Title: Quiet Things (That No One Ever Knows)
Characters: Quinn, Brittany/Santana (Brittany/Santana/Quinn)
Spoilers: 3x11 “Michael”
Summary: Brittany reaches for Quinn’s hand and squeezes her fingers tightly, and Quinn wonders when that became the norm again rather than the exception.
A/N: Title is from the Brand New song of the same name, but that’s not really relevant.
When she tells everyone about Yale in the choir room, Brittany and Santana are the first ones out of their seats, bumping into her sides and pulling her into a three-way hug with huge grins on their faces. Brittany’s hands radiate heat where they touch her, and after a moment, her arms tighten around her and lift her off her feet as Santana laughs and steps back to watch, folding her arms across her chest and rolling her eyes at the look on Quinn’s face when Brittany swings her round a little, just because.
“We should go out for dinner to celebrate,” Santana says quickly, just before Sam and Mercedes get to them, and Brittany drops Quinn back on her feet before nodding enthusiastically.
“Yeah, come on Quinn. Let us take you out,” Brittany pulls her face into a mock pout and Quinn pretends to roll her eyes before she huffs out a yes.
She waits for them after Cheerios practice and just manages to stop herself from rolling her eyes at the way they’re giggling at some private joke, completely lost in their own world.
They’re actually just sort of sickening now, arms linked and hips bumping on every other step, which just makes them giggle all over again.
(It’s not that she’s not happy for them, but.)
“Hey,” she says loudly, until they finally look away from each other and notice her. “If I’m just going to crash your date, we can do this another time…”
“No, no,” Santana says quickly, peeling away from Brittany to walk on Quinn’s other side, until they’re flanking her just like they used to all through sophomore year. “Come on, we’re sorry.”
Brittany hooks her arm through Quinn’s and nods on her other side, fidgeting a little against her with every step, and Quinn’s aware that they haven’t really been the three of them like this for a while now, not really since Sophomore year, and she grips Brittany’s elbow quickly just in case she tries to move away.
“Yeah,” Brittany says. “Let us feed you a decent meal before you’re living on Ramen at college.”
Quinn glances at her out of the corner of her eye, trying to decide if she’s making a joke, “You know I’m not going tomorrow, right?”
She thinks Santana shakes her head at her, but she’s not sure, and Brittany just laughs quickly and says, “Duh.”
On the way to Breadstix, Quinn sits in the backseat and watches Brittany and Santana’s hands gravitate towards each other across the console, and though everything inside of her is telling her to shout at Santana for driving one handed, it’s actually just sort of adorable.
Brittany and Santana slide into one side of the booth so Quinn takes the other, and she watches Santana pick up one menu and put it down on the table between them so they can both see. Brittany brushes her fingers against the paper and then taps against something Quinn can’t read upside down. She squints a little until the letters rearrange themselves into spaghetti with meatballs and then laughs because it feels like no matter how much things have changed, they’re always still just the same.
Santana looks up and catches her watching them, and Quinn thinks she’s blushing, just a little. “What are you getting?” Quinn opens her mouth to reply but doesn’t manage to get a word out before Santana’s speaking again, “Oh, no salads though okay?” She waves her hand, “This ain’t no cheap date, get whatever you want.”
“You should get the shrimp,” Brittany adds quickly, face completely serious.
“Um. Okay,” Quinn stutters, unsure if that’s some kind of lesbian joke she just doesn’t get, eyes flicking between them uncertainly until Santana cracks up, like it’s the funniest thing she’s ever said.
When they wait for their food to arrive, Quinn shows them a photo of Beth, handing it over reluctantly, and watching carefully as they pass it between them. Brittany coos and Santana asks when she’s going to see her again with a little bit of sadness in her voice, but it’s okay for the first time in a long time.
“I didn’t even know you’d applied to Yale,” Brittany says a little later, around a mouthful of spaghetti. “You should’ve told us.”
Quinn shakes her head and takes a sip of her diet coke delicately. “I didn’t tell anyone except Rachel.”
“Gross,” Brittany murmurs, nose wrinkling. Santana nudges her with her elbow and gives her a look.
“Besides,” Quinn goes on, ignoring them, “You didn’t tell me where you guys have applied to.”
