Author: littleoases PM
"She soaks it in for a few seconds—this night, this place, these friends, this family room floor, this girl—before she says it back." Post-3x11. Brittana.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Brittany P. & Santana L. - Words: 10,302 - Reviews: 76 - Favs: 253 - Follows: 19 - Published: 02-01-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7797750
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It's worse than she remembered. She really only saw the basement last time, but this time they're in the kitchen, which means she's getting a better picture of the whole house. And Rachel Berry's house? It's fucking weird.
"Why did we agree to this?" she whispers to Quinn.
Quinn gives her a Fuck if I know look in response.
"Um, Rachel?" Mercedes asks, pointing at the corner where a tree of coffee mugs sits. "What is that?"
"Oh! That's our Barbra tree," Rachel says. She plucks one of the mugs off the decorative holder and shows it to them: it has a black-and-white photo of Barbra Streisand's face on it. Rachel holds it up proudly, trying to match her smile to Barbra's. Santana thinks of what Brittany would say if she was here and has to hold a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing.
"Drinking from it makes me feel like I'm ingesting some of her, you know?" Rachel says.
"Okay, Jesus, I can't even respond to that," Santana mumbles while Tina and Mercedes bust up laughing.
"What's funny?" Rachel asks. She sets the mug back on the tree and looks around at them all. "Is this what you're supposed to do at sleepovers? Make fun of the hostess?"
"No, what you're supposed to do at sleepovers is have fun," Santana says pointedly. "So let's have some. Do you have everything ready for tonight? Alcohol? Doritos and other fatty snacks we can munch on later?"
"Movies?" says Mercedes.
"Nail polish?" says Sugar.
"Um…" says Rachel. "Maybe we should work on that."
Santana sighs. "I'm calling Brittany."
"Is this my super hot girlfriend?"
Santana laughs and shifts her elbows on the center island. "Hey, Britt, you're on speaker phone with everybody."
"Oh. Hey, everybody!"
"Hey, Brittany," the girls chorus.
"What's up?" Brittany asks.
"Just wanted to get your ETA."
"I'm leaving the dry cleaner's now. I have to run these suits home to my mom and then I'll be over."
"Cool. Um…we have a favor to ask..." Santana says slowly, looking around at the other girls conspiratorially.
"You've got your mischievous voice on, San."
"Right in one. How would you feel about picking up some mixers?"
"Mixers? Like, only mixers?"
Rachel leans closer to the phone. "My dads have plenty of alcohol, Brittany, but they don't drink much juice or soda!"
"Who was that?"
"Oh," Brittany says, and Santana loves that she's the only one who can hear the disdain in Brittany's voice.
"We need snacks, too, Britt," Quinn says. "All the old favorites."
"So…Chex Mix for you, Doritos for Santana…what else do people want?"
"Jeeze," Brittany laughs. "You guys are going to have to text this to me."
"So can you do it?" Tina pipes up.
"Santana," Brittany says.
"Take me off speaker for a second."
Santana hits the touchpad and holds the phone up to her ear.
"Hey," she says.
"Am I off speaker?"
"Okay, do I need to get some alcohol or is Rachel actually telling the truth that they have enough?"
Santana laughs. She sees the other girls looking at her with intrigue, wondering why the conversation had to become private. "The latter," she tells Brittany.
"Good, because I'm not about to hang out with her sober."
"You sound like me."
"Happens to the best of couples. Do you need anything else? Does she have whiskey for you?"
"Stop speaking in code, you weirdo," Brittany laughs. "They don't care."
"More fun this way."
"You're a dork. I love you and I'll see you in a bit."
"Oh, not okay," Brittany says playfully. "You can't use code for this part. Say it back."
Santana blushes and rolls her eyes; the other girls are still gathered around the counter with her, staring quietly.
"I'm waiting," Brittany says sweetly.
Santana laughs in spite of herself. "Love you, too," she says quietly, looking down at the floor.
Brittany laughs; Santana can imagine her driving with a huge grin on her face.
"See you soon," Brittany says, and then they hang up.
"You guys are cute," Rachel tells her. "You sound like Finn and me when we talk on the phone."
"God, I hope not," Santana says. The other girls laugh, and Rachel, to her credit, laughs along with them.
They're still hanging out around the kitchen counter when Brittany comes in, both of her hands clutching wimpy grocery bags. She sets them down on the counter amidst the other girls' cries of "Yay!" and "Perfect!"
"Thanks, Brittany!" Rachel says, pulling the two-liter bottles of soda from the bags.
"No problem," Brittany says. "But you bitches owe me some monies." She looks up from the shopping bags and finds Santana's eyes, and Santana feels special, like she's the only thing Brittany cares about in this crowded kitchen. Brittany's mouth curls into an excited smile and then she's skirting around the other girls until she reaches Santana.
"Hi," she says brightly, squeezing Santana from behind and kissing her cheek like it's the only way they've ever said hello.
Santana's cheeks warm; her skin tingles where Brittany's touching it. "Hey," she replies softly.
"Brought you something," Brittany says, using the other girls' preoccupation with the mixers and snacks as cover. She shifts around Santana and pulls an Almond Joy out of her jacket pocket.
Santana grins as Brittany holds the chocolate bar out to her. "What's this for?"
Brittany shrugs and smiles her secret Santana smile. "No reason."
Santana takes the chocolate bar and unwraps it immediately. "You," she says, nudging Brittany with her shoulder, "are the best ever."
Santana's so glad Brittany picked up break-and-bake cookies, because breaking them, baking them, and eating them was probably the best way they could have started off the evening. She hops up from her spot on the family room floor, where she was just sitting and bumping knees with Brittany, and grabs the now-empty cookie plate from the center of the room.
"Where you going?" Brittany asks her quietly, not wanting to interrupt Mercedes' story.
"Making more," Santana tells her with a wink.
Brittany grins at her in that special way before she turns her attention back to the circle of girls.
Santana opens the second package of cookies and sets about with the breaking and baking. She leans against Rachel's counter and savors the quietness and the space of the kitchen; as much as she loves these girls, she's still not used to the whole girl-time thing. She's only ever been good at that with Brittany and Quinn, who know what she's like in this kind of setting. But getting all chummy with these other girls while they sit around in their colorful socks and gossip about boys? It feels like a cheerleading move she's never been able to master.
