TITLE: It Was Us Way Before Them

AUTHOR: Misty

GENRE: Glee

Pairing: Brittany/Santana, Future!fic

Teaser: Santana Lopez is an LA power lesbian, with the world in her hands. She's so much more than the small town girl who escaped from Lima and told herself she would never look back.

Spoilers: Through sectionals.

Word Count: 6,355

Rating: R

Thanks to: Grdnofevrythg for giving me the prompt. You were there when I needed ya, boo!

****

When I said that I loved you

I meant that I'd love you forever

REO Speedwagon

****

Heart hammering against her chest, blood rushing through her body so fast it's making her light-headed, Santana dimly hears the shouting that floats up from the living room.

It doesn't matter. Her parents don't exist. Nothing exists but what's in this room.

Hot breath skids along her ear, drawing with it shivers that are uncontrollable. She arches, hips canting up to grind against the friction of a bare thigh. The weight of a taller girl presses down on her, and Santana palms up smooth flesh on a perfect back, feeling muscles shift beneath her touch as she draws her down closer.

She hears a soft, throaty chuckle, something that's so uniquely Brittany, and then Brittany's mouth meets hers, kissing her deeply.

The taste of her tongue draws in an aroused hiss, and Santana can't control herself. She bucks up, twisting her hips and gripping hold of the bare waist, pivoting until she's shifted Brittany underneath her. Brittany, gaze a sparkling jewel, just smiles breathlessly.

"I thought you were going to let me be on top this time."

Santana feels no guilt. "I lied."

Her lower body slowly pumps between the vee of Brittany's thigh, and when Brittany's eyelids flutter, her chest arches, Santana grins.

Brittany's eyes open, lids heavy with arousal, but she stills as she reaches up to curve fingers against Santana's olive-toned cheek, lingering tenderly before getting distracted by the dark curls that tumble off of Santana's neck and shoulders in gentle waves.

Long, slender digits tangle in the locks, and reverent of the moment, Santana doesn't breathe.

"I love your hair when it's loose," Brittany whispers. "Have I ever told you that?"

Santana's smile widens, staring down at a wanton image of beauty – nothing in the world will ever be more beautiful than Brittany like this.

"Every time," she answers thickly.

"Well, it's true," Brittany says matter-of-factly. "You're hot all the time. But you are so, so beautiful when your hair is down."

"Am I?"

"You look like a different person," Brittany says, and a wicked glint glimmers in those crystal blue eyes. "You're my secret person." Her smile stiffens. "Though now that we're in Glee, everyone sees your hair down all the time. I'm not sure I like that."

It's silly, to feel such petty validation at any kind of possessiveness from Brittany. "Only when we sing. And then they see yours too."

Brittany considers that, tousled blonde locks splayed wildly over the pillow, skin bright and shiny with the sweat of sexual exertion. "Not like this," she decides, and Santana's lips quirk, before Brittany threads her fingers deeper into the sweaty mane, until she's got control of Santana.

"Not like this," Santana agrees, and Brittany pulls, lowering her onto her naked body, meeting her lips with an open mouth.

****

Seven years after high school ends and still, Santana never feels truly comfortable with her hair down.

A small part of her feels retarded because of it, because Santana, with an undergrad from Berkley, a masters from the USC Annenberg School of Communication and a promising career in Public and Media Relations, knows a weakness when she sees one.

It's her own personal security blanket and an unspoken instinct. Every morning, she takes long dark curls and twist them behind her, pinning them away from her face, revealing her angular features and plump, pouty lips.

She tells herself it's because Sue Sylvester, demented and crazed with aspirations to win at all costs, had the right idea. Nothing should distract from her form, her presentation. Carefully controlled, kept up hair signifies a carefully controlled, kept up life.

What she will never admit is that when she does let her hair down, she feels timid and naked - a vulnerability that she despises.

Deep down, she also despises the fact that while having a controlled, kept up life might be a recipe for success, it also feels incredibly constricting.

She will also never admit that the only time in her life where she truly felt absolutely FREE was a couple years in high school, because that's just pathetic.

