A/N – another graphic flashback so I wanted to throw out a warning. I'm not feeling great about this chapter, I felt parts are repetitive but that could just be me. I have to say...Naya Rivera can do no wrong. I generally have no faith in the writers for the show but I'm keepin' my fingers crossed. Ok, I don't own this stuff. Sorry for the long ramble.

Chapter 5

Santana willed her gaze to remain strong as she eyed the man who squatted in front of her.

"Your girl was good." James said with a smirk. "I imagine you'll be just as good."

Santana switched her gaze to Brittany who was now watching the man intently. The brunette tried to catch her frightened gaze, hoping to calm her as the blonde's breathing became harsh and erratic. Santana realized her own fate then as the man reached for her.

Santana turned back to the man reaching for her, hoping her signature glare was firmly in place. Before James could actually drop a hand onto her, he jerked sideways, a force connecting with him hard from the side. The large man fell to the side with a growl and Santana realized it was Brittany who had thrown him off of his feet. Santana wasn't even certain how the blonde had pulled herself up so quickly, let alone had the strength to rush the man.

Brittany was attempting to pull him to the ground, kicking and clawing with every bit of strength that she had remaining. Santana felt her breath hitch and hoped for one brief second that Brittany might actually succeed in bringing the man down. James gagged as Brittany's fist connected with his throat and he tried to put distance between them. The blonde held on however and continued to claw at him as he scrambled away.

"Fuck! Get her off me!" James yelled to Rick as she continued to fight him. The younger man stood frozen.

The fierce display was so unlike the gentle, peace-loving Brittany that Santana couldn't help but admire the strange beauty of it. But it couldn't last. Brittany was flagging, her strength already drained from the previous attack, broken before she had even begun to fight. James regrouped and the blonde even seemed resigned to her fate, her breath leaving her as he connected a thick boot to her ribs. His fist sounded against her face and before Brittany could register what was happening, James was slamming into her and flipping her forcefully onto her back against the pavement once again.

Even then she continued to fight, lifting a knee trying to connect with any sensitive area of his body but he twisted away, connecting a fist to her jaw yet again. He continued to pummel her with blows until she fell limp.

"So this is how it's going to be huh?" James muttered as he again began to fumble with her clothing. He jerked her jeans down to her ankles and with one final backhand to her face, dropped himself down onto the blonde once again.

Santana could only watch in horror as Brittany's face tightened and her jaw clenched in agony as James continued to thrust in and out of her forcefully.

James finally slumped forward, covering Brittany as he panted, trying to regain his breath. "Come on Rick," he mumbled. "Your turn again."

Rick stared, almost horrified at the sight before him. The blonde was limp and her breathing ragged and shallow as James pulled himself away and to his feet. The young man shook his head slightly, as if to clear it of what he had just witnessed.

"I…I think I'm played out, ya know?" Rick stuttered. James scoffed before the young man continued. "And I think she's had enough."

James pulled himself to his feet, still smirking at the younger man. He eyed Brittany, lying limp on the ground and with a growl, delivered one final kick to her abdomen. He then turned and stumbled toward Santana, still immobile on the ground as he tried to collect himself. He stood before her; again towering over the bleeding Latina and a smile split his face. Santana heard Brittany whimper in the background, this time unable to attempt to intervene.

Santana steeled her gaze as much as she could and refused to show him weakness or fear. She was determined to take what he had to offer and live through it, if for no other reason than to help Brittany recover from what she had just been through. Her girl needed her; Santana wasn't about to be broken by this man. She glared as best she could, hoping the man could feel just how much she loathed him.

Before James could reach for her, Santana's phone rang out loudly from her jacket pocket. The sound seemed to startle Rick who was still hovering in the background. James squinted his eyes and growled as he looked around to figure out where the sound was coming from.

"Man, come on, let's get out of here!" Rick insisted, almost pulling the older man's arm. "Forget them James, come on!"

James sighed and nodded slightly. The man held Santana's gaze for a few seconds more before he smiled down at her. "You're a lucky woman. See you around baby." With a wink over his shoulder he was gone.

xxxx

Santana was still exhausted when she opened her eyes the next morning. She glanced sideways and sighed when she saw Brittany staring up at the ceiling, her eyes clouded and red rimmed.

"How long have you been awake?" Santana whispered.

Brittany turned her head and gave a wan smile toward the Latina. She grimaced just at the slight movement and Santana knew immediately that the blonde was sore from her overexertion the day before. "I woke up a while ago. It was still dark out."

