Spoilers: Through all of season one
Summary: It doesn’t matter if Quinn likes girls, because she’s never going to do anything about it.
Notes: Written for Onomatopoetic. Title from Jay Brannan’s song Half-boyfriend.
When Quinn is four, she starts kindergarten with a brown-haired girl called Rachel Berry. Quinn sits next to her in music class, and when Rachel sings louder than the rest of them, her eyes shining as she dances, clearly having the time of her life, Quinn makes up her mind that they’re going to be friends.
Except that later, when Quinn tries to play with her, Rachel keeps stealing Quinn’s crayons, and she says that the cat Quinn is making out of play-doh is stupid, and when Quinn says she doesn’t like to sing, Rachel bursts into tears and declares that they can’t be friends anymore, which Quinn thinks is fine, because she doesn’t want to be friends with a mean girl anyway.
When she tells her parents about it that night, she cries. Her mother suggests gently that maybe she shouldn’t play with Rachel anymore.
Later, when she finds out about Rachel’s two dads, she’ll remember Bible verses, and things she’s heard in church, and the voice of her mother telling her not to play with Rachel. Somehow it all gets mixed up in Quinn’s head, and for the rest of her life, she’ll believe that her parents forbid her from playing with Rachel because of her dads.
For now, though, all she can remember is that Rachel is mean. When she gets to kindergarten the next day, Rachel comes racing over, and for a second Quinn grins at her, because she’s ready to forgive Rachel if she is ready to be nice. But Rachel primly informs her that while it’s evident Quinn wants to be friends with Rachel, she can’t, because Rachel is looking for like-minded friends who share her interests.
Quinn doesn’t understand most of what Rachel says, but she understands that Rachel doesn’t want to be friends with her. Quinn finds herself blinking back tears, but she waits until Rachel has gone outside to play in the sandpit before she lets them fall.
“Hey,” says a voice, and Quinn sniffles before looking up. In front of her are two girls she saw playing together yesterday. Their names are Brittany and Santana.
Brittany wants to know what’s wrong, and when Quinn tells them, Santana narrows her eyes. “You’re not going to get her back by crying,” she points out. “I’ll go beat her up if you want?” She raises her tiny fists.
“San!” Brittany says. “That’s mean.”
Santana frowns, but she stops looking threatening, and she lets Brittany link their arms together. “Ok,” she says. “I won’t beat her up. Even though she’s annoying.”
“We like you better than her,” Brittany explains to Quinn.
Quinn’s eyes light up. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Santana shrugs. “She talks too much.”
Quinn hesitates. “Will you help me get her back? She was mean to me.”
“Ok,” Santana says immediately. “Let’s be mean right back. We can be a club.”
“A real one?” Quinn asks. She’s never been in a club before. “What will we call it?”
“The ‘I Hate Rachel Club’,” Santana says. “And we can make everyone else join too.”
“Ok,” Quinn agrees readily.
They take up residence in a corner, and get to work. Brittany gets paper and crayons, and starts making them real cards (“Just like the ones my mommy has in her bedroom drawer,”), and Santana and Quinn plot out ways they can make Rachel cry.
This is the beginning of their friendship.
The first time they come over to Quinn’s for a playdate, Judy Fabray finds Brittany crying in Quinn’s bedroom, and they have to explain that they’re playing a game and that Brittany is pretending to be Rachel. Judy looks a little dazed by the explanation, and later that night when Russell comes home, Quinn overhears her mother telling him that “Quinnie’s friends just aren’t like her at all – I didn’t know what to do.”
Later, Brittany mentions that her parents have said something similar. They understand from that that their friendship is not expected to last. But Santana and Quinn are competitive, and Brittany is willing to do whatever the others want to do, and it only makes them more determined than ever to be “the bestest friends in the world,” Santana says fiercely. Brittany squeals when she says it, and hugs each of them in turn. Quinn wouldn’t have dared, but Santana just shrugs, and lets her.
Over the years, Quinn sometimes wonders if this is the only thing keeping them together, this shared determination to prove their parents wrong.
They all beg to be allowed to attend the same elementary school. Brittany’s and Santana’s parents give in pretty easily, but Quinn’s parents waver until Santana’s Mami rings up and pleads with them because Santana’s been so much more manageable since she met Quinn and Brittany. So, swayed by the feeling that they’re doing ‘A Good Thing’, Quinn’s parents give in.
