Author's note: Here it is! The epilogue, sorry for getting it up so late, I had a hard time saying goodbye to this fic. Please read my other stories as well, if you're feeling sad by the end, look for my next one called "Old, New, Borrowed, Blue". Thanks for reading everyone!
Las Vegas, Nevada, 10 Years Later
It was hard to get everything set up when a full grown Australian Shepard was whining at her feet. Santana balanced 3 trays on her arms expertly; years of experience down at Maddie's had definitely paid off. She set down the three trays on the table, aligning them so that their circular outlines touched evenly.
"Brittana!" She hissed. "Watch it!" The dog whined again, her tail wagging furiously. Santana leaned down and ruffled its head roughly. "Who's a bad dog? Who's getting in my way, huh?" She cooed. The dog licked at her face eagerly. She decided that since the guests weren't getting there until later in the afternoon, and since it was only one o'clock, she had some free time to tire Brittana out. She smiled to herself. A few years ago, it wasn't possible to tire the hyperactive herding dog but now, she looked down at the dog, her muzzle slightly frosted.
"Come on! Let's play!" She suggested, running out into the backyard. The dog ambled behind her and she threw the ball. Brittana fetched and she threw it a few more times. Her backyard was fairly large. She lived in a one bedroom, one floor house that was decently sized on the outskirts of town just like Nancy did. She gazed at the hedge fence surrounding her property and sighed contently. She'd done very well for herself. Her parents visited every now and again, as did Janice and her family. Max had grown up, he was now twenty and harboring a not-so-secret crush on Santana. She found it cute, the boy would always stumble over his words and blush when he saw her. His mother found it incredibly entertaining that her son still had a puppy-love for the woman who babysat him when he was still having trouble sleeping without a nightlight. They also brought along Laney, who was now fifteen. Her mother told her the story about Santana and Brittany, how the two of them came to stay with them and wound up helping Janice give birth. She also told her about Santana and her story and how she showed up on their doorstep a few months later and promptly left again. Laney took it upon herself to write it down. A lot of their visits were comprised of Laney interviewing Santana, much to Santana's mild embarrassment, about her journey. Santana related that part of her life, from the initial trip she and Brittany took to the trip she took alone after Brittany had died. The teenage girl was fascinated by the whole thing and after she finished, she published it quietly, using a pseudonym for Santana. It didn't sell many copies but what was important was that the story was out there.
Kaite and Trisha visited often. Santana fought the urge to tease Trisha a little bit about what she had heard in the hospital but truth be told, she was grateful. It had been Trisha's voice that she heard last before waking up and she attributed her decision to that. They treated Santana as a family member, so much so that Santana started calling them her adopted aunts. They sent her birthday and Christmas gifts and invited her to all of the family functions. It was strange, she thought, but not wholly unwelcome.
The dog's movements got slower and slower but she didn't want to disappoint her owner. Santana finally stopped and led the dog back in where she collapsed on her pillow and promptly fell asleep. Santana sighed with relief, she could finally get work done before the party. It had been such a long time since they Glee members all got together and Rachel's 33rd birthday seemed like the perfect occasion to call a party. Everyone was flying in to celebrate so Santana tried to make it as organized as possible. She set up the drinks on her kitchen counter and checked on the lasagna to make sure that it would be ready on time as well. She had a little time for a breather and she went over to the couch to relax. She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes, scratching Brittana's head. The picture that Katie had taken of the two of them sleeping stood in a gold frame on her mantle and she looked at it with aged eyes.
"B..." She whispered before drifting off to sleep.
Santana woke from her nap and busied herself with the rest of the preparations. Puck was bringing the cake and she cleared a spot in her living room for the presents. Soon, the first doorbell rang. Quinn stood in the door, dressed in a pink skirt and a white top. The two of them embraced warmly.
"How are you?" Quinn asked.
"You know, Brittana's been tiring me out. How are the kids?" Santana replied. Quinn, who had gotten married to her neighbor, had done well for herself as well. She had a daughter and a son.
