A/N: Hey everyone! So, I thought I should let you all know that I will NOT be updating regularly, but I will when I have the time. I'm going to try for once a week, but even that might be a stretch. Anyway, usually apologies for typos and grammar and the like. Enjoy!
A/N2: The song song included in this chapter is The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Garbage.
Brittany plopped down on the edge of the bed and I sat down beside her hesitantly. I hadn't had a friend since the day I left Scotland, and as a result, I felt so awkward on someone else's bed in someone else's house in someone else's life. I could sense her all around me; the subtle fragrance of her skin lingering on her sheets, the warmth of her air and the touch of her breath on my cheek we were that close. The smile she sent me was, like each one she beamed already that day, reassuring and kind.
"Let's start working on the duet," Brittany said. "Do you have an iPod or something?"
"Can I see it?"
I nodded again before groping around in my backpack until the hard, rectangular frame of my iPod Touch made contact with my fingers. Immediately after I handed it to her, she started to flip through the songs.
"I don't know any of these," she mumbled, "so you pick one." Brittany passed my iPod back to me and I put it on shuffle. The first song up was The Trick Is To Keep Breathing by Garbage. I almost smiled, but instead just turned to her and pleaded with my eyes, telling her that I wanted to do that song. And she knew.
"I like it," the blonde said. "We'll do it."
She and I spent the next hour and a half rehearsing so that it would be ready for glee, and then upon finishing, we returned to our spots on her bed. "You're nice, you know that?" Brittany said. "Why would someone as nice as you want to take that niceness away from the rest of us?"
"It's weird. I've only known you for this one day, and I haven't even really talked to you, but I feel like I really get along with you." She hugged me and pulled me down on the mattress for a cuddle. "I know I seem like kind of a slut, but I'm not, I promise. I'm not trying to have sex with you.'
This made me giggle.
"Oh! You laughed! Your laugh is cute."
I covered my mouth with my hand as if I said something normally inappropriate on an occasion in which it was especially unacceptable.
"Don't be upset," Brittany mumbled, afraid she might have hurt my feelings. "It was hot. Actually, you're hot. But I'm still not trying to have sex with you."
I smiled, and tried to open my mouth to speak, but the words still wouldn't come. And she understood.
We chose our song and worked vigorously on perfecting it to perform the next day at glee. Afterwards, her mom offered me dinner, and I obliged with a happy head nod. I was nervous, afraid that she might ask me about myself. When Mrs. Pierce did, I panicked, but Brittany covered for me smoothly.
When it was time to say our goodbyes, I hugged Brittany, and even her sister, and waved goodbye to her mom and dad before beginning the short trek home. The cool, autumn air joyfully stung my skin and smelled of crunched leaves and grass clippings. It was this time of year that reminded me most of Scotland. The temperature and the sky and the wind were all simply perfect, and as I strolled up to my door, I couldn't help but think of Brittany and her kindness. It wasn't pity or deception; it was genuine kindness. Then I decided that Brittany would like Scotland, and someday, if we remained friends, I would take her there.
I whipped my key out from my pocket and placed it in the lock, hoping that David wasn't home from work. Unfortunately, he was the first thing I saw as the door swished open, a deep, unsettling frown plastered on his face. His upper lip hung slightly over his lower one, giving him the appearance of a large, ugly gorilla.
"Where the hell have you been?" He bellowed. I could almost see the veins in his thick neck popping, and for a moment I was reminded of Harry Potter's uncle, Vernon.
I needed a voice now. I couldn't get away with shaking my head or writing something down, and only Brittany understood the meaning of my songs. I searched my throat for several seconds before strenuously finding the sound I needed. "At a friend's house," I said in a barely audible whisper.
"You can't stay out this late!" David shouted this time. He only shouted when mom wasn't around. That meant no one could save me.
"It's only seven."
"Listen, kid." He placed his hand on the balding hair of his scalp. "I make the rules around here. You are to obey them without question. Besides, do you think I'm stupid? You don't have any friends."
"I have one."