Santana Lopez is an LA power lesbian, with the world in her hands. The publicists of the most celebrated people in the media call her (well, her firm) and ask her for favors. She's so much more than the small town girl who escaped from Lima and told herself she would never look back.

Not for anything.

Not for anyone.

****

Rachel Berry pops back into her life unexpectedly at an upfronts party. She has managed to snag a role in a by-the-numbers procedural crime drama with no imagination that of course gets greenlit by FOX and doesn't expect to last past sweeps, but Rachel walks around like she's on top of the fucking world.

When Santana spots her, she finds herself thinking that while she may now have access to the show stylist, and has shed the little argyle sweaters and school girl skirts, Rachel Berry is, and always will be, a geek.

She greets Santana like they're old friends, and immediately, every reason that Santana found her completely loathsome in high school comes rushing back as she babbles on and on about Glee like it was the best time of their lives, and boasts about how she's kept up with all the Gleeks.

She talks to her like she's in the middle of some press junket. "I think it's important to stay true to your roots," she says, enunciating perfectly. "Even when you're a success, the key to humility is to remember where you came from."

They're not in high school anymore, and Santana is working, so she has to bite down her savage retort and hope her disinterested monosyllabic answers give Rachel the hint she has no inclination to waltz down memory lane.

Instead, Rachel does the unthinkable and asks her if she's heard from Brittany.

Santana chokes on her drink and nearly makes a spectacle of herself. Rachel slams on her back like Santana's dying or something, and finally Santana can't help herself.

"Get your mallet shaped hands off of me! God, Rachel! Take a hint!"

Of course, she manages to snap that just as the DJ queues up for the next song. The room goes dead quiet, and Rachel looks like a kicked puppy.

Santana's boss has managed to see the whole thing, and the glare she's sending Santana's way tells her she has to fix this, and fast.

It's for that reason, and only that reason, that Santana grimaces her way through an apology and offers to take Rachel to dinner.

Because Rachel is utterly incapable of reading Santana, she happily accepts.

"I should apologize," Rachel says, later that week over margaritas at Pink Taco in Century City. "I didn't realize it was a touchy subject."

Santana's temples ache from the severe ponytail that holds her hair back off her face. "There's nothing to apologize for," she says stiffly. "It's just high school, Rachel. In Lima. Why would I want to keep in touch with any of those losers?"

Rachel's brow rises, but surprisingly, she doesn't take offense. "But we all assumed… I mean… you and Brittany…"

"Me and Brittany what?" Her voice snaps like flint.

Rachel looks back down at her margarita, and takes a ginger sip. "You guys always seemed to have plans."

Santana's throat is tight with unshed emotion, and she swallows it down with a gulp of lime-flavored tequila. "No," she says a moment later, voice even and cold. "Brittany had plans. With all those other song and dance morons she became best friends with."

Rachel's bittersweet smile is almost obnoxious. "And what were your plans?"

"To get the fuck out of Lima," she says brazenly, and then eyes Rachel, doe-eyed and actually kind of beautiful, sitting across from her. "And I did it. Just like you."

She raises her margarita glass in a mock toast. After a moment, Rachel's glass clinks against hers. "You know what?" Rachel says, after she takes her drink. "You look almost exactly the same as you did in high school. It's like you haven't changed at all." Before Santana can react, Rachel leans forward. "I heard the Upright Citizen's Brigade is performing tonight. Wanna go?"

Two months later, Rachel's stupid pilot airs and becomes an actual hit. They get a full season pick up, and Santana finds herself flabbergasted when she realizes that Rachel has actually called her FIRST upon getting the news.

They hit Rachel's favorite karaoke lounge, hidden in a sushi joint in Sherman Oaks, and drunk on Happy Hour beers and shots, do a screechy duet of 'Shake It', by Metro Station.

It's disgusting that Rachel might the first person she actually trusts in Los Angeles.

****

She's on the set of Beyonce's new movie, overseeing a product-placement shot of a can of Coke that the movie producers have assured her firm will be front and center onscreen for at least 1.5 seconds.

It's a musical. There are dancers, and a scene that should have been a half day shoot has wound up being a two day over-budget nightmare. Santana's feet ache from her heels, she's sweating in her power suit, and feels bobby pins digging into her scalp as she listens to her boss yell at her over her cell phone for the third time.