During school, Santana and Brittany seem happy for the three of them to keep to themselves. Quinn spends most of her time with them, of course, and she always picks them to be her partners for class projects, but she talks to other kids too. Except that she’s not really that nice to them, because she doesn’t want to seem like Brittany and Santana aren’t her best friends anymore, and she gets a reputation for being “kinda nasty” in first grade, and “a bitch” when they’re a little older. At first it upsets her, but then she realizes that it makes the other kids scared of her, and that means they’re easy to boss around.
When she tells her dad about it, he laughs and ruffles her hair and says, “That’s my girl.” Quinn glows with pride, and decides she wants power like this for the rest of her life.
Santana gets a reputation as a bitch even earlier than Quinn, because she won’t talk to anyone else except for Brittany and Quinn, and if other kids try, she either yells at them or beats them up for their efforts. In fourth grade, she and Quinn fight about it, because Quinn thinks it’s stupid to hit someone when you could just tell them to go away, and Quinn spends a whole month not talking to Santana or Brittany, because Brittany took Santana’s side. She goes off to talk to the other kids in the class, and for the first time she makes real friends that aren’t Santana or Brittany.
Later, she’ll wonder if this was what made the difference, because while she was making friends with other people, Brittany and Santana stuck with each other. In the end, she only goes back to their friendship because her mom comments that she hasn’t seen them for a while and looks pleased about it, and it makes Quinn remember why they were friends in the first place. So she goes up to them before school starts one day and acts like everything is normal, and they don’t say anything about it, just accept her back as if the whole fight had never happened in the first place.
There’s something different about it, though, because they all used to be friends equally, and now Brittany and Santana favor each other over her. At first, it stings when they hang out together without her, but pretty soon it becomes normal, and Quinn shrugs and hangs out with some of the friends she made while she wasn’t speaking to them.
It gets more obvious, though, as they get older. She and Santana start to fight more, and Brittany can’t always mediate them back into peace. They don’t hang out much with all three of them anymore – Brittany and Santana hang out, obviously, and Quinn and Brittany spend a lot of time together too, but the routines they had when they were younger, like going to the movies two Saturdays a month, and having sleepovers on Friday nights, die out.
Apparently Santana and Brittany still have the sleepovers, though. Quinn kind of really wants to go, because she misses the way they used to be, but she doesn’t want to bring it up because that’ll look like she cares or something.
When they’re twelve, Quinn dates Nick Samuels for a couple of weeks, and somehow it has the effect of bringing their slowly falling apart friendship back together again. Brittany and Santana listen, wide-eyed, as Quinn recounts how he took her to the movies and held her hand, and then kissed her on the cheek when her mom came to pick them up. Santana keeps glancing over at Brittany while Quinn’s talking, but she listens with rapt attention.
“You guys should get boyfriends too,” Quinn says, “and then we’ll all go on dates together.”
Brittany nods enthusiastically, but when Quinn asks her who she wants to date, she can’t think of anyone. Quinn tries asking Santana, but Santana just smiles and doesn’t say anything.
A year later, in seventh grade, they’re in class when some guy calls Kurt Hummel a fag. Kurt cries and runs out of the classroom, and everybody laughs until the teacher yells at them. Quinn goes to laugh along with the rest of them, but she glances at Santana and sees her sitting absolutely still, lips pressed together and her face slowly draining of colour. Quinn’s about to ask her what’s wrong, when she sees Santana glance at Brittany, who looks troubled. A terrible suspicion crosses her mind.
She’s gotten closer with the other two since the year before. She and Santana had realized that together, they could pretty much rule the school, and that had been enough incentive to start hanging out again until they’d gotten close enough to be sharing secrets. Neither Santana nor Brittany had ever given any indication that they had a secret like this, but Quinn saw those shared looks, and she is determined to find out what’s going on.
“So,” she says casually after school when they’re waiting for their parents to come pick them up. “Are there any boys you like in our class?”
Santana shrugs noncommittally. “They’re all morons,” she says. “Why would I want to date any of them?”
“Yeah,” Brittany agrees. She’s hanging onto Santana’s arm. Quinn tries not to notice, but her mind is flooding with images of how touchy-feely they are with other, how Santana would kill anyone else who dared to get that close to her. “I mean,” Brittany continues, “most of them can’t even spell their own names.”
Quinn wants to laugh meanly, because Brittany has trouble counting past ten, but she knows Brittany has learning difficulties while those guys in there are just assholes, so she nods.
