["Quinn forgets things. They tell you, reassure you, that it's just going to take some time for things to heal." or, five times quinn forgets things (& one time she doesn't). quinntana friendship, faberry. headcanon drabble. trigger warning.]
that ocean could have carried us a thousand miles (& more toward home)
you may forget/ but let me tell you/ this: someone in/ some future time/ will think of us
Quinn forgets things.
The doctors tell you, reassure you, that it's just going to take some time for her brain to heal.
It's not the most worrisome thing, not the most terrible, because the things she forgets aren't really that important. She knows your name, and her name, and Brittany and Rachel and Frannie. She knows that you're in Ohio, that she got really hurt.
She doesn't seem to remember that she almost died, which pisses you off because she was not awake when you were, waiting for her to just stop.
Even though you're angry at her for this—completely irrationally, but that's sort of your thing anyway—you spend as much time with her as you can, despite the fact that you think her hospital room is all sorts of depressing.
"San," she says one day, brows scrunched and a notebook on her lap.
"Yeah?" You're working on homework today, because Quinn refuses to get behind in school and she's still good to cheat off of.
"Can you hand me my—um—it's the thing that you write with." She looks vastly confused.
She nods. "Yeah, a pen," she says, and it seems like she's trying to recommit the word to memory.
Under most circumstances you would give her endless shit for forgetting the word pen, but her cheeks flush and she looks down at her notebook like it's the most fascinating thing in the world. You hand her a pen with a small smile, and she quietly says, "Thank you."
You start to pay attention more over the next few days. She's on a lower dose of morphine, and she's breathing better, but she forgets small things all of the time—words, if she's eaten lunch or not, what show you're watching together during the commercial breaks. You don't really say anything, and they take the stitches out of the side of her head and there's a pink scar you can make out through the blonde of her hair, and you hope this means the inside of her brain is healing too.
Saturday morning you ditch Cheerios to bring her a muffin and coffee, and she seems particularly discombobulated when you get there, sort of sitting up in bed blankly, although when you walk in the door she tries to hide things and focus on the TV. You put the cup of coffee on the little table and put the muffin in her lap without a word.
"Thanks," she says, and the corners of her mouth quirking up a little bit when she sees it's blueberry.
"I blew off practice this morning to bring you that," you tell her, sitting down in a chair and propping your feet up on the side of her bed.
"It's Saturday," she says, nodding to herself before she takes a bite of muffin.
"It's Saturday, yep," you echo. "Now, how about some real updates from me because some shit has gone down with Sarah and Melissa over who spots during—"
You stop talking because Quinn reaches for her coffee and sort of misses entirely, but she bumps it enough to knock it over onto the table. It doesn't spill very much through the small hole on top and you scramble quickly and set it right.
"I think man hands is a more fitting nickname for—"
Quinn starts crying. Hard crying, so much that she starts coughing and wheezing through her tears.
You sit down next to her on the bed, collect her gently but firmly in your arms.
"I had a giftcard for that, it's fine," you say, and she laughs a little despite herself, but she doesn't really stop crying, although she takes a few solid breaths.
"My brain is fucked," she says.
"I love it when you talk dirty, Fabray," you say.
She rolls her eyes a little. "I know humor is your coping mechanism, Lopez, but—"
"—You do know I take you seriously with things like this, right?"
She takes a deep breath and nods. You sit back and situate yourself a bit better next to her, take the still somewhat full cup of coffee from the table and hold it firmly in front of her until she has a good grip. "They talked to me about head injuries and everything," she says. "But like, this is profoundly absurd."
"I'm proud that you forget the word pen but still say profoundly absurd," you say.
She takes a sip of coffee with a small smile. "What if it doesn't go away?"
You shrug. "I'll buy you a lifetime supply of post-its, and you'll use the dictionary app I downloaded on your phone, and you'll use calendars and alarms, and you won't drink red wine when you're wearing white, and we'll all get great at charades."