"Britt, why didn't you wake me? You need a painkiller?"

The blonde sighed and nodded. "You need sleep San, I didn't want to wake you up. I do that enough…"

Santana was out of the bed and back with a pain pill and water in an instant. She helped Brittany sit upright and down the pill before easing her back down onto the pillows.

"Brittany, you shouldn't have just laid there hurting." Santana scolded slightly. "That's why we have the pills, to keep you from hurting. I can sleep when I'm old and gray."

The blonde smiled tenderly at the thought. "Do they make gray weaves San?"

The brunette chuckled as Brittany's eyes drifted closed, the pill taking effect finally. She stayed beside her until she was certain the blonde was asleep and then Santana quietly slipped out of the bedroom.

She found Quinn seated on the couch again, staring out the window as if lost in thought. Santana settled in beside her and nudged her shoulder gently. "Everyone else still asleep?"

Quinn sighed and nodded. "Britt? Is she sleeping in?"

"Yeah, she just took a pain pill so she'll be out for a little while. I think we may need a quiet day today."

"I think that's a good idea." Quinn replied quietly. "Santana, I'm sorry if I pushed too much last night. Maybe I shouldn't have…"

"It was a lot to dump on you." Santana whispered. "I just…I'm kind of glad someone else knows now. Knows what Brittany did for me. I wasn't raped Quinn, because she stopped it from happening. I'm glad someone else knows and I'm sorry if that's selfish and I'm sorry if it was too much for you take on."

Quinn finally met Santana's eye. She squeezed the brunette's hand. "No. I'm glad I know. It was a lot to hear but I'm glad you told me. I'm glad you trusted me to tell me. That's why we're here Santana, to be here for both of you."

"I love you Quinn Fabray." Santana choked out. "I don't tell you that enough. But I love you…even if you are dating a lawn decoration."

Quinn snorted out a laugh before backhanding Santana on the shoulder. "Once a bitch, always a bitch."

"Come on," Santana said through a laugh, "Let's go start on breakfast."

The two wandered into the kitchen and by the time they placed the waffles on the table, Tina, Mercedes, and Rachel had also gathered. Just as they were all about to sit down at the table, Brittany stumbled out of the bedroom, eyes barely open. She was scratching her belly, her hair in disarray, and her t-shirt and pajama pants askew.

"Want some waffles babe?" Santana called.

Brittany grunted and mumbled something before flopping onto the couch. Quinn and Rachel exchanged a glance. "Is she ok?" Rachel whispered.

Santana smirked and nodded. "Percocet is a beautiful thing." She stepped around the couch and knelt in front of the blonde. "Babe, you ok? Think you could eat something?"

Brittany continued to grumble and turned onto her side, burrowing into the couch cushions with her back turned to Santana. The brunette was pretty sure she could make out the words, "later," "sleepy," "syrup," and "duck."

Santana chuckled and squeezed Brittany's shoulder before heading back to the table.

"Translation please?" Mercedes asked laughing.

"I think she's going to sleep a little longer but later wants waffles with lots of syrup." Santana replied, taking her seat. She pursed her lips and arched a brow. "And probably wants the waffles cut into the shape of a duck."

"Girl you are whipped." Mercedes replied.

Santana's gaze fell slightly. "Well, she deserves it…"

Rachel eyed Santana and Quinn who had also grown quiet. She reached out and squeezed the blonde's hand. From her spot beside her, Quinn met Rachel's gaze and smiled sadly.

The mood remained somewhat somber the rest of the morning. When Brittany roused from the couch, everyone tried to be cheerful around her but even she could sense the tension. She retreated to the bedroom for her afternoon dose of medication earlier than usual.

Santana followed her as their friends scattered, Rachel and Quinn particularly wandering off alone for a walk. Santana closed the door behind her softly and moved closer to the bed where Brittany was sitting, gazing at the floor between her feet.

"Brittany? Anything wrong?"

The blonde glanced up sadly. "I didn't mean to make it weird." She whispered.

"Make what weird Britt?" Santana asked, confused. "Come on now, talk to me."

Brittany shrugged her shoulders and sighed. "Last night…I didn't mean to mess up everyone's good time. Everything is all weird now. You all were tense and bad vibey once I got up. I didn't mean to…"

"Oh babe," Santana said softly, dropping next to the blonde on the bed. "They weren't being weird because of your nightmare. Honestly, they were just reacting to Quinn and me. I probably should have talked to you before but…I told Quinn everything. She was so worried last night after you fell asleep and she kept asking so I told her. It was a lot for her to hear so I think maybe she's a little sad and the others could tell."