It's 6PM, the sun is setting, and Santana has no patience for the bullshit the DA is spewing.

"Stop talking," she orders, and the pimply-faced child-man shuts his mouth immediately. "Now I don't care if the choreographer broke his ankle. I don't care if Beyonce has cramps. I only care that my firm has paid your producer a shitload of money to feature our product the way it was intended. Having someone PEE in the can is not doing it justice. I don't give a shit of Beyonce has a contract with Pepsi, she will DRINK from the aluminum can or I'll personally find her and shove it down her throat."

She hears a low, throaty chuckle behind her that goes through her in such a way, her knees go weak.

"Better be careful, David. Santana's bite is definitely worse than her bark. I'd do what she says."

Underneath her impeccable foundation of make-up, Santana feels the blood drain from her face. She's so lost in her own shock that she barely notices as David scurries away like a rat.

She does notice when a gorgeous blonde with crystal blue eyes and a crooked smile steps into her line of sight.

The moments when Santana has been knocked breathless have been rare. The sight of Brittany leaves her well and truly gob-smacked, mouth dropping open, and eyes going wide, before her heart thuds so hard inside of her chest she catches herself and crosses her arms, expression straightening.

"Brittany," she manages, wavering ever so slightly, wincing when Brittany, FUCKING BRITTANY, notices and smiles just a little big wider.

"Santana," Brittany responds, in that sweet, bitchy way that only Brittany could ever manage. "It's been a while."

She swallows down hard, fumbling for her sunglasses and slipping them on, nearly stabbing herself in her left eye in the process. "I didn't realize you were working this production."

"Well, you heard David. The choreographer broke his ankle. I was asked to fill in. I did a tour with Beyonce a while back." Brittany glances over at the organized chaos of the shoot. Santana finds herself greedily taking in the profile, mapping out the similarities, the very few differences that only came with age. Brittany glances back."I can handle Beyonce."

Santana sucks in her breath and holds her posture. "Then maybe you can tell Beyonce to do her fucking job so I can get out of here."

It's been years. Santana thinks she may be in some sort of shock, because she feels numb. Brittany gives her that enigmatic look that still feels foreign to her after all these years, and suddenly the pain hits Santana so sharply she gets dizzy.

"I'll make you a deal," Brittany says, quieter and closer. Santana can smell Brittany's Juicy perfume, and her eyes linger on a slender neck to keep from looking Brittany in the eye. "Have dinner with me, and I may be able to make that happen."

She says that in that deceptively sweet, innocent way that Brittany always did things in high school. Smooth like an ocean's surface, dark and deep underneath.

"I don't make those kind of deals," Santana answers stiffly.

"You used to."

"And you used to think a ballad was a male duck." Brittany's smile deepens. Santana's blackberry buzzes. She glances at it and winces. There isn't energy for round four with her boss. Her eyes helplessly glance up to meet Brittany's and lock. "Drinks," she concedes. "That's it."

Brittany smiles like she won the lottery. "We could just put you in a cheerleading outfit and you'd still be a Cheerio. You've even got the hairdo." Her hand reaches up to Santana's face, and instinctively, Santana jerks away.

Her first love, her only love, and the only woman who has ever broken Santana's heart, just looks at her, before putting her hand down.

The anger that comes bubbling up helps. Santana removes her glasses, and looks Brittany straight in the eye. "Hold up your end of this bargain."

"Of course," Brittany answers easily, and with a dancer's fluidity, turns on her heel and heads into the mass, through the bodyguards that hold the commoners at bay, and straight toward Beyonce, who leans forward to listen as Brittany whispers in her ear.

It's not until Santana feels light-headed that she realizes she hasn't been breathing.

****

The heady rush of taking nationals for the second time in a row surges through her as she falls back against the tiled wall, stumbling to catch her footing and slamming her head against the hard surface.

"Ow!" she laughs, aided by the anesthesia of adrenaline as Brittany chuckles and gives her no leeway, trapping her against the wall when she presses firmly against her and claims her mouth greedily. Santana's chest rises and falls with excited pants, and this time, she's content to let Brittany do all the work. Her hands stay where they are, splayed against the wall as Brittany fumbles between them, yanking at her skirt and diving up underneath.

