A/N – This flashback skips forward slightly. Sorry if it's hard to follow, I'll be backtracking and covering everything so bear with me! Thanks for all the reviews and the alerts; I really appreciate it! I know I said this would be up tomorrow, but I figured why wait? Disclaimer for this chapter, recreational drug use. I don't own anything!

Chapter 4

Santana released a shuddering breath, her gaze immediately returning to the blonde lying motionless across the alley. The brunette felt an intense need to close her eyes, to just rest, her body aching to drift off into unconsciousness but she clenched her jaw and slid sideways just enough for her head to drop from the curb.

Santana wanted to cry out from the pain as she inched herself forward, desperate to reach Brittany. She fleetingly noticed her long dark hair sticking to the back of her neck as the scent of blood wafted into her senses. Still, Santana continued to claw her way across the pavement, her fingernails scratching at the ground.

Her body was dragging, her limbs heavy. With her eyes on Brittany, she continued to force herself forward. The blonde was breathing, that much Santana could tell. There was blood though, her battered body shivering in the night air. As for the rest, Santana refused to dwell on it. Brittany needed help.

Santana managed to pull herself the last few feet and Brittany must have somehow sensed someone approaching because she tried to scramble away to avoid the contact. Santana tried to tell her to stop but no sound would exit her mouth so she reached and wrapped her fingers around a pale wrist. Brittany quieted and remained still, instinctively turning more towards Santana.

The Latina fished the phone out of her pocket and promptly dialed 911, but when the dispatcher answered, Santana found she was still unable to form words. She wasn't certain if their location could be traced on a cell phone and she began to feel panic rising as her voice refused to sound.

She snapped the phone closed and as quickly as her aching head and fumbling fingers would allow, reopened it and scrolled through her contacts until she found their friend Quinn's number. Quinn Fabray was a pediatrician so would have some idea of how to help. And she only lived a few blocks away.

Santana quickly typed out a message, "911, aly by apt". She was about to try to find another person to reach out to in case Quinn didn't receive the message but within seconds, the blonde responded with, "Puck and I are coming."

Santana allowed the phone to drop from her hands. She ignored it as it clattered to the side. The brunette dragged herself the last few inches and reached her arm, draping it over Brittany's still form. The blonde jerked slightly but finally sighed and settled her own arm gently over Santana's shoulder. Santana held onto Brittany tightly as darkness finally pulled her in.

"San, Santana."

The Latina felt a tug on her arm but with a grunt, she tried to fight it off. She couldn't let Brittany be taken away from her.

"Santana." The familiar voice finally registered. Quinn's tone was firm and commanding as she pulled on Santana's arm again. "Santana, I need you to let go. I need to look at her."

Santana then felt herself being pulled and lifted. Her eyes finally fluttered open as she landed on her back. Puck was leaning over her, brushing hair away from her forehead while Quinn turned back to Brittany.

Quinn was checking Brittany's face and neck with no difficulty but when she reached for the hem of Brittany's shirt to check her ribs, the blonde flailed and whimpered, trying to pull away.

"Easy Britt." Quinn said softly. "It's Quinn and Puck. Let me help you. Please Brittany."

Santana could barely register the tremor in her friend's voice as worry furrowed her brow at finding her two best friends in this condition.

"San." Brittany whimpered pitifully. "Sanny…"

"She's right here B, San's ok." Quinn replied softly. "Just let me help you…"

"No! San, I need-" Suddenly the blonde was retching and Quinn quickly reached to gently turn her onto her side, smoothing matted blonde hair back. Brittany coughed but cried out at the pain the movement brought.

Santana reached a hand again, trying to comfort her girlfriend as darkness once again began to creep into the edges of her vision.

xxxx

"Britt, baby, relax." Santana said, rubbing soothing circles on her back. "They're our friends, no reason to be nervous about them coming to visit."

Brittany nodded but continued to fiddle nervously with the hem of her shirt. The blonde seemed to be making great strides in her recovery and the two decided to see how she would do with other people around.

Quinn was thrilled to be invited to visit. She'd missed her friends more than she cared to admit and hated being so far removed from the situation. She wanted to help them both but Santana had been adamant that they were going away to be alone.

Rachel of course wanted to visit as well, as she and Brittany had grown closer over the years and she was now practically inseparable from Quinn. When Tina and Mercedes continued to call every few days to check on their friends, it was decided that they would come along as well.

It had seemed like a wonderful idea at the time. Brittany seemed to gain confidence after their night together but now, when faced with the reality of their comfortable seclusion being disrupted, the blonde had fallen back into her pattern of waking every few hours with nightmares and spending her days closed off and jittery.

"I know they're our friends San, but what if I freak out in front of them or something…"

"Then we deal with it." Santana replied calmly. "If it gets to be too much for you, just go into the bedroom, or out on the back porch. You don't have to explain anything to anyone. They love you B, they just want to see you for a few days, see how you're doing. And if you freak out, well, they're not going to love you any less."

