Title: Crowd Surf Off A Cliff (3/13)
Pairing: Santana Lopez/Brittany, side Rachel Berry/Quinn Fabray
Disclaimer: Nothing owned, no profit gained.
Summary: Santana Lopez hates school, Lima, and those damn Cheerios--for the most part.
A/N: Title swiped from the Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton song of the same name.
“Why the hell would I join Homo Explosion?” Puck’s mouth is curled into a baffled sneer. Santana nudges his ankle with the toe of her sneaker.
“Maybe because I told you to?”
“And I’m, what, your little monkey boy now?” He cocks an eyebrow, thicker and darker, but almost as impressive as Quinn’s in terms of sheer height. “Fuck you, Lopez. I’m not game.”
Her hands clench in the pockets of her navy blue hoodie as she reminds herself that violence, while the primary language between herself and Noah Puckerman, is not the permanent best course of action. It’s a difficult battle, but eventually the slightly less destructive side wins out. She breathes.
“Look,” she says quietly, glancing over her shoulder to ensure no one overhears, “Fabray is losing it.”
“I could’ve told you that,” he replies agreeably, tucking a book into his locker and running a hand over his newly-trimmed mohawk. “She’s got it so bad for Berry, it’s gone past being hot and straight around to scary.”
“Exactly,” Santana confirms, leaning against the wall. “That’s why you have to do this with me. I can’t protect her from herself on my own, I’ve got, like…a life.”
“Doing what?” Puck snarks, immediately shielding his face with both hands. “All right! Jesus. Fine. But there had better be some hot chicks.”
“It’s Glee Club,” Santana replies dryly. “The hottest thing there will be the three of us.”
“And Berry,” he adds, shrugging when she pins him with a glare. “What? Just ‘cause she’s got Fabray’s panties in a twist, I can’t appreciate her hot Jew nature?”
“Not near Quinn, you can’t. She’ll kick your ass all the way to Detroit.”
He pales. “I would not do well in the ghetto.”
“They would shave your head and call you Sally,” Santana agrees, grinning. He shakes his head, swinging the locker shut and giving the lock a disinterested twirl.
“Whatever. I’ll do it. I’m enough of a rock star to get away with it, and I’m pretty sure Hudson will kiss my fucking feet for easing up off his back about the whole thing.”
“Since when do you give a crap about Hudson?” Santana wonders, less bitter and more genuinely curious. She has never particularly enjoyed Finn Hudson’s company, what with all his video game obsessions and knee-jerk reactions to pretty girls ending in fresh changes of pants, but lately, Puck seems weirdly drawn to the guy. She thinks it probably ties back to their shared absent-daddy issues or something equally predictable. It's the kind of thing she is blissfully too smart to fall into, regardless of her own mountain of family drama. Her only hope is that Puck never takes the road Finn’s been bearing down, using Will Schuester as an acceptable father substitute.
Schue’s a nice guy and all, but he’s married to a psychologically-abusive wretch and is otherwise hopelessly devoted to a woman who can’t go ten minutes without a Handi-Wipe party. He’s kind of a pitiful mess.
She tunes back in just in time for Puck’s go-figure bored response. “He’s a decent dude. Got a solid Xbox system, and his mom’s got some pretty nice cans. We hang.”
Disgusted, Santana stares up at him. “Please tell me you haven’t banged his mother.”
“Not yet.” He waggles his eyebrows saucily before dropping the act with another shrug. “Nah, I wouldn’t do that. Carole’s a nice lady. Has coffee with my mom sometimes, always brings an extra donut to share with the Puckster. She’s like an aunt or something.”
“An aunt you check out,” Santana fills in, still half-grossed out. He grins.
“I’m a dude. We operate on a system. There’s no cheat code out of it.”
“Of course,” she grumbles, shaking her head. “I really don’t need to know. So you’re in?”
For the first time, Puck almost looks apprehensive. “I guess,” he says at last, ruffling his dark strip of a haircut again. “The band isn’t gonna be too psyched.”
“The band” consists of a few metalheads and an REO Speedwagon enthusiast, all of whom are well into their twenties. Somehow, Santana doesn’t see that organism working out.