"Ugh, you know. We have a babysitter looking after them while I'm gone." She said, wrinkling her nose. Santana smiled. "Where do the presents go?" She gestured towards the living room. Next to arrive were Puck and Artie. Puck had given up on the life of a rock star and settled to becoming a used car salesman. Artie had gone on to become a pediatrician. Both were married and Puck's wife was heavily pregnant, so much that he almost didn't make it to the party. Artie didn't have any kids. Both of them greeted Santana and Puck was especially glad to see her.
"I keep thinking that you're going to run off again." He whispered.
"Not a chance." She replied. Mercedes came in a few seconds after.
"Hey girl!" She said. The diva had gone on to record a few albums, nothing big but it was her living and she loved it. Tina and Rachel came together. Tina was a teacher in high school with one son and Rachel had turned into a motivational speaker since she retired from the Broadway. Mike and Matt arrived, separated by a few minutes and Finn and Kurt were the last. Finn was also a teacher and Kurt was writing articles for a fashion magazine in Connecticut.
And now everyone was gathered in Santana's house. It was nice, she thought, her house was livelier than it had been since the last time they visited.
Everyone mingled, caught up, and generally enjoyed each others company. They reminisced about their time together in Glee club, happily noting that McKinley High had become one of the most recognized names in show choir competitions. Santana felt a pang of regret not having experienced a nationals win but she had been there with them, just not on the same team. When she revealed to the others that she had been on the stage at nationals, Rachel Berry couldn't help but shout,
"I knew it! I knew my perfect hearing wasn't fooling me." Everyone laughed.
It came time for dinner and Santana and Puck snuck off halfway through to get the cake. They lit the candles and brought it out. Puck strummed on his guitar and everyone chimed in. It was just like old times, and Rachel Berry couldn't resist singing as well. Everything sounded harmonious and it felt good to be together again.
Santana excused herself for a moment, slipping into her bedroom for the camera. Rachel was opening presents finally and she wanted to catch every moment she had with these precious friends of hers. As she opened her drawer, she hesitated and looked at her left hand. The ring on her finger was scratched, old and faded, much like the feelings she had after Brittany had died. She sat down on the bed and held her hand out to look at it. Outside, she heard laughter and the sound of paper being torn very carefully. She took in a deep breath and made a decision. She slowly slipped the ring off of her finger, no easy task since it hadn't come off since she first put it on and it got slightly stuck but she managed to get it off. She looked at it, sitting in her hand, cooling rapidly. She set it down on the bedside and stood up.
A sharp, white hot pain ran up her spine and she fell to her knees with a small cry. Something yellow flashed by her vision and up the hallway.
"Quinn?" She asked. Stupid, she thought, Quinn wasn't wearing any yellow. She got up and chased after the retreating figure. The figure ran out the front door and Santana followed.
"Stop!" She shouted. The figure ran to the side of her house and stopped. Santana, out of breath from the pain before, stood with her hands on her knees, gulping down air.
"Who the hell are you?" She demanded. The figure turned around and Santana's blood went cold. Brittany smiled, dressed as she had been when Santana was in her coma.
"Hey." Brittany waved. Santana looked around, wondering if this was some kind of sick joke. She took a step forward. Brittany hadn't aged a day.
"What...what the...?" Santana stammered. "Why the hell are you here? What the hell is going on?" Brittany smiled and motioned for Santana to follow her. They walked back around the front of the house to the opposite side. She motioned for Santana to peer through her bedroom window. Santana, not sure exactly what she was getting at, stood up on her tip toes and looked in. The blinds were in the way for the most part but a strong wind blew them away from the screen long enough for Santana to see a figure crumpled on the floor.
It was her.
Santana cursed and stumbled back.
"What the fuck?" She demanded. She looked back at Brittany who had an unreadable expression on her face. "What is this? What the hell is this?" She stood up and rested her head on the side of the house, breathing in.
"Fuck. Fuck, B. Am I in another coma?" She demanded. Brittany shook her head and the realization sunk in. She looked over at the blond.