Brittany nodded again. She continued to stare out the front door as if watching for their friends' vehicle to arrive. Santana wrapped her arms around the blonde from behind and pressed a kiss to her shoulder.

She tugged gently on the waistband of the workout pants Brittany had on and sighed sadly. "These are going to fall off of you if you don't start eating something soon babe."

Brittany shrugged, still gazing out the window. "Maybe Quinn will make her breakfast casserole. I love that stuff. Mercedes' mom's fried chicken would be good too…"

Santana laughed lightly, thrilled the blonde was even considering eating. "If it'll get you to eat more than a few bites, I'll pluck the chickens myself babe."

"Ugh," Brittany moaned. "Don't talk about that. I hate the thought of those poor chickens getting plucked and roasted. Not enough to not eat them but…you know."

"I know." Santana said smiling. Before she could continue, a black SUV pulled into the driveway in front of the lake house. Brittany immediately tensed.

"Babe, it's ok. Remember, if it gets to be too much, I'll kick these bitches out myself. Ok?"

Brittany chuckled nervously. "Yeah, ok. I'm just going to go check my makeup again."

"Britt, babe, you look fine." Santana called as the blonde slipped back into the bedroom to be certain the bruises still marring her skin were covered as best as they could be.

"Go on out San, I'll be right there." Brittany called.

Santana sighed before stepping out of the door and onto the porch. The back hatch of the SUV was already popped and Mercedes and Tina were pulling bags out and chatting animatedly. Rachel and Quinn were speaking softly in front of the car but when Santana stepped off the porch and moved closer, Quinn immediately squeezed Rachel's forearm and moved to wrap her arms around the Latina.

"Hey San." Quinn breathed, already feeling tears stinging her eyes. "I've missed you guys. Thanks for letting us come visit."

Santana squeezed her tightly before leaning back to look at her friends. "We've missed you too."

The other three friends gathered around and Santana hugged them each in turn, even managing a mock grimace when she hugged Rachel. "Just remember," she said softly, "Don't make any sudden movements around Britt, make sure she sees you before you touch her, if she disappears once in a while don't be offended."

They nodded. The friends began to talk softly until Quinn swallowed thickly and gazed toward the porch. Brittany timidly stepped onto the porch and shifted nervously. Quinn squeezed Santana and Rachel's hands before stepping around them and moving toward her friend.

"Hi Quinn." Brittany said softly when the other blonde stopped in front of her. Both had tears stinging their eyes.

"Hey B." Quinn replied, just as softly before she gently wrapped her arms around her friend. Brittany hugged back and nuzzled her face into honey-gold hair, inhaling deeply.

"It's so good to see you." Quinn continued.

Santana and the others stood off to the edge of the porch and watched the exchange. Quinn and Brittany had always been close whereas she and Santana had shared their ups and downs. Whenever Santana would do something to hurt Brittany's feelings, it was Quinn she would turn to. When Quinn was abandoned by most friends and kicked off of the Cheerios, Brittany remained by her side even when Coach Sylvester and Santana herself, disapproved.

Santana sometimes found herself jealous of their friendship but Brittany would always remind her who was getting the sweet lady kisses and the brunette would quickly turn smug. Now, as she stood and watched the friends embrace, she couldn't help but smile at the happiness she saw on Brittany's face.

Santana didn't realize Rachel had placed an arm around her shoulders and was squeezing gently, also watching the two blondes, until the smaller brunette shifted slightly into her peripheral vision.

"Berry, I know you're not touching me." Santana growled. The arm quickly disappeared with a squeak and Rachel jumped away. Santana laughed, a lone brow quirked. "Jesus Berry, relax, I'm kidding. Now get all your shit moved inside. Just how long do you people think you're staying? You've got more bags than Mr. Schue has vests."

The group finally unloaded all the bags and got everything placed inside with everyone but Brittany scurrying back and forth from the car.

"I hope you guys don't mind sharing beds." Santana said as the last load was brought inside. "Quinn, I thought you and Rachel could take the upstairs bedroom on the right and Tina and Mercedes, you two can take the one on the left. They both have their own bathroom. Sorry we don't have enough rooms for you each to have your own bed."

"Oh no worries Santana," Mercedes said picking up her bag and heading toward the stairs. "It'll be like Nationals in New York all over again. And I'm pretty sure we've all slept in worse conditions."

"Yeah, it's not a problem what so ever." Rachel chimed in.

Santana eyed her suspiciously. "Yeah, I bet it's not Berry."

Rachel blushed and Quinn gave her a pointed glare. Brittany just smiled and linked her arm through Santana's. The friends scattered to take their own bags to their respective rooms leaving Santana and Brittany alone in the living room.

"You ok babe?" the brunette asked cautiously.

