Note: Chapter 1 of 3.
In the Rocky Horror Episode, it seemed like Kurt and Brittany were hanging out. I thought maybe he'd have some interesting things to say about her situation with Santana. Then some other conversations sort of announced themselves, to explain how S and B made up.
At practice on Tuesday Kurt realized it had been a whole week already. A week of sad puppy dog faces and smiles that faded too fast. A week without any mention of gay sharks or literate cats or bisexual giraffes or any other gems from the weird and wonderful land that Brittany lived in. Just yeses and nos and everything muted, with a little less spark.
"Brittany!" Coach's megaphone cut through the music. "Is the blondeness affecting your coordination now? Double back handspring. DOUBLE. You're throwing everyone's timing off." She aimed her remote at the stereo and clicked back to the beginning of the song. "Everyone, reset it. Go again."
The squad groaned. This was the third time through the sequence already.
"Sorry." Brittany mumbled at the floor.
Kurt jogged back around to his place at the end of the line, behind Santana. His job for the first part of the routine was to stay out of the way and look pretty. After the tumbling runs, he came in with a solo.
"What the hell are you looking at Hummel?" Santana snapped at him as he approached.
Kurt dropped to one knee, pretending to tie his sneaker. Because it had also been a week of shoves and elbows from Santana. It was more systemic than personal, but Kurt bruised easy, so he just steered clear.
When he stood back up, her icy gaze had already moved on to another target.
"God, Courtney. Space out properly." Courtney was a little to the left of where she should have been, and Santana yanked her back into place. Surprised, Courtney stumbled, landing on Santana's immaculate white sneaker.
"What the hell Santana?"
Coach pushed play and the music blared up again.
"Get the fuck off my foot." Now Santana shoved Courtney hard in the other direction, sending her sprawling.
The music died.
"Santana! My office. NOW." Coach Sylvester cast a withering glance at the rest of the squad. "Hit the showers. And next time, bring all of your brain cells to practice. That goes double for you B. "
Most of the team disappeared quickly, heading off to the locker room as fast as they could.
Brittany stayed where she was on the gym floor, eyes on Coach's office. Through the open door, she could make out Santana's silhouette, standing with arms crossed. She watched until Coach crossed the gym, entered the office and closed the door. Then she slowly headed off toward the locker room.
Kurt watched for a second, and then caught up with her. "Hey Britt."
"Hey." And there was one of those smiles - a flash of genius, then back to blank.
He wrapped an arm around Brittany.
"You're coming home with me."
Santana pressed her arms close to her chest, hard, until she could feel the pressure against her ribs, forcing air out of her lungs. Her throat felt tight and she breathed like this - little, shallow breaths - until she could swallow again.
"Santana, your behavior this week has been unacceptable."
Santana rolled her eyes. Coach's back was turned, but somehow, she saw it anyway.
"Don't pull that nonsense with me. You may treat other teachers in this school with blatant disregard, but I am your coach and I will not stand for it. You're endangering your teammates out there. So unless you cut out the Raging Bull act immediately…well, S, there's only one place lower than the bottom of the pyramid. And that's off the team."
A flicker of panic showed on Santana's face.
"No!…No. I'll get it together. I promise." Santana bit the inside of her cheek to distract herself from the hot tears she felt pricking at her eyes.
"Well. That's a start." Sue put a strong hand on Santana's shoulder and pushed her down into a chair. "Have a seat."
She perched on the edge of her desk. "Would you care to tell me what the source of your bottomless rage is Santana?"
"No? Then I'll hazard a guess. From the way B's been tripping over her own feet all week, I'm going to guess that it has something to do with her."
Santana opened her mouth to speak.
"No, no, let me finish. I feel like House."
Sue stood up again and strode the length of the room as she spoke. "Let's see. You two have worked your way through every warm body in this school district without any unpleasantness, so I doubt it's some petty boyfriend drama."
Santana stared at the floor.
"Hmmm….maybe Brittany drowned your pet hamster, or burned your house down, or forgot to return your extensive collection of Powerpuff Girls DVDs and yes, Santana, everyone knows about your precious Powerpuff Girls DVDs."
Santana shook her head no.
"Well…I'm not surprised. And you wanna know why I'm not surprised S? Because Brittany doesn't strike me as the kind of girl who'd do any of those terrible things. In fact, she strikes me as a good person.'
Santana blinked rapidly, but she felt the tears rising again.
"…a really good inside, good person. Not goody goody like Q. Or a do-gooder like…" Sue ground her teeth, "Schuester."
She laid a hand on Santana's shoulder, but this time, the viselike grip was replaced by a comforting squeeze. "And definitely not like me and you."
Santana couldn't help it anymore. One hot tear spilled onto her cheek.
