirks before teasing, "I bet I could even get Rachel to make you a sign with glitter and the frowny-smiley faces on it."
"Comedy and tragedy," Quinn corrects. "And, really, you don't have to."
"I know I don't have to." Santana pulls her hair over her shoulder, her eyes never leaving Quinn. "Thought it'd be nice, that's all. See you do your thing or whatever."
"It's not that kind of thing, okay?"
"It's not what kind of thing," Santana asks, plopping down on the bed and tangling one of Quinn's hair ties around her fingers. "Is it a private competition? No audience or something?"
"It's the kind of thing where I need to be focused and in-character," Quinn explains as she pushes a few of her dresses into her bag. "I don't need distractions."
"So, I'm a distraction, then?"
Quinn meets her friend's gaze with narrowed eyes. "Isn't that what you want to be?"
"Oh, fuck you, Fabray." Santana shoots the hair tie across the room and pushes herself off the bed. "I should have known you couldn't handle this."
The other girl continues packing, not even bothering to comment.
With her arms crossed, Santana frowns. "This right here is exactly why we shouldn't go on a date. Right here," she repeats, pointing at Quinn. "What you're doing."
"I'm not doing anything," Quinn mutters. "Except trying not to miss my train."
The other girl pulls the overnight bag away from her friend and holds it out of her reach. "You're acting like a pissed off girlfriend. Except you're not my girlfriend."
"Noted." Quinn puts one hand on her hip and holds her other hand out. "Now give me my bag."
"Tell me to come visit next weekend."
Quinn wiggles her hand in the air and breathes out heavily, even with her jaw clenched.
"Guess you'll just have to leave little yellow dress numbers three, four and five here, then," Santana says with a shrug.
"Give me my bag, Santana." The other girl's voice is low and her narrowed eyes warn her friend not to push this any further.
"Fine," Santana says in disgust as she pushes it at the other girl. "Take it and run away like the spoiled brat you are."
Quinn's jaw clenches reflexively. "Spoiled brat?"
"You don't get what you want so you take your toys and go home." Santana frowns as she her voice rises. "I should have remembered how selfish you are. It's all about you, right? It's all about how you feel and you don't give a shit about what you're doing to me."
"You seemed to like what I was doing to you this morning."
"Oh, that's mature, Q."
"Isn't that what you care about? Nothing else matters to you."
Santana takes two quick steps until she is right in front of Quinn. Her finger points at the other girl, nearly close enough to be touching her nose, and her stare burns with anger. "You're not doing this to me, too, Q. Not you. I won't let you."
"Go ahead." Quinn holds her head up, her chin jutting out, and it makes the other girl's rage dial back a few notches. "What are you going to do? Slap me?"
"I'm not gonna hit you, Q. Even though you need some sense knocked into you right about now." Santana takes a step back. "Look, you've got this week and next to get past whatever it is your crazy head is working on right now. That's two weeks to make this simple again because I refuse to do this with you. Do you understand me?"
The other girl tilts her head and searches her friend's eyes. "No. I really don't," she confesses. "We could have something, San. I'm not saying that we're in love or that I ever expect you to love me ..."
"I do love you," Santana argues. "You're my best friend and I love the shit outta you. Which is exactly why we're not doing this."
"Because people who love each other shouldn't actually try to be together?" Quinn throws her bag over her shoulder and pushes her way past her friend. "That makes complete sense."
"Because we live in different cities," Santana counters, spinning in place as she talks to the back of Quinn's head. "Because we're nineteen and we're going to date a billion people before we meet the one we're going to be with forever. Because people don't end up with whoever they were dating when they were our age. Because I've already lost one best friend this way. Because how many reasons do you need, Q? I bet I can go all day."
Quinn sighs and shakes her head. "Keep your bet. I have no doubt you have a million excuses." Without turning around, she says,"I have a train to catch."
"Two weeks, Q!" Santana calls after her. "And text me when you get home!" Her words are muted by the slamming of the front door.
Santana's laying on the floor with her legs propped up on the bed when the text comes in. She wasn't sure Quinn even heard her and, even if she did, she was expecting the silent treatment for at least a few days. She stretches her arm out and feels around in the dark for her phone, frowning when she comes up with a book. She tosses it aside and resumes her search.
: Home now. Talk to you later.
It's better than nothing.
:You left one of your books here. I'm too lazy to turn on a light so I can't tell you which one. Hope you don't need it.
