Author's Note: This story is paced incredibly slowly. There are multiple chapters which cover the passing of mere hours. There is also a multiple POV and, while it might be narrated in the third person, that doesn't necessarily mean that the narrator is omniscient. So, please, always remember that when the characters are discussing other characters, either in conversation or introspection, they are merely expressing their own opinions based on the knowledge they posses, which isn't necessarily right or fair. I've been accused of character bashing, specifically Puck and Rachel, but in canon at this point in time, none of the main characters has much use for them. This story requires a considerable amount of patience on the part of the reader, but I'm taking it slowly so as to build a distinct, yet familiar, universe.

Kurt Hummel was so busy giving his collection of various hair products a vigorous dusting – and absolutely not thinking about Finn Hudson in a shimmery blue Speedo – that he almost missed the sound of his doorbell announcing a visitor.

Odd, he thought, frowning, as he heard his father's heavy footfalls from above. Mercedes never rang the bell. She preferred to herald her arrival with several loud knocks in tribute to a Chaka Khan number.

He smiled softly, pleased for her company. Thank goodness they were over that ridiculous crush nonsense. Really, the girl should have known without him having to tell her.

Still, he couldn't deny that he had been flattered, and, were he not hopelessly devoted to the penis and all of its magnificence, Mercedes was the type of girl he would pursue. She was smart, funny, sassy, could sing rings around everyone – except perhaps the tragic horror that was Rachel Berry – and had curves in all the right places.

He pursed his lips and shook his head. Honestly, he had no idea why any straight man in his right mind would prefer a walking corpse over a girl with such an amazing backside. Plebeians.

Spirits brightened at the thought of not having to spend another Friday night alone, Kurt quietly hummed some Kylie Minogue as he scrambled to clean up his room. Not that it was messy per se, because of course it never was, but he had gotten so caught up in Product Maintenance that he had neglected some stray articles which immediately required being relegated to their proper places.

He frowned as the sound of murmuring drifted down the stairs. Sure, his father and Mercedes got along famously, but they didn't indulge in too much conversation when Kurt himself was not present. Raising a brow, he shrugged and closed the doors to his closet with a flourish before looking around his room. Deeming it satisfactory, he had just enough time for a quick mirror check before Mercedes made her entrance. His hair was predictably flawless and he momentarily debated a light bronzer application, but then thought better of it.

"Why paint the peacock?"

He smirked at his reflection and adjusted his collar.

"Kurt!" Burt yelled down the stairs. "There's some girl here for you."

At this, Kurt raised both brows. Obviously not Mercedes, if the note of derision in his father's voice was any indication.

Who could it be? A mystery!

He then deflated. Most likely Brittany had gotten confused again and showed up at his house, believing it was her own and not understanding why her key didn't fit the lock. Smiling slightly and shaking his head, he walked to the foot of the stairs.

"Just send Brittany down, Dad. Please and thank you!"

He turned for one final check and frowned as he noticed a speck of something on his immaculate carpet. Huffing with annoyance, he raced to bend over and remove its offensive presence.

At the sound of approaching footsteps, he absently said, "Watch out for the last step, Brittany. I won't have scuff marks on my floor again."

"It's not Brittany, bitch."

Kurt froze. Oh lord.

"Nice ass."

This wasn't happening. This simply was not happening. He closed his eyes, breathed through his nose, and slowly pulled himself into an erect position. He just as slowly spun on his heel to face the interloper who had dared to besmirch the inviolate sanctuary of his domain.

Santana stood there, hip cocked, arms crossed, brow raised, smirk ready.

Kurt raised a brow in reply.

Thus commenced a silent battle of indomitable wills.

They stood and glared, each waiting for the other to make the first move. Each understood the benefits of silence: how it could be wielded to unseat an opponent, of the anxiety and fear it incited. Kurt was not about to cede any victory to this alleged person, however. She had invaded his territory, and it was therefore her responsibility to declare herself and state her intentions.

Santana knew this, had strategically planned for it. She knew she would have to play this very carefully. Kurt Hummel owed her nothing and she had nothing on him, otherwise she would simply blackmail him into acceding to her demands.


As it were, she would have to appeal to his vanity, which she assumed would not be terribly taxing. Besides, if this admittedly brilliant plan was to succeed, she would have to make first contact, and the potential for triumph far outweighed any slight discomfort she might experience in asking for his assistance.

She took a step forward. "I have a proposition for you."

His look of abject horror amused her. "Calm down, Mary," she snorted. "We both know you're as gay as a picnic basket, so there is no danger of your virtue being compromised."

He huffed and waited for her to continue.

She slowly circled the waters, silently admitting that the boy had elegant taste. While the situation was not ideal, she would not be averse to spending time in this room. Excellent. Her nefarious plan was well-plotted indeed.

"May I be frank?"

"I would prefer it. Of course, when have you ever been anything but?" he asked archly.

She smirked. "Touché." She then nodded. "All right, then, allow me to lay all my cards on the proverbial table. We are both intelligent, talented, rich, and highly attractive people with an unerring sense of fashion." She then fell silent.

"Agreed," he said grudgingly, his tone hesitant.

"Therefore," she continued, "it behooves us to form an alliance."

He pulled his head back. "You have my attention." His eyes narrowed. "For the moment," he then qualified.

She tilted her head. He had provided an opening, albeit a guarded one. She had expected more resistance. This required a subtle shift in execution. Her only hope now was complete and total honesty.

"I believe we each have something the other wants. Now that Quinn has been knocked down by getting knocked up, I am her de facto successor. I've ascended the throne and plan to stay there indefinitely. In order for this to be actualized, I require someone whose self-interest is closely aligned with my own."