The oven makes noises behind her while she stands with her arms folded and thinks about the last time she was at a party in this house. She's been doing that a lot lately-reflecting, comparing, quietly celebrating her progress. She remembers Sam's cologne and the taste of the salt on Brittany's stomach. She remembers the stab of pain she felt when she looked up from where she was straddling Sam on the couch and saw Brittany kissing Artie, looking far happier than Santana was pretending to be.
And the drunk texts from that night. The pleading messages she had sent Brittany after she'd left.
Drink. So drink
Please come back. I'm so sorty. Can we just go hone I love you
Brittany had never responded, had never said anything about them. She had texted Santana the following afternoon and asked how she was feeling, and that was it.
That was almost a year ago, and now she's standing in Rachel's kitchen and hearing Brittany talk in the other room, her voice drifting into the kitchen like soothing balm to cover Santana's scars.
The oven beeps behind her to signal that the cookies will be ready in less than a minute. She grabs a few fresh paper towels and then crouches down to watch the cookies soak in the last bit of heat from the oven.
"You creeping on those cookies?"
She spins around and sees Brittany watching her, smiling in triumph like she always does when she catches Santana doing something quirky.
Santana rises to her feet. "Just waiting for them to finish."
The oven beeps behind her, begging for her attention. She grabs an oven mitt and pulls the oven door down, scrunching her nose up at the blast of heat, and pulls the cookie sheet out.
"They smell awesome," Brittany says, coming toward her.
"They do," Santana agrees.
"Why are you hiding out in here?" Brittany asks. She wraps her right arm around Santana's back, but then drops it until she can slide her hand into the butt-pocket of Santana's jeans. "You in one of your anti-social moods?" she teases.
Santana rolls her eyes. "Just getting used to all this girly-girl stuff."
"Aw," Brittany laughs. She uses her hand to spin Santana's body toward her, so that they're facing each other. "You're so uncomfortable and it's so cute."
Santana laughs shyly. "I mean, it's kind of weird that we're doing this, don't you think?"
"What, you mean voluntarily hanging out at Rachel's house on a Saturday night?" She considers for a second. "Yeah, you're right, it's weird."
"I was dying before you got here."
"I figured. I was trying to picture it and I couldn't stop laughing."
"Mean!" Santana says, swatting Brittany's upper arm, pretending to be offended.
Brittany kisses her nose. "I'm teasing you. Come on, get out of that deep mind of yours and come play with everyone."
Santana sighs. "Alright. I'll come listen to the gossip and the girl talk and pretend like I care."
Brittany pulls her hand out of Santana's back pocket and squeezes her side. "My little social butterfly," she says.
Santana places the cookie plate in the center of the room and watches the girls descend on it. She stuffs a cookie in her mouth as Sugar tells them more about Artie's recent pick-up attempt.
"But I told him, you know, that I'm too abled for him," she says, waiting for them to agree with her. When no one says anything, she adds, "I also don't really like how he smiles like a pedophile."
Santana snorts and has to cover her mouth with her hand. Brittany shoots her an amused glance.
"You know Brittany dated him for a while, right?" Quinn asks Sugar. Santana's chest contracts a little bit.
"What?" Sugar asks. She stares at Brittany in surprise. "You never told me that!"
Brittany frowns. "When would I have told you that?"
"You used to tell me about all your old boyfriends!"
Everybody frowns at Sugar. She smiles awkwardly and says, "Sorry. Aspergers."
"Er…yeah," says Brittany. She shrugs like there's nothing more to say about it. "Tina used to date him, too."
Tina laughs. "That's weird to think about now. I love Artie and everything, but I can't imagine being with anybody but Mike."
(Brittany smiles sideways at Santana, and the feeling in Santana's chest loosens.)
"You never told us the story of how you fell in love with him," Mercedes says to Tina.
"Yeah, let's hear that," says Quinn.
"Well…," says Tina, folding her legs up under her, "it was at Asian camp…"
"Are you trying to fulfill a stereotype?" Santana cuts in.
Tina shoots her a glare, but then she smiles in amusement, like she was waiting for that comment before she could fully dive into the story. "I was still dating Artie at the time, but he wasn't treating me all that great. And Mike was just…so sweet. He wanted to know all these little details of my day, and he asked me questions about my family and my favorite music and what my other summer plans were. And then I'd watch him dance every afternoon, and I just…fell hardcore in like with him."
"So who made the first move?" Brittany asks.
"I did," Tina answers, and some of the girls gasp in appreciation. "I broke up with Artie, and one day after camp I asked Mike if he wanted to get a coffee at the Lima Bean. He drove us there and played me a song that he said reminded him of me, and then we got to the 'Bean and started kissing in his car in the parking lot." She shrugs. "We've been together ever since."
"So did you ever go get a coffee?" Mercedes smiles.
Tina laughs. "No, we kissed in his car for like an hour and then he drove me home!"
All the girls laugh; Santana's surprised to find herself laughing along with them.
"That's adorable," Quinn says.
"Mike's the best," says Brittany.
"Yeah, he is," Tina agrees, and Santana notices that she smiles the way people in love smile. "Well, you know who I've been wanting to know about…"
"Do not say Rachel and Finn," Santana says, and can't help but throw a somewhat scathing, somewhat teasing look Rachel's way.
"I was actually going to say you and Brittany," Tina tells her.
The other girls clap and express their interest in hearing about them, but Santana's heart rate speeds up and her stomach feels like it has a hole in it.
"So?" Mercedes prompts. "When did it happen?"
"When did what happen?"
"Don't play me, Satan. When did you fall in love?"
Everyone's looking at her eagerly, expectantly. Santana bites her lip and debates how to answer; part of her wants to share, but part of her still feels too afraid to let those walls down. She can't help but look to Brittany for help.
Brittany catches her eye and smiles reassuringly at her before she turns back toward the group. "I guess it was like…a few minutes ago," she says seriously. "When she gave me a cookie."
Santana bursts out laughing; she beams at Brittany because, goddamn, Brittany can read her better than anyone else in the world can.
"You two are ridiculous," says Mercedes, but no one presses the matter.
It's Quinn who suggests they start drinking.
"We're venturing into feelings territory here, girls," she says, looking around at them all. "I'm going to need something to loosen me up."
"Great!" says Rachel, springing to her feet. "So how does this work? Do we take shots first? Maybe like, shots of beer?"
"Sit down, Rachel," Mercedes laughs. "We'll handle this."
