Title: Always The Same (3/3)
Author: Race122VE (Coll)
Pairing: Brittany/Santana
Rating: PG-13
Summary: One night, one morning, two points of view.
Word Count: Around 4300 this part.
Disclaimer: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use. Reference to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.
Author's Note: No spoilers. I try to remain cannon to the story line, but this doesn't really get into the club or competitions, just mentions. This is my second attempt at this pairing. Thanks for reading, let me know what you think!
Author's Note 2: So I want to thank everyone that's read and commented so far, and also thank you for your patience while I dealt with my life and another idea and put this one on the back burner. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the end!

Chapter 3 – Morning

This was different.

Things didn't happen this way.

They sat there for what seemed like forever. Brittany didn't know what else to say, didn't know where to go after she blurted the words. Santana's mouth remained open and her eyes remained locked with Brittany's yet shifted slightly as her mind raced with thoughts of what the blonde could possibly mean. Ever the pessimist, her first thought was that Brittany was just done with her completely. Santana buried that thought deep in her mind immediately, refusing to face it until she hears the actual words. So, feeling like an idiot, she just keeps staring and letting all these horrible scenarios pass through as opposed to actually breaking the silence first.

Before she can dwell more on the awful thoughts of rejection, it becomes painfully obvious that she's still naked in her bed while Brittany sits, mostly, clothed by her window. Santana feels her face grow hot and knows that she's blushing embarrassingly as she fumbles with the covers and pulls them higher up. She was already feeling emotionally exposed, she didn't want to add physically to the equation. Their gaze hasn't broken, but, thankfully, Brittany shows some mercy and becomes interested in her nails as Santana reaches off the edge of her bed and grasps her shirt before pulling it on. She doesn't even bother with her panties, just sits up with the sheets still tangled over her legs as the unbearable thoughts of what's hanging between her and Brittany return to the front and center of her head.

The silence resumes, as does Brittany staring back at Santana. Brittany knows she should be the one to say something first, she's the one that said what was said but she's never been good at making sense of what she's thinking. Even getting to the point where she said what she said took a lot of thought and impulse control. It was that filter thing again, and the fact that she was just so tired. Tired from the night before, tired of caring about what other people think, and, because of that, tired of hiding. Santana was the one person in her life that never let herself get too frustrated with her random thoughts and actually tried to help her work through her observations.

There's a sinking feeling in her stomach that's telling Brittany that Santana might not be so helpful and understanding this time.

Then, just as quickly as embarrassment crossed Santana's face, anger took over for confusion.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Santana practically shouts, her voice echoing off the walls and causing Brittany to wince. She softens at this, anger still pulsing through her body but she at least takes her voice down to a calmer, steadier tone. "B…what do you mean?"

"I don't wanna do what we've been doing," Brittany repeats, yet again. She sees Santana's frustration flaring up and rushes on to continue. "Aren't you tired of this, S? These parties…this town…?"

Santana scoffs in response.

Is she tired of it all? Of being stuck in Lima, Ohio? Tired doesn't even begin to cover how she feels. It's why she doesn't dwell on it too much, why she never brings it up and just plays the part, because the reality of everything is too much. The fact that they're just finishing sophomore year, that they still have two years in this shitty town before they can even think about realistically getting out, she'd rather play the part and live in denial than allow those thoughts to occupy her brain. It had been working out pretty well, even better since they joined Glee and could kind of be more themselves while still remaining on top, and she didn't understand why that wasn't enough for Brittany.

"Santana."

It wasn't a question, not the way Brittany said it, but it broke her away from her thoughts. It was her name, one word, with a million other meanings laced underneath it. The one that struck a chord with Santana, above all others, was pleading. Brittany got it, she understood how things worked even if no one believed that, but the desperation in her tone put out the fire that was fueling Santana's anger. Normally she knew what to say, now all she had was, "Britt."

