Take Me Or Leave Me
Don't Fight, Don't Lose Your Head
How she got roped into these things, Santana would never know.
It wasn't like she'd volunteered to throw a tiny Christmas gathering for everyone in Glee Club. She would actually have preferred to be by herself in her house now that her family had decided to take a small trip to visit some family for the day. But as soon as Puck found out that the giant Lopez house would be empty, he'd persuaded her into inviting everyone over. Even though not everyone celebrated Christmas, they had all thought it would be fun to get together. And later on, more people would filter in and the real party would get started with lots of booze and dancing.
But currently, it was only her and the Gleeks in her house. She'd had Brittany and Quinn over earlier to help set the table for 15 people. All the original members of New Directions from last year would be attending, even Matt who'd decided to grace them with his presence. Of course Sam and Lauren Zizes would be joining them, along with Blaine, who Kurt had insisting on bringing to meet everyone. They'd all brought some sort of dish to their festive feast, but were currently sitting at the table, hungry as hell, and waiting for Rachel Berry to show up, too.
What the fuck took her so long, Santana would never know. All she knew was that she'd skipped breakfast this morning to make room for all the delicious food she'd want to eat and was really fucking hungry right now.
"Where is she?" Mercedes complained with a longing look to the food on the table.
Quinn rolled her eyes. "She's probably throwing another diva fit somewhere. Who knows."
"Why don't we just start without her?" Matt piped up, glancing towards the big grandfather clock at the end of the room, "She's an hour late."
While most people spoke up in agreement, it was surprisingly Kurt who shook his head. "We're not starting without Rachel! This is supposed to be about us bonding outside of Glee. I haven't seen you guys in forever, let's not ruin the mood, people!"
Puck flipped his phone open, "I doubt her tiny Prius can make it through the snow. I told her I'd pick her up, she said no fucking way."
"Rachel never curses." Brittany absent-mindedly informed him.
Finn snorted and cast a sideways glance at Puck, "You would have just loved to pick her up, wouldn't you?"
"Dude, what's your problem!" Puck fired right back, immediately picking up on the undertones of Finn's question.
Santana, who'd followed the exchange around the table with her eyes, found herself getting even more curious when she watched the two friends interact. Things had been tense between them for a few weeks now, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was. It was ever since Berry and Finn broke up, but that could hardly have anything to do with it.
When the doorbell rang, and broke everyone out of the intense atmosphere that had erupted between the two glaring boys, Santana shot out of her seat. "That's probably her. Why don't you pour something do drink and we'll be right with you."
Everyone started talking again and Santana made her way through the giant hallway and towards the front door. She could tell by looking through the glass that it was most definitely Rachel on the other side of the door. It was a tiny figure huddled in too much clothes and loaded with bags. The Latina pulled the door open and was met by a bright Rachel Berry smile.
"Santana!" she cheered and stepped inside, "Merry Christmas, thanks for having us."
Santana just gaped at the little diva, before reaching out to take some of the things Rachel carried with her. "What's all this shit, Berry?"
Rachel didn't answer as she took off her boots and hung her coat on the rack. Underneath all of her scarves and extra layers of sweatshirts, she was wearing her usual attire. Today it consisted of a red sweater with a reindeer on it and a red and green argyle skirt. Thankfully, she'd lost the knee socks and was spotting a pair of woollen panty hose. She turned to Santana then and said, "I took the liberty of preparing some tasty vegan dishes. My guess is that there is enough meat on that table to feed the homeless for two years, and while that would be good, I doubt Noah will leave anything at all. Since I am a vegan, I figured that I should make myself something nice. You are more than welcome to try it though, I will happily share."
Santana blinked for a second, not sure if she understood everything Rachel had just said, but nodded nonetheless.
"Oh, and I apologise profusely for being late. My Prius got stuck in a pile of snow and I had to wait to get it pulled out. Here," she pushed a cookie box into Santana's now empty arms, "these are for your mother as an attempt to thank her for her hospitality."
Santana's mouth practically started watering with the thoughts of Rachel's famous sugar cookies in that box and knew that none would be left for her mother when her family returned. She would probably consume every crumb tomorrow while nursing her hangover. "Are these-?"