: If it's the Stanislavsky, I'm screwed. Anything else can wait a couple of weeks.
: I can bring it to you this weekend if you need it.
Santana bites her lip. She's not sure why it's so important to her to go to New Haven for this ridiculous competition. It just is.
: It's okay. I'm sure the library has it.
Santana closes her eyes, drops her hand and lets her phone slide onto the floor. "Whatever, Q. So fuckin' stubborn," she mutters to herself.
"Are you depressed?" Rachel asks, making Santana jump.
"Jesus, Rachel!" With her hand clutched to her chest, Santana spins so that her feet are on the floor and she's sitting cross-legged with her back against the bed. "What the hell are you talking about and why are you sneaking around the apartment like a fuckin' burglar?"
"I'm not sneaking anywhere like anything." Rachel crosses her arms. "And I'm not the one talking to myself in a dark room."
Santana claps and her bedside lamp turns on. "Might as well be. I'm not interested in crazy right now. I've had enough for one day."
"Oh! Did the guy with the dancing poodle stop you in the subway again?" her roommate's eyes light up. "He's creepy but you have to admit that his dog is very talented. For a dog, I mean."
"I thought that if I turned the light on, you'd see that I'm fine and leave." Santana holds up her hand and makes a big show of pointing to her face onto which she's plastered a large, fake smile. "I'm fine. Leave me alone."
Rachel shrugs. "Suit yourself. Kurt and I are going to Call Backs tonight," she sing songs, as though she thinks it might be tempting to Santana.
"Okay, have fun." Santana says dismissively. When Rachel doesn't turn away immediately, she decides to go try another tactic. She grabs Quinn's book and says, "I'm about to start this book, so ... y'know. Don't let my imaginary door hit your ass on the way out."
Friday night is like exhaling. We spend the entire night talking and laughing and just being with each other - making up for five days apart. Lately, we've spent Friday making "sleeping together" literal. But by Saturday morning we're back in our groove. We whisper and laugh softly between kisses, careful not to wake up the roomies. Saturday night is for saying goodbye and I'll miss you. Never with words, though. That's not allowed. Our hands map skin that won't be available for another five days, our lips (or maybe just mine) press an unspoken "this time, please stay ..."
Santana closes the book and looks at the cover, her lips pulled into a deep frown. This isn't Quinn's Stanislavsky book.
She flips back a few pages and bites her lips as she reads.
I should be ashamed or, at the very least, embarrassed. But I'm not. She doesn't let me be. I can tell her what I want, how I want her to touch me - how I want to touch her. She just smiles in that ridiculous way she does, like she knows something I don't, and I forget what I'm supposed to feel. I just let myself enjoy the way she makes me feel, instead.
She turns the pages as her eyes greedily read words she's sure Quinn never meant for her to see.
I've never been made love to. I've never been lucky enough to have someone love me and want me at the same time. If it ever happens, I'm pretty sure it will feel like last night.
Santana squints at the date scribbled in the top corner of the page. She drops the book in her lap as she tries to remember that night. It was only a couple of weeks ago. Call Backs with the Diva Duo, a short walk to get Quinn's gelato (something her friend requires at least once per visit), the subway and - oh. Santana's cheeks heat up as she remembers Quinn crooking her finger at her as she walked backward into the bathroom, the water turning cold from how long they stayed in the shower and how warm Quinn felt pushed up against her in her bed.
Knowing that they had time before their friends returned home, Santana took her time that night. Her fingers tangled in Quinn's damp hair as she dropped kisses along the girl's jaw. She blew her breath against the dark patches she left like a trail down her friend's neck.
Santana swallows roughly and blinks, her fingers clenching together as though they have their own memories of the soft skin she'd all but memorized that night.
"Hey." Kurt is leaning against one of the bookcases that marks her space. "Rachel said you're depressed."
"Rachel also said Brody's a sex god." She gives him the courtesy of looking up from the notebook. "We've both seen him naked and we both know he's a minor deity at best."
Kurt nods his agreement. "But his abs are... " He has the grace to trail off and simply lick his lips. "You sure you don't want to come out with us tonight?"
"Positive," Santana replies, shutting Quinn's book and clutching it to her chest.
"You and Quinn get in a fight?"
"Just remember," he says as he presses his lips together in a little pout. "I'm here for you, Satan."
