Part 2 of 2. Sort of a spiritual successor to Rhythm and Attitude, but it's not a required prerequisite :) Rated for some serious language.

Hello! I probably could have/should have finished this sooner, but I hit a bit of a stumbling block and decided to work through it by getting my Blaine on. And on the seventh day, there was air travel :/

I don't own much, including Glee. Someday…nah, I'll still be poor.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

What—she'd been doing two people's homework for almost three years, she could freaking read, okay?

But seriously, it had been a week of highs and lows:

Low: Waking up on her basement floor, smelling like stale beer and Cheetos.

High: Stealing Quinn's phone and deleting the footage the bitch had taken of her sobbing into Puck's shoulder. Replacing it with footage of Q drooling on Puck's leg.

Low: Brittany having the sheer idiotic nerve to ask her if she'd done something wrong. High: Troutymouth. She didn't care what Mr. Rogers said—it was a fucking awesome song.

Low: Washing 20 lbs of dirt out of her hair and clothes. Brushing her teeth twenty times, because she was pretty sure she'd swallowed a worm.

High: Tina's sweet baby grand, flat screen tv, and ability to steer around topics Santana wanted to avoid. She was definitely in the running for Replacement Best Friend.

High: Winning at Regionals. Hellz yeah.

High: Catching the King of the Fairies and the Gay Hogwarts lead singer sucking face backstage, if only because watching Babyface Porcelain sputter and turn red like that was frigging hilarious. His uniformed boytoy had totally tried to play it off like nothing had happened, even offering congratulations and his hand for Santana to shake, like a tool.

Which was so not happening—it may have been dark backstage, but she had seen exactly where that hand had been, and she was so not interested in that secondhand gay action.

So: another performance, another win, another slight hangover. At least this time she had woken up alone and in her own bed, with an aspirin and a glass of OJ ready and waiting on the nightstand. A shower and some cereal had done wonders, and she was almost feeling human when, unexpectedly, the doorbell rang. A glance at the kitchen clock confirmed that it was only 9:30, which was so too early for anyone she knew and liked to possibly be visiting.

Unfortunately, there wasn't anyone else at home to answer the door and tell whomever it was to fuck off. After a second ring, Santana moodily stalked down the hall to the front door, fully intending to treat the luckless idiot ringing her bell to a full invectiva en Español. Running a hand through her hair and putting on her meanest Before Noon Bitchface, she threw open the door.

And stared.

Brittany was standing on the front porch, holding an assortment of gardening tools and wearing a pair of unfortunate, dirt-smeared overalls that hadn't seen the light of day since her latest holiday-related misconception (and on a related note, Santana would never be able to watch Groundhog Day again). She looked slightly apprehensive, but gave Santana a determined smile.

"Quinn said I was making you regrass," she explained, holding up a long-handled edger. "I didn't know what she was talking about, so I brought a bush trimmer and a hoe."

Santana kept staring. "There are so many things wrong with that sentence," she deadpanned. Brittany's smile flickered, then died entirely. Whatever she was doing here, Santana wouldn't be surprised if she hadn't planned anything beyond simply arriving, expecting Santana to dictate the encounter. Well, screw her if she thought Santana was doing shit before 10am on a weekend. Or at all. If Brittany wanted to talk, she could talk; Santana wasn't going to help her.

The silence totally wasn't uncomfortable in the slightest.

Brittany was still looking at her.

God dammit.

"Carmela will kill you if you wreck her lawn," she said flatly, nodding at Brittany's hoe.

God, there was really no way to make that not sound skeezy.

Brittany looked unconcerned by the threat, and as well she might. Santana's stepmother paid the minimum acceptable amount of attention to her husband's kids, but never seemed particularly interested in any of their friends or classmates—with the sole exception of Brittany, whom she adored in her sanitized, devoid-of-emotional-attachment sort of way. She'd be more likely to blame Santana for letting Brittany anywhere near the landscaping than blame Britt for any resulting destruction.