"Those are not my famous sugar cookies, no." Rachel told her with a tiny laugh. "In the true spirit of Christmas I baked her a batch of my famous Christmas cookies."
Pulling the lid off of the cookie jar, Santana reached for the first cookie she could see and stuffed it into her mouth. Damn! Many things could be said about Rachel Berry, but that girl could bake. This was probably one of the best cookies she'd ever tasted, even better than those sugar cookies she always made when she screwed up in Glee. Grabbing another one from the box, she turned to Rachel, "These are good, Berry."
"They're for your mother!" Rachel hissed, but she had a smile on her face all the same.
Santana licked her lips. "The rest of us are starving, waiting for you, come on, Dwarf."
Rachel rolled her eyes, but followed her down the hall nonetheless, holding her vegan food proudly in her hands. Santana could hear the rest of their friends talking in the dining room, but when she entered, everyone turned to look at them. Holding out the cookie jar, she shot them a smile, "Berry brought cookies."
A sound of contentment was heard through the room – everyone loved Rachel's cookies just as much as they hated her personality.
"They're not my sugar cookies." Rachel informed them all, when she took a seat on the spare chair next to Puck and placed a light kiss on his cheek.
"No they're better," Santana agreed and opened the box to pass it around the table, "it's like Christmas in a cookie."
Rachel smiled brightly as everyone munched on a cookie, and Santana chuckled to herself. It really didn't take much to please that girl. The Latina tore her eyes away from the tiny diva and found herself glancing at Brittany instead, who was feeding Artie her cookie, while he was trying to explain to her that 'Christmas' wasn't actually inside the cookie, but it was more a way of expressing how the taste reminded everyone of Christmas.
Santana had to force herself to move her eyes away from the blonde girl when she and Artie started kissing. It hurt her heart to see them like that. She'd never admit it to anyone, but she missed Brittany, and she was beginning to regret not taking her up on her offer about being exclusive and being out. If she'd done that, Brittany wouldn't be feeding Artie cookies right now; she'd be feeding her cookies instead.
Quinn, who was on her left side, nudged her gently, and Santana was reminded that she was supposed to be the hostess right now. "Alright everyone!" she said, and all their eyes turned to meet hers when she demanded their attention. "Thanks for getting your asses here today, even if some were obnoxiously late."
Rachel opened her mouth to start another rant about her Prius and the snow, but Puck placed a hand across her mouth, "Shut it, Rachel." he gently told her, and Santana wondered for a brief second, when Puck had started being gentle with anybody... it was a Rachel and Noah thing, apparently.
Snapping out of it, she raised her glass, "This was Puck's idea, not mine, but I guess it's not so bad. We get to eat some home-made food right now and later we'll drink ourselves into obliviousness and make out with random people. Which really, I believe, is what Christmas is all about! Happy holidays everybody!"
"Happy holidays!" everybody agreed and they clinked their glasses and then sat down to dig in.
Talk around the table was just like a regular afternoon in Glee. No one got along for very long, especially not when Rachel was there, but thankfully she sat a few seats down from Santana, who had Quinn with her wonder boy on her left side, and Matt to her right side, closely followed by Mike, then Tina. She didn't talk much though, she found her eyes moving to Brittany more often than they probably should have, and when she forced herself to look away, her eyes immediately settled on Rachel instead, who was either talking to Puck, or glancing at Finn beneath her eyelashes. The tall boy sat across from them, and though he wasn't a talker, it was unusual to see him that quiet. He just kept shooting ugly looks in the direction of Rachel and Puck.
When they were all full to the extent of it actually being uncomfortable, Santana thought it would probably be a good idea to wait with the dessert for a little while. Tina's mum had made them home-made ice cream and with Rachel's cookies as well, they would have to at least make a bit of room for it. There was still plenty of food left, and if she put it in the fridge now, she could eat leftovers for the next couple of days, which she wouldn't mind at all.