She shakes her head, unable to stop the grateful smile she's usually able to stifle. "Thanks, Lady. Now get out of here before she adds another Sondheim song to her list."
"Oh! Sondheim!" He winks before spinning on his heel and calling over his shoulder. "We'll turn you into one of us yet!"
Santana climbs into bed, the book still cradled to her chest, and pulls the covers over her. She's not sure if she's imagining it but as she reads, she swears she can smell Quinn. With one hand, she pulls the blanket up and - no. That's fabric softener. She releases the blanket and hesitantly reaches for her pillow. Her eyes slip closed in anticipation of finding the culprit.
She gave Quinn two weeks to get over any romantic ideas floating around in that fantastic head of hers. And here she sits - sniffing a pillow. And one that smells like clean laundry, at that.
"This is what fucks it all up," she says to herself before launching the pillow across her bedroom space. She stares sullenly at it, refusing to retrieve it as though that somehow implies she thinks Quinn might be on to something. "It starts with me believing it's gonna be one way and then it's not." She argues with no one as she picks up the other pillow only to find that it smells just like the first.
: Did you spill some perfume or something when you were here?
The answering text is almost immediate.
: I don't bring my perfume. Don't want the bottle to break. Why?
Santana frowns. Okay, now this is awkward. It's not like she can say "Because my room smells like you and it's driving me crazy."
: There's a weird stain on the floor. That's all. No big.'
: Could be that crappy orange stuff you're always drinking.
: It's refreshing.
: Enjoy. I have to finish reading for class tomorrow. Good night, San.
: Talk to you tomorrow. Sweet dreams.
Santana frowns and deletes that last part before sending it.
She doesn't want Quinn to think that she's thinking about her going to sleep, or that she's picturing her putting on that stupid gray t-shirt – and keeping it on. Though, she considers it might be better than Quinn thinking that Santana is imagining her going to sleep without the shirt on.
Which of course, now she is.
Santana rubs her eyes tiredly and inhales, trying to clear her mind.
But the scent is still there.
And the shirt, as Santana will realize just before she gets in the shower, is definitely not being worn to bed that night. Or for the next two weeks.
She looks down at the offending gray material in her hands, confused as to how she hadn't even realized she'd been wearing it. She experimentally lifts it to her nose and inhales.
Two weeks, she reminds herself. In two weeks, everything will be normal.
And it is.
Quinn gets an honorable mention at the competition which, Santana finds out later, is actually a big accomplishment for a freshman. Her friend thanks her for sending flowers after her performance and that's the last Santana hears of it. Quinn doesn't even mention the card that came with it. Not even a peep. It only irks Santana because of all the energy she wasted thinking about how to sign it. And Quinn doesn't even acknowledge that the flowers weren't from "your friend, Santana" but "sorry I couldn't be there (heart), S."
They spend Friday night dancing. Only this time, Quinn accepts more dances from strangers than usual, leaving Santana to fend for herself. Sure, she's got a few people interested but none of them have been away for two weeks and none of them should be making up for lost time. Not that Santana cares, of course. Because she doesn't. A fact she reminds herself of every time Quinn lets another woman steal her away to the dance floor.
"No," Santana says firmly when a small brunette smiles at Quinn from across the bar.
"No what?" Her friend tilts her head in confusion.
"She's too short for you."
"I wasn't aware that height has anything to do with one's ability to purchase a drink." Quinn says. "Besides, I'm celebrating." She holds up her drink. "And I'm almost done with this one"
Santana rolls her eyes. "I'll buy your next one. Just," she tugs on her friend's dress, forcing her to sit on the bar stool. She leans closer to be heard over the music and, with her lip nearly brushing the other girl's ear, asks, "What about me?"
"What about you?" Quinn asks, her brow arching. "I'm going home with you, San." She puts on her practiced smile and takes her friend's hand. "Nice and simple, like you wanted."
"I wanted simple, not ... " Santana's gaze flicks toward the woman who seems to be waiting for some kind of acknowledgment from Quinn. She narrows her eyes dangerously and the woman looks away. Her gaze softens as she turns back to her friend. "You're here with me, okay? Like before. We can celebrate together." Santana frowns. "What exactly are we celebrating?"
"My performance for the jury got me admission into the advanced workshop and lead in two of the five one-acts being staged in the spring," Quinn explains with a grin. "I had the workshop orientation - more like an informal get to know you and a guest thing - yesterday," she adds.
