A/N: I am burnt out on angst. This means you get fluff in between now and an Influence update. Enjoy.
"Santana, you promised."
She lifts her head and is forced to shield her eyes from the blinding sun. Brittany stands in front of it, eclipsing it and leaving her in shadows, for which she's grateful. The blonde is haloed in light now, and she can't help but make the angel comparison she knows is so cliché.
"You promised," Brittany repeats, still standing over Santana where she sits in the grass in the courtyard.
She's in a white gown. Floor length, dusting against the tops of her feet. The long, flowing sleeves don't quite make it to her wrists. The unfortunate part of being tall and – adorably – lanky. The graduation robe hangs on her the way a ball gown might on anyone else. She's radiant, even in this sack of polyester. The red, white and black tassel hanging from the matching white mortarboard on her head swings when she moves. But her attention is on Santana, who stares at her, enraptured.
"What, exactly, did I promise again?"
She knows exactly what she promised. It's not something she can forget. Not that she would want to. She's spent the greater part of a year thinking about it, but the look of frustration on Brittany's face is too priceless to pass up. Her cheeks burn red, emphasized by the pristine white robe, and she plops down in the grass at Santana's side.
"Fine," she huffs, obviously not getting the joke. "Nevermind. It doesn't matter."
She flops on back in the grass, knocking the mortarboard from her head and mussing her hair. Santana smirks and lays on her side, propping her head up on her fist and using the spare hand to brush Brittany's tangled tresses from her face.
"Why are you upset, BrittBritt?" she asks, drawing out the ruse.
"I'm not upset." But she brushes Santana's hand from her face and stubbornly crosses her arms over her chest.
"Yes, you are," Santana prompts and resumes running her fingers through blonde hair, even after Brittany has shrugged her off. "Tell me why."
Brittany props herself up on her elbows angrily, her eyes narrowed. She's flustered, and irate. Before last year, Santana had rarely seen this side of Brittany. What was there to be angry about if they never talked about anything serious? But then Brittany had made her talk, and suddenly it was okay to be angry. At one another, at their circumstances, at the world. They get to be angry at one another, because it means that they can talk about why they're angry. Talk, really talk, and listen and understand. Not like before.
They haven't spoken for three months. Not since Sue put dirt in their lockers. Because it's too hard for Santana, and too confusing for Brittany. It's a silent, unspoken agreement. So for three months, they've avoided eye contact, taken different routes to class, and certainly stayed out of each other's bedrooms. The frustration festers, and even though the tension in glee is killing the atmosphere for everyone, they all know better than to interfere.
And then they fight. Hard.
Their lockers are next to each other. It's an impossible feat to avoid going there all day, but it seems that their patterns are becoming routine. Until Brittany forgets her biology textbook, and has to stop in between classes to get it. Santana is there, and even though the idea of standing next to her and not saying anything is physically painful, she needs that book. So she walks up, slowly, and attempts the combination to her locker.
Santana does her best not to burst as Brittany fumbles next to her with the lock. She counts to ten, controls her breathing. But Brittany isn't leaving. She can't even get the damn thing open. So she does something that she hasn't done in months. She reaches out.
She tries to push Brittany aside, to open the locker herself. She knows the combination better than her own, it will be fast. But she feels an unexpected shove and she falters, nearly falling from the force of it. She rights herself and turns, expecting to see Karofsky or Lauren. But there's only Brittany, fuming mad with her fists clenched at her sides.
One word has never sounded so cruel. "What the hell? I'm just trying to help y-"
"No! You don't get to help me. I can do it myself."
Santana can't explain the seething rage that bubbles to the surface. Three months of radio silence, and the first time they speak to one another, they're shouting. She was just trying to help. She wanted to make things easier, to help her get what she needed and leave before it became too much for both of them.
So much for that.
"You were having a tough time of it, weren't you?" Santana pushes Brittany's shoulders instinctively, returning the blow that had nearly knocked her over.
"I was doing just fine without you!" Brittany lays her palms flat on Santana's chest and shoves. She reels into the panel of lockers, her head spinning as the back of it slams into the metal.
"You sure are, aren't you? Just fucking fine without me. Go get your cripple boyfriend to help you then."
She turns her back to Brittany, calling the argument over. But it's not. It is so not over. From behind her, Brittany launches herself across the hall, bowling her to the ground with her arms around her waist like a linebacker. Her breath escapes her lungs and refuses to return. She fights against Brittany's hold, but her eyes are out of focus from lack of oxygen and the hit to the head. She kicks her legs, frantic to just remove the furious blonde from on top of her, and her fingers find the back of Brittany's shirt. She pulls, hard, and hears it rip.
Brittany snarls, and she's distracted for long enough that Santana can flip them both. They're on their sides, limbs entangled and both of them struggling for the upper hand. Strong hands grip her wrists, and Santana lays her feet against Brittany's thighs to push distance between them. It only prompts Brittany to wrap her leg around Santana's and pull them closer, elbowing her in the lip in the process.
There's blood now, and neither of them are letting up. But Santana is growing weary, out of breath and seeing stars. Brittany pins to her to the ground, straddling her while a circle of chanting football players surrounded them. Santana lashes out with her arms but Brittany has them securely in each hand. Their eyes meet and for a second there's silence amid the hollering crowd.
Santana waits for the blow that will break her nose, but it never comes.