"Quinn's sad?" Brittany asked, finally raising her head. "Why is she sad? She shouldn't be sad."

"Why not B? Why can't she be sad about what happened? She loves you; you know that. She's sad because of what happened to you."

Brittany shook her head. "But San, why do you keep talking about what happened to me? You were hurt too. She should be sad for you too, not just me."

Santana cringed but didn't want Brittany to stop talking if she felt like opening up. "I know Britt, but, you have to admit that what happened to you was way worse than what happened to me. It didn't happen to me because of what you did…you protected me when I couldn't protect you."

Brittany squared her shoulders, her gaze unwavering. "Santana, I would go through that again a magillion times to keep you safe. I love you. And to be honest, I think I would rather go through what I did than ever see someone hurt you that way. I don't think I could stand it if I had to watch someone hurt you like that. I kind of think you feel the same way; you would have traded places with me. I know you would have because I know you love me. But I could never let that happen. So you see…we were both hurt, just in different ways and both really bad. So I don't want Quinn to be sad just for me."

Santana had tears leaking from her eyes and as Brittany brushed them away, she grasped the blonde's hand and pressed it to her lips. "I love you…so much Brittany."

"I know Sanny." Brittany whispered. "You wouldn't have done all this and taken such good care of me if you didn't. I love you too."

Santana pulled the blonde closer and pressed a kiss to her temple. "What do you say we knock you out with pain pills and I go have a chat with these crazy people and tell them to lighten up?"

Brittany chuckled and nodded. "Sounds good. I am still tired and kind of sore from yesterday. Maybe tonight we can all forget this mess and have a good dinner? I think Mercedes owes us chicken."

"Deal babe." Santana replied with a smile. She waited with Brittany until the pills took effect and then slipped back outside into the living room.

As hard as she tried, Santana couldn't shake the melancholy that had settled over her after sharing with Quinn. She half expected the blonde to be waiting for her on the couch again. She was surprised to instead see Rachel.

The smaller brunette smiled warmly as Santana approached. "I put an extra pot of coffee on." She said quietly. "Seemed like we could all use a little pick me up."

Santana nodded, not sure what to do with herself. "Thanks. I could use a cup I think. Where is everyone?"

"Tina and Mercedes took the car into town to pick up a few things. Quinn is upstairs, she'll be down in a few minutes."

The Latina wanted to question what Tina and Mercedes needed to pick up but Rachel didn't give her the chance. "Santana, I think you should take a walk with me."

Santana immediately turned back and looked toward her bedroom door.

"I think it would be good for you." Rachel continued.

Santana sighed and pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. "I don't now. Someone should be here in case she wakes up disoriented or upset."

"Quinn is here." Rachel immediately replied. "She can take care of her…in fact, I'd say she's dying for the chance to prove she can, to be needed."

"I don't know…"

"Please," Rachel said with a smile. "Quinn is more than capable of dealing with someone in hysterics…she's dating me after all."

Santana couldn't help but laugh. "That is the most logical statement I've heard in a long time."

Rachel chuckled softly. "Ok, you fill up a mug of coffee, I'll round up Quinn."

Santana sighed and nodded, still slightly uncertain. While she was preparing her coffee, Quinn came back downstairs, evidence of tears still clear on her face. Santana wanted to question her but Rachel beat her to it.

Rachel pulled Quinn into her arms and hugged her tightly. Santana glanced away slightly embarrassed to be witnessing the exchange.

"Santana and I are going for a short walk. Brittany is sleeping but we were hoping you could stay close in case she wakes up and needs something? Besides Santana, you're probably the only one who could comfort her if she's upset or something."

Quinn's gaze seemed to soften at Rachel's words and just as the brunette guessed, she was happy to feel needed. She hadn't been sure where she fit into her friends' recovery, especially when Santana had insisted on the two of them going away. She realized it was a small thing but Quinn was more than happy to contribute.

The blonde dropped to the couch facing the bedroom as if guarding the door and ready to jump at the slightest whimper.

Santana hugged Quinn from behind and dropped a kiss to the top of her head as she passed on the way out the door. "I've got my cell if you need anything…but I trust you to keep an eye on her. We won't be gone long."

Quinn nodded and smiled slightly as the two made their way outside.