"Why didn't you say anything? I would have come to you this weekend. You know I don't have anything I can't reschedule during the week," her friend says. "I could have gone with you, been your plus-one."
Santana's lips pull down and her brows push together. "What do you mean no?"
"I mean," Quinn breathes out heavily before grabbing her friend's hand and leading her through the crowd toward the door - away from the loud music and away from distractions. Once they're outside, she lets go of Santana's hand and crosses her arms over her chest to ward off the chill in the air. "I mean," she repeats, "that we're not together. And people who are not together don't go to things like that together. We'll continue to do what we do, but you don't get to be my plus-one and you most certainly don't get to tell me not to dance with or accept a drink from someone else."
"I'll dance with you. And I told you I'd buy you a drink," Santana argues stubbornly.
"Okay, but that doesn't mean I can't dance with other people. You're not allowed to do this," Quinn states easily.
"What am I doing?" Her friend frowns and takes a step closer.
Quinn purses her lips. "You gave me two weeks to figure out what I wanted from you. Two weeks I didn't need because I knew what I wanted. So I used my two weeks to talk myself into settling for less," she explains. "But I can't do that if you don't let me. You have to let me give you what you want. You have to let me be a friend at the club and a body in your bed."
"Is that what you think I want? A body in my bed? Because, Q, I could have many bodies in my bed and probably at the same time. I think you know that." Santana reaches out and pulls on her friend's arm. Quinn lets her and clenches her jaw when Santana threads their fingers together. "And I think you know me better than that. I had two weeks to study you and I know you understand that you're more than that to me."
Quinn squints at her friend.
"Your book. It wasn't the one by Stan Whateverhisnameis."
"Whatever, smartypants." Santana smirks and tightens her hold. "Now, I don't normally read geeky science books," she teases. "But this one had some great erotic imagery..." Santana pauses and raises her brows. "Though I'm a little disappointed at the lack of naughty language. And, really, Q? Still no illustrations?"
"So, you read the notebook and what?" She presses her lips together and shakes her head. "Reading about how I feel about you changed your mind about how you feel about me?"
"No, tha- you know what, Q? You're starting to piss me off. Stop being so stubborn for once. Can you do that? Can you just back down for once and stop playing games?" Santana drops her friend's hand. "Say whatever you need to say because if I'm going to lose you, it better damned well be over something worth it."
"Fine," Quinn says. She looks her friend in the eye and calmly states, "If you spent less time being too scared to let yourself feel anything, maybe you'd see that we'd be perfect together."
Santana's back stiffens but before she can say anything, her friend continues.
"You use distance as an excuse when we've seen each other nearly every weekend since Valentine's Day. How is it that two hours by train is perfectly acceptable travel time for sex but for a relationship, it's too far? It's a flimsy excuse and I'm insulted you even tried it on me."
Quinn holds up her hand as Santana tries to respond. "No, you want to know what I'm thinking? Listen closely." She steps closer and leans forward, looking her directly in the eye. "I'm not Brittany. And if you were smart, you'd be thankful for that."
Santana can feel the heat rise in her cheeks. "Whoa, hold up ... "
"She barely knew you, Santana. She cared about you and she needed you but she didn't know you. Not like she should have. Would someone who really knows you and understands you think for even a second that you'd settle for fifteen minutes of sex-tape fame?" Quinn shakes her head in exasperation. She's too worked up to notice that the few people hanging around outside the bar are now staring at the couple with interest. "She knew that you wanted to be famous - is there anyone who doesn't know that? But did she know you enough to tell you how to do it? No - who did?" She looks at her friend expectantly. "Who called you out and told you what you needed to do?"
The other girl breaks eye contact and looks away.
"You're better than a sex tape. You're better than jumping around in a skirt at football games. I'm the one who told you to suck it up and stop being afraid of your dreams," Quinn says. "So don't tell me what our friendship can and can't stand. After everything we've been through, after surviving Sue Sylvester, McKinley High and all of our backstabbing, you have the nerve to tell me that we can't figure this out?"
Santana clears her throat. "Are you done? Because, I gotta tell you, I really thought you were gonna take a different approach." She grabs her friend's arm and pulls her further down the street, away from prying eyes. "What happened to sometimes we don't speak for hours but we don't need to when she touches me like that? Huh? Or nothing feels wrong about the time we spend together and for once I actually feel right?"
