The sticky air fell thickly around Santana's shoulders as she dabbed at her forehead with her towel, cursing the heat and the excessive training Sue had bullied them into. It's not that she really minded the training – it's what made them better, perfect, the best after all – but this was silly, and beginning to annoy her. For a week Sue had pushed and pushed, and Santana's muscles were feeling the strain.
The heat wasn't helping. It was ridiculously hot outside and her head was beginning to spin as sweat dripped from her brow into her eyes – which was gross and so not something she needed everybody else seeing. Not that they weren't all sweating buckets too, but the point was . . . she needed to cool down, and she needed to do it now.
"Are we done yet? This is crazy," Santana asked abruptly as Sue placed her megaphone down and wiped at her own brow.
"We're never done, Lopez," Sue chastised. "There's only pain, pain, and more pain, now give me a lap of the track before I find a new use for you in the squad as my personal foot massager."
Santana pulled a face and Brittany chuckled behind her, making Santana even more pissed, and hot, and very close to the end of her already extremely short fuse.
"Anybody else feel the strange desire to question my wealth of experience in shaping your disastrous bodies into lean, mean, cheerleading machines?" Sue asked, narrowing her eyes before anybody even took a breath. "No, I didn't think so. Hop to it, Lopez."
She nodded her head towards the track and Santana felt the urge to grab the nearby megaphone and shove it into Sue's mouth the wrong way around, but she held back, clenching her fists tight as she stormed towards the track to run a lap of it as punishment for daring to cross Sue Sylvester.
"I have something to say," Brittany suddenly uttered, raising her hand and causing Santana and the rest of the Cheerios to stare at her in fear for her safety, and possibly in question of her already dubious sanity. "I think it's hot, and heat . . . makes things melt. What if we all melt? We can't cheer if we're all melty, like . . . melted cheese. But I guess I like cheese."
Santana sighed and shook her head, but she couldn't help feel a small smile tug at her lips at Brittany's obvious attempt to 'get into trouble' alongside her. They did everything together, including dealing with Sue.
"I'm going to overlook that, my strangely challenged little Cheerio," Sue said, giving Brittany a look that conveyed more than just pity. "But I will no longer tolerate all the giggling and holding hands in the face of failure – you two are on my list."
Brittany gave Santana a puzzled look but Santana was just as clueless so gave a shrug and tried not to start obsessing over what Sue meant by hand holding and lists. Of course, obsess was exactly what she'd do, but Santana wasn't too keen on facing the possible truth in Sue's warning, even if it was something she'd already been thinking about.
It was true that she and Brittany were inseparable, and that lately they'd become so used to being together that they'd do silly things like hold hands, or play with each other's hair, or stroke exposed skin, or . . . any number of things that probably looked somewhat suspect. But it was just natural for Santana and Brittany and had evolved without thought or intention. Obviously Sue had noticed, and Sue didn't seem pleased.
"You. Track," Sue said gruffly, pointing to Santana. "And you lot, hit the showers, you're clouding my vision with your profusion of teenage sweat. Remind me to hold a seminar on inappropriate secretions before the weekend; this just isn't good enough."
She grabbed her megaphone from the ground and stormed away with a scowl as the Cheerios gave a sigh of relief and followed forlornly.
A shower sounded really good right now – an ice cold shower that would freeze the sting in Santana's tired muscles as well as cool her skin, and help with the uncomfortable, bothersome itch inside her recently that she could find no way to scratch.
But her shower would have to wait; a slow lap of the track greeted her as everybody but Brittany filed back into the air conditioned comfort of the school. Just knowing that Brittany was waiting for her made Santana feel better, and caused her to quicken her pace from just above that of a crawl.
Glancing back to where Brittany had found a seat on a shady part of the bleachers, Santana found herself wondering why they'd become even closer in the last few months. They'd always been close, from the very beginnings of their friendship when Brittany had tripped over Santana's bag on their first day at the same highschool. It had been Santana's instinct to mock the girl at first for being so clumsy, but Brittany had looked so scared and out of place that Santana just couldn't bring herself to be cruel.
She'd apologised for the bag being in the way instead, earning her bemused looks from friends who knew her better. Friends who would soon find themselves replaced by the dorky blonde girl who seemed to have a heart as open as it was possible to be.