Sue walked over and sat behind her desk. She opened a drawer, picked up a packet of tissues and tossed it to Santana.
"Here's the thing about good people like B. They're so freakishly maladapted to this cruel world that even as they watch you bite and kick and gnaw on the adorably delicate bones of a baby albino gorilla…"
Santana wrinkled her nose.
"….they still look for the best part of you."
Santana tried hard. She tried so incredibly hard. But more tears followed the first.
"Oh but S, that's the good news. People like that can usually find it in their grotesquely large hearts to forgive people like us. So just wipe that baby albino gorilla off your mouth and figure out a way to apologize for whatever evil, manipulative, completely rational and well reasoned thing you've done."
Santana wiped her eyes and focused on keeping her breath steady.
Sue turned her attention to some paperwork. She didn't look up as Santana headed to the door.
"If you can keep from physically assaulting anyone for the next week, I'll consider moving you to the middle of the pyramid."
Santana turned. "I'll try. I really will."
Sue waved her off. "Don't waste my time." She looked up and met Santana's eyes. "I'm not the one who needs to hear it."
Santana slipped through the door and sprinted to the locker room. She picked up her gym back and ran off to the parking lot without showering. But when she got there, Brittany's car was already gone.
Burt waved from his spot on the couch and paused the episode of Deadiest Catch he was watching.
Kurt stepped into the living room.
"How are you felling? What did you have for lunch? Do you need…?"
"I'm fine Kurt." Burt got up off the couch, slowly, but with more confidence than a week ago. He crossed over and put an arm around Kurt, pulling him close for a second. Then he stepped back again, and leaned on the back of a chair. "I had that rice stuff you left for lunch."
"It was quinoa."
"Well, whatever. It actually tasted pretty good once I piled a burger and cheese on top."
Kurt's eyes went wide. "Dad!"
"Just kiddin'" Burt grinned at his son.
Brittany fiddled with the buttons on her Cheerios jacket.
She rippled the fingers of her left hand. "Hi Mr. Hummel."
"You two aren't gonna make out again, are you?"
Kurt went into the kitchen and got two glasses down from the cabinet. "Nah," he called over his shoulder. "Just girl talk."
Burt went back to his spot on the couch. "Well, have fun." He pressed play. A big pot of crab went tumbling onto the deck of the Cornelia Marie.
Brittany followed Kurt into the kitchen. He poured two glassed of seltzer and tossed Brittany a bag of Smartfood popcorn to carry. Brittany pointed at some apples on the counter.
"Yeah, grab me one too."
They headed down to Kurt's room.
"Dad, I'll leave the door open. Just call if…"
"I'm fine Kurt!" Burt shook his head, but he was smiling.
In Kurt's room, Brittany took off her jacket, settled down on the couch and chomped on her apple.
Kurt put the glasses down on the coffee table, carefully laying down coasters first. He retrieved his school bag and pulled out his ipod. He settled it in the dock and dialed up some Nina Simone. He adjusted the volume and headed back across the room to join Brittany on the couch. He tore open the bag of popcorn.
Brittany swallowed her bite of apple. "I'm really glad your dad woke up."
Kurt turned to study her. Her profile was backlit by the lamp on the side table, and the special diffuse bulbs he'd installed was making a golden halo of her blonde hair. But her mouth was still, her eyes were quiet.
"Brittany, it pains me to see you so glum. What's going on with you lately?"
Brittany shrugged, took another huge bite of apple.
Kurt tried again.
"I can't help but notice, you and Santana haven't really been talking this week. You've been moping, she's been kicking people..."
Brittany finished her apple in two more giant bites and looked for a place to put the core. Kurt held up the wastebasket next to him and she tossed it in. She folded her hands in her lap and looked down at them.
"Kurt, did you like it? When we made out?
Kurt was surprised. He swallowed a mouthful of popcorn and took a sip of seltzer before answering carefully.
"That was the first time I ever kissed anyone. So that made it exciting. Interesting."
"Yeah, but did you like it?
Kurt placed his glass back down on its coaster. "It was nice to be close to you. You smell good, and you're really warm."
Brittany smiled sadly "Santana says I'm like a furnace." She looked over at Kurt. "What's a furnace?"
Kurt tried to keep Brittany on topic.
"I'll explain it later. Anyway, it was nice. But I think, with someone I really have romantic feelings for it'll be different. More than nice."
Brittany bit her lip. "It is. It feels so good it makes your stomach hurt. But like, if you puked it would just be Skittles and fireflies that came out."
Kurt got it then. He swung his feet off of Brittany's knees and tucked them under himself instead, so he was kneeling close to her on the couch.
"You really like her, don't you?"
Brittany met his gaze. "I asked her to sing a duet with me."