They start slowly, with mixed drinks. They lay everything out on the counter-the vodka, the gin, the whiskey, and a fifth of rum that Tina found in the back of the liquor cabinet. Rachel pulls down the glasses and Quinn takes all the mixers out of the refrigerator. They trade drink ideas-"What are you drinking?"; "Oh-is that good?"-and mix some things together. Santana can tell that only she, Brittany, and Quinn have ever done this regularly enough to know what their go-to drink is, although Tina and Mercedes look pretty confident as they mix their drinks. Brittany makes Santana a whiskey-Coke without Santana even asking her to; she pushes the drink into Santana's hands with a softly-muttered "Here, baby," and Santana accepts the drink from her like it's gold, like Brittany hasn't mixed countless drinks for her at countless forgotten high school parties.
"Thanks," Santana says tenderly, glancing up through her eyelashes, marveling at how this whole being-in-love thing is open to her now.
Brittany knocks her elbow and smiles at her before she starts to make her own drink.
"Rachel! Stop, stop!" Quinn shouts. "Do not mix those two together."
Rachel looks down at the Kool-Aid in her right hand and the glass of whiskey in her left. "Why not?"
Go figure the boys have to crash their party.
"What are you doing here?" Mercedes yells as Sam bounds into the room, hopping around excitedly like he just broke through a "No Boys Allowed" sign.
Rachel walks back into the room with Puck in tow. "Noah tricked me into answering the door," she says, like she's waiting for the other girls to deliver his punishment.
"Puckerman, what are you doing?" Quinn asks.
"Shouldn't you be cleaning a pool or something?" Santana adds.
"It'd probably be a hot tub at this time of night," Puck shrugs, looking devil-may-care with his hands in his hooded sweatshirt. "Sammy and Mike wanted to see what this 'sleepover' thing was all about. I figured I'd treat them to the experience. I'm kinda an expert at them, you know."
"Well, you're not welcome here," Mercedes tells them. She tries to sound firm, but Sam easily spots the weakness in her armor.
"Really," he flirts. "So you don't want us to stay even for a little bit."
"I'd be okay with it," Tina smiles, clutching Mike's arm.
"Fine," says Quinn. "But if you guys are going to stay, we're going to get some fun out of it."
Everyone looks at her, waiting for her to elaborate, so she unveils a smile and says, "Let's shotgun on the porch."
It's a blast, despite the cold weather outside. They traipse out to the deck, all of them, even Sugar in her little mini-skirt.
"I don't really understand what I'm supposed to do," Rachel frets, looking at her beer, which Puck has just stabbed a hole in. "I'm just supposed to suck on it?"
"Wanky," Santana says, and Brittany laughs like Santana's the funniest person in existence.
"Come on, it'll be fun," Puck says, elbowing Rachel. "I'll do it with you. Ready?"
They shotgun their beers as everyone cheers and claps; Puck downs his quickly and easily, but Rachel struggles and slops beer all down her shirtfront. Everybody cheers even louder for her to keep going. She pauses to swallow and draw breath, but then finishes chugging it, and Santana feels bizarrely proud of her. She joins in with the others as they all high-five Rachel.
Mike and Tina go next. They're adorable together, Santana thinks, the way Mike teases Tina that he's going to beat her and that there's no way she can do this. "We'll see about that," Tina says, raising her eyebrows. Mike grins like a smitten fool. Both of them laugh and choke as they shotgun, and they finish at about the same time. Mike kisses Tina; Tina wipes some dribbled beer off of his chin and kisses him back.
Sam asks Mercedes to go next. She shakes her head, trying to resist, but he gives her that flirty look he's so good at and says, "Come on. Just one? To make some memories?"
The chemistry between them is palpable, and for some reason it makes Santana look at Brittany. Brittany grins at her, like she knows exactly why Santana feels compelled to look at her, and Brittany's so adorable with her parted blonde hair and her puffy black jacket and her sweatpants tucked into her boots and Santana just-
"Come here," Brittany mouths at her from where she stands next to Quinn. Santana steps closer to her, smiles at her, clasps her hand. Brittany pulls Santana sideways until Santana's standing in front of her, and then she wraps her arms around Santana from behind. She holds her like that, letting Santana lean back against her, both of them able to smell each other's shampoo, perfume, intrinsic scent, and kisses her below her ear as they watch their friends shotgun. Santana feels so at home that she could stay like this for days.
Mercedes doesn't even finish her beer. "Aw, come on!" Sam says to her, touching her wrist. "Don't wimp out now!"
Mercedes shakes her head. "I seriously can't do it." She smiles up at him. "You win."
Sam's mouth spreads into a grin. "Alright," he says. "Brittany! Santana! You guys next!"
"Want to?" Brittany says gently in her ear.
"Come on!" says Mike.
"Do it!" says Sugar.
Santana rolls her eyes in that fake-annoyed way. "Alright," she says.
She and Brittany step forward and take the Bud Lights; Puck stabs holes in both cans, and they hold them like ears of corn in their hands; Brittany smirks at Santana, silently challenging her, and Santana smirks back.
"It's on, Lopez," Brittany says.
"Kiss your reputation goodbye, Pierce," Santana says back.
"Ready! Set! Go!"
They chug as fast as they can, but Brittany's always been the better drinker, and she finishes first. "Woooooo!" she yells, slamming the empty can down on the deck. "Bam! In your face!"
Santana chokes with laughter on the last of her beer. She raises her head, still trying to swallow the last of her beer, and drops the can on the deck. "Hate you," she rasps.
"Ba-ha-ha!" Brittany shouts. Their friends all laugh, and Santana grins and rolls her eyes some more, and then Brittany does the only thing Santana could imagine her doing in this scenario: smacks Santana's ass and then pulls her into her arms.
"You suck," Santana laughs.
"I love you, too," Brittany laughs, hugging Santana tight.
The boys head out to see a late movie, Puck promising that he's "way sober enough to drive-one beer is like a drop of water to me," and the girls sit around the kitchen table and continue drinking. Brittany keeps breaking out into random gloating giggles every time she looks at Santana.
"I'm sorry," she says, nudging Santana's foot with her own. "You were just so bad at that."
"Was not," Santana laughs, even though she was.
"That was really fun," Rachel says, a faraway look in her eyes.
"I think you're getting drunk, Rach," Quinn laughs.
They all munch on the snacks that Brittany and Santana set out on the table. Mercedes and Quinn keep popping Chex Mix into their mouth and grinning at each other; apparently they used to eat this snack all the time when Quinn stayed with the Jones'. Tina switches back and forth between Cheez-Its and Cheetos, her hand darting between the baskets like a sand crab. Santana sits back and eats Dorito chip after Dorito chip; her hands are soon covered in that icky orange coating that she doesn't mind but that Brittany hates. "Check it, Britty," she says, wiggling her hands in the air, and Brittany scowls.