"Fuck, Britt-" she moans, eyes shutting as Brittany's head buries into the crook of her neck the exact same time as her fingers slid effortlessly into her.

She's already wet. Nearly soaked, thanks to the rush of applause, the proud smiles beaming up at her, and the fear that liquefied into pure ecstasy the moment her song's final notes drifted into silence.

"You were amazing," Brittany mumbles against her skin. "I knew you could do it."

"We did it," she answers through gritted teeth, knees buckling when Brittany's fingers curls inside her. "I knew Fucking Rachel Berry wasn't the only one who could rock that solo."

Brittany's fingers still, and when Santana's eyes open, Brittany's staring straight at her. "No you didn't," Brittany says slowly. "I knew it. I told you. You didn't believe me. I knew how amazing you'd look." Hip pinning Santana to the wall, hand inside her holding her up, Brittany's free to smooth her free hand up Santana's neck and thread into her long, loose tresses. "I can't believe people think I'm the dumb one."

Santana can't respond; Brittany's fingers begin to pump in and out of her, thumb grinding against her clit as she surges against her.

She's there before she's even ready, biting into her finger to keep from announcing to the entire fucking auditorium that their celebration sex has given her a near blinding orgasm.

Brittany's already humping her leg when she comes down, and her small cry is buried in Santana's throat. Losing her strength, they sink to the floor, sweaty and clutching each other like they're each other's spotters on the field.

"God," Santana manages. Brittany's head rests against her chest, and Santana wonders if she can hear Santana's wildly pounding heartbeat.

"I'm so glad I got to see you do that," Brittany whispers, and the tone strikes Santana as nearly wistful, but she stupidly doesn't dwell on it.

"I never thought I'd say this," she says, fingers skimming through Brittany's blonde locks. "But I can't believe I'm going to miss Glee. Maybe when we go to San Francisco we can see if there's some sort of stupid show choir at Berkeley." When Brittany doesn't respond, Santana just smiles, because Brittany does like to nod off immediately after a good orgasm. "Hey."

But Brittany's head lifts, her eyes wide and alert. Her smile is gone. "I'm not going to Berkeley next year. Kurt and I are going to get an apartment in New York. I'm going to be a dancer."

She hears it. She doesn't process it. Her fingers stop moving. "What?"

"I said I'm going to be a dancer."

"I heard what you fucking said," she snaps. Brittany is now extracting herself from her lap. Stunned, Santana lets her. Her ears begin to buzz. "We decided-"

"You decided," Brittany says simply. "I don't want to be a cheerleader. I don't want to go to college. Santana, I can't handle school for another four years! I barely got enough credits to graduate! I want to be a dancer."

Santana's fingers fall to her lap. She's frozen, in some insane metaphorical precarious spot where it feels like she's inches from being shoved off a ledge. Brittany's fingers are still buried in her hair, and now they feel like they're tugging.

Brittany just keeps talking. "Kurt and Mercedes were talking, and Mercedes has an uncle that's subletting this place – there's a dance studio right across the street, and it's right in mid-town-"

"Stop. Stop talking." The buzz in Santana's ears has become a full-blown pounding in her head. "You and Kurt and Mercedes were TALKING?"

"I didn't know how to tell you."

"How about every fucking time I brought it up? How about when I filled out our applications? Wrote your fucking admissions essay? How about when I got the fucking recruiter to come down to this pit stop of a town to recruit US?!"

"Don't be mad, okay?"

"Get the fuck off of me." She's shoving Brittany off her lap, yanking Brittany's fingers out of her hair.

"Santana."

"You let me make plans for the two of us. You let me go on like an idiot and in the middle of that you and those Gleeks were TALKING?! Making fucking plans? Living together?!" Santana scrambles to her feet, suddenly blinded by stinging tears that she wipes away with an angry motion.

Brittany's eyes are liquid blue. She looks small and like a stranger. "Santana."

