Pairing: Santana Lopez/Brittany, Quinn Fabray
Disclaimer: Nothing owned, no profit gained.
Summary: Quinn has always known.
A/N: My fascination for this relationship knows no bounds.
Quinn Fabray has always known her best friends are a little…different. It doesn’t particularly bother her—at seven years old, she goes mostly unflapped by the world, except for the nights her daddy drinks a little too much and starts shouting obscenities at Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper on the TV. In fact, where her friends are concerned, she doesn’t think about it too much at all.
Santana and Brittany are nice girls (or, more accurately, Brittany is a nice girl, and Santana is nice as long as Brittany’s around to keep her in check), and even though neither of them go to Quinn’s church or read the Bible every night, they’re okay at sharing and quick to make her laugh. And she always beats Santana at hopscotch, which seems fair, because Santana always beats her at kickball. Overall, Quinn likes spending time with them both.
With all that time, naturally enough, comes knowledge. Quinn is more observant than people generally give kids credit for being; she doesn’t talk a whole lot, preferring to watch her classmates instead. She sees the way Kurt Hummel’s face grows paler each day, and knows it’s because his mom is really sick, the kind of sick that makes even grown-ups afraid. She sees the anger in Noah Puckerman’s eyes, and knows it’s because his dad has run off yet again with another rotating set of band mates. She sees the way Tina Cohen-Chang bows her head when the teacher announces Popcorn Reading Time, and knows the girl would rather be in detention than speak even a sentence out loud. She sees the thrill in Artie Abrams’ round face when he runs to the monkey bars, and knows it’s because being up that high, swinging himself with the effort of his arms alone, makes the boy feel like he’s flying.
She even sees the way Rachel Berry, tiny and lonely, lights up the second her name is called in music class, and knows it’s because Rachel spends every waking moment getting sand kicked in her lap and cartons of milk poured into her dark hair, and singing is the one time a week when people sit up and pay attention to her without malice.
So of course, if she’s seeing all of that, why wouldn’t she see the way her best friends sit close to one another, Brittany’s hand resting on the torn knee of Santana’s jeans, Santana’s scrawny arm slung across the back of Brittany’s chair? Why wouldn’t she see the way they sit nearer to each other than the other kids do, the way their smiles always seem to find one another, even across entire rooms?
The only thing that bothers Quinn about it is the nagging feeling of isolation that results from watching them together. They’re so comfortable with each other, Santana’s face splitting into broad grins, Brittany’s eyes sparkling with unrestrained joy, and Quinn realizes she doesn’t have that with anybody.
It makes her a little sad, but she supposes it’s okay as long as her friends are happy.
2It’s hard to pretend that Brittany and Santana don’t set themselves apart. When they were younger, it mattered very little, since most children are unreasonably touchy-feely. Now, though, that they’re eleven, it’s beginning to get a bit more obvious.
Quinn still doesn’t mind, exactly, although something at the back of her mind has started to stir. The two girls are still perfectly friendly to her—they watch movies, have sleepovers, do all the girly things Santana hates, but puts up with because Brittany and Quinn out-vote her—and she’s still happy enough to be near them. There’s just something about the two of them that puts her at ease, especially when the rest of their peers seem to be growing rapidly into what Quinn’s older sister calls “angst-ridden hot messes.”
She sees the way they look at each other, the way Santana’s forehead smoothes out under Brittany’s smile, the way only Brittany would dare throw out an arm to keep Santana from lunging at various bullies throughout the day. She sees it, and she still doesn’t get what the big deal is.
Other kids seem to think it is, though—a big deal. She’s noticed the suspicious glares Noah Puckerman, in specific, keeps sliding down the lunch table. She doesn’t understand what his problem is. There’s nothing new or strange about their behavior; it certainly never irked anyone before.
It does bother her a little, how they’re always running off together after school, how she’s only invited to join about half the time. It would seem silly not to be bothered by something like that. They are, after all, the best friends she’s got (although not the only ones; although they seem content to share each other’s space without interruption, Quinn likes having as many friends as possible, even when those friends are kind of jerks, like Noah, or dim, like Finn Hudson, or social pariahs, like Rachel Berry). She should want to spend time with them.
Being ditched bothers Quinn sometimes, but the rest of it doesn’t faze her in the slightest. Brittany and Santana have always been a two-for-one deal at the expense of the rest of the world.
That’s just the way it is.
3By the time they turn fourteen, Quinn is practically taking for granted Santana and Brittany’s so-called differences. Sure, they’re the only girls she knows who hold hands when they walk and can’t keep their fingers out of each other’s hair for five minutes, but that’s them. Santana-and-Brittany. It’s always been this way.
Something about it does feel a little…quirky nowadays, but Quinn can’t fathom what it might be. It’s frustrating, like hearing a melody and not being able to place the proper lyrics to it; for a while, she lies awake at night, pondering.
