Pairings/Characters: Santana, Sugar
Summary: Six lessons. Just six. And then they would never have to see each other again.
AN: This was written for kkieslowski for the glee_rare_pairs fic exchange. This strayed from the prompt a bit, but I hope you still enjoy it. I'll admit, this I was initially having a hard time with these two characters, but I wound up enjoying this, in the end. ♥♥♥ Also, on a completely unrelated note, I've noticed that all of my most recent fic titles seem to be in meter. Huh. Finally, thank you to everybody who's helped me with this fic. ♥
3:30. It was 3:30. As in, it was thirty minutes after school had ended and Sugar’s stupid show choir meeting was supposed to start. And Sugar wasn’t here. She was the only damn student in this damn club, and she wasn’t here. Santana bit the inside of her cheek—a bad habit that had started during that ghoulish time last year she’d spent trying to be nice to the student body and date Karofsky, and which had never seemed to go away. And, frankly, Santana was starting to give second thoughts as to whether the money she’d be making would really be worth the stress she’d inevitably suffer over the next few weeks.
“Get in here,” a voice hissed as a hand reached out from the janitor’s closet and pulled Santana out of the hallway.
“What the hell, Brittany?” Santana said, rubbing her eyes against the sudden darkness. If this was another one of Brittany’s weird sex things, Santana would be pissed. Well, she’d be sort of into it, but then she’d be pissed, later.
“It’s not Brittany. It’s me.” The person stepped closer so that Santana could make out her features in the dim light from the cracks of the door. And when Santana finally recognized her kidnapper, her only thought was that, of all people, why was Ms. Corcoran hiding out in the janitor’s closet with a student? She would have thought that’d be more Mr. Schue’s thing.
“I need your help,” Ms. Corcoran said, and Santana could just barely make out her widened eyes in the dark. “It’s—” she lowered her voice, “it’s about Sugar. Sugar Motta.”
Oh. And, suddenly, Santana had a feeling she knew exactly what all this was about. She folded her arms. “What’s the problem with her, Ms. Corcoran?” She knew the answer.
Shelby opened her mouth, closed it, and then finally just broke the fuck down. “She’s horrible! Horrible! Easily the worst student I’ve ever had to try to whip into shape. God, you have to help me!”
Santana smirked. “What could you possibly want from me?” She knew the answer.
Shelby lowered her head. “Look, you’re in the other glee club, right?”
“Nope. I quit. It was lame. Okay, so that wasn’t quite the truth. Santana might have been kicked out. And she might have cried a lot. But that was something that this lady had no reason to know.
“Well, whatever. Look, I will offer you seven hundred dollars to take over Sugar’s lessons from me for the next three weeks. Tuesdays and Thursdays. I need you to teach her something she can sing. Anything— I don’t care. As long as she doesn’t sound like—well, like herself. Will you do it?”
Santana didn’t have to think very long. Her father had freaked out and taken away her allowance after the nurse called again about another mysterious outbreak of mono across the school (which was bull; she didn’t even do it on purpose this time).
Santana tapped her fingers against the keys of Shelby’s piano. Maybe Sugar wouldn’t show up at all. Actually, that’d probably be the best case scenario; then Santana could get the money without even having to talk to Sugar at all.
It was, of course, with that thought that the door to the practice room burst open and Santana was once again met with Sugar’s never-to-be-forgotten voice. Great.
“I already know I’m late. I thought I’d drive home and catch up on some sleep—what the hell are you doing here?” Sugar narrowed her eyes and backed into the door. “Where’s Ms. Corcoran?”
Santana rose from the piano bench and crossed her arms. “About time you showed up. Shelby’s not coming. I’m your tutor for the next three weeks; hopefully I’ll get you to improve from ‘dying barn animal’ to ‘unpleasant but ignorable drone.’
Sugar rolled her eyes. “My daddy did not pay to have me taught by some TA. I’ll bet you can’t even play the piano.”
Santana closed her eyes, inhaled, exhaled, thought of the money. This was going to be a long three weeks.
Lesson one; five lessons to go.
“Okay, here’s how this is gonna work. I’m gonna play you a scale—just a D Major, nothing fancy—and you’re going to try not to fuck it up to the point where my ears bleed.”
Sugar sat in the farthest possible chair from Santana. “Hell no. I’m not performing for you. I don’t do charity work; if you want to hear me sing you can buy some tickets to Nationals.”