Brittany nodded as if lost in thought. "Yeah, I'm ok. It was good to see Quinn. And Tina and Mercedes are always fun. It's just weird seeing other people. I've gotten spoiled here just the two of us."

Santana nudged her gently. "Remember, you can hide out anytime you need. It's almost time for your afternoon meds…you could go rest if you want."

"Yeah, I think I'll do that." Brittany replied softly. "Maybe just to get over my nerves a little. That's ok right?"

"Of course babe." Santana replied. "They'll just be unpacking for a while anyway. I'll set out some snacks for them, you go relax."

Brittany sighed and smiled somewhat sadly before retreating to their bedroom and closing the door softly.

"She ok?"

Santana spun around, surprised by the voice behind her. Quinn smiled softly before stepping closer and placing a hand on her shoulder. Santana exhaled and returned the smile.

"Yeah, she's ok. It's just a little overwhelming. It's time for her afternoon meds, they'll knock her out for an hour or so and then she'll be back out."

Quinn nodded, eyeing the closed bedroom door. "And you? How are you?"

She turned her hazel eyes back to Santana and gazed intently into her dark brown eyes, as if to ascertain the truth in whatever answer she was about to receive. Santana shrugged a shoulder.

"I'm doing ok." Santana replied. "Just trying to make sure B is alright. It's been hard but I think we're getting somewhere. She's just always been so in her own head that to think this is what she's got to dwell on and get stuck on…I have to give her better thoughts to keep in her head."

Quinn nodded again and the two slowly moved toward the kitchen, arms linked.

"Sometimes," Santana continued, "I'll find her just gazing out into space. And now, instead of coming out with something cute and random, she'll say things about how she hates the smell of whiskey or wonders why God made that man so mean. And she'll expect me to have an answer…how do you answer that? Even so…I know I did the right thing in bringing her here. She needs this time to process and cope."

Quinn looked pained as she quickly wiped a tear away. Santana sighed and shook her head. The two were unloading the cooler full of kitchen supplies as they talked and didn't notice their other guests join them until the refrigerator was practically stocked full.

"She's lost weight." Rachel said, softly breaking the silence that had descended on the group. Quinn cringed as Santana tensed and turned a hard gaze on the smaller brunette.

Tina and Mercedes exchanged glances as Quinn prepared to step in between the two women. "But she looks great Santana." Tina said quietly, hoping to ease the tension. "We'll fatten her up this weekend. Mike's mom sent food…and it doesn't even have chicken feet in it."

Santana visibly deflated and Quinn shot Tina a grateful look. "That's right," the blonde said stepping up to Rachel to place a comforting hand on her arm. "My mom sent food too, Britt's favorite hash brown casserole and she even packed her homemade spaghetti sauce she likes so much. Plus tomorrow I'm going to make my breakfast casserole…she'll have no choice but fatten up."

"And girl, you know I'm gonna be getting my fried chicken on up in here!" Mercedes replied.

Santana smiled finally and nodded. "It's just been tough…her appetite hasn't been great. Even with my awesome culinary skills she just hasn't been up to eating. She specifically mentioned she'd like to try the casserole and chicken so you all showed up just in the nick of time."

"She's doing better." Tina said again. "She's going to be just fine."

"That's right. And we're all going to relax and have a great weekend." Quinn said, pulling Rachel firmly to her side.

Mercedes nodded once. "Damn straight. Now get your skinny asses in that kitchen and start warming up something to eat. Brittany isn't going to get fed on your well meaning but poorly timed comments Rachel, or on your death glares Santana."

"Watch it Wheezy." Santana said but a smile was once again tugging at her lips. "Well, come on and let's see what you freaks brought my girl."

xxxx

The friends placed a spread on the table within an hour and were all chatting happily when Santana retreated to the bedroom to check on Brittany. When she slipped into the room, she had to chuckle at the sight of the blonde sprawled out on the bed. It looked as if she was reaching for Santana's side of the bed and not finding a warm body, had settled for spooning the brunette's pillow.

Santana settled onto the edge of the bed and gently scratched the blonde's back. Brittany's nose scrunched adorably and she hugged the pillow tighter.

"Britt…baby wake up. It's time for dinner." Santana said softly. "Our friends cooked a feast."

Brittany groaned. "Bubble baby…cricket took my watch…gay shark."

When she finally cracked her eyes open, Santana was laughing at the nonsense Brittany was muttering in her sleep.

"Hi sleepy." Santana said fondly. "What did you eat before you fell asleep? Sounded like one hell of a dream there babe."

Brittany grinned sleepily and stretched. "Can we call Kurt later? I miss my dolphin."

Santana chuckled and brushed Brittany's fringe out of her eyes. "Of course Britt. But why don't we visit the guests we have right now? They were falling all over themselves trying to make food you'd like. They are bound and determined to make sure you're comfortable and well taken care of."

Brittany looked troubled and bit her lip. "Don't they trust you San? Don't they know no one can take care of me like you can?"