She looks at you and tilts her head, tucks hair behind her ear, and you see the raw scar. "Did you look this stuff up?"
"No," you say quickly. "I just talked to my dad about it."
"Santana," she says fondly, smiling fully this time. "That's so sweet."
"Thank you," she says. "And I love you too."
Your chest feels very tight, like for some sudden reason you might cry, so you lift your shoulder just to bump her in the head, and she mumbles ow and you smirk and say, "Not only are you a cripple but you're also sort of a vegetable."
She laughs a little and puts her coffee down on the table with extreme concentration, bottom lip caught between her teeth. It's sort of cute. Everything about Quinn is sort of cute, you think, not that you'd ever tell her, and not that you really feel that way toward her—but you do love her into infinity, not that you'd ever tell her that either.
She resumes eating her muffin and you say, "Okay, back to the important update of the day."
She laughs and gets crumbs everywhere, and you scoot off the bed and back into your chair and say, "You're such a slob," before you launch into a completely ridiculous story about cheerleading.
Quinn manages to pay attention and keep the whole thing straight the entire time, but you can tell it makes her tired, and when you're done, you say, "I've got to meet Britts for lunch, but we'll come watch a movie with you this afternoon."
She nods in thanks—she doesn't like randomly falling asleep in front of you, as if needing sleep after getting clobbered by a truck makes her weak or something—and you stand up and sort of hover in this awkward space before you lean down and kiss her scar, and she lets you, and you stand up and clear your throat because you're both about to cry.
"If you ever forget me I'll kill you," you threaten.
"Oh San," Quinn says, "No matter how much I'd ever want to, you're very unforgettable."
Quinn forgets things.
Today you're glad for this, because you don't particularly know what to do in the slightest. Your urge is to make one inappropriate joke after another, because Quinn is across from you concentrating carefully on your current game of Connect Four—you haphazardly throw your red pieces in whichever column you feel like, and you're still winning—and she's wearing a Yale t-shirt and a big cardigan, leggings and TOMS, and her hair is short and clean and messy like always, and it would all seem relatively normal and banal except for when her cardigan sleeve slips down her left arm, there's a layer of gauze all the way up her forearm, and you know there are stitches under that. There's a hospital bracelet on her other wrist, and there's a faint bruise from a fucking restraint there.
You're in the psych ward at Yale New Haven Hospital because Quinn tried to commit suicide, and you don't think you've been more angry in your entire life.
In the middle of the night, Spencer had called you and said, "I don't want to tell you this over the phone—" and she was crying—"but Quinn just tried to commit suicide."
You hadn't moved, hadn't made a sound. You'd been up studying for your Revolutionary Chinese History midterm at NYU—you'd sucked it up and decided to go to college, but you actually adore history and polysci—and say, "What?"
Spencer sucked in a breath. "I'm with her at the hospital and they think she's going to be okay but—"
"Jesus. I'll um—I'll take the train tonight," you said numbly, evenly.
"Okay," Spencer said, "yeah."
And you'd started throwing things into a bag, and Kurt—who is still your motherfucking roommate—stumbled into your room, scowling because of the light and the noise, and all you said on your way out, wiping a stream of tears, was, "Quinn—I just—I have to go to New Haven. Don't tell Rachel."
He sort of nodded, stunned, and you took the train and got there in the morning, and now you're here, sitting across from Quinn playing Connect Four.
Alive Quinn who tried to kill herself.
You snap up from your chair and scatter a few game pieces, and Quinn's eyes shoot up to yours, and you say, "I fucking hate you," because it's true, because she is the one person in the whole world that you have consistently, endlessly loved. You love Brittany and your parents, and you even love Rachel, but Quinn is just Quinn, and maybe you love her so much because she has the roughest time just being of any person you've ever known.
You say it again: "I hate you so much," as you wrap her in a tight hug, and she hugs you back.
You're already crying, and she starts to cry, and she says, "I'm so, so sorry."