“God, are you always this annoying, or am I just super lucky?” Santana groaned. “Look, if you want to compete in the Sectionals coming up, your glee club needs to have a teacher. It says so right in the freaking rules.” Santana had no idea if that was actually in the rules.
But this seemed to work. Sugar was giving Santana her full attention now. Her shoulders dropped slightly as she spoke. “Really?”
“Yeah. And Shelby’s not available, so I’m all you got.” Santana let a smug smile slip through. She might be enjoying the opportunity to make Sugar upset, as well. It’d been much too long since she seriously made someone else miserable, what with summer break and all, and she’d missed the power.
“Fine.” Sugar stood with a pout and walked towards the piano. “So are you going to actually do anything, or are you just going to sit around for this whole lesson?”
“Actually I was thinking of leaving and catching up on some sleep,” Santana said sarcastically. “Whatever. Scales. Now.” She played the first note.
Sugar screamed out in pain—no, wait, she was singing.
Santana cringed and missed a note on the piano. Mercifully, Sugar stopped singing. Unfortunately, she started to yell.
“I knew it! You’re completely musically illiterate! How am I supposed to rehearse when the pianist can’t even play?”
“Will you shut it?” Santana was about ready to smack this girl. And, if she weren’t such a generous person, she probably would have. But right now Santana was focusing on this whole ‘be a better person or whatever’ thing for Brittany. It had started at the end of her last school year, and frankly had been pretty easy to this point since she had avoided most of the guys from glee club over the summer. It was near-impossible now. “Now, let’s do this again,” Santana said. “This time, try to stay on key.”
Lesson two; four lessons to go.
Santana’s ears were still ringing. Two days was not enough time for them to recover. She suddenly was able to understand exactly why Shelby had been desperate enough to drag a random student into a janitor’s closet.
“I’m ready!” Sugar said loudly as she walked through the door. Santana flinched. Two days was not enough time at all. “Hurry up and start playing.”
Santana sighed and resigned herself to another hour of singing lessons with Sugar. “Yeah, just try to keep up.” Santana might have to spend time with her, but she certainly wasn’t going to be talked down to. She sat at the piano bench and Sugar moved to stand beside her—the same spot she stood two days ago. “Just a scale again. Don’t even try to do anything fancy. Seriously.”
Santana began to play. Sugar began to sing. Things went fairly well—for about two seconds.
Santana slammed her hands against the keys in frustration (incidentally, Sugar’s final note, for the first time that Santana was aware of, actually matched what was being played on the piano quite well). “God, can you even hear your own voice when you sing?” she shouted. “How can you not hear that you are off that note by like a mile at best?”
Sugar balled up her hands into fists. “Oh, please! You’re about as tone deaf as a corpse!” She took a step closer to Santana, raising her voice even more. “You know what, I’ll bet you’re some spy from the other glee club, here to try to trip me up with your uninformed comments and thinly-veiled jealousy.”
Santana sneered and stood up to face Sugar. “Like hell I’d be jealous of a talentless hack like you.”
She was going to continue, but Sugar interrupted. “Yeah? And why wouldn’t you be? I’m probably the most talented person at this hillbilly school!”
There was the tiniest hint of desperation in her voice, and Santana loved it. But it wasn’t enough. She wanted Sugar to be as terrified of her as any other new student walking the halls would be—like Sugar really should have been when she walked into the choir room during glee practice that one day if she had any sense. And so Santana broke down and just started yelling.
“Okay, one: that insult doesn’t even make any sense—we’re in Ohio. And two: you are probably the worst singer I’ve ever heard in my life! I’d rather listen to a sick cat choking up a hairball than hear you sing one more note today!”
Sugar hesitated. “You can’t say that to me,” she said, but her voice was quiet. “Do you know who I am?”
Santana sat back down on the piano bench. “I know that you’re either going to do this my way, or you’re going to leave. Now which is it?” She soundlessly tapped her fingers against the keys as she waited for an answer.
Sugar bit her lip and scuffed her shoe against the floor. “Fine. What are we doing next?”
Santana stared at the clock. It was 2:17. Just like it had been ten minutes ago, or so it felt. She hated this time of night. It always seemed like her mind would just not shut up long enough for her to actually fall asleep. And tonight was no exception. In fact, this night was one of the rougher nights she’d had in a while.