Santana and Rachel walked slowly, taking the winding path toward the lake. Rachel would glance sideways every so often, gauging the Latina's mood as she sipped her coffee. Finally, when she was at least somewhat convinced there was enough caffeine in Santana's system to keep her from lashing out, Rachel cleared her throat.

"Santana," she said softly. "As often as I seem to never say the right thing…or more like always say the wrong thing, I hope you know how much I care about the both of you."

Santana sniffed slightly. "I know. And Britt loves you. And apparently Quinn loves you so I'm outnumbered. I guess I don't have much choice but…well, I care about you too. And I really appreciate the way you've been there for us since this started. But I appreciate how you've been there for Quinn too. I haven't meant to cut her out or anything."

"She knows that Santana." Rachel replied without hesitation. "We were talking on the way up here. We are all just amazed at how strong you both are. We're just in awe of the way you saw what needed to be done and you dropped everything and brought Brittany here. Your connection is amazing."

"My girl needed me." Santana whispered. She swallowed thickly at the feeling of tears stinging her eyes again. "I had to do something. After what she did for me…"

Rachel eyed the Latina as the memories clearly wormed their way back in. Santana had her jaw clenched and she was gripping the coffee cup in a death grip. "Santana?"

Santana growled lowly as she cast her eyes to the sky, willing the tears to dry. "I'm sorry. I just…fuck!"

The Latina stopped abruptly and threw her coffee mug with all her might. It shattered against a tree and she let out a piercing scream. Rachel flinched slightly but quirked a brow.

"Feel better?" she asked, still smirking slightly.

Santana was panting as she finished screaming. "Yeah, actually I do. I wish that tree had been that mother fuckers face but that'll do I suppose."

Rachel laughed slightly. "You're not the only one who wants to break something on his face Santana. Their faces I should say. There is a special place in hell for the likes of them, I'm certain of it."

"Yeah, I think you're right about that Berry…Rachel." She corrected. "I'm sorry I was so hard on you…for our whole lives basically. You're ok for a dwarf."

Rachel smiled and bumped Santana's shoulder with her own. "You're not too bad either…for a bitch."

Santana snorted a laugh and nodded in acknowledgment. They walked on in companionable silence until they reached the edge of the lake. As they gazed out over the calm water, Santana couldn't help but become contemplative again.

"Did she tell you?" she asked softly. "Did Quinn tell you?"

Rachel sighed and nodded. "She did, last night. She was pretty upset. But honestly, she didn't have to tell me. I had my suspicions."

Santana nodded and kept her gaze out over the water. They stood in silence for a few minutes longer before the Latina broke the quiet again.

"Things were so good you know?" She said quietly. "I fucked up badly in high school, no doubt. But once we got back together, things were perfect. Things have been perfect for years now and we were so happy. Then…in one night, everything is all messed up. She's so innocent and they fucking stomped all over that. And I'm trying, really trying, but what if we can't come back from this?"

Rachel felt her emotions swirl within her at Santana voluntarily opening up to her in that way. She sighed and reached to place a hand on the Latina's shoulder. "Santana, you two love each other. That's the most important thing. I've never met anyone like Brittany. She's kind and caring and loves everyone. You especially. The connection you and Brittany have…its amazing Santana. You two are clearly endgame. You can get through anything as long as you stick together, I promise you that."

Santana sighed and met Rachel's intense gaze. "I know you're right. I love her and she loves me. But…having the person you love flinch away from you because of something that someone else did, how someone else hurt her, it just kills."

"It does." Rachel replied softly.

Santana startled slightly. "What? How do you…"

Rachel shrugged. "Because it happened to someone I loved. The first woman I ever dated. We were in college and one night, she was walking home after a late class and some drunken upperclassman jumped her. She tried to fight him off but…"

"Shit." Santana muttered, feeling her own heart clench.

Rachel smiled sadly. "She was so broken after. I couldn't hug her or comfort her without her flinching. I've never been so angry or wanted to kill someone so much in my life…and I didn't even witness it like you did. So in that sense, I can't even begin to imagine what you're going through."

"Your friend…is she ok?" Santana asked, almost afraid of the answer.

"Yeah," Rachel replied with a definitive nod. "She's ok. We turned out ok. But we didn't work out because we didn't have the connection that you guys do. We loved each other but we weren't in love. Not like you and Brittany. She's happily married now with a baby. She's ok."

Santana wiped her face tiredly with a hand. "But did you…I mean, were you able to get past it before you broke up?"

"We were." Rachel said with another nod. "It took a while for us but we finally managed to get back on level turf, emotionally and physically. I had to get creative to help get us there."