"Don't." She snaps, hollow inside, throbbing with an ache that feels like nothing she's ever experienced. She's sensitive from Brittany fucking her, and still wet, and her hair is down, and she just feels like a fool, and FUCK she hates that feeling.

"Santana-"

"DON'T."

She walks away, unable to control the tears. When she unexpectedly runs into Rachel Berry, she shoulders her out of the way and fumbles with her hair, yanking an elastic tie through it and pulling it back.

****

"You know, you really shouldn't smoke."

The look Santana gives Rachel would have wilted anyone else. Rachel only raises her head obnoxiously and reaches forward, yanking the stick she's trying to light out of her mouth and crumpling it between her fingers.

Santana grits her teeth, reminds herself there's a law against committing murder, and just pulls out another cigarette.

Rachel yanks that one away too.

"Oh my God, SERIOUSLY? Those are fucking expensive, Rachel!"

"I realize you're having some kind of personal crisis," she says crisply, "But your voice is too good to ruin it with cancer."

Santana's fingers wrap tight around Rachel's wrist. "The love of my life who broke my fucking heart has just shown up and blackmailed me into drinks. I deserve a cigarette."

Rachel's dark eyes flicker from her wrist, to Santana's crazed, pleading eyes. "Fine," she says after a moment, and allows Santana to greedily snatch the little death stick from her grip. "But for the record, I'm only allowing this because under normal circumstances, you would have never admitted that to me. You've clearly gone insane."

"No shit," she breathes, and slips the cigarette into her mouth, feeling the tip stick to her lower lip as she claps open her lighter and lets the flame ignite the paper. She inhales the smoke.

Rachel rubs at her wrists and wrinkles her nose. "Stay downwind, please."

"I can't believe you knew she was in town."

"You seriously need to just get a Ifan account already," Rachel snaps. "Then you would have known it too. Brittany posted she had been contracted last minute to take over this morning."

"And you didn't think this was information I should have known?" She blows a plume of smoke directly at Rachel in retaliation.

In typical drama queen fashion, Rachel coughs dramatically, and scooches her chair a full foot away. "If you give me cancer, I'm suing you. And besides, you're the one that kept insisting, vehemently, that Brittany was 'just high school'."

"And you believed me?"

Rachel eyes her somberly. "No." Santana shuts her eyes and concentrates on inhaling another lungful of the addictive smoke. "Maybe she just wants to apologize."

"Maybe I don't want her to apologize."

"Do you want her to say she's sorry and should have followed you to Berkeley?" Santana grits her teeth and glances away. "She was following her dream, Santana. Just like we did."

"Wow, Berry is this your version of a pep-talk?" she snarls, tossing her friend an icy glare. "Because I think you found something you suck at more than self-awareness."

It's tremendously annoying that Rachel has learned to let Santana's insults slide off of her like oil. "Did you ever ask her what she wanted to do after high school? I mean, you always just assumed that you'd be together-"

"Shut up, Rachel."

"I'm just saying-"

"Rachel, shut up!"

"It's not like you would have dropped everything to follow her to New York." Santana stays focused on her cigarette, inhaling again and watching the incendiary burn down to her fingers.

"Damn, I wish this was weed."

A soft grip distracts her. "Santana." Rachel's eyes are large and luminous. "Would you?"

Santana takes in a breath. She feels twitchy, out of sorts. The nicotine suddenly makes her nauseous.

Stubbing out the cigarette, she gets to her feet. "Does it even matter? It's not like she asked." She leaves Rachel sitting at their curbside table and heads to the bathroom, suddenly sick.

****

Santana quit Glee Club after they won Nationals on the strength of her solo. Noah Puckerman joked that it was because Santana had to make sure her legacy of Queen Bitch stood firm, so that the next batch of slutty cheerleaders would have something to aspire to.

It wasn't like it mattered. The school year was winding down, and in the longest month of her life, Santana only had graduation to look forward to.

Her plans for San Francisco moved forward. More determined than ever, Santana promised herself she was getting out of that Podunk town and she would never look back.

At graduation, Brittany came up to her in the madness, and without a word, simply hugged her. In her ear, she whispered to Santana that she loved her.