"No you don't. Now tell me what drugs you've been doing so I can tell your mom and finally get you kicked out of this house."
My eyes filled with tears. Usually, I wouldn't let him affect me, but given the events of that day and the fragile state of my mind, my body forced me to break down. "I haven't been doing anything," I sniffled, but he was already walking towards the kitchen, always one to avoid dealing with anything that might actually require some compassion. He had effectively ensured my continued silence.
I stormed up to my room and stripped, wrapping a towel around myself. Just as quickly, I ran into the bathroom and, hanging my head, stepped gingerly into a cold shower before beginning to cry. The water mixed with my tears and I tasted them, salty and sweet, as I bit my lip, adding a little blood to the mix. And then, I sat myself down on the floor of the bathtub, white and porcelain, allowing the jets of water to simply pound atop my head, wallowing in my depression.
Eventually I became uncomfortable and got up, wrapping myself in the towel and trudging back to my room. My pajamas, a pair of sweatpants with penguins on them and a rock t-shirt, fell comfortably over my skin, and my covers embraced me with welcome as I settled into my bed. Brody Dalle snarled at me from a poster featuring the members of The Distillers, and next to her on the wall smiled Buffy Summers, stake in hand, ready to slay a vampire. Somehow, I felt like Brody was trying to tell me to destroy David and Santana and people like them, to stick it to the world and cause havoc and start a social revolution. Buffy disagreed. She wanted me to do what Mr. Schue wanted me to do: to stick it all out and make the best of everything, eventually proving how much better I am than everyone else. Brody wanted me to damage lives; Buffy wanted me to save my own. And of course, on the other side of my bed was the Alice in Chains poster, Lane Staley just urging me to go through with the original plan, telling me that it isn't that bad, that the pain dissipates quickly, and that afterwards pain no longer exists. He knows what to do; he can show me.
But then I imagined my dad, sitting at the side of my bed as he did when I was a child, reading me Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone. He acted out each individual character's voice, and I giggled when he pretended to be the ogre in the bathroom. And then we were in the car when that drunk driver hit it, but I didn't know that, and his neck snapped back and he stopped moving and the other car just drove away. Someone, some nice, compassionate person, pulled over and called an ambulance, as mom was crying too hard to do anything and I still didn't understand what was going on. The scene changed again and we were putting him in the ground, my mom standing beside me and both of us weeping profusely. I still didn't understand. I didn't know how I could have the greatest dad on the planet and the world could just snatch him from me.
And then I was crying too, back in the real world, wishing that he was here and that he could make things better. I balled and balled until I cried myself to sleep, and even then I dreamed of him and of the crash over and over again, and then of Brittany and of touching her and singing with her, and then of David, fist raised in preparation to strike me. I felt shaking, like an earthquake and began to cry out as it only became more rigorous. Then, my eyes jolted open.
"Are you okay honey?" My mom whispered. "You were screaming in your sleep."
My mom was fair skinned, slim, and ginger, like myself, but shorter and with a less angular face. Her soft features contorted into a worried frown. I nodded, lying. I didn't like lying to her, but over the years I learned that I sometimes had to.
I nodded again.
"Alright. It's time to wake up anyway. You have school and all that good stuff," she said as she left my room. I obeyed, getting up with a defeated sigh. That day was going to be hell.
I stood at my locker, methodically turning the knob to each number of my combination. I opened it, and as I began retrieving my books, I felt a sharp pain in my side. I turned to see who had shoved me into the row of lockers, and sure enough, Puck was walking away just as Santana approached me.
"Stay away from Britt," the Cheerio hissed, pinning me even further against the lockers, ensuring that I knew she meant business, before storming off. I walked off timidly to my first period class, hoping to see Brittany later. I didn't care what Santana said. I wouldn't stay away. I finally found a friend, and I would fight to keep her.
Brittany met me outside of the chorus room before glee. "Are you ready?" she asked enthusiastically. I nodded before allowing her to lead me into the room by the hand, drawing me to sit next to her.
"Alright class," Mr. Schue smiled. "I believe Brittany and Sarah have their assignment prepared?"