"I'm just so afraid of hurting her or scaring her." Santana said quietly. "I think it's going to be a long time before we're back to normal…if we ever can be."

"Has she let you touch her yet?" Rachel asked.

Santana blushed but cringed at the same time. "Rachel, I realize we might be bonding and all that right now, but I'm not sure I can talk about this with you."

"Who then?" Rachel asked, undaunted. "Quinn? Puck?"

Santana groaned. "God no, not Puck. And not Quinn either."

"Ok, then talk to me."

Santana sighed. "Well…no. She hasn't let me touch her. But…she made love to me a few nights before you all got here. It was amazing but kind of strange and heart breaking too."

"How do you mean?" Rachel asked.

Santana began to feel uncomfortable and felt a blush rising. "Well, it was just different. She's usually so confident with me but…it was like she was touching me for the first time. She said she needed it to be slow so I was afraid to even try to hold her hand or anything."

"I understand." Rachel said with a nod. "It was the same with Jill. I was terrified of hurting her or frightening her. I can tell you what worked for us…what helped get us back on track but honestly, its intense. And will take a lot out of the both of you."

"But if it could help her…I can wait for as long as she needs. But she feels so guilty and self-conscious now because we were so active before. I love her for so much more than just the sex, but she feels guilty that she's still afraid to be touched. What did you do? I'll do anything to help her."

"Well," Rachel said with a smile. "Finally someone who can appreciate my great knowledge and put it to good use. I'm such an under appreciated talent really."

Santana groaned. "Fuck Berry, I am so going to regret this I just know it."

Rachel laughed loudly before linking her arm through Santana's and pulling her closer.

xxxx

When the two finally returned to the lake house, arm in arm, they found their two favorite blondes cuddled together on the couch. Brittany was leaning against Quinn, her head on her shoulder and an arm wrapped lazily around her waist. Quinn had her own head leaned against Brittany's and with an arm draped over the taller woman's shoulder, she was absentmindedly playing with blonde hair.

At the sound of the door opening, Quinn glanced over her shoulder. "It's about time you two got back. Britts and I were about to come looking for you. We were worried you tried to drown each other in the lake."

Brittany giggled and tightened her grip on Quinn's waist. "Not true, I knew Rachel would never hurt you Sanny."

"But you thought I would hurt her?" Santana asked in mock indignation.

Brittany continued to laugh lightly. "Well you do call her names…like midget, dwarf, hobbit, lawn gnome, man hands, short stack, lollipop kid…I forget the rest." She said, counting off each jab on her fingers.

Santana plopped down on the couch next to the two blondes and sighed. "Well, we've come to an agreement, the dwarf and I, we're both crazy about the two of you so nothing else really matters."

Brittany smiled warmly and pulled herself from Quinn, in turn flopping herself onto Santana. The brunette and Quinn exchanged a warm smile on either side of Brittany. The taller blonde planted a wet kiss on Santana's cheek before turning and throwing her legs over Quinn's lap with her upper body draped over the brunette's.

"Not bad," she mumbled, still squirming to get comfortable. "You're both comfy."

xxxx

When Tina and Mercedes returned from their supply run, Rachel met them outside the door and commandeered the bags, placing then inside the small laundry room off of the entryway. She gave Santana a slight nod as they passed each other.

Later that evening, Mercedes was in the kitchen preparing her famous family chicken and Quinn was silently lending a hand. Once everything was in the oven and there was nothing to do but wait, Mercedes wandered out to chat with the others. Quinn remained behind, alone in the kitchen.

It was there that Santana cornered her, hoping to make sure they were ok with the events that had transpired. Quinn refused to acknowledge her or make eye contact as she continued to stir the pot of rice to accompany the chicken. Santana sighed and reached for the blonde, placing an arm on her shoulder.

"Quinn…" Santana said softly.

The blonde dropped the spoon back into the kettle of rice before turning back to the Latina, and suddenly her face crumpled. The first thing she could process was that Quinn Fabray was crying…Quinn Fabray never cries…

Santana suddenly pulled the blonde into her arms and attempted to comfort her. "It's ok Quinn." She muttered softly. "Everything is going to be ok."

Quinn shook her head against the brunette's shoulder, no sound coming from her mouth, her shoulders quivering. Santana held her silently, holding her friend tightly until Brittany wandered in and gave them a curious look. At Santana's sad gaze, Brittany nodded knowingly.