Santana remembers stinging tears and nothing said in response. Just a step backwards, and then another, and then another, until Santana lost herself in the sea of colored graduation caps and uniforms.

She never joins the Berkeley Show Choir. Doesn't even sing again until she meets Rachel Berry in Los Angeles, seven years later.

She missed it.

****

Santana nearly chickens out three times, before she finally takes a breath, calls herself a wimp, and steps out of the Audi, handing the frustrated valet her keys and checking to make sure no stray bangs wisped out thanks to the wind.

She picks East/West, a trendy old-standard bar in West Hollywood. It may be a Thursday, but it's early, which means the usual havoc that rains down on the gay side of Hollywood has yet to arrive.

There's a strategy in place. Get the drinks over with quickly, and then find an approachable little blonde baby dyke and take her home to forget the night ever happened.

She makes it as far as the door, and immediately knows that plan is going to go to hell.

Brittany is already here, in a backless dress that shows off a smooth, flawless back. She's sipping a martini, and looks so grown up and beautiful that the scab that she created inside Santana just breaks open and bleeds all over again.

The anger is there, pulsing inside of her along with the hurt, and it festers because now she aches to know what happened. How Brittany fared living in a studio with the gayest boy alive and his fag hag soul sister. She suddenly has to know how Brittany went from nickel and diming to going on tour with Beyonce.

She wants to know how the hell Brittany manages to look this amazing and put together, and how the hell she managed to do it without her.

Its answers to questions that she feels she deserves to have and in a moment of clarity, she suddenly realizes there's no way she's going to get those answers in a fucking bar.

Brittany's long neck turns, blue eyes catch hers, and Santana's breath catches. She steels herself and walks forward, until she's inches away from her, looking at her frankly and without fear.

"We're getting out of here," she tells her. "Now."

Brittany's known her since she was a tomboy with skinned knees and smudges of dirt on her cheek. Santana knows Brittany isn't surprised.

Brittany stares at her, before she takes another sip of her martini and says softly, "Okay."

She pushes off the stool, and on instinct, Santana tangles her fingers in hers possessively. She's halfway to the door, Brittany trailing behind her, before she realizes what she's done.

She pauses, but Brittany's grip only tightens, refusing to let go.

Heart hammering, Santana's next few steps go wobbly, until she steadies herself and leads Brittany to the valet.

****

For once in her life, Santana has no strategy. She drives without a destination in mind. Halfway through the drive, Brittany reaches over the cupholder and grabs hold of her free hand, drawing it into her lap.

Santana breathes in unsteadily, and nearly kills them both, jerking the wheel, when Brittany turns her palm over, and draws a finger over the pad of her thumb.

Santana bites her lip, but keeps her eyes on the road, until she finds herself maneuvering into a spot in a nearly deserted parking lot by the Santa Monica Pier.

She takes back her hand and shuts off the ignition. The engine cuts off, leaving them with nothing but the dim sound of waves crashing, the black ocean landscape, and the eery fluorescents of the pier to their right.

Santana won't look at Brittany. Instead, she tries to focus on breathing; in and out, in and out.

The simple act of breathing is miraculous for getting her through stressful events, the last mile of a brutal run, and, hopefully, a conversation that she didn't have the courage to have seven years ago.

"I'm sorry."

Brittany says it out of the blue, and she actually startles her. Santana feels her wound prickle, and smiles to cover the pain.

She aches for a cigarette.

"It's a little late for apologies now, isn't it?" she asks, quietly bitter.

Ahead of them, the white sand drifts into nothingness. Beyond that, the ocean can be heard, quietly receding.

"I'm not sorry I left." Brittany's voice was even. "I'm sorry I told you like that. I should have had the courage to do it properly."

That Brittany has blackmailed her into a night just to twist the knife that's already digging inside of her is too much. Santana blinks back the sudden stinging tears and digs into her purse for her cigarettes.

"Fuck you, Brittany," she snarls, eyes blazing at a gorgeous face and blue eyes that look at her just like they did seven years ago, when there was no one that was safe and worthy but Brittany.

She fumbles with her cigarette, feeling Brittany's gaze burning into the side of her face.

"You're such an idiot sometimes, you know that?"