Brittany looks at Santana and Santana looks at Brittany for a little longer than strictly necessary before Santana coughs and looks away. “I hope Blaine’s eyeballs are okay,” she says loudly, and not that convincingly, “We won’t win Regionals with a blind hobbit.”
Quinn just looks between them, wondering at the sudden change of topic, and after a second Santana glances back down at her plate and plays with her food while the silence stretches. Brittany side eyes Santana a little, then nudges Santana’s right hand with her left, until Santana huffs out a breath, and relaxes a little, fingers curling around Brittany’s quickly.
“We won’t win Regionals if you’re in jail for assault either,” Quinn says eventually, letting the moment go.
“I’m just saying we should be able to report that Sebastian kid to someone who actually gives a damn,” Santana says, looking up to meet her eyes again. “Y’know, not someone at school.”
“What proof do we have though? He’ll say it was just a slushie,” Quinn shrugs and swirls her straw round her glass.
Brittany’s quiet for a moment, watching them pick at their food as they think, and then she says softly, “He’s a movie villain.”
Quinn just raises her eyebrows but Santana glances at her like it’s the most genius thing she’s ever heard. “You’re so right,” Santana actually laughs a little, and starts to lean in, almost like she’s going to kiss Brittany right there in the restaurant before she stops herself and glances around reflexively.
“I don’t understand what just happened,” Quinn complains, looking backwards and forwards between them, taking in the conspiring grins on their faces.
“You know in movies how the bad guys always reveal their plans to the good guys when they think they’ve got them trapped? What’s it called?” Brittany turns to Santana and waves her hand, waiting for her to supply the right word.
“Monologuing,” Santana puts in, round a mouthful of pasta.
“Right, that. Get him alone and get him to do that and then record it or something,” Brittany shrugs and goes back to her spaghetti, but Quinn looks at her kind of like she’s seeing her for the first time.
“That could actually work. You could report him to the police. Get him to admit what he put in there,” Quinn says excitedly, “That’s really clever, Britt!”
Brittany just gives her a look but Santana crows, “My girl’s a friggin genius, Fabray, and don’t you forget it.”
Quinn waits outside by the car while Santana pays and Brittany disappears somewhere, probably the bathroom. She shuffles her feet and shoves her hands in her pockets, watching her breath steam in the cold air. She’s always liked the winter, ever since she was little. There’s something wistful about it, hopeful and a little bit sad, just before everything turns green and new again.
If she was the kind of person thinking of taking English Lit classes at Yale she might think something clichéd about rebirth or getting second chances, and she blows on her hands and watches Santana coming towards her through the glass in the door, the smile on her face exactly the same as the one on hers.
Brittany has a word with Artie at lunch, and then Santana sidles over to her in the lunch line like she’s in some kind of spy movie and whispers, “Dalton after school. Meet us in the parking lot,” and disappears into the crowd again before Quinn can reply.
Santana hadn’t told her where to meet them specifically, so she eyes the cars until she spots Santana’s and hurries over, glancing over her shoulder quickly before she realises how ridiculous she looks and runs a hand through her hair self-consciously.
She taps on the window until Brittany rolls it down, sticking her head out and looking around as if she’s making sure Quinn wasn’t followed.
“Really?” Quinn deadpans, unable to help the quirk of her eyebrow.
“Get in,” she hears Santana hiss from inside the car, so she opens the door and climbs into the backseat quickly before slamming it shut behind her.
It takes her a second to really take in Santana’s outfit and she feels an incredulous smile creep onto her face and fights the urge to laugh at Santana’s offended expression, “Are we going to a mafia show down?”
“Shut up,” Santana says, like it’s the best insult she can come up with, and reaches up to adjust her fedora uncertainly.
“I think you look super hot,” Brittany stage whispers, and Quinn watches Santana shoot her a dorky grin before getting serious again.
“I couldn’t wear my Cheerios outfit,” Santana says, wrapping an arm around her chest, like that explains everything.
“Okay,” Quinn says, still smirking a little. “But are you wearing a pocket square?”
“Shut up,” Santana says again, as she starts the engine.
When they get to Dalton, Santana has to park a little down the street because it turns out private schools actually take their students’ safety seriously and they don’t want to take their chances trying to get all three of them and the car past the security guard at the gate.