"Quinn, please don't drip on our food or anything." Brittany said softly. She stepped closer and pulled the blonde from Santana's embrace, into her own. "Don't cry Quinnie…please."

Quinn sighed loudly, as if trying to control her emotions if for no other reason than to please Brittany. Santana ran a hand down Brittany's back gently. She gave her a questioning look but at Brittany's smile and slight nod, the brunette slipped out of the kitchen, leaving the two friends to comfort each other.

When Brittany emerged a short while later, Santana noticed that her eyes were red and puffy but she smiled bravely and gave the brunette a tender kiss before settling down on the couch beside her. Quinn followed a short while later, looking more composed and less troubled.

Dinner passed pleasantly. Even Brittany seemed relaxed and no one gave the previous night's incident a second thought. Santana threw a dinner roll at Rachel when she got overly excited about a new Broadway play and attempted to serenade them with all the major musical numbers. Quinn jumped in to her defense while Tina and Mercedes just rolled their eyes and laughed at both of them.

Later that night, after everyone had retreated to their bedrooms, Santana and Brittany were cuddling and whispering softly.

"Today was a good day babe." Santana said, threading their fingers together as they lay facing each other.

Brittany smiled and nodded. "It's been a good couple of days…except for last night. That was bad, but like you said, I was just tired."

"It's been a great couple of days." Santana replied. "And we'll have a lot more, you're doing amazing Brittany. You're amazing."

The blonde's gaze turned serious and she leaned closer and cupped Santana's face with her hand. She pressed their lips together. The smaller woman felt a moan escape as Brittany deepened the kiss.

Gentle hands began to caress Santana's body and when Brittany slipped a hand under the brunette's shirt, Santana gasped but didn't resist as the blonde pulled the clothing off and tossed it away.

"Babe, we have a house full of guests." She whispered, breathlessly.

"And if we don't fool around, they'll really start to worry about us." Brittany was flush against the smaller woman and was kissing down the column of Santana's neck as she palmed a soft breast. "And we're Santana and Brittany…it's what we do. We have sex, like a lot. Besides, I bet Rachel and Quinn are totally doing it right now."

"Oh fuck Brittany! That is not the mental image I need right now. I-oh shit babe." Santana moaned, arching, as Brittany slipped her hand into the Latina's pajama pants.

"I want to love you Santana." The blonde whispered. "I love you, I want to show you."

Santana nodded, already breathless as Brittany slipped inside. "Oh God, I love you Brittany…so much."

The blonde smiled sweetly and when Santana climaxed with her name on her lips, Brittany felt lighter than she had in weeks. She hovered over the brunette as she caught her breath, gently brushing hair from the Latina's sweaty forehead.

When Santana had calmed, Brittany leaned and pressed their lips together in a gentle kiss. She then settled onto her back and pulled the smaller woman flush against her. Santana laughed softly and draped an arm and leg over the blonde, her head resting on her shoulder.

"Shit babe…" Santana said, still tingling. "Rachel and Quinn have nothing on us. That was amazing."

Brittany smiled widely and lightly ran her hands up and down on Santana's back and arm. The brunette pressed a kiss to Brittany's jaw and eased her hand under the blonde's t-shirt. Santana felt Brittany tense almost immediately and she stilled her hand against the blonde's stomach.

"Not yet Sanny…I-I'm sorry." Brittany whispered sadly.

Santana propped herself up on her elbow and gazed down at the blonde. "Don't you dare apologize Brittany." She moved her hand from Brittany's stomach up to cup her cheek. "We've got all the time in the world babe. I love you and I'll say it again…I'm not going anywhere."

Brittany sniffled as a few tears began to escape. "You'll wait for me?"

Santana brushed the tears away with her thumb and gave a mock disapproving glare. "What kind of question is that? You must be overtired to ask such a crazy thing. Of course I'll wait for you, for as long as you'll let me. You're stuck with me Brittany."

The blonde finally smiled again, and convinced that the mood was properly lightened, Santana settled back down onto the pillows and cuddled Brittany closer. They were just drifting off into sleep when a suspicious moan and a bed creaking sounded from above them.

"Fuck." Santana moaned. "We are so calling an exterminator once these freaks leave."

As another loud moan sounded, Brittany laughed. "I think we may need to even call in the ghost busters San, they're serious up there. At least maybe Quinn will be in a better mood tomorrow."

"From the sound of it, she won't be able to walk tomorrow." Santana mumbled, burying her head underneath the pillows.

"San?" Brittany said quietly.