Santana felt a swirl of emotion and gently cupped the blonde's cheek. "They know Britt. They just want to help too. They're pretty crazy about you."

The blonde seemed to relax when she realized their friends weren't doubting Santana and nodded slightly.

"Think you could eat a little bit?" Santana asked hopefully.

Brittany smiled and sniffed the air slightly. "Is-is that Mrs. Fabray's hash brown casserole? I know that smell anywhere."

Santana chuckled as the blonde was already scrambling out of the bed. The friends settled around the kitchen table and devoured the food in front of them. Brittany even asked for a second helping of the hash brown.

They left the dishes scattered on the table and in the kitchen as they talked and caught up on what Santana and Brittany had missed since coming to the lake house over a month ago. By the time the sun had set, they were all lounging around the living room. There was no doubt that the friends all together could get quite loud and a short while after dinner, Santana noticed Brittany beginning to tremble slightly. She pulled the blonde firmly against her and turned to whisper quietly into her ear.

"You ok? Need a break?"

Brittany's eyes were watery and downcast. She shrugged but winced as another bark of laughter rang out in the room. Santana squeezed her tightly.

"Babe, why don't you go make sure the guest bathrooms have enough towels and everything? I think Quinn and Rachel's room might need some extra blankets too." Santana said, loud enough for them all to hear.

Rachel started to protest and offer to go herself when Quinn elbowed her gently and almost imperceptibly shook her head. The brunette instead clamped her mouth shut and smiled as Brittany rose from her position on the couch.

"Yeah," Mercedes said also rising, "I'll get started on cleaning up this mess in the kitchen. Rachel, Tina, come help me out."

Quinn and Santana also followed toward the mess on the table. When Brittany was out of sight and earshot, Tina turned to Santana with a worried look. "Is she ok? Are we too much?"

"Um…you people have always been too much." Santana replied with a smirk. "But she's ok. If she's still this jumpy tomorrow we may have to rethink plans but let's just give her time to get used to the change."

They all began to clear away the mess from the table and load dishes into the dishwasher and put leftovers in the fridge.

"Well," Mercedes said, giving Tina a sly grin, "we have a surprise to help her get used to the change."

"Wheezy, what in God's name makes you think a surprise would be a good idea for her right now? Do I need to show you a police report?"

"Don't worry Santana, she'll like this surprise." Tina replied with a solemn nod.

Santana narrowed her eyes at the two as they giggled and nudged each other. "Ok, what are you two up to? What do you have planned for my sweet innocent Brittany?"

"Nothing." The both stated together seriously.

"Oh for God's sakes," Quinn said with a wry smirk as she brought the last of the dishes in from the table. "They brought weed."

Santana was certain her jaw could have been scraped from the floor. "You what?"

"My sentiments exactly Santana!" Rachel exclaimed. "Do you have even the slightest inkling as to what amount of damage smoking can cause to the vocal chords?"

Quinn chuckled at the various looks on her friends' faces. Rachel was a mix of shock and outrage, Tina and Mercedes were giggling as if they'd already had a fair share of the green plant, and Santana was still attempting to wrap her brain around the fact that her upstanding, generally morally superior friends were knowingly trying to peddle an illegal substance.

"Oh come on Santana," Mercedes said with a laugh. "It'll be good for her, help her relax."

"And if anyone needs to relax with friends…its Brittany." Tina added. "But if you'd rather we didn't…"

Santana shook her head as if to clear the cobwebs. "No, no it's fine. I'll just go upstairs and talk to her."

Tina and Mercedes hopped up excitedly and headed out to the porch overlooking the lake. Rachel and Quinn chatted quietly in the kitchen while Santana headed up the stairs to find the blonde.

"Britt? Babe, you ok?" She called as she slipped into the guest room quietly. Brittany was standing by the window, gazing out into the night sky. She turned and smiled sweetly.

"Hi San."

Santana returned the smile and edged closer. "Everything ok? Sorry it got a little crazy down there. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to spring company on you so soon."

Brittany shook her head. "No, it's ok. I'm glad they're here, just takes some getting used to. Inside my head is so loud lately and to have it matched outside my head…just scared me a little but I'm ok."

"Well," Santana said softly, wrapping her arms around the blonde, "our friends brought a surprise for you, a little something to help you relax."

"Cheese Wiz and leg warmers?"

"No babe," Santana said with a chuckle. "They brought marijuana."

"Oh, that kind of relax." Brittany replied with a thoughtful look. "Are you going to have to ask your mom to defend me if the coppers find us?"

Santana squeezed the blonde gently in her arms and pressed a kiss to her temple. "I think we're pretty safe out here babe. No reason to worry about the police finding us. But if it happens, sure, my mom will take good care of you. But I think you should by the way…relax with them. If anyone has earned it, it's you babe."

"Will you come too?" Brittany asked quietly.