You sniffle into her shoulder, and her clothes smell like her, sandalwood and lavender, which brings on a whole new wave of tears, and you say, "Please don't leave."
She kisses the side of your head, and she says, "I'm trying."
You believe her. You don't want to believe this is trying, but she'd sliced a line down her wrist, not gotten a gun, so you know that, in her very fucked up Quinn way, she's telling the truth.
"Don't you dare fucking leave me, Quinn Fabray," you say, and it's supposed to sound threatening but you've just cried so it's scratchy and quiet instead.
She takes a deep breath and the steps back a little, and you bring your hand up and wipe some of the tears off of her face. She's still stupidly beautiful.
"You can't forget me, okay?" you say. "You can forget this," you say, gesturing to the psych ward, which makes her laugh soggily, "but you can't forget that I rode a fucking train in the middle of the fucking night to come play fucking Connect Four with a bunch of whack jobs for you."
A nurse next to you clears her throat, and Quinn smiles. "You do know I'm one of the crazy people here, right?"
"I'd never forget that," you say, and then take her hand. "Are you allowed to go—um—there's a garden or something, right?"
She nods happily, taking off in the direction of large glass-paneled doors.
She turns around and looks at you seriously and says, "I won't."
"You won't what?"
"Forget," she says. "You. That you came here. That you're holding my hand right now."
You look down and you're holding her left hand, fingers almost touching the gauze.
She shrugs. "You're my best friend. I don't ever forget about you."
You're scared you're going to start crying again, so you just nod and squeeze her hand, and you walk out into a nice little garden.
"Verde que te quiero verde," you say.
Quinn looks impressed and raises an eyebrow and says, "Lorca? Since when?"
"I'm not a fucking moron, you know," you say, and she laughs and sits down on a bench.
She stays quiet, and she understands poetry so she must understand that it's one of those rare March days that spins gently, that has clean puddles from melted snow and something drifting, aimless and green.
Quinn forgets things.
You end up going to law school at NYU—which Quinn gives you so much shit for, asking repeatedly if she should call Mr. Schue to give him the good news—and you're almost done when you spare one afternoon to meet Quinn for lunch.
She's in her first year of teaching at Columbia—and it makes you laugh whenever you hear someone address her as Dr. Fabray—and Rachel is, you begrudgingly and lovingly admit, absolutely incredible in her newest show. She has one Tony and another nomination—probably another win coming up—and you know they're extraordinarily happy.
"Rachel's going to set you up with someone," Quinn says, sliding in across the booth from you. "She's really great so I told Rachel not to do the awkward thing but I felt like I needed to tell you so—"
You raise your eyebrows.
"My decaf latte was actually caffeinated earlier," Quinn says.
You laugh. "That'll do it."
She runs a hand through her hair absently, making it stick up. "Anyway, I wrote it on my hand so I wouldn't forget," she says, shoving her hand in front of you. Sure enough, there's: SANTANA WILL NOT LIKE TO BE SET UP scrawled with black sharpie.
You're strangely touched by this. "Thanks, Lucy Q," you say, reaching across the table to pat down her bangs.
"Of course," she says, opening the menu and scanning quickly. Quinn drinks a cup of coffee in the morning but you know that's only ever half-caf at the most because caffeine is somewhat difficult for her brain on medication to react to well.
She's bouncing her leg under the table, which keeps hitting you, and you would be mad except that you know this is just Quinn.
"Hey," you say, closing your menu.
She looks up from hers. "What?"
"Do you have any more classes or office hours this afternoon?"
She shakes her head.
"Have you had anything even resembling a cold or worse lately?"
"Want to go for a run?"
Her face lights up. "Yeah."
"Because you are pissing me the fuck off and I don't think I can sit here for another moment with you bouncing off the walls."
"I love you too, Santana," she says, and pops up from her chair.
You go back to her apartment to change—you have your workout stuff with you because you had legitimately been planning a run later—and when you get to Central Park she shoots off before circling back to you and slowing down.