"Ugh," Brittany says. "Do not come near me, Orange Fingers."
Brittany's doing that cute thing she does where she sits with one foot up on the chair so that she can lean against her own knee. Santana grins an evil grin and starts moving toward her, her hand held out like a claw.
"Don't, San," Brittany says, her eyes going wide. "No! No!" She picks up some Pringles and starts to chuck them at Santana. Santana throws her hands in front of her face and squeals as Brittany hits her with Pringle after Pringle. She can hear the other girls laughing at her.
"Okay! Okay! I surrender!"
Brittany laughs in triumph and relaxes back against her chair. She picks up two Pringle chips and arranges them in her mouth so that it looks like she has a duck beak. "Don't mess with me," she says through the makeshift beak.
Santana laughs. "Do the quack for them," she says, nodding at the other girls.
Brittany gives her a look like Should I really?, and when Santana smiles at her, deep and happy, she leans forward and positions her arms at an angle that makes them look like wings. She does her best duck quack impression, and it's so loud and so spot-on that Mercedes actually shrieks and jumps a little in her chair. Quinn dies laughing like she always does when she sees this impression, and Sugar smiles so big and so genuinely that it looks like she might cry. Santana sits back and takes it all in and thinks about how damn lucky she is to be dating this girl.
"Can I tell you guys something?" Mercedes asks a few minutes later. She takes a deep breath and sighs out, clutching her drink like it will steady her. "I'm really confused about Sam."
They all bite their lips and stay quiet, because, well, duh.
"I think I still have feelings for him."
Quinn looks thoughtful. "Do you have more feelings for him than you do for Shane?"
"I don't know," Mercedes says, looking distressed. "I mean, dating is so new to me. Is it normal to still have feelings for somebody you used to date? Or are they supposed to go away?"
"Depends," says Quinn. When Mercedes looks questioningly at her, she says, "I think it depends on the person."
"Yeah," says Tina, jumping in. "I mean, I stopped having feelings for Artie almost immediately after I started dating Mike. There was just no comparison."
"I always had feelings for Finn, even after we broke up," Rachel says, and for once, nobody makes fun of her; the earnestness in her voice is beyond teasing.
"Well, you guys both dated Sam," Mercedes says, looking at Quinn and Santana. "Did you still have feelings for him after you broke up?"
Quinn sips from her drink while she thinks about it. "Yes," she admits. "For a little while. But they went away within a month or two."
"Okay," says Mercedes, her brow furrowing as she takes in the information. "What about you, Santana?"
Santana starts to make a joke, but then stops herself; she's not sure why. But Mercedes is looking at her with so much open trust, and Brittany's looking at her with so much patient understanding, and so she looks down at the table for a moment and then says, in an honest tone she doesn't normally use around these girls, "No. No, I didn't have feelings for him after we broke up."
"Not even a little bit?"
Santana shakes her head no, and something shifts inside-something in her heart or in her stomach or in that cavity inside her where all the important things are. She doesn't know how to elaborate with words, so she just tilts her head at Brittany and smiles, hoping Mercedes understands.
Mercedes smiles, and so does Quinn in the seat next to her, and their smiles reflect more than understanding-there's something like pride in there, too.
"So what about you, Britt?" Mercedes asks. "You and Artie were together for a while. Was it hard to get over him?"
"No," Brittany says, clear and sure.
"Really?" Tina asks.
Brittany shrugs. She looks at Santana, almost like she's asking for permission for something, and when Santana smiles unabashedly at her, all love and tenderness and adoration, Brittany shakes her head and says, "I was in love with Santana. It's like Tina said. No comparison."
Santana's heart blooms in her chest. She sets her eyes on Brittany, trying to communicate all the things she's feeling right now, and Brittany seems to get it because she reaches her hand out across the table and takes Santana's hand, orange fingers and all.
"Hm," says Quinn, looking over at Mercedes. "I guess you have some thinking to do."
"Guess so," Mercedes mumbles.
"Yeah," says Tina. "But in the meantime? We need to take some shots."
They leave the snacks out on the table, figuring they might want more of them later, and gather around the kitchen island again. Brittany finds about a dozen shot glasses in the cabinet above the stove, and they all fight to claim their favorites.
"Rosie O'Donnell Cruise 2001?" Santana reads off the shot glass in her hand. "Are you kidding me, Berry?"
Rachel, who seems to be getting progressively tipsier as the minutes go by, laughs it off with a genial "Could be you someday, Santana."
Santana gapes at her, unable to believe she just said that, but then hears somebody burst out laughing across the island. It's Brittany. Santana catches her eye and stares incredulously-Did that just happen?-and Brittany laughs heartily and raises her hands in the air like, Well, she's right, babe.
They toast to silly things, like to Puck's Mohawk and Blaine's absurd bow tie collection and what a douche that Jesse St. James kid truly was, and throw back two rounds of shots in quick succession.
"Okay," says Mercedes, squeezing her eyes as she sets her shot glass back on the counter. "I'm gonna be sick if we do any more right now."
"Agreed," says Rachel. Then: "Let's play Truth-or-Dare!"
They make fresh mixed drinks and head back into the family room, and this time the atmosphere in the room seems different to Santana-like it's happier, more carefree. The alcohol's probably helping. They sit around on the floor and start a game of Truth-or-Dare, but since they can't come up with any exciting dares, they end up asking each other interesting truth questions instead. They learn that Quinn was a compulsive liar when she was little; that Rachel's worst fear is mediocrity; that Tina's biggest regret is faking that stutter for so long. Santana learns more about them than she ever thought she would, and it's weird how her heart takes in all this information like it actually matters to her. She finds herself asking questions that she genuinely wants to know the answer to.
Brittany sits cross-legged on the floor next to her, sipping from the vodka-cranberry that Santana made her, and rests her hand on Santana's knee. She spreads and then contracts her fingers, creating soothing, loving patterns over Santana's jeans.
"Okay. Santana," Tina says. "I've got one for you."
Santana stares right at her to show that she's up to the challenge.
"If you had to get a tattoo…" Tina begins, constructing the question as she goes along, "what would it be of-and where would you get it?"
"That's a good one," Mercedes hiccups.
"I'm going to get a tattoo that has poetry in it," Sugar says airily. "That's, like, really in right now."
Santana shakes the ice cubes in her drink and makes a show of thinking about her answer, even though she's already figured this out before.