“It’ll be fine,” she settles for assuring him, punching his shoulder lightly enough to suggest friendship instead of the usual mistreatment. “Thursday, okay? Three-thirty.”
He waves her off, already striding towards the science wing as if he’s actually going to stay awake during Chemistry this year. Rolling her eyes almost fondly, Santana turns on her heel and makes a beeline for the gym.
It’s the one class a day she actually enjoys, mostly because Ken Tanaka doesn’t give a shit what the girls do as long as they break some kind of a sweat in the process. He’s kind of a sexist pig that way, but it leaves Santana free to swim laps one day, lift weights the next, and pelt lesser mortals with heavy rubber dodgeballs whenever she likes. She figures it’s a win-win situation—for her, at least.
The only downside is Quinn not being in her class anymore, thanks to a last-minute switcheroo pulled by Figgins’ utterly-inept secretaries. AP kids—such as the multi-talented Ms. Fabray, whose acceptance of college-level U.S. History is in Santana’s mind a total crock intended to pacify her otherwise routinely disappointed parental units—have been swapped around with abandon, leaving slackers like Santana and Puck to their blow-off classes and third-year-running re-enrollments.
She’s a little bummed out, since even gratuitous violence loses a measure of its shine without Quinn snarking up a storm by her side, but still—it’s gym class. It takes next to no effort, keeps her in sexy shape, and allows her to obliterate fools like that creepy Jacob kid when they attempt to slyly catch a look up her shorts.
The locker room is nearly empty when she clatters down the stairs, mentally weighing the pros and cons between a hearty tennis volley with some unsuspecting loser or an hour spent in the pool. She isn’t particularly concerned by the lack of other students getting changed; being late means almost nothing when half the teachers are afraid of you and the other half—like Tanaka—couldn’t care less.
The only thing she notices is how the singular other occupant of the room has her shirt twisted uncomfortably around her head, knotted in such a way that she clearly is struggling to pull it down (or up? Santana can’t really say for certain, mostly because the girl has the best body she has ever seen outside of televised beach volleyball matches, and she’s unabashedly gaping at the thin line running straight up the girl’s flat stomach).
She looks away only when the girl gives a frustrated squeak and stumbles, crashing into the row of lockers and emitting a muffled curse into her shirt.
It’s sad, and lame, and she’s hot, so Santana sets aside the instinct to whip out her phone and post this little mess all over Facebook and moves to lend aid instead. Her good deed for the day, to appease her mother’s worries that her daughter is a secret felon.
The girl shrieks when Santana’s hands fall on her shoulders (at least, Santana thinks that explains the jarring noise, muffled though it is), but before she can swat the Latina away, the shirt is settling properly around the girl’s torso. Santana steps back, thumbs curling through her belt loops, and tilts her head.
“Pretty sure that’s what God intended when the shirt came into being,” she comments roughly, her smirk lasting exactly until the moment the girl turns.
Why wouldn’t it be New Hottie, fresh off the clumsiest, most ridiculous display Santana has ever borne witness to in public? Why wouldn’t it be this girl—of all the possibilities in the school, in Lima, in the Midwest—displaying a hearty mixture of adorable behavior and the sexiest abs Santana can handle seeing in person?
Naturally, it’d be this chick.
Santana makes a mental note to clock Quinn on principle after class.
“Oh, hi,” the girl says, clearly surprised to see Santana staring her down in a deserted locker room. “I didn’t know you had this class.”
She wonders why the Cheerio would care in the first place. It seems fruitless to ask outright, so she shrugs and mutters, “Same. Hi.”
The blonde turns on a beaming smile, like she couldn’t be happier about their little meeting, and Santana has to admit Quinn is right about one thing. The girl is kind of ungodly beautiful, in a model-esque way, exactly the kind of woman Santana goes weak in the knees for. When she’s just standing there, looking nervous or lost, it isn’t so hard to bear, but in this moment, wearing that expression of sheer simple joy, the girl has managed to render Santana Lopez more or less speechless.
