A/N: Written for hc_bingo, the prompt: "sore muscles."
"Brittany? What are you doing?"
"I'm dancing, duh!" Brittany answers, leaping over with her left leg. "Argh!" she cries out in pain.
"Brittany!" Rachel runs onto the auditorium stage, holding Brittany's shoulders to stop her. "You pulled your hamstring; you need to rest! Brittany, you'll do permanent damage like this; you'll end up in a wheelchair!"
Honestly, Rachel's not sure if that's true, but it sounds plausible enough. Unfortunately, Brittany is both taller and stronger than her, so she pushes away easily. "Come on, Rachel, it's only dancing! Dancing is good; dance with me!" Brittany spins to emphasize her point, but she only winds up screaming in pain again. "Ah!"
She collapses to the floor and Rachel rushes over to her side. "Oh my god, are you okay?" she says, wrapping an arm around Brittany without thinking.
"I'm fine," says Brittany, but from her new close proximity, Rachel can see for the first time that Brittany has tears in her eyes. "Just help me back up, Rach."
"Don't be ridiculous," Rachel snaps. She's panicking now. "I'm getting you to the nurse, or a hospital, or both, or just something, but I will not let you hurt yourself."
"But I need to dance," Brittany insists, as if Rachel's being stupid somehow. That's irritating.
Brittany just stares at her, like Rachel just made her realizes something really obvious. "Oh yeah..." she says quietly. Rachel exhales, relieved for a second. She tries to check if Brittany's aggravated her injury too badly; she pats the thigh muscle, but then suddenly Brittany's lips are on hers and excuse me, but what?
For a second, Rachel's too shocked to do anything but just sit there as Brittany kisses her. That ends fairly quickly though. "What the hell, Brittany?" she shrieks as she shoves her fellow Glee clubber away, and okay, maybe that wasn't as tactful as it could have been. She was in shock, okay?
Brittany pouts at her. "I thought we were going to have sex?" in most circumstances, Rachel wound be annoyed with anyone, male or female, just assuming she would 'put out'. However, there's something painfully uncertain in Brittany's tone that gives Rachel pause.
"Wait, what? Why would you think...?"
Then something unexpected happens.
There's something unsettlingly familiar about it; Rachel doesn't know what.
"Well, you said... I didn't need to dance. So, I needed to have sex. Those are the two things I'm good at, so, if I can't do the dancing because of my dumb muscle... Didn't you mean we should have sex?"
And that is Rachel's heart breaking for the girl; perfect cartoon pop-out-and-shatter-to-a-million-pieces style. Because she understands that sob now. It's the same one she gave to her pillow out of sheer terror over the possibility of losing one of her songs, something she'd been singing in the shower since sixth grade; it's the same sob she heard herself give after her voice cracked over a stupid teeny-bopper song she didn't even like, and it felt like the Earth itself was cracking into pieces.
Now she knows why Brittany needs to dance.
"Brittany..." Rachel pulls her closer by instinct. But she doesn't know what to say – okay, yes, maybe she's thought about a certain Brittany... unknown... in a less than platonic way before. Admittedly, since the break-up with Finn she's spent some time examining exactly where her sexual preferences lie. But that's not the point – Brittany needs her support right now; not some kind of perverse sexual encounter."
"It's alright, Rachel," says Brittany. "You don't have to make me feel better. I'll be better soon, I promise. Don't feel sorry for me... I just need to dance or have sex; do something I'm good at."
"Don't do this to yourself, Brittany," says Rachel. She sighs deeply. "You are better than this, and your self-respect – or lack thereof – is breaking my heart right now. For now, dancing will do physical harm, and I refuse to take advantage of your neuroticism."
Then Brittany breaks into tears.
"Oh Brittany, I'm sorry!" Rachel says.
"I don't even – I don't–" Brittany struggles to form a coherent sentence. "I don't even know what that is."
Rachel gapes. She pulls the girl closer, but she doesn't understand how she can hold together either those damaged leg muscles and tendons, or Brittany's obviously shattering soul.