Maybe she should apologize to Sugar. She knew on some level that she’d upset her. And she shouldn’t care about that—and she usually wouldn’t, in fact—but there was just something all too familiar about Sugar. There was something almost frighteningly recognizable about the way that Sugar would hide her obvious-to-anybody-who-paid-attention-fo
Besides, Sugar probably needed someone who’d be sort of nice to her (Santana didn’t even entertain the idea that maybe, possibly she was looking for a friend, as well).
Lesson three; three lessons to go.
The ringing in Santana’s ears had diminished over the weekend. Still, she was almost relieved when Sugar didn’t show up for the next meeting. Almost. But then she read the note she found taped to the piano:
Couldn’t be bothered.
Santana ripped it the fuck up and threw it the fuck away.
It was pizza day in the cafeteria. But that didn’t matter, because Santana wasn’t hungry. She repeated that to herself again and again as she clutched her mug of Sue’s Special Shake (Now with Extra Marrow!)™ tightly at her side. She pushed her way through a small crowd of freshmen standing near the entrance to the cafeteria and headed over to her usual table, where she could already see Brittany and the other Cheerios sipping disgustedly at their smoothies.
As usual, she passed by the table where Sugar sat. As usual, Sugar was alone, reading a book. That had never surprised Santana; she couldn’t imagine how anyone could stand to sit with her willingly.
Although, maybe it was sort of sad if she really thought about—no. No. She was not even going to go there. Santana was nowhere near pathetic enough to actually consider sitting next to Sugar, even out of pity.
She didn’t afford the loser table another glance as she walked past to sit next to Brittany.
Things with Brittany were, well, complicated. And the worst part about it was that it really shouldn’t have been. The two of them had always been such great friends—but, after last year, nearly every conversation they had suddenly seemed full of tension and deeper meanings. Frankly, Santana was sick of it. She wished she could have taken it all back: the confessions, the songs, the t-shirts, everything.
Because it was so hard to be best friends with the same person she was in love with. And that’s all they were, too—best friends. Brittany has said over the summer that they worked out better that way (and, honestly, a small part of Santana had to reluctantly agree, after seeing the effects of their Junior year on their relationship). But now they weren’t even working as friends.
Their whole dynamic seemed just… off. And, although she would never say it, Santana was starting to suspect that things never would be the same between them.
Santana sort of wished she had someone she could talk to all of this about. Someone without all the baggage. But the only person she could really go to was Brittany herself.
Okay, she’ll admit it. Santana was lonely.
Lesson four; two lessons to go.
Santana got a surprise when, upon opening the door to their practice room, she saw Sugar already sitting at the piano bench and absently plinking at its keys. “So you finally showed up,” she said. Her voice was quiet (not quite soft, since Santana was still put on edge just hearing her speak, but quiet).
Santana respond. She walked over to the area next to the bench where Sugar usually stood. “Are we rehearsing or what?” She didn’t particularly want to deal with whatever mood Sugar was in.
“I heard you joined that other glee club again,” Sugar said, looking up from the keys and meeting Santana’s eyes. They just sort of stared at each other for a moment. And suddenly this whole thing was really awkward.
“Yeah.” She shifted on her feet, blankly wondering if this was about to explode into another huge fight.
Sugar looked down again and smirked. “I’ll bet they came crawling back for you.”
Well. Santana was not expecting that. She was expecting something more like ‘whine whine whine why can’t I be as talented as you, Santana, whine whimper whine.’ But she’ll take it. “Yeah, they did. The club just wasn’t the same without me.”
She bit the inside of her cheek. Honestly, it had been sort of the opposite. She sort of missed glee club, even if it was annoying as hell sometimes. She missed having people who she could act more like herself around—still a bitch, yeah, but much less uptight than she had to act as a co-captain of the Cheerios. If she were being quite honest, she just wasn’t the same without glee.
“That makes sense,” Sugar said. “They’re a bunch of talentless losers, but you’re not quite as bad. You probably make them look better.”
“Yeah.” Honestly, Santana completely agreed.
And then the room fell into silence. Santana played with the bracelet Brittany had gotten her two years ago nervously. “So, three more lessons, right? And then we’re done with each other?” Sugar asked after the long pause.