She got up to start carrying the food into the kitchen, and Quinn stood up to help as well. Rachel also seemed to get the idea, when she started stacking their dirty plates. Everyone else just slumped back into their chairs and rested their full bellies. The Lopez kitchen was by no means small, but when three teenage girls are moving around in there, stacking the dishwasher and putting food into the freezer and the fridge, things can get pretty cramped. So when Finn and his giant frame entered the kitchen too, to refill the water pitcher, he slammed the door straight into Quinn, who managed to drop the mashed potatoes straight onto Rachel.
Quinn gasped and the diva just stood there, her eyes fluttering as she looked down at herself. Finn's eyes were huge too, and he quickly placed the pitcher on the table, before he ran out of there, slamming the door behind him. Taking in the entire scene, Santana couldn't help the giggle that erupted from her throat, and soon Quinn was laughing too, while Rachel brushed a smudge of mashed potato out of her hair.
"Look on the bright side," Quinn laughed, as she leaned against the counter, "the sweater just got so much prettier!"
Rachel shot them both a hurtful glare and marched out of the kitchen and straight down the hallway. Santana assumed she'd found the bathroom, because she could hear the lock turn. With Rachel actually out of the room though, the situation wasn't so hilarious anymore, and the two cheerleaders quickly finished putting everything away and grabbed the bowls for the ice cream, before entering the dining room again.
Finn was sulking in his chair, probably mortified that he'd just managed to make an even bigger mess of his situation with Rachel, but Santana didn't care. She didn't see why he had anything to apologise over in regards of Rachel. It wasn't like he'd cheated on the diva, he'd just decided not to share the entire truth. Rachel was angry at him for something she didn't have the right to be angry about.
Rachel returned to the room with her head held high and her sweater long forgotten. She must have been wearing something underneath, because she was now spotting a tight black top, and she'd managed to wipe the mashed potatoes off of her skirt, but lost the panty hose as well.
"Alright, everybody, it's time to start drinking!" Mike announced, and everybody pulled their drinks onto the table. While Santana was popping open one of her wine coolers, she saw that Berry had now reached for the water pitcher, and that shit just didn't fly.
She barked, "Hell no, Berry! You're drinking tonight."
Rachel looked like a deer caught in the headlights for a second, before she opened her mouth to object, "I refuse to sink to the low levels of teenage stupidity, and I will be driving my car home tonight, so therefore I find it highly inappropriate to consume alcohol."
Lauren looked at her through her glasses. "You have tasted alcohol before, haven't you, Berry?"
Rachel shot her an offended look, "Of course I have! I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine when the timing is appropriate."
"Well, that time is now." Sam piped up and lifted the box of red wine that him and Quinn bad brought. Santana caught the glint in his eye, and she realised why everyone was so set on getting Rachel to drink. It'd probably loosen her up a little bit, and God knew she needed to relax.
"Get that stick out of your ass and have a wine cooler, Berry." Santana firmly told her, before she threw a bottle in Puck's direction, and he caught it with ease.
Rachel refused to accept it from him though, "While I resent the insinuation that I am to have anything up my behind, I will taste your wine cooler, Santana." she replied, finally taking the bottle from Puck, who had popped the lid. "Thank you, Noah."
Quinn, who'd been drinking red wine all through dinner, shook her head. "I wouldn't drink those near Puck, you never know what can happen afterwards."
Almost everybody around that table knew that Puck had gotten Quinn wine coolers before they slept together, so no one dared to laugh at that joke at all. Despite the fact that Quinn seemed contend with everything that happened last year, Santana also knew that Quinn spent an insane amount of time wondering about Beth and how she was doing.
Rachel looked briefly at Puck, before turning to Quinn again. At this point, everyone was following the conversation, because a good Quinn and Rachel smack down was too important to miss. "If you're insinuating that I'd ever participate in such actions with Noah, I will kindly inform you, Quinn, that I have no such desire. Wine coolers or not."
Everyone thought that Quinn was going to fire something right back at her, but it was – surprisingly – Finn who spoke up next, his giant fist landing on the table with a smack. "Oh, so you wouldn't do that, Rachel?"
Rachel blinked a few times, and Santana could tell that she was doubting what to answer. "No, I wouldn't, Finn. You should know that."
"I don't know that. You haven't given me any reason to believe that you don't want to sleep with him." he firmly said, and the glare he sent her way, it seriously ran a chill up Santana's spine.