"Of course, once I make sure Quinn has everything she needs to get her breakfast casserole going. Rachel will keep an eye on our favorite stoners and take good care of you until I get out there."

Brittany smiled and nodded. She pressed her lips against Santana's tenderly. "Ok. I'm gonna go get high now."

Santana chuckled again as she led the taller woman out of the room and back downstairs. Tina and Mercedes were already outside but Rachel was waiting with a patient smile.

"Come on Britt," Rachel said, extending her arm to allow Brittany to initiate the contact. "Let's go out and let these delinquents corrupt us."

"I thought we were going out to smoke? It's not like we're gonna steal anything or skin a cat." Brittany asked confused.

Rachel nodded patiently. "Right. We'll be outside if you need us."

"Rachel?" Santana called from her spot beside Quinn. "You'll…take care of her?"

The smaller brunette smiled back at the Latina and nodded. "Of course."

Santana seemed satisfied but before the two could make it outside she called toward them one last time. "Berry, don't you dare let my girl get addicted to reefer!"

Quinn laughed as Santana turned back to the ingredients on the counter. "San, do you have a baking dish? I couldn't find one the right size."

Santana hummed and began to dig around through a lower cabinet, finally pulling out two dishes for the blonde to pick from. Quinn took her pick and began adding the ingredients.

"I noticed you brought yourself some bacon there Quinnie. I'm assuming we'll have a nice sampling of that tomorrow as well?" At Quinn's smirk, the brunette continued. "And just what is your lawn gnome going to eat since she refuses to eat anything other than grass or tofu?"

Quinn scowled. "Lay off Rachel. I mean it Santana. She's been worried sick about the two of you. You know you can't deny how much she cares about you guys, Brittany especially."

"Ok, ok." Santana replied, raising her hands in defense. "You didn't answer though, what are you feeding her?"

"Don't worry about that. I brought waffles too." Quinn said, turning back to her dish. "I'm almost finished here…why don't you go out and make sure they're not skinny dipping or anything."

"Would that be a bad thing if they were?" Santana said with a smirk. "Britts is smokin' and should really never have to wear clothes."

Quinn chuckled as Santana waggled her brows and headed for the door. "Come on out when you're finished."

Santana stepped out onto the back deck and followed the sounds of soft voices. She found Rachel on a bench swing sitting upwind of the lightly billowing smoke. Tina, Mercedes, and Brittany were all lounging close together on full-length deck chairs. Brittany had her back to the Latina as she laughed at something Mercedes said. Tina took a hit and passed the joint back to Brittany and smiled wider when she noticed Santana.

Brittany noticed Tina's gaze and turned to see the brunette walking toward them. "Hi Sanny."

Santana had to smile at the blonde's soft, relaxed tone. "Hi babe." She said, settling in behind Brittany on her chair. She pulled the blonde back flush against her chest and wrapped her arms around her. Brittany turned her head and gave Santana a goofy grin.

"Just how much have you had my little stoner?" Santana asked smiling back.

Brittany shrugged. "I don't remember. Do you want to…" she asked, holding the joint up in an invitation.

Santana grinned slyly and took the small joint from Brittany's fingers. She took a hit, her head falling back to let the smoke do it's job. She exhaled slowly and looked back down into Brittany's glazed eyes.

"You're so hot." Brittany mumbled.

Santana laughed loudly and buried her face in Brittany's long blonde locks. Brittany squeezed the brunette's arms around her waist tightly.

Brittany took another hit before passing off to Mercedes who then passed it to Tina again. Brittany sighed softly and gazed up into the clear night sky full of stars. She raised a hand, reaching out and then clenching her fist as if grasping at air. "They're just so pretty…I wanna reach out and touch em. They're like little sparkles of happiness."

"Damn girl." Mercedes muttered with a chuckle. "You're gone."

When it came back around to her, Brittany took the joint between her fingers. Her head lolled back against Santana's chest as she exhaled the smoke. Her arm dropped against the armrest and Santana grabbed the still smoking joint before it could slip from her fingers.

"And that one should just about put you to sleep." Santana said softly, brushing blonde hair away from Brittany's cheek. "Berry, are you sure you don't want to give it a try? I know I speak for the rest of us when I say we would be honored to be present for the popping of your pot cherry."

"No thank you Santana." Rachel replied. "I for one would like to preserve my voice. I do have another audition in two weeks and I intend to be at my best and show them the star that I know I am."

"A simple no would have been plenty." Santana muttered, handing the joint off to Tina.

"You pot heads all in one piece out here?" Quinn called, stepping out onto the deck. She walked over and took a place beside Rachel, nudging her gently with a smile.

"Rachel won't smoke." Brittany said sullenly. "So that means you have to Quinnie."

Quinn laughed and plucked the joint out of Mercedes' waiting hand. "God, it's been years." The blonde said with a laugh. She took a hit and coughed slightly as she exhaled.