It was really kind of annoying how often Santana ended up taking the fall for Brittany, even with people who were pretty much contractually obligated to love her better.

Brittany merely blinked, completely oblivious to Santana's inner seething. "Can I come in?" she asked, scuffing a foot on the porch.

Santana didn't budge from the doorway. "I'm kinda busy," she said tonelessly, keeping her arms folded across her chest. It was such a lie; she was painfully un-busy. It figured that the second she was off the Cheerios (and consequently exempt from grueling weekend practices) the TiVo would start malfunctioning. Irony was a cruel motherfucker.

Brittany frowned at her, looking confused. "Busy with what? We don't have any weekend practices and your tv still isn't working."


Of course Britt would pick now to start retaining information when Santana was ranting.

Santana dug her fingernails into the side of her arm. "Fine, so I'm not busy," she conceded, letting her annoyance show. "Maybe I just don't want to talk to you." Brittany's face fell, and Santana fought her instinctual reaction to step forward and comfort her. After all, this was Brittany's fault, and it wasn't Santana's job to clean up after her messes anymore. She wasn't going to react, just because B got her feelings hurt.

Until she looked up, and Santana saw that her eyes were sparkling with tears.

"San, I just want to talk to you," she pleaded. "Just for a few minutes, and then I'll go away if you want me to. Please." Wisely, she didn't try to touch Santana, but stayed rooted to the spot, looking smaller than usual and shaking slightly with unshed tears.

Santana felt her throat close over. She wanted to be pissed, like, really wanted it—she couldn't stand it when Britt cried, and Brittany knew it. And if she were a little smarter or more devious, Santana would feel totally vindicated in slamming the door in her face for being such a manipulative bitch. But…Brittany wasn't smarter, or devious, and probably couldn't spell 'manipulation' if both of their lives depended on it.

So whatever she might want to do, Santana just couldn't get pissed. Which just left…every other emotion. Damn it.

She briefly closed her eyes, wishing she hadn't bothered to get out of bed. When she opened them, she and Brittany were still standing there. So much for miracles.

She opened the door a little wider. "Five minutes," she muttered reluctantly. "And I reserve the option to throw you out after two minutes if I get bored." Without waiting for Brittany, but knowing she'd follow, she turned around and walked back into the house. Going back to the kitchen and grabbing a pair of Diet Cokes out of the fridge, she placed them on the table and dropped wearily into her usual spot, listening as Britt left her shoes by the front door (Carmela's rule) and padded barefoot down the hall.

Brittany's first minute was almost completely silent, but for the ticking of the clock and the fizz of the soda after Santana popped first her own can, then Brittany's. Santana sipped her drink, her expression tight as she grew increasingly irritated. What the hell had Brittany come over for, if she wasn't even going to say anything?

Well, the rules had changed—this time, she really wasn't going to help her out. She could talk or not talk, but Santana wasn't giving her shit if she didn't.

Finally, Brittany exhaled sharply. "I miss you," she said quietly, using her fingertip to trace the ring of condensation her drink had left on the table. Santana gazed at her evenly. Whether the moisture on the table was sufficiently distracting, or whether she was just scared, Brittany was avoiding her eyes.

"I miss being your friend," Brittany continued. "I love you, and you said you love me, even if you don't want to say it anymore. I just—I don't understand why we can't be friends anymore."

Santana bit the inside of her lip—hard—to keep from screaming. "You don't love me," she spat. "If you really loved me, you wouldn't need to ask me that question."

Little bitter? Oh yeah. She was owning bitter.

Brittany was near tears again. "But I do love you," she argued. "So, so much, and I want to be around you—I can't not be around you. I don't underst—"

"You never understand!" Santana cut her off harshly, slamming the table with her hand and making everything on it rattle dangerously. "You never understand, and I'm constantly explaining things to you that you should just know. You want me to tell you I love you? I freaking love you—fine. Why do I need to say it, when you should just know? I beat people up when they're mean to you, and scared the school board into banning fish in the cafeteria after Finding Nemo made you cry, and I switch out your homemade cookies with ones I freaking made so you don't get food poisoning, and I came over at four in the morning last month to kill a spider in your little sister's room because you were too scared to do it."