Rachel lowered her eyes to her plate for a second, as everyone held their breaths. Then she leaned forward and looked up at Finn through her long hair and gave him one of those looks that usually made him follow her around like a puppy and do everything she said. "Finn, I don't think this is the appropriate time to discuss this."
Finn heaved in a deep breath, not affected by her look at all. "How do you think it makes me feel when you're both sitting right in front of me?"
Okay, so now Santana was seriously fucking intrigued. She knew that Berry and Finn had broken up, but maybe there was more to the story than just Finn's lies? It seemed like Puck was involved somehow and that it wasn't Finn working for Rachel's forgiveness, but the other way around...
Rachel pushed her chair back and stood up, hands on hips. "Kitchen," she firmly told Finn, "right now."
He did follow her when she marched right out of there, Santana had to give him that. She wasn't sure she would have dared to go follow Rachel with the look she just had on her face. But also... refusing her, when she was that furious? Kind of badass to do, too.
"Okay," Mercedes exclaimed as soon as the door smacked close behind the two, "what's that about?"
They all huddled their heads together across the table and in low voices started making weird suggestions as to what was going on with the Glee power couple. All except for Puck, who was leaning back in his chair, sipping his beer, and Kurt, who had an offended look on his face.
"I thought that Rachel dumped him after she found out about Santana!" Artie piped up, and for a second everyone turned to look at the Latina, who just shrugged her shoulders.
"It seems to me though, that Finn's actually mad at Rachel." Tina contributed, and Santana wanted to clap her hands together for her friends. Wow, it took them that long to see that? Seriously? She'd been feeling that for awhile, mostly because Finn hadn't sweet talked Rachel at all during the last week before Christmas break.
Kurt broke their gossip party with a scowl, "Could we not discuss Rachel and Finn's relationship? Frankly, it's making me feel ill."
Blaine placed a calming hand on Kurt's arm, "What's the matter?"
Kurt swallowed loudly and turned to look briefly at the door, where they could hear muffled voices coming from, before he turned back to the table and motioned for them all to come closer. Santana held in her breath. "While Finn is my brother, I feel it is my duty to tell you this, mostly because you are all my friends, and I want good things for New Directions."
"Spit it out, Beyoncé!" Quinn snapped.
"Rachel didn't break up with Finn, Finn broke up wit her." Kurt quickly said, and watched in delight as the entire situation settled in on their faces. "Rachel's been trying to get him to forgive her for her... slight indiscretion." Santana didn't miss the way Kurt's eyes – for a second – drifted to Puck, who was still not participating, "She wasn't really angry at Finn for sleeping with Santana, she was more angry because he lied to her."
Mercedes gave him a look. "Did Finn tell you all of this?"
Kurt shook his head. "No. Rachel did. We've been... quite close lately. She helped me with my audition for Glee Club, and we've established a daily communication."
Blaine nodded in agreement. "I met her. I don't see why you're all so mean to her all the time. She seems pretty great to me."
Santana wanted to tell him to stay the fuck out of the conversation since he had no idea what went down, but she couldn't really get herself to do it, since she actually... sort of... agreed with him a little bit. Don't get her wrong, last year? She couldn't stand Rachel Berry. She hated her and the fact that she had to spend all those afternoons with her. But this year... Berry had been better. More calm. Especially lately, but Santana was starting to think that maybe that was for an entirely different reason all together.
"So what did Rachel do?" Mike questioned then.
"Despite dress horribly?" Sam added.
Kurt's eyes flickered to Puck once more, and suddenly everything seemed to make sense to Santana. Why Finn seemed to be so pissed at Puck all the time, and why Rachel was so quiet and yearned for forgiveness. The patterns matched the ones from last year to perfection, and Santana knew that – despite being such a good girl – Rachel sometimes made very bad choices. Like sending Sunshine to a crack house, this was something she'd do too. And it would hurt Finn, like seriously devastate him. However, Santana didn't want this to come out to everyone in the club – Puck may make some stupid choices, but he didn't deserve to go through this again.
"You're not telling them, Kurt!" she snapped, which made everyone turn to look at her. "You're not."