“Yeah,” she says, “but don’t you like anyone?”
“No,” Santana says, looking pissed off. “I told you.”
She holds tighter to Brittany as she speaks. Quinn eyes them, and shrugs, half turning away.
“Ok,” she says, keeping her tone light. “I don’t care. But other people might.”
“What do you mean?” Santana’s words are clipped. She’s worried.
“Well,” Quinn says, “if you don’t like any boys…” She pauses deliberately, inspecting her nails. “People might think you’re gay or something.”
“We’re not!” Santana says instantly. Abruptly, she lets go of Brittany.
“I know,” Quinn says, “but other people might not. And then if they think that, we’ll never rule high school. Or get to be Cheerios.”
Nobody says anything for a minute.
“I guess Puck is alright,” Santana admits. She looks like she’s chewing a lemon. “And Britt thinks Mike is nice, don’t you Britt?”
“Yeah,” Brittany says quietly. She’s been silent this whole conversation, but she looks like she’s about to burst into tears. Quinn feels a twinge of guilt, but this is for their own good.
“Ok,” she says as a car pulls up. “That’s my mom. See you later.”
She smiles as she gets in the car, because damn, she’s good at damage control. But as they drive away, she looks back to see Santana taking Brittany’s hand again, and using her thumb to wipe tears off Brittany’s cheeks. Quinn scowls.
But the next day, Santana saunters up to Puck, who flinches instinctively, and informs him that he’s taking her out on Friday night. Puck looks shell-shocked, but he nods, and when she walks away, he smirks at his friends. When she turns back, he stops hurriedly.
Santana dates him on and off for a while. She treats him like crap, but he doesn’t seem to mind, and treats her pretty much the same. She boasts about how hot he is, and how far they’ve gotten. They’re fourteen when they sleep together for the first time.
Quinn’s half pleased and half worried out of her mind, because she’d only meant to head off any possible rumours and to reassure herself that her best friends weren’t secretly seeing each other, but now Santana’s had sex, which Quinn doesn’t think is right because they’re only fourteen and Quinn herself is saving that particular step for marriage. Plus, whenever Santana and Puck are broken up, Santana seems to hook up with any other guy around. Quinn’s pretty sure Santana must have made out with every guy in their grade other than Kurt Hummel.
What’s worse is when Brittany starts to follow in Santana’s footsteps. She doesn’t actually date anyone, but she makes out with guys as if it means nothing, and it scares Quinn because Brittany’s always been so innocent, and now she’s running around hooking up with any boy who will go for her, which, let’s face it, is everyone.
And what would make it all worth it is if she could feel some achievement, if she could stop having to worry about her best friends hooking up with each other, which would be gross and unnatural and wrong. But they still spend as much time together as they always have, are still constantly in some kind of physical contact, and it mocks Quinn every time she’s around them because she’s managed to turn them into the biggest sluts in middle school, but she hasn’t managed to make them keep their hands off of each other.
Thankfully no one else seems to notice, so Quinn lets it slide and doesn’t talk to anyone else about it.
Quinn herself dates a couple of guys, but she always dumps them because they try to go too far. It’s not that she doesn’t want to go further, because she like kissing a lot, and in truth she wants to try out some of those things Brittany and Santana keep talking about, but she’s been taught to wait until marriage, and she knows she’s supposed to be the ‘good girl’ of the three of them.
But sometimes, she really hates expectations.
The first time Quinn’s attracted to a girl is near the beginning of freshman year. Her name is Lisa Reynolds, and when they’re changing for gym class one day, Quinn catches herself checking her out. At first she brushes it off, because she’s only looking to compare, obviously, except then every time she sees her, she can’t take her eyes off her.
That’s when the panic sets in, because looking at Lisa gives her the same strange, tingly feelings she gets when she looks at hot boys, and she knows what that means.
Quinn locks herself in her bedroom for an entire weekend, alternately praying and crying, because this can’t be happening to her. She’s always tried to be good, never letting boys kiss her with her mouth open, trying to stop Brittany and Santana doing whatever it is they do with each. This? This is not fair.
Quinn emerges from her room on Monday morning. She’s pale, a little red-eyed, but she’s calm. It doesn’t matter if she likes girls, because she’s never going to do anything about it. She might like girls, but she likes boys a whole lot too, so if she just sticks to boys and ignores any feelings she might have for girls, it’s all going to be ok. All she needs to do is get a boyfriend.