"Yeah babe?" the brunette muttered.

Santana tensed when she felt Brittany lightly running her nails down her back. "San, you said they don't have anything on us. I think maybe you should drown them out."

The Latina popped up from under the pillow immediately and gave Brittany a questioning look. At the blonde's devilish grin, Santana smiled widely and let Brittany push her back down onto the pillow again.

Any noise from above was soon forgotten.

xxxx

The next morning, Rachel was up before anyone else and had already prepared pancakes and chopped fresh fruit by the time the others rolled out of bed. Santana and Brittany emerged last, hand in hand and smiling sweetly at each other.

"Good morning ladies." Rachel chirped. "I trust you slept well?"

"Yeah," Santana replied with a slight scowl. "No thanks to the noises coming from your room last night."

Brittany laughed as Rachel's eyes widened and she blushed furiously. Quinn on the other hand simply looked smug and much more relaxed and happy than she had the day before.

While the others mingled in the kitchen and placed everything around the table, Brittany plopped down on the couch next to Quinn and linked their arms, sighing in contentment. "Don't pay any attention to San, Quinn." Brittany said softly. "I'm glad you had a good night. You need to relax. And I'm glad Rachel takes care of you."

Quinn smiled at Brittany, a blush beginning to creep into her cheeks. "I love her."

Brittany smiled at Quinn's soft declaration and scooted in closer, dropping her head on her friend's shoulder. "I know, I can tell. She loves you too. Take care of each other. Protect each other."

Quinn sighed and squeezed Brittany's hand. "Like you protected Santana?"

"Like we protect each other." Brittany replied, pulling away and meeting Quinn's hazel eyes with her own steady gaze. "Quinn, don't be sad for me. If you have to be sad, be sad for Santana too. She's hurting too…and broken.

She's trying so hard to fix me that I'm worried she's not taking care of herself. I try to help her but…I'm being selfish. She's been so great with me and I don't know how to be there for her. She's so tough but this has really messed her up. She's always taken care of me, ya know? And-and the one time she couldn't stop me from being hurt…well, she feels like she let me down. But there was nothing she could have done; she couldn't fight them both off. They hurt her too; she was hurt too. I want to make her feel better but I don't know how. How am I supposed to be there for her?"

Quinn brushed tears away that were slowly leaking from Brittany's blue eyes and ignored her own tears. "You just let her love you. That's how you be there for her. And you listen when she talks to you. You just love her Brittany, and you do that. I only hope Rachel and I can someday have a fraction of what you two have."

"You know I hate science Quinn." Brittany mumbled as she pulled the other blonde in for a hug. "I know you and Rachel would do anything for each other. I did what I had to do for Santana, just like you would for Rachel. I don't understand why everyone is making such a big deal out this; I couldn't let him touch my Sanny. I couldn't let him hurt her."

Quinn pulled away and smiled tenderly. "I don't think you have any idea just how special you are Brittany."

Brittany shrugged. "I know I'm not exactly…normal." She said quietly.

"That's not what I meant Brittany." Quinn insisted. "You're amazing. And I don't think you realize that."

"I'm not smart in many things." Brittany said softly. "But I'm smart in Santana. I know she's sad and scared. She spends so much time trying to look after me that she's not dealing with her own stuff. I'd do anything for her. I want to help her but I don't know how."

"I know that, and Santana knows that." Quinn replied with a smile. "Let her take care of you Brittany. That'll help her more than you could imagine. I can't lie, I've been worried about you two here all alone, but I really think being here with you, for you, has helped Santana. You love each other and you'd both do anything to protect each other. You're both going to be just fine."

Brittany smiled finally and nodded. "You're right Quinn. You always were so smart. Thanks for talking to me. You're a great friend." She flung herself forward and wrapped her arms around the smaller blonde in a tight hug. Quinn laughed lightly and returned the embrace.

The two were still hugging when Santana rounded the corner from the kitchen with a quirked brow. "Alright you two break it up. Berry and I are getting jealous. Come eat breakfast."

"Don't be jealous Sanny, haven't I always told you that you're the one who gets my sweet lady kisses?" Brittany replied, jumping up to move closer to Santana.

The brunette chuckled and allowed Brittany to engulf her in a warm embrace. "Thanks for the reminder babe. You two ok?"

Brittany pulled away and glanced back toward Quinn who was standing just a few steps away. "Yeah, we're good. Right Quinnie?"

Quinn smiled widely. "Yeah, Britt, we're good. You're a lucky woman Santana Lopez. You both are."