“I’ll talk my way in. Pretend I’m one of their girlfriends or something,” Santana says, batting her eyes outrageously at Quinn as if to prove she can before adding, “Like they could ever get anyone as fine as me.”
Brittany laughs and shakes her head, but she’s starting to look worried, and Quinn watches her reach for Santana’s hand across the console. “Be careful, okay? Your eyes are really pretty and I’d miss them.”
“I’ll be okay,” Santana says softly, fingers tightening around Brittany’s, “I’m gonna get that bastard.”
Quinn looks away when Brittany reaches her free hand across to cup Santana’s cheek and pull her closer, but she knows that they’re kissing because they’re making the same sounds she used to hear in the dark of their sleepovers when they were younger, and it’s a little weird to think she doesn’t have to ignore them anymore.
The kiss is brief, and when she looks back they’re resting their foreheads together, Santana’s hat pushed back and nearly falling off her head. Santana is the first one to pull back, and Brittany reaches up to pull her hat back on before her fingers trail down through Santana’s hair.
“Be careful, Santana,” Quinn murmurs, so quiet she isn’t even sure she said it out loud, and Santana turns in her seat to reach back and squeeze her hand before she climbs out of the car and disappears, striding towards the gate.
They sit in silence for a couple of minutes, until Brittany flicks the radio on and hums along tunelessly to some pop song Quinn doesn’t recognise. Quinn watches her shift in her seat, fingers drumming against her thigh, biting her lip and peering through the window nervously.
“She’ll be okay, Britt,” Quinn says softly, leaning forward through the gap in the seats and squeezing her arm. “She knows what she’s doing.”
“I should have gone in with her,” Brittany murmurs after a moment, chewing on her bottom lip. “She’s just so small, y’know? I should have gone in with her.”
“She’ll be okay,” Quinn says again, trying to make her voice as reassuring as she can, and Brittany nods and leans back into her, until Quinn’s head is resting on her shoulder, her hand still wrapped around Brittany’s arm.
They stay like that for a moment, before Brittany speaks again. “It’s not that we don’t want to tell you where we applied for college,” she says slowly, and Quinn stares for a second before her brain switches tracks and catches up, remembering their conversation the day before. “It’s just—like, Santana still thinks if she says what she wants out loud someone will find a way to take it away from her. Like magic things lose their magic if you name them, which is just not how magic works but San doesn’t know that.”
She turns her head to look at Quinn, and she’s so close that for a second all Quinn can see is blue, “I mean Yale didn’t stop being Yale when you told us about it, y’know?”
Quinn nods, her head bumping against Brittany’s, fighting the sudden irrational urge to say Brittany’s name out loud, just to test the theory. “You’ve both applied though, right?” She says after a second, “You’ve met all the deadlines for wherever it is you’re going?”
“Yes,” Brittany says simply.
“Okay,” Quinn squeezes her arm again, before peering through the window herself. “She’ll be okay.”
Brittany actually swears when she sees Santana running towards them dripping clumps of ice and red dye #6 all over the sidewalk, and she looks angrier than Quinn’s ever seen her, even worse than that time at Matt Rutherford’s party sophomore year when Puck had spent two hours pouring tequila down Santana’s throat and then left her sobbing and throwing up in the bathroom before telling Brittany she could have her back.
She’s halfway out of the car before Santana’s standing there blocking her exit, hand flat against her chest and pushing her back into the seat. She doesn’t let go, just stands filling the doorway as best she can, so Brittany can’t get past her.
“I got the bastard,” Santana says triumphantly, staying there in case Brittany tries to get out again. “There was rock salt in the slushie.”
“Was there—“ Brittany starts to say before Santana cuts her off.
“Not in this one,” she wipes her hand across her eyes and flicks some of the slushie away. “I’m fine, Britt-Britt.” She rubs at her face again, and blinks a couple of times, “But could maybe one of you drive?”
Quinn climbs out and gets in the front, leaving Santana to take her seat. Brittany twists right round in her seat to face Santana as Quinn starts the engine, reaching through the gap to brush her hand against Santana’s face and peer into her eyes, then running her hand down to her shoulder, her wrist, before she tangles their fingers together, as if she’s reassuring herself Santana is really all there.
“We’re gonna kick their asses at Regionals,” Brittany says quickly, glancing sideways at Quinn until she sees her nod of agreement. “They don’t stand a fucking chance.”