"There you go girl, das how you do it." Santana crowed in her best 'Lima Heights Adjacent' accent. Rachel just stared, incredulously, a mix of something else in her dark eyes. Santana chose not to dwell on it as Brittany began to giggle, still sprawled out against her.

Santana watched Tina take the last hit before pinching out the remnants between her fingers.

"Well," Mercedes said, standing to her feet. "I don't know about you all but I'm about to call it a night."

Tina and Santana nodded. The latter nudged Brittany gently. "Wha-just five more minutes." The blonde muttered, practically asleep and limp in Santana's arms.

Santana stood and with Tina's help, pulled Brittany to her feet. The blonde swayed slightly and in an attempt to steady herself, she reached forward trying to grab Santana's arm. She missed and instead ended up groping the Latina's chest, which caused her to giggle.

"I love those." Brittany slurred, giving another squeeze.

Santana couldn't help but laugh as she struggled to keep the blonde upright. "Oh babe, everyone loves those."

"Yeah," Brittany replied, finally flinging her arms around Santana's neck. "But I really love 'em. 'Cause they're all mine."

Tina finally stepped forward, chuckling, and she and Santana each took on of the blonde's arms and prepared to walk her inside when Santana turned back to Quinn and Rachel still on the swing.

"You guys coming in?"

They both blushed slightly and Santana rolled her eyes. "I think we'll sit out a little longer." Quinn said softly.

"Uh huh." Santana muttered. "I better not have to disinfect that cushion…not to mention the sheets on your bed."

Quinn flipped Santana off while Rachel simply looked mortified.

"I miss my cat."

Santana and Tina exchanged glances over Brittany's head as she was slumped against the Latina and the two cuddled on the swing were quickly forgotten.

The two walked the blonde into the bedroom and gently deposited her onto the bed. Santana dropped a kiss onto her forehead before straightening and following Tina out into the living room.

"Thanks for doing that." The Latina said softly.

Tina shrugged, almost awkwardly. "We love you guys. Seemed like the perfect excuse for medicinal use to me…"

Santana laughed. Tina winked before heading upstairs. The Latina turned back to the bedroom, still smiling. She placed her hands on her hips and shook her head as she glanced down at the blonde sprawled across the bed. Her limbs were extended and covered almost every inch of the bed, a clear sign she was relaxed.

"Man, they got you good and baked didn't they babe?" Santana mumbled softly as she attempted to pull the covers back to be able to tuck the sleeping woman in.

"Mmmmmm." Brittany hummed as she flopped back over onto Santana as she slipped under the covers next to her. "Sanny?"

Santana was settling in to sleep; the comfortable warmth of Brittany snuggled next to her and was close to drifting off. "Yeah babe?"

"I'm hungry."

xxxx

Santana woke to sunlight streaming into the room. Glancing toward the window, she could tell it was already a beautiful day. It was a day just screaming to be spent outside in the sunshine.

The brunette sat up, stretching luxuriously. She glanced down at Brittany where she was still sprawled with an arm around Santana's waist. It was the first night the two had slept through entirely and Santana felt refreshed for the first time in a long while.

She gently disentangled herself from the blonde who mumbled in protest before burying her face in the pillow. Santana stepped out into the main living room after washing her face and getting changed. She headed for the kitchen to prepare coffee.

"Good morning. I already made coffee, help yourself." She heard called softly from the dining room table. Turning, she saw Rachel nursing a steaming cup. "It looks like it's going to be a beautiful day. We should all do something outside…go to the lake maybe."

Santana nodded thoughtfully. It might be a good idea to get Brittany out into the sunshine, even if just for a little while. "That sounds kind of good actually."

Quinn came down the stairs a few moments later with a yawn. "Good morning guys."

"Hey Quinn." Santana said softly. She eyed the two of them as they smiled shyly at each other. "Seriously you two? Get a fucking room."

"We did." Quinn replied with a smirk. "Your guest room if you remember."

Santana grimaced and made a gagging motion. "You are bleaching those sheets. Better yet…you're buying a new set."

Quinn dropped a kiss to Rachel's forehead before heading to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. The casserole was baking and the bacon was sizzling when Tina and Mercedes made their way downstairs.

Tina was smiling tenderly at her phone. "Mike says good morning guys."

"I'm surprised you're not going through withdrawals being apart a whole night. You two are joined at the hip." Mercedes said with a smirk. "But you best not try to cuddle me again tonight, even if you were asleep and dreaming of your boy toy."

"For fucks sake, am I gonna need to fumigate this place?" Santana cried.

Brittany wandered out as the food was coming out of the oven. She blearily made her way to Santana who jumped to great her with a hug.

"Hey baby." The brunette said, wrapping the blonde in a warm embrace. "Did you take your morning pain meds?"

Brittany shook her head as she rubbed at her eyes. "No, I wanna see how I do without. I have to get off of them eventually. I'll take one later if I need it."

"Ok B." Santana replied. "That just means you have to eat two helpings of Quinn's breakfast casserole."