"Your logic is sound," he allowed.

She nodded. "Which is where you come in. I don't know you well. What I do know, I can't say I like, because my judgment of you is not yet complete. However, what I have seen, I respect."

His eyes narrowed.

"This is not an attempt at flattery, false or otherwise," she insisted. "I don't believe in furthering the delusions of inferiors."

He involuntarily raised a corner of his mouth.

"Good," she nodded. "You're strong, you have guts. You have a mouth you're not afraid to use. You're as attractive as me, but in a way that doesn't threaten me. Most importantly, you know who you are and don't apologize for it." She paused. "I find that very refreshing. I won't have to coddle you. You can take care of yourself; I know this. What I'm offering is the opportunity to join forces and pool our resources." She put up a hand. "Know in advance that I'm not looking for a fellow monarch," she cautioned, "but a regent. I will rule, with you at my side."

He crossed his arms. "And what, if any, benefit do I derive from this unholy union?"

She beamed. "You asked that at just the right time," she noted with pleasure. Her face became stony. "I know what the jocks do to you. I can stop it."

"And if you have this power, why didn't you use it before?" he immediately countered.

She shrugged. "Because I didn't care."

It was a better, and more honest, answer than he had expected. Still, he had reservations. "Is that it?"

"No. If you ally with me, I will stop the harassment. I will guarantee you will no longer have to deal with Puck. There will be no more slushy facials. And," she added, stepping closer, "you will no longer be alone in your hatred for Rachel Berry."

He turned and swiftly began pacing, tenting his fingers together and debating her offer.

It was a good one, he knew, and it bore consideration.

Santana Lopez was not only popular, she was a complete bitch. On a personal level, this greatly appealed to him. Kindred spirits were rare, especially evil ones. Further, this new merger had the potential to promote a delicious amount of scandal, which was simply divine. He stopped and turned back to face her, pleased to note that she was placidly awaiting his reply. Excellent poker face.

"Before I agree to anything, I have concerns which must be addressed."

She nodded. "Fair enough."

He nodded in concert. "The primary obstacle I foresee is the very simple truth that we don't trust each other. In any other circumstance, I would propose sharing confidences over spa treatments, followed by visual and verbal defilement of college guys at the mall."

Her eyes lighted.

"But that won't work in this situation. I have no secrets left to tell. You know of my penchant for corsets, that I'm gay, that my mother is dead, and that I have a completely inappropriate crush on Finn Hudson. Everyone knows these things." His brow furrowed. "With the exception of Finn, of course." He sighed. "Thoughts?"

"Hmm," she said noncommittally. "Your assessment is, unfortunately, accurate. And were I to tell you my deepest secrets, I have no guarantee you wouldn't use them against me to further your own agenda." She eyed him. "Although I don't believe you would."

He shrugged. "I wouldn't, but not out of any commitment to you. I just don't operate that way."

"More's the pity."

He smirked. "Laying aside this troublesome caveat, the question of Mercedes remains. I absolutely will not abandon her, nor will I tolerate her denigration at anyone's hand. If I am to be at your side, she will be right there with me, and whatever protection you grant me will also be extended to her."

She had anticipated this and was untroubled. If anything, she was delighted. Loyalty was a trait she admired, even if it wasn't one she herself practiced with any regularity. "Not a problem. The girl is, in a word, fierce."

He raised a brow. "And I assume Brittany will be the fourth addition to this interesting paradigm?"

"Naturally," she nodded. "Is that a problem for you?" She cursed the note of annoyance which crept into her tone. Whining was so gauche. She was startled when his face softened.

"Not at all," he said quietly. "I find myself quite fond of the girl." He frowned. "And what of your relationship," he continued, using air quotes, "with Noah Puckerman?"

She shrugged a shoulder. "He's a sexy beast, but I'm addicted to power, not brawn. His reputation has taken a severe blow because of his own stupidity, and I'm no one's sloppy seconds. It's time to expand my horizons."

"And where does Quinn fit into all of this?" he whispered, averting his eyes.

Santana unwillingly bit her lip, and then gasped as insight crashed into her. "You like her."

His eyes flared. "Irrelevant."

She shook her head. "Oh, no, no. This is completely relevant." She hesitated, and then dove in. "With regard to the issue of trust," she said, clearing her throat, "would it be ameliorating were I to admit that I like her as well?"

He pursed his lips. "It might," he acknowledged. He cocked a hip. "You first."

"Fine," she sighed. "She's getting a raw deal. She's being made out to be the football team's trampoline, and that's not fair. She slept with Puck. I don't like it, but it happened, and it only happened once. Alcohol was a factor, though it's not an excuse. She brought me in and raised me up. I don't like what's happening to her."

"She was my best friend for ten years."

She cocked her head. "Excuse me?"

He gave her a bland look.

"What happened?"

He shrugged. "Middle school politics. I was a liability."

She winced. "Not that I'm not guilty of the same thing, but yeah, that wasn't cool of her."

Another shrug. "It is what it is." He shuffled his feet restlessly. "Did Finn throw her out?"

She exhaled and nodded. "She's staying with Puck, which is not a good situation for any involved."

He chewed on that for a moment. "I might have a solution, but it will require her to pay reparations to me. If you can facilitate this, I will sign on to this endeavor."


His eyes hooded. "And, finally, the ultimate end to your scheme? Control of the class? Of Glee Club?"

She shook her head. "Nothing so banal." She grinned viciously and leaned toward him. "We're going to take over the school, of course," she purred.

A slow smile spread across his face. "Your terms are acceptable."