summary: three moments set after heartbreak
an: title taken from snow patrol's Set the Fire to the Third Bar. and my first glee fic, so. thanks to cyandragonfly, also for the encouragement. matching posts, woo.
Santana closes her eyes and lets Quinn draw a thin film of eyeliner across the sensitive edges of her eyelashes, leaving a black stain. She allows Quinn to smooth mascara clumsily over the tips of her lashes, and to wet a wad of paper toweling and dab carefully at the faint, clean trails that run through the layer of foundation on her cheeks. She exhales slowly as Quinn uses her thumbs to lightly rub color into her cheeks, and accepts the tube of lip-gloss Quinn presses into her hands, even though it isn’t her color.
“Better?” Quinn asks, taking a step back, and Santana finally opens her eyes and looks at her properly. She sometimes forgets that she and Quinn were friends, first, before Puck and Glee Club and the Cheerios ever came between them.
“It’s the best you can do,” Santana sneers, and lets herself slide down off the counter she’d been perched on. “Look, Quinn, don’t—”
“Tell anyone that I saw the great bitch of McKinley cry? Your secret’s safe with me,” Quinn packs away her make up kit and lets Santana step away. “Santana, do you want to talk about it?”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Santana snaps, then bites her lip when Quinn nods and looks away. “but thanks,” she adds grudgingly, and then looks at the fall of golden hair when Quinn tilts her head to the side. She sees it coming but she still lets Quinn pull her into an uncomfortable hug. “you’re not a mom anymore, remember? What’s with the touchy-feely?”
Quinn shrugs. “You looked like you needed it,” she scoops her small pile of books back into her arms and falters. “Britt will come around,” she says, then brushes a phantom kiss over Santana’s cheek on her way out.
Santana listens to the door swing closed and closes her eyes again.
In Glee club the next day, Santana comes in late, eyes narrow. There are two empty seats left: one besides Brittany, and one between Sam and Quinn. She doesn’t hesitate before throwing herself by Quinn’s side.
“Hey,” Sam says, smiling.
Santana frowns. “Didn’t I dump you?”
Sam lifts his broad shoulders. “Yeah. S’cool. We’re still friends,” he very carefully doesn’t look at Quinn, and Quinn’s shoulders drop, just a little bit.
At the front, Brittany looks disappointed. Sad, maybe, but not suprised. Before Mr Schue can say anything, Brittany thrusts her hand up. “I’ve got a song I’d like to sing. It’s for Sa—”
Santana heaves herself out of the chair she just dropped into. “Mr Schue, I feel sick. I’m going home.”
She leaves before anyone can say anything. She can feel Brittany staring after her.
Quinn calls her that night. Late enough that it’s after her Mom must be home, even though Quinn never makes calls that late.
“It’s not like you’re a different person. You’re still the same bitch you always were. You’re still just as strong.” Her voice sounds different, maybe happier, or it could just be the distance.
Santana rolls her eyes. “Are we really doing this?”
Quinn huffs out a breath into the phone and the sound enters Santana’s ears as static. “It’s not like no one knew.” And then, more quietly, “It’s going to be okay.”
Santana hangs up without remorse and looks out the window.
Brittany catches her before school the next day. She leans against Santana and kisses her once, twice, just briefly before Santana pulls away.
“Britt, don’t,” she says, and refuses to acknowledge the pleading in her own words. “I mean it.”
“Santana, I love you,” Brittany sounds immeasurably sad. Her eyes are wet.
“Yeah.” Santana doesn’t know if she’s sad, or just bitter. “Just not enough.”