"What's your test called again?" she asks.
"The New York BAR exam," you say.
"I don't know why that one doesn't stick," she says, shaking her head.
"Because you're brain damaged," you say.
Quinn looks over at you. "You're brain damaged."
"That was an incredible comeback, Dr. Fabray."
"Oh, fuck you, Santana."
You glance all the way up and down her body—and, admittedly, Quinn is stretches of dancer's legs and abs and ribs pressing against her skin—and you lick your lips. "Anytime, babe."
She starts laughing, and she jabs you playfully with her elbow. "You know what?" she asks.
"You're going to be a lawyer," she says.
You arch an eyebrow. "That is the plan."
She smiles hugely, stops and grabs your hand. "I'm so proud of you."
You pull her into a hug—although you pretend to be reluctant about it—and she squeezes you tight.
"My brain's been a little scattered today," she says quietly, "but I've certainly not forgotten that."
"Shut up, Quinn," you say through sudden tears.
She tickles the small of your back and then takes off running again, flipping you off with a laugh.
A few days later you pass the BAR, and when Rachel and Quinn and a few other friends take you out to celebrate, Quinn arches her brow when Rachel walks up to you with, apparently, the head chef, who is thin and stunning with red hair and green, green eyes, and says, "Santana, have you met Megan?"
You smile, and Quinn adds, "Santana's a lawyer."
You look at her and roll your eyes, and you shake Megan's hand, and Quinn and Rachel kiss and then high five, and they're just so nerdy you start laughing and lean toward Megan slightly and say, "Quinn is my best friend since we were fourteen and she's the biggest moron I know."
Megan laughs and sort of nods, and then she looks at them and says, "Dr. Fabray, Ms. Berry, thank you for the introduction."
You end up spending the night on the rooftop of her restaurant, and she cooks you both scrambled eggs after you share two bottles of wine, and Megan is lovely.
You don't know where Quinn and Rachel make it off to before you end up going to the roof, but the moon is beautiful and you're sure Quinn remembers that too, wherever she is.
Quinn forgets things.
Right now you're in a taxi going to meet Rachel at an after-party for her show, and right now it seems like Quinn has forgotten that she's twenty-six and in New York and relatively safe, because she's about to hyperventilate.
"Quinn," you say, sliding closer to her. This isn't her first panic attack, but it's the first one in a while, and you were talking about her day and you were going through an intersection and a car had stopped a little too closely to your car, and Quinn just froze.
She's not calming down.
"Pull over," you tell the cabbie, and he looks hesitantly back at you and you straighten up to your full height and say, "I can pay you but I can also sue the hell out of you, so keep that in mind and pull the goddamn car over now."
He does, and Quinn has curled up in the corner, head pressed against the glass, knees to her chest. She's crying and you're afraid she's going to pass out because she's breathing so quickly, face pressed against her legs.
"Q," you say, and you hesitantly touch her thigh.
She stares down at your hand but she doesn't flinch, so you keep it there.
"Let's see those pretty eyes," you say quietly.
Quinn shakes her head.
You sigh and move a little closer. "Take some deep breaths with me, okay? You're gonna pass out so you gotta breathe."
She takes a few deeper, less frantic breaths and then manages a glance up at you, and she's crying and really, really terrified.
"Would you look at that, I didn't turn to stone," you say, "seeing as your hair looks like Medusa right now."
She takes a deeper breath with a hint of a smile. "That's—you're—nerdy," she gets out.
You laugh. "You're also nerdy. Brave, but nerdy. Keep breathing for me, okay?"
She nods a little and you can feel her body start to relax a little.
"Tell me where we are right now," you say.
"Manhattan," she says quietly.
"That's right," you say with a smile. "Now tell me who you're banging."
She manages to roll her eyes. "Rachel."
You nod. "Definitely hot."
"San," she mumbles, and you're relieved when she unfolds a little, bringing her feet off of the seat and putting them back on the floor.