"Do you know?" Brittany asks her, searching her face.
Santana gives her a coy smile. She looks back down to the ice cubes in her drink and swirls them around with her straw, weighing her feelings against each other. Brittany watches her curiously; Brittany always senses when she's about to make a surprise move.
"I'd get it on the inside of my ankle…" Santana starts. The other girls quiet down and listen eagerly. Santana bites her lip and says, "And it would say 'BSP.'"
"What?" Mercedes says.
"I think you mean 'ESP,' Santana," Rachel says, rubbing her hand drunkenly over her eyes.
"Berry, I swear, you were created for the sole purpose of ruining my romantic moments," Santana says. She pauses, then explains, "'BSP.' Britt's initials."
The other girls gush with "Aww" and "Oh my gosh" and turn to look at Brittany, but Brittany pays them no attention; she beams at Santana, adoration spilling out of her eyes.
"Are you-that's really what you'd get?"
"Of course," Santana laughs, feeling drunk and happy and free. "What else would I get?"
"You guys are too cute!" Rachel exclaims. She claps with so much exaggeration that she looks like a seal.
"Baby, you're-" Brittany bites her tongue between her teeth and shakes her head, trying to find the words. "Can I kiss you even though our friends are here?"
Santana smiles big. Everything feels right; everything feels perfect. "Come here," she says, and lazily pulls Brittany's face over to her own. She kisses her briefly but firmly, pressing their lips together as they both smile. She enjoys this kiss as much as she enjoys any of their kisses, even though it's their first in front of other people and a huge part of her feels nervous about that.
But when she pulls back and sees the sparks in Brittany's eyes, it's totally worth it.
The truth-or-truth game devolves into total madness after another hour and two more rounds of mixed drinks.
"Take the fucking shot, Berry!" Santana yells, standing up and waving her arms. "It's the rules!"
"Noooo!" Rachel yells dramatically.
Quinn stands next to her, patiently poised, holding the jager shot out to her.
"This stuff is so gross!" Rachel whines.
"Doesn't matter. You have to do it!"
"But I didn't even really break the rule!"
"You mentioned going to New York," Quinn says reasonably, seemingly sober even though her eyes are glazed over. "That's definitely breaking the rule. You made me take one when I mentioned Yale."
"But I didn't actually say anything about NYADA…"
"Oh! Oh! She mentioned it! That's like a double-infraction!" Tina shouts.
"Give that bitch two shots!"
Rachel looks helplessly around at them all.
"Wooooo fight the future forever!" Brittany yells. "Take the shot!"
In unison, they all chant, "Take - the - shot! Take - the - shot!"
Rachel's eyebrows draw comically together, but then she yells, "Screw it!" and grabs the shot out of Quinn's hand. She downs it and chokes out, "Give me another one!"
"This is brilliant!" Tina yells, shuffling around on her knees.
Santana practically shouts her laughter. Everything is so damn amazing and hilarious. "I love peer pressure!"
Brittany bursts out laughing and grabs Santana around the middle. "That's cause you're good at peer pressuring," she tells her, drunkenly kissing her temple.
Santana leans into her and holds her tight. "Yeah, and you love that about me," she laughs.
"Secretly? Yes," Brittany says, her eyes bright.
"Yes!" Santana yells, pumping her fist in the air. She settles back in Brittany's arms and asks, "Can I tell you a secret?"
"Of course," Brittany laughs.
(Behind them, their friends continue to laugh and shriek and down their drinks.)
"No-wait-two secrets. Is that okay?"
"I'll accept that."
"Okay," Santana laughs. "Here's the first one." She leans close to Brittany's ear and whispers, "You're like seriously hot."
Brittany shakes with laughter. "So are you. What's the second one?"
Santana bites her lip. Again, she leans close and whispers, "I let you win at shotgunning."
"No you didn't!" Brittany yells. "You're such a brat!"
"I did!" Santana shouts. "I did! I did!"
Brittany starts tickling her all over her body. Santana writhes in her arms and laughs elatedly even though the tickling hurts. "Britty! Britty! Stop! Stop!"
"Say you lost!"
"Say you lost, Santana!"
"Okay, okay, okay!" Santana says, breathless. "I lost! I lost, I lost, I lost!"
"That's better," Brittany says, stopping the tickling and pulling Santana into her.
Santana collapses against her, breathing out against her chest. "Jeeze, baby. You're a torture-tickler!"
"Only when you deserve it," Brittany laughs.
Santana loops her arms around Brittany's waist and breathes out again, waiting for her heart rate to slow down. "I think I'm drunk," she says into Brittany's shirt.
"I'm definitely drunk," Brittany says.
"I might actually be having fun," Santana admits.
"What! My little social butterfly is ready to leave her cocoon!" Brittany grabs Santana's arms and flaps them in the air. "Fly, little butterfly, fly!"
Santana laughs, leans back into her, and sloppily kisses her, all self-consciousness forgotten. "You're such a goober, BrittBritt."
"So are you, though," Brittany says, planting kisses all over her cheeks.
"Santana!" Mercedes shouts. "Quinn is making Rachel take another shot and you're missing it!"
Santana does a little jump in place. "I approve!" she yells. "All the damn shots, Rachel Berry, all the damn shots!"
She skips over to them with carefree exuberance, trusting that Brittany will follow her. Rachel throws back another shot, which makes them all cheer, and then Tina starts wildly laughing, which makes Mercedes collapse in laughter alongside her.
Santana turns to look for Brittany and sees her watching from across the room. "Come here, BrittBritt!" she says, extending her hand to her. "Quinn! Quinn! Pour a shot for Brittany! Pour a shot for my girlfriend!"
"What'll it be, Britt?" Quinn asks.
"Pour me some-a-that vodka," Brittany slurs.
"Me, too!" Tina shouts.
"Yeah, I want some, too!" says Mercedes.
Quinn pours seven shots and hands them around, keeping the last one for herself. "A toast," she says, raising her shot glass in the air.
"To us glee girls!" says Tina.
"To kicking ass with our singing!" says Mercedes.
"To having fun!" says Sugar.
"To shots!" says Rachel.
"To infinity and beyond!" says Brittany, and Santana laughs and bumps their hips together.
They all cheer and throw back their shots.
Of course Sugar has to play somebody's iPod, and from there everything is one big dance party. Rachel jumps on her couch and sings with her arms spread wide, like she's performing at Madison Square Garden instead of in her family room. Quinn tosses her short hair back and forth and all around, pausing only to take short sips from her drink. Mercedes, Tina, and Sugar shout and sing and dance around, like they're some sort of goofy trio act. Brittany gets totally drunk and strips off her shirt and vest while she dances, and obviously Santana can't really help but pull off her own shirt and put Brittany's vest on instead.