Instead she feels lips on hers, pressing so hard and so desperately that she winces. The taste of blood from her cut mingles with the strawberry of Brittany's lip balm, and she has never tasted anything so delicious in her entire life. The fight still rages in both of them, but it's over something entirely different now. Their eyes squeeze shut, tongues lancing in and out of the other's mouth while frantic hands cup flushed cheeks, trying to pull one another closer, until there is no distinction between one girl and the other.
Santana opens her eyes pulls back, gasping for air. Brittany is sitting on her hips, panting, her eyes large.
"You're bleeding." Her voice is filled with awe, as though she didn't know where blood came from before that moment. She reaches out, her hands shaking, and presses her thumb to the split section.
Santana flinches and tries to pull away, but Brittany holds her head in place.
"I'm sorry," she whispers, her thumb grazing Santana's bleeding lip gently. She brings her hand to her own mouth, perhaps just realizing that she, too, has blood there, although it's not her own. She inspects her fingers and, she lets out a shallow breath.
"I'm so sorry." Tears well up in her eyes and Santana immediately pushes herself into a sitting positing, wrapping her arms around Brittany's shoulders and pulling her into a vice-like embrace. "You just made me so mad. I'm sorry."
Santana runs her fingers through Brittany's hair as the crowd realizes the show is over and disperses. "It's okay, Britt. It's just a scratch."
They separate with a jolt as Brittany puts distance between them, still sitting firmly on Santana's thighs. "Not that. Well, that too. But everything. Santana, I love you. But you made me so mad. I didn't know how to tell you. I never know how to tell you things."
She's sobbing now, and Santana is stunned. "You can tell me anything, B. Anything. You're allowed to be mad. I screwed up. You're my best friend and I just disappeared."
"You're not my best friend."
The words sting and Santana looks away.
"You're more than that. You're so much more. Look at me."
She lifts her head and meets eyes that are so genuine she thinks it might kill her. There isn't anything Brittany can say in that moment that would make Santana stop loving her.
The words come up from her core, traveling slowly through her stomach, past her lungs and heart, never even catching in her throat before they leave her lips. She knows exactly what she's saying.
"What?" Brittany rolls back on her heels and topples, falling on her backside between Santana's legs. She's dumbfounded, her face slack with surprise.
"Marry me," Santana repeats, and takes Brittany's hands in hers.
Brittany stares down at her fingers laced in Santana's, terrified, but she can't pull away. She won't. "I'm with Artie…" It's a feeble excuse, and Santana knows it.
"That doesn't sound like a 'no'," Santana comments, unfazed. She squeezes hard on Brittany's hand and the blonde bites her lip.
They're alone in the hallway now. No one can hear them. No one else can notice the conflicted expression that creases Brittany's forehead.
"I can't…" she starts, and Santana's face falls. She brings her palm up and holds it against that battered cheek. "I can't say yes now. Not while I'm still with Artie."
Hope surges in Santana's gut. "Tell me when, then."
Brittany leans down presses her forehead against Santana's letting out a long, heavy breath. Santana intakes the air she exhales, renewed by it.
"Ask me again in a year. When we graduate."
Her heart is racing. "A year," she repeats, swallowing hard. "I'll ask again in a year. I promise."
"You promised, Santana."
Brittany is up on her elbows, staring daggers at her, and she tries so hard to keep the Cheshire grin from her lips. Santana reaches out and dusts the blades of grass from Brittany's now stained white robe, only to have her hand once again knocked away. She sighs, containing herself just a bit longer.
"Brittany, you're going to have to give me a hint."
A low, rumbled huff escapes her throat and Brittany gets gracefully to her feet. Even when she's angry, she's poised. Santana has found that she likes Brittany even more when she's upset. It's the way her face scrunches, her eyes narrowing like that awful cat she loves so much, Charity. And the way her face flushes and refuses to settle to her natural tone until Santana has fully appeased the anger. She always knows, this way, when she still has work to do to make her girl happy again.
"Forget it, Santana. I'll see you after the ceremony."
Santana knows she's pushed her limit, and as Brittany begins to walk away, she reaches up and takes her wrist, holding her back.
When Brittany turns, Santana is on one knee. She's pulled the gown up to her hip, revealing a pair of khaki shorts that Principal Figgins had expressly forbidden be worn by the female members of the graduating class. Girls were to wear skirts. But where, she wondered prior to the ceremony, was she going to keep the ring?
She pulls the box from her pocket and stares down at it, surprised at how not nervous she is. She flips open the hinge and holds it out to Brittany, who once again casts a shadow down on her and is haloed in the late afternoon sun.
"If you haven't changed your mind," Santana says. "I'd really like it if you would marry me."
The roses in Brittany's cheeks fade as she looks down at the ring encased in black velvet, and Santana knows she's done well. It's so simple; a silver band and a single, small diamond. They'd never talked about this, the physical representation of a love that holds no comparisons. But Santana knows Brittany, and knows that nothing will ever make her happier than knowing that she remembered, even after a year of neglecting the subject.
Slender fingers pull the ring from the box, and she inspects it, wide-eyed. Santana gets to her feet and gently takes the band from Brittany, then holds her left than flat in her own. She slips the ring onto her fourth digit, still patiently waiting for the answer.
"Yeah," Brittany says at last, her lips curling into a soft smile. She pulls Santana closer, pressing lips against lips and feeling the comfortable and welcome new weight on her hand.
"I'd like that, too."