"Yep!" The blonde grinned, pulling me up alongside her. We made our way to the center of the room and faced the class. I nodded to the band, and we began to sing, alternating. She sang "She's not the kind of girl / Who likes to tell the world / About the way she feels about herself."
"She takes a little time," I continued, "In making up her mind / She doesn't want to fight against the tide."
Then we sang together. "And lately / I'm not the only one / I say never trust anyone / Always the one who has to drag her down / Maybe you'll get what you want this time around."
Brittany took over again. "Can't bear to face the truth / So sick he cannot move."
"And when he hurts he takes it out on you."
Again, we sang in unison for the chorus. "And lately / I'm not the only one / I say never trust anyone / Always the one who has to drag her down / Maybe you'll get what you want this time around / The trick is to keep breathing / The trick is to keep breathing."
As Brittany and I continued the song, I felt good, liberated, high. Everyone else melted away and it was just our two voices melding perfectly into togetherness and our bodies dancing to the rhythm of the bass and the hi-hat, and a guitar and a keyboard and some violins played somewhere near us. When I sang, I just felt whole.
As the song ended, I felt as if coming off the most fantastic orgasm. The room, even Santana and Quinn and Puck, erupted into applause.
"Alright!" Mr. Schue beamed. "Looks like we have our own Shirley Manson here!" I couldn't help but smile at the comparison between myself and the other red-headed Scotswoman. Even I thought that if the members of Garbage heard that performance, they would be proud. "And wonderful as always Brittany," he continued. "It's great to see you step out of your musical shell."
We returned to our seats, Brittany beaming as if she had won something. "That was awesome!" She whispered, and I silently agreed, though I noticed Santana glaring at me from across the room.
We sat in happy silence as that Kurt kid stood and sang a number from Wicked. I couldn't help but marvel at the range of his voice. A girl whose name I learned was Mercedes sang a soulful R&B song that I didn't recognize, but it was nice and I enjoyed listening. The rest of the students were all performing later in the week, so for the rest of glee, we bounced ideas for sectionals off of each other. When it was time to leave, I got up with Brittany and we made out way out. Santana was waiting for us at the door.
"I thought I told you to stay away," she hissed at me, grabbing the blonde by the arm and pulling her away. Brittany yanked herself from the other girl's grip and walked back towards me.
"No, San," she stated firmly.
"Listen, B. The girl refuses to talk. She must be dumber than you."
"That's not why she doesn't talk," she trailed off quietly, obviously upset by the jab at her intellect.
This was another of those times when I needed my voice desperately, one of those times that I could guarantee its presence just as much as I could guarantee the fact that it would dissipate as soon as it came. "She's not dumb!" I interjected, and both girls turned to stare.
Santana burst into laughter. "That accent is just too ridiculous! Where the hell are you from? Like, New Zealand or somewhere?"
"Oh! Scotland! Well anyway, you sound stupid."
"You spoke," Brittany said, her eyes still fixed on me. "You sound pretty, and I like the accent. It's hot."
"Britt," Santana fumed, "can I talk to you alone?" The blonde nodded and followed her out. I knew I was done talking.
"You really don't want to mess with that friendship," said a male voice from behind me. I turned and saw Kurt. "Brittany has been in love with Santana for as long as I can remember," he continued. "And Santana has been in love with sex with Brittany for almost as long. San doesn't like it when Brittany's love for her falters because that means she's lost some control, and by the looks of it, she's in danger of losing all of her control to you."
I sent the boy a look of confusion.
"I get it," he sighed. "No, Santana is not in love with Brittany. She exploits her. I assume you think she deserves better? I agree. I would encourage you to pursue her at your own risk however."
"It's nice to have another gay around here. And on a side note, I know you tried to kill yourself. I get that it's why you aren't talking unless the words force themselves from your mouth like vomit. I also have inferred that you cling to Brittany because she found you."
My eyes became fearful.
"Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me." He then walked out, leaving me even more puzzled than before.
A/N: REVIEW PLEASE! For real, I need some happy words. Or sad ones. As long as you review.