"You're wearing my clothes!" Brittany yells across the music.
"Because you're my girlfriend!" Santana yells back.
Brittany takes the whiskey drink from Santana's hand and twirls her around, singing the lyrics to the song that's playing from the speakers. They spin and twirl and laugh and, when they forget themselves for a brief moment, Brittany picks Santana up and pins her against the wall. Santana lets her do it, hardly caring that their friends are in the room with them; she's so drunk and the music's so loud and Brittany's so cute that none of it seems to matter. She and Brittany laugh, kiss, laugh, kiss, but once they really start to make out, the other girls remind them of where they are.
"Rein it in, horn dogs!" Mercedes yells.
"This isn't the Cheerios locker room!" Quinn jokes. (Rachel frowns, mystified.)
Brittany lowers Santana to the ground and kisses her ear. "Sorry," she husks.
"I'm not," Santana laughs, kissing her one more time. She ducks her head around Brittany's shoulder and pretend-glares into the center of the room. "Fuck all y'all haters!" she yells.
"Bring it, Lopez!" Rachel yells back around the straw of her drink.
"Bitch, please! You can't take me! Look at my motherfucking vest!"
She hops toward the center of the room, pulling on each side of her vest like some sort of mobster/penguin hybrid. She tries really hard to keep a straight face, but she's having a difficult time fighting off the sillies. Rachel saunters forward, trying to look equally tough, but then she giggles and has to look away from Santana.
"Santana! You're such a goober!" Tina slur-shouts. "What are you even doing?"
"Girl, I can take you!" Santana yells in a thug voice, pointing her finger down at Rachel. "And my other half can take your other half ANY DAY!"
"Santana just set you up for a death match against Finn!" Mercedes laughs, looking at Brittany.
Brittany rolls her eyes and sways where she stands. "Hey, baby?-could you not whore me out like a prizefighter, please?"
Santana ignores her and growls like a tiger at Rachel.
"Chips!" yells Sugar, running in from the kitchen. "Everyone eat some chips!"
"I want some chips!"
Sugar throws the chips in the air like confetti. "Look at them raining down on us!"
Brittany starts jumping in the air, trying to catch the chips in her mouth. Santana turns and watches her, messy blonde hair and bare stomach and purple bra jumping here and there all over the family room. "Britt! You're a superhero! You look like a superhero!"
"I am a superhero!" Brittany shouts.
"Listen up, bitches!" Quinn yells, her thin voice barely cutting over the music. "We need pizza. We need a goddamn pizza!"
"Yesssss hiii, I'm Rachel Berry, one day you'll probably recognize me by my voice. … Mmhmm. … Yes sir, I'm fiiiine. … I was wondering if I can have a pizza from your pizza store? … Okay well do you make pizzas with extra things on them, like pepperoni?"
"Onions!" Santana shouts.
"Green peppers!" Brittany shouts.
"Mushrooms!" Quinn shouts.
"Ew," says Tina. "Those are all disgusting."
"Unholy trinity for the win!" says Santana, holding her hands up for high-fives.
"Quiet!" Rachel snaps. "Silencio! I'm attempting to order a goddamn pizza here!"
"Wowww," Sugar slurs, "she's like really drunk."
"I think it might be movie time," says Mercedes.
Their pizzas arrive when they're about thirty minutes into Just Friends. They pause the movie to gather around the coffee table and eat straight from the box, all of them talking with their mouths full and wiping their hands on their pants and teasing each other. Santana still feels drunk, but sort of like she's coming down from a high and settling into that silly, goofy phase. She giggles around her pizza crust and casts a look at Brittany, who sits to her right, still topless.
Brittany's sitting cross-legged and licking her fingers like a little kid while she listens to Tina and Quinn's story. She must feel Santana's eyes on her, because she pauses, looks over, and grins at her. Wordlessly, she reaches out, wraps her arms around Santana's body, and pulls her to sit in her lap. Santana settles into her and kisses her chin; the other girls don't even look twice at them. Brittany steals bites from Santana's crust and brushes her bare skin against Santana's bare shoulder, and, hell, Santana wants this sleepover to go on forever and forever and forever.
Santana can't stop laughing into Brittany's shoulder while they lay on the floor in front of the TV. She keeps bursting into random fits of giggles in-between the movie dialogue.
"What's so funny, San?" Brittany asks, smiling at her.
Santana laughs harder. "I don't know!" she whispers. She wipes tears from her eyes. "I think I'm just really happy."
"Shut up!" Quinn whisper-yells at them.
Brittany raises her middle finger into the air in Quinn's general direction.
"Classy, President Pierce," Quinn says.
"Can we watch something else?" Santana asks Brittany. "This movie sucks."
"I don't know. Or let's take more shots!"
"Mm, I don't think so, baby," Brittany says quietly. "We've had enough shots tonight."
"Are you gonna make me go to sleep?"
"Only if you want to."
"Why your ankle?"
"Why would the tattoo be on your ankle?"
Santana rolls over onto her back and looks up into Brittany's face. She touches a hand to Brittany's jaw. "'Cause you're a dancer, baby," she says.
Brittany looks at her like she just said the sweetest thing in the world. "Jesus, Santana," she whispers, dropping her forehead to rest it against Santana's.
Santana laughs a closed-mouth laugh; she can feel it vibrate along her body. "You think I'm cute right now," she says.
"Can we go hook up in the basement or something?"
Brittany laughs loudly at that. Mercedes and Rachel shush her, but she ignores them. "No, sweetheart, I don't think so."
"Ugh, lame," says Santana, pulling Brittany's head onto her chest and combing her fingers through her hair.
They stay like that for a while: Brittany resting her head on Santana's chest, Santana pulling her fingers through Brittany's angel-blonde hair. The sensation of it calms her and she falls into silence, drunk enough to let the sounds and images in the movie wash over her but alert enough to feel Brittany's every breath.
She wonders if Brittany's going to fall asleep-she seems much less drunk and much more tired than Santana is at this point.
But, no, Brittany's speaking to her.
"Santana?" she whispers.
Brittany breathes deep. "I love you so much," she says softly.