They were complete opposites, in every way, but they worked together. Brittany metaphorically gave Santana's harsh edges some fuzzy pink lining, and Santana gave Brittany . . . well, Santana wasn't really sure what she gave Brittany, but Brittany had been nothing but loyal, caring and sweet to her even when others would have left her and her bad temper behind long ago.
Yep, things had always been different between them, but now more so than ever, and for reasons that Santana was scared to dwell on.
Lately their friendship had shifted, changed, taken on a strange shape as every look, smile and touch seemed to mean something more. Something new.
As she rounded the bend of the track so that she was jogging towards Brittany, Santana felt her gaze fall on the distant glow of blonde hair and the familiar curves under the even more familiar red, white and black of Brittany's Cheerio uniform. She'd found herself looking differently at Brittany lately, though she had been avoiding the reason why; terrified of what it would mean for not only her, but also for their friendship. Every day it grew harder to ignore the growing need inside her. A need that both shocked and excited her. A need that was driving her insane as she now allowed her mind to wander as she ran; thinking about how physically close they'd been getting, and how much she enjoyed this new element of their friendship.
As much as she tried not to think about it and let it work her up to a point she couldn't stand, it was bound to happen and seemingly impossible to stop. Santana knew what it was she was feeling and it made her stomach tighten and her lungs squeeze even harder than the running was already causing. She wanted Brittany. Wanted her body, her lips, her touch, as more than a friend.
With fear settling heavily on her shoulders, Santana stumbled over her own feet as she jogged towards the end of her lap. Before she could stop herself she was tumbling forwards onto her hands and grazing her knees on the rough surface of the running track.
"San!" Brittany called out, leaping from the bleachers and running towards Santana, who felt decidedly stupid for tripping over her own feet.
"Idiot," Santana called herself, sitting heavily on her backside and brushing down her now sore knees. "Idiot, idiot, idiot."
Of course, she meant she was an idiot for more than just falling over, and as Brittany approached at breakneck speed she wanted to find the nearest dark hole and crawl into it to get away from her thoughts, and her friend.
Santana thought that maybe if they weren't joined at the hip the feelings and wild ideas might disappear, but she knew that was probably wishful thinking, and knew that things had gone too far now for her to hide. There was no hiding from the things she wanted from Brittany; even though she knew she could never share her thoughts with her friend. Brittany could never know that her sweet nature was being twisted in Santana's head into something more. That the innocent touches and hugs had been warped into something else by Santana's out of control libido.
"Are you ok?" Brittany asked as she caught up to Santana.
She offered Santana a hand, but Santana refused to take it. She felt stupid, and she felt rotten for betraying Brittany's trust.
"Do I look ok?" Santana snapped. "I'm hot, sore, confused, angry, and hot."
Pushing herself up from the floor, Santana refused to even look at Brittany. She couldn't take that worried little expression she'd give her, or the cute furrow to her brow. It was too much. Too confusing and close, and just . . . too Brittany.
"You said hot twice," Brittany pointed out unnecessarily.
"Well, I'm very, completely, ridiculously hot," Santana snapped further. "This weather is retarded."
Scrambling to her feet as Brittany lowered her hand back to her side, Santana practically growled as she brushed dirt from her skirt.
"That's not nice," Brittany said innocently. "It's not the weather's fault you're hot."
With her hands on her hips, Santana furrowed her brow at Brittany in confusion.
"How is it not the weather's fault?" she asked.
"You're always hot, even when it's not sunny, and when it's cold out," Brittany answered.
Rubbing her brow and failing to understand, Santana took a deep breath. Her irritation was growing and she knew she had to go somewhere quiet, away from the sun, away from school, and away from Brittany to deal with it.
"Brittany, what are you talking about? I'm not always hot, especially not in winter."
"You're always hot to me," Brittany explained shyly, further confusing Santana.
They stood in silence for a few moments, awkwardly, as Santana tried to figure out what Brittany meant exactly, and as Brittany just stood smiling as if she'd said nothing at all. There was the possibility that Brittany had misconstrued what Santana had meant by the word hot, but that would mean that Brittany was paying her some kind of compliment. Or maybe she just hadn't understood at all, and thought that Santana expected her to agree with calling herself hot, or face her wrath.
"Can we go inside now?" Brittany asked as Santana continued to stand and glower. "I'm all sweaty."