Santana paused, taking deep breaths and trying to get her anger under control before she completely lost it. Finally, she looked back up at Brittany, who had tears streaming down her face.

"You wouldn't ask to be my friend if you really loved me," she finished. "Because you would know how much I can't be around you."

Another minute went by. Santana sat, face stony and expressionless as Brittany wiped her own face with her sleeve.

"I'm sorry," Brittany offered finally, sadly. "I don't get stuff the way you do, I'm not smart like you. And you don't think that I love you, but I do. And I know that we can fix this, because I love you, and you love me."

Santana laughed hollowly. "It doesn't matter," she said, voice toneless. Brittany looked up, meeting Santana's dark, dead eyes for the first time. Her expression was frozen, a mixture of hope, dread, and confusion, and Santana sighed inwardly even as she pulled the trigger:

"I love you and you love me. But it doesn't matter. And you're the one who chose to make it that way. Because it didn't mean enough to you to do anything about it."

Santana looked down at the table, deliberately ignoring Brittany as she leaned across the table, trying to meet her gaze. "But Santana, I—"

"Five minutes," Santana cut her off.

She continued to stare at the table, focusing on the uneven striping of the wood grain. Its meaningless lack of pattern. Stupid, really. How many trees had to die for a stupid, slightly creaky old table?

By the time she looked back up ten minutes later, Brittany had gone.

Mondays sucked. This Santana knew to be true.

Mondays sucked even more when she had Quinn Fabray, Queen of the Righteous Morality Gestapo, glaring daggers at her. At her own locker.

"What the hell is this supposed to be?" she demanded rudely, holding up the seven pages of Santana's spidery handwriting that Santana had shoved under her door the night before. Santana rolled her eyes. "Sorry, I forgot that you can't read," she snapped, twisting the combination lock until the door sprung open. "Must be why you have so much trouble interpreting the label on your Midol."

Quinn was undeterred. "This is all the stuff you do," she pointed out, voice hard. "Why do I need all of this—Brittany's schedule, list of allergies…'Locations Selling Pineapples'?"

"Once a week, in her fish tank," Santana recited dully. "Otherwise they start getting moldy and gross, and the fish will get sick. And you really don't want to drive out to the exotic pets store in Columbus to replace Patrick if he dies—it smells and there's bird shit everywhere."

Quinn was still staring incredulously. Santana sighed. People were so stupid. "I'm taking a break," she explained slowly, eyes narrowed meanly. "I'm tired of this shit, and it's someone else's turn to pick up the slack."

Quinn glared right back. "You mean you're pissed at Brittany for choosing someone else, so you're going to bail on her out of spite," she snarled. When Santana didn't answer, her glare shifted into something resembling contempt.

Santana would have been impressed, if it hadn't been directed at her.

"You know what?" Quinn asked. "I thought that this one was Brittany's fault, and that you were in the right for once. But if you're going to treat her the way you treat everyone else—which is horribly, by the way—then maybe she was right to walk away."

Clutching Santana's papers to her chest, Quinn stalked off. The second she turned the corner, Santana slammed her locker door with all her might, smiling darkly as the people around her jumped in surprise, dropping purses and books.

She was late for math. And there was a test. God, Mondays sucked. If she ran, though, she could make it on time.

Bending over to snatch her bag off of the floor, she noticed a picture that had fallen out of her locker and fluttered to the floor. It was a candid snapshot, taken of her and Brittany a year before. They had gotten bored at a football game, and had stolen Puck's shoulder pads. In the picture, Santana was adjusting them on Brittany's shoulders as Brittany imitated Puck, hulking out her biceps and patting an imaginary mohawk.

They looked so happy.

The trash can was right there.

The bell rang. Swearing, Santana slipped the picture into her bag and ran down the hall.