She winces at the desperation in her own voice, mirroring Brittany's tone, and the blonde shakes her head. "I know why we do this, I do" Brittany says, suddenly, her eyes looking down to the floor. "I just don't think it's worth it anymore. I don't want to do this, S."

"What do you want?" Santana threw back, but it was soft and quiet and just the beginning of what she had to get out. "You wanna show up for the last days of school…together? Holding hands in school, after Cheerios practice, in town? You know we can't do that."

"Why not?"

Santana sighed.

"I just…" Brittany rushed on, but she didn't know what to say, didn't know what she meant or wanted. No, she wanted Santana and she wanted everything to be OK. She knew Santana was right though. They'd talked about it before, when it started becoming more frequent and less about being drunk and getting guys to pay for their food. Santana had convinced her how this was the right thing to do, but these mornings just started making her feel worse about the whole thing.

"Maybe I don't care anymore," she finally said, looking at Santana, pleading with her. "Maybe there are more important things than caring about what other people think of you."

"There is nothing more important than what people think, Britt," she said immediately. "Nothing."

The words were out of Santana's mouth before she could stop them. For a second, she doesn't even realize what she said, what the words mean. Even through all that they've been through, Santana's always tried to make sure that Brittany knows how important she is to her. How she's the most important thing to Santana. This whole thing was frustrating, and when she's frustrated she loses her filter, and when she does that she says whatever she's thinking even if she doesn't really mean it.

She watched as Brittany's lower lip trembled and as her eyes filled to the brim with unshed tears. She turned away, looking out the window and bringing her hand up to cover the side of her face still visible to Santana. She closed her eyes at the sight, trying to silently wish away her words, but the broken sob that came from Brittany was too much. She angrily wiped away her own tears.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "You know how important you are to me and…I wish things could be different-"

"We keep doing this, too," Brittany cut in, still sobbing and still looking away from Santana. "You always say that we talked about this, but it's just you talking. Saying the same things over and over and I don't care what people think. I just want to be happy."

"Are you happy when people say you're an idiot?"

Just because she was upset that she had made Brittany cry didn't mean that her brain grew a filter. The blonde, however, rounded back at Santana with an incredulous expression across her face. Santana went on anyway, "Think of what they'll say if we're together and then think if you'll be happy then. Think of what they call Kurt, and then what they'll call us. Think of getting kicked off the Cheerios-"

"Coach would never do that-"

"Sue is the reason I slept with Finn," Santana argued, getting more and more heated with each word that comes out of her mouth. She ignored the way Brittany's face scrunched up when she mentioned Finn and said, "Imagine the wrath we'd experience if she found out we were together, which she would because someone would tell her. Once you're on the top, Britt, everyone wants to take you down."

"I don't care anymore."

"Well I do."

They both stared at each other after laying their cards out on the table.

Usually, when they got caught up in staring at each other, there was something else there. A thought that they both came upon, an idea of something to do, love and admiration for the other. This time it was just staring. Santana couldn't tell what Brittany was thinking, for the first time since she could remember. She wasn't sure if Brittany could tell when she was thinking because she didn't even really know either.

Santana just studied the giant, sexy mess of blonde hair balled messily on top of Brittany's head, the pink lips that were the softest things that she had ever felt, and the clear, bright, and endless blue of her eyes that burned back at her. It wasn't until Brittany got up that Santana finally realized what she, herself, was actually thinking.

That this was most likely the end, and that this was the last time Brittany would be in her room this way.

She expected the blonde to get dressed, gather up her things and leave without another word. The last thing she expected was for Brittany to climb on top of the bed until she was straddling Santana's lap. Her arms came up and slid around her neck, pulling Santana closer to her body. She didn't even have time to react to Brittany being this close when the blonde brought her mouth down to Santana's.

The only way she could respond, the only way her body knew how, was to run her hands up Brittany's soft thighs and reach around to grab her ass and pull her forward, eliminating all space between them. Their mouths moved together perfectly, but there was a different kind of feeling underneath it all that Santana had never experienced. It was hot, hungry, and desperate. Her mind was racing, filled half with Brittany's words still cutting through her and half with the sensation of Brittany's tongue sliding against her own as her hips slowly grind against Santana.