When they get to Brittany’s house, Santana disappears into the bathroom and comes back fifteen minutes later dressed in some of Brittany’s sweats, hair wet and curling around her face, with a tape recorder clutched in her left hand and a grin on her face.
Quinn’s eyes widen as Brittany and Santana exchange matching smirks, and then she blurts out, “Do I want to know where that was?” and watches them both burst out laughing.
She thinks Santana puts the movie on – some old film called The Sting that Quinn’s never seen before – and Quinn and Brittany arrange themselves on the bed with a bowl of popcorn, murmuring about nothing in particular while Santana shushes them and tells them to pay attention.
Brittany sits up against the headboard, and Santana climbs into the gap between her legs after she hits play on the computer, until Brittany pulls Santana backwards and wraps one arm around her stomach protectively and kisses the side of her head. Quinn feels like they’re probably so used to watching movies like this now that they’ve forgotten she’s there, and she shifts a little, crossing her legs and then uncrossing them again and kicking them out in front of her instead, unsure what to do.
Ten minutes into the movie, Brittany glances at her and rolls her eyes, and then she wraps her free arm around Quinn’s shoulders and pulls her in too, until she’s pressed up against Brittany’s side and wondering what to do with her hands.
Santana doesn’t take her eyes off the screen, but her fingers creep up to tangle with Quinn’s, and they watch the whole movie like that in silence, breathing together into the dark.
She doesn’t live that far from Brittany so she says she’s going to walk home after the movie, with half on eye on the way Brittany’s hand is disappearing under Santana’s sweatshirt and travelling up her back.
She’s not even halfway home when Santana texts her asking if she’s still alive because she’d be pissed if she’d been axe murdered already, and she’s halfway through tapping out a sarcastic reply when Brittany texts to ask if she’s home safe yet, and then she laughs and tosses the phone back into her purse without sending the message.
She’s fumbling in her purse for her door key when her cell rings, and when she presses it to her ear as she fumbles to unlock her front door, the first thing she hears is, “You’re still alive then?”
“San!” Quinn can hear the sound of them laughing and then Brittany speaks again, “We just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”
“I live like four streets away,” Quinn says steadily, hoping they can’t hear the way she’s smiling down the phone, “And I’m hanging up now, you weirdos.”
They’re halfway to the auditorium when Quinn sees Brittany and Santana disappear into the girl’s bathroom with a glance in her direction, and she sighs and crouches down to fiddle with her shoe, waiting for Sam and Mercedes to go past her before she ducks through the door herself.
Santana and her damn spy movies.
When she walks in they’re talking in heated whispers, Santana waving the tape around between them as Brittany shakes her head and folds her arms across her chest defiantly.
“If that had been you who got slushied, that tape would already be with the police,” Brittany says seriously, eyes fixed on Santana’s face.
“Yeah,” Santana nods quickly, “Yeah, you too. But Kurt gets to protect Blaine or not protect Blaine however the hell he wants.”
“Well I think he’s being dumb.”
“And that’s his choice,” Santana takes a step closer and peers up at Brittany through her lashes, until Brittany softens a little and lets Santana take one of her hands in her own. “Come on, Britt-Britt. We gots to get our dance on.”
“Kurt wants to give Sebastian the tape,” Brittany says to Quinn, as if she’s finally noticed that’s been standing by the door for the last few minutes. “Don’t you think that’s stupid?”
Quinn nods, and she’s not sure what makes her say it but she takes a step closer and says, “If that had been any of us, that kid would be behind bars already,” with a little bit of a growl in her voice. Santana laughs and turns to look at her, and Brittany grins at her as well, until Quinn has to look away.
“Damn straight,” Santana says when the moment starts to stretch, pulling Brittany towards Quinn and the door. “And you two better appreciate that I took a slushie to the face for this shit.”
“Kurt’s an idiot,” Brittany reaches for Quinn’s hand as they file out into the corridor and squeezes her fingers tightly, fingers brushing against the inside of her palm, and Quinn wonders when that became the norm again rather than the exception.
And then Santana bumps into her other side and hooks her arm through Quinn’s, asking if she mentioned how much that slushie hurt while Brittany laughs, and Quinn thinks she could get used to it being the norm again, just for these last few months.