She shakes her head, discreetly pinching her own thigh through denim. “Anyway. Might want to be more careful next time. With…shirts…”
The cheerleader has the grace to look mildly embarrassed—although not, as Santana expects, so utterly mortified that the only reasonable course of action would be to fling herself off the school’s roof immediately. “It’s too tight,” she explains. “I keep trying to ask Coach if I can wear non-cheer-related stuff to school, but she gets this look on her face like she’s going to punch me in the mouth, and…she’s just very scary. Have you met her?”
Santana’s teeth click together as Sue Sylvester’s snarling visage worms its way into her mind’s eye. “Once or twice,” she replies gruffly. The blonde nods knowingly.
“So you know. Totally freaky. But the woman’s kind of a genius. I mean, the dance program here is incredible.”
As deeply and utterly as she loathes the Cheerios, Santana can’t argue with six consecutive national titles and a standing invitation to appear on Fox Sports Net. She nods grudgingly, accidentally eliciting another blinding smile in the process.
“I’m not very good at school stuff,” the girl confesses in a conspiratory whisper. Against her will, Santana’s head inclines in an effort to hear better, even as she wonders why on earth this girl is still talking to her.
“School’s rough,” she hears herself say, even though she doesn’t believe it’s exactly true. Well, it is, but not for academic reasons; the only reason Santana appears on a surface level to be struggling is because she just doesn’t give a shit. She can’t be bothered to try. The rest of it—the memorization and routine bullshitting required for just about every course McKinley offers—is a cake walk.
It’s the getting through each long, suicidally-monotonous day part that makes her head spin.
She realizes the girl has stepped close, well into Santana’s unusually vast personal bubble, and is standing with one hand extended. Her eyebrows are raised expectantly, her lips pursed, and Santana can’t help but think it’s somewhat adorable—in a totally annoying, driven straight from Hell kind of way.
“What?” she asks dully, eyeing the proffered hand suspiciously. The girl’s mouth twists into another smile.
“This is the part where you put your palm like this,” she says cheerfully, reaching out with her other hand and dragging Santana’s into her grasp. The Latina resists the urge to snap her wrist back to her chest, biting her cheek. “And then you move your arm up and down, like this.” Still holding firm, she induces a handshake Santana feels wholly awkward about experiencing.
The blonde does not seem to agree, if her easy grin is any indication. “And then we do this.” She sucks in a breath, eyes pinning the smaller girl where she stands. It strikes Santana that they are so late for class just as the girl announces in a strangely formal tone, “I’m Brittany.”
Brittany. It’s just a name, not a spell or a curse. Santana has known no fewer than seven Brittanys in her life. The disappointment the name invokes is more concerning than the two-syllable structure itself.
Brittany’s eyebrows raise again, her head rolling forward on her neck impatiently. Swallowing her confusion, Santana mutters her own name in return, all too relieved when her hand is released. Brittany claps.
“Now we’re friends,” the girl says simply, giggling when Santana bestows upon her a decidedly dumbfounded stare.
“Friends,” Brittany repeats, breaking eye contact at last as she turns back to her locker. Santana finds herself jerking her own eyes to the ceiling when the blonde retrieves a pair of crimson shorts to match her Cheerio-emblazoned t-shirt and immediately drops her skirt to change. She isn’t quick enough to miss the way the girl’s legs go on for miles (maybe Quinn’s on to something with that whole leg fetish after all), and she somehow feels guilty for looking.
Maybe she’s coming down with something.
“Why do you think we’re friends?” Santana asks helplessly, shoving her hands into her pockets to keep from accidentally reaching for smooth skin. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Brittany shrug.
“I dunno. I could use one. And you always look pretty lonely when I see you around. I figure we make a good match that way.”
She’s taken aback by the notion that this girl watches her—and, moreover, has admitted to doing so. Nearly four days since their initial meeting have gone by without Santana glimpsing even a daring flash of gold and pale, yet somehow Brittany thinks she’s seen enough to peg her? It’s absurd, and Santana wonders if she should feel insulted. It’s as if this girl thinks she’s an open fucking book or something.
“We’re not friends,” she blurts, wincing when Brittany turns slowly to pin her with another long, searching look. “Anyway,” she hurries on, for some reason feeling desperate not to be caught too long in this severely unsettling conversation, “you’ve got friends. Or, y’know, the likelihood for them. You’re a Cheerio.”