"Aww, Brit." Kurt's voice was soft. He rubbed Brittany's shoulder. "I'm going to guess she wasn't receptive to that idea?"
Brittany dropped her gaze again, focused on threading her fingers together in her lap. "She said she didn't want to sing about making lady babies, she just needed to digest her food.'
Kurt didn't bother to make sense of the details. He understood the point.
"I just thought it would be a nice song.'Cause she comes to my window. And I like listening to her breath."
Kurt got the references. "Melissa Etheridge?" He raised an eyebrow. "A boldly Sapphic choice. Too bold for Santana apparently."
Brittany sighed and threw her head back against the couch cushions.
Kurt took a minute to think. He used the time to unlace and kicked off his sneakers. When he was seated cross-legged on the couch, he went ahead and asked her.
"Do you like girls, or do you just like Santana?"
Brittany kept her head back and her eyes closed. "Boobs are fun. But hooking up with other girls never gives me that puking feeling. Or the orgasms."
Kurt blushed. "What about guys?"
Brittany shook her head. "Just Santana." She raised her head and turned toward Kurt. "Do you think I'm a giant dyke?"
He picked up the popcorn bag again, took a handful and chewed thoughtfully. "I don't know. Maybe it's just Santana. Or maybe you're bi. Or maybe a lot of things. It doesn't matter."
Brittany leaned her head on Kurt's shoulder and reached across to grab some popcorn for herself. "I miss her. Now that she thinks I'm super lesbian, she's not gonna snuggle me anymore."
"The irony of that sentence…"
"Nevermind. But I don't think that's true. Santana clearly cares about you a lot." Kurt thought about it for a second. "Actually, you're like, the only person she cares about at all."
"So why was she so mean to me?" Brittany's voice was tiny.
"She's…probably just scared."
"She's always saying she's not scared of anything."
"Brit, I think she's kinda scared of everything."
Brittany was quiet for a minute, and Kurt was about to explain what he meant. But Brittany spoke first. "I know."
They sat in silence for a few moments. Years later, Kurt would remember that in those minutes, he stopped thinking of Brittany as dumb and started focusing on her queer talent for the literal, her quiet gift of uncomplicated affection.
"I just want her to talk about it. That's the whole point. She doesn't have to be scared with me. "
"Do you want me to talk to her?"
"Kurt, you're so brave. It's kinda studly."
"It's not fair for her to make you feel bad, you're just being honest. If she's your friend…"
Brittany pushed herself off of Kurt's shoulder and stood up from the couch. She hated sitting still for so long.
Kurt watched her pace the room.
"Well, what do you want then?"
Brittany stopped by Kurt's window. Since his room was in the basement, the grass outside was at eye level. She liked it, it made her feel like a gopher or a worm. She watched a bird peck at the dirt. "That would be like, a horror movie if I were a worm."
"What?" Kurt was completely baffled. He wondered how Santana even followed the conversation half the time.
Brittany turned back to Kurt and answered his first question. "I just want…her. I don't care if its only sometimes. I don't care about Puck or any of that. She's my best friend. We have fun. And she's super hot. And…"
Brittany trailed off. If she knew the words, she would have said that those moments, alone with Santana, when her guard was down and her hands were on Brittany's body, were the best moments of her life. That Santana was, in those intimate flashes, indescribably beautiful, a stunning combination of soft and vulnerable and giving and strong and protective and powerful. That when she could hardly breathe with wanting, Santana's kisses put air back in her lungs. That it wasn't really just the sex, but the other times, when San was helping her with homework, or baking cookies with Brittany and her sister, or singing next to her in glee, and their eyes met and their fingers touched and there was just everything, a whole glowing life in those glances. And even if that life was just a fantasy, it was their fantasy, and even if they never talked about it, they believed in it together.
But she didn't know the words.
Kurt sat up straighter. In his chest he felt the rumblings of a diatribe. Brittany deserved more and better than Santana's divided attention and secret shame. And he was going to explain it all very carefully and clearly. He was going make her see it.
But her wistful blue eyes stopped him. His mouth opened and his anger deflated.
"I get it. On my own, all I've got is my conviction. But whatever weirdness you've got with Santana, its something special."
Brittany nodded, and smile dawned that didn't fade.
Kurt shook a finger at Brittany. "But I'ma keep an eye on that girl. If she doesn't shape up at least a little for you, I'll cut a bitch."
Brittany laughed. "Like I said Kurt, you're studly when you're butch."
"Can we have a dance party now? Girl trouble is complicated."
Brittany clapped her hands excitedly and gave a little hop. "Ooh! Put on Britney!"
Kurt hurried over to the ipod dock. "I am SO glad you came to your senses on that issue."
Part 2: Santana talks to Quinn