She said it innocently enough, but imagining all kinds of clinches she could possibly have with Brittany that would involve getting sweaty in a much nicer way, Santana forced herself not to just blurt out to Brittany that they should go take a nice cool, naked shower together. It would probably cause Brittany to run screaming from the school in fear, and anyway . . . Santana wasn't quite ready to fully explore her new fantasy. She was still freaking out about how she was feeling, and she didn't need Brittany freaking out with her.
Brittany was supposed to be the calmer of them both. She was meant to keep things level – it's how it had been since the very beginning of their friendship. If Brittany flipped out, that would leave Santana flailing, and she was flailing enough already. Santana needed Brittany to remain as her anchor. Her steadying hand. She couldn't lose that.
With slightly grazed knees, Santana led Brittany into the gym. By the time they undressed and entered the shower area most of the other Cheerios had already dressed again and left. They were alone in the communal shower, and Santana felt panic rising.
Lately, she'd avoided showering at the same time as Brittany; waiting until Brittany had finished, or jumping in before her and showering ridiculously quickly. The small glimpses she'd had of Brittany had always left her even more confused, and unreasonably horny. Just the fleeting glimmer of Brittany's yummy, peach skin as she'd loosely wrap a towel around herself made Santana weak at the knees.
She'd planned to escape dealing with those feelings today, undressing quicker than usual, keeping her head down and eyes away from Brittany, even as Brittany relayed a story about a mouse she'd once found in her shoe. It would be too dangerous to look. Too tempting to let her gaze wander over silky smooth skin and sensual shoulders, long legs and deliciously toned stomach.
Moving swiftly, Santana had rushed into the shower ahead of Brittany before the other girl had even finished undressing. As she turned the shower on and stepped towards the spray, however, Brittany soon followed behind.
Though Santana had never cared before about anybody seeing her naked – after all, naked looked really, really good on her – she tried to hide herself from Brittany. She wanted to press herself against the cool tiles in front of her and hold on to them, hoping they would steady her and keep her safe, hide her from what she wanted and the obvious innocence in Brittany's interest in her. Whatever Santana was feeling, she knew she had to keep from making too much of how Brittany was with her, the way she looked at her and touched her. Brittany was just that kind of open person, and wasn't into Santana in the way Santana now knew she was into Brittany.
She had to keep reminding herself of that. Santana didn't want to screw this friendship up.
Hoping that Brittany chose to shower behind her, she was once again forced to accept that Brittany obviously didn't have a clue about personal space. As Santana allowed the cooling water to splash over her body – keeping her hair away from the spray so she didn't have to spend an age drying it – she bit her tongue when Brittany turned on the shower right next to her. She was standing unreasonably close, oblivious to Santana's inner turmoil and the way her body hummed in Brittany's presence.
It would have been obvious something was amiss if Santana moved away or told Brittany to back off, so she reached for her shower gel – dumping a large amount into her hand - and closed her eyes as she washed away the day's heat. Working quickly, Santana ignored the tuneful humming of her friend and the soft brush of her elbow now and then as she also washed.
She was determined to get through this unscathed, though what Santana most wanted to do was turn to Brittany, grab her and kiss the hell out of her as they tangled together, soapy and naked under the water. It's all she could see, all she could think of, and her heart was racing. Just the idea of having that body on her own, those lips, hands moving over her, tongues fighting for dominance – Santana had to stop thinking so much. She couldn't allow herself to desire Brittany. Not her best friend. Not the girl that thought clouds were cushions for angels, and that had a little section of her garden cordoned off just for the fairies.
It wasn't fair on her.
"Meet you out front," Santana said gruffly as she hurried to rinse the soap away, turn the shower off and make her way to the end of the room where her towel was hanging.
"Ok," Brittany replied cheerfully, unaware as she watched Santana go, giving her a little wave, in all her glorious nude and unabashed . . . glory.
Santana couldn't help but stare at Brittany as she watched her wave, just for a moment. It was long enough to see a dribble of foam slide down that taut stomach towards the very small triangle of blonde between Brittany's legs. It was long enough for her own body to respond – causing a trickle of heat to spread between her own legs. It was long enough to know for certain that Brittany was stunning, and that Brittany was what she wanted, and that Brittany could never, ever know.
"Don't rush," Santana told her, wanting to get out of the locker room before Brittany got out of the shower to dress in front of her. Santana didn't think she could deal with that right now. She desperately needed to cool down.