She's stops yanking at her lighter, head swiveling. "Excuse me?"

Brittany's blue eyes are sparkling now, and there's actual hurt on her face. Disappointment and frustration at Santana, and for what?

"Do you think I wanted to go?"

"Yes," she snaps, unable to help herself. "You wanted to be a dancer, remember? Live in a cheap apartment with the great flaming homo and his straight girl sidekick."

Brittany actually lets that go. She was always extremely one-track. "I never wanted to leave you."

She smiles bitterly. "It seemed easy enough."

"You're an idiot."

There's anger now, seeping into Brittany's sweet, honey voice. It actually feels good to realize it. "Says the girl who stole the piñata at my eighth grade birthday party because you thought it was alive and being tortured to death."

She keeps her eyes on the dashboard, the black ocean before them, as her statement descends into silence.

Suddenly she hears movement, feels a rush of cold air, and swivels her head in time to see Brittany jerking out of the car and slamming the door closed behind her.

She's out of the car and into the cold beach air before she's even realized it.

It's the anger that fuels her. The bitterness. The fear.

And it's fucking idiotic. It's pathetic, because Brittany LEFT her. Made plans and left her, when all Santana had been doing since they were TEN was planning the rest of their lives together. Playing the stupid small-town game, waiting for the moment they graduated and could get the fuck out of town and finally BE together. Start their lives in a place where there wasn't a need to fuck guys, bow down to chastity idiots like Quinn, listen to closet-case dictators like Sue-

Her heels sink into the sank, so she kicks them off. She's running after Brittany because she can't help herself, and her voice goes hoarse as Brittany's name comes out of her, finally making the blonde falter, come to a stop.

The waves are loud now, rushing towards them.

Brittany's watches them as Santana catches up to her, shivering.

Santana glances down at her hand, sees herself gripping her jacket.

Fuck, she just can't help herself.

Breathing hard in and out through her nose, she shakes it out and places it over Brittany's shoulders. Brittany doesn't move.

"You never once asked me what I wanted."

"I thought you wanted to be with me." Her voice cracks. Santana doesn't have the energy to try and hide it.

Brittany finally looks at her. "I do."

Fuck, how can she want so badly to believe her after all this time? "If you had you would have asked me to go with you. God, Brittany!" She wipes her tears, stares up at the sky. "You made plans with the whole world. Everyone but me-"

"If I had asked you to come you would have."

Brittany sounds so damn sure of herself. "And you know that."

"Yes, I know that." Brittany sounds snide. "Because you love me. You love me as much as I love you and when I said I love you I meant I'd love you forever."

And FUCK Brittany. She has no right to say that. Not after all this time. She can't bring up that fucking word, and she can't use forever-

It's not fighting fair.

"Fuck you," she whispers, broken, turning and nearly tripping on herself in the dank sand.

"Santana, we were in HIGH SCHOOL." Brittany's voice is loud, carrying through the waves into Santana's ears. "We had different ambitions. If I had gone with you to Berkley I wouldn't have danced. And if you had gone with me to New York you would hate me because you wanted your career. You wanted your scholarship."

Santana closes her eyes. She tries to suck in her breath, keep herself standing. Brittany comes forward, until she can feel the heat of her body behind her, feel the breath of her skim across her shoulder.

"I wanted you more," she admits.

"You still have me."

"Well, maybe you don't have me."

It's a lie, but Santana wants so badly to believe it. Brittany was her only safe place in the world, and then she wasn't, and Santana was left with nothing but her bitchiness and bobby pins.

But then the warmth of her surrounds her, as Brittany presses into her from behind, arms smoothing around her until they're tight together, Brittany's nose nuzzling into her nape.

Santana's body shudders. She whimpers, trying not to break down into sobs.

Brittany's hands leave goosebumps in their wake as they trail up her arms and over her neck.

There are tiny pulls against her scalp.

"Britt-"

"Let me." Brittany's tone is firm, and suddenly weak, Santana only closes her eyes and obeys.

One by one, Brittany pulls at the pins, until suddenly her hair falls onto her shoulders. Long, slender digits comb through it, and the rush is euphoric.