"I don't want you to be with me because you read that stupid notebook and you think I need you. I want you to want more than feeling needed from me. I'm not Brittany, Santana," Quinn repeats with a sigh.
"I didn't read it, Q." She leans against a wall. "I studied it. Fuck, I have some parts memorized ... "
"If you think I changed my mind because I like feeling needed, then you're wrong and," she points to her friend, "and you need to review your notes. Because you were writing about me just as much as you were writing about yourself." She crooks her finger, beckoning Quinn to join her at the wall. When her friend does she repeats, "When she touches me like that ... like what, Q?"
Quinn doesn't answer. She leans against the wall and stares out at the city street in front of them.
"Like we don't need words. Like I'm telling you something, right?" Santana tries again. "What was I telling you?'
Quinn frowns. "Keep it simple, stupid?" she guesses and then chuckles dejectedly.
Santana slips her fingers through her friend's and leans against her shoulder. "Or, this time, please stay?"
"San," Quinn says softly. "I'm trying to do what you want but I don't know what that is anymore. Do you want me to keep falling into bed with you or do you want me to fall in love with you?"
"Would it be greedy of me to want both? Not that I really care if I seem greedy because, I want what I want and I'm not gonna apologize for it," Santana says, her brows popping up and down. Her smirk fades and she says, "Come home with me right now. It's Friday night. You can choose if we go to sleep or whatever. Just," she pushes off the wall and stands in front of Quinn, "just come home with me. Now."
The other girl leans back against the wall and looks her friend up and down. She pulls her bottom lip between her teeth and, after a little giggle, she smiles knowingly and says, "Say please."
Santana's eyes widen for a fraction of a second before she narrows them and takes a step into her friend's personal space. "You're pushing it, Fabray," she warns.
Quinn shrugs, her brows arching and her lips pressing together.
"You're enjoying this too much," Santana says, stepping even closer. Her gaze flicks between Quinn's eyes and lips. "Last time?"
"Can't promise," Quinn teases, her eyes lit up with anticipation.
"I'ma do it anyway," the other girl admits, her smirk firmly in place when she adds, "and you know it."
"Mmmnot sure. You haven't said it yet."
"Come home with me," Santana repeats lowly, her lips a breath away from Quinn's. "Please."
Quinn surges forward and swallows the word as it leaves the other girl's mouth. Her mind registers softness pushing against her chest and only barely the wall that rushes up to meet her back. When Santana's hand cups her jaw, her thumb brushing against her cheek, she's hit with the paradox of how much she's missed this - two short weeks suddenly feel very long - and how new it feels. The other girl's tongue swiping against hers stops almost all thought whatsoever.
Wolf whistles and the small smattering of applause that break out when their lips meet sneak through her consciousness. Quinn's not sure whether to bow, as her performance instructor might suggest, or to hide her reddening cheeks. She rests her forehead against Santana's and smiles in embarrassment.
"Is this what I have to look forward to?" Santana asks. "Drama and exhibitionism? I'm not complaining," she adds quickly, not letting Quinn hide and pushing the girl's hair behind her ear.
Quinn side-eyes the crowd and whispers, "Maybe we should ..."
"Stay here and pick up where we left off?" Santana finishes for her. "Because you against this wall is giving me all sorts of ideas, Q."
Neither can explain the series of events that get them back to the apartment. The taxi driver gets paid, they make it up the stairs and even unlock the door. It's unclear how it's decided that the only wall in Santana's bedroom space, the one with a window, is an adequate pit stop on the way to the bed (Quinn will later say it wasn't her idea). And they have no idea if it is the giggling or the shushing that prompts Rachel play Forbidden Broadway at maximum volume. They aren't sure but they think the trail of clothes that were somehow left in the makeshift hallway between bedroom spaces is the informant that leaked Kurt some juicy gossip. He's got a knowing smirk the next morning.
We didn't achieve world peace. Nobel panel has probably lost interest. It's okay. We wouldn't be able to agree on what to say in our acceptance speech, anyway. (Or on how to spend the money). We're still working on our words - on verbalizing what we've been saying with our hands and mouths all these months. It's a good thing we've mastered comm-
"Put it down, Q."
Quinn looks over her shoulder, noting the way the sheets drape perfectly over the other's girl's body . A bare shoulder, the sheet twisted over her hip and caught between her knees, her back exposed to the cool night air ...
Santana lazily pats the space behind her where the other girl should be, her voice husky with sleep as she says, "Experiment's over."