By that afternoon, she’s dating Finn Hudson.
Santana and Brittany, however, obviously haven’t thought things through the same way she has. Two days later she walks into the girls’ locker room, and in the mirror around the corner, she can see the reflection of Brittany and Santana kissing one another.
Quinn watches them for a minute. She’s seen both of them make out with guys before, but they look different making out with each other. They’re gentler, somehow. Santana’s got her hand cupped around Brittany’s cheek, instead of roaming freely and teasingly over Brittany’s body. When Brittany pulls back, she leans her forehead against Santana’s, and they both smile.
Quinn walks away without saying anything. There’s a weird feeling that’s come over her, and she doesn’t want to know what it is.
She waits until Friday, and then invites them both to sleep over at her place that night. Santana looks doubtful, but Brittany wants to go, so after Cheerios practice they all go back to Quinn’s place and spend the night watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls until bedtime.
Quinn has a single bed, but a big room, and whenever Santana and Brittany sleep over, they drag in the mattress from the double bed her sister used to own before she went away to college. Quinn sleeps in her own bed, and Santana and Brittany share the mattress. This is how it’s always been.
“Hey, Brittany,” Quinn says that night, “your leg is still sore from practice, right? Why don’t you sleep in the bed? I’ll share the floor with Santana.”
Brittany looks surprised. “Thanks, Q,” she says gratefully. “That’d be nice.”
Quinn chances a look at Santana. Her eyes are narrowed, and she’s glaring at Quinn.
“Great,” Quinn finds herself saying, and then adds, “I’m going to go get a drink of water,” as an excuse to hurry out of the room.
When she gets back, Brittany’s already snuggled down in her bed, hugging Quinn’s old teddy bear. Santana is on her side under the sleeping bag they use as a blanket, facing away from Quinn.
“Well,” Quinn says, getting onto the other side of the mattress and carefully rolling away from Santana, “goodnight.”
Brittany, already half asleep, murmurs a reply. Santana says nothing.
Quinn lies awake for a while. Brittany is snoring softly, but Santana is still and silent next to her, and Quinn knows she isn’t asleep. She waits a little longer, and then turns over to face her.
“S?” she whispers. Santana doesn’t move, and Quinn tries again. “Santana?”
“What?” Santana grunts. She’s irritated, but she’s obviously trying to keep her voice down so she doesn’t wake Brittany.
Quinn pauses. She has the opportunity, but she doesn’t know what she wants to say. “What are you doing with Brittany?” she asks finally.
Santana tenses, and stays facing away from Quinn. “We’re not doing anything,” she snaps. “What are you talking about?”
“You know what I’m talking about,” Quinn says. “I saw you guys. In the locker room.”
There’s a long silence, and then Santana turns over to face her. “Ok,” she says. “So you know. Whatever. It’s fine.”
“No, it’s not ‘fine’!” Quinn hisses. Impulsively, she reaches out to grab Santana by the arm. “You know you can’t do this!”
Santana wrenches her arm away from Quinn. “Do what, Q? Have a life outside of you?”
“You can’t like girls!”
Quinn’s voice has risen; she swallows before continuing. “You know it’s wrong.”
“It’s not wrong,” Santana says. Her voice is low, and flat.
“Yes, it is!” Quinn insists. “You know it is!
“I love her!” Santana hisses suddenly. “I love her, Quinn, and I don’t care what anyone says, that can’t be wrong!”
There’s a silence for a minute. They’re both staring at one another, eyes wide, half sitting up.
“S,” Quinn says quietly, carefully, “have you ever thought that maybe when the whole world agrees on something, and you’re the only one who doesn’t, that maybe it’s because they’re right?” She waits a beat, and then adds, “What you and Brittany are doing is wrong, Santana, and it has to stop.”
Santana swallows. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Fabray,” she mutters. “So back the fuck off.” Abruptly, she turns over and curls up. The conversation is clearly over.
Quinn sighs, looking down at her. She turns back over away from Santana, and her eyes meet Brittany’s in the darkness.
For a full minute, Quinn stares, frozen. How could they have missed the fact that Brittany’s snores had stopped?
“Britt,” she says, quickly, but Brittany shakes her head. Her eyes are shining wetly, and she closes them as she turns away from Quinn.
Quinn spends the rest of the night lying on her back, staring up at the ceiling. Guilt has settled in the pit of her stomach, and she hates herself for feeling like she’s done the wrong thing.