She's afraid even to breathe when her body is twisted. Her eyes flutter open and she sees Brittany, looking at her with love and adoration and everything she had ever seen in those stolen moments in high school where Brittany was her world, and she was safe.

"You're beautiful like this," Brittany states, reverent, but matter of fact. "You're like a different person." Her smile turns crooked, sweet. "You're my secret person."

Santana licks her lips, overcome. Their lips meet halfway, and there's such a jolt through Santana that is breaks the last of her fractured barriers. The tears don't stop, and the kiss is sloppy, but she doesn't care. Her hands press against Brittany's shoulders as she opens her mouth and kisses her desperately.

Dizzy and lost and found again, Santana sucks in another sob and tilts her head against Brittany's, clinging to her.

"I'm sorry," she hears Brittany whisper. "I love you. I love you."

"I love you," she manages, and it's the only truth she's ever known.

Brittany shivers, and her fingers clench against her neck.

"Are you crying?" The realization reins her in, her watery eyes narrow in concern, as she reaches up to wipe a salty drop with her thumb.

Brittany's smile is shaken. "I was so scared," she whispers. "I was so scared I'd never hear that again."

It's a revelation that wounds and grounds her at the same time, and suddenly, she remembers.

Her voice is shaky and soft, she barely manages to hold her tune, but she sings for Brittany for the first time in seven years.

"And I meant every word I said. When I said that I love you," she whisper-sings. "I meant, that I love you forever..."

Brittany blinks at her, thrown, and suddenly she's smiling, and they're laughing together as Brittany joins her, harmonizing with their tear-stained voices.

"And I'm going to keep on loving you… cause it's the only thing I wanna do… I don't want to sleep… I just want to keep on loving you…"

It's dorky and stupid and just like high school.

It's the best feeling in the world.

****

Ten years after Santana leaves Lima and tells herself she'll never look back, she's standing at the steps of the McKinley High School Auditorium, looking up at the cheesy banner announcing their high school reunion.

"You have to promise me something."

Tearing her eyes away from the cheesy, budget banner, Santana looks at Rachel Berry. Her friend wears a thousand dollar Hermes dress and looks every inch the television and Broadway star she has become.

Santana rolls her eyes. "Oh my God, Rachel. I heard Karosi is in jail! No one is going to slushie you today, okay?"

Rachel's face goes ashen. "Oh, God. I didn't even think of that!"

She rolls her eyes. "What?"

Rachel's eyes flit fearfully towards the entrance, before she sighs and leans in closer. "Under no circumstances are you and your wife allowed to sneak off somewhere and have sex." Santana's eyes narrow. "I'm serious! This is the only time I'm ever going to rule this school, and the last thing I need is you two deciding to re-christen the auditorium. Again."

"I'm not going to promise that," Santana snaps. "And God, Rachel. It's just high school. You won a fucking Emmy. Get over it."

Rachel leans in. "Do you really think they'll slushie me?"

"Only if you're super annoying tonight."

"That's not fair! I can't help that!"

"That's your problem." Rachel glares at her, and then cocks her head and regards her strangely. Santana feels a sudden bout of self consciousness. "What?"

"You look really pretty with your hair down. Have I told you that?" Before Santana can respond, Rachel's eyes light up. "Look! There's Quinn!"

She scurries away from her. Santana watches her go, and decides there isn't much odder than watching Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray fly into each other's arms.

Fingers slip into her hand, and Santana glances over to see Brittany grinning at her. "You ready?"

Santana blows out her breath, and glances up the stairs. She recognizes Kurt, Mercedes, and a guy that looks like Puck but has a receding hairline, join Rachel and Quinn.

Rachel points in her direction and motions them toward the reuniting Gleeks.

"We're having sex in there. I don't care when or how. I only care that we tell Rachel," she informs Brittany crisply.

Brittany chuckles. "Okay."

"Okay." Santana grips her hand harder. They're in small-town, podunk Lima, and she smiles at her wife, and leans forward and presses a kiss to her lips, in full view of everyone entering the auditorium. The world doesn't stop turning. Santana sucks in her breath and looks toward the stairs. She begins the climb. "Let's go."

FIN