The length of time Brittany kisses her probably last a few minutes, but when she pulls away Santana feels like it wasn't nearly enough time. She doesn't say anything, neither does Brittany who is looking expectantly back. Then she has to watch her best friend climb off the bed, gather her clothes, and slam the door behind her.

Santana watches the door for a few seconds before she collapses back on to her bed and cries.

xxxxx

A week has never seemed longer in her entire life.

Each night she clung to the pillow on Brittany's side, trying to keep the scent of the blonde fresh in her mind. It was like torture, but she didn't know what else to do. Every morning she dreaded waking up and knowing that her day would be void of a bright, genuine smile and sparkling, blue eyes.

Actually, she would see the smile and Brittany's eyes, but they were directed towards someone else. Someone that wasn't Santana. The only comfort she took was that she could still see the pain behind it all. Brittany may have been able to stop talking to her altogether, but she couldn't erase years of friendship and closeness. She still knew the girl better than anyone else, and what she knew was that Brittany was in just as much pain as Santana.

It was the end of the school year, Nationals and Regionals were behind them and Santana started to realize how easy it was for Brittany to avoid her. The lack of a seating chart in their classes allowed Brittany to wedge herself between people that Santana never even knew existed, Glee Club wasn't having any more meetings, and she had somehow talked Coach into changing the Cheerio's choreography so they would barely have to look at each other.

The urge to take everything back was the only thing she could think about with each second that ticked by. Without Brittany she realized how quiet and slow the days ended up being. She can't count how many times she checks her phone and lets her finger hover above the button that would connect to Brittany's phone. She gave in, one day, and actually hit the button and pressed the phone against her ear. Her leg wouldn't stop moving up and down as her bottom lip settled between her teeth. Just as she was about to hang up the ringing stopped and the line was open.

The English language was suddenly the hardest thing to remember.

Her mouth opened and closed, stumbling silently over an apology and a pledge to give Brittany whatever she wanted as long as they could be in each other's lives again. Just when she thinks she might be able to manage the word 'Hi' the line goes dead on her.

Any progress she had made in getting over Brittany, which was close to none, gets carried away with a wordless phone call that lasted twenty seconds.

It's not until Friday, end of the week and end of the school year, when Santana decides she's going to try one more time. The news of a party spreads quickly, like all the other times; and, even though she's been extra bitchy to everyone around her, she does get an invitation. Her immediate thought is to just blow it off, to blow off the rest of her summer and just focus on trying to get Brittany out of her mind.

Then, the notion of ever erasing Brittany from her mind simply becomes ridiculous. As well as the idea of not giving Brittany what he wanted, what Santana really wanted as well. What she's always wanted but was too scared to admit out loud and without the cover of alcohol and manipulation: Brittany.

Santana blows off practice that day and goes out to the parking lot and, after spotting her target, makes her way over to where Brittany's car is parked and perches herself on the hood of the car. The familiar yet nagging urge to run away from what she is about to do is strong and relevant, but she fights it off hugging her legs to her chest as she watches the doors that Brittany is sure to come out of when her day ends.

As if she has a sixth sense, and given the blonde's nature she probably does have a knack for sensing Santana even if she is trying to sever all ties, her eyes lock on to the girl perched on her car as soon as she's out the doors an hour later. Brittany doesn't pause, doesn't stumble, she just continues to walk over. She's still staring at Santana as she waves off some random Cheerios and fishes around in her bag for her keys.

Once she's close enough, Brittany breaks eye contact and makes her way to the driver's side door. However, she makes the mistake of walking too close to the car, close enough for Santana to reach out and catch her elbow. "Wait," she says quietly and adds, "please" when she sees the sour look that crosses Brittany's face.