"Awesome."

Breakfast passed pleasantly and the dishes were cleared and cleaned leaving the friends ready for the rest of the day. The temperature was already warmer than normal for that time of year and they quickly decided to spend the day outside at the lake. They decided to change into swimsuits and lounge by the water.

Santana was just standing up when she noticed Brittany staring down at her lap, a lost look on her face. The brunette dropped back into her chair next to the blonde and scooted closer to her. "B? What's wrong?"

Brittany looked up at Santana with tears beginning to pool in her eyes. Their friends stood awkwardly, unsure what to do, as the blonde seemed ready to cry.

"I can't go out in a bathing suit San." Brittany whispered sadly. "I don't have anything but a bikini and I can't…I just can't San…the bruises."

Brittany lowered her gaze, ashamed. Santana reached and pulled her hand into her lap and rubbed it soothingly. "I agree babe." She said, her voice unwavering. "It's your first day out in the sun since last summer, you might burn. I think you should leave your t-shirt and shorts on to be safe. I know I am, I don't want to burn either."

"Santana, with your Latin heritage and naturally tan skin I doubt seriously you would ever have to worry about sunburn." Rachel cut in. Even Quinn cringed as Santana cast a furious glare toward the smaller brunette. Santana was ready to throttle the woman for derailing her plan at comforting Brittany.

"Well we weren't all blessed with you guys' ethnic dark skin. I for one, will be covered otherwise I'll look like a lobster by the end of the day." Quinn quickly interjected. She nodded slightly toward Santana at her grateful glance. "So see B, us pale ones need to stick together."

Brittany still looked unsure but nodded. She stood slowly to wander back into the bedroom to get changed. Santana reached for Quinn's elbow and smiled.

"Thanks Q. She's just a little self conscious still with the bruises." Her smiled faded and she scowled, glancing toward the stairs where Rachel had retreated. "Put a muzzle on your midget."

Before Quinn could defend Rachel, Santana sauntered off to the bedroom.

xxxx

The rest of the day was spent with the six of them outside in the sun, enjoying the beautiful weather. Everyone but Santana and Mercedes ended up getting in the water even though the water temperatures were still quite cold. Santana and Mercedes both claimed the water would do nothing for their weaves so they sat on the sand and laughed as the others splashed around.

When Brittany finally collapsed on the towel she and Santana were sharing after a game of water volleyball, she was panting heavily.

"Hi babe." Santana said with a smile. She handed a towel toward the blonde as she began to shiver now that she was out of the cold water.

"Hi Sanny. The water is definitely cold. Next time I'm totally protecting my weave and staying here with you."

Santana laughed and rubbed the blonde's arms to attempt to warm her up. By the time they all trudged back to the house, the evening sun was high in the sky and Brittany was clearly worn out. Santana eyed her worriedly as she limped toward the bedroom for a hot shower.

"She ok?" Mercedes asked.

"Yeah, I'm just worried she's going to wear herself out. She's still sore from the…" Santana sighed and shook her head.

Mercedes draped an arm over her shoulder and squeezed gently. "It's good for her to push herself. She's a strong girl, she'll be back dancing circles around us all in no time."

Santana smiled. Mercedes squeezed her shoulder again and headed upstairs. Santana helped Tina and Quinn decide what to do for dinner while Rachel chatted on the phone with her agent. By the time Santana slipped into the bedroom for her own shower, Brittany was once again sprawled on the bed.

"Britt? Baby, are you ok?"

Brittany hummed in contentment and smiled. "Yeah San. Just resting. I think I'm going to be sore tomorrow."

"Shit babe, want to take a pill?" Santana asked, her brow furrowed in worry.

Brittany smiled and shook her head. "No, I'll just wait until I go to bed. I don't want to sleep through dinner. But I did good today right?"

Santana smiled tenderly. "You did amazing Britt."

"Awesome."

Brittany rested while Santana cleaned up and then they all gathered for dinner. They chatted about the old days in Glee club and shared any gossip they had heard about their fellow members, including Mr. Schuester and Emma expecting their third child and April Rhodes finally making it big in Branson Missouri.

After dinner they settled on the couches and chairs in the living room and continued chatting while the TV provided background noise. The exertion of the day and dinner settling in had Brittany nodding off in Santana's lap before very long. She finally stretched lazily and sat up.

"I think I'll head to bed." She said sleepily.

"Want me to come with you?" Santana asked, already standing from her spot on the couch.

"No." Brittany mumbled with a smile. "You stay, just make sure I get the scoop on Kurt's new dolphin tomorrow. Goodnight everyone."

Santana followed the blonde with her eyes as she hobbled into the bedroom and shut the door. "She's not going to remember to take a pill."

"Is she trying to go off of them?" Quinn asked.

Santana nodded, still eying the door. "Yeah, she doesn't like how they make her feel, even more spacey than usual she says. But she's definitely healing, the first week here she could barely stand up from the couch on her own."