She's heard it so many times now. She's heard it in school and she's heard it in bed; she's read it in text messages and in e-mails and in notes left in her locker; she's heard it over the phone and in voicemails and in person and in her sleep; but there's something about hearing it right now, here, where they are sprawled out on the floor in front of their friends, with this alcohol swimming in her bloodstream and this beautiful girl resting atop her-there's something about hearing it right now that makes her heart skip and her stomach grow and her breath catch and her soul move.
She soaks it in for a few seconds-this night, this place, these friends, this family room floor, this girl-before she says it back.
"I love you, too."
It's the last thing they say before they fall asleep right there on Rachel's family room floor.
"How is that not waking her?" she hears someone say.
"Are you kidding," Brittany says somewhere near her. Her voice sounds rough. "It's like a lullaby for her."
"I could spend years trying to understand the two of you," the person says, and Santana realizes it's Mercedes.
Brittany doesn't respond, just laughs a little through her nose.
"Well, text Quinn if you want anything from the store," Mercedes says quietly, and then there's the sound of feet padding on the carpet as she walks away.
Santana stirs and turns to her left, where she can sense Brittany's body. She keeps her eyes closed, feeling her way toward Brittany's shoulder. Brittany pulls her in closer without saying anything.
And there's that sound-monkeys squawking mixed with music that sounds like it could be in a video game. Santana smiles, even though her brain is still sluggish and sorting things out, because it sounds like Brittany's playing Temple Run on her phone again.
"Trying to beat your high score?" she mumbles sleepily into Brittany's shoulder.
"Oooh, good morning, sleepyhead," Brittany says. "And yes."
Santana kisses her bare upper arm. "And how are you doing?"
"Not too bad," Brittany says. She sounds distracted; she usually is when she's playing this game. "How are you, drunky?"
Santana rubs the bridge of her nose. "I feel like shit."
Brittany laughs. "You had a lot of fun last night."
The sounds from her iPhone stop all of a sudden; it sounds like Brittany's paused her game. "I'll get you some water," she says, rolling over and kissing Santana right on the mouth. Her lips feel warm and sweet. "And maybe some medicine?"
"Please," Santana says in a scratchy voice.
Brittany gets up and walks away from her; Santana can hear her talking to people in the kitchen. Their voices are rough, tired, low-key. She hears the sound of the freezer making ice cubes and the rattle of a pill bottle.
"Is she ready to wake up?" someone asks.
"I think she needs a few more minutes," Brittany responds, and god, Santana loves that girl.
A few minutes turns into three-quarters of an hour. Santana wakes up again to Brittany smoothing her hair back from her forehead and dropping kisses to her face like pennies into a fountain.
"Wake up, baby," Brittany says tenderly. "We're making breakfast and I don't want you to miss it."
Santana hums and pulls Brittany down to her; Brittany gives in and stretches out next to her on the floor, still kissing her all over.
"What are we having for breakfast," Santana asks groggily.
"Hmm," says Brittany, kissing her cheek. "Pancakes." She kisses her eyelid. "And some toast." She kisses her nose. "And some coffee."
"Mm," Santana hums.
Brittany kisses her mouth. "And some eggies."
Santana laughs. "Eggies?"
"I know you secretly love it when my mom calls them that."
Santana finally opens her eyes. She rubs her palm down Brittany's cheek and says, "Yeah, I do."
"So are you going to come have breakfast with your friends?"
"Yeah," Santana nods. "Even though I just want to lie here with you."
Brittany laughs. She brushes the side of Santana's face and just looks at her for a moment. Santana should probably feel self-conscious, but mostly she just feels adored. "Look at your little chipmunk cheeks," Brittany says, kissing her lips to Santana's right cheek; she leaves them there for a second and then kisses her cheek twice more. "You're so cute."
Santana lets out a small laugh. She tilts her face to the side and lazily kisses Brittany's lips.
"Oh god," says Quinn, walking in and finding them like that. "Bit of a change from how we used to wake up from our sleepovers, isn't it?"
"As far as you know," Santana snarks, looking up at her.
"Who knows what went on while you were brushing your teeth," Brittany adds.
Quinn rolls her eyes. "Are you gonna come eat, or did I go to the store for nothing?"
"Calm down, Ivy League, we're coming," Santana says. She sits up and rubs her eyes; Brittany scratches her back and kisses her shoulder, right there in plain view of Quinn.
"You feeling better?"
"Somewhat," Santana answers with a smile. "Thanks for the water. And the drugs."
"Alright, Juliet and Juliet, let's go. One of you needs to make the coffee."
And isn't it weird how she suddenly feels so comfortable around these girls? How she accidentally bumps shoulders with Tina but neither one of them apologizes because they're past that point? How she watches Rachel drink from her Barbra mug and thinks it's funny in an endearing sort of way, rather than in a pathetic kind of way?
"One of your lazy asses needs to make the eggs," Mercedes says as she butters the toast.
"I'll do it," Santana offers.
She and Tina make the eggs together. They've got three frying pans between them. Sugar grabs her iPod from the family room and plays some Beach Boys tunes while they all hang around the kitchen, some of them cooking, some of them sitting and laughing.
"Britt, you want scrambled?" Santana asks.
"Yes-please-ma'am," Brittany says.
"Here you go," says Tina, passing Santana the milk.
"Oh," says Santana. "Actually…hey, Quinn, did you get any coffee creamer at the store?"
"Yeah," says Quinn. "It's on the counter."
"Britt," says Santana, checking the coffee creamer, "is hazelnut okay?"
"Perfect," says Brittany.
Tina watches in confusion as Santana grabs the hazelnut creamer and pours it into the bowl with Brittany's eggs. "Wait. You're using half-and-half to make eggs?"
Santana shrugs. "Brittany likes how it tastes."
Tina and Mercedes share a look; Santana recognizes it as the look she and Brittany often share when they see Mr. Schue and Emma or Finn and Rachel doing something weird.
"What?" she asks them.
Tina laughs. "You guys are just funny. Like…your relationship has so many weird little idiosyncrasies. You're like a married couple or something."
Santana rolls her eyes. "Shut up," she says playfully, pretending to be annoyed.
The funny thing is, she's probably never been more flattered in her life.
"This is the best toast I've ever had," Brittany says. "You're a goddess, Mercedes."
"Yeah," Mercedes laughs, "I'm really good at plugging in a toaster."
"That's what she said," says Sugar.
They all stare at her for a second. "Um, sorry, Lotta Motta," says Santana. "But that made absolutely zero sense."
"Oh," says Sugar, looking embarrassed. "I'm still trying to get the hang of that joke."
"I've never understood it either," Rachel tells her.