"I'm dead, aren't I?" She asked. This time, Brittany nodded sadly. Santana took in a deep breath and closed her eyes. It figured, she thought. Brittany died when she took off the ring, it was only fitting that the same should happen to her. She tried to remember what had happened. She remembered taking off the ring and she remembered pain. Her eyes shot open. The pain. That must've been when she collapsed. She closed her eyes again. What was it? A stroke? She wrestled with this new found knowledge that she wasn't with the living anymore.
"Are you ok?" Brittany asked. Santana opened her eyes and stared straight into the crystal clear blue ones directly ahead of her. Just looking into those eyes made her calm down a little and she began to accept her fate.
"Only if you're real." She responded. Brittany walked over and took her hand, kissing her fingertips. The sensation brought back a flood of memories. She looked down at her hands. Where there were wrinkles, they slowly smoothed out. She looked up into the window and caught a brief glance of her reflection. She was eighteen again, she was back to the age where she and Brittany had parted ways. A wave of relief flooded her and Santana broke down in tears. Brittany was right there, holding her gently and whispering words of comfort.
"I'm real." She kept whispering. "And I've been waiting for so long." She said.
"You're not in my head, right? You're actually real?" Brittany kept whispering yes and kept kissing her face until Santana stopped crying. When she did, she heard a scream come from inside the bed room. She looked back inside and saw Quinn, hands on her mouth as she stared at Santana's body.
"NO NO NO NO!" Quinn yelled. Santana heard chairs scraping against the floor and suddenly everyone was gathered in her room and there were more screams, more yells and cries of anguish. Quinn rushed over and dropped to her knees, cradling Santana.
"Don't leave us!" She pleaded. "Oh fucking god, someone please call an ambulance! Santana don't do this!" Santana watched from the outside, slowly coming to terms that this time, it wasn't in her head.
"Damn, B. I was so young." She whispered, looking at her body. In response, Brittany squeezed her hand.
"I know." She replied. "So was I."
They watched as the lights from the ambulance and police cars flashed in her driveway and front lawn. Brittany held Santana's hand the whole time. They watched as the EMTs took her away and Santana knew that not long after they delivered her body to the hospital, she'd be declared dead. Everyone stood in the front, comforting each other. Quinn was a wreak, sobbing and screaming. Both Rachel and Finn held her tightly, trying to keep her standing. Santana watched, strangely apathetic to the whole situation. She was dead, and there wasn't much she could do about it.
"B?" She whispered.
"Yeah?" Santana looked over at her and smiled.
"I love you. I always have." She said. Brittany grinned and looked down at her feet sheepishly.
"I know. I've always loved you too." She replied. Santana leaned over and kissed her, relishing the feeling of their lips pressed together.
"I've waited so long." Santana said, echoing Brittany's earlier words. Brittany smiled through half closed eyes and kissed her again. Santana traced her face with a finger, taking in the curve of her cheekbones and the shape of her nose. She felt the softness of her lips kissing her index finger as it made a path over them.
"This is real, right?" She asked. "You won't leave me again, right?"
"No. I'm yours forever." Brittany whispered. Santana pulled Brittany into a hug.
"Good." They turned their attention back to the retreating lights and Santana decided she couldn't watch anymore of it.
"What do we do now?" She asked.
"Whatever we want." Brittany replied. Santana thought about it for a moment.
"Yeah." Brittany replied. "Whatever, wherever, whenever." Santana smiled and gripped her hand firmly, determined not to let it go ever again.
"Ok. Then...I want to go to Mount Everest." She said. Brittany tilted her head, inquiring for more details.
"Why?" She asked. Santana smiled and pulled her close. She could still hear the sobbing coming from her group of friends standing in front of her house but it didn't matter anymore. She had her Brittany again, this time for good. Her heart leapt at the thought that they were never going to be separated again. She brushed their noses together and then kissed her, barely pulling away to answer Brittany's question.
"I want to see the sunrise with you."