"Fabray, if we're in Manhattan and you're doing the sex with Berry and you just moved your legs, what do you think that means?"
She swallows a few times and you take her hand gently. It's trembling, but not too terribly.
"We're not seventeen and we're not in Ohio and you're safe," you say. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," she echoes breathily.
She sits up a little straighter and squeezes your hand, and you wipe tears from under her eyes gently, and she looks sort of embarrassed but mostly absolutely exhausted. "Good job, idiot," you say softly, and she leans her head against your shoulder, sending soft blonde hair into your mouth for a few seconds before you clear it away with your fingers and tell the driver Quinn and Rachel's home address.
"We have to go to Rachel's party," Quinn says, but she doesn't lift her head or sound convincingly powerful at all.
"Hey Quinn?" you ask. "Remember that one time you almost died on us?"
"Bits and pieces," she sighs into your neck, and you really hope she doesn't fall asleep because she's thin but you're also thin and there's no way you can possibly get her up to their apartment without her helping.
"I promise Rachel's not going to be upset about you missing one after party, okay?"
She nods. "Okay."
"And don't you dare fall the fuck asleep or I'll wake you up and then kill you."
She laughs lightly, and she manages to stay awake all the way into their two bedroom Upper West Side brownstone. You help her change into one of Rachel's NYADA sweatshirts and boxers and wool socks, and then you put on Chicago when she hands it to without even really giving her too much shit because she looks far too disheveled for you to be too mean. You call Rachel and she leaves the party while she's literally still on the phone with you, and then you call Megan.
She's not busy, she tells you, and you figure this is as good enough a time as any for her to really meet Rachel and Quinn, and she lives on the Upper West Side too, and she beats Rachel to their place.
Quinn rushes to the bathroom almost as soon as you buzz Megan up, and she holds up a hand when you go in to help.
You go back out and tell Megan, who is standing awkwardly and stunningly, in their living room, "Quinn had a panic attack in a cab tonight so we're having a movie night instead of this party for Rachel's show, and I'm tired of being the third wheel."
She smiles, and you walk up to her and kiss her, and she moves her hands to your ass—you're still wearing this wonderfully classy slut, as Quinn says, dress—and you deepen your kisses before you hear Quinn say, "Hi Megan," without any pause before shuffling to the kitchen.
Megan laughs into your mouth and then you walk hand in hand to follow Quinn.
Megan gives Quinn a gentle, careful hug, and she whispers something, and Quinn says, "I'm okay, yeah."
"Are you hungry?" she asks.
Quinn lifts one shoulder and says, "I just threw up lunch and dinner so. I probably should eat."
"You should," you say, and Megan claps her hands once.
"I'll cook for you!" she says, and Quinn laughs.
"Do I have to pay you?"
Megan shakes her head. "You already bought the food and Santana promised me a movie, so I'd say we're even."
Quinn nods and sits down on the other side of the counter on a stool, and you say, "You need a drink."
Quinn waves a hand and you assume that's a yes, so you walk to their small bar and make just about the most loaded vodka cranberry you can muster—it's not Quinn's favorite but she also has no associations with it (you'd made the mistake of letter her have gin once, which had resulted in a very weird rant against Spencer, and if she even smells scotch she completely retreats within herself).
"Babe?" you ask, and Megan glances over her shoulder and says, "Whatever you're having is fine."
Quinn smirks when you hand her her drink. "Thanks, babe."
"Fuck off, Q," you say, although Megan smiles too, and you can't resist snaking your hand around the curve of her hip—and she's wearing jeans and a sweater, and it's lovely—when you hand her a martini. You have a shot of tequila and pretty much the strongest zombie you've ever made ready for Rachel.
Almost on cue, Rachel bursts in the front door, flurry of frantic energy, and when she sees Quinn sitting relatively composed and Megan in the kitchen, she calms a little.
Quinn hops off the stool and Rachel says, "Hey Megan," before taking Quinn into this absurd hug, where they rock back and forth and Rachel literally links her hands around Quinn's back.