The word feels scratchy and coarse in her mouth, overwhelming her with the need to spit. Brittany shakes her head slowly.
“I really don’t like the other girls on the squad much,” she admits, with all the intricacy of a comment on the weather. “They’re bitchy.”
“And you think I’m any better?” Santana has not felt quite so incredulous in nearly seventeen years of living. “You’ve barely even spoken to me.”
“It doesn’t take much to make a friend, Santana,” the girl says quietly. Something like a shiver cascades down the Latina’s spine.
“I wouldn’t know,” she replies shortly, turning away and yanking the hem of her shirt up over her head. She can feel the heady weight of blue eyes on her back, sucking her in, and does her best to ignore it.
Disturbingly, she hears Brittany take a cautious step closer. “Well. If we’re not friends now, maybe we could be. Later. Or something.”
It’s bothersome, how certain she sounds, especially considering this is a girl who has been in the McKinley district for less than a week, a girl who is already under the thumb of the most evil woman to traverse boring Midwestern streets, a girl who, not ten minutes ago, was fighting her own shirt. Santana grimaces, rummaging for a clean black wife beater and squirming into it.
She steps into a pair of baggy gray sweats and swivels to find Brittany lacing up her tennis shoes, ears still perked in Santana’s direction. A sigh slips from her lips as she rakes dark hair into a messy ponytail.
“Listen, you seem like a nice girl.”
Unexpectedly, Brittany bristles a little around the edges. “Do I.”
“Yes,” Santana says firmly. “Very nice. Too nice for Sylvester and her militia of cheer-bitches, and way, way too nice to be loitering around someone like me.”
Blue eyes flame high and strong. “I think I can judge for myself, thanks,” the blonde replies icily, resting her hands upon bent knees. Santana shakes her head, licks her lips.
“I don’t usually waste time talking shit out like this, but I'm feeling kind of charitable today, so listen up. I don’t do people. I don’t do nice, or friendly, or whatever it is you’re looking for. I don’t care. The friends I’ve got are only around because that’s the way it’s been since we were kids, and they are just as miserable and apathetic as I am. I’m here because we’ve got an annoyingly perky truancy officer in this town, and because my mother would have a fucking stroke if I dropped out now. That’s it. The end. I’m not looking for friends.”
“You’re lonely,” Brittany observes stubbornly. Santana smiles wanly.
“I am,” she agrees, softer than intended. Brittany’s expression levels out as she shrugs. “That doesn’t mean I need someone to step in. I’m not a charity case. I don’t know what it is you think you know about me, but whatever it is? Drop it. As a favor to us both.”
She can’t explain why she’s saying it—it certainly isn’t doing much other than to trample all over any notion Quinn’s got of this girl being the perfect antidote to Santana’s relative misanthropy. She only knows what she feels—and what she feels is that this girl, this lovely little angel of a thing, deserves much better than a bitter, aggressive bitch who cares about all of three people in this world. Half-ass pacts be damned; this is more important than proving to Fabray she can get into the pants of just about anyone.
(Which she can. For the record. But this matters more.)
She can’t explain why she cares any better than Brittany seems able to articulate that pitiful desire to save Santana from her self-imposed solitude, but she does. Care. And that’s really all the counts.
This all has gotten too deep too fast for a second conversation, and Santana has had enough. She shakes her head, tightens the loops of her laces, and moves for the door.
“I’m not, you know,” she hears Brittany call after her. “So nice. Or innocent. Or whatever you’ve got in your head after speaking to me twice.”
“You’re better than me,” Santana mutters. The blonde snorts.
“All that high-and-mighty talk. You’re better at doing that than I am—talking. But you seem to be forgetting something.”
Santana glances back, hand on the door. Brittany’s eyes are hard, her mouth determined.
“You don’t know me either,” the girl says with aching calm.
Santana swallows the mad urge to retort and leaves.
For the next hour, she pounds volley after back-handed volley into a shrieking wimp of a brunette while, from the other side of the field, blue eyes dig in deep.
There’s a time and place for everything
and I believe it’s called ‘fan-fiction’.
- Crowd Surf Off A Cliff (3/13)