The question is interesting enough to hold her attention for all of a week before other, more important things take root, bursting into bloom right over the Santana-and-Brittany issue and obstructing it completely. There is the issue of cheerleading to consider; does Quinn want to follow in her sister’s footsteps, the way her mother fully expects? There are boys to wonder about; what on earth could the looks Finn keeps nervously tossing her way imply, and furthermore, does she even care? There is the whole concept of high school hierarchy; who invents loserdom, and what does she have to do to avoid having that label slapped on the front of her dress on that first fateful September day?
These are life-altering enough to keep at bay all curiosities about her best friends and their admittedly peculiar (yet totally normal, for them) behavior. For a little while, anyway.
But things like that never last, and one night, during a customary sleepover, Quinn finally begins to get what that elusive quality might be.
They’ve always set up this way, with Quinn in her bed and Santana and Brittany nestled in a conjoined sleeping bag on the floor. It goes without saying. It’s normal.
What isn’t so familiar are the sounds sneaking up from that sleeping bag—tiny gasps and small, wet sounds that Quinn has only heard on TV. Her best friends are doing something down there, something that sounds an awful lot like kissing, and Quinn can only lay on her back, biting her lip, feeling endlessly confused.
It bothers her, not because two girls appear to be making out less than five feet from her bed, but because once again, Santana and Brittany have found a way to shut her out. She can hear it in their breathing, the way Santana’s slows first, her head pillowed on Brittany’s chest, and she knows all of a sudden what it is. That enigmatic thing, the one that sets Santana-and-Brittany apart from the rest of the world.
She sees it, and it bothers her, because she’s pretty sure she’ll never have it. Not with the sort of certainty they seem already to have found, even at such a young age.
Rolling over, Quinn’s fists clench as she thinks just how unfair that is.
4They’re seventeen when Quinn sees much more than she should, and by this point, no one in their right mind would profess Santana and Brittany to be particularly normal. Knowing what she does, what she has for years—knowing them the way she does—Quinn shouldn’t be surprised. It’s really one of those “matter of time” things.
Still, when she rounds that corner in the locker room, towel looped around her neck in preparation for a well-deserved shower, and sees that—well, even with all the knowledge in the world, she doesn’t think she’d be ready.
Brittany is straddling a bench on the far side of the room, clad in a sports bra and her Cheerio skirt. Santana, similarly attired, sits on her lap, knees dangling on either side of the blonde’s hips. They’re both moving at a slow, steady pace, grinding against one another, trading long, lazy kisses, and Quinn’s pretty sure her eyes are bugging right out of her head. When Santana’s hands loop around Brittany’s neck, urging her up into a slightly more intense kiss, and Brittany’s hands tighten visibly on Santana’s bare back, Quinn resists a strangled cry.
She’s known this sort of thing forever—it’s Santana-and-Brittany, just the way it is, like the alphabet or the understanding that God hears the silent, anxious prayers she sends up every night. She’s known, but somehow just knowing hasn’t been enough to prepare her for the reality of it.
As she watches, feeling at once dirty and entitled, Brittany’s lips part beneath Santana’s, pink mouth opening softly to receive what Quinn needs a moment to process is Santana’s tongue. And Santana, looking perfectly cheerful about this whole thing, slants her hips down gently, swiping her hands up through messy blonde hair, laughing quietly when Brittany responds with—Quinn’s spine tingles—a low, heady groan.
They’re having sex, she realizes belatedly. Two girls can have sex, the way she and Puck did once, the night she nearly ruined her life forever. Except they look like they’re having a much better time of it than she did, smiling into each other’s mouths, moving with blind affection and well-rehearsed appreciation. She bites her tongue, knuckles chalk-white around her towel.
It should bother her, she thinks—a good Christian girl should be put off by a scene like this, straight out of Sodom and Gomorrah. If nothing else, she shouldn’t be watching, not while Brittany’s short nails are scratching methodically up and down Santana’s tan shoulders, not when Santana lowers one of her own hands to rest between their rhythmically-rolling bodies. Especially not when that hand slips through a gap in the pleats of Brittany’s skirt, invoking a high-pitched whimper as the taller girl clutches tightly to the Latina riding her lap.
It should bother her, but as has always been the case in her childhood and beyond, it doesn’t. Not really. Not the way the Bible, and her father, and Sue Sylvester, and the world insist.
The only part of it that gets to her, the only part that really winds Quinn up, is the knowledge—resolute, unshakable—that this has been their entire collective life. Santana-and-Brittany, off in their own little world, and then there’s Quinn. Always on the outskirts, always peeking in through the cracks, catching sight of moments she will never, ever be able to intrude upon.
She loves them; she always has. They are her best friends.
But in the end, they have each other, while she has only her dimming reputation and a not-inconsiderable amount of fear to keep her warm at night.
That, more than anything in the world, bothers her.