"They don't even say hello to me," you huff, and Megan laughs.
She points to some dried herbs hanging in a corner and says, "Get me some of that basil."
You say, "Putting me to work, are you?"
She nods simply, stirring something which smells fabulous.
When you look back over at Quinn and Rachel, they're both crying, and Rachel is laughing lightly and trying to straighten Quinn's hair, and then Quinn just kisses Rachel, and Megan sees them too, and you smile at each other, and then after a little bit of time, Megan doesn't skip a beat when you nudge her and she shouts, "Get a room or come have actual food, take your pick."
They break their kiss and and walk over to the bar where Rachel raises her shot of tequila to you and then downs it in one go, no chaser. Quinn looks over at you and you nod, impressed and scared all at once. She starts in on her cocktail and then says, "We never should've introduced them."
"At least Megan doesn't say fucking as often," Quinn says, leading Rachel toward the table.
"You'd be surpris—"
"Dinner," Megan says, cutting you off with this wicked grin.
Rachel and Quinn nearly sit on top of each other, despite the fact that they have a dining table that seats eight people. Megan had made something with quinoa and chile powder, tomatoes, spices, peppers and some vegan cheese substitute they'd had in the fridge, and Quinn just moans.
You drink some more and eventually move to the couch and restart Chicago, but Quinn starts to droop quickly, so Rachel takes her into the bedroom and then, surprisingly, emerges a few minutes later.
She sits heavily next to you, and she's definitely drunk but not sloppy, and she says, "How bad was it?"
"Medium," you say. "She got it together pretty quickly."
Megan says, "Is it okay if I—you don't have to tell me but—"
"Quinn got clobbered by a truck when she was seventeen and almost took a dirt nap," you supply.
"Santana," Rachel chastises.
Megan smiles into your shoulder slightly, but then she says, "I'm glad she didn't take a dirt nap."
"Ditto," you say.
"You two are idiots," Rachel says, standing unsteadily and with a huff. "But the guest room is ready if you'd like to stay over. If you defile the sheets you can wash them yourselves."
You both laugh as she does her best drunken storm out in the direction of their bedroom before she has to steady herself against the wall with a little laugh.
"Don't forget you set us up," you say.
"Sadly I can't," Rachel says, and then she turns around and very seriously says, "But thank you for taking care of her tonight, Santana. And for dinner, Megan, it cheered her up considerably."
"Go to bed with your girl, Berry," you say, and Megan kisses your neck lightly.
"Love you too," Rachel says, and when she's in their room you turn to Megan.
"You're awfully sweet to them," she says.
She laughs, fully and loudly, and you love her for it. "You're the sappiest human I know with Quinn."
"She's just had—"
"—Baby," she says, "I think it's wonderful and lovely." She puts her palm against your jaw and kisses you. "I think you're wonderful and lovely, too," she says and kisses you again.
"You're not so bad yourself," you say, and she smiles, and you think Quinn would probably kill you if you had sex on her couch from fucking Paris, so you take Megan's hand and lead her to the spare room.
"I'm really glad they didn't actually forget to introduce us," you say.
"Me too," Megan says. "Really glad."
Quinn forgets things.
This particular day she's forgotten the proper etiquette for phone conversations, apparently, because she calls you and essentially screams for a few seconds.
"I assume you said yes then," you deadpan.
"Of course I said yes," she says. "Wait?"
"Come on, Lucy Q," you say. "Who else would Rachel have help pick the ring?"
Quinn laughs and then she says, "Well, you got it right. It's gorgeous."
You roll your eyes, but at the same time you're marvelously happy, not that you'd ever tell her. "You're pretty obvious, Fabray. Tiffany's has lots of rings for WASPy little fuckers like you."
"Santana," she says. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you, you know."
By here you know she means alive and stable and relatively healthy and engaged. "Yeah yeah," you say.