The table's full of food and they're on their third pot of coffee. Santana wonders vaguely when Rachel's dads are going to come home; Rachel seems like she's in no rush to kick them out. Brittany's eating to her heart's content, stealing bites of pancake from Santana's plate even though there's a full stack of pancakes sitting in the middle of the table.
"So what's everybody gonna do today?" Mercedes asks. "Work on that Spanish assignment for Mr. Schue?"
No one speaks for a second, and then they all burst out laughing.
"That poor man," says Brittany.
"I'm having lunch with Mike's grandparents later," Tina says. "They're in town visiting."
"I think I'm going to Facebook stalk the other NYADA finalists," Rachel says.
"Judy's taking me to Bed, Bath, and Beyond," Quinn says. "She wants to start looking at dorm stuff."
"Gross," says Tina.
"Don't start with that," says Mercedes.
"Have to start sometime," Quinn sighs.
Santana picks apart the eggs on her plate. Brittany grabs her hand under the table.
"How'd you get here yesterday?" Brittany asks Santana as they're folding blankets in the family room.
"Quinn picked me up."
"Oh, okay. Didn't think I saw your car in the driveway. Can I drive you home?"
Santana pauses in the middle of folding a quilt. She smiles at Brittany-hardly with her mouth, more so with her eyes. "I'd hoped you would."
They all say bye and that they'll see each other at school the next day. They thank Rachel and remind Sugar to get her speakers and wish Tina luck with Mike's grandparents. Brittany grabs Santana's hand as they're walking out the front door.
"Home?" she asks.
"Home," Santana answers.
"So you know how Tina said Mike played her that song?" Brittany asks as they're driving to Santana's house. "The one that reminded him of her?"
"I'm going to play you a song like that."
"Oh," says Santana, taken aback. "Okay."
Brittany slides a CD into the music player and skips forward a few tracks. "This is my favorite one to listen to when I drop you off after a date."
Santana doesn't even need to hear the song. Her heart's already full of the music.
"You wanna come in for a bit?" Santana asks her when they pull up to her house.
"I do, but I can't. Dad texted and said we're doing a Home Depot family trip."
"Oh? Are you into that now?" Santana teases. "Gonna start building things?"
"Mmhmm," Brittany says, waggling her eyebrows.
"Gonna be my little lumberjack?"
Brittany holds up an arm and flexes. "Rrrrr," she says. "No, we're redoing the basement and he wants everybody there to like, give input or something."
"Well," says Santana, "my input is: ditch the kiddie zone and give us a better space for date night."
"That's what I said!" Brittany laughs.
Santana stretches back against the passenger seat, plays with Brittany's fingers. "I had fun," she says quietly.
"I did, too. You were great."
Santana smiles. Then she inhales, looks out the windshield. "Britt?"
"All this future talk…"
"Don't," Brittany says. Santana looks at her: her eyes are set and clear. "Really, don't. I'll make you take jager shots."
Santana laughs out of habit more than anything. "It's just…"
"Baby," Brittany says softly. "I know. It's scary. And always there. And they're all talking about it a lot. But I just don't want to yet, okay? I want to take things one step at a time. And right now, it's like…" She shrugs. "Right now I'm just basking in how wonderful you were last night. How cute you were in front of our friends. How happy you make me all the time."
"Santana, we'll figure it out. I promise. The details are just details. I don't want to get all caught up in NYADA nonsense and what Quinn's dorm's going to look like at Yale-"
"But it's important, Brittany."
Brittany sighs. "You want my big picture view of this?"
"Yes," Santana says emphatically. "Because…I mean, I'm trying not to freak out, but when they're bringing it up all the time…"
Brittany shuffles in her seat until she's facing her head-on. "Santana?" she says, her voice strong in its softness. "Here's how I'm seeing things right now. I love you. I love you and I plan on staying with you through anything, and that's all that matters to me."
Santana swallows the emotions in her chest. Brittany's CD plays softly through the car stereo. She tries to recognize the song, but she can't hear it well enough.
"I'm just scared," she admits. "I feel like I'm just starting to appreciate everything, but now it's all drawing to an end."
"Like what?" Brittany asks. "Like our friends?"
"Yeah," Santana says, her voice breaking. "Like…this sleepover last night. It was really fun! I never thought I'd have fun at something like that, but I did, and it all just seems so great right now, but look at them all. They're ready to move on to the next big thing."
"And you will be, too," Brittany assures her, squeezing her hand. "I promise."
"I don't want to," Santana says, her voice getting raggedy.
"Why not, sweetheart?"
Santana can't speak; her emotions overtake her all of a sudden and tears pool in her eyes. Wordlessly, she raises an arm and gestures at Brittany.
"You're worried about us?" Brittany asks.
"But baby, I just told you," Brittany says, running a gentle hand over Santana's arm. "You and I are the one thing I've figured out."
"Yeah. I mean, I feel scared about everything that's coming, like…will I stay friends with Quinn after graduation? Will I still keep in touch with Mercedes and Tina? I want to because-I love them, you know? But who knows? But then I think about what really matters, which is you, and I get this great sense of calm. Like a steadiness in my heart. And then I don't feel scared anymore."
"Why not, though? What if we end up in different places?"
"Then we'll be in different places," Brittany says. "And it'll suck. But we'll make it work. That breakfast we had this morning? How it was so great with everyone? Maybe we won't have that with all those girls again after this. But you and I will have that. You'll be making me hazelnut scrambled eggs until it's the only thing I can eat 'cause all my teeth have fallen out."
Santana laughs and cries freely. "Promise?"
"I promise," Brittany says, pulling her into her arms and kissing her. She holds her until her crying stops, kissing her hair and whispering in her ear.
When Santana pulls away and wipes her eyes, Brittany says, "Can I tell you a secret?"
"Sure," Santana laughs.
"If I got a tattoo, do you know what it would say?"
"What?" Santana asks, even though she thinks she knows the answer.
"SML," Brittany says, looking right into her eyes. "And I would get it on my ankle."
"Because," Brittany says. "I want to always be in step with you."
Santana drops her head forward into her hand. "Britt," she says, shaking her head.
"God, you're just perfect."
"Come here," Brittany tells her. "Come here and let me kiss you."
They kiss each other's lips, first softly, then more fully, and for the first time in her life, Santana feels like it's a grown-up kiss. Like it's more than a kiss: like it's a commitment. And suddenly, that feeling that Brittany was describing blankets her all over her body. It feels warm, calm, and forever. Like a tattoo on her skin, like a steadiness in her heart.