Something interesting passed Kurt's eyes as the two of them stared at each other for about thirty seconds. Santana knew that Kurt was tough, but no one matched her stare. She'd make sure he didn't talk about this, mostly because she was slightly involved in this, and hadn't she wanted to hurt Rachel so badly, her and Finn would have still been the Glee Club's power couple. Eventually, Kurt seemed to realise that he couldn't wear her down.
He lowered his head, "It's all the same, I... don't know all the details."
"That's right, you don't." Santana spat, before she pushed her chair back, "I'm going to get the ice cream. People will be arriving soon, and Berry and Hudson need to get the fuck out of my kitchen." she finished, before strutting off. She pushed the door to the kitchen open with a shove, and the two people inside turned to look at, caught on each a side of the counter.
"Santana!" Rachel piped. Her eyes were slightly red, but at least her make up wasn't ruined.
The Latina surveyed the scene for a few seconds, before she ripped the freezer open and trust the ice cream into Finn's arms. "Go, get the others to eat. We'll be right there."
She didn't know what persuaded her into getting Finn out of the kitchen, and why she thought it was appropriate to be alone with Rachel all of a sudden (had they ever been alone before?), but she knew she had to get to the bottom of things, and Rachel was probably the person to go to. She was brutally honest, and she wasn't shy about admitting her own mistakes when pressured just a little bit.
Santana took the position Finn had just been in and stared at Rachel, as the girl furiously wiped her cheeks off. They were silent, and she could hear the sounds of the others inside the dining room, as they were once more back to partying, completely oblivious to the entire story behind the mess. It was better that way, anyway. At least for a little while, at least until Rachel and Finn were either back together or completely over each other.
"So you cheated on Finn with Puck, huh?" Santana blurted out, and Rachel's eyes immediately snapped to meet hers, worry and hurt floating just there in those deep brown pools that always mirrored whatever it was that Rachel was feeling. "Don't worry," Santana added, "the others don't know. I figured it out."
Rachel heaved in a deep breath and took a seat on a barstool. "Oh."
Santana had never tried being nice to the shorter girl before, but she found that perhaps it wasn't as hard as she'd thought it would be. Plus, she almost didn't dare think this, they might have more in common that she'd first assumed. Rachel was badass – beneath all that argyle and knee socks, she really was – and Santana was badass too, just more upfront about it. Also, she was feeling rather alone lately, after Brittany was spending more and more time with Artie, and Puck was good for a fuck, but nothing else, and Santana knew that feeling lonely – it was something the diva was familiar with.
"I don't know why I did it." Rachel whispered, her gaze lingering on the wooden counter. "No wait, I know why I did it. I was angry with Finn, for lying to me, for making a fool out of me." she looked up then, her eyes settling deeply into Santana's, "All my life, people have made a fool out of me. He was supposed to care and make sure that those things didn't happen anymore, yet he still went ahead and did it himself."
Santana swallowed loudly. "I told him to tell you, you know." she heard herself say, before she was even aware that she was talking. "At the wedding, I saw how much he loved you, how much he really believed those words he sang in that song – he really did think he was gonna marry you, Rachel – and I told him he had to come straight. Especially when I found out that you didn't sleep with Jesse St. Douche bag."
This emitted a tiny giggle from Rachel's lips.
Santana continued, sort of proud of herself for that one. "These things mean a lot to girls like you, Berry, so I told him to come clean, but he didn't want to."
Rachel traced a finger across a line in the counter. "So instead you decided to drop the bomb on me in front of everybody? Do you have any idea how much that hurt?"
Santana did feel guilty about that. Now, she did. But when she'd said it, she seriously just wanted to hurt the girl who was now sitting in front of her, crying. "I did it to hurt you. What you said about me and Puck-"
"-was mean." Rachel agreed, nodding her head slightly. "I don't know why I said that. I shouldn't have. Who am I to judge whether or not you and Puck date or just get naked?"
"Ever since that afternoon, you just annoyed me more than usual." Santana continued, honestly. If they were going to talk about this, they might as well talk all the way. "So when you were bitching about the solo and the duet for Sectionals, I just snapped."