Santana watched as Quinn slipped past them and headed toward the kitchen and Rachel's waiting arm. Santana gave Brittany a questioning glance but the blonde just giggled and pulled the brunette closer.

Breakfast passed quietly. After they had eaten their share, they all remained close to the table, talking for a long while. No one wanted the visit to end.

"Well," Mercedes said finally. "I guess we should get our things together to head home."

Tina nodded sadly. "Yeah, I've got an early day tomorrow."

Quinn and Rachel nodded as well. "And I need to get back to work eventually." The blonde replied.

An hour later, the table was cleared and their guests were bringing their bags back down to the doorway to load into the car. Rachel pulled Santana aside and hugged her.

"Remember what I told you?" Rachel asked softly.

Santana nodded, still holding the smaller woman tightly. "I remember. Thanks for everything Rachel…I really appreciate everything you've done for us, and for Quinn."

"I love you guys, we all do." Rachel replied. "And I love Quinn. I'd do anything for her."

At the same time, Brittany and Quinn were also embracing each other tenderly. "Thanks for coming Quinn."

Quinn smiled and ran her hand through Brittany's blonde hair. "Of course. I'd do anything for the two of you as well. I love you guys."

"I know." Brittany replied. "We both know. We're doing ok, we're going to be ok."

Quinn sighed and pulled away, smiling. "You are."

The bags were finally loaded into the SUV and the friends hovered around the car, not sure how to actually leave. Finally, Rachel pulled Quinn gently by the hand toward the car, Tina and Mercedes following silently.

They all hugged once again and a few tears were shed. Brittany and Santana stood on the porch, hands clasped as their friends finally filed into the car. They stepped closer once their friends were settled.

"Thank you for coming." Santana said, her eyes full of tears as she peered into the SUV window. "We-I…"

Brittany stepped closer to Santana and wrapped her arms around her from behind. "We love you guys." She said softly. "Thanks so much for being here."

The blonde kept her arms tightly around Santana as their friend's pulled away. They watched the vehicle fade from sight before silently slipping back inside the house, the quiet suddenly deafening.

xxxx

The next few days passed slowly. Brittany struggled to adjust to the quiet that settled between the two of them once their visitors left. Santana tried to keep the blonde occupied and engaged but she seemed to be slipping further and further into her mind now that the distraction of their friends was removed.

Santana sighed as Brittany once again flinched away from her touch. They were settled on the couch and the brunette had simply tried to drape her arm over the blonde's shoulder and pull her closer but Brittany had whimpered and burrowed into the arm of the couch, away from Santana's touch.

Santana decided she had no choice but put Rachel's plan into action. She would have to wait until the perfect moment but she was determined to try to help Brittany, any way she knew how. Finally, later in the afternoon a few days after their friends' departure, she found Brittany huddled on the couch watching the sun dip lower toward the skyline. Days of watching Brittany barely eat, barely sleep, and barely acknowledge her presence, had Santana desperate to try anything to set things straight once again.

She settled onto the couch beside Brittany and reached for her hand. Brittany furrowed her brow but didn't try to pull her hand away.

"What's going on in there?" Santana asked softly, lifting her unoccupied hand to gently caress blonde locks. "You haven't talked to me in days…what's going on?"

"I don't know San." Brittany whispered. "I don't know."

Santana reached and turned Brittany's face toward her and timidly pressed her lips to the blondes. She cupped Brittany's cheek, still kissing her tenderly and finally, the blonde responded and returned the kiss.

"Let me take care of you tonight." Santana whispered, her forehead pressed against Brittany's.

"Isn't that what you've been doing Sanny?" Brittany said quietly.

Santana pulled away and looked deeply into the blonde's intense blue eyes. "Well then, let me really take care of you tonight. Please."

Brittany inhaled and exhaled a shaky breath, Quinn's words sounding in her mind. Just let her love you, that's how you be there for her.

Santana pressed a kiss to Brittany's knuckles and kept her gaze firm. Brittany felt her own tears pooling, afraid of what might be ahead.

Santana recognized the fear and smiled sadly. "Do you trust me Brittany? Please trust me."

Brittany looked deeply into Santana's dark eyes and swallowed thickly. "I do. I trust you San." She whispered.

Santana smiled and rose to her feet, her hand extended, begging Brittany to take it and follow her.

"Please trust me B."

Brittany sighed and reached, clinging to Santana's hand almost desperately as she too rose from the couch.