“Including this one, yeah. Three.” She was halfway done with this job. The revelation didn’t faze Santana as much as she thought it would have.
“Just three to go...” Sugar trailed off, staring deeply at the keys of the piano. Finally, she stood. “Well, let’s get started, then.”
Santana approached Sugar’s table on the way to lunch. She briefly thought about what would happen if she just ditched the other Cheerios and sat there for a day. Sugar’s words echoed in her head: just two to go. Then we’re done with each other.
She passed the table without hesitating.
Lesson five; one lesson to go.
There were so few arguments and problems during the meeting that, frankly, Santana was suspicious. She knew that any amateur would try to act all quiet and innocent right before they went and egged your house (she knew that mostly because she had done the same thing back when she was a newbie in middle school; luckily Berry was gullible as hell).
After Sugar’s sullen behavior the previous meeting, and now her little quiet act during this one, Santana was sure that something had to be up.
It was done.
Well, honestly, Sugar hadn’t improved. Not even a little bit. By this point, Santana wasn’t convinced that she was even able to improve. But, at the end of the day, Shelby didn’t ask for Santana to turn her into a musical genius; she just asked for her to learn a song. And Sugar knew songs. So, yeah, Santana definitely earned that money.
And that was that.
Well, that was going to be that, but then Sugar stopped before she reached the door, turned, and walked back over to her usual spot towards the piano for the second time that day. She tapped her fingers against the top of the instrument, as if trying to break the incredibly awkward silence that had so suddenly fallen over them without actually speaking.
“So, this was our last practice?” Sugar asked.
“Yep.” Santana sat back down at the piano bench. She had a sneaking worry that she wouldn’t be going anywhere for a bit.
“So, you’re going back to that other club full-time now?” Sugar asked, slower this time. More deliberate.
Santana responded in turn. “Yep.” She drew out the word.
Suddenly, Sugar smiled. “You should come to more practices in the future!”
“Ye—wait, what?” Suddenly, Sugar had her full attention.
“Yeah.” Suddenly Sugar was determined. “Yeah, you could be a spy. Because, you know, I’m sure that they’re going to try to sabotage me at some point. And you could be like a double agent and let me know what they’re planning. Okay, it’s settled; meet me here after your other club ends in a week.” Giving Santana no time to respond, Sugar turned and left the room.
It took Santana a second or two to actually process what all Sugar was talking about, but once she did she burst into laughter. Not for all the money in the world.
This shouldn’t be such a hard decision. Santana had no reason to go back to Sugar. Really, she didn’t even like her. Even though there was something about the girl that she could relate to, their clashing personalities usually just caused Santana undue stress.
And yet, there was something intriguing to Santana about their last (one-sided) conversation. As she thought about it more, Santana realized something: Sugar didn’t really have any friends. Despite—or because of—all her bragging and narcissism, Sugar usually hung out by herself and read during her free time. And Santana could detect the desperation in her request—she had become skilled at picking up the emotions people hid behind their words ever since she started collecting material for blackmail back in her freshman year. Sugar wanted Santana to come.
And, yeah, maybe it was selfish, but Santana hadn’t felt actually needed in a long time. It always seemed like everybody around her had all these other options they could resort to when Santana wasn’t around, and it was seriously starting to piss her off and maybe make her a bit jealous. And she suspected that Sugar wouldn’t be too hard to tolerate or anything.
There was a tiny voice inside her that pointed out that she, too, was happy to have someone to go spend time with. Especially since things with Brittany were still… confusing. That same voice was also saying that she actually missed having someone constant to hang out with—even despite all the discomfort that familiarity generally brought her.
And she also had thought of this really great insult about how Sugar’s voice would offend deaf people that she never wound up having the opportunity to use.
So it was only with the thoughts of continuing their previous arguments—nothing at all about possible feelings on either of their parts—that Santana found herself walking down the hallways of WMHS towards the source of a horribly off-key rendition of what was likely supposed to be a D Major scale.
Santana walked into the cafeteria, holding the foul-smelling drink at an arm’s length distance from her. She passed by Sugar’s table—saw Sugar sitting alone and reading, as usual—and then hesitated. She didn’t know what they’d talk about, even if she did sit there. It’d be like a complete blank slate. Maybe Santana could use that.
And one day probably wouldn’t make much of a difference to the Cheerios, anyway. Santana walked over to sit right across from Sugar.