Rachel reached a hand across the counter, and before Santana had the time to move hers, Rachel had grabbed it tightly. "I'm sorry. You were good." she whispered, "You were so good. Of course you lack my years of training and vocal exercises, and your pitch is sometimes a little off, but you were really good."
Santana knew that Rachel wouldn't tell her this if she didn't mean it. Which just made her feel even worse about the situation they were somehow in at the moment. "Thank you."
"When Finn came to me, asking if we were okay, I told him yes." Rachel said then, "After Sectionals... But before I could really resume a loving and trusting relationship with him, I had to inform him of what transpired between me and Noah."
Santana shook her head then, seriously wondering what was up with that girl. Finn had kept a secret from her for months, and she was willing to go and blurt hers out like that? No wonder all her relationships got screwed up in the end. "Why would you do that? Be with Puck? You know that of all the guys you could have been with... Puck would hurt the most."
Rachel nodded her head. "That may have crossed my mind, but honestly?"
"Honestly would be good."
"Honestly I just really wanted it to be Noah..." Rachel trailed off, wetting her lips with her tongue, and Santana was momentarily distracted by the sight of it. "Ever since we dated last year, we've been growing close. He's the only one in Glee Club besides Finn who really wants me around. Now Finn doesn't even want me around, and though I'm close with Kurt now, it's not really helpful since he's now at another school."
Santana knew that they didn't always treat the diva in the most gentle way. Heck, even Mr. Schuester often mistreated her, completely abusing his power as an authority figure, and blatantly ignoring the bullying and harassment that went on right in front of him. But the Latina had always thought that Rachel knew that they wanted her around. Glee just wouldn't be the same without her. "Hey, hey," Santana said, and was for a second surprised by the kindness in her own voice, "we do want you around, Berry, you have no idea how much."
A small smile found its way onto Rachel's face and Santana felt a weird sense of pride with herself for putting it there. This didn't mean that they were friends or anything though. As soon as they left the kitchen, she'd go right back to hating the tiny diva, but for a second it felt real good to actually be with someone and feel like she meant something to that person. She used to feel like that with Brittany all the time, but now the blonde had that with someone else.
Santana pushed herself away from the counter then, "Let's go eat some of Tina's mum's ice cream, shall we?"
Rachel hopped off the barstool and went around the counter. "I highly doubt that Tina took into account that I don't eat dairy. I didn't expect her to make something special for me, but-"
"No worries," Santana replied and pulled her freezer open with a tiny smirk, "when Tina told me she'd be bringing ice cream, I went to the store and got this for you."
Rachel's face lit up completely as she saw the small carton of soy milk ice cream in Santana's hand. "Santana! That's so sweet of you." she exclaimed and grabbed the carton, before hungrily turning it over to look at it.
Santana brushed her off. "Don't mention it," she said, and with an afterthought add, "seriously, don't mention it."
Rachel seemed to get what she was trying to say, so she nodded awkwardly and gave the Latina a short hug, before she bounced into the living room, Santana following right behind her.
Huh, the cheerleader mused as she reclaimed her seat between Quinn and Matt, that was the weirdest thing I've ever been a part of.
But she had to admit though – that maybe Rachel Berry wasn't half bad.
So yes. This is my new story! This idea have been teasing me forever, and I was seriously about to go insane, so I just wanted to get the first chapter out before I lost my mind. It's my first Pezberry fiction for Glee, also my first multi-chaptered fiction for Glee, and I hope you'll enjoy it!
In case you haven't noticed, the title and the chapter title is from RENT's "Take Me Or Leave Me". I have a very unhealthy obsession with that musical, and that song scream Pezberry to me everytime I listen to it (which is at least a couple of times a day!).
I don't expect this fiction to be very long, but since I had to cut the first chapter in half (the party was supposed to happen in this chapter, too), I'm guessing that'll probably happen more than once, since my fingers tend to have a mind of their own when I write.
Please leave me your thoughts on the chapter and on my characterisations of Rachel and Santana. I definitely found the latter more difficult to write, since it's my first time writing her, and she just needs more depth than they give her on the show!
Disclaimer; I don't own Glee or "Take Me Or Leave Me".