"I mean, Fabrays don't forget their—uh, what's it called when—"
"I know you didn't forget that you said you'd try to stay," you say, and it's quiet and sincere and unexpected.
Quinn says, "I'd have never forgotten that."
"Well I expect you to keep trying, because I really want to make fun of you when we're old and married," you say.
Quinn laughs, and she says, "Deal."
Later that day, when you meet her for a quick coffee after her office hours and your deposition, she shows you her ring and it's beautiful and it fits her perfectly, and she's so excited all you can do is laugh.
The man behind you in line smiles slightly and asks Quinn, "Did you just get engaged?"
She nods. "Are you a broadway fan?"
He says, "What self-respecting gay man from Chelsea isn't?"
Quinn grins. "You know Rachel Berry?"
"She's my fiancé," she says.
"Well done," he says, and he gives Quinn a high-five. "Eric," he says.
Quinn introduces herself with her best professor smile, and then she points to you and says, "This is Santana, my maid of honor."
You unexpectedly and embarrassingly burst into tears, and Quinn pulls you into a tight hug and says, "She didn't know that until now," to Eric, and then she ducks down and asks, "Who else did you think I'd ask?"
"Frannie?" you say, and it comes out pathetically. "I don't know."
"Well, Santana Lopez," she says, and you straighten up with a laugh, "wanna be my maid of honor?"
"If you fucking insist," you say.
Eric gives you a high five too, and he ends up paying for your drinks and then announcing to the whole coffee shop that she'd just gotten engaged this morning to—and you think you really like Eric, because he literally says, "Rachel Motherfucking Berry."
Quinn's glasses are a bit crooked and she's a hot mess, but she's also so lovely and grown up, and you remember how far you've come when Eric holds Quinn's hand up, and the sleeve of her sweater slips down, and there's the scar from thirty-one stitches on the underside of her wrist, and it's turning green again outside, and it's all very beautiful.
Quinn forgets things.
But not everything, and she's serious and somber right now, jaw set and back straight. You'd expect her to ask Rachel to do this with her, but she shakes her head and says, "I just need you because—I can't—I just want to come home to Rachel, not bring her here."
You understand, and she strangely makes a lot of sense sometimes, and just after her twenty-eighth birthday, you go with her to visit Russell's grave.
The dirt is new and wet and you know Quinn hadn't gone to the funeral and she doesn't bring flowers, and you don't think she'll ever come back here in her whole life after this, but you get that she needs to do this now.
She stands there silently for a few minutes and doesn't cry and doesn't move, and she's wearing a black peacoat, and her hair is still messy, and her face is sharp and controlled. She's not reminded you of the old high school Quinn so much in years, and you have to fight the urge to not spit or kick dirt or something, because you've seen Quinn's back—you had punched something then—and you've felt Quinn's demons for years.
But instead you just stand still and tall and unrelenting next to your best friend: ytou're both alive.
After a few minutes, she turns away, and you scramble quickly to follow, and you take her hand. You don't talk as you walk back to the car, and you think she's probably going to break in front of Rachel, not you.
But you put one hand on her back, and she startles when you do this, but you nod resolutely and say, "You were always so much stronger than him, and I know you'll never forget how much he hurt you, but you know that I and Rachel and everyone will always, always love you, okay?"
She takes in a deep breath and you rub, just once, along all of the scars you know are on her skin, before you put the keys in the ignition, and say, "Dr. Berry-Fabray, do you remember where we were supposed to meet our ladies for dinner?"
She laughs once, wipes her eyes, and says, "I don't actually, but I'll call Rachel."
You smile and drive out of the cemetery, and Quinn talks to Rachel for a little while, and they'd gotten married last autumn on this ridiculously beautiful rooftop space near their building—and it was really, really beautiful—and then she hangs up and says, "Santana, thank you for everything. And, just so you know, I love you, okay?"
"Okay, Q," you say, and you see her smile out of the corner of your eye, and you drive carefully down the road and back into the city, and you sing along when Quinn turns on the radio; you both remember the words.