Santana quickly decided it was time to change the topic so she quickly steered the conversation back to Kurt and his latest fling. They chatted for another hour, each relaxed and comfortable when a piercing cry sounded from the bedroom.

The scream had barely registered with the others before Santana was hurdling over the coffee table and sprinting toward the bedroom. "San?" Quinn called out. The brunette ignored her and leapt toward the bed, pulling Brittany into her arms.

The blonde was flailing and crying out even as Santana pulled her close. "It's ok babe, I'm here. It's me, you're ok Brittany. You're safe baby."

Brittany let loose a sob and wrapped her arms around Santana in desperation. She was barely awake, still somewhere between reality and caught in her nightmare.

Quinn appeared in the doorway, a stricken look on her face. "Santana? My God, is she ok?"

"I've got her Quinn." Santana replied, keeping her voice low and even. "Just give us a few minutes ok."

"Sanny?" Brittany cried, her voice laced with panic.

"Quinn please. Just give us a minute." Santana said, tightening her grip on the blonde in her arms.

Tina appeared next to Quinn, sensing her discomfort. "Quinn, can you check on Rachel, I think she's a little freaked." She whispered.

Quinn clenched her jaw and nodded tersely before slipping out of sight. Tina stepped closer. "Where are her pills? Can I get anything?"

Santana nodded toward the bathroom. "The Xanax is in the medicine cabinet, we need one pill. And can you get her a glass of water?"

Tina nodded and quickly scampered toward the bathroom. When she returned with the water and pill, Brittany flinched in Santana's arms, sensing someone's approach.

"Easy babe, its just Tina. She's got your medicine and some water ok?"

Brittany whimpered and burrowed further into Santana's arms. "I thought I was better. I should be better San." She cried pitifully.

"It's ok babe, it's ok." Santana took the pill from Tina's hand and nodded gratefully. She coached the pill into Brittany's mouth and helped her swallow with a few gulps of water. "Thank you." She said softly to Tina.

Tina nodded and smiled sadly before exiting and softly shutting the door behind her.

"Come on babe, just lay back, it's ok." Santana soothed, lowering them back onto the bed. "You're safe here. I've got you, I promise."

Brittany continued to whimper slightly as Santana situated them horizontally on the bed. The brunette draped blankets over them and Brittany continued to cling to her desperately. Santana continued to hold her tightly until her breathing evened out and the Xanax finally took affect, leaving the blonde in a deep sleep.

xxxx

Santana emerged from the room an hour later to find the house mostly dark. Only the kitchen light over the sink was still glowing, casting barely any light over the rest of the house. Even in the soft light, Santana could make out the lone figure of someone sitting patiently on the couch facing the bedroom door.

"Come have a drink with me Santana." Quinn said solemnly.

Santana cautiously made her way to the couch and settled in beside the blonde. Quinn cracked open the bottle of rum she found in the cupboard and poured two glasses.

The two women clinked their glasses together silently before downing the contents. Both hissed quietly at the sting.

"How much longer are you going to do this?" Quinn asked quietly, refilling their glasses.

"Until she's ready to go home." Santana replied firmly.

Quinn sighed and placed her glass back on the coffee table. "San, there's no doubt you're doing an amazing thing here…but it's too much. She needs-"

"How the fuck do you know what she needs Quinn? Huh?" Santana interrupted, her voice harsh and cold. "We've been together our whole lives, minus the obvious times when I fucked up, but for the last ten years, I've held her and been with her. I know her and I know what she needs."

Quinn sighed again. "Of course you know her Santana, no one denies that you're the one to best help her with this. But that scream I just heard? She's not ok Santana."

The Latina clenched her jaw and willed herself to calm before replying. "She's just tired. Today was more active than she's used to and she's just overtired."

"Santana, for Christ's sake, that scream…I'm just worried she needs more help than you can give her."

Santana watched as Quinn pulled her hands into her lap. She clenched her jaw, squared her shoulders and sighed. "You'd understand if you knew all the facts. If you had any idea…what if it was Rachel?"

Quinn gasped, not expecting Rachel to be brought into the equation. Santana immediately felt bad and cringed. "I'm sorry Quinn, that was out of line. You just don't know all the facts. You don't know what she did…what she went through."

"Then tell me. I want to help. We all want to help. Christ Santana, she has her family and us, there are professionals; it doesn't all have to be on you. Why do you insist on doing this all on your own?"

"Because of what she did for me. It has to be me. You just don't know…" Santana said, her voice thick with tears.

"Then tell me, please!" Quinn replied, near desperation. "I want to help, I swear. Please talk to me…"

Santana sighed and didn't make a move to stop the tears that leaked from her eyes. She reached and downed the rest of the liquor in her glass. "You know the gist of what happened. I'm going to explain the rest you don't know. Maybe then you'll understand why it has to be me…"