The please works, though. Brittany doesn't move when Santana reluctantly releases her arm. She does, however, become very interested on the ground where her shoes begin to distractedly kick some rocks around. Santana starts to speak; she doesn't want to waste any time like before like before. Doesn't want Brittany to hang up on her again and shut her out, but the problem with that is she still doesn't have a big speech prepared and can't find an eloquent way to put her thoughts and feelings into words.

The only thing she can say at the moment is, "Are you going to the party tonight?"

It takes a while for Brittany to finally look back up. She stares back with a face that shows more confusion than anger, but both are prominent on her features. They melt into curiosity when she tilts her head to the side, the blonde curls on her pony tail bouncing slightly when she asks, "Why do you care?"

"Because I'm in love with you."

The burden of getting them to the top, the guilt of using their relationship to get what they want, the pain of having only moments with Brittany and then having to lie about everything, and the devastation of losing her completely all led to Santana's wall crumbling down. She didn't mean to blurt it out so suddenly. Something as big as telling someone, Brittany, how you feel should have some build up, some meaning.

In a way, though, their whole relationship was the buildup. The instant connection when they met as kids, their inseparable nature, and their first kiss, everything that has ever happened between them led up to this moment. They've said 'I love you' before, but they've never allowed themselves to identify what kind of love that was. Until now.

Like any other time Brittany heard something she didn't understand or, in some cases, thought she heard wrong, her face became a blank slate. It was unreadable for a long time, but after telling her how she felt, the moments were agonizing. She didn't look away, her body didn't flinch, and it was like Brittany was a statue as her mind processed the words, the meaning, of what Santana had just said.

"I already knew that," Brittany responds, finally, her tone almost chastising Santana for not saying the right thing.

Santana hides the disappointment she begins to feel, trying not to indulge in any more fantasies of Brittany jumping into her arms until this thing between them is cleared up. It takes her a beat to figure out what to say next. Whatever the outcome may be, she knows that this exchange is probably the most critical conversation she will ever have.

"Are you in love with me?"

The blonde rolls her eyes. Santana pauses to appreciate the effectiveness of Brittany's eye roll before her heart begins to thump louder and faster in her chest as she watches the girl's head nod once. It takes every muscle in her body to hold Santana back and continue to treat this as delicately as possible. "Then we should go to the party together," she suggests as casually as she can sound before the words come out of her as if someone lifted the flood gate wide open. "Like, together together. Cause…even though I'm an idiot that believed what people thought about me was the most important thing, I was wrong. Nothing is more important than you, B…and I'm sorry that it took a week without you to realize that."

Another small span of time stretches by, feeling like an eternity as Brittany, once again, takes in the information she's being given. Santana tries not to let her nerves get to her, but her leg begins to jump as she waits for Brittany to react. Somehow, the movement gets a smile from Brittany as she takes a step closer. "This is killing you, isn't it?" Brittany asked, trying to unsuccessfully hold back her laughter.

"And I can see you're enjoying my internal pain and suffering," Santana joked back as a calm coursed through her body with the sudden and easy back and forth. "Look…things don't have to move fast or…we don't have to…right away…I just don't want to spend another week like this…and…"

She's rambling, it's what happens when her guard is down and she's talking about things that she's never really talked about before. Brittany takes another step forward, though, and then another and another until she is pressed up against Santana's legs. The words trail off and her grip on her legs slip as Brittany continues to press herself as close to Santana as possible.

Brittany's fingertips are now resting on Santana's bare knees and slowly moving up her legs as they shift around the blonde's body sandwiched in between them. Her own hands move towards Brittany's hips, hesitating briefly before resting there and feeling the small part of exposed skin. The closeness cut off Santana, but she remained steely and not entirely convinced that everything could just snap back into place and evolve into something better.

Still, she couldn't ignore how amazing it felt to have Brittany invading her personal space again. Her hands were now holding the blonde close on the small of her back as Brittany leaned her head down, lips hovering inches away from Santana's. For a split second, she thinks she should look around to see if anyone is watching, but it disappears as soon as her eyes shift from Brittany's mouth to her eyes.

After all this time, after countless hours lost just staring into Brittany's eyes, they still leave her breathless. They're open and inviting and, at the moment, cutting to the core of both of them standing in the middle of the parking lot and holding each other in a way that they should be scared of but are not.

"Are you still scared?" Brittany whispers.

Because she's so close and that's affecting her ability to do anything except hold her there, Santana nods and the corners of Brittany's mouth curl upwards. "Me too," she admits immediately. Her hands shift, moving to Santana's arms and slowly working up to rest on her shoulders. Brittany moves her face closer, almost touching Santana's lips before pulling back again but not as far as before.

"It's not going to be easy, is it?"

Something about the way Brittany asks the question snaps Santana back to reality and out of Brittany's spell. If she had to guess, it was the small hint of fear behind Brittany's seemingly confident tone. When Santana sensed fear from her, the need to protect Brittany overtook any other feeling in her body. "No," she said quietly, honestly. "But we'll have each other. I'm not going anywhere."

Santana had almost forgotten how close they actually were until Brittany closed the gap between them, surprising Santana with a deep, hard kiss. Brittany does all the work for a few seconds while Santana takes in the sudden onslaught of everything about Brittany back in her life, in between her legs, pressed flush against her body, and kissing her like it's been years instead of a week.

It's all a little sloppy and uncoordinated once her brain begins to work and she involves herself in the kiss, but soon enough Santana reaches a familiar rhythm with Brittany and she can't imagine how she was crazy enough to think that she could ever have a life without this girl.

They pull away, both breathless and flush, but still remain close with an unspoken agreement that neither wants to be far away from the other right now. Being that close, and together, Santana can't help but smile brightly and say, "I love you."

"I love you, too," Brittany replies instantly, sporting a smile that matches Santana's. "But I think we should skip the party."

Brittany's finger traces a line down the front of Santana's chest as her other hand slides to the back of her neck and plays with the collar of her uniform. The intent behind the words, the promise of reconnecting and just being with each other is tempting, but Santana shakes her head.

While she stumbled over her words and didn't really have an idea how this would turn out, the one thing Santana knew was that she had a plan should Brittany accept her apology. They were going to that party tonight, and they were going together.

xxxxx

They stood outside of the house, fingers intertwined with a vice like grip as they watched a few people enter the house, some hanging out on the porch and throwing curious gazes their way; but Santana looked over at Brittany who had been watching her and smiled. As much as she wanted to take Brittany and lock her away in her bedroom for the weekend, this was important. She had to show the blonde, and the people attending the party, that things were different now.

"You know we really don't have to do this," Brittany said quietly, turning her attention back to the house when the music began to suddenly boom loudly. "I know you're serious about…being serious. Not to mention I kind of want to rip all your clothes off and have my way with you."

"Who said you're going to have your way with me?" Santana teased back, eyes still glued to Brittany's face. "We'll just stay for a little bit, just like the other times. Besides, everyone's going to have to get used to this change.

"Also, I like dancing with you. You're hot when you dance."

"I am, aren't I?"

The lightness they're exuding calms the nagging fear of being judged as they walk forward together. The party ends up being uneventful. Jocks end up making comments, but Santana gives them the finger or tips their beer over on to the moron who spoke. All the other Cheerios just flat out stare at them, but then pretend like they're not the second Brittany or Santana notice. It's kind of the same, they have a drink, they dance, but there's a point when they're dancing and Brittany can't take it anymore and drags them out of the party.

They're walking back to Santana's, hands swinging back and forth and smiles plastered on their faces. Both are fine with not saying anything, but Santana can't help the "I love you" that slips from her mouth as she looks over to see Brittany mesmerized by the stars as they walk. Brittany says it back right away and, from then on, that's how nights like that happened. The same way, every time, always the same.